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 Mathlan Smith 1931 - 2007 Stonehouse, Lanarkshire.
 Nickname: Mattie

I was the third child out of eleven. My mother had children spanning over 22 years. Practically every 2 years she would give birth. My father was in the forces but he obviously had plenty home leave.

I enjoy my visit to the day clubWhen I was young I used to go down to the River Avon with my bottle of water and a couple of pieces ‘n jam to play wi' ma palswith my friends (and to get out the road of my mother).There was a gang of us. One time I was standing next to the ‘Big Lynn’, a deep stretch of water, when somebody pushed me in. All I remember is seeing the bubbles coming up until someone pulled me out. I have been scared of the water ever since. The ‘gang’ and me were all at school together. The teachers were awfully strict. One of them used to say to me “You would provoke a Saint to Anger, let alone a human being”. I never knew what that meant at the time. I sang in the choir at Larkhall, just at the tea meetings. They thought I had a nice strong voice. I even went to the tap dancing(when there was money for it). Most of the girls around my place were in the Brownies or Guides. I loved my weesmall jacket. When I was twelve I was exempt from school so I could go and work on the tatties with Perries the Potato Merchant. My parents were hard up with a big family to feed and if you were able you were allowed to work. I preferred that to school.

We moved to Woodburn when I was thirteen. My father came home one day and just said “Right, I’ve got a lorry coming at 2 o’clock, we’re moving to Dalkeith, get your stuff packed. We were ready at two. It was winter, snowing and freezing. When we arrived at the house Mrs Naysmith had a big fire on for us though. The house had 3 bedrooms but by that time there were nine of us. My brother got a room to himself because he had TBTuberculosis. We all squeezed in the other two rooms. I only had to go to school for another 3 months after that. I left to work in the tomato houses in Woodburn. That’s when I started going to the dancing. I left the tomato houses a year and a half later to work for Hoggie in the fields. It was hard work but the company was good. I used to wrap tattiepotatoe bags around my body, tied with string and I used sleeves from old jumpers as socks just to keep warm. Sometimes all I had to eat during a hard days slog was a piece ‘n lard. I was all sore at night but still managed to get ready for the dancing. I went every night, or when I had the money. I used to sell Hoggies tatties to the chip shop to get that extra money. Ye couldnae You could not open yeryour pay packet either, you had to hand it over. These days most work involves the heed and not the hands, that’s if you can get work. I left Hoggies and became a bus conductress till I got married.

I met my husband Michael at Dalkeith Masonic Dance Hall. We married when I was 21 and we divorced 15 years later. We had four children. I had to go and work in the fields again to earn money. Mick didnae did not like work. We were living in Arniston at the time and I had to walk down to my mother’s in Woodburn so she could watch the bairnsYoung Children.

When we divorced I went to live in Harrogate for about 3 or 4 years. I worked on the buses again. I met George, my second husband, there. He was a joiner and made good money. What a difference it was having money in yeryour purse. I had to come home because I took a slight heart attack when I was actually working on the bus. We married in Dalkeith and stayed at my mothers, then got a house in the Drive. We had one son, George. Life was a lot happier and easier then. I had plenty of friends, who are nearly all away now. I worked at the Justinlees Inn with my sister. She was the cook and I was the cleaner and dishwasher. I have been a domino player for many years and have won a number of trophies at the Legion. I still play there. Nowadays I am better off than I have ever been. I don’t have to go to bed at night wondering where my next bite to eat is going to come from, but people are more greedy in this day and age. Years ago neighbours would give you a piece and jam for going a message. Now, if you can get them to go, they want money for it.

Well I am quite happy now going to the bingo or the Legion and my weekly visit to the Day Club.

 

Mattie

Sadly Mattie passed away in February 2007.

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