Thursday, March 26, 2009

Family legends

Over on oneminutewriter today's challenge is to write about tale that has been passed down through your family. I started to tell one story about my great-grandfather and then realised there were lots I could choose from.

My great-grandfather was born in a pub in Mumbles. At that time Mumbles was a popular haunt for wealthy yachting types and a Turkish pasha was amongst the visitors. One evening a conversation took place in the bar between the landlord, my great-great-grandfather, and one of his customers. It went something like this.

Customer: 'I hear that Turkish bloke's gone.'
Landlord: 'What, Pasha?'
Customer: 'Yeah, him.'
Landlord: 'No, he hasn't.'
Customer: 'Yes, he has. It said in the papers.'
Landlord: 'No, he's still here.'
The conversation continued along those lines until the landlord said, 'I bet you he's still here!'
The customer took up the bet - I don't know how much was involved - and the landlord went upstairs and brought down his newly-born son. 'Here he is,' he said.
'That's not Pasha!'
'Oh yes it is. Meet my son, Hobart Pasha Honey!'

(According to Chambers Dictionary, pasha is a Turkish title, abolished in 1934, given to governors and high military and naval officers.)

My great-grandfather grew up to become a plasterer who worked with different builders. One of the builders he worked for was called Mr Sparrow and he owed my great-grandfather a lot of money. One day Hobart Pasha was walking past a building and seeing Mr Sparrow on the top of it, took away the ladder before yelling, 'Your name is sparrow so now fly, you bugger, fly!'

In the early part of the twentieth century, he travelled to America and worked in Michigan on the building of the Lincoln Motor Company Plant in Detroit. After working there a few years he returned home but then went back out for another period of time during which Henry Ford took over the company. When he returned to Wales after that, Henry Ford himself (!) sent a man over to appeal to my great-grandfather to go back and work there again. By now my grandmother was married and Henry Ford offered to pay the passage for all the family, including my gran and her husband and child, to go as well. The offer was turned down but, just think, I could have been an American!


Amanda said...

I looked at that this morning.....
I have no idea if this true but my grandad told us that one his cousins was on the titanic....

James Higham said...

Lovely name, Mr. Sparrow.

Cicero Sings said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

Wow, what an accomplishment ... to actually write a novel ... let alone trying to get it published! I lack such imagination. Good for you. Keep trying.

Some interesting family history. A neat writer's challenge.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

What a fascinating look back at a bit of family history! If he had taken that offer, your history would have been rewritten, but I'll bet you would still be a writer!

nick said...

He must have been quite an asset to be head-hunted like that. Any idea why he turned down such a fabulous offer?

Liz said...

You have to believe family myths, amanda!

I've got a feeling he was Billy sparrow, james.

Thanks to you too, cicero!

I suppose 'I' wouldn't exist, morning glories.

Because the family didn't want to go, I believe, nick.

Furtheron said...

Hi glad the RSS reader is a success... yes you have to go to the blog normally to comment, wordpress (depending on template) might give you a direct link, Blogger doesn't as yet I don't believe...

Furtheron said...

My Uncle as on the Ark Royal when it was hit in the war.

My Grandad had loads of stories about him - he was a big union man in the 30s, we've pictures of him at conferences etc.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Lovely story.

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Sharon Richards said...

I believe we are related because my grandfather's brother Hobart Pasha Honey was born in Mumbles, information I found from the census.

Pauline and John said...

I've just found your story about Hobart Pasha Honey. Part of my ancestry is from the Honey line who came from Cornwall. I'm going to add a web link to my tree on Ancestry about your great grandfather. I've also got a tree at if you care to have a look.