Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Life events at one remove.

December 15, 2014

It’s been a week-end of major life events at one remove. On Friday, my youngest, Jonathan, was 21, and today, my oldest, Eleanor (now with her own blog) is 40. Turning  40 doesn’t seem such a long time ago, even if turning 21 seems like a lifetime past. I recall mine, working in the City of London, and being taken out and filled with whisky (as a Scot in London) at lunchtime. (Well, I suppose, I must have been a willing victim, since I don’t believe anyone forced drink down my throat!). This was followed by a rather unproductive afternoon, during which I’m told I suddenly turned green, and rapidly left for the toilets. My fortieth was a much more civilised affair, a party at home with children present, and a new electric piano. But why should these life events of my children affect me so?

On one hand, it’s an intimation of an end of an era: with no kids under 21, surely I should be moving on to some new part of my own life. I haven’t any grandchildren, though there’s a grand-dog, Frieda, in DC with daughter Alexis & Katy! And perhaps it’s also my recent (minor) operation providing intimations of aging and mortality. I’m not a believer in trying to indefinitely prolong life: there’s a time to go, and preferably before ones wits abandon ship. How long might that be? My father made it to 84, and was  solving the Times crossword the evening before he died, so that’s a good sign. But I’ve watched others gradually lose the place, and it’s not a pretty sight.

At least now, it’s over: there’s no other big birthdays on the immediate horizon (at least birthdays are predictable). Nor, so far as I know, any imminent marriages or other life events, but one never knows…But carpe diem! Let’s celebrate the birthdays: we had a very good dinner at the Cafe Andaluz in Glasgow for the 21st, and there’s a party in Stirling for the 40th next Saturday!


Jeanie Smith, maiden name Slater.

June 6, 2013

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.