Helen's Memoirs

Helen was born in Dundee and has lived here all her life.

I was born in Hill Street in 1938 and attended Butterburn School for one year and the Rockwell Junior and Senior until age 15. I worked in the SMT for one year then on to George Stephen's in Castle Street for 40 years until I was made redundant.

I met Terry when I was 15 at the Ice Rink in 1953. We finally got married in 1961 and had one daughter in 1963. We have been married 43 years.

I retired when I was made redundant and Terry retired in 2003. We now look forward to holidays and hobbies.

Being ill before the National Health Service I recall being ill at about 6 years of age. I had a very sore throat and my mother got a neighbour to check me out. He looked down my throat with the aid of a spoon, realised how bad it was and suggested a doctor be called. My mother was very reluctant as she told him she was due the doctor 8/- (40p) for previous treatment (unpaid). However she ran from Hill Street to Byron Street for Dr Saggar and God bless him he came at once. Diphtheria was diagnosed. I was duly carried down in the Ambulance mans arms and transported to hospital. The windows of the ambulance were dark shaded, but you could see out of the top part. It was a tree lined street I was travelling along, and I could only think of Riverside Drive but later discovered Clepington Road had trees. I was duly admitted to Kings Cross the Isolation Hospital. There was a very strict hygiene regime in place. Visitors were only allowed at the windows which had steps up to view in. Everything was sterilised and I had a penny with a hole in it tied round my neck when I went in and I never got it back after a very long 6 weeks entrapped.

The Matron was very strict but turned a blind eye to the children sliding with socks on their feet on a very highly polished ward floor. I wouldn't take my medicine one day and Matron showed her authority by holding my nose and tossing it down my throat, she was rewarded with it right back over her immaculate uniform as I duly brought the whole lot back up, Her stamp of authority shattered. All toys we were given by friends and family had to stay in Hospital after we left. We were all poor then but family and neighbours got together and had a welcome home party in the back green. I will always remember I couldn't walk after so long in bed, and was sat in a chair by a wooden greenie pole and it was crawling with forkie tailies I could not enjoy the fun for watching them in the cracks of the wood, I have never really thought about it before but I've been a private health patient.

On the Lochee tram we used to put our washing or pram up front beside the driver. One day I came off the tram with my daughter and left the pram on the tram. I had to cross the road and catch the tram on its away back to Dundee.

I really joined the WRNS through no sense of duty. It was because Terry joined the Royal Engineers for 3 years instead of waiting for National Service Call up. It certainly was a success as I joined for 3 years and 3 further year stints between 1957 and 1963. I had a great time being a writer and achieved the rank of Leading Wren. I went all over England doing holiday relief duties. I was chosen to go to Bisley twice to shoot for the Scottish Divisions in a United Kingdom challenge - no success - we blamed the poor condition of the rifles. The ship was HMS Cressy when I joined and HMS Unicorn when I left the Service.

Helen is the wife of Terry.

Submitted by Helen