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Great Mabel speaks

posted 9 Jun 2015, 22:12 by Sandra Kirby   [ updated 10 Jun 2015, 19:11 ]
While Nana is visiting Tony has started recoding some of her oral history.  
Here is the first bit
If you could talk about your home town and early memories that would be a pretty good start.
My home town was Larkhall which was supposedly the largest village in Scotland. It was about 15 miles from Glasgow and about 5 miles from Hamilton. It was a mining village. There were several mines around the place. My father was a licensed grocer which meant he sold alcohol. He had quite a big business.  from an early age I used to go with my father to the shop. When it was shut he was doing things. As his first daughter I not around a lot with him. Thoroughly enjoyed it, thoroughly! I was very much Daddy's girl.
What kind of jobs did you do?
As I got older and the war was on I used to scrub the hand boards and do things but my father wouldn't allow me to serve in the shop because there was alcohol there and no daughter of his was serving alcohol. I wasn't allowed to sell tobacco either but I do remember a lot of the men smoked pipe tobacco that was in a long long roll about an inch thick and they had this special thing. It was like a breadboard with a knife on it and you'd cut announce it two inches off they'd ask for so much at s time. When Ai was allowed to do that I thought that I was really grown up.

My mother died in1938. Shortly before she died I can still remember we had gone to the picture house and we saw Neville Chamberlain holding up the thing that said, There will be no war and I can remember my mother saying to me, Lassie we don't want another war because she lost two brothers in the First World War.

Even to this day Incan still see her, you know, shaking her head and saying we don't want another war and luckily she died before she got to see it as my brother Alec who was 18 and was a Territorial he was called up on the 1st September 1939. War wasn't declared til the third. My father and Ai had gone down ...my eldest brother had had quite a nasty car accident. He was on his motorbike and a car past and took his leg off (Jack) with one of those tyre things.
My father actually had to go to court to pay the court costs for him to get the compensation. My father and I were down in London. This was the last two weeks in August and we knew, well, we thought war was going to be coming soon.

I saw the first Television set, my brother had one of the first television sets. It was the most beautiful thing. They just had a wee circle and the announcers came on in their evening suits. I mean it was only on for a little while every day and it was absolutely fascinating.

T. Can you remember much about your mother? What can you tell us?

My mother had 8 children and she was very much the mother in the house you know she made Sheena and Indress like the little princesses as we eve the same age and the same year as Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose. Whenever they came out with an outfit my mother made one for us. She was really talented and a beautiful baker and cook. She was lovely. 

What sort of thing would she have baked or cooked in Scotland

In Scotland there was a traditional dish for the new year, what they call a Black Bun. It was pastry on the outside, but in this about 4 inches deep of solid fruit, raisins and others. It had whiskey in it as well. My father was supposed to send her down the right amounts of stuff you know of spices and things and this one particular year my father obviously got fed up measuring things and he sent her down unmeasured and absolutely ruined this very expensive cake. It was too spicy. He had the scales!

I'll never forget this as my mother was really angry. It was ,add about six weeks before New Year. I don't think we were allowed to taste it because there was alcohol. The cake would be to give to people when they first foot. The traditional was that there had to be a dark haired man with a bottle and something else in his hand so you would never be short during the year. You always had shortbread. You never turned anyone away rom your door so as Sheena and I got older and boys became interested they would come around.



Wed evening contd

You couldn't turn the boys away. And of course New Years Eve was a very busy to,e for my father in the shop because they were allowed to open later and he'd have a long days work and he was not a drinker. He was very tired and as the boyfriends started coming in at midnight he was getting quite impatient with them and still had all the tidying up afterwards.


How large was the shop?

Well it was big for Larkhall. There was the shop, the back of shop and the cellar below. the main shop would be the size of a good sized living room. Only the Cooperative store would have been slightly bigger. It was right on the cross of Charing Cross in Union St (pictured). In the picture Trinity Church is on the right in the foreground.

The family went to church and I member, by the time Inwas six my brothers were getting quite big they were 6, 8 and 10 years older than me. but the six children used to go to church and my father stood at the end of the pew upstairs, and Sheena went in first, then Tom, then me, then Bobby, then Alec, in order of age and then my Mather and then my father. the boys all wore hats, even bowler hats, put down under the seats.

This was until Jack went down to London and he worked in a mental hospital, met his wife there. He was down in London for quite a few years. Bobby helped with my father in the shop and Alec worked in an office and became an accountant for Inland Revenue. Even after that we would still go to church. We were issued with ear plugs for the bombs during the w
ar and our Tom would take the cartoon section out of our fathers Sunday paper put the ear plugs in and read once the minister started the sermon. I don't know how he did it.


For many a long year my father wouldn't have a Sunday paper but once he did he would have nine.

And your Dad didn't know...

Well he couldn't get to him because of the order.

What was the name of the church?

Trinity Church.  Obviously it was made up of the people who didn't like the first church.  Larkhall was a village but it had the Parish Church, the Trinity, the We three, a Hebron Church and a big Catholic Church.

Sandra. We saw it when we were in Larkhall.

I think there was 5 churches in the main street. The Catholic church was further away. in Scotland if you were a Catholic you went to the Catholic school.  Itbwas a different place Larkhall. They always reckoned that if you came from Larkhall you were daft. It was famous for having its local daft people

S. What was the comment that Dad made about the wall to keep you in?

yeah.  The Duke of Hamilton had an estate and it started just short of Larkhall. Others used to say it was to keep the daft folk out. The Duke of Hamilton had a huge estate and there was a golf course there. My father played golf. Jack was a golf nut and Bobby played as well. Bobby danced and was the runner up for the British Ballroom dancing. He was great. He used to take me dancing during the war cos I was so shy and quiet and he would go so I would be able to dance.

T. Do you have any other stories about your mother?

My mother was an absolutely wonderful dressmaker and knitter...it has skipped aa generation when it came to me. She and I used to go to Scottish Country Dancing. We did alot together. She was a really loveky, lovely lady. My grandmother was very close as well. I was very sickly as a child and I used to go to stay with my grandmother who lived in Hamilton a terrific amount.

She was very busy. We had our dinner in the middle of the day. Cooking was quite something. We'd have a cooked breakfast in the morning and then we'd have a minimum of two courses at lunchtime then tea at night. And she did a lot of baking. There was a terrific amount of washing and it was all done pn the rubbing board. She didn't get much time so things like the Scottish Country dancing we did at night.

I don't say she was active in the chursh but she went to the equivalent of Women's fellowship. There were always visitors and she'd have my great grandmother to come and stay to give her a break from time to time. She used to say to my father you were the man I should have married (laughs).She lived in a place called Linekilnburn out of Hamilton. A tiny little place it may have been taken into Haamilton. Just a row of houses between Hamilton and Strathern.It was a funny little place. My great grandmother was terrified of lightning and when it happened Tom and I would have to sit with her under the table...being preschoolers we thought this was great fun!



There will be more 
you will also have seen that Great Mabel can email. It's a whole new life opening up



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