Dorothy in 1936

Dorothy …. An ordinary year …. family, community, getting by and hard work

In 1936 Dorothy was a wife and mother to two girls aged five and six. There was an age difference of just fifteen months between her daughters, Joyce and Hilda. Like Virginia, she suffered with headaches; migraines. She would lay on the sofa with a vinegar pad on her forehead. Also like Virginia, she had a husband who took care of her when she was suffering.

Dorothy had a happy childhood and in 1936 was in the seventh year of her long and happy first marriage. A community existed that looked out for each other, provided friendship and support. Like Virginia, Dorothy came from a big family (four boys and four girls) and had a close relationship with her siblings.

Being a wife and mother would have been hard work. Dorothy Wilson, in Memories of Royston says ‘it was hard work being a wife and mother in those days and being a husband and dad wasn’t easy either.’

‘The men worked down the pit’ she says, ‘that’s when they had work to go to’.


I am struggling to find exact references to 1936 but Dorothy Wilson says that in Royston in 1931, they had just one cold water tap, gas lights, and a black leaded coal fire and oven. Relatives; grandparents, aunts, cousins, lived nearby and the children would play football and cricket. They would fly kites and ride bikes.

I can imagine my grandma (‘nana’) taking her children to the park, and going to the Coop where everything was weighed out from huge canisters; the sugar and flour and butter.  The butter would be ‘cut in pats and patted out into grease proof paper’. Dorothy would return home and start making bread and perhaps bake some buns. Some days she may make a meat and potato pie for when Frank came home from work. People had a pride in their houses and liked everything to be neat and clean.

Dorothy might get up at half past five to make Frank his ‘snap’ for work and then she would start washing clothes, the manual way, and washing the floors. She would look out for the milkman’s horse and cart and then go to him with her jug.

Dorothy wasn’t rich and she didn’t have servants like Virginia did. She didn’t travel abroad and she didn’t have a house in the country. Dorothy wasn’t an intellectual and she had fewer opportunities and fewer luxuries. However, she was happy.


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