Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spies.......for Sepia Saturday 163

I recognised him immediately. Being trained in observation from an early age as a Cub Scout was only part of it. What really made me jump was the connection with an inheritance from my grandmother, Granny Aspdin, (yes, the wife of my cycling bank clerk of a grandfather about whom I wrote last week). The inheritance is the only first edition book I have on my shelf, and were it not in less than mint condition I dare say it would be worth a bob or two.
My treasured first edition.

The book is very well known, and I will be surprised if I am the only one this week to have recognised Jerzy Fröwn, discretely standing there. His subtle choice of black on a snowy day is reflective of his early days training in the Czech navy, and quite possibly explains why he was fatally shot. [See 3rd line of page 2].

It was an unfortunate start to de-coding the message from Q his cell had received the day before, S370HSSV-0773H. He he never did realise he was reading it upside down.

But............... I know readers really want to know about my Granny Aspdin and English winters, so here she is in the 1930s in an era when we had genuine weather in Derby, and when water froze, those awful days before we finally succeeded in our quest to warm Earth sufficiently to stop us East-Midlanders having anything more than mud, fog  and grey skies in winter.

The nee Slater girls, Granny-Evelyn Aspdin right and
 sister Beatrix Smith left. The Mundy Paddling Pool,
 Markeaton Park, Derby, circa 1930, and today, below.

Granny Aspdin had married my grandfather Bertie Aspdin in 1914.

The "going away"....

....Vernon Street, Derby, 1914....woops !

 They must have had the wedding reception here at home, the family home where I now live, as photo evidence shows it did not entirely go without a hitch when they came to leave. Granny had a good life and lived into her 80s, but she always seemed jinxed on such occasions by unreliable transport. I remember that after the church funeral in 1966 all my family climbed into the big black limousine provided by the undertakers, only to find that the battery was flat. With my father telling me to get out and help push ( I refused out of embarrassment as a 16 year old) all the mourners put their shoulders behind the limo' for a jump start. A smooth purr later from the Rolls Royce engine and off we went, following Granny in the hearse to the crematorium.

(Photo 1904)  Granny Aspdin's father William Slater had built the house in
1895 for his family, below....

William Slater's children, Beatrix, the youngest and Evelyn (lower seated),
 with Alice, William and Harry. Can you recognise Evelyn and Beatrix
 on the skating photo?  Circa 1891

My great-grandfather William Slater with skating daughters Evelyn
(left) and Beatrix, outside the kitchen door. Circa 1899

Me with my daughters, Alice  (left) and Fiona, same pose,same place,
 just over 100 years later ! 2003.

Oh!...its Alice's 20th birthday Tuesday, I think I will post this early, she's away at University and I need to send her a card, this post can be her card, that will save a couple of quid.

 Happy Birthday AL !!
 Love Daddy xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The End


I scanned an image from page 2 of the book for you.


  1. Those photographs of the "going away" are very evocative - some things never change.

  2. I am somewhat disappointed that you didn't grow a full beard and side whiskers for the 2003 photograph. I rather like the idea of sending a Blog Post instead of a birthday card to save money - your family isn't originally from Yorkshire by any chance is it? A magnificent selection of photographs - you can almost smell the age of them.

    1. Yes....I'm afraid the game is up, however much I try to hide my Yorkshire roots something will always give it away!

      My great-grandfather Richard Wilkinson Aspdin was postmaster of Wakefield (circa 1863, I need to check the exact year). Joseph Aspdin a Leeds bricklayer (exact ancestry not identified) patented Portland Cement in 1824, and established a manufacturing plant in Kirkgate, Wakefield.

      So now I see you will challenge me with an SS prompt that flushes out some Yorkshire studio CDVs etc. I will be ready to respond.


  3. @Nigel
    For the search tip please have look at the comments in my snow blog.
    I'll be back to read your post!

  4. What a creative post. The pictures of granny, skating and as a young girl are delightful.

  5. Sweet photos, sweet stories, funny photos, and funny stories. Oh, this was fun!

  6. Great idea, the 'then' and 'now' family pictures. Must copy that idea one day.
    You better be careful with Alan. Once he starts delving into your family... Indeed, be prepared!
    PS Wendy suggested another method to look up pictures. Pse see the comments in my post of this week.

  7. Great post, Nigel and even greater photos. Loved the 'get away' car.

  8. I like the way you copied the old pose with your daughters.

  9. Love the way you introduce Granny to all of us in Bloogersland

  10. Fun, fun, fun read. My favorite picture is of the Slater sisters skating on a winter's afternoon. In Klamath county where I grew up, when the ponds froze, mom's and little kids dropped everything and skated, working folks and school aged kids spent every nite twirling and falling and of course playing a good game of kick the can. Thanks for a delightful post and great pics.

  11. Lovely informal photo of the sisters skating.

  12. What a wonderful post! Spies, ice skating in skirts, stories of delays and then to get to see your wonderful home. Happy Birthday, Alice!

    Kathy M.

  13. That was such a fun post. But by far I loved the story of Alice's funeral and the battery dying and the hearse having to be pushed. Sounds like something out of a film.

  14. What great family photos! I am a romantic about families who live in a home built by their ancestors surrounded by family history and able to recreate a pose as you did.

  15. I did too! Ha! Ha! But I couldn't remember his name! I had the same desire to go this route! Nicely done, and perfect photos too!

  16. Really enjoyed your post and the introduction to your family, then and now!

  17. Of course you wouldn't get out and push -- teenage boys are SO uncooperative (but they usually grow up to be wonderful men)! Fabulous house, pictures...

  18. Really like the pairing of photos of then, and now,you and your girls.

  19. An intriguing start to the post with the link to "The spy who stayed out in the cold" and I loved your family photographs and the story they told - my favourites the skaters and the group of children.

  20. A very nice medley of new and old photos. Now I do notice that the skater's figures have a slight deviation from true semi-circles, more like parabolas really. Now I'm no expert on skating, but there has to be a reason for this. Why can't they stick to right angles? |:-)

    1. That will teach me not to leave obscure observations on your Post referring to wibbly-wobbly grid lines in an apparently otherwise perfect toffee-square country. But subsequent research has shown that exactness is not a necessity is US surveying matter. The monument "The Beginning Point" of the U.S. Public Land Survey is a monument at the border between the U.S. states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, on the north side of the Ohio River. A plaque at the site states that the true starting point was 1,112 feet further south!!! I guess they had an uncooperative land owner !!

  21. Interesting to see those two pics,
    100 years apart.
    A man and his two daughters.
    History repeating itself?!?
    Let's hope it's a good story for it to repeat itself like that.