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The memoirs of Cissie Ewen
Our first home
About two or three weeks before the Easter, John’s eldest sister, Louisa, who lived at Howden with her husband Jim and three daughters, told us of a two-roomed flat to let in George Street, Willington Quay, which would have been nearer John’s work. He was then working as a baker in Wallsend. The flat was about 10-15 minutes walk from where Louisa lived and Wallsend was the nearest town. John went to see it and arranged to rent it. There was only one bedroom, a livingroom, a small kitchenette, a large cupboard under the stairs, and there was a wee porch at the entrance of the front door. We were to share the backyard, the washhouse, and the toilet with the young couple upstairs that had a baby boy.
We fixed the date for our wedding; 27 April 1935 and John with the help of Louisa began getting the flat ready. John and I started taking up the things I’d collected. We bought the necessary furniture; a wooden table with four chairs, which also had a sideboard that went with it; all nicely stained and polished, and a bed, which John was able to pay cash for. We also got a three-piece suite on weekly payments. We had bought blankets and bed linen from South Shields open market. Many things were being sold by auction, so we had all we needed to start. Homemade mats covered the cheap but nice lino, and Louisa had made and put up curtains with the help of John, so it was ready for us to move into on the big day. We didn’t have the money for a honeymoon: the holiday would have to come later.
My sister Maggie and John’s sister Lottie were my bridesmaids, and my brother Alex was Best Man, seeing Eddy was living at Doncaster and was not able to come up for the wedding; otherwise he’d have been Best Man. My brother Robbie took the place of my father in taking me to the church. There had been two weddings before ours that afternoon. Ours was a small wedding and we had the reception in a little hall in Borough Road, North Shields. George Ewen broke his leg a day or so before the wedding and wanted us to go and see him on our wedding day. We should really have gone straight from the church while we still had the use of the taxi, but for some reason or other, we didn’t go until after the reception. We had a fair way to walk, and I had changed out of my wedding dress. He was very disappointed when he saw I had changed; he was about fourteen years old then, I think. After the reception was over in the evening, we caught the bus down the street from where the hall was, and it took us to Willington Quay and to our first home. John went to work the following night as usual – 11pm to 7am.
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