Wednesday, 16 May 2007

All About My Mother ...

I should have had this done for Mother's Day but other stuff intervened ...

My mother always told me that she and my Dad were engaged for seven years. Why, I asked? Well, he had to help support his mother who was a widow. He was the eldest son ... the two younger boys, Leo and Joe, had gone to the United States, and the only girl, Essie had also left for New York. The funny thing about this story was that my grandmother Levy was afraid that Leo and Joe would be forced to join up during the First World War. (My father, apparently, was not considered fit enough to join up .. I think he had flat feet). Since the Americans weren't in the war then it seemed a good idea to send Leo and Joe to the States. Well, I never did find Leo's immigragion record, though I'm still looking. He probably went to the States before Joe, who sailed to New York aboard the ss Catherine Cuneo on August 28, 1917. Considering that the U.S. had entered the war in April 1917 this particular reason doesn't seem to make a lot of sense where Joe was concerned! At any rate, my Dad remained in Jamaica, the sole support of his mother, as my grandfather, Leopold Levy, had died in February 1917 in Santiago, Cuba.

But this is supposed to be about my mother. She was the youngest girl of the three Smedmore girls, the only one to get married and the only who ever actually worked outside the home.

This picture was taken before she was married to my father. I think, looking back now at what I know about her, she would have been considered a feminist for her time. Yes, they did have to wait to get married because of my father's responsibilities, but I gather there was also some opposition to my father from my grandmother Smedmore and my two aunts, Sylvia and Elma. Which brings up another interesting fact about the Smedmore family. Not too many of them got married, and most of those who did married later in life. (Except for my uncle, Lucius, who defied the family and got married at the tender age of twenty-five.) When I asked my mother why three of my uncles and my two aunts never married her response was that the men had never found a woman as good as their mother and the women had never found a man to equal Papa.

This opposition, however, did not deter my mother and my parents were finally married on April 27, 1926, at Kingston Parish Church, and as the reception appears to have been held at 49 Beeston Street one must assume that the family came round in the end. In fact, Julian, my mother's youngest brother, was best man.

Things must have been difficult for my parents at the beginning of their marriage. They could not at first afford their own home and lived at 49 Beeston Street for some time. My brother, Michael Owen Dey Levy, known to all as Micky, was probably born there on April 2, 1927. I don't know how long they lived there. One of my Da Costa cousins remembers visiting my Grandma Levy at her house at 22 Beeston Street and recalls that my Dad came over to visit with his friend, Joe Kelly, and a little boy, which was most likely my brother. Here is a photo taken at 49 Beeston Street of Micky with our cousin, Marjorie, eldest daughter of Lucius, and our aunt Elma in the background.

Micky was probably about four or five when my parents moved to a house on Anderson Road which I think they probably rented. I wish now I'd asked what the exact address was. In fact, there are a lot of questions I wish that I had asked my mother ... this is the main regret of most genealogists who come to family history later in life and realize that they've missed the opportunity to talk to the family elders and get all the facts and lost in the mists of time.


patricia said...

Lovely post, and lovely pictures. I think that one of Grandma is my favourite.

I wish you had asked a lot of questions back then, too! Would have been a lot easier if they'd had blogs back then...thankfully you're doing what you can now.

Who was it that said, "Youth is wasted on the young"?

Judith said...

Well, Dorothy, Have I told you lately that this should all be in a "real" book?

What an exotic lady was your mother! Happy Mothers' Day to us all...

Never tire of going over this developing masterpiece. Just noticed in the map of Beeston St. & environs, that there is a burial ground just across the drain from "WHERE THE CITY RUBBISH IS THROWN"!!


Anonymous said...

I have many happy memories of your mother.Was my uncle Jack a page boy at your parents wedding ?
Grandma Duffus once said that Elma never married because her boy friend was killed in WW1. but Grandma did have a great imagination !!
This is a lovely memoir.

Dorothy Kew said...

There's more to come, folks. Look for part 2 of All About My Mother ...

Aaron said...

I can't wait to read "Part 2"! It would be nice to see a post on Armistice Day (the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918). So you have a bit of time to do a piece on your colorful uncles.

Margaret said...

Looking forward to Part 2 - you've got a lot more to tell us before you can get to your own memories of your parents (and Uncle Rodney too). You are setting a very high standard for us all!

Liz said...

These stories are wonderful and a poignant reminder to really appreciate the people we have around us now. This is the time to ask the questions and capture their ideas and memories. Thanks, Dorothy, for honouring your family in this way.

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor