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Document 349

Interview 03: Dundee woman on her childhood

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): Mrs Cerwyss O'Hare, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F631 So, I'm going to take you away back.
F634 mmhm
F631 erm, can you think about what your earliest memory is? //[inaudible]//
F634 //mmhm// //Yes.//
F631 //[inaudible]// [inaudible]
F634 Yes, my earliest memory would be, [tut] I was born in nineteen forty-four. So my earliest memory would probably be about nineteen forty-seven or eight, when I was four year old. And ehm, I had gone to the ponds to get some fish. And I had a jam jar with some string round it, and I had a fishing net, and I had about fifteen little minnows in the water, and I was really, really happy. So I brought it back, and I was climbing up the stairs to go into the house to show off my catch, and the, a girl, who lived above me, who sadly was Down's syndrome and and was a wee bit aggressive, came up the stairs, grabbed the jar, swung it as hard as she could, smashed it against the wall, and all the fish were in a big puddle on the steps, squirming about. And the, just the noise of the glass crashing,
F631 mmhm
F634 and then all these little minnows squirming in the pond was just too much for me, and I evidently ran off, you know, yellin my head off. And eh, I don't know what happened to her, but then, you know she she couldn't really help it. //She was just,//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 she wasn't, she wasn't right. eh, Sheila her name was. And that's that's one of my earliest memories.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm //of, that was in//
F631 //Was that when you lived in Cragie Street?//
F634 Cragie Street. er in the tenement. erm a room and a kitchen. Five of us in that house. Well there was six, but then my dad died. Five of us in that house. My mum, two brothers and a sister and myself, and I was the youngest. And eh, the toilet was on the stair. There was no electricity, until just before we left that, we had gas, gas lamps. erm and we left Cragie Street in, well I was seven, so that would have been nineteen fifty-one. We left Cragie Street in just, it was just before that that they got electric lighting in these houses. The outside was lit by gas lamp, you know, the outside lights
F631 mmhm
F634 in the street, and, on the stairs. The man, the lamp-lighter came at night and put the lights on, and came in the morning and put them off.
F631 mmhm
F634 There was an actual lamp-lighter. And ehm, he came with a great big long pole, that he would, cause the the gas lamps were really high up to keep them away from the kids. So he came up with a great big long pole, and I I don't know how he did it, but he just seemed to stick the pole into the glass and eh the light either went on or it went off.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm [laugh] //I've never yet discovered//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 what that pole was all about.
F631 Yeah.
F634 But ehm, that was what he did. So, it was a [cough], it was a a colourful place //to live,//
F631 //mm//
F634 in many ways! [laugh] [laugh] And er
F631 Ho- how old were you were you, how old were you when your dad died?
F634 I was just er comin up for two, when my dad died. He had some, some injuries in the War and when he came home from the War, he was most unwell and he developed tuberculosis. And there was no cure for tuberculosis in these days. So, he was put into hospital and, when it became clear that he was goin to die, my mum took him out of the hospital, we were all sent out of the house, because it was so contagious, tuberculosis,
F631 uh-huh
F634 so we were put away from the house, you know, ferried out to different people to look after us, and my mum looked after him. And then, he died and the five of us stayed on in the house until, as I say, nineteen fifty-one. And then we were sent out to what, to me [inhale] was the country and was a bungalow. And the council had started to decant people from the central, centre of the city, out to the housing schemes.
F631 mmhm
F634 ehm, which virtually were built in the country, certainly for us townies, erm we were surrounded by fields. ehm in the housing estate that we were sent to.
F631 Is that //the prefab?//
F634 //So,// //No,//
F631 //No.//
F634 that was in Fintry.
F631 Right. //Yeah.//
F634 //in Fintry.// erm, and there was three bedrooms, there was a bath, which was a huge luxury, there was a bath, and a toilet, and, of course, the biggest luxury was that it was indoors. You know, we didn't have to go out to the toilet. erm, and we had a proper kitchen, and a living-room, and a front and back door, and a garden, eh, and that was in- incredible for for, I mean, I only had a short experience of my life in a tenement, but for people who were born and bred and brought up in tenements all their lives, to move out to a council house in the country, erm with all these facilities, was just amazing. But, one of the problems with that was, the council were not very long-sighted, because they put people out there, but there was no infrastructure built. The roads weren't completed, so there was no transport could come out there. There was no shops. So, it meant that people had to walk into town. Now it wasn't that far, it wasn't that far. But, it did mean a hike into town for shopping. Then, they started through time to have some vans come out, you know; a baker van would come out, and a butcher van, and a fish van. But, of course, they were expensive, er because they, you know, they had their overheads for their vehicles. [inhale] So most people trekked into the town. And then gradually, gradually shops were built, as the schemes developed and got bigger, cause we were in the first street that was ever built in Fintry. It was called Fintry Gardens. And that was the first street of this, what is now a huge housing estate. erm but when the, as I say, when the first street was built, there was there was there was no, I mean there was actually no, the road wasn't built, the houses were built,
F631 mmhm
F634 and they were complete, but there was no road. You know, so it was a kind of a muddy track up to the houses. Sounds incredible, because it's all laid out now and everything's, you know, ever- you know, all the roads are complete and there's a huge infrastructure now; there's schools and shops and, you know, clinics and all those kind of thing there now, but there wasn't in these days. But anyway, nevertheless, I thought I had died and gone to heaven, because it was just
F631 [cough]
F634 incredible. In fact, I kept runnin, evidently, I don't remember this, but evidently I kept runnin through the house. It was such a novelty to go in one door, run through the house, and out the other door. erm it was a huge, a huge novelty. And then, like every other novelty, it just became, you know, it just wore off and it was just your house and that was fine. But em [click]
F631 And, //did you go//
F634 //Yeah.//
F631 were you at school age?
F634 Yeah well, [laugh] there's another story wi that, my my mum [sniff] eh I had gone to the school, Glebelands, which was near to Cragie Street, erm, and so, when I moved out to the housing scheme, my mother, I think the next day, my mother took me to the window and pointed to the wee school that was in the field, eh a few fields away, there was a wee school in the field. And she said to me, "See that that building there?" And I said, "Yeah", she said, "That's the school you're going to tomorrow." And, of course, I did my usual, you know, "I don't wanna go to that school, because, you know, I've got all my f-, my friends are at Glebelands; I don't wanna go there." 'oh well you've no choice, that's where you're going'. And eh, the next day, she took me down to the corner of the street and two girls; eh, one was called Ruth Gold and one was called Dorothy Wright, I remember them so clearly. And she said to them, "You goin down to that school?" And they said "yes", and said, "Well take her with you." That's true. Now they would be maybe a year older than me, //you know, they were//
F631 //mm//
F634 bigger than me. ehm, but they took me to the school and they took me in to the headmaster and said, "This is the new girl, she's starting here today." So he said, you know, "what's your name?" Gave him my name and he said, "Go along to room four." And I just had to walk along the corridor and go into room four, and the teacher there said eh, "Just come in." She'd looked at the register, she was obviously expecting me, looked at the register and said, "Just sit down there." And my my worry was that, on the blackboard, they were doin joined-up writing. Joined-up writing! [laugh] //[inhale] and j-//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 And, she said to to the class, "now I want you to copy this passage into your jotter," and she handed me a split new jotter, and a split new pencil and and I said, "oh, I'm sorry, but I don't do that kind of writing." //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 And she said, "Well you do now. That's the kind of writing we do here." So having gone from just, you know, I don't know what you call the not-join-, the un-joined-up writing,
F631 [?]scripture?[/?]
F634 To the to the [laugh] joined-up writing was what I m- it shifted from that, in a matter of a morning.
F631 mm
F634 And eh, and then, came home and was showin off that I could now write in in big people's writing.
F631 mm
F634 You know big people, that was the way big people wrote, so, that was my, that was my jotter and I was very pleased with that; I was worried to begin with, but, you know, I was very pleased with that. And I loved that school. I actually loved that school; it was called Linlathen Primary. And erm one of my teachers, ah was a lady called Eleanor Leith, that we, of course, called Miss Leith.
F631 mm
F634 And eh, but she told us her name was Eleanor. And erm she - I was a bit of a mischief - but she seemed to like me. And, one day, I would, I had a sore tooth, and because, I mean, we didn't have a dentist or anything. God, I don't think I had a toothbrush in these days, never mind a dentist. But anyway, she said, "What's wrong with you?" eh, because I'd maybe been mumpin and sulkin, cause I was in pain with this tooth. And I told her I had a sore tooth and she says, "Well, get your mummy to take you to the dentist." And eh, and I said, "oh well, my mum doesn't have time to do that, you see, because, you know, I mean we don't know where the dentist is", and all this nonsense. So she said, "Well, I tell you what," she said, "I'll take you to a dentist." And eh, at four o'clock, I got to sit in her car. That was a huge excitement. I got to sit in her car, and she took me to this dentist down in Stobswell. We went in, we went up the stairs; it was up a stair. We went up the stair, it was a bit scary, because I'd never been in a dentist, and all the instruments were there and everything. But the great thing was, on his, on the radio, which was in his, the surgery bit, he had Scottish music playing. And all the time the music was playing, he was singing along to it. You know, I mean it was //amazing.//
F631 //mm//
F634 And eh, he sat me in the chair and gave me a swirl round, let us swirl around a wee bit; he knew I was frightened. And Miss Leith just popped her head in and then popped her head out again. And he did whatever he did to the tooth; I don't know whether he p- I don't even know whether he pulled it out or whether he filled it. That I can't remember. But he he looked after the the tooth anyway. And he s- he gave me a little, a little round tin of toothpaste, and a tiny little brush. He just gave it to me to take home. //And he said//
F631 //[cough]//
F634 cause he said, "Do you do you brush your teeth often?" and I said, "No."
F631 Did you not have a tooth- //brush?//
F634 //I didn't// have a toothbrush or toothpaste. So, he gave me the toothpaste and the toothbrush and he said, "now, when you go home, you need to brush your teeth in the morning before you go to school and at night before you go to bed." And he said, "you have very good teeth, but you want to keep them, keep them good. Do you eat many sweeties?" and I said, "No," because we didn't we didn't get sweeties.
F631 uh-huh
F634 erm, but, for some reason, one of my tooth had gone a bit ba-, my teeth had gone a bit bad. So, that was that, and it was the next day at school when when Miss Leith ran me back,
F631 mm
F634 to to where I lived. erm by that time now, we were in a prefab. And eh, so she ran me back to my, to the house, or or to the street where I lived anyway, and I jumped out the car, and eh, she said to me, "Did you notice the name on the dentist's? Did you notice the name on the plaque outside?" And I said, "No." I never even noticed the plaque never mind the name. And eh, she said, "well the name says Gordon S. Leith, eh Dental Surgeon. And Gordon S. Leith is my father." And er I says, "[inhale] your father's a dentist." And she said, "Yes", she said, "so". Now I went to that dentist for years after that.
F631 mmhm
F634 You know, went every six months, or whatever it was, you know, for your check-ups, and eh and kept up, you know, with the dentist for many many years after that. Until I went to Mr Butt, //You know, that//
F631 //Yeah.//
F634 that you've, that you //went to//
F631 //That's// the first dentist I can remember.
F634 mmhm Mr. Leith died, cause I mean he was a good he was a good age when, you know, he was quite elderly.
F631 mmhm
F634 When I went with eh that night with Miss Leith. erm, so he was a good age, and he died and then I didn't have a dentist for a wee while. And then I started going to Mr Butt. And then he was the life-long dentist after that, looked after you folk's teeth as well.
F631 mm
F634 But erm yeah I loved that school. //It was a great school.//
F631 //[inaudible]// //[inaudible]//
F634 //s-, yeah,// yeah, she was a really really nice person Miss Leith. And she was really, she used to give us all a Christmas present. Everybody got a Chri-, the whole class got a Christmas present. It was just a small thing, you know, maybe a penny dainty or something like that, but the great thing was that you got called out of the your desk, you got you got called out of your seat, to come and get it.
F631 mmhm
F634 You felt so important, you know, and she always kept me till last. I was always last, cause I, I was, alphabetically, I was last. We'd nobody behind me, alphabetically, cause I was T for Tait.
F631 mm
F634 And eh and and I was always last. And the anticipation, cause it was always in a little brown, a little brown paper bag,
F631 mmhm
F634 so you didn't know, what what you were gonna get, and everyone got something a wee bitty different. And eh, oh! The anticipation of that was amazing. And then you would go out and she would say something like, "Well I hope you have a very nice Christmas, and em w- take care on the roads and we'll see you after the after the holiday," you know, she always said that.
F631 mmhm
F634 Every year. We had her for two, three years, I think. erm, so she she sticks in my memory as far as teachers are concerned, cause she was so kind. And she was really kind as well to all the naughty ones, you know how, you know, includin myself, erm you had these naughty people. And she she was the one as well em when, she'd said, I was misbehaving one day and she said to me, "em right. Get out". She says, I can't remember did now, she say, "Outside!" No, yeah, she said, "Out!" And I didn't mean, I didn't know whether she meant 'out' the class or 'out' the school. //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 Out of Dundee, or out of everything! So I thought "well, if you stand outside the door, and the headmaster comes along, you get into trouble, cause he knows you've been put out for being naughty." So I thought, "Well, the only thing to do is go home."
F631 [laugh]
F634 And I went right out the school,
F631 [laugh]
F634 And the thing was, I knew that that if I got home, wh- once I got home, there would be nobody in. I I would be stuck, because my mum was working, Olive was at school, My brother was home on leave from the army, but I wasnae very sure about that, whether he would be home. Anyway, it was a winter's day, a dark day, and, when I came up to near the prefab, I could see the light on in the bathroom. So I, phew, I knew he was in. So I went in, and he said to me, "Why are you home? You should be at school." And ehm, and I, first of all, said I was sick and I wasn't feelin well, I was feelin sick. So that was first of all, I thought I'd try that tack. And he said to me - this is Neil - and he said to me, "You don't look sick." And I [?]said, "I've[/?] got a really sore tummy." And, eventually, it came out that I'd been put out, cause I was wantin to ask him whether she meant 'out' forever, or just 'out'. //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 So he said, "Well if you've been naughty, I think you've probably been told to get out, of the classroom, not out of the whole school, and certainly not out of education, //[laugh] the education system," [laugh]//
F631 //[inaudible] [laugh]//
F634 So, he said, "now you know know what you've to do?" and I said, "No." He says, "Well you've to go right back after lunch time, and you've to stand at her desk, and when the school bell rings, you line up, then you go to her, you go to the school, get into the classroom, go to her desk and say, 'Miss Leith I'm really sorry for misbehaving this morning, and I won't do it again.'" And [laugh] and I said, "Well no see I can't do that, because everybody'll laugh." And he says, "Well that's why you've to do it. That's why you've got to say you're really sorry and you won't do it again." And I was going back down the road saying, "I'm not doin that. I'm not doing that. I'm just going to sit in the classroom and I'm not saying anything, I'm just gonna go in, go to my desk and sit down." And eh, I went into the classroom. And I don't know why I did this, I don't know why I did it to this day, but, I sort of sidled up to the desk, and she was trying not to look at me, she could see me out the corner of her eye, but she was trying not to look at me. Eventually she turned round and she said, "Yes?" And I said what Neil said for me to say, with great difficulty, but but I said it. And she just said one word, "Sit!" And [laugh] so I just turned from the desk and sat. But then I was happy, because I thought phew I'm back in again. You know, I wasnae quite sure how things were gonna go, if I was 'out forever',
F631 mmhm
F634 You know, how was I gonna learn things, or or when could I play in the playground, if I wasn't at the school, [laugh] you know, so I was happy to be back in that school system //again.//
F631 //You// were quite known for that kind of thing though weren't you, because there was the time in nursery, as well, when you just sort of went AWOL,
F634 mmhm
F631 Can you tell us about that?
F634 mmhm
F631 [laugh]
F634 Well, it was actually AWOL from school, because
F631 oh //school.//
F634 //you see I was// brought up in the nursery,
F631 mmhm
F634 And I was in the nursery when I was months old, cause my mum had to go to work. And there was all these council nurseries, where babies were taken in. Because it was just after the War and, erm you know, things were very very different. And erm, anyway, I was brought up in Ellengowan nursery. Every day I went there. And I was virtually just taken home at night and put to bed. So the nursery was my home. The nursery was my, was really like my home. And, when I went to school, I I went to school the first day, Went, you know, was taken in, registered and everything, and at play-time, when we came out to play, I just walked out the school and walked back to the nursery, which was within walkin distance of the school.
F631 mmhm
F634 I just went right back to the nursery, because I thought, "Well it's time to go home now. I've had enough of that." And then I had evidently appeared at a window. They had very low windows in this nursery school; the windows were deliberately low, you know, the the windows actually came down quite low, so that the the nurses could see out,
F631 mmhm
F634 if the children were playin out. But I had looked in the window of the matron of the the nursery-school and she was sittin at her desk writing, and she looked up and she said, evidently, she said to my mum, all she could see was this head of blonde curls lookin in the, in the window and thinkin, "oh God! She's back!" //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 "She's gone, oh God, we've got her back." So she she beckoned to me to come in. So when I went into her room, she said to me, "What are you doing here?" And I said, "Well I just came back, because I've been to school now and it was okay, but that's it." And she said, "No no. You don't come back here Audrey. You have to stay at school. You're at school now. You don't come to nursery school." And sh- the, she phoned the school and said, "You'll have to send her sister along for her." Now Olive was in a few primaries above me,
F631 mm
F634 "You'll have to send her sister for her." So Olive came for me, dragging [laugh] me along the road, cause she was fed up, she'd been taken out of a class that she was really enjoying, maybe Art or something. [laugh] And she had to come and collect me. So she took me back. Now after that, I think I was the start of them locking gates and things in //schools.//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 Cause they didna lock the gate. I just walked out of the gate. erm, and I never actually did go back to the nursery school. But, erm I was really sad.
F631 mmhm
F634 You know, because it it really was my my life the nursery school. It was my home for for all these years. And the nurses were like mums really, you know. The nurses, the nursery nurses were all, because you were taken there, like, my mum started in the mills at, she would probably start at half seven, quarter to eight, so I'd be taken there at the back of seven, just after seven. And then I wouldn't be picked up until half five, quarter to six at night. And then, of course, you know, my mum would be tired, so I would be taken home and bathed, or, or maybe not even bathed, just taken home and put to bed really.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm, so that's why it was important that the nursery, that's why the nursery school was so important to me. erm
F631 And what was your granny doing? Was she also working in the mills?
F634 mmhm
F631 When you were that age?
F634 mmhm, yeah. Yeah, yeah, you see there was nobody to look after you, because everybody, you know, my mum's sisters and brothers were all in the mill. And they all did a, they all did a a different job. And my my mum was a spool-winder. erm, which just is exactly what it says, she wound the the flax onto the spools.
F631 uh-huh
F634 And erm, there was a tha- one of my other aunts was a weaver and there was a finisher and there was a flattener and a, there was a sparker and oh there was all the different trades.
F631 mmhm
F634 Of of em the jute industry, and they all worked in different parts of it, you know. My mum said, at one stage, there was a member of the family in every s- every sector of the mill. Right at the beginning and then, because the the flax goes through different processes, you know, it arrives off the ships from Pak- or, you know, it arrived off the ships from Pakistan, and then it went through various processes. And, my mum reckoned that, at one stage, you know, the family had all grown up, and at one stage, there was one of them in each in each area of the mill. erm
F631 How many siblings did nanna have [inaudible]?
F634 Well she was the oldest of thirteen. //She had//
F631 //Right.//
F634 she had she had twelve brothers and sisters.
F631 mm
F634 eh I th- I I think there was six girls, and seven boys.
F631 mmhm
F634 Six girls and seven boys. Twins eh ehm, Joseph and James; they died in infancy; they were about four months old, evidently, when they died. But that was common long ago, sadly. erm, because that was before inoculations and that's when things were, people with that size of a family erm, certainly couldn't afford to nourish them all, you know, they weren't, they wouldn't be all well-nourished, I wouldn't have thought. And they lived a very hard life, em, in a very very small house, in the centre of the town, near the docks. ehm, and my mum, bein the oldest, had all the work, had a lot of work to do, you know, besides her besides her job, she'd a lot of ehm work to do in the house with the children. And ehm, it it doesna sound like a great life //at all.//
F631 //[inaudible]//
F634 It wasn't a good life.
F631 What about your mum's dad, was he
F634 My, my //my mum's dad//
F631 //I can't remember [inaudible]//
F634 Yeah, he was called Joseph, and he was erm, he was a bit of a dead loss really, as my mum would put it, er, because he drank very heavily. And he worked, he worked on the docks. He worked he was a pl- what they call a plater. And that was a skill that that eh was to do with ship-building. Plating was to do with, you know, puttin the outside pieces on the, on the actual ship. And, so that's what my grandfather did, but, very often he was never at his work, cause he couldn't lift his head off the pillow, if he was really drunk. But my granny used to be able to go down and get his wages. //Yeah.//
F631 //Right.//
F634 She would go to the docks. And they knew what my grandfather was like. And they knew that she had this huge family. And she used to get his wages, just picked up his wages, he didn't touch his wages.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm, and, but she said he always got money somewhere for drink. She's never never yet really knew where he got //it from.//
F631 //mm//
F634 But he always managed to get the money for drink.
F631 mmhm
F634 So she had a very hard life, extremely hard life, and yet she was very tough. erm, very resilient. I mean, she was in her eighties and she was still helpin, you know, washin nappies for her various, you know, grandchildren and whatever else. So she was really a bit of a character.
F631 That's the one that thought I was a boy, wasn't it?
F634 Yes, yes, she couldnae get round your name, Cerwyss. She couldn't eh, she, I mean Cerwyss, that was eh, she'd never heard of it, of course, but then, I mean, it sounded really like a boy, so //she//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 couldnae, couldnae cope with that at all. But erm yeah, I think they had a, a really really hard time. And when my mum was expecting me, this just gives you an idea of the sort of, the culture of the time. When my mum was expecting me, her m- her mum, who was my gran, had gone to the pictures; they'd gone to see a film. And they were sitting in the pictures and my mum, you know, the, her due date was a few weeks away so, but she started to feel really uncomfortable in the pictures and she'd said to my gran, "I'm not really not feeling too good." So my gran said, "oh well." She listened to her saying that for a wee while and eventually she said, "oh come on, we'll walk up the road." So they started to walk up the road, and walking up the road was becoming more and more uncomfortable for my mum. It wasn't that far, but it was up a hill and she was and she really was uncomfortable. Anyway, eh they got up to eh, the circle, round about where my granny lived, cause they were goin back to my granny's and her, my mum's brothers, several of my mum's brothers were hangin about on the corner, as they did in these days. So my granny says, "You better go down for the midwife." And my my my mum had evidently said, "oh I don't think I'm needin a midwife," she said, "I think I've still got a bit to go yet." But she said, "I'm really uncomfortable," and my granny said to Thomas, "Go and get the midwife." So Thomas took to his heels, and ran down though mid-Cragie, to find the midwife. By which time, now I, we had got, well, my mum and my gran had got home, and my mum, my gran said to my mum, "Now you'd better go through and lie down", cause she had been lookin a bit white and poorly, so she went through to lie down and eh I came into the world. And my gran said, the midwife arrived, and my gran had just said, "Too late," you know "She's, the baby's born." So ehm my my gran virtually brought me into the world.
F631 mmhm
F634 hmm so that was, you know, that was that, and, evidently, my gran had brought brought quite a few people, you know, a few of the neighbours erm that had gone into to labour too quick, you know, the the midwives didn't get there in time. erm, my gran thought nothing of it. Well, I mean, she'd had thirteen of her own. //[laugh]//
F631 //Yeah [laugh].//
F634 She knew fine. She maybe delivered some of them. She knew fine what to do and and and so on. So, I mean, it was quite nice, cause she used to tell me years later, erm, that, you know, she had brought me into the world, and, fortunately, it was quite an easy birth, you know, there was no complication. I'm sure if there's complications, then you have to get into hospital, but, most babies in these days were born at home. And you only went into hospital to have your baby, in these days, if there was a complication. Most infants were born at home.
F631 mmhm
F634 So my granny certainly brought me into the world. erm
F631 And the, was it common em, was it common for men to be round
F634 No.
F631 in these days?
F634 oh no, oh no. It wasn't common for men to be around when you were born, //Cerwyss//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 Some men did it. Some men chose to do it. But it wasn't common. And I think a lot of it, I don't even think it was so much the men didn't want to be there. The hospital didn't want them there. It was, they've changed, you see, that's all changed now, wi the hospital, and I think it's changed for the better; the hospital recognises that mums want the dad there, want their husbands there. In some cases. But in in certainly in my mum's day, oh my God, my my my dad, well, certainly, my dad erm, was at sea, you know, he was in the Navy, and he was away with the War. eh but, I would have doubted if he would have been there. And none of the me-, the boys were allowed in the room. You know, none of the the brothers, or, certainly, my brothers were allowed into the room. erm yeah, it was very very different in these days. But ehm, I think I think my mum, by the time I came along, had probably just had enough babies, you know, she'd had brought up, practically brought up all her own
F631 mmhm
F634 siblings, and then she had four, four of her own. So I think she'd just well had enough by that time.
F631 Yeah. //[inaudible]//
F634 //And eh//
F631 [inaudible]
F634 That's right, that's right. So I mean it was hard. It was hard for her, there's no doubt about it. But erm yeah, it just seems, it doesn't seem that long ago, but yet in some ways it's a million light-years from from nowadays, you know how things have //changed, and//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 and some things have definitely changed for the better, but I still think some things were were better in our day; in that, you know, we could we could play in the street. There was no cars. I mean, cars never came along our street. Cars, I was in, I was, I wasn't in a car until I was about seven, because, and the only reason I was in a car was because I was a flower girl, at our next-door neighbour's wedding. And Olive and I got to sit in a in a car. And, eh we thought that was amazing. And I I got gloves. That was another amazing thing. I got the, I mean I didn't worry, when you, I was like you when you were little girls, you never liked dresses and things, Neither did I. And the only way I would wear the dress was, I had gloves. I got to wear these gloves. And eh [laugh] I remember my mum sayin to me, "it's ridiculous, you know, she doesnae like wearin the dress, but she's happy to wear the gloves!" [laugh]
F631 [laugh]
F634 So, for some reason, we had these little white, you know, wrist-gloves. eh and I thought I was, I was really something, in these gloves, And eh yeah
F631 So you think, do you think it was much safer then for children, or do you think it's just that you hear more about what goes on now? //Do you think it was generally safer?//
F634 //[inhale] [exhale]// I think, it was generally safer, and yet, I was taken [laugh] away from the street, but we won't go into that. But I think it was ge- generally safer, and the reason for that is, that an awful lot of the neighbours hung around the street. //There was//
F631 //mmhm//
F634 more, there was more community spirit, I think, then. erm, and that might be just because even of the layout of the houses, I don't know. But there seemed to, in in our street, there was a, two shops on the end of the street. You know, there was a a greengrocer and a grocer, like a a fruit-shop and a and a grocer. And the the the ladies of the street, certainly the elderly ladies of the street, used to sit on the shop windowsills, and you know, share their snuff boxes, and chatter away of an evening, you know, they were all, there was always somebody in the street. So, of course, when kids were playing; you know, if they fell over, or they were unwell, or they were fighting,
F631 mmhm
F634 something, these elderly ladies were unwittingly babysitters.
F631 mmhm
F634 You know, cause they'd say, "Hey stop that!" or, you know, they would they would get involved in some fracas, if if anything was happening. And I think that culture has gone. I think that culture's gone, because people are, well I don't, I think I think it might have just been the layout of the buildings and everything. I'm not sure. And the fact that it was, eh there was no traffic
F631 uh-huh
F634 came along the //street.//
F631 //mm//
F634 And there was no buses, you see, in these days; it was tram-cars. And the tram-cars came down the main street, because of the the cable line.
F631 Yes.
F634 erm, so the street really was a a playground. The street was the playground. erm And we had the park, we had Baxter Park. But then, you couldn't go up to Baxter Park unless somebody took you there, you know, cause it was a fair wee step for us.
F631 uh-huh
F634 But the boys, you know, my brothers, they they played in the street, they played football in the street. And there was air-raid sh- [laugh] there was air-raid shelters round the back, eh in our close, you know, fo-fo- for the War. And, of course, they weren't taken down, even after the War finished. So the best thing in the world was to climb on the top of them. erm and they would be maybe nine, ten feet high, you know, they weren't that high, but high when you're wee. And of course you weren't allowed on them. There was a big rule.
F631 mm
F634 and kids weren't allowed on the top; they were allowed to go in them, but they weren't allowed to go on the top of them. And there were all manner of wee, sort of, wooden ladders and things, and wee, wee sort of wee piles of stones that that would be erected to get you up onto the top and they were all hidden round
F631 mmhm
F634 from the from the windows, hidden round the back, so that your mum, if she looked out, she couldnae see you climbin onto the shelter, And you never climbed on a shelter, of course, that was within sight of your own window. Everybody went to another shelter. And there was one day that Olive and I were, you know, they had got me up onto the she- I was only about three seemingly, and they'd got me up onto this shelter. And, eh I mean, we were just we just felt we were so mischievous, and we were bein so dare-devilish, you know, on the top of this shelter. And I can remember actually being a bit wimpy and thinkin [inhale], you know, it seemed so high, once I got up there, I thought 'oh!' [inhale] erm and then the next thing was, the policeman came through the big pend, and all we could see was the top of his helmet. And Olive says to me, "Lie flat on your face and don't say a word." //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 So, I'm spread-eagled on the top of this shelter. And ehm, little did we know that this guy could just stand on the pile of stones that we got up on, and then we could see his whole head lookin across. And all he did - he was a great big man - and all he did was put over his massive hand, pluck me off of this shelter, and, you know, lift me down, but dropped me about a [laugh] foot from the //bottom, [laugh] so that I//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 so that I didn't get down with too much ease. And eh, and then he [lick] licked his pencil [lick], sheafed through his note-book to get to the right page, and then he said, "Name!" //[laugh]//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 So, of course, your name went in the policeman's book, and the idea now was the policeman was gonna go to your door,
F631 mmhm
F634 and tell your mum, you'd been on the shelters. So Olive and I decided we were actually going to have to run away. We could not go home, because the punishment would fit the crime, and the crime was bad, and the punishment would be worse. So we thought, "Well, we'll just make a run for it." [laugh] [inhale] So we went out the close, and we got along to the end of the street, and Olive just kept sayin to me, "Just keep followin me, just keep followin me." And then we looked up the street, and [laugh] all we could see was my gran comin down Albert Street, bustling as she did, you know she always came down as though she was on a mission. [laugh] She came down, and she shouts to Olive, "You! Come here!" So, of course, she'd seen the two of us, you see. So, Olive goes up, "What're you doin what're you doin on the end of the street? You werenae supposed to be on the end of the street, you see, you were all supposed to be on the middle of the street." So Olive said eh, "oh we're just we're just lookin for somebody." She said, "Well, get!" //and that meant [laugh] "Get!" meant "Get home!"//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 So, we just turned tail and went back, and we we sort of sat outside for a while thinkin, "Well, has he been yet? Has has he been to the door yet? Or, or will he go after." Cause we thought, "Well, we need to go, we need to get some tea sometime", //So, we werenae sure whether [laugh] we should go//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 and have the tea and then get the belting, or or we should just not go. But I I'm not, I mean I've got this story in my head and I'm not just sure what happened, but certainly we never got into trouble, so I don't think the guy ever went near the door. I don't think the policeman did. But, on sayin that, we never went on the shelters again, Because we just got such a fright; that, if my mum, like if a policeman ever went to your door [inhale] I mean, that was the end of the //world, you know.//
F631 //Yeah.// Can you remember rations, mum? Did you still //have rations?//
F634 //mmhm// mmhm, had ration-books right up until, we didn't have ration books in Fintry, so I would imagine, I think nineteen forty-eight.
F631 mmhm
F634 Or forty-eight, forty-nine would be the end of the rationing, I think. And that's why we'd never any sweeties. Because you did get coupons for sweeties, but you could swap them for coupons for an egg.
F631 mmhm
F634 This kind of thing, and of course m- I mean, sweeties were were for rich children, you know, erm, so we never ever got sweeties. I can remember gettin an Easter Egg. when I was quite big; when I say that, maybe eight or nine, from my uncle John. bought Olive and I an Easter Egg, and, I mean, [inhale] you just thought all your birthdays had come together - a an Easter Egg to yourself, And we were in Woolworth's, and the woman went to put mine in a bag, you know, put it in a bag, and I didn't want it in a bag, cause I had to show it off. I wanted everybody in the world to see this Easter Egg, And really show it off that it was mine. And, of course, my mum confiscated the Easter Egg, as soon as we got home. The Easter Egg was put into the cupboard and we were only allowed a tiny little bit every day. And she was allowed a tiny little bit of our Easter Egg every day. So with the result that Easter Egg [laugh] lasted, seemed to last forever, but we just, we just, and, I mean, you you couldnae steal it, you know, I mean, you couldnae, that did occur to us, we thought pfff we could go and steal a bit more. But she knew.
F631 mmhm
F634 She knew what stage that Easter Egg was at [laugh], so you could not steal it. And eh and I reckon, I've got a theory on this, cause I reckon that's why we all had good teeth. You know, we never had a bloomin toothbrush, but then we never had sweeties. And we didn't have biscuits. You know, we didn't have a lot of sweet things. erm, didn't have really a lot of anything, but you certainly didn't have a lot of sweet things. erm But yeah, I've got a lot of got a lot of happy memories, erm, I don't have memories, sadly, of like ever getting on my mum's knee, or getting a story, or, I mean, we didn't have any story books or, erm, I loved I loved goin to the the little story story classes in the library; there was little story-telling classes, where you could, primaries one, two and three got allowed to go to the library, and a lady would come and read a story to you. And eh, that was great. I loved that. Cause she w- she w- this lady would make all the characters come to life. You know, she would speak like the character did, and I always thought that was really clever. erm, because, because she became that character in the book, you know. erm but after you came out of primary three that was it, you know, you never got another story in your life again; that was the [laugh] end of the stories [laugh] . So, I I don't have memories of that kind of home life, but I have I have happy memories of of situations and incidents at school and outside of home life, you know.
F631 mmhm
F634 I have that. erm
F631 When did you start going skating, because that was a thing that //[inaudible]?//
F634 //mm// mmhm, yeah, skating, I started to go erm, when I was, probably in secondary-school, twelve.
F631 Right.
F634 Yeah, I started goin when I was twelve. I started to try and learn to skate - that was a laugh, cause you spent more time on the on the ice than you did on your feet. But, but, eventually, you know, after years of years of ploddin on became quite a good skater - certainly quite a good speed skater. erm, used to like to go up at the, what they called the ladies' speed, and, you know, the ladies would go and, go round as fast as they could, and then there was the men's speed, and then there was the dancing, and I didn't, I wasn't good enough for that, but
F631 Is that //actual//
F634 //erm//
F631 dancing?
F634 Yeah, they danced on ice, yeah yeah. Maureen Golden, I remember Maureen Golden; the first time I ever saw her, ever saw her was on the ice. And it was only after I met up with her years later, I said to her, "I recognise you. You used to be an ice-skater, a dance- ice-dance skater didn't you?" and she said, "yeah." She had the most beautiful costumes, I remember. She always had different costumes on. And she was very very good. She was a great ice-dance skater. And I used to love watchin it. At that time, most people just went away and had a cup of tea or a drink of juice when the these intervals were on. But I always stayed; I always just liked to watch them. And a few couples would go and do the dancing together.
F631 mmhm
F634 erm, it really it really was good [inhale] But erm, yeah, I liked skating.
F631 And what did you wear when you went
F634 To the skating? [laugh] Well, I got a pair of, I thought I was really, [inhale] I was really something. I got a pair of wine, burgundy, corduroy trousers. [inhale] And a white polo-neck jumper. [tut] And that was really trendy in these days, that was really trendy. And I can remember, I had a skating-skirt, I had a skating-skirt, cause b-, cause b- girls wore skating skirts in these days. erm, and, I can remember just not liking it, cause I thought it was too long. And eh, I said to Olive, you know, my sister, "Could you, could you, could you shorten that for me?" you know. Mrs can't-do-anything-for-herself said, "Could you could you shorten that for me?" And ehm, so she starts to pin it up a bitty, you see, and I says, "No I want it shorter than that, I want it shorter than that!" And she was saying erm, "You can't get it any shorter than that, for goodness' sake!" And, I think it was Neil, Neil came in, and, c- you know, came in on all this nonsense and me saying, "I want it shorter than that!" And eh, and he said, "No you don't." He said, "it's, that's a good length the way that is just now." And he said, "Always remember, it's what people don't see that's more //interesting, not//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 what they see!"
F631 [laugh]
F634 And eh, I've never //forgotten that.//
F631 //[laugh]//
F634 So, anyway I got my skirt at the the decent length,
F631 mmhm
F634 And eh, and that was that. But we didn't wear skirts too long, or an- or too, you know, it was mostly trousers, it was mostly trousers, cause it was cold. You know, and if you went down wi the skating-skirt on, you know, you were you were soaking, you know, and the bi- your trousers gave you a wee bitty more protection.
F631 mmhm
F634 And it was great fun. I loved the skating. That's where I met my first boyfriend. //Bill.//
F631 //[inaudible]//
F634 Bill Heron. That's where I met him. But he really fancied my friend. He fancied my friend Carol Raines. [inhale] So it was really after things things just went sour with him and Carol, I had to wait in line, and then after things went really sad with him and Carol, tut erm. He started to skate around with me. That was what you did, you, it meant, the boys came and, sort of, skated alongside you. erm [laugh] When I think back, and eh he offered me a piece of his chewing-gum. That was quite serious.
F631 [inaudible]
F634 That was it.
F631 [laugh]
F634 That was serious. erm, I thought he was probably gonna, the next question would be he would be wanting to marry me. That wasn't the next question. The next question was, "How far do you live from the ice-rink?" That was before he said, "Can I walk you home?" So he had to wait and see how far it was, and was it in his direction, or, and, fortunately, it was kind of in his direction. erm, so Bill and I, sort of, skated around together, went for wee walks, you know, I was maybe about fourteen, thirteen, fourteen at this time. Went for wee walks on a Sunday around Caird Park, and eh scintillating stuff! And oh I liked I liked he had a lovely little sister, I remember. There was there was Bill and then there was this huge gap, you know, and then his mum had this unexpected little baby, you know, a little girl. And she, I I remember her, I just thought she was gorgeous, she was like a wee Shirley Temple, only blonde.
F631 mm
F634 erm, and sometimes he used to come with her, and we would take her to the park and and stuff like that. And then we just, sort of, drifted, you know, we just drifted away, but it was certainly the skating that the first boyfriend [laugh] was was on the cards. erm, but yeah, the skating was really good fun. And again, it was dead safe, because we used to come out the skating and walk all the way home. You know, along the Kingsway. All the way home, and it was a long way, that was quite a long way. But, there was never d-d- don't remember any trouble, or anybody bein [inhale] attacked, or assaulted, or mugged, or anything like that, you know, it was, it seemed to be dead safe. erm Yeah, it was good. You liked the skating too //didn't you?//
F631 //Yeah.//
F634 Yeah. Yeah.

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Information about Document 349

Interview 03: Dundee woman on her childhood

Audio

Audio audience

Adults (18+)
For gender Mixed
Audience size 2

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2003
Recording person id 631
Size (min) 47
Size (mb) 180

Audio medium

Other Private conversation.

Audio setting

Private/personal
Recording venue Private house
Geographic location of speech Dundee

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Family members or other close relationship
Speakers knew each other Yes

Audio speaker relationships

Family members or other close relationship

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 632
Year of transcription 2003
Year material recorded 2003
Word count 9177

Audio type

Interview

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 631
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1970
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Research Assistant
Place of birth Dundee
Region of birth W Angus
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Car Salesman
Father's place of birth Dundee
Father's region of birth W Angus
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Doctor's Receptionist
Mother's place of birth Dundee
Mother's region of birth W Angus
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances
Scots No Yes No Yes

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 634
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment Highers/A-levels
Age left school 15
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired Medical Computer Operator
Place of birth Dundee
Region of birth W Angus
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dundee
Region of residence W Angus
Residence CSD dialect area Ags
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Milkman
Father's place of birth Dundee
Father's region of birth W Angus
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Weaver in a Jute Mill
Mother's place of birth Dundee
Mother's region of birth W Angus
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ags
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All circumstances
Scots No No No Yes

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