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Oral History

What Did You Do When You Were Young Granny?

That's a question I used to ask my granny when I was little and I now get asked it by my own grandchildren. I used to think my grandmother was talking about the middle ages, the idea of 40 years ago was just too long ago. Now that I am a grandmother, memories from 40 or even 60 years ago don't really seem that long ago.

Oral History

These memories are what are called oral history. My grandmother worked as a lady's maid in a big house in her area when she was quite young. But she had a temper and got demoted to scullery maid! She didn't like having to brush some spoilt child's hair. After she was married, she worked in the kitchen of a local hostelry and learned baking. I always enjoyed her cooking, especially steamed puddings!

Of course, you don't always get the whole story from your granny! My mother told me that my granny was the second child in her family but her mother wasn't able to look after both her and her first child, so my granny's granny brought her up. When I asked why the first child didn't go to her granny, I found out that the first child was the offspring of the "son of the House", that is, my great granny had been seduced by one of the sons in the Big House. Of course, there was no question of marriage and she was given money to marry someone else and bring up the child. This was before the turn of the 19th century and before the first World War, probably sometime in the 1880s. My great granny had 10 children in all and as far as I know, they all survived to adulthood. The eldest child, daughter of the "son of the House", ended her days living in what was called a charity house, small cottages built to house elderly poor people before the welfare state came into being.

Stories from over 100 years ago

From these stories, I know a little of what life was like 130 years ago. It's really not THAT long ago but over a lifetime away. My own grandmother never even used a telephone in her whole life.

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crowntower wrote on March 27, 2016, 10:00 AM

But luckily today we have bigger options than before. We have a lot of programs that can help us to be educated and be better.... Only if we are not driven by emotions and always fight for the best. But the great thing is to have faith in God who always works for the better of those who believe in him.

MegL wrote on March 28, 2016, 3:33 AM

Yes, that was very important in the days before most people could read and write. Also, stories and histories were ways of being together in the dark and an entertainment and socialisation too.

CoralLevang wrote on March 30, 2016, 9:59 AM

I remember it being extremely fascinating to me that my grandfather was born in 1899. He was the first person that I ever recall being born in the 18 hundreds. It was rude to ask the other old people when they were born! I also had a piano teacher whose husband was a scout in the Spanish-American War. Mr. Putney was fascinating to talk to about the stories of his life. I heard more stories from him then I did my grandparents because my grandparents felt that talking about the past was living in the past so they would never tell me anything. I don't know if that was just a family thing or a Scandinavian thing.