The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #3920   Message #1082241
Posted By: Big Tim
30-Dec-03 - 07:07 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Jute Mill Song
Subject: RE: Jute Mill Song
Mary continued to work in various Dundee jute mills until she reached her 20s. Then she tried her hand at being a "domestic servant" in Glasgow: being employed by "Mrs. Stewart, Belmont Crescent" and "an old lady in Kelsland Street", both in the West End. Then she met the man who became her husband: Ernest Brooksbank (her maiden name was Soutar). They married on 3 October 1924 and moved back to Dundee. She describes her first (married) home as "a garret in Foundry Lane - an outsize dog kennel". However with typical application she transformed it into a wee palace. Ernest was a skilled man, a tailor, and was never out of work so the couple managed to live reasonably well: they never went hungry. I found no reference to any children tho this can't be taken as definitive.

She continued to work in the mills. Ernest died in 1943, age 52, and she didn't remarry. She wrote a poem called "Ernest, 12/10/43 [12 October 1943] - Memories Dear". At age 50, in 1947, she stopped work to nurse her elderly mother. Her father died in 1953, aged 86. She was writing poems and songs all the time but had never bothered trying to publish them. Then she attended a Ewan MacColl concert in the Caird Hall (Dundee). MacColl remarked that there seemed to be very few songs about Dundee, so she showed him some of the stuff that she had written. She achieved some success, especially with "Oh Dear Me" and appeared on TV and radio. She also performed in folk clubs, at the Blairgowrie Festival and in old peoples' homes. She sang and played the violin. She also wrote another book, fragments of autobiography and political stuff, called "No Sae Lang Syne - A Tale of This City" (1971).

In her old age she lived with her nephew Fred Soutar, an accordianist, at 119 Kingsway East, Dundee.

On the subject of religion she wrote:

"My lack of religion has been a sore point with many who are otherwise friendly. I feel quite grateful to those who continue to treat me as an ordinary human being and allow me to have a point of view of my own. I admire those who are truly? religious [I can't read my own writing!] and make an honest endeavour to practise according to the Sermon on the Mount. But, as I told a young priest who visited me, (no doubt to try to bring me back to the fold) I dispensed with gods, devils, witches, fairies, kelpies and bogles when I was 19 years of age. I was concerned with the affairs of this earth and the people on it. We shook hands and agreed to disagree without being disagreeable".

(PS - Susanne. Re that book - no way! I'll find details of Sheila's book and post them later. I know her personally: she was, like me, a librarian in the West of Scotland - a real lady.)