Monday, May 3, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Bertha's Audio Tape Part 4

The Roberts Family, Leeds, England
Bertha, the baby, was born in 1897
so the photo must date from near that year

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and Randy read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”. Amanuensis: A person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

This is a transcription of an audio cassette tape my grandmother, Bertha Louise (Roberts) Wilkinson made in the 1970s. Bertha’s story is continued from the last Amanuensis Monday. In the last post she was reminiscing about her beginning to work at age thirteen as an undernurse, and then as a seamstress. In this episode she begins to tell us about the family’s emigration to Massachusetts in America, but she gets sidetracked and starts to tell us about the extended family in Leeds, Yorkshire, England! These few paragraphs about her aunts and cousins were great genealogical clues.


“Well, during that time my sister was writing to her cousin. He was in this country. That's another story because when he was learning his trade as a tool maker he went to China with another man and borrowed a lot of money from his father and he wasn't under contract so when after working just a short time he was out of work and had to come home again. And he had this debt to pay back. So he had an uncle in this country and he wrote and asked if he could come out then. Which he did and then he was writing these letters to my sister. Well, they turned out to be more than cousinly letters. And when he came home he came back home to decide whether to stay in England or come back here. Well, he didn't want to stay back there and he asked my sister if she would marry him and come to this country.

At that particular time my father was a Stationary Engineer in a brewery. He had learned his trade from his Dad. He loved his work and he was very good at it. But at that time they had changed managements and he wasn't too happy with the new manager. So he told my sister that if she really liked it over here and if she wrote and told us all about it, he might consider the family coming out. So my sister thought it was very nice in Beverly, Massachusetts, that's where they lived and she sent postal cards and told us that she thought that we would like it over here. So my father decided that perhaps it would be good for my brother and myself and so they started selling the things gradually.

My mother was very proud of her brass fender and the shovel and poker and those things. And I remember every week she would shine them and work with them. Well, of course we had to leave these things behind and sell all of the furniture. But people were very good to us. They told us we could keep them until it was time to come away. I remember the last night we slept with different people. And the people at the church couldn't understand why we would want to come to this country. They felt quite sorry that we were coming.

By the way, when I was about ten years old I visited my Aunt Betsy. She lived in Liverpool. They had a shoe shop, a shoe repair shop. They had about six men working with them and my aunt had learned to make a shoe right form the beginning, right through. And she worked in this shop with her husband. And so when I went to visit with them for a month she didn't know what to do with me really. How to entertain me. She had a little (inaudible)…

I got acquainted with a little girl about my age and this ticket enabled us to go on the River Mersey to different points of interest. The maid would pack our lunch for us in the morning and off we would go and if we wanted to stop at nine. We thought this was fun. I stayed with her for about a month.

Then another time I was a little older than that I went to visit a cousin of my mother's. She lived in Peakirk (sic?) One of the outskirts of Peterborough. Now Peterborough has a beautiful cathedral and my aunt took me there to see it and it was really beautiful. Now Peakirk was a very lovely place in the country. I can close my eyes now and see all those lovely country roads. I called this cousin Aunt Lizzie. She had four children and she had been a teacher and her husband made chicken houses. He would go around to these different places in the country exhibiting these chicken houses. They had a maid and they had a lovely home and a beautiful garden. And I was quite fascinated with the garden because I had lived in such a dirty old city. They had plum trees and currant bushes and in the morning I would go out to pick up the eggs that had been laid. This little girl and I played with each other a lot and I remember there was a greenhouse out there. Not a greenhouse, a summerhouse and it went round and round I thought that was wonderful and we would get up little plays and then this little girl lived nearby, she was a relative of theirs and her Daddy had a wood lumber yard. And one day he took us into the country quite a ways to this long ride. I remember the horse and buggy. We had to go through a stream and the horse went through the stream and we visited a piggery that he had. And there were about three hundred little baby pigs and all of this was new to me and I really enjoyed it.

By the way, back to washday. When mother would wash it was an all day affair. She would get this set pot… the little fire going and the water boiling in the set tub. And had a rubbing board and all that, and the tub. And when she had the clothes ready to hang out to dry she had to put the lines across the street. And I remember the coal man coming along and different vendors and they would say, "Mrs, prop your lines up." And my mother had a long prop and she would prop the lines up high so that coal van could go by. Another thing, oh, and then she'd bring them in, of course, and sometimes there was soot on them because it was such a dirty city. She put the sheets, and folded them very carefully and put them through a mangle, so she didn't have to iron them and it was really an all day affair.

Sometimes my brother and I would take a small wagon and get just a small amount of coal. Buy a small amount of coal from the coal yard that was nearby. And other times she would have him come, have the coal man come by and chute the coal down into the cellar by the hundred weight or whatever it was. Another thing I remember, when she made….. there would be a man come to the door and he had yeast and he had scales. And my mother would get this yeast at the certain amount she wanted. And he would always give me a piece of candy or something. And Mother would rise to make the bread, and have it rise all night and then bake it the next morning.”

Bertha's Tape Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Great tape! Reminded me of one my Aunt Loise made. Made one keep on their toes to keep up with direction changes --- but nonetheless, pure gold.