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Open Features: Family Life - One

Lucy Oates was born and raised in Holmfirth, the tiny Yorkshire mill town made famous world-wide as the setting of BBC Television's longest-running comedy programme Last Of The Summer Wine.

Here Mrs Oates tells what life was like when she was a girl. This is the first of twelve articles telling her story. Further episodes will follow on succeeding Saturdays.

I was born at 10 Gully, Holmfirth, on April 4th, 1916. The third daughter of John Albert and Eleanor Moorhouse. The third daughter and christened Lucy, Hilda was born on 31st July 1911 and Alice on 5th November 1912.

It was not a very big house, just a living room, one bedroom and a lean-to kitchen. It was lit by gas and all cooking was done with the fire, oven one side and a boiler on the other, which had to be filled by hand. The kitchen had a stone sink and a cold water tap It was very chilly getting washed there in winter.

We had an outside toilet, dry of course, with two seats . It was emptied regularly a most unpleasant job for the workmen who did it. I think it must have got the diphtheria germ there which made me too ill to go to the isolation hospital at Meltham, so my sisters went to stay with my aunties, my mother's sisters as I was only two years old. As a result no-one entered our house for six weeks but the doctor. Thankfully I recovered though I hadn't to be crossed as the doctor was afraid my heart may have been damaged, but I made a full recovery, and although Hilda and Alice later had whooping-cough and measles I never got either.

My first memory is Aunt Lena taking me to their house when I was four as when she was eight Alice had Scarlet Fever and I was sent to my Grandfather's at Hinchliffe Mill, away from the infection I remember her lifting me up onto a wall and holding my hand so I could walk along it.

It was a bit scary at bedtime as it was such a huge bedroom with three double beds in it, all the rooms seemed big, but with Grandfather and four Maiden Aunts living there it needed to be.

When Alice came home from hospital I was stopping with Uncle Luther and aunt Edith at Netherthong. The road from Meltham came through Netherthong, and Aunt Edith lifted me up so I could wave to Alice as the cab went past. Shortly after Mother's youngest sister, Edith, married Wilfred Battye and they lived at Cinderhills with his Mother, Hilda and Alice were Bridesmaids, but as I had a dress like them I didn't mind. Later if Uncle was on his way home from work when the Ice-cream Man was there he used to treat us each to a halfpenny cornet, that was the only time we got it.

We were able to play out in safety then, we never heard of child abuse, and all the neighbours were friendly, and helped each other out in times of need.

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