Mothers were Soldiers Too

You went along to the dairy and bought your milk from the churn

We didn’t live in North Shields until after we were married; we both married soldiers and moved to North Shields during the war. Mary had a young child and she was exempt from essential war work because she had no one to look after the baby as her mother had died. Belle served with the Royal Signals in Inverness and her baby was three years old when she was demobbed.

The things that we remember about shopping during the war was buying butter. A sheet of greaseproof paper was laid on the scales and using butter patters or clappers, these were 2 small flat wooden boards with handles, the grocer would take a chunk of butter from a large mound, he would then pat it into shape and lay it on the greaseproof paper and neatly wrapped it up.  The other thing we remember was queuing for bananas and cigarettes.

Hat shops were a regular feature in the high streets and were well supported.

As most of the food you bought in those days was sold by weight, and not pre-packed you could buy just what you needed, not many people had fridges then. It was the same with the milk – you went along to the dairy and bought your milk from the churn; they had different size measures such as a gill or half pint as well as a pint.

Mary Murray and Belle Richardson, both born 1921

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