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The Day Before Yesterday: 39 – New Additions

...I can't blame her for wanting her own space. You didn't have chance at home, although it was still normal to stay at home until married. She would pop in on occasion to see us but it was very rarely we saw her husband. Dad kept saying a Registry Office marriage was no marriage at all. This seemed to upset him...

The decision of Gladys Schofield’s sister to get married did not meet with united family approval.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s life story please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

More changes were taking shape at home. My younger brother John was old enough for work and found a job in the Dye House that brought him all that bother years earlier.

My youngest sister, Brenda, was spoiled by everyone, especially Mum, so it was a great worry when she got a swelling under her cheek. She had been having trouble with one of her teeth, so off they went to see the doctor this time.

The hours went by and no sign of them. Not having phones made it so much more difficult. Mum turned up about four hours later alone, and it was late at night. The doctor had thought it better to send her to the hospital. He could see a large abscess there ready for bursting and was afraid to touch it in case it got into her bloodstream.

They drained it at the hospital and she was kept overnight. Mum dared not use the telephone in the road outside. This was a new addition and most were very wary of it. She had been instructed at the hospital to phone in the morning. This was the first time any of our family had been to hospital and Brenda was only five years of age, so to put Mum's feelings at ease, I said I would phone for her.

I had never used this contraption before either. I remember pondering a long time before I could use the correct procedure but all went well. She was home the next day.

My sister Dorothy had been going steady for a few months with a big fellow a few years older than her. He didn't come to the house much, but then she didn't have to have anyone's approval and was a more private person. Her choice was not one we expected her to make, and she surprised us by announcing the news that she was about to get married.

I thought this great news. I had never been a bridesmaid and was sure to be one now, but Dorothy said she did not want a big wedding and intended to marry in the Registry Office.

She had always been in control of her own life. Maybe that's why Mum always seemed to control mine. Dad thought different. She was twenty-four at the time. That was a bit late for a girl to be single anyway.

The marriage without Dad's approval was planned for May, with just a small gathering of people. I was not invited but that didn't seem strange. Fashions were changing a lot and this type of marriage was common now. She moved to a little home within walking distance and seemed happy.

I can't blame her for wanting her own space. You didn't have chance at home, although it was still normal to stay at home until married. She would pop in on occasion to see us but it was very rarely we saw her husband. Dad kept saying a Registry Office marriage was no marriage at all. This seemed to upset him.

No one yet owned their own home in a working class family. You paid a few shillings a week and a rent collector called. Even the better houses that had just been built were subsidised by the Government. We did not pay more than a third of our income.

They were just starting building houses for home ownership. The older sister of a friend of mine moved into a two bedroom one. It cost three hundred and sixty five pounds in 1934, but they were the exception. We thought this a big step up the ladder.

Dorothy had her first and only baby nine months and one week after her marriage, a dainty little daughter like herself. She had a home birth with the midwife attending. It's a good job she didn't take after her father, as it took three days to produce this tiny girl, who weighed just six pounds.

The same week Jeanette was born I sprained my ankle badly, turning it on some uneven ground down a hill on our way home one night. It gave a nasty crack and was so swollen the doctor said I must rest it as much as possible and was not allowed to work.

Mum took this opportunity to go and care for Dorothy during the day time. I had to care for things at home in her absence. My youngest sister was at school by now but I had to do the shopping when needed, to prepare a good meal when everyone came home at tea time. I also did the washing and kept up with the housework. Not much rest I'm afraid for my ankle.

I managed this first week, then Mum came home. Dorothy was slow recovering and this worried Mum, as she knew her husband would have to return to work on the Monday and hadn't managed for anyone to care for her the following week. So Mum said, "Will you go, Gladys, and do what you can for her."

I jumped at this opportunity to be close to the new baby. The midwife called every morning to care for my sister and bath Jeanette. I watched as she went through this process the first day. The next day as I watched again, she said, "Would you like to bath the baby?"

"Yes, please" I answered and imitated every move I had seen my mother do so many times before.

"How did you know how to hold a baby like that?" the midwife asked, as she watched me.

"This is the way Mum does it" I replied.

"I can see you will not have any problems when you have a family" she said.

The doctor had been calling now and again to see my sister as Dorothy was quite weak after her experience, and he popped in one morning while I was there. He was the same doctor I had attended with my foot. "What are you doing here?" he said, when he caught sight of me. "I told you to rest that leg. No wonder the swelling is not going down."

I didn't know what to say, as he went out of the door shaking his head. Little did he know I had had precious little rest that fortnight.

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