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Family Life in the Fifties and Early Sixties

Author: Hazel Richards

In the late fifties we moved closer to our maternal grandparents. They were brilliant role models, although we never thought that at the time. Our new home was an apartment with four bedrooms. By the early sixties there were seven children and mum and dad. We had a happy childhood, our mother was a good housewife and we never went hungry.

When I think back I don’t ever remember seeing my mother sit down and eat throughout the day. Although at nine o'clock I would make them a slice of toast and a cup of tea and a biscuit. They would be sitting in the living room watching television. I have no memory of them going to bed or getting up, but everyday, except Sundays, our washing line was full of freshly-washed clothes. We were lucky to have a twin-tub washing machine. I think the washing was done when we children were in bed.

Dad was a lorry driver for a mill owner in Condorat not far from his hometown. He delivered up north to farms. He would tell us of his adventures.

One Christmas a farmer told him to look in the back of the lorry when he got back to the mill. Inside there was a huge turkey. Dad had to pluck it and prepare it for the oven. Us children were not allowed in the kitchen that night but I sneaked a look and there were feathers everywhere. The featherless bird was hung on a hook behind the larder door. It was cooked on Christmas day. We had lots of visitors hoping for some turkey and they were not disappointed. There were no freezers or takeaways in those days and no waste.

Our other treat was Dad would regularly be given big bags of broken chocolate biscuits. On Saturdays he would purchase a bag of pick your own sweets from Woolworths in Falkirk. Saturday was his day to make the tea. Always pie beans and chips, his favourite. The pies were from Mathiesons, the bakers. When I was first married I realised those pies must have cost a fortune. Afterwards we would sit on the sofa in the livingroom and nudge each other to see who would ask for a sweet. Dad always shared them out but kept the chocolate caramels for himself. Mum had a cake of Turkish Delight, her favourite.

Sundays were days of rest in our house we were not allowed to play but would be taken for walks if it was sunny. We would get up, put on our Sunday clothes, have tea and toast then go to church. During the service we were shepherded out to the Sunday School. Mum and Dad stayed home but our grandmother would wait for us at the church gate after the service. She would give each of us a coin for being good. She was proud of us. When we got home there was always a cooked breakfast.

There were no shops open on Sundays. Life was at a slower pace. Mum would cook a roast chicken, veg and potatoes which would be followed by rice pudding or jelly and ice cream from the ice cream van. We thought that was how everyone lived. It was not till years later I realised how lucky we were.

We have all done well in life and have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are passing the same family values down to them.