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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Holywood Arches Library
People in story: 
Annie Culbert
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 October 2004

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Nuala Culbert of the Belfast Education & Library Board / Holywood Arches Library on behalf of Annie Culbert [the author]and has been added to the site with her permission.
The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

I got my first job during the war. It was 1942 and I was 14. I left school one day and started work the next.
The job was packing face powder and tanning powder into packets that were sold in Woolworths.
The tanning powder was popular because there were no stockings to be had and women and girls would put the powder on their legs instead.
Some of them drew lines up their legs as well, where the seam of the stocking should have been.
Times were hard but we still wanted to look like the film stars. We sometimes used distemper as rouge and red sweets for lipstick. Mint Imperials looked like the earrings we saw the film stars wearing so we would stick those on our ears.
We worked in the downstairs front room of an attic house in Eglinton Street, in the Old Lodge Road area of Belfast.
All day we scooped powder, two tablespoons per packet, from big tea chests. It was very boring for 14 year olds but once when we played a game of ‘pass it on’ I was seen by the owner and he sacked me.
I didn’t dare go home and tell my mother I had lost my job so I refused to go and he kept me on. I was sacked again a few weeks later for dropping a big tray of powder but again I was kept on when I made a fuss.
We only got paid one and six a week (seven and a half pence in today’s money) but it was too important to lose. I got thruppence and my mother got the rest.
And for six months, before I got a job in Ewarts Mill on the Crumlin Road, the whole street had brown legs.

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