Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on I am not my mother's daughter for nothing!

Muriel Wells

I wasn't pampered, idle, or particularly hard done by! We were expected to help but tasks varied according to need and were never too onerous. Prewar what I do remember most was running errands. To the butcher's for 6 penn'orth of steak, (not a lot!) so that Mum could provide an almost instant dinner for Dad whenever his work as an "outside representative" for Smarts Furnishing, allowed him to drop by for his meal. The butcher had lost one of his finger ends and I watched him using the bacon slicer with some trepidation. Also with a lively and barely suppressed curiosity in the digit!!! I also remember that the errand to get potatoes meant carting back an extremely heavy bag. Returning from one of my errands I was confronted by the grisly reminder to always look before you cross the road. Parked vehicles and a pavement and roadway liberally spattered with blood was all I saw of a late playmate, who playing chase had just dashed across the road into a lorry.

Chief memories, as the war began, are of taking my baby brother for long walks. One particular instance is engraved on my memory as besides the front wheels repeatedly detaching, on my return I found that I'd not only pushed my little brother, (balancing on two back wheels), but also a ½ dozen bottles of Guinness, tucked behind his pillow. No wonder that I thought that he was getting to be a big "lump".

As I grew older help with the dishes was expected, and during the holidays we cleaned our large (shared) bedroom. It had to be done to Mum's standards. There were lots of things that we helped with, but time was allowed for our rather heavy homework loads, and some leisure, too.

As a young teen I loved to go with Auntie Florrie, newly appointed a headmistress,[1] and we spent all day, for days at a time, undoing incoming parcels and storing the contents. Also doing stock checks. They were congenial and happy times, with the kettle put on and some bought goodies for our lunch!

I have never been particularly domesticated by inclination, but Mum's training and our stints on roster at our Girls' Life Brigade camps saw to it that we were well acquainted with broom, mop and duster.

I never had much opportunity or desire to cook until I was married at a ripe old age! As many of you know I, "jumped from the frying pan into the fire", by going to live in isolated and spartan conditions, with no "mod cons".

I remember a day or two after my marriage wondering whatever I had let myself in for! What had occasioned this? Well Keith was somewhere at the back of the farm and I was trying to do the ironing. What is so hard about that you may well ask? They were two Mrs Potts irons that I had to heat on the stove. Not so hard --- but Keith hadn't left much cut wood and what with juggling the irons to press his shirts and workpants and racing outside to cut a bit more wood to feed the stove I was fast approaching tears. It was a race to keep the fire going and fit in a bit more ironing and avoid smuts on the clothing. My poor hands were blistering because I wasn't adept at using a bowsaw, and I'd burnt myself several times on the irons ---- dear me, poor old Muriel!

Later, with Keith home and a restorative cup of tea, things looked better. And I learnt to cope, I am not my mother's daughter for nothing! Mum also sent me a sleeve into which the irons fitted.

Later I got a kerosene iron, heavy and rather frightening to use, as you started it up like a Tilley lamp. It too, blistered my fingers, being so heavy. However an elderly neighbour gave me sound advice, which I adhere to to this day. Peg out the clothes carefully and fold them as you bring them in. Very little ever needs to see an iron!

Well these days I do have mod cons, but thinking back to those earlier days of my marriage when all tasks were labour intensive, I was just as happy. I actually like the broom but can't confess to any affection for my vacuum cleaner!

You may also like to read " Running Errands - Easier now than then!", Muriel Wells

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School---The Best Years Of Your Life? --- Part 1 by Muriel Wells

Written by Muriel Wells