Eileen Rowe: My Gran

My Gran Ethel Dodds lived and had a shop in Denmark Street. She never smoked or drank but she was a devil for the gee gees. The family have spoken of the years when she was a back street bookie, this entailed taking bets in the back alley. Apparently, she always had a babe in arms nestled to her body in a shawl when taking bets. This was not a nurturing act, there were lookouts at the end of the alleys and as soon as the police were sighted she was quick to push the betting slips into the babies nappy, the one place the police never looked.

Ethel was apparently a bit of a character, running a bit of tick at the shops was a regular occurrence and in some instances it was known for customers to go to another shop when they couldn’t pay anything off their debt. My gran would go and stand at the works gate where their husbands worked. She was a tall lady and I am told with arms folded she would tackle the husbands about their wives jumping the debt. I hasten to add few tried it on again with Ethel. Mind she would be up before light to bake bread and pasties for the men to buy on their way to the works at the bottom of Cannon Street.

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