Frieda describes her life in Scotland and the difficulties and challenges she faced as a young, vulnerable woman. She mentions her marriage and the unreliability of her husband.
FL: Well, I don’t know, you see. I actually went away from my, not my religion, but I didn’t mix with Jewish people much.
INT: No, but it’s not about…
FL: You see in the… I mean; I haven’t really… It’s just the children I seem to live for.
INT: I think that’s the same as my mother-in-law. She felt very much the same and she didn’t mix with Jewish people either.
FL: No, you see I had one friend. She came from Austria. And, well, we used to go to different places together, you know, for a cup of coffee and that.
INT: But it’s not really about life in Scotland, it’s about life in the old country that Angela would be interested in. And you probably remember lots of things, when you were a little girl.
FL: I was 18 when I came over here.
FL: It’s a long time ago.
INT: It’s more of a chat. I mean I was also interested when you said that you went round with suitcases and were selling things. So what did you sell when you were in Glasgow? Did you say that you went round with two suitcases?
FL: Yes I used to sell things and I got them, the goods, I got them out of the wholesales in the Gorbals and I used to go round… I’d go to the, I went to the country like Johnstone outside Paisley and different places and sold them there where nobody really knew me.
INT: So that must have been quite interesting, did you travel by buses?
FL: I used to buy clothing and sold dresses and underwear and different things, you know, out the wholesalers and I sold jewellery. I made jewellery myself.
INT: That’s wonderful actually.
FL: I went to, I got the mounts and set the stones in and made my own jewellery. And seemingly they were quite nice because one gentleman, when I went to his house, to sell to his wife, you know, he said to me; ‘I’ll take you to the ‘… one of the, you know, that place in the town, I can’t remember now. It was…’
INT: One of the places where you can buy some of the stones?
FL: Yes, he said; ‘You should be able to sell them to the shops’. But the shops wouldn’t buy them because they get them wholesale themselves and things like that so I didn’t bother. I just sold them to friends, made a coffee afternoon. We had a coffee afternoon and I sold them to friends.
INT: But that’s a nice way of doing it actually. And I think it’s nice to see your friends wearing your jewellery.
FL: Yes it is. It was quite nice. And, well, I made brooches. I set brooches and necklaces, you know, pendants and…och, it’s quite a long while a go.
INT: So was that after you had your children?
FL: Because I had children and my husband left me with the 5 of them.
INT: Oh my goodness.
FL: And I had no folks of my own.
FL: And I had to get on with it. So that’s what I done. I made jewellery first when they were sleeping at night; I got the mounts and the stones and that in Queen Street in a place.
FL: And I sold them round the doors in Johnstone and different places outside Glasgow. And I had a license for it right enough, a Peddler’s License.
INT: Oh right.
FL: But, and I did quite well with them, you know. But it’s such a long while ago now. I’m forgetting quite a lot of it.
FL: I did that. Do you know I don’t remember. I must have done some work of some kind because I wouldn’t be idle, sitting about.
INT: No I’m sure not.
FL: I think I watched children. I learned to be a children’s nanny.
INT: Oh right.
FL: And if I had known I was going to have five of my own I wouldn’t have been that.
INT: But look at the training you got.
INT: Where did you learn to be a nanny….in Germany or in Edinburgh?
FL: It was in Edinburgh
INT: You weren’t well treated, you told me. Did you not go up north somewhere to Oban or somewhere near?
FL: Yes I was near there.
INT: And they didn’t treat you well?
INT: You hated it?
FL: I didn’t like it there. they weren’t nice. Not that I expected them to be nice to me being a servant but they were very cold and distant. And I just didn’t like it there you know. And I’m not so hard to please.
INT: No, and was Gitta Frei up with you in Oban? Was Gitta with you in Oban?
FL: No. No she wasn’t.
FL: And I remember I worked in Kelburn Castle for a while with two children.
INT: In Ayrshire? Kelburn Castle’s down in Ayrshire?
FL: Yes. I worked in there for a while.
FL: I don’t know why I left it or why… I think I met my husband and I got married.
INT: Ah, I was going to ask you…
FL: Something like that.
FL: I met my mother-in-law through that lady with the baby linen shop and she kind of took an interest in me and then she introduced her son to me. I wish I’d never met him.
INT: What was his name?
FL: George. George Thomson.
INT: George Thomson.
INT: And I suppose once you got married, did you have your first child quite quickly then? Your eldest child…?
FL: My first child?
INT: Because you got married at 21.
INT: And did you stay at home to look after the children? Before George left did you stay at home?
FL: Yes I looked after the five children on my own.
INT: What did George do? What was George’s job?
FL: He was a joiner by trade.
INT: A joiner, right. Did he work…?
FL: And he worked on the Queen Elizabeth for a while.
INT: Oh right.
FL: He had some good jobs but he wasn’t a good man. He wasn’t a kind or good man. Just circumstances I think, when he asked me to marry him. Maybe he thought I had a lot of money or something, being Jewish, you know.
INT: But you were very pretty Frieda. You were very pretty.
INT: I think the fact that George came to see you so often. I think he was very taken with you. I think he did really like you.
FL: Oh aye he did right enough. Ach he was just… he was a…he could be very nice and he could be the opposite. I’ll tell you what it was with him – the drink.
FL: He was in the Argyll Sutherland Highlanders when I met him and he was very smart in his uniform and he was very nice to me. He could be very nice and he could be the opposite when he had a drink, you know.
INT: When you married George where did you live?
FL: I think I lived in Paisley at the time with his mother for a while.
INT: Right. And then when the children came along did you get your own…?
FL: I got a house.
INT: And where was that?
FL: In Paisley.
INT: In Paisley.
FL: A four apartment.
INT: And then George would go out to work, I would imagine and you stayed to look after the children?
FL: Yes he was working but he was working away quite a lot. But I think he was a womanizer. I realise that now, but…
INT: And did you make friends when you were living in Paisley?
FL: Oh yes, I had one or two friends and one of them passed away and the other one. She went away to London.
And I quite liked living in Paisley, you know. I had a nice wee house and I made it as nice as I could. And my mother-in-law was quite nice, you know. She was all right. I got on all right with her.
INT: What happened after George left, did you still see your mother-in-law?
FL: Well because he was her son, and I didn’t bother her. I don’t know what I done after that. I worked and I never did anything that wasn’t right.
FL: I know that.
INT: Did she come to see your children after you and George split?
FL: No she never bothered about my children.
INT: Did she not?
INT: Oh dear.
FL: I could take them to her house right enough, you know, and she was nice enough to them there but she never came to visit.
INT: And did you ever hear about any cousins from Germany? Did you ever hear from any of the family?
FL: Well there was a cousin; one or two cousins there but I can’t remember their names now.
INT: Did they survive the war? Do you know if they…?
INT: And it must be nice that your children are quite close by you as well because I’m sure they come and visit you?
FL: Oh yes.
INT: A lot, which is lovely.
FL: My children are all right, you know.
INT: And it’s nice that you called one of your children Frieda as well.
FL: I know, my husband called her Frieda and I didn’t want it. And he says, “Why not? She’s yours and mine and why not?” Then Janet was after my sister-in-law. She was always quite nice to me, you know. She stayed in Paisley.
INT: Well I think you were very brave because you came over by yourself and I think that’s very brave.
FL: Well I had to go to domestic service and that lady right enough she was very nice, I always remember.
INT: Was that in Edinburgh?
FL: In Edinburgh.
INT: In Edinburgh.
FL: And do you know he tried to come funny with me one day.
FL: And I run a mile.
INT: I bet.
FL: I went into my room. I didn’t tell the lady because I didn’t want to do any harm to her marriage at the time. And even so, I was a young girl, you know.
INT: You were very young then.
FL: I said maybe she’ll not believe me. He was sitting in my bed and he had his trousers off. He was a major in the army.
INT: Is that why you think you decided to leave there? Did you then decide to leave and go and work somewhere else?
FL: I think so. That’s right.
INT: I think so.
FL: It was after that. She couldn’t believe it because I liked it there, you know, and I wouldn’t tell her.
INT: You had a lot of principles Frieda. It’s very admirable of you.
FL: Ach away, I didn’t tell you because of that. But I think some men, you know, and oh, he was one of these men, he pulled out the chair for her; he done everything for her and after that I watched men like that. She was such a nice lady too. She was nice looking and everything else. I don’t know what he wanted.
INT: He just wanted to take advantage of a young innocent girl.
INT: And see what he could get a way with.
FL: I hardly spoke to him after it. It took me all my time to talk to him. She must have been wondering what was wrong. And I’d tried not to let her know, you know, just in case. Not that I’d done anything it was just…I didn’t like him after that.