Maria Concepcion Granados Rey - Connie
(name at birth following the Spanish
January 14, 1906, Maria Concepcion Granados, second
child and first daughter born to Ramon and Concepcion
was born in Sevilla, Spain. At age 5, she left Spain
for America with her mother, older brother, Luis and
two younger sisters, Rose and Clara.
"Connie", she spent her childhood in Mt. Rainier
and Riverdale, Maryland. On December 8, 1927 Connie
married Arthur McKnew in Holy Redeemer Church in Berwyn,
MD. Together they had six children; Mary, Arthur, Louise,
Roxsena (Roseanne ),Joanne and Richard.
died December 3, 1997 and is buried in Ft. Lincoln Cemetery
in NE Washington, DC.
Mary, Artie, Louise, Roxsena and Joanne
children of Connie Granados McKnew
Her life was shaped by the years living
at home caring for her nine sisters and brothers. Her
mother, a beautiful, gentle Spanish daughter of privilege,
was a maker of lace and an accomplished pianist before
moving to rural Maryland via Cuba and Washington DC.
Her father taught the Spanish language to diplomats
and lived away from home most of the week. Momma was
responsible for much of the cleaning and cooking to
be done in her parents house. Because of this
dependency by the family, Daddy asked her father for
permission to marry. Momma said that her father did
not bring her mother to their wedding, for what reason
I do not know. They were married just under one year
when I was born. Daddy and Momma lived in a tiny bungalow
in Bladensburg MD, which backed up to the B&O railroad
freight spur line. The thundering freight cars used
to make Artie and I scream in fright, so they moved.
mother, (Abuela) died of peritonitis (appendicitis)
when Artie and I were very small, leaving Uncle Tony,
the youngest boy, needing a stable home to care for
him. He lived with Aunt Kitty and Uncle Ramón
until he was old enough to make his own way. Abuelo
ran the house until his sudden death in the 30s.
to our grandfather were frequent. There were chicken
coops and rabbit hutches, and a huge vegetable garden
which provided meals for the table. He also grew grapes
for wine. Abuelo, (Way-lo) had large barrels
of wine fermenting in his basement. One fall day, we
found our Uncles Tony and Johnny stomping grapes in
a huge tub under the walnut tree. They wouldnt
let us help! Another favorite treat at his house were
the ghost stories told best by Beano and Tony in a dark
closet, which left us wide eyed and scared.
would steam the then plentiful Blue Crabs. The families
would gather to eat them in the big kitchen. Once they
turned the basket of live crabs over to see us scramble
screaming for the chairs. We also sat with the family
to eat Calentitos with sugar. What a treat THAT was!
the disturbing side, I remember the loud arguments between
Wa-lo and my mother. His words were punctuated
by a pounding fist on the table, which made the coffee
cups rattle. (Mediterranean men were raised to be in
total control of the lives of their children. Should
they differ with him, in any way, he would become the
dictator demanding they change their lives or leave.
Young adult Spanish-Americans would not tolerate this.)
So our mother was the mediator and protector of her
brothers and sisters when there were conflicts between
Great Depression caused a lack of jobs, forcing our
parents to move three or four times.
move from Riverdale to Branchville MD, found them trying
to fit all their furniture and beds into a four-room
bungalow with a big fenced yard. The three of us children
slept in one room. Louise, Artie and I never knew cold
or hunger or being deprived. We knew we were loved,
because we were disciplined quickly when we needed it,
mostly for quarreling among ourselves. There was no
permissive rearing in Mommas family.
Depression years forced a mentality of Do it yourself
when one wanted an unaffordable goal. Momma was resourceful.
She raised chickens for a meat and egg business, made
candy, and sewed our clothes as well as our own.
made screens and did any kind of work available until
he found work once again as an electrician. Daddy and
Momma experimented with bottling root beer. Occasionally,
they would hear corks pop and bottles break during the
fermenting process. Momma would run down the basement
screaming in frustration. We knew money was scarce,
we heard it all the time. However, birthday gifts were
still bestowed, although very practical. She made our
Christmases magical, yet our presents were useful. Socks,
warm mittens and hats, pencil boxes, crayons, box games
were the usual gifts. For entertainment, we visited
friends and relatives and played while our parents played
cards and talked. Birthday parties for cousins were
a major picture-taking event, bringing us second-generation
Granadoss ever closer together.
Saturday, Momma would drive with us into Washington
to the Farmers Market. Farmers, fishermen, orchard owners
called out their wares and prices. While we experienced
sights and smells of vegetables, fruits, live chickens,
turkeys, she got the best prices possible.
parents insisted on the best education available for
us, which was the Catholic elementary school, Holy Redeemer.
Some of our Granados cousins also attended there. While
we received a good education from the Sisters Providence
(discipline, too), Momma was an active part of the Mothers
Club. She and the other mothers served monthly school
luncheons for a brown-bag student body. The savory hot
dogs on rolls, cakes, popcorn balls or candy apples
on a stick were a lot of work and so-o-o much enjoyment
for the students. She helped with school bazaars, May
Processions, and raffles, whatever it took to assist
Grandmother, Abuela, had been an accomplished pianist
before she married and moved to the United States. Although
we lived in a country village, our mother was determined
to educate us in the culture of a musical education,
because it was the RIGHT thing to do. Somehow, Momma
acquired an upright piano, then squeezed it into our
tiny living room. A local piano teacher and our mother
conspired to ruin much of our playtime. Louise and I
hated practicing, hated the daily nagging, and the guilt
trips for wasting $2.00 a week! We battled with her
for what seemed to be years until finally she relented
and we stopped. Daddy played violin with his musician
friends. In those growing years, we often heard classical
and religious music in our house. Better late than never,
as adults, Artie, Louise and I have played guitar, and
piano. I sing in the church choir. Louise branched into
organ and bell choir. Daddy loved his violin! When he
was a very sick old man, he sold his treasured instrument
in order to keep it from being set aside in a closet
somewhere as a revered memory and souvenir; maybe even
to keep us from fighting over it!
the 1930s, during the Spanish Civil War, Momma and Uncle
Luis had infrequent letters from Spain. This caused
a lot of anguish about the safety of their grandmother,
Chacha, our many cousins and aunts. For the most part,
her proud heritage was hidden away; and, no Spanish
was spoken at home. In those years, the United States
was not the multi-cultural society we know now. No one
wanted to be different, because you were discriminated
learned more about Mommas Spanish years during
her nursing home days. At that time in her life the
past was more real than the present. She talked about
the death of her baby sister, Angelina. She resented
the fact that her mother never was permitted to return
to Spain to see her mother again, although We-lo
went there often on business.
-Im not sure what kind of a childhood Momma
had. She seldom spoke of her childhood. I expect that
Momma had to be there to help her mother raise the younger
children. Her mother, she would tell us, would always
know whose feast day it was that day. Abuela would talk
to her about the saints and what they were noted for.
Momma never went out of the house to go
to work, although she worked long and hard, sewing,
washing, and cooking, to keep the family clean and dressed.
In 1941, when I graduated from Holy Redeemer Elementary
School, we moved to a very large house in East Riverdale.
one hundred-year-old house was intriguing, but it cost
dearly to heat.
school tuition, dental bills, and the cost of Daddys
car often had them making Robbing Peter to Pay
Paul choices. Resourceful as always, Momma and
Daddy rearranged our home to make two bedrooms available
for boarders. She provided them with a private room
and weekday dinners. We met teachers from Maryland,
a government clerk, and Italian bricklayers from New
Jersey. We learned quickly to knock on the one bathroom
door and wait.
The big house on Riverdale Road was the center
of our world as we grew up with our dog, Boy,
a black and white English setter. I do not remember
where he came from or what happened to him but he was
a good dog.
World War II started and the house was
opened up to boarders. Jobs were plentiful and housing
was scarce in Washington, DC. Mr. Lee, the clerk, was
a quiet, shy man. We were cautioned not to irritate
him. He helped Artie with his reading. We helped Momma
keep the house clean and helped her with the dishes
(no dishwashers in those years). The one bathtub in
the house seemed always to have a grimy ring around
had chickens under the back porch until they got too
smelly. Then, she had Daddy and his carpenter friend
build a chicken house way back in the yard. Feeding
the chickens fell to us. Cousin Bob and I used to go
in the yard and hypnotize the chickens. We would tip
toe out of the yard and leave them there on the ground
mesmerized. We would then pick up a rock and throw it
in the yard; and, they would wake up, squawking loudly
and run around.
thought nothing of grabbing a chicken, slapping it on
a board, twisting a bent nail around its neck, chopping
off its head and tossing it over in the weeds. Then
she would pour boiling water over the feathers, pluck
the chicken, clean and dress it for dinner.
loved her flower garden and spent a great deal of time
out in the yard. It was her therapy. In the spring,
she had a big semi-circle of daffodils blooming. We
all waited for them to come into bloom. Later, she planted
a rose garden with a Blessed Mother statue and trellis.
those days, we had a Victory garden, canned
tomatoes, and made apple sauce from our apple trees.
We always had summer tomatoes and green beans. We picked
wild blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries from
our yard. Sometimes Momma came home with a bushel of
peaches and we would all have to help her can them in
the summer heat of a steamy kitchen. They tasted so
good during the cold winter months.
those war years Aunt Beano came to live with us. Uncle
Johnny joined the Army and served in Africa in the infantry
that eventually took him through Italy. Uncle Tony joined
the Marines and got into pilot training. He had the
task of transporting fighter planes from one location
to the other. Whenever he could, he would deviate from
the flight plan, fly over our house and buzz us. After
a few minutes of circling the house and hearing the
low drone of the plane, we would all scream at each
other and run up the stairs, up into the attic and up
the ladder to the flat roof on the house, grabbing something
to wave on the way. Tony would waggle the wings and
Easter, our Aunt Dorothy McKnew was given three baby
ducks as a gift. They came immediately to live in our
chicken house and grew into large white ducks that would
act as watch ducks whenever a car drove
into the yard. We had to feed and clean them, two died,
but by Thanksgiving the one remaining duck had become
our pet duck. Momma saw it as DINNER duck!!
Our pleadings fell on deaf ears; and, our pet met the
same fate as the chickens. The baked duck sat there
on our Thanksgiving table, but none of us would eat
it! He had been our pet; and, it just didnt seem
right. Momma got so mad, she said, Im never
going to try to fix a good duck dinner for any of us
again! But she did.
remember Momma always working, washing, cooking, cleaning,
sewing, and ironing. She seldom stopped. She raised
six children in the old Jefferson Avenue (renamed Riverdale
Road) house and on occasion some grandchildren. That
house saw birthdays, weddings, Christmas and Thanksgiving
When I was born in 1945, my mother and
father already had three children, half grown and a
baby girl, Roseanne, 18-months old. In 1948, when I
was two years old, my brother Dickey was born. As I
remember, I stayed outside a lot. In the winter, we
did not miss our nap and went to bed at 8:00.
Dickey was the apple of their eyes. He
was the youngest son, born at a time in their lives
when they were older and secure in life. He received
their best as their youngest child and grew up thinking
the world was his for the taking.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful time. It was
the time of the year that all the kids and grandchildren
shared the good times, watched with wonderment while
Daddy, on his birthday, said the grace and craved the
turkey sipping a glass of Sherry on the side. Each year,
we added another table, until we were around the corner
of the dining room and into the living room.
Christmas, when I was little, Momma would drag out the
movie camera; and, Daddy held the million-watt spotlight
as we were called down to open our presents. After our
eyes adjusted to the spotlight, we opened our presents.
Mom would be saying in the background, Smile.
What did Santa bring you? Hold it up for the camera!
This was an extra special season in our house. When
we got older, there was Midnight Mass. I remember, one
year she made Roseanne and I Christmas skirts that had
decorations (tinsel, bells, holly, and little colored
ornaments). Dickey showed his cowboy hat, outfit, and
along with a number of other parishioners at Saint Bernards,
was instrumental in putting together a manger scene,
made of mechanical figures with angels signing Panis
Angelicus in the background. I remember how proud
up, I remember when my sisters married. Louise gave
us all her stuff that she didnt want. I still
have the wooden cedar box she gave me. Our old house
on Riverdale Road was a big house with a very interesting
attic. In the winter, we played up there a lot and also
in the basement, which was an old-fashioned huge place
with an oil- burning furnace.
(the house) It was a haven for all of us,
especially the ones who had to come home to regroup.
Daddy was so proud of a boat he built in
the basement from a kit. It took him a very long time
to finish. When he finished the boat, it wouldnt
fit through the door to bring it outside. Artie and
Tim had to dismantle the basement door to get the boat
was the boss, but Daddy was always on call and always
right there when she needed him. We had a very large
yard. He cut the grass every week with a hand mower
at first, then a gas engine mower. He changed the storm
windows every season by himself and fixed all the small
appliances. He was a good electrician.
parents were devout Catholics, brought us up in the
church, sent us to Catholic school, paid tuition for
each of us, and, made sure we went to Confession and
Mass each Sunday. Even though the money was very tight,
Momma stayed at home, raised her six children and helped
Louise raise her children. They, as well as several
of our aunts and uncles, were very active in St. Bernards
Parish. At that time, we knew almost everyone in the
parish. My father and most of the men in the parish
used their skills to build the church and the school
for their children. These buildings are still standing
today (50 years later). With her movie camera, my mother
photographed the parishioners building the church. This
was her way of preserving the history of Saint Bernards.
Her film is preserved to this day in the archives of
important part of what made our mother special was her
Spanish upbringing. After she had made several trips
back to Sevilla, Spain, her birthplace, she spoke often
of the customs there and played the music of her country
in our house. This became her passion. She instilled
in all of us her love for her family through her love
for her dear homeland.
As the result of one trip to Spain, her
cousin, Paco, allowed one of his daughters, Lili, to
live with them, attend school, become a Girl Scout and
generally become an American girl. When the time came
for Lili to return to the Spain, she had a difficult
time becoming, once again, the submissive Spanish daughter.
In later years, Lili majored in English literature and
is presently a professor in the English Department with
the University of Sevilla, Spain.
In the 1960s, Momma and Daddy sold
the house in Riverdale and moved to a brand new house
in College Park Estates.
A developer wanted the land to build apartments.
By that time, Riverdale Road had become very noisy and
We came back sadly one day when the fire
department, in a training exercise, burned down the
empty house. It was old, we had moved on with our lives.
Momma would not go.
we felt that we had to be there to
give homage to a house that had been a home to so many
They were aging and things changed somewhat.
I was older, attending Catholic high school. I didnt
interact with Momma or Daddy much, because I was mostly
making my own path in the world. Momma also had changed
her interests somewhat and accepted an offer to work
at one of the local libraries. She learned from Aunt
Lola how to make beaded flowers and made flower arrangements
and sold them for many years.
(formerly Roseanne) Our mothers life was
an expression of family values, as well as love and
respect for tradition. She was the ultimate Grandma.
However, she also had the drive and determination to
strike out on her own. When it was evident that there
would not be enough money for their retirement, mother
found a job in the DC school system. She moved on to
become a popular employee at the Public Library in Hyattsville.
Momma continued to show maternal concern
for her sisters and brothers throughout her life. She
hosted and attended wedding and baby showers, birthday
parties, and grieved with them when tragedy marked their
lives. In her last years, she prayed with their families
at their funerals and when her mind became confused
and memory was erratic, her sisters and brothers faces
were always recognized. She was so glad to see them.
Daddys health was not that good.
He retired and created a few hobbies of his own. They
eventually sold that house and moved to old Greenbelt
until his death. She later moved into an apartment at
Green Ridge House in Greenbelt, where she was highly
respected by the other senior citizens in her building.
When you walked into her apartment, you could see all
the love she had for her dearest things. She loved her
pictures of the family, her Spanish statues, her Spanish
paintings and her African violets. I will never forget,
whenever we visited Momma, the loving look she gave
you when you came in the door. She never let on how
her poor back felt. She enjoyed immensely her collection
of Spanish folk song tapes and opera music, even old
lullabies and Spanish poetry.
sent birthday cards to each child, grandchild, and great
grandchild like clockwork. Mommas later years
were lonely, but she did not let that stop her from
keeping busy. She suffered in silence with the loss
of Daddy and my brother Dickey, which affected her deeply
when he died suddenly at 39 years of age.
Dickeys drive and intelligence made
him a competent and highly regarded electrician. He
was always looking for other challenges. Momma and Daddy
were frequently dismayed at his escapades. He gave Momma
three fine grandsons of whom she was very proud.
Dick was a very smart electrician and was quite
good at articulating the details of electrical power
systems to our customers. I wish I had spent more time
Dick cared for all of his children. He
took care of his young son, Matthew, when his first
MCKNEW BEAKES (Dickies first wife, mother of Matthew)
- We married in July of 1971 after a whirlwind
courtship. In that time period I had the wonderful privilege
of getting to know Dickies family. I came from
a very small family so it was quite a shock to me to
be surrounded with so many people. It was difficult
to put names with faces, but the one thing that was
not difficult was to receive all the love that was given
to me, especially by Connie and Arthur.
the time we lived in College Park, I was indoctrinated
into the rich Spanish culture that Connie was raised
in. She showed me home movies of her trips to Spain.
She fixed the most wonderful food I think I have ever
eaten. She gave me the most beautiful lace scarf that
I wore at our wedding. I met many of the Granados clan
at the reunions and again had trouble remembering all
the names and faces, but I always felt warmly loved
and accepted into the family. The next chapter was the
birth of our son, Matthew. They were so proud and were
our marriage was short lived and we divorced about 1975,
a very sad time. Connie and Arthur although very disappointed
were supportive and loving throughout this difficult
time. They had moved to Greenbelt and I had my own apartment
there, just about a block away from each other. I would
often visit them and continued to do so after Connie
moved to Green Ridge House.
1987 when Dickie died, it was such a shock even though
we were divorced. We had forged a friendship and respect
for each other. I cannot even begin to imagine what
it did to Connie to lose her youngest son, and felt
sad for her and the rest of the family. Blessedly, she
had her deep faith and the love and support of all her
children to help her through it. Her faith was such
an inspiration to me.
later when she left to move closer to Mary, I remember
something that she did for me. It so touched me and
epitomized her loving spirit and loyalty to family.
During the time Dickie and I lived with them, she spend
her evenings making beautiful beaded flower arrangements.
I marveled at her patience and skill. Connie asked that
an arrangement of beaded daisies and cattails in a beautiful
green glass vase be given to me. When Joanne brought
them, I sat down with those flowers and cried. It touched
me so deeply that she would do this and did not surprise
me at all. That was all she did, give of herself to
others and love to her family. Those flowers sit on
a dresser in my bedroom to this day, reminding me of
her so I am thankful for the precious days with her.
She taught me the wonderful gift of faith that those
who pass on share in the lives of loved ones.
(oldest son of Dickey) - "Where shall I start?
My greatest memories of Grandma Connie were
all so wonderful. I remember going to visit her and
in Greenbelt, playing with her dog Toby.
She was always cooking something and you could bet that
if there was something cooking in her kitchen it was
going to be good. She was always there for us (Scott,
Chris, and myself), when Scott was born she came and
stayed at our home in Cheverly to help out while his
mother recovered in the hospital.
really began to get to know her when she was living
at Green Ridge House in Greenbelt. When I would visit,
she would take me out to the garden there and put me
to work. There was always a reward after work, some
Gazpacho soup, Tomatoes and Peppers, or if I was lucky
was fair to all of us and always stressed that we do
well in school. Make sure you keep those marks
up she would say, Without an education you
wont be able to get a good job. If I had
only listened to her!
- I can say now that I didnt get to know
my mother until I got married and came back home to
visit. We seemed to get along well and, for the first
time, I didnt feel like I was in the way or making
her mad. This was because I never really got to know
her. We never talked together much up till then. I know
how she felt and could almost predict what she was going
to say. All through her life, she had a good sense of
humor when things irritated her or went wrong.
Momma loved all of us with a kind of bound-up
love. It wasnt expressed in words or hugs,
but we knew she loved us. She was an independent woman
who loved to sew, read, and made the best of her failing
health when her eyes and arms weakened and she could
no longer do the things she enjoyed. When life dealt
her lemons, Momma made lemonade.
From her beginnings in poverty, she was able to
leave her children a generous spiritual, as well as
Our mother was a special lady. She was
from the old school who taught her children how to be
successful the old fashioned way. We were showed that
a job well done can be very rewarding both economically
and psychologically. This was not always my opinion.
I can remember as a captive audience, her saying that
my standards of excellence were far below what she expected.
I told her, If you were my boss in the working
world, I would quit! Momma was the heart and soul
and chief motivator of the McKnew family. It was only
through the example of loving parents that we acquired
the tools that we needed to raise our own families.
In closing, I truly believed that she loved
her life every second of the day and was truly devoted
to the Blessed Virgin Mary up till her death. We will
all miss this woman, whom we call Momma.