Here Marion describes her school career in Glasgow and the start of her medical studies at Glasgow University. She tells of her romance with another refugee from Germany, her marriage and her life as the young wife of a busy GP in the same city.
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INT: What did you do after er Laurel Bank school?
M: Oh well , well those were quite different days, I stayed when I finished school I was accepted for university to do Medicine because my Highers were pretty good.
M: I stayed in the Women’s Hostel which was number one Lilybank Terrace.
M: Laurel Bank was number two, three and four Lilybank Terrace and number one was Robertson Hall which was part of Queen Margaret Hall and there was a lovely house and a garden just a few steps away.
But so I started medicine and my aunt left the Chemistry Department and started working in the Cancer Hospital which was facing Garnethill Shul
Now we used to go to Garnethill Shul with my aunt on Yom Tovim because my aunt was a real workaholic. She worked every minute of the day and sometimes through the night if she had an experiment going that had to be watched she was there all night as well. Come home in the morning, have a bath, have breakfast, go straight back to the lab, she was a workaholic. She changed in the top floor of the Cancer Hospital it was research. There was Doctor Peacock was in charge, he and his wife worked there and there was Doctor Beck who was a pathologist.
He was a refugee from Germany and his wife Doctor Herta Beck was a GP in Tollcross, they had no children and shortly, well I was accepted for medicine and my aunt was working there and she came home one day and said Doctor Beck had invited her for coffee and she had said her niece stayed with her and he said bring her along, so we went. Oh they lived far away out you went by number 9 tram car practically to the very end of Auchenshuggle. And they had a house there. Now she had a practice in Tollcross and Henry had a practice in Bridgeton and she had not been well, and asked Henry if he could help her to do some home visits, she invited him for coffee as well and this is how I met my husband Henry. But I was just eighteen!
I was there with my aunt and this gentleman was there, of course nine years older when you are eighteen, you know.
INT: It’s a lot.
M: To me it was a lot. But I remember going home in a tramcar afterwards and my aunt said to me ‘you made an impression’ and I looked at her in astonishment, you know, because this gentleman was completely out of my sphere, so there you are that’s how I met Henry.
INT: And did you carry on studying medicine?
M: Well then he proposed to me not very long afterwards.
INT: Well you know you had gone through lots, I think was that not a generation that.
M: Well he invited me out and we went out a few times. But father-in-law got a practice in London so Henry was born in London and his mother unfortunately died shortly afterwards. So his aunt and uncle brought him up because his mother’s sister had no children so she took him and brought him up. So he was brought up in London ’til war broke out, when he was 16 and he was supposed to study medicine in London, but because of the war, his father made him come to Glasgow and that’s how Henry was in Glasgow.
INT: So how old were you then when you, when you were married?
M: I was 20.
INT: And you gave up medicine?
M: Well the understanding was Henry had a big ten roomed house and a housekeeper, the understanding was I would carry on with my studies.
INT: As well as running the whole house.
M: And the housekeeper was running the house and that was the understanding, oh yes I was not going to give up, well he proposed to me I said ‘no no’ and ran away then he proposed to me a year later again, he can’t live without me. So it was on the understanding I would carry on but of course in those days there was no pill. Before you could say very much, I was pregnant and when I was pregnant, I was sick all the time and I got thinner and thinner, food just made me, the smell of food made me sick and finally I mean I just literally could not lift my arm.
So finally Henry called an obstetrician to have a look at me and he pinched my arm and I always remember him pinching like that and now that is fat but at that time there was just skin, nothing else, and he said to me ‘girl, you are on the point of starvation, no more university for you’.
INT: Hmm and that was it?
M: And that was it. So I had Nina and two years later I had Peter and of course being a GP’s wife, it was a 24 hour job, 7 days a week.
INT: Because people phoned.
M: Unless you had somebody in the house who would answer the phone and take a message, you had to be there to answer the phone, you were on duty all the time. So the housekeeper left when I told her I was pregnant again you know with my second child. So that was the end of the housekeeper. And you know but I had a daily woman, five days a week, every morning but it was really, it was a full time job being a GP’s wife. But also you know some patients came to the house. There were two rooms, which were for patients. As well as a sitting room/ dining room. Then there were the premises at the back. And then there was a great big staircase with a great big stained glass window and the grandfather clock and then another flight of stairs and four big rooms and a bathroom there and there were two rooms in the attic.
INT: That would have kept you fit, I was going to say, running up and down there.
M: It was a huge house for a twenty-year-old girl, it was daunting.
INT: Especially when you had been used to sharing a small room with three other families.
INT: That must have been a very strange culture shock.
M : it was.
INT: So when did your mother come to join you?
M: Oh no, my mother, my mother meantime decided she was going to study beauty culture.
INT: She must have been some person.
M: And she attended classes, it was a two year course because it included massage and it included actually making of cosmetics and creams, it wasn’t just make up. It was quite a deep study and she did very very well and my stepfather didn’t want to go to Israel and my mother was determined to go. Don’t forget that Stalin did not die ’til 1953.
INT: But your mother must have ended.. but we know she came to Glasgow.
M: Well she worked as a beautician in Israel all those years. She came to Glasgow when Nina was born in 1953 and then she came again in ’55 when Peter was born and then she used to come every two years or so to visit, for July and August, you know the hottest months.
She didn’t, well I, when she finally stopped working which was, oh she was well in her 70s, she would come. I would go over there in May and then bring her back with me and after Yomtov I would take her back again. But by the age 84 when I went there her doctor told me that she had breast cancer and only had a year or two to live. So I brought her to live with us in June of ’89. My mother is already 85, I don’t want her to be subjected to that [referring to Chemotherapy] . Whatever happens, happens. Well she lived 20 years after that which I’m sure the surgeon would be very surprised if he knew.