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Articles > Bygones > Jean Hays

Jean Hays

Published by Richard on 2003/6/28 (525 reads)
I was born in 1917 in Beith and one of my earliest memories was of the Rev. John Murray Woodburn coming to christen me. My mother used to bath me in front of the fire and my father lifted me onto his knee and dried me with the towel while my mother sang songs.

I was born in 1917 in Beith and one of my earliest memories was of the Rev. John Murray Woodburn coming to christen me. My mother used to bath me in front of the fire and my father lifted me onto his knee and dried me with the towel while my mother sang songs. I also remember Old Grannie White who was in the building next to us when I was a wee lassie. She used to smoke a clay pipe. I remember saying to my mother, "Mammy, Granny White is sitting at the back washhoose smoking a pipe." My mother said, "Aye, whit aboot that?" And I thought she hadn't understood and I said, "But mammy, she's smoking a pipe." My mother looked up and, in a matter of fact sort of way, dismissively said, "She's got the water brash." I didn't know and wouldn't be caring at that stage what the water brash was. I had an awfu' guid mother, an awfu' guid mother. She was a friend as well as a mother. She wis an awfu' guid cook, could make a meal oot o' nothing. My father wis a guid man too, but he was maybe a wee bit lazy. He worked in Matthew Pollock's. After the chair making went off, he just widnae turn his haun to anything. Mind you, he was a very weel read man, a very weel read man.

My granny and granpa Barr stayed in a wee hoose at the top of Heid Street. They kept a cow and a pig and a few hens at the back door. Grandfather used to bring us up eggs. During the depression in the 1930's, times were hard. I was in the mill at Barrmill, but there was no work to be had in the cabinet works. My mother and I used to go up to Spier's School to gather wood for the fire, but as often as no' you got hunted by the janitor.

I got married to Hugh in 1941. He also worked in the factory in Barrmill and all the lassies fair fancied him and I couldn't stick him at first. After we got married he went away to fight in the war and I got word that he was missing. Later on, after making various enquiries, I got word from his pal to say he was wounded and was a prisoner. The Rev. John Murray Woodburn came to see me and said, "Jean, you've got more faith than me, lass. You never doubted." Hugh was a prisoner for over 3 years. He was in a hospital in Italy first of all and then got shipped to Germany. He always says that Germany was a better place than Italy. The Italians were rotters. Treated them very badly.

Mrs Jean Hays (76)

( Interviewed by Claire Greenwood and Sandy Dickson in October 1993 )

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