Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Your Aff Auntie Mary


This is Mary, one of my grandmother’s many sisters, and the only one who never married. She was born in 1905 and lived into her early eighties. By the time of the 1939 census her mother and her eight other siblings had married or died, and Mary is listed as still living at the same house that the family occupied at the time of the 1901 census. Now it was just her and her father, and a lodger, Elsie.  The ladies were both listed as working in a ‘Chemical Food Factory’, but which we know was actually manufacturing Ovaltine. She wasn’t blessed with film star looks, but she was loving and kind. She was a generous aunt and great-aunt, and like my mother before me, I would receive cards on my birthday, usually with a ten shilling note enclosed.She would also send me holiday spending money in the Summer and at Christmas, and a chocolate egg at Easter. Her cards were always signed ‘Your aff Auntie Mary’ (aff= affectionate).

When my great-grandfather died, in 1953 Mary remained in the little house in Watford. Elsie had also remained unmarried and still lived in the same house with Mary, into old age. They continued to work together as far as I know, and were good company for each other, taking holidays together and visiting my grandparents in Nottingham.

I only have a few pictures of Mary and I realise that I know very little about her. I do know that she worked hard all her life and that when she retired at the age of sixty, we all went along to her retirement party. Judging by the few pictures of the event, she obviously had a sense of fun. The party wasn’t just an excuse to eat and drink but to play games as well. This was 1965, and it was what you did in those days. You didn’t sit in a corner with your phone or iPad, you sang, danced, played games and had what was known as a ‘knees-up’!

You can get a flavour of the party from the photos below; my grandfather taking part in some water balancing game and my ‘aff Auntie Mary’ being affectionate to my Dad, by grabbing him for a great big kiss. It was all good clean fun; there were children present, and the party probably finished during the afternoon.

























When I was a married woman, and living in my own home with two small children, my parents brought Auntie Mary to visit us, and meet her great-great niece and very new great, great-nephew. It’s the last time I remember meeting her and a happy occasion. It looks as though my daughter has presented her grandma, my Mum, with her dolly and Auntie Mary would have enjoyed watching the children play.


Join us at Sepia Saturday, where our theme for this month is work and play.




12 comments:

  1. Lovely memories, Nell. A huge positive of the digital age is the ability we all have to share accounts and photographs of those relatives who, in part, helped to make us what we are. Here's to your Aff Auntie Mary!

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  2. A lovely tribute to your Aff Aunt Mary. She is so bonny in your main photograph of her with a kindly look in her eyes and in her smile.

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  3. Every one should be so lucky as to have an 'Aff Auntie Mary' in their family! A lovely write-up of an obviously lovely lady - with a lovely smile.

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  4. It's good that someone had a camera handy when your grandfather was doing his balancing act. I don't think I have any photos like that in my collection.

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  5. I first thought that aff was short for affable, but I guess a person wouldn't say that about themselves, especially a woman. Hopefully Ovaltine does not contain too many chemical additives. We are more fond of Milo here in Aus.

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  6. Very clever to make a connection between a retirement party and our theme of work & play. Another definition of "knees-up" might be a party that was so crowded that people had to sit really close together with their knees up!

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  7. "Knees up Mother Brown" was a song and dance my Irish mother-in-law used to do at Christmas and birthday celebrations. It was an exuberant dance with silly lyrics. We all loved it when she'd have a glass of wine and let it all hang out. I'm the childless aunt in my family and try to fulfill the aff auntie Mary role although it's getting more and more challenging what with great great great nephews and more on the way.

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    1. Loved hearing about "Knees up Mother Brown" and your mom.

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  8. Every family is lucky to have an unmarried aunt who gives the children that something extra. Yay for your aunt.

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  9. Mary seemed to be a delightful member of the family =-=- we should all be so lucky and have an "aff" Aunt Mary.

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  10. I think in families with many daughters, one often chose to stay at home. I think some of them might have rather liked it when everyone else had left and they were in charge to live life on their own terms - or that's the impression I got !

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  11. Mary looks a fine handsome & strong Lady. A very honest& direct look And,yes, a sense /sparkle of fun in her eyes.
    Re:the party photo:that chap has some very impressive glass-balancing skills !

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