James ‘Jim’ Glover, my grandfather, was a Customs man. He was born in 1909 and grew up in Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon. The second of the five children of Henry Alfred Glover and Florence Selina Dolton, he joined the Navy in his teens. He was in the last group of men who trained on HMS Impregnable, the navy training ship and was promoted to be a writer on HMS Lucia fairly quickly. By 1931 he was working in Newlyn, Cornwall, as a Customs Officer. There he met my grandmother, Mary Jelbert.
One year they went to the Helston Furry Dance with friends, and they saw a man with a stall selling cheap stockings – roll up, roll up!
They bought a couple of packs, but when they opened them in the pub later they fell about laughing when they found their bargain stockings were full of holes. Grandad, however, was not impressed. What, he said, if an old lady had bought them to save her money and then found she’d been ripped off? So they all headed back to the stall where Grandad stood at the back of the crowd, waving the holey stockings, shouting “Got any more of these mate?” The trader was not happy, tried to shush Grandad and gave them their money back; he made a lot fewer sales that day…
That same day Granny paid for something and the seller counted accurately the change into his own hand then tipped it into Granny’s hand. Grandad, sharp-eyed customs man, immediately slapped the back of the seller’s hand and said “That one too!” and the final coin fell out from where the hawker had carefully slipped it between his fingers.
Grandad had a tattoo on his arm. Once I asked him what it said and they both laughed; Granny said it was the name of ‘a bit of stuff’ he knew before her so he had scribbled it out. They married in Newlyn and lived together for his work at various times in Plymouth, Grimsby , Poole and Newlyn. Together they had three children.
Grandad was a keen sportsman, growing up in a sports-mad family. He played football for various Cornish teams, and captained Penzance Magpies when they won the Penzance & District Charity Cup in 1938. I found many match reports of his game in the Cornishman for that period in the British Newspaper Archive. Sport is big in Cornwall! All his life he would walk for miles a day, with his dogs Rusty, Bosun and Skipper.
When we used to visit when we were kids, Grandad would take my brother and I down to the beach in the mornings to play on the sand, or the rocks depending on the tide, to let Mum and Dad have a lie-in. In the evenings we liked it when he would take us down to the harbour and we would try to guess the registration ports of the fishing boats moored in Newlyn Harbour, sometimes four deep. FY Fowey! SS St Ives! GY – er Grimsby? Yeah!
© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black, 25 June 2014