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The Day Before Yesterday: 27 Heading Towards The Biggest Change

...The long school holidays were not very far away, and though I had looked forward to these, I knew I must find work as my brothers and sister had done before me. We were not fully out of the recession and I would be lucky to find a job.

So on the Monday morning, knowing even a small wage like I could earn would make a difference to our family, I presented myself at one of the local mills...

Gladys Schofield enters the world of work.

A lot of changes were happening in our house. The old rolled-ended couch we had known so long had been changed for the more modern settee, and the straight backed chairs so beautifully carved that had known twenty years of wear and tear were gone also, as the living room moved up with the times to acquire a more modern look. The old clock, was still as sedate as ever, ticking away the years as if nothing had changed.

I felt a bit like that old clock, wishing I could just go on as before, for I was about to make the biggest change in my life.

The long school holidays were not very far away, and though I had looked forward to these, I knew I must find work as my brothers and sister had done before me. We were not fully out of the recession and I would be lucky to find a job.

So on the Monday morning, knowing even a small wage like I could earn would make a difference to our family, I presented myself at one of the local mills. As I neared the gates I remembered when I had seen it before, as a lost little girl.

I felt almost as lost again as I made for the weaving department and asked to see the manager. After a while a dark, middle-aged man came towards me and remembering my mother's parting words of "Mind your manners" I said, "Please have you a vacancy for a girl leaving school?"

The man I had addressed looked down at me with an amused look on his face and said, "Why, Love, where is she?

"It's me," I said, not caring for all this teasing.

"It can't be you. You don't look a day over ten.

I looked down at my little blue blazer and white canvas shoes, then met his stare and said, "I am fourteen and I need a job.

"Well in that case, he said, still with a twinkle in his eye, "come to this department next Monday at seven o'clock sharp. You've got a job winding bobbins for the weavers.

My dad awakened me in the mornings, as I had an earlier start than our other workers. They were long hours. We got a breakfast time of half an hour from eight-thirty until nine, one hour for dinner and then worked through until five forty-five, and four hours Saturday morning.

I was barely five feet in height and had a job reaching the spindles on the winding frame, so they heightened the wooden platform we stood on to keep our feet off the concrete floor. They say mill grease makes you grow. It was true in my case. I was two inches taller in no time at all and became a young woman.

We dared not be late as a check-in clock marked our time each morning and again when we left the building. I started at ten shillings and tenpence a week and got a sixpence rise every fortnight until I reached one pound. My mum gave me three shillings spending money for my personal requirements, which was quite a generous amount.

I had new friends, a new job and money in my pocket. Wasn't life good!

Some time later my mum said to me, "You know, the teachers wanted you to stay on and go to train as a teacher.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Well, said Mum, "the head mistress asked me to go for an interview just before you left school and said you had the gift for teaching children and wouldn't I consider letting you go for training. But at that time I needed you working and I told her I could not spare you.

I often wonder how my life would have changed if things had been different but just then I was on the brink of a whole new life, but that's another story.


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