Working Life

We went to work for a friend of ours who had a bakery and confectionery business - jobs were hard to get - Dorothy went into the shop as a shop assistant; I went into the office to learn to do the book keeping. One of the directors there was very good to me. He taught me a lot. He was interested in book keeping.

Then, after I left there - I got fed up with it. I think I was there for about four years and then I had a temporary job at Mander Brothers, the paint and ink people. I enjoyed it very much, because Eve worked at Mander Brothers. (Eve later married Edward Evans, Auntie’s cousin. The couple lived at Wednesfield and had one daughter, Christine.) 

She was in what was termed the ‘foreign office’, because she spoke Italian fluently - Italian and French - she was there practically all her working life until she left to get married.

Mander Brothers Heath Town works.

They were a very good firm to work for, because they were one of the firms that instituted pensions for their employees, when they retired.

I think it was equal with the retirement pension - ten shillings (50p) a week.

That was a lot of money in those days. They were very good to their employees, Mander Brothers. They were a local firm.

(Mander Brothers was a progressive company, founded in 1773. It was one of the first to negotiate a 40 hour week plus other benefits for its workers. It ceased to exist as an independent company in 1998.)

Sir Charles Mander was the head of the firm and there were various brothers of his and sons. Geoffrey Mander became the MP for North Wolverhampton as a Liberal. Sir Charles was a real aristocrat, but they said that the old man that started the business was a real character apparently. One of the men, Turner, used to tell the tale - as a matter of fact he used to live in the first house in Merridale Road - about one of the cleaners who bought a pair of corsets out at the market. There was something wrong. They were either too big or too small and she took them back and they wouldn’t have them. She went to the old man, told her story and he took the corsets back and changed them for her. I don’t know how true it was, but it sounds quite plausible. They say he knew everybody in the firm.

His one brother, Vivian Mander - talk about a film star! For looks and that, there was nothing in it. It didn’t matter who you were from the cleaner to the top. If he met you on the stairs, he always said ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’. But Sir Charles never did. As I say, if Vivian saw you, he spoke to you, no matter what time of the day. He’d always got a word for you. Everybody adored him there.

Then from Mander Brothers I was out of work for a time and then I managed to get into the Civil Service. I was signing on and they were short of people. I was chosen; they asked me if I’d go to Walsall. I suppose you could say that I got into the Civil Service by the back door. Nevertheless it was an experience. I can honestly say that the whole of the period I was in the Civil Service, I enjoyed practically every minute of it. From there on, there was where I met John.

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