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Born: Mary Marsh 20th August 1922 Blackburn, Lancashire

Having fun at the day clubThere used to be a lot of cotton mills there. My father was a proof reader with the Northern Daily Telegraph. He could read quicker upside down than we could read normal! We went to a village school, it wasn't very big and had small classes. There was me and my sister. She died 4 years ago. I remember the exercises you had to do, and I wouldn’t do them. I had a mind of my own. You used to get the cane in those days. One boy was always naughty and they used to take him to a pantry, and you could hear him scream when they caned him. At the secondary school the boys and girls were kept separate. We had gym slips and we wore uniforms with a panama hat in the summer.

My mum didn't go out to work. Our house was two up and two down. The toilet was outside in the garden, it was like a chemical toilet. It had a wooden seat across it and the men used to come every week with their cart to empty them. For a bath we had the public baths in the town, or a bath in front of the fire. It was a lovely big coal fire with an oven at the side of it. My mother did all the chores in the house. My father died when I was 14, and my mother when I was 23. My mother lived off the widows’ pension but I gave all of my wages to her. She gave me half a crown pocket money and I spent it on sweeties

Bingo, Tombola, housey-housey equals funI left school at fifteen to work in an office doing shorthand and typing. The factory made the spindles for the weaving, and they remained open during the war. We earned 10 shillingsIn 2005 this would be worth about £14.36p a week, that was quite a good wage then. You had to go to night school to learn the shorthand. I can still remember the alphabet of it.

We went to the dancing, the theatre and the pictures. I did the modern dancing. The men, well some of them, had two left feet. Marks & Spencer was there then and you could get different clothes there. I met my husband when he was in the air force. Me and my friend went to Morecambe for the weekend and I met Tom at the dancing. He had his uniform on when I met him. It was love at first sight. Tom was 6ft 1 and a half. We were married for 34 years. I had one or two before him, but nobody after Tom. I came up to Dalkeith and was married at Dalkeith Parish Church in 1947. We went to Jersey for our honeymoon. The Merton Hotel, room 324. I remember the short corridors walking towards the room. We had ballroom dancing there too. We went across at night on the ferry. It was terribly rough, but coming back it was glorious. It was like the Mediterranean. Tom was posted to India and when he came back he worked on the railways. He was born in Westfield, Eskbank. The cottages are away now, they were near Highbank. There were some Scottish words I couldn't understand but he wasn't broad. It was the older people that had broad accents. He understood me alright.

The day club is the place to beWe had one son called Andrew William Gray Arnot. William Gray was his grandfather's name. He was born in 1951. We stayed with Tom's mother for two years in St. Andrews Street. It was called the back street then. We got on well though. Tom told me one time that people used to say we were Sassenachs a word used chiefly by the Scots to designate an Englishman. It derives from the Scottish Gaelic Sasunnach meaning, originally, "Saxon", from the Latin "Saxones"; when I first came up. We put our name down for a house. Walter Dickson was the man to speak to. Our first house was a flat in Gibraltar road. When Andrew was born I had to carry the pram up two flights of stairs. The Wheatsheaf Inn was close by but I never went in as I did not drink. Tommy Blaw was a great character then, he used to march up and down the street. There used to be a man standing across from my in-laws flat, and he used to shout Maggie Maggie Maggie. He wore a long black coat. A woman used to come and take him away to where he lived. Anybody that was a bit strange we used to call backward.

Tom and I moved to Lauder Road in 1969, the main road down to England as I used to say. He was still driving the freight trains at St. Margaret's in Edinburgh. I was still bringin up the bairnYoung Child or baby. We were all friendly with the neighbours. Mrs Watt next door but one, has been here the longest. We liked our holidays, especially the Isle of Wight. Tom used to say that we would retire there.

I suffer from osteoporosis now. I've got the gammy legA deformed or lame leg , but I keep trying to do the exercises. My son teaches down at Preston Lodge in Prestonpans. He is 6ft 4ins and handsome. Tom died in 1981 of a heart attack; he died outside the post office in Edinburgh. We used to talk about the good old days and they were good old days. Times have changed, everything is faster now.

 

Mary

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Adapted by Iain Tait