Sunday, 18 January 2009

Friendly Ghosts


I had the most wonderfully emotional day last Wednesday. I'd just been to the Merchant Taylor's Hall for a meeting (all will be revealed shortly!) and had a sudden urge to visit the Imperial War Museum. I'd never been before but as I've been reading a book called Nella Last's War, a collection of diary entries by a 1940s housewife taken from the Mass Observation records, I was desperate to immerse myself in some more history.

As I arrived I noticed there was an exhibition about the Windrush dedicated to Caribbean service men and women, so I spent quite some time there. In the second half of the exhibition I felt drawn to a cabinet, dedicated to the life of Cyril Blake who was a popular jazz musician as well as serving in the RAF. Inside, there was an old photograph of Cyril (sat at the front with his trumpet in hand) and his band the Emperors of Jazz and stood at the back, holding a clarinet is the man I believe to be my grandfather.

 

I know, it's totally out of the blue. I never knew him as he was in New York by the time I was born and he died three years later. He was so illusive we only have a small amount of information about him. His name was Freddie Grant (which is also the name of the man in the photo) he played clarinet and saxophone (see the clarinet in his hand) but most of all, he LOOKS like my father...and he has the Grant cheek bones and smile! When I got home I did more digging and all the dates, locations etc all add up and it turns out this Freddie Grant was a key player in the world of Calypso Jazz. So now, my mission for 2009 is to prove this man is my grandfather. Wish me luck!

5 comments:

  1. Wow! Good luck in your hunt. What an amazing and lovely story.

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  2. that is crazy! good luck finding out everything that you can - so unexpectedly wonderful!

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  3. Oh wow!!! Great story! I love when things like this happen. You were meant to see that photograph :)

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  4. Hello

    I was searching for information about my grandfather George 'happy' Blake who is the brother of Cyril Blake and found your site. I must tell my sister who has done extensive work tracing our complicated family history. Maybe you could help each other. Best wishes. Sue Blake

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  5. Hi Sue!

    Wow! I'm just amazed at the response I've had to this piece since I posted it-so many people offering information have popped up out of the woodwork, so much so that I've managed to trace the existing contingency of the Grant family not only in London but New York, Germany and of course, Guyana. I'd love to find out how your sister's search has been going and also if there's any information I may have. Where abouts are you based? Please email me directly if you would like to: info@grantriley.co.uk

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