Friday, December 29, 2006

There was a man in Coseley who had some old bikes and he'd charge sixpence an hour for us to borrow one. That's how I learnt to ride a bike, by borrowing one of his bikes on a Sunday afternoon.

When I started at the Atlas works, it was a long way to travel to work. I got a Fitzpatrick bike. I'd pay so much a week till it was paid for.

I'd go to Kinver or Clent with Charlie and our cousins on our bikes. When we got there, we would sit down for a bit, then we'd start back. I remember when me and Violet went round Clent Hills. She said 'Come on, we'll have a ride on the horses'. She got on one horse and I went on a big horse. I'd never ridden a horse and I had to hold on tight. Sometimes we would go round to farms and ask for new-laid eggs.

I remember once, Charlie and my cousin Tom and me were riding our bikes in Dudley at the back of the castle. We were going down a steep hill and Tom's bike had no brakes or tyres. He came whizzing past. The Lawtons were tough.


After my mom died in 1918, my aunt Emma looked after the family. In 1926 my aunt Emma died aged 27. I was 16 years old and I had been at work for two years. My dad said, 'Florry you'll have to stay at home'. I didn't want to because I could see my cousin Violet going to work and getting more pocket money than me.

On Mondays I used to go shopping to Bilston market because the food was cheaper there and there was more choice. I would walk to Bilston from Coseley. It was heavy to carry the shopping back but worth it. The meat was beautiful. Or I would get a picnic ham for about 2s 6d from George Mason in Wolverhampton. I would bring it to the boil on the hob on the grate, then leave it to simmer. When it was cold I would cut it for a dinner and sandwiches.

On washdays I would light a fire under the boiler in the brewhouse or sometimes my dad would do it before he went to work. I sorted out the clothes. Whites went in the boiler first with Persil and blue. I'd make a bowl of starch for my dad's collars. I'd rise the clothes in clean water and then put them through the mangle. Outside I used to put a big long line all along the yard past all the houses. I would peg the clothes out to dry.

The next day I ironed the clothes with a sad iron. I heated the iron on a stride in front of the fire. I would have two irons - one to use while the other was heating.

The fire was in a black-leaded grate. There was an oven on the side of the fire. The oven baked cakes beautifully. I put saucepans to simmer on top of the over to cook vegetables. Sometimes I would cook potatoes and swedes together.

Cleaning the grate was a hard job but it did look nice afterwards. I remember my cousin Violet coming in and, seeing how I'd black-leaded the grate, she said 'What! Have you varnished the grate?'. It was a messy job and I'd have to scrub the floor afterwards.

It was hard work but I loved it. I enjoyed my life. I was happy whatever I was doing. The only thing is that I was short of money. My dad couldn't afford to give me much pocket money.



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