Saturday, 28 April 2007

Visiting Kingston -- My Two Grannies

My four grandchildren are very lucky in that they have known all four of their grandparents. I was not so fortunate. Both my grandfathers had died before my parents were married; as for my grandmothers, well, I knew them for only a short time in my childhood. Both of them were born in 1861, and both died in 1943, at which time I was just eight years old. I do remember them, however. They lived across the street from each other: my Grandmother Smedmore lived at 49 Beeston Street and my Grandma Levy lived at 22 Beeston Street.

I have a better memory of my Grandmother Smedmore because I probably saw her more often. Sadly, I have no pictures of her or of my grandfather, William Dey Smedmore. I do have a photograph of my grandmother's youngest sister, Theresa Eugenie Brown, and I rather think there must have been a resemblance between them. This is my Aunt Tess.

Aunt Tess was the Postmistress for many years in Montego Bay, but that's another story.

I would go to Kingston with my parents to visit the grannies. This was always a treat for me, living as we did in the suburbs of St. Andrew. Kingston was different .... busy, lots of people on the streets, all sorts of stores, higglers and vendors selling things on the sidewalks, and we got to ride the tramcar!

I remember that I used to tell my Grandmother Smedmore Anancy stories, which she enjoyed very much. Anancy, or Anansi, is a figure of folklore, a spider, a trickster hero, based on folktales brought from West Africa. Another Jamaican blogger, Floyd Brooks, has posted an excellent article by Marcia Davidson on Anancy stories on his blog, Jamaica Land We Love.

We didn't visit my Grandma Levy as much. I have one memory of her ... the room she was in was quite dark, and I do not really remember much about the house. I remember she was dressed in white. The room was probably dark because Grandma Levy was blind. She had had cataract surgery, which in the 1930s and '40s was nothing like what we know today ... no lasers! Patients had to lie completely still on their backs, with the head placed between two sandbags to keep it perfectly still as any movement too early after the surgery could cause blindness. My Grandma Levy was subject to nightmares and apparently had one which caused her to start up suddenly, and as a result she lost her sight. I remember she talked about her late husband, Leopold, but I do not remember what she said and at that age I wasn't particularly interested. It would be a long time before my interest in family history would lead me to find out what I could about him and about my Grandma Levy's past.


patricia said...

Once again, you may have told me this before (thankless child that I am) but how did it come to be that your grandmother Levy and grandmother Smedmore lived on the same street?

(Another great post, btw).

Anonymous said...

hey grandma!
its steph an im checking out your blog for a geograghy assingment! Its about your family culture:)

Your site is great, its has pretty much all the info i need.
just thought id tell you!
talk to you later!

Dorothy Kew said...

Hey, Stpeh! Glad you like my blog. Be sure to keep visiting as I've got lots more stories to tell. Good luck with your assignment!

Anonymous said...

Hi mom,

Great site as always. I've passed it along to one of my colleagues at work, who's wife (I'm not sure you remember) grew up in the same area as you did. I don't remember that story about grandmothers Levy and Smedmore being on the same street!


Dorothy Kew said...

That's why I'm doing this blog, folks! So I can tell you all the stories you don't know!

Historia said...

I'm not from Jamaica, but I am a new immigrant to Canada, and like you, I LOVE genealogy. I found your blog via your daughters blog.

I will be keeping an eye on this blog for a little genealogy respite from the books.


Dorothy Kew said...

Hi Historia! Glad you like my blog. I have to try to post more often!

Donald Lindo said...

This a marvellous family history record. So many families live and die and then the descendants are left with very little about how their grandparents and other family members lived. Nowadays one can trace names of ancestors more easily but it means so much more when stories are passed down about their characters and what they did. Congrats Dorothy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dorothy
I must admit that I had some preconceived notions about Jamaica,but these were formed mainly from the bad publicity that appears in our newspapers from time to time..but you have certainly showed from your Blog that there's another entirely different and wonderful side to the island.
Congrats on an excellent Blog,keep up the good work.
Frank McGonigal

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor