Mum’s Story (Part 6)

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Bob and I decided for various reasons to have a short honeymoon some place not too far away. The granite city sounded good so, that is where we booked, Aberdeen.
During our three night stay, we enjoyed walks through the lovely city, walks on the beach as the weather was beautiful, romantic dinners and the highlight of my new husband’s day was on the Saturday when there was some special football match on.  Being the most obliging young wife, I agreed we should go!  It was fun as it had been years since we had been to a match together.
Mum and Dad in Lawrencekirk, near Aberdeen, with Dad’s Gran – my great grandmother.
We returned home on Monday evening to be told my mum was in the hospital  Too late to visit we arranged with my dad to attend the hospital the following day.  When we arrived at the ward my heart sank, her bed was empty! After a short wait, mum arrived back at the ward as she had been away for x-rays. I breathed again and was so happy to see her. Her face on seeing my dad, Bob and I was a picture of complete happiness; she actually looked radiant. I left the ward with that lovely picture of her in my mind.
The following day my mum died and a very large part of my heart crumbled.  How could it be she was so happy the day before?   My poor dad, the fear he had lived with all his married life had actually happened.  My new husband was marvellous.  I was inconsolable.  Dad was trying to keep up but completely at a loss.  Elizabeth and Ian arrived with Elaine.  Funeral arrangements made by my dad, Bob and Ian were put into place.   One week to the very day, I was in my lovely wedding dress and now I was looking out my funeral clothes, this could not be happening.
Mum had a very quiet funeral service in our house then was taken off to be buried at the cemetery.  My sister and female relations stayed at home and the only satisfying part of this whole ghastly business was that God had been kind to my mum.  She got her wishes, to see her daughters through school, happily married and she also saw her first grandchild born , baby Elaine. For that I say a big thank you.
Gran Brown baby, Elaine 1954
Gran Brown with grand-daughter, Elaine
During the next few years, Bob and I settled into married life enjoying each other’s company. We were blessed with 3 lovely baby girls and prouder parents you couldn’t meet. Like every other mum and dad, money was tight and I went out to work as an Avon representative in my own area. Within a year and a half I was promoted to an Area Sales Manager travelling the south west Scotland including Renfrewshire.
I remember the happiness this promotion brought – having a brand new car, more money coming in every month – is quite ironic.  Many a time we took our little daughters out at weekends.  We called in at various restaurants for lunch on our outings and were always asked by various people who would stop at our table and enquired if our little girls were triplets.  Lynn, Carol and Janice were very alike with short haircuts with fringe, always dressed the same.  Understandably people took notice and stopped to pay compliments. That is what married life was all about, wonderful feelings.

Mum’s Story (part 5)


Like every young woman newly engaged, there was never enough hours in a day.
Wedding preparations, bridal dress, flowers, had all to be arranged.   Unfortunately our wedding would not be the “Dream Wedding”  with a beautiful dress with long white trail, limousine to the church, church bells chiming, everything my sister Elizabeth and her husband, Ian, had. Circumstances had changed dramatically within our family by the time Bob and I got engaged.
When my mother was in her mid-teens she worked in a furriers, cleaning fur capes, coats etc. When she took ill it was discovered she had contracted a heart condition called Mitral stenosis. Throughout her young married life she suffered serious heart attacks which worsened with age.
As I mentioned, during my 21st birthday party my mum had to leave the group and rest. Her life was hard. One day when she and I were talking, she told me her wish in life was to see her two daughters through school , happily married then she would be happy.
Bob and I were aware of my mother’s health and we decided a small wedding would be the best thing.  I was adamant my mum would be at my wedding and so we asked our Minister,  Rev James Currie,  a very good friend of the family, if our wedding vows could take place in my own home.  Knowing of mum’s health condition he heartily agreed.
Now back to my wedding preparations.  My sister, Elizabeth , was thrilled to be my Matron of Honour although she and Ian lived way up north near Tain. This meant wedding attire was a bit awkward as having my wedding held at home there was no way I could have a long white dress with train!  During our enjoyable talks of mum’s younger days, she mentioned the day she and my dad were married.  Money was scarce so she decided on a very pretty pale blue dress with matching accessories, a sensible decision because her dress lasted and was very useful during social evenings.  Being very close to my mum, as many daughters usually are, I decided to do the same.
The following Saturday I went into town to look for my wedding dress.  Having been shown numerous wedding outfits I was getting rather despondent as I was on my own with no-one to ask their advice. Then out of the blue I found my dress. It was a fitted, boned, pale blue dress with tiered skirts down to my ankles, a simple pale blue lace jacket with cap sleeves and stand up collar, fitted over my dress. Luck was with me as placed on top of my head was a very delicate pale blue wedding veil held by crystal and seed pearls. Next came my shoes, a slighter darker blue covered with small encrusted stones, a 3″ heel and sling backs. At last was my dream wedding outfit was complete.
Our wedding was held on Wednesday, 10 October 1956. Everything went like clockwork. Elizabeth, Ian and my two year old niece, Elaine,  who was to be my little flower girl arrived safely from Invershin up north.  Mum had a new dress with a pretty corsage. Both my dress and my Matron of Honour’s blended in beautifully.
Our wedding was to take place in a large room in our house.  The caterers arrived and our front room looked great.  Bob’s friend played the accordion professionally so we were all set for a good time.  My future in-laws arrived and both groom and best man were in place beside our wedding guests and my very special guest, my mum. The bridal party, bride, matron of honour, father of the bride, all waiting to hear the start of the wedding march. Dad was great.  Although he had had a walk down the aisle with Elizabeth, this was different.  This was the day his youngest daughter was to be handed over to a young man who had agreed to take on the responsibility of her future.
Silence.  Music begins and off we go, another memory I will cherish:  the sea of friendly smiling faces, minister in place but the only person I could see was my future husband, all smiles. Our vows were exchanged and a new MR and MRS began a new life together..
Everything went according to plan – my new mother-in-law in tears and confetti thrown from all directions while we made our way to the taxi and to the start of our very short honeymoon.
Mum with her parents, my grandparents
Dad with his parents, my grandparents
Mum’s family (Browns and Chapmans)
Dad’s family (the Smiths)
After the honeymoon period ——story part 6 shortly.

Mum’s Story (part 4)

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Moving into my twenties was an easy and simple transition, nothing too complex just catching up with beauty styles – clothes, hair styles, shoes and first and foremost make up.
When I was a teenager I wore clothes that suited me, casual for work, more classy for going out on dates or meeting Bob. One day towards my 18th birthday I sat down and reflected my image on a slightly older male! Bob was eight years older than me and before we became an item, age never bothered us, we were just a happy twosome.
At weekends we went to friends, mainly couples Bob knew.  It was around that time that I felt I had to do something to make me look more mature and, let’s say ‘womanly’.  I changed my style in clothes, more chic, curvaceous, higher heels, new shorter hair style and, guess what?   My new image was a huge success.  I remember clearly two occasions.
One time my sisters best man, Hugh, asked me out one evening.  We went to the Berkley where I felt most comfortable.  Bob knew we were going there. As Hugh was not the best of dancers, we went upstairs to the cafe overlooking the ballroom. Sitting talking and enjoying watching the dancers, I got a feeling someone was walking towards us.  It was Bob who shook hands with Hugh then politely asked if he could have the next dance with me.  Shocked, I got to my feet, extremely embarrassed because not only did he have one dance but he held on to me for the next dance also!
The second embarrassment was while we were at a mutual friend’s wedding.  We were on the floor dancing when the sister of the bride came over to us at the end of the dance to ask Bob if he was happy for a friend to have the next dance with me? Of course he agreed. The dance was a slow foxtrot, one of my favourites.  Taking me onto the dance floor, we glided across so smoothly and comfortably, a wonderful dancer he was.  At the end of the foxtrot he offered me an invitation to be his professional ballroom dancer, as his partner had to withdraw from their partnership due to other commitments. Having thanked him for the lovely dance I had to decline his offer but was overwhelmed by his compliment and wished him every success in the future.
From that day on Bob was my only dancing partner and our relationship went to another, more permanent level.
Within a short space of time my 21st birthday arrived. A few of our friends came to my family home where we had a great time. My mother suffered from a heart condition and excused herself to go and have a rest.  Dad always enjoyed company and got into the swing of things, with a wee glass of his favourite drink Whyte & Mackay whisky.
During the spring of the following year Bob and I became engaged. We went to my Uncle Bill who worked with Panton the jewellers in Glasgow for my engagement ring.  We were over the moon and decided to go to the very popular ballroom at Eglinton Toll, Glasgow to celebrate our engagement.  I remember the evening so very clearly, the alcove we sat in, the soft music, a girls perfect dream.  As the evening went on I was still waiting for the ring to be put on my finger but Bob just kept smiling and teasing me. A special song was being sung and it was then Bob placed the ring on my finger and guided me onto the dance floor. The song was “When I Fall in Love”  (please click).  Definitely a night, never to be forgotten.
My story part 5 continues into the month of October the same year when Bob and I become MR and MRS.

Mum’s Story (part 3)


Having had my 13th birthday and feeling all grown up, Connie another girlfriend who lived across from me, decided it would be a nice day out to take the train into the town centre.  After all we were teenagers!  The railway station was only a short walk up from where we lived so our mothers agreed we could go. The train line was known as the Glasgow Circle so we could not go wrong!

We duly bought our railway tickets and eagerly waited for our train to arrive. The journey into Glasgow took about half an hour. The puff puff of the train approaching was so exciting.  It finally stopped and the doors were opened for the passengers. It was a busy train with lots of children clamouring aboard, having a day like us going to the shops in Glasgow. As the train left the station we both felt really grown up and enjoyed our run to the big city.  The scenery was so nice – seeing the countryside, the cows, sheep, horses all nibbling at the grass, very peaceful.

After almost half an hour panic set in.  We were on the wrong train!  When eventually the ticket collector came around and looked at our tickets he told us we were on the express train to TROON, in Ayrshire!

“How can we get off?”

“You can’t until you reach your destination.”

Not having mobile phones in these days and having no money, we were in a complete state of panic. When we eventually disembarked we were no longer teenagers, we were two stranded little girls miles away from home, unable to let our parents know because there was no such thing as telephones in our homes.

Eventually when we made the return journey, around half past seven at night, we ran the whole way home to meet our frantic parents all out looking for us. I can’t remember ever being so happy to see my mum, dad and sister standing there with their arms outspread.

At the age of fifteen I started my first job working as a BAZADA girl! This was a filing cabinet with a queer name. The company was A & D Frazer, selling motor car parts, in Pollockshaws. I was grown up by this time and able to get on the right train to go to work and back. I loved my work. I felt so important talking to customers, asking their name, the chassis number of the car, looking up my BAZADA file to see if we had the part in stock. On occasion I had to go to another part of the factory which meant a long walk through the factory full of mechanics.  At first I felt very self-conscious but, as the time went by, I became used to the wolf whistles and exchanged many a laugh with the lads.

There was one lad there who seemed to be very interested in me, we got on very well. His family had a business and he also had a small business doing, what is now known as gigs.  I went with him and his friend at weekends – Jim was my boyfriend and John was there to help set up the music centre. The music was varied and the dancing was fun. Our relationship lasted a couple of years until he joined the Merchant Navy travelling on the well-known ship ‘Captain Cook’ to Australia and back.  Each trip was a six months stint.

Elizabeth and with Jim Waterston 1949

Mum, Jim and Elizabeth

Within that time I changed my job to work as a Dictaphone typist in a company called The Iron Trades Insurance Company. I worked with a fleet of typists, six of us in all. The insurance men dictated their letters onto a cylinder worked by a machine which was put into a sleeve then put into a box and brought through to the typing pool.  A typist picked up the cylinder and commenced typing the letter ready for signing and posting.

I had by then moved on to travelling in style by using a Corporation bus. It was during one of my journeys home that I was introduced by a friend to a handsome, dark-haired, young man, who incidentally lived two minutes away from me on the other side of the road. We occasionally met on our journey home and passed the time of day with each other.

It had been a while since our paths crossed then I found out that he had moved.  He had left his job and was now working as an insurance agent with the Prudential Assurance Company. During our conversations we found out that we both enjoyed ballroom dancing and arranged to meet at the Berkeley ballroom one Saturday night.


Bob (my dad)

Our relationship was an on/off kind of affair.   We both went out on dates in between seeing each other at the Berkeley where he danced me every dance!  We were well known where we lived. Everyone thought we were so well matched.  When travelling on the bus we did nothing but talk and laugh, a great friendship.

As we became more serious we went on holiday to the Isle of Man, dancing to Joe Loss’ Band in the evenings and meeting friends in the afternoon for strawberries and ice cream. There were also afternoons we would hire a row boat and sail into the sunset.  I remember it well as my muscles in my arms were getting bigger with all the rowing!

Mum and Dad on Isle of Man

By the time I turned twenty, my sister, Elizabeth was married to her sweetheart, Ian, a lovely person.  I was proud to call him my brother-in-law.

Elizabeth and Ian wedding photo067

Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ian on their wedding day

Bob and I were now rightly known as a pair. We would go off to the dancing by bus waving to mum as we drove off but often missing the last bus home intentionally or by accident!  We had to get the last bus or it meant a long walk home from the terminus. While walking over the bridge by the river Bob used to sing to me a song that we used to call our song – ‘Oh Shenandoah, I Love your daughter’ in the most romantic voicse.  Please click – Oh Shenandoah

Remembering those wonderful days made me realise my teenage years were passing and my next stage in life, the 20s was only just beginning.

Mum’ Story (part 2)

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Continuing my story into the early teenage years has caused me to smile on thinking back on them!   One evening my sister and I watched our dad making STILTS for both of us. He used four treacle or syrup tins, bored a hole at each side of the tins, slid strong string through the holes then tied a knot at each end. Hey presto!  We had stilts. We had great fun walking around on them.  Another fun time was with our wheel and gird. The gird guided the wheel as we ran alongside of it.  We ran for miles, good exercise.

Elizabeth and Janet 1943

Mum (right) aged 11 with her sister Elizabeth

My best friend, Helen Mills, and I had wonderful times playing near an old railway line where her dad had a plot where he planted vegetables.  There were no gardens at that time so the government rented out plots of land to people interested in growing potatoes etc.   Beside that area there was an old broken down house which we called our Castle. Our imagination went wild. We would pretend we lived in the olden days when ladies wore crinolines and rode in horses and chariots! Great fun.

Like most children, I so wanted a bike but we had no money to buy one.  I knew a lady who was selling one but she was going to charge me £5.  Desperate as I was I decided to earn the money to buy it.  I dog walked, baby sat, went shopping for old ladies, anything to get me £5. When I got the money together I went for the bike.  It was all Black! Sad and happy at the same time, I took it home to let my mum and dad see it.  I am sure they felt sorry for me having worked so hard to buy it that my dad painted the bike a lovely shade of purple, bought white wheel guards and a lovely white basket for my handlebars.  I was thrilled to bits.

This lovely bike of mine had a few stories to tell since coming into my possession.   My Uncle Bill, who had been a polio victim and over the years he had to have a leg removed, was fortunate enough to have a three wheel motorised car to get him around. He had many friends who went on cycle runs at weekends to various places and I got invited along.   My uncle told me to be careful of traffic and not to keep using my new bell which was a novelty.   I promised I would not use it and we merrily went on our ride.  However, a man and woman walked out in front of me and having been told not to use my bell, I did as I was told and BUMP, I drove straight into the woman who was, to say the least a bit upset.  When my uncle eventually stopped apologising to the woman and started on at me, I, in all innocence, said “it wasn’t my fault, you told me not to use my bell!”

Another unfortunate incident happened on a lovely summer day when two of my friends and I were cycling along a road near the park where the Glasgow Empire Building was erected.  I always remember that because I touched a railing and got an electric shock!  Happily cycling along singing the latest songs, we decided to cycle with our arms stretched out on each other’s shoulders.  I, being the one in the middle,  had no hands on my handlebars – not good!  Out of the blue I was thrown off my bike landing on the road in terrible pain. Out of nowhere came a very helpful gentleman who got me to my feet, into his car and into the Victoria Infirmary, result being I had a cracked collar bone.  No cycling for at least two months.  I often wonder if having bought an all-black bike had anything to do with my misfortune?

Many more incidents, with varying results, happened during my young years but, that is for another part of my story.

Mum’s Story (part 1)


Memories of an 83 year old
I was born on 25th October 1933.  My older sister, Elizabeth,  was born on 11th March 1932.  We lived in a tenement building at 334 Holmlea Road, Cathcart, SW Glasgow, owned by dad’s uncle . It was a red sandstone building and our flat was the only one on the lower level .  We had two rooms and the luxury of a bathroom. Both rooms had what in the olden days was called a “hole in the wall” area where both my mum and dad slept in the kitchen. Through in the front room was where my sister and I slept.
Elizabeth and I with our mum
Gran Brown with Elizabeth and Janet (rt)
When we started primary school it was just around the corner from where we lived.  Our chums lived in the tenements beside us. We had at the back of our building a “back court” where there was a “wash house” – each member in our close had a special day to do their washing.  On mum’s day my dad had to go out early in the morning to light the boiler, ready for mum to put our bed linen and everyday clothes into.  There was a mangle there to feed the clothes through, then they had all to be hung outside on the washing line my sister and I had to put up before we went to school.
Life was a very happy time for us as children but I often think of the life my parents had in these days.
As the war began, all railings around gardens, hand rails and anything that could be melted down was removed and taken away.  I remember Baffle Walls being erected in front of every close entry to help protect us from blasts from bombs being dropped. Everyone had to wear a white badge on their jacket or coat when going out so that we would not bump into anyone coming in our direction.
The most terrible memory I have when I was very young was when air raid shelters were built in our back courts. They were built of brick with a row of  seats at each side of the walls, very basic, no toilets. At anytime during the night, when the siren went off everyone had to make their way to the shelter.  When you are young and in bed asleep, suddenly being woken by your parents, being wrapped in blankets and taken out into the very cold night and into the damp , smelling, shelter was a nightmare never to be forgotten.
As war moved closer and evacuation was put into place during the 1930s,  both Elizabeth and I were sent to a place in Dumfries-shire out of harm’s way as the company Weirs Works, where my dad worked, made ammunition for guns, tanks and loads of other things to help the war effort.
I remember much happier times when the air raids were mainly at night and during the day we children played whip and Peary (a cone shaped object with a nail in the           bottom to make it spin) and a length of string as the whip. Many a time my sister and I spent hours decorating the top of our Peary to see who could make the prettiest colours as it went round and round in its spin.  We enjoyed playing peaver, a white coloured
flat chalk which we skipped from one box into another without touching any of the lines in any of the other boxes.  Many games we played, too many to list but all so much fun and the laughter from us was infectious.  When playing skipping ropes any adult passing would join in and again we all laughed.  Happy memories.
Elizabeth and Janet 1939
As everything was rationed and we all had a ration book,  parents had to make, for example, potatoes from a packet mixed with water, mock lemon curd,  and so on.
Sweets were rationed but we were lucky as my gran had a newsagents shop and she
always brought my sister and I sweets from friends who did not use their coupons.

Elizabeth and I were also very fortunate as my mum made us lovely clothes.  I remember my first kilt – it was yellow and black check with a cosy woollen jumper knitted for  each of us and admired by our chums.

            There was a time  when Elizabeth and I went to the Sadie Simpson school of dancing.  We learned ballet and tap dancing. Our first big dancing display was held in a theatre in Glasgow.  All nerves and full of excitement, dancing in front of an audience with our mum and dad watching, was very daunting and of course when one or other of us forgot to turn, causing a bit of a mix up, our reaction was, “but it wasn’t our fault”.  In the end the show was a great success and my big sister and I received a lovely posy of flowers which, unknown to us at the time, was handed in at the back stage by our mum.
 As time went on Elizabeth went to the Glasgow High school to learn Latin as she wanted to work in a pharmacy, which she did for many years. I had other plans and I went to Battlefield Secondary School and then on to Alpress College for Secretarial Courses which stood by me in years to come.
Walking down memory lane has been a mixture of emotions, happy ones and sad ones.
Life was very different when I was a young girl growing up.  We had to make our own fun.  There was no money but family was most important.  Many a night my sister and I played snakes and ladders, hang man, telling stories, all with mum and dad.  We had a small radio and every night we listened to Children’s Hour then homework, wash, teeth done and climb into our hole in the wall for a pleasant night’s sleep, all fresh for the new day starting.
Many years have gone by since my childhood.  It is so very difficult to realise just what
young children in the 1930s went through compared to the children of today.  I can’t help thinking perhaps the bad old days were in actual fact The good old days.


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