Wednesday, October 2, 2013

9 Days of Lennon; Day 2 Aunt Mimi and Uncle George

Day two of "9 Days Of Lennon" is dedicated to his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George who in 1944 up until late teen and early adult took care of John Lennon.




"The Guitar's all right for a hobby, John, but you'll never make a living at it."- Mimi Smith

Mimi Smith was born as Mary Elizabeth Stanley to George Ernest Stanley and Annie Millward on April 24, 1906. She was brought up with four younger sisters, Elizabeth, Harriet, Anne, and Julia who was the mother of our John Lennon. The Stanley's moved to 9 Newcastle Road, near Penny Lane and later home of Julia, Alfred, and John Lennon. In 1945 Mimi and Julia took the role of caretaker to their father after their mother had passed away.

In 1932 Mimi was working as a trainee nurse and as a private secretary for Ernest Vickers. Across the street lived George Smith, a milk man who delivered milk to the hospital. George and Mimi dated for seven years and were finally wed on September 15,1939.  The couple bought a home in Mendips, 251 Menlove Ave where John was later brought up and lived with Mimi and George (read more about how John came to live with his aunt and uncle here.)

George later passed on from a liver hemorrhage in 1955.
"We (Mimi's husband an I) got on fine. He was nice and kind. (When) he died, I didn't know how to be sad publicly - what you did or said - so I went upstairs. When my cousin arrived and she came upstairs as well. We both had hysterics. We just laughed and laughed. I felt very guitar afterward." -John Lennon (1967) 
 After his death Mimi was left to raise the 15 year old John Lennon which wasn't the easiest. John had became what was known as a "Teddy Boy", swearing, tough personality. Smoking, skipping school and had gained the reputation as a trouble maker.
"I was fairly tough at school, but I couldn't organise it so it seemed like I was tough. It used to get me into trouble. I used to dress tough like a Teddy boy, but if I went into the tough districts and came across other Teddy boys, I was in danger. At school it was easier because I could control it with my head so they thought I was tougher than I was. It was a game. I mean, we used to shoplift and all those things, but nothing really heavy. Liverpool's quiet a tough city. A lot of the real Teddy boys were actually in their early twenties. They were dockers. We were only fifteen, we were only kids - they had hatchets, belts, bicycle chains, and real weapons. We never really got into that, and if somebody came in front of us we ran, me and my gang." -John Lennon (1975)
 The home John grew up in on Menlove Avenue had inspired and were the start of were Paul McCartney, who he'd meet in 1957, would write their very early songs on the front, glass en-closed porch. The home is not too far from the Salvation Army house, Strawberry Field, which later inspired The Beatles hit, "Strawberry Fields Forever", which was released on their 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour. If Mimi didn't take in John he would of most likely would of gone to Strawberry Field and the lyrics containing all about his child hood. For example, "Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see" meaning the orphans seeing families walking by the orphanage and not understanding where their parents and family is. "Nothing to get hung about" penalties in the states at  were the electric chair but in England it was hanging, so the line "Let me take you down, Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields" means trespassing into Strawberry Field and it's nothing to get hung about. He was always writing and Mimi would always find his poems and would throw them out. In his later writing when it got really emotional and deep in thought he'd use secret handwriting so Mimi couldn't read it

"She always wanted me to be a rugby type or a chemist. I was writing poetry and singing since she had me. All the time I used to fight and say, 'Look, I'm an artist, don't bug me with all this maths. Don't try and make me into a chemist or a vet., I can't do it.'
I used to say, 'Don't destroy my papers.' I'd come home when I was fourteen and she'd rooted all my things and thrown all my poetry out. I was saying, 'One day I'll be famous and you're going to regret it.'"- John Lennon (1972) 

In 1964, The Beatles went on their World Tour (read more here) and John arranged them to tour in New Zealand so Mimi could visit her sister, Harriet there. Mimi stayed in New Zealand for five months and in 1965 John purchased a house for Mimi due to fans constantly surrounding the house in Mendips and stealing whatever they could get their hands on.


The two always stayed close even when John moved to the states in 1971 with second wife, Yoko Ono, who Mimi was never a fan of. John never returned to England after moving to the United States but phones his aunt once a week, sometimes twice. She recalls her last time speaking to John, December 8, 1980. He told her, "I'll be seeing you soon, Mimi. I can't wait to see you."  the next morning as she watched the news she had seen her beloved nephew was shot and killed in New York by a deranged fan.

Mimi died December 6, 1991 at home in Dorset, England. She was being taken care of by a house nurse, Lynne Varcoe who was helping her to bed when she said her last words, "Hello, John."



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