Betty Moulds was born in 1925 and grew up in Alexandria. Her coal carter father was a strict disciplinarian, and as the oldest daughter she was removed from school to help her mother with the most recent baby. She recalls horses, trams and a lack of residential utilities; men’s and women’s industrial work; local shops; her father’s WWI-related ailments; protected tenancy; sport and marrying against her parents’ will. In the excerpt below she recalls the children’s methods of stretching the family finances.
My brothers used to go and get the fruit from the markets and we used to pick the best of it out and put it on a plank out the front of our house in Belmont Street and we used to sell it. We’d sell it to the people in the street for thruppence [threepence] or sixpence or whatever, to get enough money for us all to go to the pictures [cinema] and what we had left over went in the bowl for food for my mother to keep us going.
And the fruit was collected from the…
…from the city market. The fruit man [fruiterer], Horace Stubbs, used to take my eldest brother down there with him of a morning and he’d go ‘round collecting all the fruit. It was just dropped, bruised and that sort of thing, and what vegetables was just shot aside which they didn’t think they could sell, he’d pick them up and bring them home in a sugar bag. And we’d take them out and put them on this plank and have them all out the front. And there used to be a fish shop down the street in Belmont Street – Mrs Gurney[?] was her name – and we used to go down there and get our fish and scallops [potato scallops], reasonably cheap, of a Friday night for tea and we’d always ask for scraps and the scraps used to be all of the batter from the fish that was on the top, and you’d often get a couple of good chips in amongst them to eat. And you got those for nothing. We used to say “Have you got any scraps, Mrs Gurney?” and she used to give them to us.