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Elphinstone Kist   Folk-History, Work

Life at a Big Hoose     by: Broomhill Reminiscence Group (Mrs Henderson, Ellon)

Fin I wis 14, I gaed tae work in a Big Hoose ootside Ellon up in the Craigs, as hoosemaid tae a retired gentleman an his wife an three dothers. The three dothers were ladies, a bittie aulder than masel, jist teenagers tee, bit ladies didna work, ye see, nae then.

I'd tae weir a uniform fin I wis in service, a fite hat, an a peenie ower a black frock. I rose at 5 ilkie mornin tae licht the fire in the kitchie for ma sister.She wis cook tae the folk in the Big Hoose. While ma sister wis cookin the brakkfaist, I wis layin the table, pittin a clean fite tablecloot doon, an settin oot the siller cutlery,makkin sure that the speens an knives an forks wis aa shiny an bonnie an clean. Fin the faimly war sittin doon, I served their meal. Fin they war feenished, I cleared aa the fool plates awa, jist like a waitress wid dee in a restaurant, except this wis in my maister's ain hame, an I did this for every meal.

Efter they'd feenished their brakkfaist, I swept the hoose an beat the rugs an black leidit the fire an tidied the lassies' bedrooms. For a lady widna tidy her ain bedroom, na, na! I served lunch aboot 1 pm, an efter that, in the efterneen I did the ironin fur the hoosehold or darned torn claes, or polished the cutlery.

The young ladies keepit themsels bonnie. They wore whalebone steys tae grip in their stammaches, an laced them in ticht tae gie themsels a slim waist. Naebody spoke aboot bras in thon days, aabody wore bodices.

Aroon 6pm I lichtit the lamps if it wis gettin dark an served the evenin meal. I wad hae gaen tae ma bed aboot 10pm. Ye'd tae sit up until yer maister an his faimly gied tae their beds, in case they wintit ye tae fetch something for them.

On Sunday, my maister an his faimly ett roast beef as pairt o their mid day meal. It wis keepit in a meat safe, for there wis nae fridges then. An tho it wis cauld, it wisna cauld enough tae stop the maggots frae swarmin aa ower it. Bit the toffs likit that, ye ken. They said it made the meat mair tender. I'd tae wash the maggots aff the roast beef afore I took it through tae the table. Bit that wis the wye they liked it. Aa the toffs liked their meat like that, near rotten.

Eence a wikk, I bikit hame tae ma fowk fur ma day aff, a hurl o aboot an oor an a hauf, rain or shine. Ye thocht naethin o lang bike hurls fin I wis young, and I lookit forrit tae seein ma fowk. Efter aa I wis jist 14. Bit I didna care ower muckle for bikin back. The Big Hoose stood at the heid o a lang drive, wi wids on ilkie side. On a derk nicht, it wis real feary, fur the drive wisna lichtit ...it wis pit mirk. An the trees wheeshed in the win, like they war spikkin tae ye.I wis ay affa gled tae lowp aff ma bike, an rin in tae the Big Hoose ooto the derk!



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