Life was good for me in 1969. I was 18 year’s old, just engaged to be married and doing well at work. Hope was in abundance and I faced the world with excitement and anticipation.
I decided the other day to do a series on here about my past life because, as an only child with parents both deceased, not many people will remember me when I’m gone. I’m 61 year’s old now and I don’t know how much life I have left to live so I’m going to record some of it and try and give an honest and acceptable record for my kids, should they ever find this one day.
I like this picture of me (wait till you see some of the others – they’ll give you a laugh) so I thought I’d start with this one. I’m not going to keep to a timeline, I’m going to jump about a bit depending on which picture appeals to me each time but this is a good place to start.
I didn’t go to University. Although I was clever enough to go, my mother couldn’t afford to send me so this part of my life was concerned with doing a job, earning money, helping my mother in the home and saving to get married. My father left the family in 1962 and moved to Australia and ceased to support me at the age of 11 so money was always very short.
In those days it wasn’t unusual to get married young – most of my friends did it, but later on in life I realised that I had indeed, just like mother said I would, missed out on a carefree youth. However, at the time I felt very grown up, loved going to work and earning money and wondered what life had in store for me.
I worked at Electrolux Limited, a Swedish company that made vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, etc. I started there at the age of 16 in the reception office and learned how to use the photocopier and the telex machine. One day a week I went to college to learn typing and shorthand. In the reception office my duties were to greet visitors and show them to the place where they needed to be. Electrolux was a huge factory and important visitors were treated with respect and accompanied to the department where they wanted to go. That way I got to know all the routes around the office blocks and the factory. It was all very interesting and different from school. My other duties included operating the photocopier and sending and receiving telex messages. More of that another time. There was a hatch in the door of the office where people could bring their photocopying to be done. They left their work in a folder and when it was done, they came and collected it. That job allowed me to meet lots of people. It seems funny to me now, looking back, but that was the only photocopier in the place! 1600 people worked there and one photocopier! It was in the days long before people had one in every office.
I was surprised at the end of the first summer when one of the men said to me ‘are you going to college soon?’ He thought I was on college break. He was hinting that I looked too clever to do a job like that permanently I suppose but I didn’t find it demeaning. It was an honest job and I learned a lot and met all sorts of people. It did give me pause for thought though. When I got home I wondered if I had done the right thing, going out to work so young, but I didn’t have doubts for long and in any case, I didn’t have the choice so I had to make the best of it.
Two year’s later, as the picture shows, I was happy and fulfilled. I’d passed my secretarial exams and was looking forward to my first secretarial job which I hoped would come along soon…