Jeanie Smith, maiden name Slater.

If my mother was alive, she would have been 100 today. Born in the Gorbals, Glasgow on 6 June 1913, she was a child in the first world war, and an adult (but not a soldier) in the second. She was the middle child of seven children, daughter of Samuel and Leah Slater (or perhaps Slutsky: that’s what it says in Hebrew on their Ketubah or marriage contract). Brought up in the south side of  Glasgow, in the Glasgow Shtetl, she once told me she had never been east of Glasgow cross till she was 40. 

Married in wartime, in 1942, to my father, Morris (then a private in the highland light infantry, but also a son of the Gorbals), she had two children, my brother Harry and myself. As a youngster she had been very involved in the upbringing of her two youngest brothers, Eddie and Ralph, to such an extent that she was forever calling us by their names! Her closest family member was however her sister Rose, two years her junior, to whom she was on the phone as far as I could tell more or less every day. 

She was born into the clothing trade. Samuel Slater was a tailor, and had a business making suits. I believe it had been in Wilson Street, but I recall it from being at 400 Cathedral Street: Slater’s, a manufacturing tailors. She worked in the clothing business all her working life. I recall her telling me that she had wanted to join up in the second world war, but was told she couldn’t because the business was making uniforms, and that was a protected employment. When we moved to Broughty Ferry, she was a housewife for some time, but then worked in the alterations room at Burton’s in Dundee. Her heart (and the rest of her family) however remained in Glasgow. When we moved back to Glasgow, she went back to work in the family factory, now run by her brothers. But after the factory moved to 165 Howard Street, there came a downturn in the manufacturing business, and also there was vandalism to the factory as well: her youngest brother decided that the time had come to set up on the other side, selling suits from many manufacturers instead of manufacturing suits: he had been in charge of sales, so he knew rather a lot about the business!

Jean became in charge of alterations at the new emporium: at Slaters, then a gents outfitters, with a single shop in Glasgow, but now a multiple with many shops selling mens’ and womens’ wear. She worked there until she retired (actually, she retired several times: she just kept going back to work with them!). Eventually cancer took her in 1984, and she is buried in the Jewish cemetery in North-east Glasgow.


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