Pauline Robinson

Pauline talks about growing up during the Second World War, school life and starting work. She talks about social activities; ballet, films, music, dancing in the 1950s and 1960s. She describes meeting her husband, becoming pregnant before marriage then later divorce and experience as a single parent. She talks about her career as a medical secretary and about Hull Fair.

Media No: 1054
Interviewee Forename: Pauline
Interviewee Surname: Robinson
Year of Birth: 1938
Interviewer: Jessica Leathley / Dan Dearing
Location: Hull Central Library
Date of Interview: 31/05/2016
Duration (HH:MM:SS): 01:00:02


Time Code Notes

[00:00:00] Grew up in Willerby area and Hessle. Air raid shelter, peace party and other celebrations. Father, shipwright on the docks, a reserved occupation. He was a Home Guard at night. After war, few cars so could have slides in the snow. Lots of empty ground, good for bonfire night. Played on golf course. Two up two down house, could have bought it just before the war for £300 but didn’t have it. Bathroom upstairs, toilet downstairs in back. No central heating, washed downstairs, got extra foods due to father working on the docks, like banana and chocolate.

[00:07:19] School days, Priory Road School first school at age 5, then Paisley Street, and then Ainthorpe Road school after war. School OK. Mr Clark, headmaster at Ainthorpe. Christmas concerts, carols, candles. Went to Thoresby High secondary school – scholarship. Enjoyed dancing in PE lessons, performing in concerts. Didn’t like maths, accounts, loved music, French, geography and PE. Did commercial subjects. Uncle arranged job at Ideal Standard so had to do exams in night classes.

[00:13:10] Hated work at first, boys started in mailing department, girls started in filing department. Felt lonely even though a big company. Moved to invoice department, then to accounts, so could so shorthand and typing. Used to go out with others and met husband to be at Gondola Club jazz night.

[00:15:17] Thought of working abroad, too late for grape picking, so went to Norway with husband to be – too expensive – could only afford burgers and chicken in a basket so came back after two weeks.

[00:16:40] Had to find job when came back – found one as a shorthand typist at Police Station – lovely, but then became pregnant and had to get married so had to leave job. 10 years off work, bringing up three children. Moved into home as soon as first child was born. Divorced later, children now grown up, grandchildren. Divorce still a bit unusual, struggle to bring up children alone, but happy.

[00:20:57] Started work in Health Service when youngest child was three as medical secretary. Spent 26 years at Castle Hill Hospital. Liked electronic typewriter as could check every word as went past. Computers came in – more difficult. Worked in different hospitals, different specialities. Politics affecting style of work – corporate layout for letters, not done by people experienced in the job.

[00:24:53] Bringing up family and working, Mum and Dad helped if children were ill or in the school holidays. Had come to hate job by the time retirement was due. Wanted to enjoy life without stress. Had saved up so could pay off mortgage and buy a car. Needed room for children even though they had left home, they kept coming back for various reasons. Voluntary work at Carnegie Heritage Centre. Lived on main road while bringing children up, no real community spirit. The Queen’s silver jubilee, jubilee party.

[00:30:25] Family fun with the children, girls went to dance class, son went to Cubs and Scouts. Pauline on the Scout’s committee. Sometimes went out with friends, but not much money – lived life for and through children, did what they did.

[00:31:20] Differences between Pauline’s own childhood and her children’s. They had more things – she had few presents for Christmas, birthdays – would build own things from off-cuts of wood (father was a joiner). Must have been difficult for own children due to divorce. Son was sporty, played on school field, girls went round with friends.

[00:33:38] No danger for Pauline when she was out with friends, no alcohol at dances. Would get late bus home, often had to walk quite a long way – wouldn’t like to do it now. Jazz bands at City Hall, jiving. Dance halls were good – drunks rare. Wore flouncy underskirts (late 1950s, early 1960s). Met husband after this.

[00:37:23] Boys would come and ask for a dance, polite. Didn’t kiss on first date. Knew husband from work – had gone out with friends – steak chips, peas for a cheap meal. Met him and his friends at Gondola Club and friendships developed. He moved in with friends and had a housewarming party. The girls decided to do the same. Parents must have been liberal. Went camping in tents together. Bad camping experiences with children later. Twenty-one when involved with that but still quite innocent. Not very unusual to live in flats away from parents. Only lasted a few months.

[00:42:27] First weekend away in tents – two girls and boyfriends, didn’t ask other girl, so she decided to leave the flat. Surprised parents had let her go to flat. Good fun while there even though flat itself may be not very nice.

[00:44:35] Pregnant before marriage. Devastated. Dreaded telling father. Boyfriend apologised and they all started arranging wedding together. No choice really.

[00:47:28] Admits has forgotten a lot. Her sister, in America, reminded her she had seen The Beatles at Majestic before they were famous. Also used to see Lonnie Donegan after he left Chris Barber. Trips to see David Whitfield.

[00:48:39] Different kinds of music. Brought up on ballet music, sent to dance classes, loved it. Classical music, David Whitfield, Mantovani then Elvis and jazz, pop music. Still likes Elvis and jazz. Used to go to ballets at The New Theatre, get autographs. All For One Choir sang at New Theatre, lovely to be where ballerinas had been.

[00:50:57] Went to ballet from childhood on. Husband eventually had own business-partner. His wife was in the Royal Ballet so they got free tickets. Went with her and sat on front row. Went to the after party where ballerinas drank wine but didn’t eat.

[00:52:13] Wanted to be a film star when a little girl. Used to go to the pictures three times a week. Films changed frequently. Lots of cinemas. Carlton, Priory cinemas. Didn’t like westerns. Had French exchange at Thoresby School. Took French girls to see racy film. Liked Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Richard Todd. Used to dress in best clothes to go to the pictures, now casual. Could smoke, came home smelling of smoke. Took sweets, no popcorn.

[00:55:22] Pubs later on, when getting married, before that dancing and pictures. Muriel Riley’s Dance School on Anlaby Road to learn to dance. Lots more dance halls then, Newington, Albert Avenue. Scala / Dance Deluxe opposite West Park, father wouldn’t let her go there, it was ‘rough’. Live music, ballroom dancing. City Hall proper dancing too, if bopping had to stay on edge of the floor.

[00:58:00] Hull Fair – used to get pocket money from various relatives. Used to spread it out so could go every night for half a crown. Won a toy for her sister on hoopla. Not braver, used to go on Waltzers, flat rides. Shamrock – swing boat, steam powered – didn’t dare go on it. Went to eat – chips, candyfloss, took home brandy snaps and coconut.

These time code notes are provided as a rough guide to the above recording. Untold Hull would like to thank all the volunteers who took part for their time and hard work in producing this information.