Elsie House

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EXCERPT: 

PAM SCHWEITZER INTERVIEWS ELSIE HOUSE

(while Elsie was washing up the dishes as she refused to stop!)

Q:  Tell me again what did this doctor come round for?

A:  For me ears 'cause I had ear ache very bad, and he came in and he used to come in every morning to do my ears and sit me on the kitchen table, I was only about two, I can remember it as plain as anything. He always used to bring me a piece of blue ribbon to tie up me hair and we had another doctor, Doctor Giddens, very stern, he did all the vaccinations of the babies, and I was the only one out of a family of 8 that wasn't vaccinated.

Q:  Why?

A:  'cause I was born with yellow jaundice and I wasn't allowed to be done. But when he used to come he used to sit them on the table and I used to run round and sit outside the outside toilet until he'd gone because I was frightened of him. He seemed such a hard doctor the way he used to stick this needle in, yeah.

Q:  What was the treatment for your ears, what did he do to you when he came?

A:  I think it was just sort of drops, he only used to charge a shilling and if you couldn't afford a shilling he did it for nothing, ever such a kind man.  Very tall, very slim, grey hair, I can see him now.

Q:  Was this a different doctor from the one who did the vaccinations?

A:  Yes he was an army man I think, army doctor. He used to frighten me. I used to run and hide round the toilet till he'd gone.

Q:  With this ears thing did you go deaf for a little while or not?

A:  No I can't remember going deaf, I can't remember that at all.

Q:  But he just gave you drops and it was just an ache?

A:  Yes he came and done the drops himself, he came himself and done them.

Q:  What would he have been dressed in this doctor who came on the bicycle?

A:  He used to be dressed in a grey suit, very smart, very tall.

Q:  Did  he  have  a  bag  with  him?

A:  Bag? Yes, leather bag like a carpetbag.

Q:  And what was in it?

A:  All his   bits and pieces but he was so gentle. I mean you wasn’t a bit frightened of   him coming in.

Q:  Do you remember any other illnesses you had as a child?

A:  I can remember my mother having mumps when we was all little and I can remember her sitting in the armchair with a blue scarf tied up here. She had both sides - she had  a  very  bad   face  yes.

Q:  Was it   a problem for her finding a shilling for the doctor or not?

A:  Well I think you just found it. We had one doctor there Doctor Marsh, if you hadn't got it - you had to have your money on the table as he walked in the door because if you hadn't got your money on the table he wouldn't look at you.  That was a difference with the doctors. I can remember the midwife coming with the b a b i e s.

Q:  When your mother had the younger children.  What do you remember about that?

A:  Sitting on the settee in the front room and this nurse came up with a pushbike and I really thought she'd got the baby in the bag because I thought they come like that. She got it. We sat there quiet and then she used to - when it was all over she used to call us up the stairs, it was lovely, all went up de stairs she said you've got another sister 'cause my mum had six girls. Five girls before she had two boys and the last one was a girl. And for my brother everything was blue. All round the be. All the draping was white with blue and all the babies bed was thredled with blue ribbon and we all marched up to see the baby. When they put the binder round they sewed it, they didn't pin it, with a needle and cotton and you thought any minute now she was gonna stick the needle in the baby.

Q:  What was the binder?

A:  Binding the baby’s navel. Tight it was and they sewed it.  I can remember it so clearly.

Q:  Was it just the midwife who came or was there also a doctor?

A:  Oh no just the midwife.

Q:  Always the same person?

A:  Yes, yes.

Q:  Did she live nearby?

A:  She lived in Beckenham and we used to have a lady named Mrs Roberts that always looked after us when my mum had a baby and she used to make - she couldn't cook - stout she was, and she couldn't cook.  She made an Irish stew one day and we all went upstairs to my mum and said we were all crying and we said she can't cook, we can't eat it.  She'd say never mind duck she said when she's gone you bring the vegetables up and I'll make you something.  Well then my dad used to make a suet pudding and we used to run up and say to mum he's making a suet pudding, we're not gonna eat it, not with his hands.  He was a bricklayer.  She said bring the suet up to me and the flour she said and some water and she sat up in bed and she made it.  They was in bed for 14 days in them days, after the 10th day they got up, but we wouldn't eat our dad's suet pudding.

 

This page was added by Marta Moreno on 11/12/2013.

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