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Vera Brockbank

Vera M Brockbank

I am Vera May BrockBank (Nee Abbott) d.o.b. May 23rd 1933. Born in Thurcroft South Yorkshire. I have lived in Thurcroft all my life.

I wrote this in 2003 as a 70 year old OAP but I must confess I do not feel my age at all.

I have four children and five grandchildren. I had a sixth grandchild who died in infancy. I will attempt to put my life into words and pictures so my grandchildren and any great grandchildren will know a little about Grannie.

I was born at 36 Peter Street, Thurcroft where my parents lived with my Grandmother Lote and Uncle Joseph Lote. My grandfather had died before I was born, he had worked in the coal mine, previously he had served as a regular in the Army, and he became too ill to work down the colliery because he developed a heart condition. He and Grandma had a little shop in the kitchen selling sweets and small items of food.

The war began in 1939 when I was six, my brother and sister were also at school but Mary had to leave because the spaces were needed for evacuees, when they told her she could return, she didn't want to because she had already been and left.

Rationing came in so Uncle Joe and dad, who was a miner, got a large allotment to grow vegetables and keep chickens, geese and pigs. When it came to killing a pig for ourselves we had to kill one for the government. All the local people who gave us veg.peeling and scrapes to feed the pigs had a share of ours.

Uncle Joe failed his army medical so he became local postman when the postmen were called up.

People had to register to a local shop to get their food rations, so Grandma's shop grew. We three children learned to weigh and pack the small rations. My Saturday job was to scrub the kitchen floor, hall and pantry they were red stone tiles so when they were dry they had to be polished with Red Cardinal Polish. This was hard work, we also had to clean the outside loo, and our toilet paper was cut up newspapers, squares that were threaded onto string.

Because our home was a shop and the bath was in the kitchen along with the boiler for hot water, we all went to my mother's friend next door for a bath and she went there to do the washing.

There were not many sweets and what there was were rationed.

Hobbies were not a thing we thought of, we were taught to knit, cook and sew. We used to play in the street other mothers used to join us but my mother was always too busy. I had to have piano lessons which I hated. The woman who taught me would hit my fingers with a ruler if I went wrong.

When I was 11 years old and in the senior school, the government ordered children to do potato picking in October to help the war effort, believe me it was hard work, cold and wet. This happened each year till the war ended.

At Christmas we always had a 1p. an orange, apple and a few nuts, these were put in our own sock which we hung on the mantelshelf, over the cast iron fire place, we were never short of coal Dad was a miner.

When the war in Europe ended my Grandma bought us a pony and two wheel cart. She liked us to take her out for a drive in it. We were taught how to saddle the pony by the farmer she bought it off and we gave other children a ride for a 1d. at a time. I went to get the pony, his name was Tony, and he kicked me that was the last time I tried to saddle him.

In winter we always had lots and lots of snow enough to make igloos, and go sledging on 'Blackhill' this was a field on a hill and the farmer let us use it every year. Thurcroft was often cut off there was so much snow.

During my last year at school my mother sent me to a night school in Sheffield to learn shorthand and typing, I did not want to do this but had no say in the matter, my mother decided and that was that. I had always wanted to be a nurse, but she wasn't having none of that. When I left school at 15 years I went into an Estate Agents office in Sheffield which managed rented housess and collected rents. After about 12 months the rent collector was off sick so I was told to go collecting. I went home that evening bragging to the family what I had been doing that day and how much money I had in my bag, My Dad went mad that a 16 year old could do that, and next time I asked to go nursing no objections were raised.

1954 October I got married, but the man I chose did not please my Mother In fact not much I did pleased her.


Told by Vera Brockbank

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