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?
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: That was when you were in the lodgings?
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?
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 pedlar.
FL: Was he? I didn’t know that.
INT: His mother sent him over with lace.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 pedlar?
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.
INT: It was very interesting.