Sylvie, my adopted mother, her life – continued.

Sylvie remained at home throughout her pregnancy and until after her daughter was born. She continued to work right up to the end of her pregnancy, working as an overlocking machinist in the local hosiery factory. It was hard work, long hours and required the lifting of heavy bags and piles of sections of knitwear ready for overlocking. After stitching the sections together, the heaps of completed sweaters, tank tops and cardigans would need to be counted, bagged and hoisted around. Returning to work only a few weeks after her daughter was born was a necessity, her father and step-mother were certainly not going to support her, it was made quite clear to her that she was lucky that they had let her remain at home with a roof over her head. Returning to the hard work of the hosiery factory was a brave move in itself, as it was a hotbed of gossip and disapproval. Relying on the services of a childminder was something she could ill afford but it did mean that she was able to keep her child, something that many women at the time were unable to do. It was common for families to disown their unmarried, pregnant daughters if they did not conceal their pregnancy and put their child up for adoption.

With stubbornness and determination Sylvie worked hard to keep her daughter. She knitted and sewed outfits of clothes for her and spent long hours after work soaking and boiling her terry towelling nappies, proudly hanging them on the line, glowing pristine and snow white. She certainly wasn’t going to allow the neighbours to gossip and say that she did not look after her daughter or keep her clean. She saved hard to ensure the the baby had the best Silver Cross carriage built pram, the Rolls Royce of prams, large but elegant and something that gave her immense pride. She no doubt saw this as a way of thumbing her nose at the disapproving family and neighbours, making a clear statement that she had nothing to be ashamed of.

When the baby was about one year old, Sylvie started seeing Stan but I don’t recall any mention of how they met or if they had already known each other. They went on to marry and there is only about a two year age gap between her first and second child, another girl, so I suspect she was probably pregnant again. Sylvie never gave the impression that there was any great love affair and its seems more likely that it provided a way out of the difficult home situation, to leave her father and step-mother and provide a home for her daughter.


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