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Open Features: Family Life: Four - A United Sing

Lucy Oates tells of a time when Whit Monday was the highlight of the year.

I must not forget about Whitsuntide, as Whit Monday was the highlight of the year for the chapels and churches. Each one hired a Brass Band, and with the Chapel banner we paraded round in our area to sing the hymns. Then we all met at the local park for a united sing. The Primary classes sat on a platform, and as each chapel had chosen a hymn, when your hymn was sung, your band played it. Then after leaving the park we processed back to the chapel for our tea, usually potted meat sandwiches and buns then we all got a School cake to take home. These were currant tea-cakes, but they were richer in fruit, and as there were three of us there was enough for us all for breakfast on Whit Tuesday

Two weeks before Whitsun there was always a brass band contest in the park and Father had played in Hinchliffe Mill brass band, on the tenor horn, and he won quite a few medals for coming first at contests. I still love a brass band.

We also had Feast Weekend the week before Whitsun when a platform was erected in the park for an open air service to be held there and church and chapel choirs used it to lead the singing. The music was supplied by a voluntary orchestra. If it rained the service was held in the church one year and the next time in the Wesleyan chapel.

I recovered my voice later and went to work for Mrs. Bye and her daughter to learn dressmaking. Miss Bye had a millinery shop so it was interesting and for two years I received the huge sum of two shillings and sixpence a week. I got a rise for the third year and got three shillings. By then Mrs. Bye was so crippled with arthritis that I had to help carry her downstairs in a morning, and as she was unable to show me how to draft patterns I went to a class in Huddersfield once a week for three months to learn how to make my own patterns. At a cost of two and six a lesson and tenpence bus fares It was a good job that the textile trade had improved by then, and both Father and my sisters were working. It was good training though and it stood me in good stead all my l life.

My life had to change then, as mother was very ill with gallstones so as the lowest paid, I had to stop at home and look after her and the house. She was able to have nothing but water for a week, and only milk and water for another two weeks, but it was a long job for her to get well enough to take up the reins again, so I was able to start sewing a bit for my relations, but they kept me so busy, and not paying much, so I went after a job that was advertised and I was lucky enough to get it and I got a pound a week in wages. It was in a plumber's shop, for Mr. Tom Bainbridge.

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