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About my Grandparents

I never knew my Granddads.

Granddad Lowey was born on 21st January 1886
in Greenock Scotland and Dada Mason on 11th October 1882 in India. For all I knew as a small child, both were born in countries that could have been a million miles away from Peterborough Northamptonshire (now Cambridgeshire), my
home town.

Granddad Lowey was one of nine children and I was told he was the shortest of his five brothers; just under six feet tall. He was a spirits salesman by trade. His untimely death in 1917 was caused by injuries received in the Great War. He had been severely disabled when as a soldier he fell from a moving train transporting troops. He left my Granny to bring up five young children (though George died in infancy). My dad became man of the house at nine years old.

Dada Mason was one of six, four boys and two girls. Stocky and of average height, he carried the ‘red’ gene; hair like Rob Roy and freckles the size of saucers. (Well almost). He dropped out of medical school and qualified as an engineer attached to the Military English Service (M.E.S.), a service peculiar only to the Indian Army.

He could not wait for me to grow up and died from a heart attack on 28th October 1943. I was only nine months old. He had brought his family to settle in England in 1937 when the Raj had started to crumble. His children were all grown up and when he died, he was succeeded by my nana, my mum and her brothers Bill, Peter, Basil and Michael. The oldest boy, John had been killed in 1941.

I did know my Grandmothers.

Granny Lowey, born in Greenock 1888, had married my Granddad there on 11th July 1906. She remained a widow from 1917 until her death sometime in the early fifties. I think I was about ten when she died and although I only remember meeting her about three times, she must have made a big impression on me as I can still see her clearly today. She was a tiny, rounded granny who looked just like that – a granny. I could never understand her, though whether this was because of her profound deafness, her broad Scottish accent or a combination of both, I don’t know.

camera Click here to view a picture of My Dad
and Granny Lowey in Greenock.

Nana Mason was nothing like Granny Lowey. She was born in India on 27th July 1890 and married there in a place called Roorkee. She towered over my mum who in turn was only a fraction higher than Granny Lowey. Nana had a dark swarthy complexion, smoked like a chimney and smelled like an ashtray. And as if that wasn’t enough, she spoke like the majority of Anglo Indians* with a funny accent; a lilting sing song accent that sounded very much like Welsh and known as chi chi, but I could understand her easily. Although I never recognised it as a child, Mum also spoke in this same sing song accent though not as pronounced as Nana’s.Like Granny Lowey, Nana Mason remained a widow from her husband’s death in 1943 until her own in 1962.

She played a prominent part in my formative years. While Dad was away during the war, she lived with us. She showed me how to make pastry and together we would read a column from the magazine ‘John Bull’ by Henan Swaffer. (Or I suppose she read it and I listened) I understand that she caused a lot of family arguments, usually over religion, but I liked her and I think she liked me. I suppose I was too young to answer her back. I was also far too young to understand the many problems caused by religion. I doubt other family member’s recollections of Nana would be as pleasant as mine.

My story about Mum’s life in India revolves a great deal around Nana Mason.

camera Pic 1. Picture of Nana Mason
Pic 2. Nana Mason and my Mum

*Anglo Indian – at the turn of the century (1906) this was the term applied to the British who served in India and not as now to people of mixed blood. At that time they were known as Eurasians.

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009