Gwynedd County Council tape 16: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 8912 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C399

PS3B4 Ag5 f (Elizabeth, age 72, Interviewee) unspecified
PS3B5 X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Interviewer.) unspecified
HMLPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HMLPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 106701 recorded on 1987. LocationGwynedd: Caernarfonshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview, reminiscences

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (HMLPSUNK) [1] mother's house in [...] because my father was in ... in the first world war ... so my mum had to go to live with my grandmother ... and er I was born there ... and er then when my father came home we came back to ... my mum came back to [...] she ha got a little house somewhere I forget where it was street, doesn't s it's not there any more.
[2] ... And erm ... I think I was about three when I came back here.
[3] ... And erm I remember my father now even now n [...] although I was only three I can still remember him in his uniform coming home on leave.
(PS3B5) [4] You can?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [5] Yes.
[6] Strange isn't it how your mind goes back?
[7] And yet my s my oldest sister she was three years older than me ... and she couldn't remember him.
[8] ... And every time he c used to come home on leave she used to cry, she didn't know him ... in uniform till he till he put his own clothes on.
[9] ... And er I b I remember him as if it were yesterday.
[10] ... But I think my sister was a bit scared of him, she felt he was a [laughing] stranger [] being in u in er soldier's uniform you know.
[11] ... Yeah.
(PS3B5) [12] You said you went back to your ... the house in street?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [13] Yes.
(PS3B5) [14] What sort what sort of house was it ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [15] Well that was a one up and one down and a little tiny little scullery ... and it had a little tiny back yard.
[16] ... And that's all we had there and we were for ever getting flooded out ... and there we [...] we'd all clean our shoes before going to bed at night put 'em all underneath the sideboard or whatever.
[17] And in the morning there was nothing to see they were floating about you know with the floods.
[18] They used to come without any ... warning whatsoever.
[19] I think it was the sewerage that was in bad state.
[20] ... The sewers.
[21] ... But it was nothing new to ... [...] to get flooded out all the time there.
[22] There was only a tiny little row in between two streets, there was about ... six houses I think it was.
[23] Very very small.
[24] Tiny little things.
(PS3B5) [25] Were you aware at the time that it was a small house?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [26] No because [laughing] all the others round about seemed to be the same [] .
[27] Some you know some had like a a living room and a little tiny [cough] back kitchen whatever you call them and erm ... two little tiny bedrooms above.
[28] ... B but [...] until ... we moved from there to street and we still only had one bedroom and one down but a little tiny back kitchen.
[29] ... And er [cough] we were all brought up there the whole lot of us and I think I was about fifteen when I left there.
[30] And my mam finally got a council house with three bedrooms.
[31] Oh and we were posh then.
[32] Because we g [laugh] we g we were all separated then you know with different bedrooms.
[33] [clears throat] But erm ... then my mam brought nine of us up in that one bedroom.
(PS3B5) [34] How did you all organize it yourselves then [...] being so crowded?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [35] [laugh] Well [clears throat] it was one big bedroom but there was more or less like a loft.
[36] There was there was no doors to the bedroom if you know what I mean.
[37] ... It was [clears throat] [cough] you walked up the stairs and there it was all open.
[38] Like a landing or a loft or whatever.
[39] And then my mam had three big double beds in there and of course we were slept top and bottom.
[40] And then the boys and the girls and whatever.
[41] ... All s crammed together.
(PS3B5) [42] So you were sort of head to tail?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [43] Yes.
[44] Oh yes.
[45] Top to bottom yeah.
(PS3B5) [46] Yes.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [47] There were so many a the top so many in the bottom, the boys in one and the girls in the other one.
[48] And my mum and dad and probably a couple of the s little kids with them as well.
[49] ... It's a wonder they didn't get er suffocated some of the kids then in them days.
[50] And then there was always a cradle with a little one in you know ... in between I don't how we lived honest I don't.
[51] ... But there you are we weren't the only ones, there was lots of people just the same.
[52] ... But it's incredible to think that such things happened in them days isn't it really?
[53] ... It was awful.
[54] I know [...] the house was only erm ... we used to have to run down to [...] offices there to pay the rent once a month and it was twelve and six a month ... for the house [laugh] and that's about what it [laughing] was worth too in them days [] .
[55] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [laugh] [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [56] Oh dear.
(PS3B5) [57] Who used to pay ... the rent then was it your mother or your father?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [58] My mother ... my mother, my father was useless.
[59] You know [clears throat] as long as he had his pint and his food he d he wasn't bothered.
[60] ... He wasn't er wasn't what you call a good father at all, no, wasn't a good provider.
[61] My mother was the one that used to ... struggle and many a time she's gone without herself you know.
[62] She used she used to count all the kids round the t table ... scrubbed table white ... after every meal you know scrubbed and rinsed after every meal.
[63] ... And she used to count us all and share it all out [...] .
[64] And then suddenly she'd say oh I don't feel very hungry.
[65] I'm ... we knew very well she was ... but there was nothing left for her you know.
[66] ... [sighing] Yeah. []
[67] ... Th rotten days they were won't they?
[68] ... People say they were the good old days, but oh I don't think.
[69] I think they were horrible days.
[70] ... And there was nothing for my father [...] had a few drinks you know and he'd come home and he he'd just come he'd he'd b be whistling coming up the street you know.
[71] ... And er soon as he come in the house he he just walloped my mam for nothing.
[72] ... Oh he was a awful man he really was.
[73] ... And erm I remember I was ... I was about fifteen now and [cough] my young brother was only a little tot about two I think three ... and I remember [...] my father came in and he did he went straight for my mam for nothing at all.
[74] ... [laughing] Oh and I happened [] to be standing in the back kitchen you know ... and I got hold of this saucepan and I picked my little brother up and put him under my arm in case he got hurt ... and I oh I belted my father from his head to his feet with the saucepan.
[75] I don't know what possessed me to do it I went completely berserk.
[76] ... I thought what now what did she do to deserve that?
[77] ... For sh she was a good mother you know she really was a good mother.
[78] ... And I I did I went completely mad and that's the only ever time I've ever hit anybody in my life, honest.
[79] ... [laugh] And I don't think he ever forgave me for it you know.
[80] [laugh] But then he se he seemed then as if he'd think twice before he'd do anything ... when he used to come in you know I er I said to him I said look [...] we used to call him in them days you know, now what did you that for?
[81] Poor mam hasn't done a thing you know.
[82] And I think it brought him to his senses a lot after that, he thought well hello I've got ... what do you call it now?
[83] I gotta watch what I'm doing you know these are starting to grow up.
[84] ... Because my elder sister she left home when she was about sixteen I think, she went erm ... into she was working there as a matron's maid.
[85] And she used to sleep in and then a little bit after that she went to live in Liverpool ... with my grandmother and went to work there so ... s I I s I was the sort of erm eldest one at home then you know so I felt as if I was more or less responsible ... for looking after my mam sort of thing.
[86] ... But she certainly didn't deserve him anyway.
[87] ... [sighing] Mm. []
(PS3B5) [88] How did you help to support your mam through?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [89] Well erm ... I remember when ... my father would never give my mother any money.
[90] ... We always had to chase after him for it and he'd never give her more than a pound a week.
[91] Never.
[92] ... And we had to go from one pub to the other to look for him.
[93] ... This was on a Saturday you know.
[94] And er my poor mam then used to go chasing down to shops late on Saturday afternoon ... and things like that.
[95] She used to get meat cheap in the butchers.
[96] She used to know my mam th she had she had lo lots of kids.
[97] So erm they used to put some meat by for her ... to er on the cheap sort of thing what was left over on a Saturday then my mother'd get lots of meat and that you know cheap.
[98] But wh where could you start with a pound?
(PS3B5) [99] How on earth could she manage?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [100] Well she did you know I don't know how she did you know.
[101] She was a miracle.
[102] She must've been.
[103] ... Then I I remember one ... m my sister my younger sister she went to er ... to hospital with erm ... scarlet fever.
[104] And she came she was coming home from hospital and do you know my mother never had a little piece of bread to give to her when she brought her home.
[105] ... Sh we had nothing in the house at all.
[106] ... [whispering] Nothing. []
[107] Oh it was a dreadful time.
[108] ... No people don't know the half of it.
[109] ... But my father never did a regular job after he come out th out of the army you know, I think it was ... something had happened to him in the army, he'd got erm bomb blast or something or he was near s something when it went off and he got buried.
[110] ... And when they went to pick him up ... some somebody picked him up by his sort of under his arms sort of thing, and he had a double hernia through that.
[111] And ... er whatever whatever it was they said that er they wouldn't chance operating on him.
[112] So that meant that he was ... he couldn't sort of do a heavy heavy work ... so he just used to do odd job things you know, he'd sell horse and carts and er he'd go down to the pier when he used to do the fishing boats, he used to come in and he'd buy a box of fish from them and go round the streets selling them you know.
[113] And then little did he know when he used to leave them in the house, in the back yard, that we'd been pinching some of them.
[114] [laugh] To get [laughing] have something to eat [] .
[115] And and that's that's the way we survived.
[116] ... Yeah one way or another you know.
[117] ... But h he wasn't a dishonest man he was a very honest man.
[118] He was never in trouble with police or nothing.
[119] He wouldn't thieve he wouldn't he was too timid to do anything like that.
[120] ... And yet in the house he was a er revolting man in the house.
[121] ... That's why I couldn't ooh I couldn't stand to to marry a man that's drank you know [...] .
[122] I was petrified of having the same thing as my mother did.
[123] ... Because she did have a hard life.
(PS3B5) [124] So really the ... the children were [...] in effect brought by your mother?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [125] Oh yes.
[126] If it'd depended on my father we'd have been dead years ago.
[127] ... Yes I do , I honestly don't ask me I haven't got a clue how she managed.
[128] But there were always a big potful of of whatever you know erm stew ... or ... she'd make a a cake in a in a big meat tin.
[129] And all done in the oven in the old fashioned grates you know, no fancy ... gas cookers with thermostats or whatever [laughing] on [] .
[130] It was all stuck there with the coal underneath.
[131] And it's amazing what w you know, and you a she always baked her own bread.
[132] Always.
[133] ... Always baked baked her own bread and we used go, we used to run that to the ... to the bakers ... to have it [...] for baking sort of thing.
[134] And that was about every other day she used to bake about ... ooh I forget whether it was fourteen pound or twenty eight pound of flour she us .
[135] I know we used to have to run to school in the morn er for the shopping in the morning.
[136] Before going to school.
[137] ... So that she'd be be she'd be doing her baking during the day while we were at school.
[138] ... And erm ... I think that's the way you know that er we were fed because there was none of us that was ... not suffered from anything apart from little childish illnesses cos if one got the measles we all got the measles you know, the whole lot of us.
[139] One got the whooping cough we [laughing] all did [] .
[140] [laugh] And erm that's the way we went.
(PS3B5) [141] And what happened er then when you when the family was going down like flies?
[142] How [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [143] Ah my poor mam had us all in that one bedroom upstairs you know.
[144] ... Oh it was terrible.
[145] ... I'm not saying we all had it together but you say you can er say that about four of 'em would then as that as that they got rid of it the other the others'd get it you know eventually and th we'd all have it in the end.
[146] With a few weeks in between.
[147] ... But er she managed somehow you know but she was like that my mother'd manage anyth any illness at all and we never worried about that.
[148] ... She always knew what to get.
[149] [laughing] For anything [] what was wrong with you.
[150] To the chemists she'd be ... [sighing] yeah [] .
(PS3B5) [151] So she'd go to the chemist not to the doctor then?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [152] Oh n we'd go to the doctor.
(PS3B5) [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [153] But er she had to pay her didn't she?
[154] Although it was only about two shillings I think it was a lot of money for her you know.
[155] ... So unless it was something very desperate ... she always seemed to know what was wrong with you.
[156] ... She always always oh she she had a second sight like that, I think she should've been a doctor if she'd lived in these this day and age.
[157] ... Because no matter what was wrong people always used to run for my mother you know.
[158] ... And she used to go with the district nurses a lot to ... er to treat different people specially [...] a long time ... [...] I remember erm ... a young man ... erm h he had er I think it was cerebral palsy he had ... and er he was so fed up with himself he threw paraffin over himself ... and er set light you know ... on the top of the stairs and threw himself down.
[159] ... And oh he burnt his back shocking, terrible state his back was in.
[160] And my mam went to him every day with the nurses ... oh it was months and months and months ... until it was completely cleared.
[161] ... I don't know how she did it but she did.
[162] ... I could never take after her ... can my sister but not me.
[163] ... [knocking] [whispering] knock knock [] [laugh]
(PS3B5) [164] What on earth's that?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [165] [laughing] People moving in next door. []
[166] [laugh] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [167] So ... your mother was regarded in the neighbourhood as someone who knew how to treat illnesses?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [168] Oh yes.
[169] ... Or accidents anything like that.
[170] Yeah.
[171] Oh she was good you know.
[172] She used to know every every medicine no matter what.
[173] She'd make her own cough mixture for winter time in pint bottles.
[174] ... And er that then we were alright for winter in case we caught cold.
[175] ... And then she'd dose you up with goose grease, oh dear that the thought of that now.
[176] And erm [laugh] but that's what she believed in.
[177] ... But anybody er with an any child with an accident you know she was there, whether they'd scalded themself, burnt themselves or fell over or what.
[178] ... She was there.
[179] Only she couldn't touch us if we were hurt.
(PS3B5) [180] Really?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [181] If we had a splinter oh go to auntie my other ... mm she wasn't our aunt really but er she was she was some relation but we used to call her auntie and we'd have to go to her ... to take a splinter out of our own finger she us she couldn't touch us, wasn't that funny?
[182] ... And it's the same t squeezing boils and all sorts of things out of other people you know.
[183] ... Oh she was a she was a great person she really was.
[184] [sighing] Yeah ... yeah. []
[185] ... But I don't think any one of us'll take after my mother.
(PS3B5) [186] No?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [187] No.
[188] No.
[189] ... [...] I don't know we had a very hard life when we were kids but ... you know w er [...] got on ourselves later on we ... we had a fairly easy life but erm ... you don't forget those old times though do you not really. [clears throat]
(PS3B5) [190] You said that er people would er ... would come to your m mother for acc if they the children suffered from accidents?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [191] Oh yes.
[192] Oh yes.
[193] There was one girl she'd erm ... she'd burnt her leg right down the front of her leg er on the bone in the front of her leg [...] and er ... her mother just wrapped up something an old stocking I think she put in it, and of course it went bad didn't it.
[194] Then er this er my mam saw her limping one day, she said what's the matter?
[195] And this little girl said I've burnt my leg.
[196] So my mam says come on she said come with me and took her home ... and er sat her down on ... oh and she'd go and get this stocking off of her little leg it was er [...] hole in the leg like that.
[197] ... And er ... she got it away eventually bathing it and talking to the little girl and ... then she said to her now I want you to come here every day she said so I can I see to that for you.
[198] ... And to this day I see that woman.
[199] ... And she talks about it remember your mam the way she looked after my leg.
[200] ... Yeah.
[201] ... I'm sure sh you know she would have been in dire trouble er only for my mother having seen her limping that day, but that's the sort of thing she would do.
[202] ... Yeah.
(PS3B5) [203] The fact that er people felt free to come and ask your mum
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [204] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [205] er w was that kind of ... service erm usual or unusual er ar around here?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [206] Oh no it was a usual thing you know, anybody'd go out of their way then ... to help.
[207] Everybody's door was open, whatever they had was shared you know whatever one ever had,an even it was only half a loaf it was there.
[208] ... Erm it was a mar it's was a wonderful place to live in this ... this part of er you know Bangor.
[209] ... Oh yeah it was great.
(PS3B5) [210] How would er how would the community know when someone was er in need of?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [211] Well I dunno.
[212] You you more or less guessed I suppose it would somehow get get to be known by somebody you know.
[213] ... It's er like someone was having a child and they never had er never had er nappies or whatever.
[214] I've seen my mam take sheets off a bed and tear them up in squares.
[215] ... Fo to make sh little nappies for the baby that was just been born and ... no clothes ready or fo ... and I've I've seen her you know as poor as we were my mam would sit there was patching sheets ... and er ... but I've seen them whipped off the bed and put on somebody's bed while they were having a baby or whatever.
[216] ... So you know i that's the way s you sort of got to know ... er er people's circumstances I think.
[217] Not that people used to ... let you know about they were hard up I mean, they just wouldn't would they?
[218] Even though they were poor they still had their pride.
[219] ... To an extent I think.
(PS3B5) [220] So th the sort of help that was that would come to the surface would it be at times like ... birth, death, accidents ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [221] That's right , that's right yes it would.
[222] It would.
[223] People didn't have much to give but what they gave they gave with a good heart you know.
[224] ... Because er ... well if there was a death er in the family at th that time they used to erm ... I don't suppose you remember it but er there used to always be a plate on a table whoever called would leave a little bit money on the plate to help pay for the funeral or whatever.
[225] Very quietly.
[226] ... Yeah, nothing said as they went out, people just used to put a little something on the plate or whatever.
[227] Just to help but erm ... yes everybody was in the same position more or less but erm ... and yet they used to help in a s own little way.
(PS3B5) [228] You said that er when when people called at er when there'd been a death would that be calling to see?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [229] To sympathize or t could they help more more than anything.
[230] Yes could they help you know.
[231] Just just to show that erm well they just were that those sort of people you know.
[232] If they thought er well I'd better go round just in case and she might need something or she might she might just want to talk or whatever you know.
[233] ... And er ... they just used to go and have a quiet word and ... not make a fuss, no bother no nothing. ...
(PS3B5) [234] At that time would it have been ... a custom to have had the coffin in the house?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [235] Yes.
[236] Well yes, there was no such thing as er chapels of rests then was there?
[237] ... Everybody even though you only had the one room downstairs, I remember when my brother died he w at twelve ... although there was a big crowd of us in that house ... there was er no there wasn't then ... there was er the four sisters wasn't there?
[238] And er ... that's right there was only four of us then ... and erm this little coffin was there and my sister was trying to feed him a piece of apple while he was in his coffin, saying do you want a piece of apple in Welsh to him.
[239] She didn't know she thought he was just sleeping.
[240] [laugh] Yeah.
[241] ... But oh yes everybody had the coffin in the house then no matter how small your house was.
[242] Strange to think of it now isn't it?
(PS3B5) [243] Yeah.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [244] Cos people here have done everything in that one room didn't they?
(PS3B5) [245] So you would ... you well you would have to carry on your life not as normal but you'd have to eat wouldn't you ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [246] Oh yes.
[247] It was there and I mean and the rooms were so small.
[248] ... We there wasn't room for a three piece suite sort of thing and then you'd have a sideboard and a table, chairs to sit on like hard chairs, wooden chairs like kitchen chairs.
[249] ... But you wouldn't have er you wouldn't have easy chairs or nothing like that.
[250] ... You know that that's about all the room there was was honestly was a table and chairs and more often than not a couple of us had to sit on the stairs.
[251] ... Cos the stairs was in your living room then, as you went in through your front door your stairs were facing the front door.
[252] Your front door was in your living room.
(PS3B5) [253] [...] when you open the door
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [254] When you open the door you're in the living room.
[255] And then the stairs the stairs are facing you like that, so you've only got about ... about a metre of ... in between the bottom of the stairs and your front door and you s just sort of go in through there an and you're in the living room.
[256] ... No partition no nothing.
[257] No it all open.
[258] Just like the bedroom was upstairs.
[259] ... Oh shocking to think of it now isn't it?
(PS3B5) [260] Yes it's erm ... it's a completely different time isn't it?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [261] Yes.
[262] Yes honestly it is isn't it?
[263] ... But ooh I wouldn't like to go back to them days I'm sure I wouldn't.
(PS3B5) [264] Can you ... give me some idea of the eff ... the effect that say a death would ha when your what effect did your brother's death have on the family ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [265] Well, well it was erm my mother was very very upset.
[266] ... Well it came so suddenly you see there's erm as I said playing football, and then this accident and then he he was sort of taken away from us in no time you know.
[267] ... And I remember I was sent to er ... a neighbour's house ... the day of the funeral, I was erm ... seven.
[268] ... I was seven ... and I was I went to a neighbour's house and as it happened I was looking through the blooming window when the funeral went past ... so I was no better off you know.
[269] [laugh] ... And er there was the er the kids from his erm ... he w he was going to [...] school ... when he died and er ... there was children from his class walking along cos they we they used to walk to the cemeteries then ... and carrying a wreath of er flowers, I remember it as if it was yesterday.
[270] ... The children from his class walking in the funeral ... yeah ... carrying a wreath from the class ... and [...] ... mm.
(PS3B5) [271] So ... although you would have ... I don't know but I I hope I'm not sort of I really am trying to find out ... although you'd have ... his coffin in the front room where you would be living
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [272] Oh yes.
(PS3B5) [273] you wouldn't ... you still weren't allowed to go to the funeral?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [274] No I wasn't.
[275] ... I whether my mother couldn't afford to buy me clothes to go.
[276] ... Or whether for some unknown reason she just didn't want me to go.
(PS3B5) [277] At the time er did did you think that was unusual or did you accept it?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [278] I accepted it, whatever my mother said, we accepted.
[279] ... Because we always thought well she knows what sh you know she's right.
[280] My mother was always right s as far as we were concerned.
[281] ... And erm ... I think he died if I remember rightly, he died on the erm ... twenty fifth of January ... and my other brother was born on the third of [tape change]
(PS3B5) [282] Thank you.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [283] [...] er yes I was saying erm ... they only had the midwives in them days didn't they, to come ... for the birth and that and anyway my mother was ... was ill enough to have to send for a doctor.
[284] And that's the first time she'd ever had a doctor.
[285] ... And sh they she was given erm some sort of ... oh ... something to put her to sleep or whatever ... gas [laugh] and I know sh she seemed to know what she was doing ... but this lady that was there with her ... she passed out with the smell of gas in the room so she wasn't much help.
[286] [laugh] But erm this [...] might not believe me but I'm gonna tell you just the same.
[287] He was over fourteen pounds born.
(PS3B5) [288] Good God.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [289] Over fourteen pounds born, he was the heaviest child that they'd ever delivered.
(PS3B5) [290] Your poor mother.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [291] Yes so that's why she had to have a doctor for that one.
[292] ... So anyway, she got over it and all she had to do she ... she [...] tell her to stay in bed now for s so many days but ... she'd be up again the following day and then the nurse'd come and have a look under her feet and she'd say you been up again she'd say.
[293] Cos she hadn't washed her feet for going back to bed.
[294] The soles of her [laughing] feet [] and the then they knew she'd been up on her feet you know.
[295] But as she said she she just had to she ... couldn't stay in bed when she had kids running all over the place.
[296] ... No I don't know how she ever put up with it, poor mum.
(PS3B5) [297] So at that time, the midwife would only come for a a quite a small ... proportion of the time then?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [298] That's right, yes.
[299] Just when when the child was more or less The they used to call I think ... you know when before the baby was born.
[300] To sort of make out s make sure you've got this and that so you're ready for the confinement and er ... But they only came the last minute when ... when they were the ma mams were expecting their babies.
[301] ... And then they'd call for a few days afterwards er whatever.
[302] ... And that was it.
[303] Finished.
[304] ... And yet again my mother used to go with him to deliver ba other babies as [laughing] you know herself [] as we as we sort of grew up ... and we were off her hands.
[305] And she used to go with him a lot.
[306] Well she's delivered many a baby herself with no nurse er about.
[307] ... You know they always used to come when it was too late.
[308] If they knew my mam was there they knew it sh they'd be alright.
[309] They never bothered.
(PS3B5) [310] So your your moth mum would act as a midwife ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [311] As midwife yes.
[312] My sister Ann she's delivered a couple of children herself.
[313] ... [laugh] [laughing] You wouldn't think so to look at her would you? []
(PS3B5) [314] She looks capable of it.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [315] Yes she is quite, yes.
[316] Mm.
[317] ... But er my my mam did.
[318] ... And another time ooh [...] another time she went er somebody ... I tell you they always used to run for my mother when there was trouble and er ... a woman had hung herself ... just round the corner to where we lived.
[319] ... And my mam went there and she cut her down and everything you know.
[320] ... From a beam where she'd er ... she'd hung herself.
[321] And when she came home she said, Do you know what she said she must have taken ages she said to put that cord through that er beam, she said.
[322] She must have taken a knife to push the cord through, she said, there was hardly any room for it.
[323] ... And then [...] you know [laugh] .
[324] And my poor mam you know, she used to scrub her hands with erm ... it wasn't Dettol it was Lysol in them days wasn't it what they used to use.
[325] Proper hospital smell Lysol it was called.
(PS3B5) [326] [...] like carbolic acid?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [327] Aha.
[328] Yeah.
[329] And oh gosh it used to burn your hands nearly.
[330] ... And she'd scrub herself the hands with that you know and of course my mam used to do all the baking didn't she.
[331] And then us kids wouldn't eat because she'd cut this lady down you know.
[332] And sh whatever's the matter with you she said, you've seen me scrub.
[333] Oh, I said, we're not hungry.
[334] I think she saved more money that [laughing] week on food [] .
[335] [laugh] We just didn't fancy anything she'd touched you know.
[336] ... Oh it was a dreadful thing when you come to think of it now, the poor women couldn't help it she was ... must have been in desperate straits to do a thing like that.
[337] ... And she was such a lovely lady too you would never would have believed it.
[338] ... She was a really nice lady she was.
[339] Mm.
(PS3B5) [340] Was it not uncommon then for people to commit suicide or was it
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [341] Well I don't know.
[342] No I d I didn't hear of many.
[343] I think she had this lady had tried to drown herself in the quay before that.
[344] ... Mm, no I don't think so, not that I can remember.
[345] ... I think there's more more recently that's done things like that than there was in them days.
[346] ... Mm.
(PS3B5) [347] You said that erm ... your mother would ... after the confinement and after the birth she would erm have to do the normal housework?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [348] Yes oh yes.
(PS3B5) [349] Would er d d during that period af immediately after, would anyone else come in to give her a hand?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [350] Yes well my grandmother ... I think she lived nearby and she'd sort of pop in.
[351] ... But erm what I was I was just seven, my oldest sister was ten ... so she'd probably have been you know ... more capable of helping my mam out than I was.
[352] I suppose I was the one that used to run about for errands or whatever.
[353] ... But erm I suppose she would have been the one to do the cleaning and ... washing up or whatever.
[354] ... But my mother wasn't the type that would lay in bed if you know what I mean.
[355] She she wouldn't be happy laying there you know she'd be too worried about things.
[356] ... About what's happening to the rest of because ... she was very maternal [...] she was m she was our mam.
[357] But she was er she was like a broody hen with us you know she was forever ... watching and looking and making sure we were alright.
[358] That's why I keep saying she was a good mother.
(PS3B5) [359] So
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [360] [sighing] Yeah. []
(PS3B5) [361] so you were aware all that time that er ... you were under her ... care [...] ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [362] We were under her care until we were married.
(PS3B5) [363] Mhm.
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [364] We did as we were told.
[365] Yeah until we were married.
[366] ... And then she would be advising.
[367] ... I er I remember always ... don't buy what you can't afford ... don't get anything unless you can pay for it.
[368] [laugh] She was that type of a person.
[369] You don't want people knocking your door ... and er you know she ... up to the time she died we we used to be advised by her.
[370] [...] she died at sixty, [whispering] bless her [] .
[371] Mm.
(PS3B5) [372] Were you aware [...] were you aware then at that time that although people were generally poor in in in the area, that some people were suffering the consequences of being in debt more than others, or being poor more than others?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [373] I don't think there were many people in debt because they knew they couldn't afford to go into debt you know.
[374] I think that's why they were poor, they'd sooner go without.
[375] ... I'm I'm sure that's er that that was the reason my mother was poor.
[376] She just knew that they we she couldn't she couldn't go and get any you know, anything on H P or whatever.
[377] Because she knew she wouldn't have the money to pay for it so we just that was her way you see.
[378] Whatever if you can't afford it go without.
[379] And that's the way we were brought up.
[380] And and really you know ... on second thought, many a time we've thought that her words ha have been there and you'd say, Oh no I won't have it you know.
[381] ... Yes she was a very wise woman.
(PS3B5) [382] Was it generally thought of then er that is being in debt, was it generally thought of as being something that was evil or [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [383] Oh I think so.
(PS3B5) [384] Yes?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [385] I think so.
[386] Yes.
[387] I mean ... I don't think there were many houses that th anybody knocked the door for any ... any debt or anything.
[388] I'm sure there wasn't.
[389] ... Because as I say people were that poor they they knew that they just couldn't afford to er ... to get anything you know.
[390] Not unless they had the money to pay for it which they didn't have.
[391] ... Oh it was poor in them days there's no two ways about it.
[392] It was.
[393] ... [...] it was nothing for you to have the er sole of your sh shoe flapping off and having to wear 'em till the p there was a little man that used to mend the shoes in Hirael there ... and you'd go to him and he'd put a couple of nails, never charge you for it you know.
(PS3B5) [394] No?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [395] No.
[396] [...] go sitting in his shop watching him mend the shoes.
[397] Because he had he used to have a big open fire there and all the kids would be sitting round it keeping warm ... while he was mending the shoes.
[398] And and you'd say, Oh look Mr my sole of my shoe's come loose.
[399] Oh take it off and he would stick a couple of nails in.
[400] Had the nails in his mouth you know and er used to knock 'em with a file.
[401] And then you'd go you'd be swanking then, your flap had gone you know.
[402] [laugh] But er that was a commonplace thing he used to do that for all the kids.
[403] ... Nice little man he was.
[404] [knocking] ... [whispering] Woodpecker. []
(PS3B5) [405] [...] you said that you'd be sitting round the fire, but wh when you were when you were in your own house
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [406] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [407] would you be sitting around the fire?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [408] Well it wasn't big enough really.
[409] No I mean ... the fireplace was ... you'd get about three chairs round it, it was ... [laughing] it was crowded [] .
[410] But the room was so small ... so no matter where you sat there you'd be warm.
[411] ... Th with a crowd ... and er the smallness of the room.
[412] ... So you know erm ... my brother was er as I said I was er four when my brother died then my mam gradually had more children afterwards until there was nine of us in the end left there.
[413] ... In that same one room.
[414] ... Before we before my mam had the house in Road that was just what you might sort of still call it [...] .
[415] And then we had the three bedrooms then.
[416] ... But erm ... there we had the living room and a parlour and we were posh.
[417] ... But er I dunno.
[418] But no nobody ever used to seem to sit round the fire.
[419] My mother would probably be the nearest one to it er sat at the corner near the fire ... and all the kids would be sitting round the table doing something you know.
[420] ... Or out in the street playing out the way.
(PS3B5) [421] Yes I was going to ask y er wh where would you be playing as a as a as a young girl then?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [422] Well we ... on the beach on ... on the [...] there, we went th we were there from morning till night wh during school holidays.
[423] And then Street where we lived it erm was a dead end it was a cul-de-sac.
[424] ... So we were safe to play there, there was no traffic up and down there you see.
[425] It was only a little narrow you could step from one pavement to the other on the other side of the road.
[426] And our mams used to have skipping ropes you know one sat on the chair on one pavement the other one on pavement on the other side, turning a rope er and we skipped for hours there, with our mams turning the ropes for us.
[427] Things like that we used to play.
[428] Never very far away you know.
[429] Our mams always watching us.
[430] But it was mainly on the beach we used to play ... all the time.
[431] ... Cos when the well as soon as you could walk in the summer er you know when [...] weather permitting ... my mam'd take us down on the beach there and, Here you are, sink or swim in you'd go into the water.
(PS3B5) [432] Did you?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [433] Yeah.
[434] And she'd be watching you like a hawk you know.
[435] But er it comes natural to a baby a swim doesn't it?
[436] ... And er because that's where we were all the time so you had to learn to swim from no age at all.
[437] ... So I wonder if that's why they were good swimmers around Hirael you know.
[438] Great swimmers they were.
[439] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [440] So generally speaking then the children were taught to swim when they were little?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [441] Oh yes.
[442] ... From from a few weeks old she'd be sitting on on there was an old er wreck of a boat there.
[443] My mam'd er well not m my mother all the mams, would be sitting there with the kids with their feet in the water to get used to it even when they were a few weeks old.
[444] You know I can visualize it now you know.
[445] But as soon as you could walk, ... then they'd throw you in then ... watching you every minute.
[446] ... And it used to come natural.
[447] ... Oh they were really good swimmers round here.
[448] Specially the lads.
[449] ... I always felt safe, there was always somebody about.
[450] ... Mm.
(PS3B5) [451] Did the lads and the girls play together or [...] ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [452] Oh no together always
(PS3B5) [453] They did?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [454] Yes.
[455] ... Yes always together ... great.
[456] Nothing for us knocking each others' doors at nights about midnight coming for a swim and we'd all go down.
[457] ... Yo you know moonlight bathing and all sorts.
[458] ... Quite innocent.
[459] ... Yes even the lads and the girls you know.
[460] ... Oh we were brought up together all on the same ... vicinity for over the years you get to know one another and ... and erm ... thoroughly enjoy ourselves.
[461] Quite innocently.
[462] ... Yeah.
(PS3B5) [463] When your mother was sort of having a lot of a lot of children and and after you you know you you were growing up and she was still having children erm had you any idea of erm the processes by which all this was coming about?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [464] No I didn't.
[465] ... No I didn't I was very very erm my mother was erm ... I don't know what can you call it ... very slow in coming forward I think.
[466] ... No she never told us anything about anything.
[467] ... And we when we came of age ... puberty ... I was frightened to death me ... because I was sitting on the bea we were playing on the beach ... still a child of twelve cos we still went about with little socks on ... at twelve in them days.
[468] ... When I first started becoming a woman ... on playing on the beach and I ran home petrified.
[469] ... And she says there's nothing wrong with you she said ... and gave me a what you call it to p to er protect myself.
[470] There's you're not ill there's nothing wrong with you she said.
[471] ... But as from now, she said, you're a woman, she said.
[472] So just take care of yourself.
[473] And that's all she told me.
[474] ... And I had no idea ... no idea at all honestly.
[475] ... No idea.
(PS3B5) [476] [...] When you came home did you and sh she told you this
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [477] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [478] did you ... Fro fro just listening to th the way you were imitating what your mother said
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [479] Yes.
(PS3B5) [480] it seems that she was ... quite definite and quite firm?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [481] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [482] What sort of effect did it have on you that kind of directness?
[483] Er
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [484] Well a as soon as she gave me this erm ... protective thing to wear and and then told me that I was grown up and every .
[485] Now, she says, I want you to go up town to get me whatever it was, don't ask me I don't remember.
[486] ... And I s I can't walk.
[487] I'm ill, I'm dying you [laughing] know [] .
(PS3B5) [laugh]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [488] But no you go up town and get me this you see now she meant that sh sh you know ... no mampy pampying now, off you go ... yo you this is going to happen to you for a long time to come.
[489] ... And erm anyway er it all passed over just like that and came natural afterwards you know.
[490] ... And it was girls in school then that s s you know when you started talking about, Ooh what happened to me on the beach and that.
[491] Oh didn't you know, I could've told you that you know then ... we got to know all the all the things when it was too late but as regards my mother telling us anything brrr no.
(PS3B5) [492] Was was that sort of thing quite usual then that the that the children had to find out [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [493] Yes the hard way yes.
[494] They used to get petrified out of their their lives you know before they knew anything about it it it'd happened to you.
[495] ... And oh it really er it frightened me to death.
[496] It really did.
[497] And I wasn't the only one [laughing] I think all my family was the same [] .
[498] [laugh] [...] after that we sort of passed it on to the one next you know what to expect, but if it was down to my mother she'd never tell you.
[499] ... But us girls used to tell one another afterwards you know.
[500] ... Yeah. [laugh]
(PS3B5) [501] Were you involved at all in er looking after ... the younger children?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [502] Oh what?
[503] We never used to be able to go and play anywhere take this one with you.
[504] Oof I near I nearly flattened my s Ann my sister Ann.
[505] Oh she was a miserable child.
[506] Oh I'll never forge oh she was the most miserable child that God every created she was honestly.
[507] ... And oh God and every time I got, take this one with you more misery.
[508] So oh I said mam do I have to?
[509] Take her.
[510] ... And you always had one or two of them with you you know no matter where you went you oh dear.
[511] ... Oh mm terrible.
[512] ... No you were never allowed to er have much time for yourself, you always had one or two of the other kids.
[513] ... Mind you you can't blame my mam really you know poor thing, she wanted a rest didn't she.
[514] ... Though you thought, Oh come on old misery [laugh] [laughing] can't [] I go out on my own some time?
[515] The only place I was allowed to go to school I think.
[516] But as regards going out to play we always had to take some of the others with us.
[517] ... But then we were never far away were we?
(PS3B5) [518] Was that er w was that sort of thing quite usual then for older children [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [519] Oh yes.
(PS3B5) [520] have younger ones in tow .
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [521] Oh yes it was yes.
[522] Because we we they were nearly all big families weren't they?
[523] ... In them days anyway.
[524] ... Oh yes cos there was quite a few er kids in in that little street of ours you know in Street.
[525] Gosh yes.
[526] Quite a few kids in there.
[527] But I think my mam had the most.
[528] ... Mm.
(PS3B5) [529] You said that erm ... sometimes the mums one would sit on one side of the street and one the other skipping w
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [530] Mm yeah.
(PS3B5) [531] while you skipped
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [532] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [533] Would they be talking to to each other?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [534] Oh yes.
[535] Passing the p time of day about th things in general you know.
[536] And then erm oh nearly all the mums'd be sitting out.
[537] All the houses were so small ... that er th nearly everybody'd take their chairs out in the evening time in the in the summer.
[538] ... And there they'd be chatting across to one another or come to each others' doors and ... h you know pass time of day having a little chat about one thing and another.
[539] ... They were glad to get out the houses I think.
[540] Cos when you think of 'em now they were claustrophobic you know.
[541] ... They were low and er small.
(PS3B5) [542] Would your ... would there be any s visiting, would your mum?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [543] Oh no.
(PS3B5) [544] There wouldn't be?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [545] No.
[546] ... No we never had visitors, my mother couldn't ... she couldn't afford to have visitors you know.
[547] And she couldn't visit anybody otherwise she'd have to take some of us and y She wasn't very welcome anyway with two or three kids behind her.
[548] Cos she could never go on her own.
[549] ... Erm ... no she used to keep herself very much to herself.
[550] ... As we grew up she used to sometimes go a see an aunt of ours.
[551] ... But then we were big enough now to look after the kids for her while she went.
[552] Or she'd go to the pictures perhaps.
[553] ... When us kids were growing up now so ... Well there was myself and my oth younger sister ne the one next to me.
[554] Mary she died.
[555] ... It was us two I think what took the brunt of looking after the ... the younger ones because as I said, my older sister she left ... Bangor quite young.
[556] ... So ... it was m myself and my sister Mary really that took care of the rest of them.
[557] ... But then it came natural we didn't take any notice of it, we thought it was what was expected of us you know.
[558] ... Er then my mam said er when when a couple or two or three of us were at work, that she w chucking old man out and she did.
(PS3B5) [559] She did?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [560] [whispering] Yes she did. []
[561] ... And it was I was working, my sister was working in Liverpool sending some money home.
[562] Then I was working and my sister Mary started work and my father went out one night and he came back knocked the door and he was drunk as per usual.
[563] So my mother calmly said, And I'm not opening the door to you now or ever, she said.
[564] ... And that was it.
[565] ... Never came back.
[566] ... He went to live with his mother.
[567] ... The one whose house I was er born in in [...] still.
[568] ... And er he died there at fifty.
[569] ... He had a heart attack when he died at fifty.
[570] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [571] And he accepted the situation?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [572] Well there wa hardly anything else he could do it was a big relief to us wasn't it.
[573] ... Because then they knew ... that ... we ... a couple of the kids were really terrified of him ... and if they'd only have to hear his his footsteps walking up the street and they'd start to shake.
[574] They were petrified.
[575] ... Not that he used to hit us kids he never did.
[576] He never lay a hand on any of us children.
[577] But he hit my mother ... instead you know.
[578] For no reason whatever.
[579] ... And he wasn't the sort of man what my mother could say, Now look this one's been naughty today will you chastise them?
[580] ... She couldn't she couldn't er ... talk to him like that you know ... at all so she had to chastise us.
[581] And yet he used to chastise her.
(PS3B5) [582] Did you find it very puzzling as to why he
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [583] We did.
(PS3B5) [...]
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [584] I could I couldn't understand wh why he was doing it all.
[585] You know erm I can't understand to this day why he did it.
(PS3B5) [586] You can't understand why ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [587] Quite frankly no.
[588] ... No I can't.
[589] Cos er ... she didn't deserve it.
[590] ... She really didn't you know.
[591] ... I mean what would have happened to us kids if if she'd have been like him?
[592] ... We'd have died years ago.
(PS3B5) [593] Presumably also it placed ... when he went ... erm when it placed a bit of a burden on the rest of you to ensure
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [594] Yes.
[595] Yes.
(PS3B5) [596] Yes.
[597] You were aware of that responsibility ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [598] Oh yes.
[599] And and we accepted it.
(PS3B5) [600] Did you?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [601] Yes.
[602] Because we went b I think ... I wasn't er a very well child and the doct when I left school the doctor said I left school at fourteen and he said I had to erm find a job out of doors.
[603] Now where could you find a job out of doors?
[604] So ... I went to work to the old market place ... in the high street when it was an old market an open market you know where McKays is now, McKays whatever.
(PS3B5) [605] Oh yes Yeah?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [606] When it was an old fashion open market and erm I went to work there on the fruit and vegetable stall.
[607] And I think our wages were about twelve and six ... a week and then it went to fifteen shillings a week.
[608] I think I ended up by having just over a pound a week or something like that.
[609] ... And of course a all that was given to my mother, I us I never used to get nothing back.
(PS3B5) [610] The whole of it?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [611] The whole of it yes.
[612] ... So she was getting oh I'd say about ten bob from my sister in Liverpool and my wages and my sister Mary's m money.
[613] ... So erm and she didn't have him to keep so she was better off that way you know.
(PS3B5) [614] After the a er after the time when when you began to support your mum
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [615] Yeah.
(PS3B5) [616] did you notice any change in her [...] ?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [617] Oh she was a much happier person then.
[618] ... Oh yes she was.
[619] She was much happier person because this this she'd threatened to do for a long time.
[620] That when we grow up grew up ... to help support ... the home sort of thing.
[621] That she would ... you know throw him out so that she could just couldn't tolerate him any more.
[622] And of course we agreed with her.
[623] So ... because it er as I said it was a relief to her i were a relief to us as children because then we weren't living in in terror of him coming home and ... you know causing the bother.
(PS3B5) [624] Do d do you think your father was unusual in Hirael at that time or or was that kind of behaviour by men accepted?
Elizabeth (PS3B4) [625] Oh it was accepted in them days.
(PS3B5) [626] Was it? [recording ends]