Elsie Jessop - How we used to live
I am Elsie May Jessop but my maiden name was Barker and when I was a child I lived in Woolsthorpe on the top road, before the council houses were built on the opposite side. I was born on the 20th of March, 1921. My father worked on the Ironstone. I was the eldest with two brothers and two sisters. Kenneth Douglas, - always called Douglas was the eldest boy and he lives the other side of Sheffield now. Then came Alfred William who married Barbara Barker (who used to work at the Surgery). Then there was Frances who worked at Barford`s during the war and then went to work at the school in Oundle. She got married and had three children. The youngest was Mary who had two children. She has been ill recently. She had to go into the Queen`s Medical Hospital in Nottingham to have a tumour removed from her brain. She had to stop driving and sell her car but she is much better now and she has some good friends who help her. It was a bit of a squash in our house when I was young until we moved further down in Woolsthorpe opposite the back of Sir Isaac Newton`s Manor. We all went to Colsterworth School under Mr Harrison. We always used to wear a pinafore , a clean one every Monday. We learnt reading and writing, sums, history and geography and other things. I got on all right at school and I had lots of friends.
There was Florence Atter, Stella Rippin, Mary Watson there was quite a gang of us but there is only Stella and myself left now. We used to play whip and top. My footwear for school was a pair of boots with little buttons all the way up the front. On May Day, the 1st of May. I would put my doll into the clothes basket and take it round the village hoping to be given a few pennies. My cousin would help me. I left school when I was fourteen years of age and I went into service at Ringrose`s farm in Stainby. I went there every day on my bike. Later on I lived in. I had to scrub or sweep the floors, wash the pots up and the butter churns as well and lots of other domestic work. When I finished there I went to Swallow`s Corn Mill in Grantham. I did the same sort of work there and the cooking. The food we ate was not like they eat now. I used to make porridge for breakfast but I never liked it! There were no cornflakes then. They always had a cooked breakfast. I cooked at night, a proper sit down meal. They used to have a lot of people to dinner, about a dozen some nights and I cooked for them all. Charlie lived next door to us in Woolsthorpe. He lived with his grandparents because his mother had died. He started school at five years of age and by the time he was seven he had a milk round in the morning before he went to school. He would fetch milk from the Woolertons at Woolsthorpe Manor and take it to both shops, Sims and Burtons.
When he was older he had to fetch 4 buckets of water from the pond late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning ready for wash day. When he was working he used to fetch 3 loads on a water cart daily. At our house, we didn`t have a tap inside. All our drinking water was fetched from the spring. We would have to walk through the village and outside the shop there was a big pond. The spring water used to run through a little shed at the end of it and you used to go and fill your bucket there. Later the stand pipes were put in place in different parts of the village. Bath night was a tin bath in front of the fire. Wash day was a very busy day. We would fill the copper for my mum and she would light the fire under it. We used the soft water from the water butt for doing the washing which used to take all day. When the water was boiling some of it was taken out and put in the dolly tub along with some of the washing. Then my mum would add some powder and ponch it around with the dolly peg to get the clothes clean. The clothes were rinsed in a zinc bath with more clean water taken from the copper. If you wanted to boil the whites, they went in the copper but otherwise you took out enough hot water when you wanted to wash something else. Most of the time we used bars of yellow soap or sometimes carbolic soap. Before you hung out the clothes you had to push them through the mangle to get most of the water out of them. Then they dried more quickly. But if it was a rainy day the clothes had to dried on the clothes-horse in front of the fire.
Wash day was a very busy day. We would fill the copper for my mum and she would light the fire under it. We used the soft water from the water butt for doing the washing which used to take all day. When the water was boiling some of it was taken out and put in the dolly tub along with some of the washing. Then my mum would add some powder and ponch it around with the dolly peg to get the clothes clean. The clothes were rinsed in a zinc bath with more clean water taken from the copper. If you wanted to boil the whites, they went in the copper but otherwise you took out enough hot water when you wanted to wash something else. Most of the time we used bars of yellow soap or sometimes carbolic soap. Before you hung out the clothes you had to push them through the mangle to get most of the water out of them. Then they dried more quickly. But if it was a rainy day the clothes had to dried on the clothes-horse in front of the fire. Ironing was done when you had time to do it. Now they have washing machines and all these labour-saving devices. I did have a washing machine until I got crippled with arthritis. Then my son came with his van and took it to the tip! My daughter does my washing now for me. She has a washing machine and a tumble dryer.
She has a bad arthritic hip and is going to have a replacement. She has gone on an outing with her friends to the London Eye today. We used to eat well, I think. On Sundays it was usually roast beef with roast potatoes and vegetables, and perhaps a tart with custard for pudding or a steamed pudding.. During the week it would be chops or sausages. We never had starters. It is all pasta now. I don`t like pasta. I always have a tin of rice on a Saturday for my dinner. I have something different every day - simple stuff, I don`t like anything too fancy. My daughter eats a lot of salad. When I married Charlie we lived with his grandmother for a while and when we got the family we needed more room and we moved here in 1957. We have had new windows in and a toilet and shower put in. All the houses opposite have been built since we moved in. Charlie was called up at the beginning of the war. He had to go to Corby Glen to catch the train to London. He was in the Army and did all his service in England. He got up to be sergeant in the end. Charlie had a friend from Nottingham when he was in the Army and they used to do a lot of running together. He won medals for his running. When he came out of the Army, Charlie went to work at Froddingham`s. He was a blacksmith. He worked there until he retired. Charlie was a very good gardener. He always kept the garden beautiful. He used to win prizes at the village Flower Show. He made wine too and won prizes with that, both flower wines like dandelion and fruit like black-currant. We got married in Colsterworth Church. Charlie was a bell-ringer there for many years. Our first son was Raymond who we had in about 1940 and then we had Christine and then Alan.
I had them all at home. We lost Raymond suddenly a year last December with a heart attack only a short time after he had retired. It was a very sad time. He was a very keen bird-watcher. My sons went to Colsterworth School when the headmaster was Mr Isaac. When the boys walked up to football, Mr Isaac used to walk alongside my younger son, Alan, and ask him mental arithmetic questions! Both my boys went to the King`s School. Alan loved maths and science and geography but hated French and English and Latin. He enjoyed sport and being in the Combined Cadet Force. Later he went to Leeds University and took a mechanical engineering degree. I think, in looking back, things are much better than they used to be. People don`t worry where the next meal is coming from and the houses are warmer with the central heating.. Now we have winter duvets to keep us warm. But things are worse when you think about all these shootings. You`re not safe to go out really. You hear about people getting shot on their doorsteps in the towns now. It didn`t used to be like that. Charlie died with heart trouble. He said that he wanted to live to see my eightieth birthday, which he did. We had a good life together and I have a lovely family who look after me now although they keep on at me to go into a bungalow. But as long as I can crawl up the stairs, I`m not moving..