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Born: Minnie May Charlotte Duff 1925 Southampton

Me with the bairnMy dad was a docker, but he was more idle than was in work. My mother was a housewife. There were six of us. I was the oldest of the family. She had three of us and it was about sixteen or seventeen years after, when she had the other three. We just had to live where we could get. We lived in rooms in they days. I was about 13 before we got a one bed roomed house. They slept in the kitchen, and we slept in the bedroom. We had a toilet but not a bath. MaMy dad was a bit strict. If you did not do what you were told he would hit you as quick as look at you, but funnily enough when the second lot of children arrived he was softer with them. Terry, Jean and David got away with murder.

Me with our first bornI had a good school. I left when I was 14. The class had about 32 children. The teachers used a stick instead of the belt.

When I was about 12 we were playing in the street, and this man came and asked us our names. Although I was told not to speak to men, I could not be ignorant so we told him, and the next thing he was up at our house and arranged a holiday for us. I went to Basingstoke along with children from other areas. All expenses were paid and we got new shoes and new clothes. We found out later on that it was the Free Masons that arranged it.

I got a weesmall job as an apprentice dressmaker, but I never did much cause I more or less went messages for the staff. That lasted a few months. I left to work with the spitfires. I did what they called bonding.George and myself at our wedding I didnae did not bother about the men. The first time I bothered about men was with my husband. I did go with a soldier before I met him right enough, and some sailors as well. It was not a case of going with them, they were just in the company yae ken yea know . I had one serious boyfriend and he came from Birmingham. He worked in the chocolate factory before he went in the navy. I visited him, and was so shocked, I dumped him. His mother was a pure bitch to his disabled father. She flirted with all the other men. She never got on with me cause she knew I knew too much. I was told he was killed at sea, but I don't really know.

I was always the devil of the family and they could never find me when the sirens went off. My dad was always looking for me. If I was out I just stayed where I was. We used to get chased to the shelters with the wardens. For about a month though the sirens went every night and we sheltered in a church and when we came out you could see the devastation and buildings burning. One time mamy mother and myself got into a cupboard in the house. My dad came running in shouting where the hell are you. We were in the cupboard where all the gas fittings were. He said of all the places to hide you had to pick the gas cupboard.

Celebrating our golden anniversaryI've taken the High Road to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was working on the trams when I met George Ross. He worked on the trams as well. He jumped on and said something, so I said away hame ya dirty auld Scotsmanhome you dirty old Scotsman (derogatory), and he said I will make you eat those words. Two or three days after he rammed my tram with his. George then went home and told his parentst hat he met me, and that he was going to marry me, but I did not know that at the time. He came and said his mum wants to know what date we are getting married. I said who said we were getting married? He said I did. We married 12 days after on the 12th December 1945. We just lived in rooms. George had to go back in the forces. I came up to Scotland because George’s mother asked me to look after her children. She went to live in digs down south, waiting on George’s dad to be demobbed. That was my first time in Scotland, and I had already had one child, Rosemary. I took to Scotland because it was in my blood, as my Dad’s family were Scotsman (Scottish). They were brought up in the highlands. I lived in James Lean Avenue. George was then recalled as a Bevin BoysBevin Boys: Use of National Service conscripts in the coal mining industry; selection by ballot at Gilmerton pit. I was looking after 5 children altogether. Our first house George and I got was 2 Woodburn Place. George's parents had moved back up to Scotland, and took over looking after their own kids. They were tin houses that are still standing yet.

I can still remember everythingAt my grand childs weddingOut for a special meal

I had another four children Davina, Charlie, Ian and Catherine. Charlie was born in Woodburn Bank. Dr Summerville was at the birth. After he was born mamy mother in law told him to give me a stitch. He said Davina will yae sit doonyou sit down, and yes I have stitched her.

George and me at the weddingI had a number of different jobs when the children were growing up. I wor ked all my life actually. I worked in Duncan's chocolate factory. We were allowed so much chocolate a month, the kids loved it, Picnics, Flakes, Crunchies, Hazelnut bars. I also worked at the rubber mill at Fountainbridge. I had a lot of good friends, but there was a lot of sarcasm against the English. There was always someone to stick up for me though.

I joined the Eastern Star, the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem 1964/66. George had joined the Masonic. His mother was in the Star. We did a lot of charity work with the Star, ran jumble sales and had dances. George had been medically discharged from the pits, as he had been trapped in a roof fall at Lingerwood pit. That was when he got his first new car, a Ford Mark one Cortina. I learned to drive in a Bedford Dormobile van. We used to go out and sleep in it. We went camping from the Friday to Sunday to places like Pitlochry, Angus, and Aberdeen. George loved his fishing. We were in Angus one time and the whole crowd was up, my in-laws, Davy and Alice Burnett, their three kids and us. We stayed at a farm where you gave the farmer a hand with the bales and fed the chickens. We got free digs for it. The kids were playing tig and oorour Davina jumped the wa and went heed first into a pile of manure, and it was well rotted, you could only see her two legs sticking ootout! On the farm as well there were the auldold chemical toilets, and we drew lots to see who would empty this thing, and I think it was James Burnett who drew the short straw. He was about 16, and as he was walking along he was swinging the bucket in a full circle. His mother shouted on him when the bucket was on an upward swing, and because he was distracted the contents spilled all over him. We had to hose him down.

After the chocolate factory I went to work in the Royal Infirmary as an Auxiliary Nurse.

3 braw birds togetherGeorge, after his accident went into the pub trade. I followed him into the trade in 1965. We used to run the grocer shop in Woodburn. The bairnsYoung Children would come in for their sweets before they went to school. We were the first shop in Woodburn to get white chocolate Easter eggs. We didn’t tell anyone where we got them and we sold out every time.

Our first holiday abroad was in Spain on the provie The provident saving scheme . After that there was no holding us back, we went to Portugal, Belgium, Yugoslavia. We went on a tour in Yugoslavia, and we went into this church and everything was gold. I could not go to the area at the back of the alter, as it was Masonic. George saw it and he said he had never seen anything like it. Everything Masonic was pure gold, the emblems, alter etc. The day after we went to a park and there was a great big half circular wall, with over 2000 children's names who were massacred by the Germans in the war. It filled you with emotion.

On an impulse we went to the theatreOne time George and I said we were going out for a supper. We ended up in Skye eating a fish supper. Two days later we phoned Charlie our son, and he said where the hell are yaeyou, you said you were going out for a fish supper and you wouldn’t be long. My son Charlie was in the merchant navy, he was in Hong Kong one time. He had bought himself 3 beautiful silk shirts. I of course washed them when he came home on leave. I did such a good job that they fitted the new born baby. I had shrunk them so much. Charlie was not very happy!

 

Minnie

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Adapted by Iain Tait