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Born Evelyn Agnes Wood 1928 Bankhouse Farm, Stow

Me as a girl, aw was a fair lookerI was born in Bank House Farm in Stow, the Borders. I had two brothers and a sister. I was the third born. There was a toll on either side of our house, which had been a hotel in the olden days. The tolls were there to make sure people with horses and carriages paid for their crossing. There was only one road between Fountainhall and Stow and you can still see the big white house where I was born when you travel on the bus. A midwife came to stay when I was being born and stayed for about a fortnight, but people who had money could afford to keep them for longer. They weren't so learned as they are now. When I had my binder on to keep my belly button down, the midwife had left the binder (which was like flannel) near paraffin, so I was badly burnt.

We moved to Mid Calder when my Dad took a farm called Blackhall. I was about four at the time. My mum had all of us to look after and she helped out with the milking.

I went to Bell’s Quarry primary school. It was a three mile walk uphill. We sometimes got a lift with the milk lorry. It was a small school with only two classes but I liked the teachers. We used to steal the headmaster’s belt and hide it. My brother got in trouble for it ‘cause he used to dangle it over the burn and say he was going to drop it in.

We had an accident at our farm. There was a fire and it blew out on my mum, my little brother and my sister. All three were badly burned. My brother died after five days and my mum and sister were in hospital for 2 months. Mum didn't want to live in Blackhall anymore so we got a weeSmall dairy at Dalhousie, called Dalhousie Old Mains. I went to Bonnyrig high school when we moved. I left school at fourteen and I wanted to be a childrens’ nurse but my dad didn't want me to go, he wanted me to help run the dairy. I never got to be a nurse yet! This was during the war. There was a problem on one of the other farms in Dalhousie, so we got our notice to leave. We kept a couple of cows, pigs, hens and geese, and went to a couple of cottages in Polton. Me and my sister needed to work on the farms. We were out in all weathers. I took sciatica in my back and was off work for 4 months. The doctor recommended I get an inside job, so I worked in Springfield Paper Mill when I was 17. I did the stationery then I was a paper over hauler. After the paper was made and cut up we needed to check each sheet and make them into squares before they got sent to the guillotine. I worked there for seven years until I got married.

My husband used to come to the farm. He used to torment me by putting frogs down my back. He tormented the life out of me. I thought he was a terrible chap. I was walking to the dancing one day and I asked if he was going. He came and we started going out. He worked on the railway and served 2 years in the army at the end of the war. Richard (Dick) was posted out to Malaysia, Singapore and Egypt. I wrote to him every day, and I've still got the letters. We got married a year after he came back. I was supposed to get married at Lasswade church, but before we got married they said it was unsafe because of the roof, so we got married in the church hall. I was 25.

Dick didn't want me to work, he wanted me to be a right wife. Dick worked at the Railways and was made an inspector. We moved to a cottage on the farm where my daughter Yvonne was born in December. After that we got a new house near Bonnyrigg school at Almond Crescent. Elaine our second daughter was born 4 years later, then 4 years after that we had our third daughter Sheila. We then moved to Waverly Crescent where we stayed for thirty years. Dick was going to work one day and he passed a building and thought that it would make a good shop. My eldest daughter worked in a shop, so she knew all about it. We rented the shop and sold newspapers, groceries, everything. Me and my daughter worked in it together. Dick always wanted a shop, but he also loved his job at the railways. He opened up at six then Yvonne came in at eight then he left for work. We tried to get another part of the store to make ours bigger, but someone else got it. A couple of years later the man went bankrupt so we got it and turned it into a lounge. A place where decent people could go into for a meal and a drink. It was a beautiful lounge, the biggest one in Bonnyrigg! I helped out cooking the meals and collecting the tumblers. One night we made a hundred meals for the people. Our youngest daughter went to college and trained as a cook. She struggled to get a job so she ended up in Jersey working in the Sunshine Hotel in the summers, and coming home for winter. Our cook left so Sheila took her place. I still helped out. The lounge was called The Reyesville. I made the name up from the combination of my husband’s, our three daughter’s and my initials. It’s still called that today. We carried on like that for years. When Elaine had a baby it was Yvonne, Sheila and myself that worked. We needed to give it up eventually but we were in the shop for 16 years. Yvonne moved to Selkirk so we sold the business and bought a stationary caravan at Berwick. We stayed there as much as possible, as well as helping with our grandchildren.

Me with all ma grand bairns, am very lucky

One night in 2000 we were going to the dancing at Carrington and Dick took a heart attack and died. I was lost in our big house so I bought a bungalow. I was lost without him. I had no car or anything. I never got used to it. I was there for three years then I moved to Whitehill Lodge and finally to Glenesk House. Dalkeith. I met David after being here for 8 months. In the summer I used to sit outside by myself and I used to see him going to Dalkeith. One day he invited me to go with him, I could have jumped the height of the ceiling! He looks after me and I look after him. I'm happy at Glenesk because I've got David to go around with.


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Adapted by Iain Tait