Thursday, 25 December 2014

Tillie Tells A Tale: When Christmas Day Fell On A Thursday

Merry Christmas Tillie and thanks for this fine tale of a Christmas miracle.

When The Steam Wash House opened, my mother stopped using the wash house round the back and started doing the family's washing there instead.
The Steamie became popular very quickly with its double sinks with wringers between and electric boilers where you'd boil your whites in soapy suds, and you didn't have to keep the fire going under it. You had to book your place and my mummy had a standing appointment on a Thursday morning. On that day, every week, she would arise early and bump the old pram downstairs full of the bundle of dirty washing from our house in Broomloan Road to my granny's, three up in Neptune Street, where she'd collect her load of washing and set off to the steamie in Clynder Street.

Christmas Day 1947 fell on a Thursday. I had to stay home to watch my wee sister while my mummy went to wash the clothes. No holiday at Christmas in those days, so my daddy was at work as usual.
I spent the morning sitting astride my first two wheeler and thoroughly neglecting my younger sister who I'd left in the kitchen playing by the range.
In my bedroom, I was energetically pulling my bike backwards and forwards in the narrow space between the wall and the bed, gripping the handlebar with one hand and steadying myself against the wall with the other. Every now and again, I'd dive into the kitchen to make sure my sister hadn't touched anything hot.

Time passed quickly and soon my mother was coming through the door with both lots of washing. As was her custom, she began to shake and fold my granny's wet washing, as there was not time to do this at the Steamie.
A few minutes later, we heard the front door open and I was almost knocked down as my Granny rushed past me, slamming the door behind her. Dropping to her knees beside the bundles of washing she quickly began to search through her own basket.
My mummy, astonished at her mother's strange behaviour, called out “What are you looking for Mother?”
Granny answered “If I find it, I'll tell ye. If I don't, no one will ever know," and just at that, she pounced on a pillowcase embroidered with flowers. 
She thrust her nimble fingers inside, pulled out a small white linen bag and carefully carried it to the table, where she extracted a sodden pile of pound notes; a full £100.
As we peered over her shoulder, she clutched her hand to her heart and whispered “The finding of this bundle is an answer to my prayers, I hope all's not lost.”

As with many people in those days, my granny didn't trust the banks and kept her savings in her bedding. I'm sure many today would agree with her thinking, but in this instance, my mother urged her not to touch it but ushered her out of the door and down to the potted heid bank on Govan Road.

Nervously, they approached a teller and asked to see the Manager. A few moments later, a door opened and they were invited to enter the office. He greeted them with a smile, perhaps thinking that they wanted to open an account, but was shown instead the small parcel containing the one hundred pound fortune which had been through boiler and wringer at the Steamie.
The Manager remained calm. He advised that no one should touch the bundle, but that they should take it home, turn the oven to the lowest setting and place the money on the shelf on a metal tray. The bank notes would gradually open out as they slowly dried, he explained, and he warned them not to touch them. Only when they were certain that they were thoroughly dry, should the notes be placed in a new wrapping of brown paper and returned to the bank.
He assured them with confidence, that it didn't matter the condition of the notes, for as long as the numbers were intact and legible they would get a full reimbursement for the cash.
Thankfully, out of the pile, only the outer pound note was lost and the story is remembered fondly as a Christmas miracle. 


Ellen said...

Tillie, I had palpitations reading that. Glad it had a happy ending!

Sandra PA said...

One hundred pounds must have been a fortune back then!