Starch, underskirts and dancing

When we went dancing, we used to wear stick out dresses. About three or four underskirts underneath.

1950s dress with green and blue flowersStarched they were. I used to work in the laundry and at dinner time we’d go to the top of the wash house and dip the dresses in the starch and swing them about a bit and when we put the machines on it dried them and stiffened them. They stuck right out!

We made a lot of our own dresses. We used to get a lot of the stuff off the market. When the song ‘Teddy Bear’ came out, I made a big skirt with teddy bears and a chain – I tied a chain round my neck!

‘Teddy Bear, Tie a string around my neck and leave me anywhere, just wanna be your teddy bear …’

We used to go to the Rink and the Public Hall. And we’d go to the Studio above the ballroom dancing, that’s where we were taught to dance. We’d been going for three weeks to the studio, we couldn’t even dance, and she got us tickets to the Mayor’s Ball! And we got a prize, for getting first on the floor. What happened was nobody would get up and Dick said, ‘Oh, for God’s Sake, come on!’ And we got up!

I wore my mum’s best frock. It had three tiers, and my underskirst underneath it. Dick had to borrow his brother’s tuxedo. And we weren’t sure if they were going to let me in, cos mine was a printed dress with little flowers on and three tiers, just straight – we didn’t class it as an evening dress. It was a dress my dad had brought my mum when she had my brother, and she never wore it. I wore it more than she did!

This is part of Maureen’s story