Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grampa: Flowers and Fords

It was more than three months ago, almost four months (good grief that's a long time!) in fact, when I posted two blogs about my paternal grandfather: On the Estate with Grampa and Some Memories of Grampa. At the time, I had meant to post an additional blog with the following photo and a few tidbits of information from the photo album, but life and other topics karoomed into Grampa's ancient path. But I'm sure he is/was okay with waiting; he's very patient these days, you see.
On the Estate

A note on the back of the photo says that grampa worked in the greenhouses on this estate which also employed 52 other servants. I am guessing that this was his start as a greenhouse grower, and he pretty well stuck with occupation, or it stuck with him, for most of the rest of his days. The photo is professionally done and in a cardboard frame that says J.S. Platt, The 'Primus' Studio, Warlingham on the front. According to Google Maps, a place called Warlingham lies to the south of London, but I can't be sure that it is the same Warlingham (whether the estate is in the same general location as the village or town of the same name), and Grampa seems to be unavailable for comment unless someone out there in cyberland has some expertise in communicating with the dearly departed.

I am able repeat two tidbits from oral history about Grampa's early years, one of them pertaining to this estate. Tidbit One: it has been recounted that when he had decided to emigrate to Canada, his Warlingham employer though so highly of Grampa that he said that if was a matter of money, that he would increase Grampa's wages. Apparently, it was not a matter of money. Tidbit Two: it is recorded in the photo album that Grampa set out or perhaps was sent out to earn a living when he was eleven years old. Although I seem to recall being told that he worked and boarded in a department store early on, the only written note declares that he first became an apprentice carpenter. Whether he held other jobs between carpentry and being a grower at Warlingham, I know not. I also don't know how it came about that he moved from the Cambridge area, about 80km north of London to Warlingham, about 20km south of London. It seems like a rather big move for the times, but I guess it pales in comparison with his later trans-oceanic journey to Canada.

Born April 11 1878, I can't be sure of the year of his migration to Canada at this time, but I can say that he seems to have held some sort of job in the forest industry in Quebec's Eastern Townships for at least one season. Also, although I may be repeating myself from a previous blog, my Dad often said that Grampa didn't even need to wear a heavy overcoat in his first Canadian winter. I've never quite understood why that might be so, but apparently it is sooth.

Also, from what I can gather, he never expended much energy in communicating with the folk that he left behind in The Old Country. As one of many children (sixteen, I think) who had go to work at such a tender age, it was told to me that he was pretty disgusted with people having so many kids that they couldn't properly take care of. But his sister, also later also migrated to Canada, and she may be responsible for most of the information that I do have through various pictures and notes in my mother's photo album.

What I can repeat is the information that he remained as a grower/flower designer for most of his life. He seems to have had an entrepreneurial bent, a trait that, apparently, hasn't been passed down. He owned his own greenhouse business in the Snowdon area of Montreal (see next photo). I would guess that he owned this place in at least some of the first half on the forties, perhaps beginning sometime in the thirties. My mother placed a note beside the photo, drawing one's attention to his topiary work outside the shop: chicken to left and basket to right.

Grampa's Florist Shop

He also bought a car/truck fairly early on. My dad often recounted how Grampa's Ford cost $600 and that Grampa was able to purchase it with cash. I have two photos, below, of vehicles although I am somewhat confused by the dates. The first photo with Grampa in the middle is captioned as Grampa's First Truck, 1935 but the second shows my father standing on the running board of another Ford truck in 1923.

Grampa and Truck

Grampa's Ford

It's time to cease this post, but I think there's still more to post at a later date.


Donna said...

I Love the flapping clothes on the line...thanks for that memory. Wonderful post.

ChrisB said...

AC I tried to do some research to see if I could find any photos of old houses in the area where your grampa worked. I found a few mentioned but unfortunately no photos!

Ruth said...

What an interesting post. I know so little about my family background and I don't know why stories about our ancestors weren't shared in much detail from generation to generation. I also wish I had asked more questions before some of my relations died. I didn't care much about family history then, but do now.
That is quite an estate! 52 other servants...!

Cathy said...

Wonderful photos. Your Grampa's florist shop is so interesting. And the picture of your dad on the running board. Oh my. Don't you wish you could revisit it all?