I desperately wanted a mangle

Oh, we didn’t have any nappies for them in them days – only had about two a day. It was awful.

That was one woman’s memories of the hardships of caring for babies in the 1940s. Here is another’s:

Everything is so easy now. We had nothing.

When my daughter was on the way, we had nothing. I got a room in Blake Street living with an old bloke, he was deaf, so was quite happy with me having a baby: help yourself it was, more or less, he lived on his own. I made a poof out of bits of hide that I brought back from work; Rich brought bags full of sawdust home from the shipyard, and we filled the poof with this.

They gave me a single sheet from work and I cut it in half to make some cot sheets, and that’s all I had. I started making a patchwork quilt for myself. And that’s all we had. Rich had the clothes he stood up in, and his uniform, and that’s all I had, the clothes I stood up in, perhaps one change of clothes.

I had a tiny little back kitchen when we lived in Blake Street. I’d managed to get some nappies, but they weren’t keen to employ married women, or women with children, nobody was. It was still really closed off for women. I couldn’t buy anything without his signature, on the never, you know.

I wanted a mangle, I desperately wanted a mangle that turned down into a table.

I had nothing to wash in, nothing. And I had a mop bucket and I used to put that on the stove and boil the nappies up in it. We had no hot water.