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Life as a Young Mother

by AgeConcernShropshire

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Archive List > Family Life

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Walsall, West Midlands
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Contributed on: 
02 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Pam Vincent of Age Concern Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on behalf of Vicki and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was 2 years old when the Great War finished which means that I will be 90 next April.

I volunteered to go on munitions where I worked all through WW2 - 6 nights each week on 12 hour shifts. I enjoyed it. I worked where the powder magazines were. We wouldn’t have stood a chance if a bomb had dropped. We needed a bus pass when going to and from work to say where we were going. We had to show this bus pass both going and coming back home.

My husband served in the Navy during the war period and I brought up 2 children alone. We lived in Walsall with my mum. I didn’t see my husband very often and could wait weeks for a letter. We learned to live with it. I had a good mum and dad and we shared the heartaches between us.

It was very difficult coping with rations, but we made do. Coal was on ration, everything was on ration, even having a bath. We used to put the tin bath in front of the fire. There was no central heating then. If anyone was sick in the house, we had to have a doctor’s note so that we could ask for extra coal. The coal was 1/6d per hundredweight.

The sweet rationing was terrible. Fruit too was rationed. We knew Dot who kept a shop and she used to let us have the specked apples for free and we would cut the bad bits out.

We did have a gas stove, which was a godsend.

It was a difficult and hard time, but I preferred that to the terrible world of today. We were never frightened of the raids. My auntie, my mother’s sister, ran a newsagent’s shop. They had a direct hit and auntie, uncle and their 2 sons were killed. Things like this happened a lot.

Wash day took all day. We used the old fashioned dolly tub and had to wait for the water to boil before we could start. We had to stoke up the boiler. Then there was the big old mangle that we needed to turn to dry the washing. We had to put the irons in front of the fire to get them hot.

We walked everywhere. There was no money for bus fares. It was healthier to walk anyway.

We went to the market on Saturdays to get the food for the week. We went later towards evening to see what was left over going cheap. We would buy cuts of meat that you wouldn’t bother with today.

They were lovely times and neighbours were always there to give a hand if needed. My mum could put milk money out on the window ledge and have no fear of it being stolen. The children used to go down the fields to play and we had no fear for them. Just gave them some nuggets of bread and jam and some water for the day.

I think it was a happier world that the one we live in today.

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