Frieda describes how she met her husband and how she managed to make ends meet. She tells the interviewer that she is now Scottish.

INT: What age were you when you got married?

FL: 21.

INT: Gosh that’s quite, that’s quite young. And so how did you meet your husband?

FL: I met him through a lady. She had a baby linen shop and I was working with children at the time, a baby actually, and another child in Shawlands. She had a shop in Shawlands and I went in to buy something for the baby. It was the baby’s birthday and she, the lady said; “Are you from Germany?” I said, “Yes, I am”. And I didn’t like to tell them at the time because the war was on. She said, “Don’t worry telling, about telling me because I have a sister-in-law. She comes from Germany; she comes from Bavaria”.


I said, “Well I was from quite near there.” And she said, “If you like, I’ll take you to Paisley one day”. And she took a liking to me and asked me to her house in Shawlands. And then she took me to Paisley and I met the woman from Germany but I didn’t know what was her background or anything at the time. And she seemed to take a liking to me and took me out and visited me. I was in lodgings at the time and I remember I paid 4 shillings a week for my digs, 4 shillings.

INT: But that was probably still most of your money, I would imagine.

FL: It must be you know but…

INT: So if you were in lodgings but you were looking after the two children did you go every day?


FL: Daily, daily.

INT: You went daily. And where were your lodgings?

FL: Because I had had a job with a baby before it and I was up every night with the wee one and…Very hard work at the time and I said I’ll get another job. And I had two children to look after and they were older. It was quite a good job, you know, so…

INT: So you went to Paisley and you met the lady from Bavaria.

FL: My mother-in-law.

INT: Ah, she became your mother-in-law?


FL: I met her and she took a liking to me and invited me to her house and then I worked; I stayed in…There was a family Cohen, a Jewish family, and I worked for them. And do you know, outside Glasgow, I can’t remember now the place. Can’t remember. It will come to me later on.

INT: So you worked for the Cohen family?

FL: For the Cohen family, yes.

INT: And they had children?

FL: They were Jewish.

INT: Yes but how many children did they have?

FL: I think it was two, two, two boys.


INT: And did you live with them? Did you live in their house?

FL: No, I worked daily.

INT: Daily.

INT: That was when you were in the lodgings?

FL: Yes.

INT: So you went to Paisley and did your…

FL: I met my future mother-in-law, although I didn’t know it at the time. And she invited me back and she came to visit me and she brought her son with her. And I always remember I went for a walk with him to Cathkin Braes.


INT: Oh right.

FL: I stayed at the time near Rutherglen.

INT: Right, ah yes that’s a quite easy route to get there.

FL: I worked with that family Cohen.

INT: So you went to the Cathkin Braes, which is still, I have to say, is still where young couples go.

FL: Aye that’s right. That’s how I couldn’t get peace with him. He came every second day whenever he could. He was working but just came to see me all the time.

INT: And what age was he at that time? If you were twenty…


FL: He’d be about four years older.

INT: Right. So he was obviously very taken with you then?

FL: Well, he was taken with me. I wasn’t taken that much with him but I couldn’t get peace. He was after me all the time. I don’t know. But when I married him he took quite a lot of drink and he was very hard to suffer especially when I was expecting at the time. And I just put up with it, because I was on my own here, and when you’re on your own and no folks to guide you or anything, you just put up with an awful lot.

INT: And also if you had five children as well that would be…


FL: I seemed to… he only needed to look at me and I was pregnant. But I had an operation because I didn’t take my monthly and once I started to take it, it came very heavy and every time he looked at me I was pregnant.

INT: Am I right in remembering that when you started selling jewellery was it Mr Stakis?

FL: I used to go to Stakis’ place.

INT: Tell Angela how that came about.

INT: Stakis, the restaurant?

FL: Yes.

INT: Oh right. How did that happen?


FL: I used to go to the restaurant and sell stuff.

INT: I think you would have done quite well.

FL: He gave me permission. I asked for permission.

INT: But why did he give you permission?

FL: I don’t know.

INT: Because he had been a peddler.

FL: Was he? I didn’t know that.

INT: His mother sent him over with lace.

FL: Lace?

INT: Yes.


FL: Imagine that.

INT: You told me that.

FL: I think something…that must have escaped my memory.

INT: Frieda told me that when she was struggling with selling the jewellery she was in West Nile Street and Stakis had opened up his first steak bar.

FL: Aye.

INT: This is what you…

FL: He done very well didn’t he?

INT: He did.


INT: And she went in to see if… and she spoke to a waiter, to see if she could sell to the customers. She really needed to sell, and the waiter said “oh…”

INT: But the waiter told her to come back and when she came back a wee while later this Reo Stakis was there. And they had a long conversation and he said; “You can come and sell your jewellery.”

FL: I had to go down to the dining room and lay out my things; whatever I was selling at the time.

INT: It was for the staff not the customers.

FL: For the staff…


INT: And he said that he came with lace that his late mother had made from Cyprus and he peddled it round the doors. And he had great admiration.

FL: He was a very nice man so he was, and so was she. They were both nice.

INT: I’m also very impressed that you have a very strong Scottish, Glasgow accent. You have no [German] accent at all.

FL: I know. I’m Scots now.

INT: Absolutely but since you learned English when you were 18…

FL: Yes.

INT: You have a very good…


FL: But I didn’t learn a lot of it at the time. I just… I had to come away from it and then it stopped. I was only learning it for about 8 months or so, the English. And then I came over here.

INT: Ah, so you learned a bit before you came?

FL: Yes, yes. It helped.

INT: And you obviously have an ear for languages.

FL: I like languages. I learned French for a while at grammar school. I went to grammar school in Crailsheim. I passed my exam and that’s what I wanted to do, teach languages. But I never got round to it; I’m useless.


INT: So when you learned English, before you came, did…

FL: No.

INT: When you said you learned a bit of English for about 8 months before you left Germany.

FL: Yes I learned it.

INT: Did you go to a class for that?

FL: An evening class.

INT: Right.

FL: It was an evening class and another lady, another woman went, a girl went. She came over with me and that was Gitta Frei.


INT: Ah, so Gitta came from a similar part?

FL: Aye she came on the boat over with me.

INT: That’s good. So you weren’t coming totally alone.

FL: I don’t know what actually happened to Gitta now. I think she died.

INT: Did she get married? Did Gitta get married?

FL: Married? I think so, yes. I saw her for quite a while then all at once it stopped and nobody could tell me what happened to her. I don’t know.

INT: Right.

FL: We were quite good friends you know. Just one of those things, I suppose.


INT: After the war did you get some compensation from the government?

FL: I did.

INT: Yes.

FL: I did get it and it was a great help because at that time I had my children and it was a help to me. Not an awful lot but whatever I got it helped, you know, because I wasn’t spoiled for money.

INT: No, not with five children to bring up.

INT: No. And so did you work most of the time as a peddler?


FL: No. I went for a while and then I got married and had children, you know, and after I had, I think, my third child, I stopped it because it was too much for me, you know. And I wasn’t very well having that baby anyway. It was touch and go at the time. I was really quite ill. It was my kidneys and I’ve still got bother with them at times. But I just done what I could possibly do and I never done anything illegal or not clean because I wouldn’t have lived with a man if I hadn’t my ring on my finger. In these days you did that.

INT: No you didn’t, absolutely.

INT: Absolutely not. Frieda, thank you very much for speaking to me.

FL: Well…

INT: It was very interesting.

Listen to the testimony

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