« 106 - The Turning Point | Main | Ariel Hierarchy »

The Day Before Yesterday: 43 – Precious Months

...The washing was more primitive than my mother’s at first, as I had no means of wringing my washing and had to squeeze as much moisture out as possible with my hands. Cliff could always remove more, as his hands were stronger. Our washing line stretched right across the lane in front of our house, a post being fixed against the wall by the woods. Wild blackberries grew all along the wall side and, being late summer, were starting to ripen...

Gladys Schofield recalls the early days of her married life.

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

Those first months were very precious to us. We didn't need to go out much. Our friends would come and visit from time to time. Even Roy turned up one Saturday afternoon. I had been baking bilberry pies. He was on his own, not yet finding a lady friend he could share his time with. He spent the afternoon with us and shared my baking. This was the last time I remember seeing him.

It's funny, although the drinking age was eighteen and we could go to the pub if we wanted to, it was very rare we went there. We would go and have a drink with friends now and again and then just one or two at most. Not until the war got into full swing did people feel the need to drown their sorrows. Families would gather around a man in uniform, to wish him well or again when on leave, but up to then not too much money could be spared for this pastime.

Cliff knew the family who lived next door, a middle aged family who had children the same age and a bit younger than us. Two of the boys had gone to the same school as Cliff, so I was pleased to have someone pleasant close by.

The mother took me under her wing at once and said, "Do you know how to bake bread dear?"

That was one thing I had not mastered, as Mum had stopped baking a few years earlier with bakeries opening close by, but here the one large store would be a mile away and it was a steep difficult journey so I had wondered about that. So I replied, "No, I'm afraid not."

"Well" she said, "the next time I bake, come and watch me. I will give you a lesson."

Not only did she teach me to make bread, she also had a recipe for a fruit scone that I still make today and the crunchiest gingernuts.

A few months later they moved into a council house closer to civilisation, and I missed that dear lady. Though I didn't miss her boys, as they kept calling at our door to see if Cliff could come out to play one of their boyish games like kick-can or
climbing the trees to see who could climb the highest. I would stand with my heart in my mouth as I watched the boy in my man swaying up there, as nimble as any monkey. No thought of danger at all. Maybe it's as well they did soon move or he would never have grown up.

The washing was more primitive than my mother’s at first, as I had no means of wringing my washing and had to squeeze as much moisture out as possible with my hands. Cliff could always remove more, as his hands were stronger. Our washing line stretched right across the lane in front of our house, a post being fixed against the wall by the woods. Wild blackberries grew all along the wall side and, being late summer, were starting to ripen.

As the evenings got shorter we spent more time beside the fire and I would often go to bed alone, as Cliff had a habit of dropping asleep as soon as he relaxed in a chair and would come tumbling into bed in the early hours of the morning. It's a habit he has kept as he still does it today.

I had to set off earlier to work in a morning now, mine leading the opposite way to my husband. I would walk to the beginning of our lane, at one side winding even higher as it wound around the hill side to the village and Co-op, but I needed to go down to the valleys below before I could climb again to my place of work.

A path took me this way now, leading to steps made of stone slabs cut out of the hillside, so many I never even counted them, as they slowly descended to the valley below and I reached a reservoir. The path around this led me in the direction of one of the mills. This wasn't my work but the start of the industrial area.

After winding through the cobbled streets, I climbed again to reach my work. This took me half an hour, and most of the journey I took I didn't see another person. It seemed as though we lived on the edge of a basin, with the factories and built up areas scattered around the bottom. Our hill was the highest above sea level around. You could look across miles and miles of open country, seeing the hills rise up again in the distance.

Cliff said one day, "I don't like you going all that way on your own, now that winter is coming on."

"Oh, but I enjoy my work," I replied.

He insisted it would be better to give up about November, but I had the last word, saying, "Well if I do, I want to go back in the spring."

Already the mills had changed their style of cloth and were busy weaving for the forces, but Cliff was right. We had no lights on now. Only a little pocket torch could be used to light your way home and I wasn't the bravest person.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.