As you can see from the photograph, my mum, Jean, is considerably older than her wee sister, ten years in fact. It's interesting to hear how this age difference has made them remember the same facts differently.
They certainly have some funny stories to tell about Gran as she was always much more of a 'career girl' than a mother. She also had Andrena as a 'late' baby when she was forty. As Gran was the youngest of a very large family of sisters, she spent her time surrounded by much older family members and this must have had a big impact on the life of my aunt while she was an energetic toddler! She told me of how Gran went to the doctor, complaining that Andrena was too lively! In those days, of course children were seen and not heard. As mum was much older, a teenager when Andrena was a toddler, she was away at school all day but she does remember that she had to 'take the toddler under her wing' and she would take her away on bus trips and entertain her at home. They both remember a hilarious story of my gran pushing Andrena in the pram at about a year old and sticking marshmallows in her mouth and thinking it was hysterically funny when Andrena would spit them straight back out! She also remembers spending hours sliding up and down on the polished linoleum floor in Waterside Street and finding a bag of sweets, eating them all and then going out to the landing to be sick!
Jean and Andrena also remember there being a built in bed in the front room where grandpa would lie when he was ill. Granny Gibson, they both agreed, never said an awful lot to them and they were both quire scared of her. They remember her as a woman who was mostly dressed in black long skirts, but wore colourful felted hats and gold looped earrings. Grandpa Gibson was always busy in the garden or in one of his sheds where he would take clocks and watches apart. This was also often done at the dining-room table in the evening when he would wear his jeweller's eyepiece. Mum said he was always taking things apart and putting them back together again. They think he also maybe had budgies in an aviary.
The characteristic symptom of scarlet fever is a widespread, fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch. It may start in one area, but soon spreads to many parts of the body, such as the ears, neck and chest. The rash may be itchy. Other symptoms include a high temperature, a flushed face and a red, swollen tongue.
Today this disease will be treated with a course of antibiotics but back in the early 1940s, when antibiotics were still not available, Andrena was taken away from home and put in isolation in a sanitorium at Kirklandside for three weeks. Her family were not allowed to visit as the disease was very contagious, and were only allowed to catch a glimpse of her through a window. Gran was very concerned the the nurses would cut off Andrena's beautiful long, dark hair and pleaded with them and thankfully she got to keep her hair!. Andrena says her mother seemed more concerned about her hair than the scarlet fever!! I'm sure this wasn't the case. My mum was the carrier for the infection and she had to give regular saliva tests all through the summer. She remembers having a sore throat that went on and on, but she didn't have any other symptoms.
When Andrena got back home, she says she was very withdrawn and wouldn't speak to anyone for a long time. She was given a special little red coat and matching hat which she says made her look like Little Red Riding Hood and she also got a strange doll made up of different pieces of fur which were the fashion at the time.
Following on from the scarlet fever, Andrena caught pneumonia and around the same time Gran had an x-ray for tuberculosis and was found to have a shadow on her lung. She never got any medication for this even though she had a persistent cough for a very long time, as she would have had to pay for the medication, so instead she religiously took cod liver oil everyday, a habit that remained throughout her 91 years.