Oral History Interviews

my place was in the home and so had no leisure time

On this interview we hear Freda talk about Anniversary of George V and Queen Mary where she represented the wine industry. Wonderful fireworks display on Poundbury afterwards. Coronation for Elizabeth and George, any historical event had a service at Maumbury Rings. Married a man who believed that my place was in the home and so had no leisure time. Wasn’t until her first husband had left her and she meet her second husband that she had any free time. Once retired she travelled quite a bit, inspired by her uncles stories she’d heard as a young girl.

1935 – May 6th. Anniversary of George V and Queen Mary. A great thing as we had just come out of the depression. School teachers got very involved in town events. They had a meeting and decided to put on a carnival for school children only. Each school was given a country /territory to represent. The primary school in Icen Way where I went to school was given Australia.

Traders donated and decorated the lorries,  children from top two classes – 9-10 year olds – I represented the wine industry. So I went to the wine merchants in High East St, and got lots of advertising. My mother made a banner which I held,  and made a hat of two bunches of grapes, and a mauve dress. Glorious day, we all had to assemble in the barracks square, some were chosen to go on the lorry and the rest walked in procession. I got on the lorry representing the wine trade, another friend represented the bushmen, had a hat with corks, khaki shorts etc. there were girls in white overalls and white caps, baskets of advertising material for dairy products. Must have been more representing woollen trade and horticulture. We had to be at the barracks at 1pm to be judged, there were 3 prizes. We went back to the barracks at the end. Each school had a hall to go and get a gorgeous tea, provided by possibly Eldridge Pope. Sandwiches and fancy cake!  We all had to take a mug and were given tea in the mug. (she shows me the mug). Beautiful white china mug with King George and Queen Mary on it made by Royal Winton.  Fancy cakes were a luxury in those days.

Wonderful fireworks display on Poundbury afterwards. Great big arrangement of the King and the Queen. Structure of wood? To be out at that time of the night! The whole town turned out.

09.71 – Prior to this excitement we had to go to Maumbury Rings for a service. There was always a service for any of these occasions – coronation for Elizabeth and George, any historical event had a service at Maumbury Rings. In the summer months the TA used to beat retreat in the Maumbury Rings, and the town turned out to see it.

11.13 – when George V1 died in 1946 the schools were closed and a service was held, all the school children either went to St Peters church, Corn Exchange, town hall, probably all saints church house and they were all connected by wireless so we could listen to the service at Westminster. There was an old market house, since demolished, in North Square, and that’s where I was. We had to rehearse the hymns for a week before the funeral. We all attended the service and had the rest of the day off.

13.39 – May 1937, schools did a pageant. Each took something from history. I was at Maud rd school, we did Chaucers Canterbury tales, I was the weaver. This pageant took place down Weymouth avenue. Another beautiful day. This time we had tea in a marquee on Weymouth avenue. There was always a recreation ground near the cemetery. Age concern have pics of that carnival.

15.15used to have a horticultural exhibition in the Corn exchange. We used to go and look around the tables and go back to school and write about it. On one occasion a lady was making butter with a butter churn.

16.07schools were very connected and used to get together to do things.

Immediately 1939 came that was the end. I went to war in 1942.

17.10 What brought you back to Dorchester? I came back from Ceylon,  had my son, then went back again. They got independence in 1948 and we came home. It was difficult, my husband couldn’t find a job, couldn’t find anywhere to live. Everything was rationed until 1954. We had hardly anything made of metal in those days, it was collected up for the war. The shops were bare. Make do and mend. Share. We were still well dressed even if it was made out of curtains. Everything matched and fitted! Borrowing for special occasions.

Describes  how she doesn’t approve of todays generations dress  sense…..but acknowledges that her grandmother was shocked by her dress in the wartime. Also describes her rebellious streak regarding dressing when young!

21.42 the greatest envy I had was that some girls in my class who had older sisters, and they had a hand in what the younger ones wore. One girl  had a gorgeous red jumper with pussycats all around the edge. Knitted by an older sister. I envied this jumper. I used to get a bit fed up, my grandmother had a hand in what I wore. She lived next door.

23.10 took 8-9 years to get back on our feet when we got back from Ceylon. I had to work. First job was with singer sewing machines. In those days, 1951,  had to do 3 wk course. If you sold a machine you had to sell the customer 8 lessons and they had to make a dress. Not sure how much it cost. They were 2 hr sessions. The shop in St Marys street in Weymouth, on the next floor up were 6 machines, could teach 6 people. I went to Bristol for the course. My son was living with my mother in Fordington. There was nowhere to live in Dorchester. All the buildings that were bombed – those people had to be re-homed. Furniture and floor coverings, curtains, were rationed. You had to obtain dockets. Only newly married people could get dockets.  Women were working if they weren’t called up, still living at home if doing work of an essential nature, eg post women. Before the war there was only domestic work and shop work for women. All the houses in cornwall road had servant. The men came back and the women had to go back to being housewives.

Hear part one of her interview here.

28.45 how old were you when you got back to having recreational time? I didn’t have recreational time, I married a man who was quite selfish and believed that my place was in the home. I went out to work. I had a son to look after. Washing and ironing done by hand. There wasn’t any spare time.it wasn’t until women could afford to have a washing machine, that made a tremendous difference. My mother used to get so bad tempered on Mondays (wash days). She used to get up, light the copper, get it all on the line. Had to be washed, dried and ironed on the same day. My grandmother had washing Mondays, ironing Tuesdays, shopping weds, Thursday bedroom day, Saturday shopping day, Sunday none of those things. Its only when you got alternatives you sit back and think ‘I couldn’t do that’.

31.51 how do you spend your leisure time now? Making curtains for myself at the moment. I get very tired now. I go to age concern most Wednesdays. I feel I’m amongst strangers. Only one woman who goes on a Wednesday who was brought up in the town. I belong to the mothers union. I go on one Tuesday a month. Christian organisation. We have 22 members now. We’re all dying off. One or two I’ve  known a long time. There is no conversation or connection. What is your favourite activity now? Don’t look forward to doing anything now. My greatest joy was travelling around and meeting people.  Can’t do this now.  The last time I travelled was 2004 to Sri Lanka. Some discussion about Sri Lanka. My taxi driver sends me a Christmas card every year. He took my son on a tour around when he stayed there.

38.27 where else did you travel to?

Been to Australia twice, Cook islands, Fiji, Mauritius, india, bourneo, Thailand, south Africa. This was all in the last 15-20 years. I did it all on my own. My first husband went off with another woman.  My younger son was about 10, so I had to do two jobs. Then I met my second husband, a lovely man, older than me. We had 9 years, started to get out and about, then he died. When I finished work at county hall, I started saving up and going up to different places. I think it all started with my grandfather. A naval family, my grandfather used to tell me stories about the coloured birds he had seen, and how they used to go ashore and barter beads with the natives. He said it was the missionaries that ruined these countries because they brought money. After WW1 my uncle went to Australia for 7 years. I kept hearing about him. Made me curious.  My grandfather was a great storyteller. Taught me to dance the hornpipe and to play housey housey (bingo). He was a real character. He went to sea in the days of sail and steam. Took 6 months to get to Australia. My grandmother used to say when he went to sea she never knew when she would see him again. They went away for a minimum of 2 years. Describes fleets that her family were in.

Fordington – conversation about where she was born. Born on mill street opposite the infant school. The people in Fordington had a different outlook. We never regarded ourselves as part of Dorchester. When some of them moved to Poundbury they missed the sense of community. The women enjoyed the new housing when they moved, but the rents went up almost double. They felt cut off up there. If they could have had their houses done up where they were……some of those boys who grew up in the really bad housing did exceptionally well.

Hear the first part of her interview here: A tight knit community at Fordington

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