Home Audio file interview with Rene Broider

Audio file interview with Rene Broider

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Oral history interview with Rene Broider, b August 1921,.

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Broider, Rene (Subject of)

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Digital file (.mp3)

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Photograph - copyright Arnau Oriel

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WAV File /Disc 1 of 2
Interview summary:

Disc 1

[00:00:42] Introduces herself: Upbringing in Stoke Newington. Her schools – “it was a very good education”. Education changed after WWII.

[00:02:24] Very good description of her family background: An only child till 17 when brother was born. [00:03:10] Her life changed forever at 18: She got married, and, WWII was declared. [00:03:44] Had to give up her secretarial work in city – got a job in Ridley Road.

[00:05:53] Good stories of work experiences during WWII: Office job search in city - hard at first for married women to find work. Then government call for young women to do war work left vacancies. [00:07:58] Found local office work ‘Gore Skirts’ – good explanation of how there was no job security then. “I really enjoyed working for different people…”

[00:09:52] A housewife and mother from 1942 to 1960. [00:10:07] Thought she had lost her work skills. [00:10:14] Good descriptions of her return to work with various local firms eg. Lex Garages, Initial Services, Gresham’s The Builders…

[00:14:44] A year after her husband’s death in 1972, Rene went to final job after being refused place in Gresham’s pension scheme.

[00:15:58] Good description of working for A.F. Suter & Co. her final employer, in Bow/ Hackney Wick on edge of Olympic site – a gum & wax refinery - and how the refined product was used internationally: “So I must have gone to - 1973 my last and final job. So as I said I looked for another job in the Hackney Gazette, I was always looking in the Hackney Gazette for jobs, and a job was for um, it was part time, and it was AF Suiter and Company, and that was Dace Road Bow, right on the edge of the Olympic site, Old Ford Lock. And it was really interesting because we could look out the window and see the barges going up and down, and also what is now the Olympic site, was waste ground, we just used to look onto complete waste ground. And all that was there down on the other side of the water to us was a few little houses that belonged to people that operated the lock. So I was there from 1973 until I was 69, I stayed there until I was 69 – I didn’t want to give up work. And um ..that was 1990 – it seems such a long time ago – and yes I was there for 17 years, yes it must have been 00.17.31 mustn’t it! Yes 17 years. And um, what else, [00.17.38] yes they were very good to me there, it was an excellent firm to work for. [00:17:41] And they had a works in the Eastway – Hackney Wick. And that was their factory actually. We used to import gums and waxes from India and the Middle East. And they used to refine the gums and waxes. And the material was used in so many industries, which made the job very interesting. Because the gums and waxes was used in pharmaceuticals, furniture for polishing, also in bullets and stuff like that so we used to deal with the Ministry of Defense. And hairdressing – the lacquer that went into hair lacquer spray. And also in the music industry, because they used to use the resin on the wires – the music industry. It was a very interesting job actually, and I did the typing and whatever they wanted me to do for them. I was the only woman there so I was treated very well, yes. And when I left they were very good to me, and this is how I managed to buy this place (laughs). [00:19:24] Her leaving-gift

[00:19:53] Good explanation of how, having been a Hackney Council tenant for 40 years, gave her the right to purchase her flat at a discount rate.

[00:20:43] How Hackney had lots of firms which provided lots of employment [00:20:55] How and why some employers were dubious about employing married women – they might need time off because of their children’s needs.

[00:21:22] Good story of leaving school for her first job: ‘Marshall Ward’ – mail order Co. - behind the Hackney Town Hall.

[00:22:35] Good story of how a letter from a school friend led to her next job – shorthand typing in the West End (aged 16). “And that’s when I was there until the war broke out”.

[00:24:47] Very good detailed childhood memories of her Londesborough Road home and her Stamford Hill neighbourhood – good contrasts with modern living: “That was like old 3- floor… houses on 3 floors, and our particular house was occupied by 3 families. I mean this is going back, and this sounds as though we were in dire poverty, but to me everybody lived the same. Now it would be dire poverty… But there was only one toilet between the whole house. And we didn’t have kitchens with a tap. The tap we shared was on the ground floor, and it was in a sort of scullery, and you took water up in a container when you needed it – had to take it up the stairs…”

[00:30:00] Very good childhood memories of shopping in Stoke Newington.

[00.31.28] Very good description of her childhood and teenage shopping sights and experiences from Stamford Hill to Dalston/Ridley Road Market: “Yes and further down the road, I think if you went from Stamford Hill to Dalston - to Ridley Road - it was a mile. I’m not quite sure if they consider that a mile. And it was full of shops and was so interesting if you wanted to go for a walk at night, the shops were all lit up, we didn’t have corrugated shutters on them like you’ve got now – you could go along and window shopping. And when you’re young you love looking in shop windows – I like that dress, I like those shoes, and it was great. As you were a teenager they opened up milk bars, they came into fashion. I don’t know what they have now, wine bars, teenagers. So we were quite happy to have – I think it was thruppence for a milk shake (3d), if you wanted ice cream it was sixpence 9(6d) (laughs). And we loved looking in the dress shops, teenagers, girls, love looking in dress shops. [00:32:38] As you say, you walk down to Ridley Road, and there quite a few dress shops towards there and there were shoe shops, and there was also a millinery shop, they used to make hats made to measure, ‘cos I remember when I got married I went there and had a hat made – special hat (laughs) to get married in. And um then of course there was Ridley Road, I can always remember Ridley Road from when I was about 3 or 4, cos my uncle used to sort of work in Ridley Road, so I got lost. I must have let go of her hand and I finished up sitting on a stool, so eventually she walked up and down, no she didn’t sell me no no. She found that was the earliest memory of Ridley Road [00:33:38] It was always interesting – the smell – I think it was always a distinctive smell - because the stall holders sold vegetables, cabbages and things like that. When you bought them they used to cut out the outside leaves with a chopper, an they used to through them on the floor. So in the summer you had a distinctive smell of rotting vegetables, but it was interesting, it was noisy, I don’t know whether you liked the noise – or whether it sort of made you feel happy! I don’t really know. But Christmas was great, because there was all the uh, you didn’t see tangerines all the year round, as we see now, all the fruit, and that was a lovely smell, you got tangerines and chestnuts and dates and things like that you didn’t see all the year round. [00:34:40] And you didn’t have electric light on the stalls that they’re fitted with I believe now, you had the hurricane lamps, as soon as it got dark more or less they lit the hurricane lamps, you didn’t stay down there too long because you couldn’t see what you were buying (laughs) [00:34:55] they did have lock up shops on the pavement you see they was lock up shops but didn’t have glass fronts, they were like garages corrugated fronts and they open by raising … Yeh the stalls were always interesting, there was hosiery, and there was shoes, bags and lots and lots of stalls that sold material, because people used to make their own clothes [00:35:32] or there was lots of little dress makers that you would go and be measured up for dress or a coat. So you went down, chose your own material, went to the dressmaker, she would make you what ever you wanted. And then of course there was stalls that sold curtaining and linen [00:35:55]. And then there was the grocery shops. The other side of Ridley Road there were glass- fronted shops, they had a few glass fronted shops. [00:36:05] And they used to sell lots of delicatessen, like pickled herrings,dutch herrings, they were salty herrings, there were chickens. At one point you could go down there on a Friday and they’d have live chickens and they’d kill the chickens, because people, who were Orthodox Jewish people liked to see their chickens before they bought them. [00:36:33] And they had them killed down there to make sure they were fresh [00.36.38] And um then there was Beigels, bagels they’re called now, we used to call them beigels (laughs) and a man would stand at the beginning of Ridley Road, a sack well I mean you wouldn’t anything from a sack now. I think they were a penny each or thirteen for a shilling or something like that you know?? Six biegels and they didn’t taste like they do now, they were much more flavour in them, they were hand cooked more or less, much more flavour in them [00:37:11] And um that was interesting and there always seemed to be a Sainsbury’s though I think it’s still there at Dalston.

[00:37:23] Memories of Sainsbury’s: How she enjoyed seeing the women at Stoke Newington Sainsbury’s dairy counter pat each half-lb of butter into shape ready for sale.

[00:38:00] Life was lived at a slower pace: “People didn’t have stress then – you were just fed up then… Stress was something that was in material if you pulled it that was the stress of the material.”

[00:38:42] Good explanation of how you went straight from school to young adulthood: ‘teenage’ and ‘teenagers’ were not invented yet.

[00:39:09] Good explanation of eating places ordinary people frequented: Workman’s Cafes. And Lions Tea Houses – eg. on Kingsland High Street. “We didn’t have all the restaurants and cafes that we have now. I don’t know why. But we didn’t frequent them…”

[00:41:55] How and why she enjoyed being in the Girl Guides at a local church.

[00:42:59] Good explanation of how and why she believes her school - Stoke Newington Central - gave her a good education: Describes the school and its broad curriculum. “My grandfather used to say, ‘if you learn you earn, if you earn you eat, if you don’t learn you don’t eat…”

[00:45:02] How in the era when she left school, London school leavers could find a job” “None of my friends, I must say, were ever unemployed. No. I suppose it was a bit easier then in and around London – and especially in Hackney because there was so many factories, that I suppose you had a choice…”

[00:45:47] Good explanation of amusement in the home in the days before TV and when you were lucky if you had a radio: Good description of taking the radio battery to the ironmongers to be topped up with acid.

[00:47:34] Very good detailed description of Hackney’s former cinema’s: “Pictures, oh – it wasn’t a treat, it was a regular thing, pictures. Because we didn’t have television. And it was at least twice a week to the pictures, because it was so cheap…!”

[00:53:12] How pubs were mainly for men - and only a shadier sort of women would enter one on her own: Good story of how she went into a pub for the first time age 16 - a blind date. “But it wasn’t something you did on your own. I don’t think I ever went in a pub after that until I was married.”

Disc 2

[00:00:36] Religion: Good description of Dalston and Ridley Road in particular – how there were ‘pockets’ of strong Jewish community and identity in the area

[00:01:31] Religion: There was only one other Jewish family in Londesborough Rd, Stoke Newington, where Rene lived until 15. [00:02:17] Stoke Newington also had ‘pockets’ of Jewish communities at Victorian Road, and on Amhurst Road (where Rene lived from 15-18) – not orthodox.

[00:02:48] Religion: Good description of Rene’s upbringing in a family that wasn’t strictly religious: Only went to Synagogue with her grandfather on high days and holy days. [00:03:10] She and her husband didn’t bring her children up to be religious. [00:03:28] Her childhood friends were of many different religions. [00:03:51] Religion only became an issue for her around strongly religious families.

[00:04:13] Religion: Explains her grandfather, a migrant from Germany – his liberal influence, and friends of various religious backgrounds

[00:05:02] Religion: Childhood memory of ‘blending and fitting in’ with people of her neighbourhood’s various religious backgrounds.

[00:05:33] Very interesting explanation of her views on religion: She respects all religions, but she’s skeptical of all religions through personal rationale.

[00:07:48] Very good description of her own and her husband’s awareness of and encounters with fascists like Mosely’s Blackshirts – eg in Ridley Road. [00:08:37] Support for the fascists – and opposition

[00:09:41] Rene wonders if mankind will ever learn to live in peace and respect – “Do you need wars to level things out… Is it religion is it politics, I don’t know…?

[00:11:23] How although Rene’s anti-war schoolteacher, WWI vet Captain Jones, talked about Europe’s political scene – eg. rise of Fascists, at home and in Germany, had little time for politics.

[00:12:29] Very good, and very moving thoughts on how WWII took Rene by surprise – just 3 years after leaving school - and changed her life “Up to then, war was ‘history’, we never thought it would happen again. But it did”. [00:12:49] How Rene’s generation took the brunt of WWII. [00:13:20] “You had to go along with it and make the best of it” [00:13:25] Conscript friends and neighbours who died. And civilians killed in bombing – looting of homes and corpses.

[00:16:54] Very good description of pre- WW2 housing and the effects of WW2: Pre-war multiple- occupancy. Net curtains. Scrubbed whitened doorsteps… [00:17:32] Describes the look of Hackney housing and buildings when the war broke out – eg. Bomb damage, black- out curtains... [00:17:54] Describes how and why people neglected their homes [00:18:20] Coping with the rubble and damage from bombs – “Are we going to get to work if you had a job?” [00:18:34] Coping with WW2’s massive events and changes – mentally and emotionally. [00:18:53] Managing on rationing and black market supplies [00:19:03] Making your own clothes – “I seemed to spend most of my time knitting [00:19:54] Describes how people had very few changes of clothes – ‘make do and mend’ – good explanation of her few clothes when she was pregnant… [00:21:58] Very good description of what life was in Hackney from her perspective as a young housewife – more stories of managing on rationing and black market supplies

[00:25:47] Good stories of Rene’s weekly routine as a Hackney housewife: Washing her laundry at home in the sink…

[00:30:13] Good stories of how, after WW2, laundries opened and Rene made use of them – getting her big white Damask tablecloth clean. [00:32:05] How her spin-dryer changed her life – learning how to use the new invention… [00:33:35] More good stories of using the new Hackney laundrettes “Oh yes. It was a big thing going to the laundrette…”

[00:35:58] Very good thoughts on what life was like her as an ordinary working class women: “We didn’t consider it hard because everybody had it hard. Working class people didn’t consider that they should have an easy life… It wasn’t expected that men had to do anything in the home… We didn’t get bored, there was always something to do – shopping, cooking, washing and ironing…”

[00:41:21] Difficulties of finding somewhere to live in wartime and post-war – getting her council flat on the 3rd floor of the Pembury Estate. [00:43:39] Shortage of housing because of bombing [00:43:46] Good description of how bombed houses replaced by multi- occupancy blocks of flats

[00:44:25] Good description of Holly Street estate: how it was demolished after 20 years because of many problems and replaced by low-rise buildings

[00:46:12] WW2 did not make Hackney one vast post-war building site, because, although badly bombed, the damage was scattered – “In pockets…”

[00:47:30] Good story of post-WW2 migration to Britain: Gradually noticing more and more African Caribbean and Asian people from the late 1950s – through her son’s friends. [00:51:46] Race relations, prejudices and tensions… [00:54:14] Thoughts about local Muslim women and their traditional clothing

[00:56:17] (Not in chronological order)Good description of eras in popular culture and behaviour in 50s, 60s and 70s Hackney: Women returning to work. Things getting brighter – eg. fashion changes, ‘the new look’. Pointy children’s shoes. Platform shoes…

[01:03:29] Very good descriptions of where Rene did her shopping: How and why she particularly enjoyed shopping at her local Sainsbury’s and Woolworths… Very good comparisons of how shops and shopping experiences has changed: “There was always a wool shop within walking distance, because people did a lot of knitting…”

[00:14:23] Very good descriptions of the ordinary working class men and women in Hackney’s factories: Dress styles. Smoking habits. Extremely dusty working conditions. No Health & Safety or compensation…