Showing posts from October 7, 2007

Nanny Povey

My paternal grandmother, known to me as “Nanny” lived at 12 Robertson Road, Eastville, Bristol.

That’s where she had lived with my paternal grandfather George Henry Povey. He was a plumber and gas fitter, in business on his own.

He died in 1939 when, riding a bicycle, he was struck by a car on Church Rd, St. George, Bristol.

Nanny would have been about 59 years old when her husband died.

Only my oldest sister, born in 1937 remembers him.

Nanny lived in increasing poverty in her house which had an overgrown back garden, a conservatory, and the plumbers’ workshop where I played with old tools and barrels of “red lead”.

She subsisted on a widow’s pension, and by the time she died was living in the one inhabitable room of that house. She had no money to fix it up, nor did my Dad, her only child.

Nanny was a Bennett, (a last name derived from the Benedictine Order of monks). She was born near Easton Road, and her father had been a coal miner (there were surface coal mines in Bristol in the …

For the next generation

It was cool enough to garden this morning. That means it was 76F at 7:30 a.m!

On some other coolish mornings I’d been clearing out a garden circle in front of my condo, removing old, and weed-infested Juniper, and digging deep to get the roots.

I didn’t want to replace the Juniper with what I call “shopping plaza” shrubs and bushes (boring!), so earlier in the week I took myself to the wonderful Florida Native Plants Nursery near Old Myakka.

There I was greeted as if I were a royal guest, and given cheerful and helpful advice by one of the owners. She knew her stuff! I was happy to hear from her that there is an increasing movement towards Florida native or Florida friendly trees, plants and flowers.

I made my purchases, and today planted two Mexican Firebushes, (Florida friendly), and a Native Firebush; together with three “Prostrate Porterweeds” - not truly a weed, but a true Florida native.

It all looks a bit stark at the moment, and I’ve yet to spread …

Life with the Brethren (2)

Mr. Ernest Cox was one of the Elders at Chelsea Gospel Hall. You will remember that he was a jobbing builder, and that my Dad had worked for him during World War II.

Ernie Cox hailed from the Devizes, Wiltshire area, as did his wife Bessie (Lancaster) who grew up on a farm there.

Ernie was our Sunday School Superintendent. The 1950’s were days of huge Sunday Schools in Great Britain, and ours was the largest in the area. I do believe that Ernie loved and cared for children, in the best possible way, and longed for them to “give their hearts to Jesus”.

The Sunday School attracted many children from the neighborhood, and the highlight of the year would be the annual “Outing” to Weston-Super-Mare. All the local Sunday Schools would hire coaches (‘buses) for the event, and we would be allowed to take that day off from School.

The Chelsea Gospel Hall Sunday School always had the largest outing - one year we hired 13 coaches (the old-timers still called them “Char-a-bancs” , or “Charas”). …

Life with the Brethren (1)

So there we were, with our feet under the Brethren table. Playing cards were forbidden, as was dancing, drinking, smoking, going to the pictures (movies) or theatre, Sunday newspapers, Sunday shopping, and owning a television.

We were three-timers on Sundays. In the morning for the Breaking of Bread, in the afternoon for Sunday School, and in the evening for a “Gospel meeting” (preaching to the converted!), or a children’s meeting.

The Breaking of Bread was arranged “Quaker style”. We would sit in silence “waiting on the Holy Spirit”. Any male (in fellowship) could read scripture, announce a hymn, pray extemporaneously, or exhort.

Women and girls were allowed to sing the hymns.

The hymns were sung a cappella from a hymnal which was printed with words only. A brother with a decent voice would be the precentor who, when the hymn was announced would have to strike up a tune from memory.

There would be long silences in a meeting which lasted for about 90 minutes. By a miracle whic…

We should have been Methodists.

We should have been Methodists. Mum and Dad met at Eastville Methodist Church (long since gone), and sang together in the Church Choir. There they were wed and there my older sisters, my twin sister and I were baptised.

When World War II came along Dad longed to serve in the Army. But to his immense disappointment he was given a very low medical grade since he was blind in one eye. So he stayed on the home front, worked as a plumber, and did service as a fire-watcher during the blitz.

He was employed by Mr. Ernest Cox (more about him later), and was once taken to Court and fined as he had left a light on in Mr. Cox’s workshop during the “blackout”.

And, as the lore goes, he, as one of the few fit young men, would go to the Methodist Church every Saturday to fire up the coal boiler for heat, and get there early on Sunday mornings to stoke and re-fuel it.

And he got ticked off at the Church for what he perceived as a lack of gratitude. And stopped attending.

So although I was bapti…

Shopping and Trading (2)

So we abandoned the Co-operative Movement (see ) under the influence of the Plymouth Brethren. About them, more tomorrow.

But local business ruled. Just across the railway bridge was Baylis’s Builders yard and Ironmonger, catering to small jobbing builders with sand, gravel, cement and timber, and to the neighborhood with paints, stains, small tools, nails and screws etc.

“Maurice” (pronounced the English way as “Morris”) was in charge. He was a bit diffident, but was most helpful to me when I decided to re-paper our “middle room” when Mum and Dad were on a holiday.

I had never papered before, but had watched my dad and knew how to start that first sheet with a plumb line. My effort was “not bad” for a first-timer (I am guessing that I was in my late teens or early twenties), and Dad was unusually complimentary when he and Mum returned home.

Across from the Builders Yard was “Rossiters”, the Draper. There one could buy knitting supplies, “…

Shopping and Trading (1)

As I was chatting with my brother Martyn earlier this week, he reminded me of the variety of neighbourhood shops and businesses.

I have already mentioned Ford’s Tripe Factory, Packers’ Chocolate Factory and Bert Lucas the chimney sweep. And there were many more.

But up through the mid-fifties my mother was a great believer in the Cooperative movement.

This “leveling” movement began in Rochdale, Lancashire - it was a way for consumers to own the store so to speak.

When a person joined the Co-op, she or he was given a membership number which was to be used for every transaction. Twice a year members would be given a “dividend” ( e.g. "sixpence on the pound” based on their purchases during the previous six months.)

The idea, a good one, was that dividends would be paid to shoppers, and not to shareholders.

So we had bread and milk delivered each day by the Co-op; we bought furniture and clothing (still rationed) at the Co-op; used the Co-op Departmental Store on Castle Street,�…