Interview with Jan Albone

Title

Interview with Jan Albone

Description

Jan was born on a farm in North Lincolnshire. She went to school in Brigg. She loved the farm, particularly the horses.
Their farm was close to RAF Kirton in Lindsey which was used as a rest home for men from the Battle of Britain. They worked on the harvest to help them recuperate. Jan was aware of the Lancasters at RAF Scampton. They had two evacuees from Sheffield for a short time. Towards the end of the war, Jan also recalls having two German Prisoners of War from the camp in Pingley, near Brigg, to help on the farm.
When the war ended, Jan enjoyed being a member of the Young Farmers Club and met her husband. There were dances and tennis parties before her husband went to agricultural college and became a farmer. After marrying in 1952, they lived in the rectory at Hackthorn where they incubated chicks in the dining room. They moved to a farm in Binbrook. Jan helped with the Pony Club and was a marriage guidance counsellor for 40 years.
Jan talks about the changes in farming and how change accelerated after the war.
At the age of 80, she put on a three-day handiwork exhibition in the church.

Creator

Date

2022-09-22

Temporal Coverage

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

00:57:11 Audio Recording

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

AAlboneJM220922, PAlboneJM2201

Transcription

DE: So this is an interview by Dan Ellin with Jan Albone. I’m at her house in Scawby in Lincolnshire. It’s the 22nd of September 2022 and also present in the room is her son Alex Albone. So, Jan could you start by telling us a little bit about your early life and where you grew up?
JA: I was born at Redmond Grange which is only five miles from where I now live and I lived on the farm there with my parents and sister. Went to school in Brigg which is only up the road. So I’ve always lived in this district all my life except for ten years when I lived at Binbrook. So I know a bit about the local area.
DE: And what was, what was your early life like? What was school like? Your home life.
JA: Oh, my school. Early life was a bit grim actually because I was born on a a very sort of isolated farm in those days. It was still two miles from the nearest village but it was a long way from there. So I was born and brought up and I was very cherished. And I think my first memory was the fact that somebody when I was three, I’d been very protected and loved by everybody on the farm and then suddenly somebody came and took me upstairs and said, ‘You have a little sister.’ And I can remember seeing this thing. That’s one of my earliest memories. This thing in this cot and it was my sister so I was going to have to share things. I didn’t like that much at all. And my mother had been a schoolteacher and so she taught me at her school and I could read and write very early in life. And then it was decided that I would go to school. Well, it was a bit difficult to go to school in those days from there where, and so it was decided that I would go and live with my aunt and grandmother in Scunthorpe and my aunt was the headmistress of a school in Scunthorpe and I would go to school there and go as a weekly boarder with my parents. I hated it. I absolutely hated it because I loved the farm. I loved being outdoors and to go into a big school where your aunt was the headmistress and all the people in the school were children from, well it was a backstreet school in those days. Henderson Avenue. And it was, I just was so lost. I wanted to make friends but I couldn’t because I was the headmistress’s daughter. Anyway, it was then decided after that that I think they could realise that I was unhappy and so I came home and then was sent up to the nearest school, primary school which was at Kirton Lindsey which was two and a half miles away. It wasn’t a lot better I have to say because I was the only farmer’s daughter at the school. The rest of the people at that time were farm labourer’s children. Extremely nice children and I again I wanted to make friends but it was not the children it was the parents saying of course, ‘She comes from the, farmer’s daughter.’ So therefore, then my sister was ready to go to school by then. She was five and I was eight and so we then went to Brigg. To the prep school at Brigg and it was heaven. Absolute heaven then. But we went by bus to Brigg and I had to look after my little sister which I didn’t like much. But anyway, it got better. But I’ve always loved being at home and I can remember so many times going back to school at the beginning of term hating going into school because I wanted to be at home. And it wasn’t home. It wasn’t parents. It was being outside. It was being mainly with the horses. Loved, loved horses.
DE: Did you have many on the farm then?
JA: Well, of course the only work when I was a child there were no tractors. There wasn’t such a thing. Well, there was but we didn’t have tractors ever. All the work on the farm was done by horses and my father grew fifty acres of potatoes and all the work was done by horses and man power. So, but I always loved them you see. I mean I, and I could do things with them that other people, even when I was very small I could go and feed a difficult one when one of the men wouldn’t like doing it because I was quite relaxed of course. So anyway, that was how I started.
DE: Okay. And then, and so and then what happened?
JA: Then I got my eleven-plus and went to the local high school which was a grammar school in those days and that was fine. You know. I was reasonably clever. I loved history, loved reading and writing and everything else. But then I left school at sixteen because you see the war was over. The war finished in 1945 and it was so wonderful to be free and I didn’t want to be at school. I didn’t want to be restricted and of course afterwards I think my parents should have insisted I stayed and did A levels but never mind. I didn’t so that’s that. So it was an interesting life living at Redmond Grange where I was during the war.
DE: So what was that like?
JA: Interesting. In fact, that we, Kirton Lindsey aerodrome was only three miles away and Kirton Lindsey aerodrome was a fighter ‘drome in those days and it was the fighters were, it was mainly a rest home for people that came from the Battle of Britain. And they would come to Kirton Lindsey to rest. And we had father there. We always knew he was there when he came because he would take his plane up on a Sunday night and do all sorts of performances. And my father really got on well with the CO there and it was funny around my father really in many ways but he got on with the CO and he decided, he and the CO whether it was the CO‘s idea or not I don’t know that the men that were coming from, to rest from Battle of Britain they were traumatised. Extraordinarily traumatised, and so father said the worst thing they can do is to sit and mope and of course on the farm we were desperately short of labour. We desperately needed food in those days. And so they used to come down. I don’t know how they got there. It wasn’t so very far away. I can’t remember any vehicle bringing them but something must have brought them and they came and they helped him with the harvest. And they worked on the land and a lot of them hadn’t got a clue about well land work but they soon learned and my mother cooked enormous great meals every day and so in this kitchen there was a huge kitchen table and all these men would be. There would be six or seven and they would change. I remember one particular one. He was so young. He couldn’t have been more than eighteen. He probably was but he was so young and he was so frightened but I could see even as a child. I was, you know I was only eleven, twelve I could see that hard work, it was a hot summer, the hard work kept, made him sane because he went home and he slept.
DE: Right. Yeah.
JA: But it was, it was terrible with those young men because we never knew them anymore. They became quite friends but then they went. Did they die? I don’t know.
DE: So did that happen just just the one year or was that the —
JA: That was really only the one year of the Battle of Britain but it’s very significant that was for me because all these, I’d never seen young men. I didn’t know what they were like. And I mean I was only [pause] but and they also treated my sister and I a bit like mascots. You see, we knew about the horses and and they didn’t but it I’m I’m sure it saved the sanity of quite a lot of young men.
DE: Excellent.
JA: It was nice. It was good.
DE: Okay. Anything else you’d like to tell me about that, that time?
JA: I think the funniest thing it always makes me laugh now but at the beginning of the war my father, it was the old DV in those days. It was before Home Guard and he decided of course we had again another hot summer that first year of the war and Hitler was going to invade. And I understand later on that Hitler’s soothsayer said it wasn’t appropriate for him to invade but if he was my father was quite convinced if he invaded he was going to land at Skegness on that east coast and actually could have done. Walked across. So my father was in the LDV and he used to go and stand on the top of Waddingham Church which is only two miles away. My father had a twelve bore gun and he always took one of the farm men with him but the farm man only had a pitchfork. My father [laughs] I mean it was terribly serious at the time I mean it was. I can remember being so frightened and father took it so seriously. But in hindsight there was my father with a twelve bore shotgun and a man with a with a pitchfork. They were going to defend the nation. But I was frightened. I was terrified and of course you see in 1939 I was nine when war broke out. I was ten when this all happened and I was so aware then. I was quite grown up for my age actually and I kept, I said to my mother, ‘What is going to happen to me? What will happen?’ Because as a child you only think about what’s going to happen to you don’t you? ‘What’s going to happen to me?’ So my mother said, ‘If the Germans come you’ll be absolutely fine, dear,’ she said, because at that time I was very very fair and I had long long plaits and I could sit on them. It was long and thick as that. ‘You’ll be absolutely fine. The Germans will take you and they will look after you and they will put you on a breeding farm.’ Well, I knew about breeding because I mean I would breed these horses if I had a breeding farm. ‘And then you will breed wonderful fair haired Aryan children.’ I should actually to be honest. You know. At that time she was quite right. But that comforted me. I was going to live.
DE: Crikey. Did, you said you were, you were frightened and needed that reassurance.
JA: It was reassuring actually.
DE: Where did you get your information from? Did you listen to the radio or read the papers or —
JA: Oh yes. The radio was always on you know. And of course, my mother had been a school teacher and father was very sort of articulate and we, we had got contact. We had aeroplanes flying over us all the time and we were all very conscious of the Lancasters at the, you know only down the road there’s Scampton and we knew that a lot of the fighter planes were here to defend them. So we knew what was going, we knew what was going on.
DE: So, I mean yeah you —
JA: I had to take my gas mask to school in its cardboard container.
DE: Did you have anything to do with any evacuees?
JA: Yes, we did. But I can’t really remember very much. I know they were fairly awful. They were two girls and they came from Sheffield and they didn’t stay very long. They were not happy. They were town children landed on an isolated farm. They didn’t like the food. They didn’t really like anything and their mother came and took them home. I don’t think they were, they came to school with us but I don’t think they stayed for more than about three months. But it was, it was interesting. It was the fact that that work on the farm was so hard in those days.
DE: And you, you helped with the horses. Yeah.
JA: Oh, all the time. Yes. I remember sitting when I was twelve sitting at the back of the school, at the back of the class in school in a maths lesson. I hated maths. And early in the morning, it was a September morning when, you know I was at school and they were picking potatoes at home and I wanted to be there with, with the horses.
DE: I see.
JA: I wanted to help.
DE: So you listened to the, to the radio. Did you ever hear what’s his name? Haw Haw.
JA: Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. We had to listen to him. It was always because father always made, we got to listen to him because it was a joke. Father always said it was. I mean, we had to be amused by him.
DE: I see. Right. What about the, what about the newspapers?
JA: Newspapers. I don’t really remember much about newspapers. I think it was mainly the radio you know. It was the wireless was, wireless in those days of course and of course, father would listen to the news. I was always, I always remember later on when war ended and all the news came out about Auschwitz and you know the camps I always remember my father being so horrified by it and unbelieving to begin with. He could not believe that anything could have happened. There were a lot of people like that. It was quite quite horrendous that, well he didn’t. Well, I didn’t. We did not know anything about prisoner of war camps. Well, the Jews being in camps like that.
DE: Were there any prisoners of war camps around here? I know there was some Italians in Lincolnshire.
JA: Yes, we had. Yes, we had the Germans to start with. Big Hans and Little Hans. They came to work on the farm. They came from Pingley which was the other side of Brigg. A big, big camp there and it was mainly Germans and these two Big Hans and Little Hans they were very poor. A little man. I should imagine they were homosexuals or whatever. They came and they worked for us and they were, they were little farmers in Germany and we got very fond of them because they were just ordinary men like ours.
DE: Yeah. How long did they work on the farm for?
JA: I should think they worked for us for a good year. They were dropped off. Pingley used to take them and drop them off and we were very grateful to have them because we were desperate you see. You know, today on a farm you only have one man. In those days we needed ten because everything was done by hand.
DE: But they were never there at the same time as these British pilots.
JA: Oh no. No. This was towards the end of the war.
DE: Yeah.
JA: No. No. No. No. No. British pilots it was definitely, that was 1939 1940. When we had the prisoners of war was ’45.
DE: Right.
JA: ’50.
DE: Okay.
JA: Yes.
DE: Yeah.
JA: I remember my husband because he lived at Spridlington and they had Italian prisoners of war and he always remembered that they had one officer, well that he said. His boots were always immaculate all the time and he helped him break in a horse and he said he knew how to ride. He definitely was from, you know. It worked.
DE: Yeah. And you got on fine with them.
JA: Yes.
DE: Yeah.
JA: Oh, well yes. Yeah. We were pleased to have them and they were pleased to work.
DE: Did they, did they get their meals around the table?
JA: No. No.
DE: No.
JA: No. No. No. No. It was only the —
DE: Okay. So you said you know you had lots of aircraft flying around because there was, you know Lincolnshire known as Bomber County.
JA: Oh and of course —
DE: There was Hemswell before.
JA: Well there was either a landing ground or or a airport every few miles.
DE: Yeah. Yeah. I mean you’ve mentioned Scampton but in between Scampton there’s —
JA: There’s Hemswell. Yes.
DE: Hemswell and Ingham.
JA: Yes, yes, exactly. And they were mainly sort of landing grounds in case main the main airport had been bombed.
DE: So did you get to recognise the different aircraft flying over?
JA: Yes. I mean we knew the difference between a Spitfire and a Hurricane and a Lancaster and a, and a cargo thing. Yes. I wasn’t particularly interested but but my father was of course.
DE: Did you know of any, any of the Luftwaffe aircraft flying over?
JA: No. We didn’t. I don’t think they, as far as we were concerned I don’t think they ever came. They came to Hull of course because they bombed Hull. But that didn’t mean they came over here.
DE: No.
JA: No.
DE: Were you, were you aware of Hull being bombed?
JA: Oh yes. Yes. Yes. If we stood on the, you know on the farm we could actually see the, you know, what was happening. Very much aware of that. But then you see for when you lived here and you only had horses and you did have a car and a bicycle whatever Hull was a long way off. You know, it seemed, and it was the other side of the river. Yeah. Still in a way it is.
DE: Yes. Yes.
JA: In those days the only way to get to Hull was on a ferry.
DE: Yeah. Or the long way around. I know that —
JA: Yeah. Well, when you went then you always went across on a ferry.
DE: Yeah.
JA: But you did. You had to choose the time of day to go or else you got stuck on a sandbank.
DE: Of course. Yeah. I know the, the Auxiliary Fire Service from Welton.
JA: Yes.
DE: Went to Hull during the Blitz.
JA: Oh, did they? I didn’t know that.
DE: Yeah. I mean it must have taken quite a while to get there.
JA: Yeah. Yes. Well, I think you know because the fires were very very bad you know. We could see that.
DE: Yeah.
JA: Yes.
DE: How did it make you feel seeing the fires?
JA: Well, it just was there. You know when you’re a child, you must remember I was a child as long as you were safe with your mummy and daddy and you were in your own home it was [pause] it was a bit, in a way it was a bit like a film I suppose to us.
DE: Yeah.
JA: You know it wasn’t, it wasn’t reality really. It was very sheltered.
DE: So, what did, what did you do for entertainment then?
JA: Not a lot. I was thinking about it this morning because I thought this was one you were going to ask me. Where? Entertainment. You went, you went to school. I mean we had to leave because we had to catch, we had to leave the house at ten to eight in the morning and we walked for half a mile on the main road to catch a bus. Then we didn’t get home until ten to five at night. And then we ate and did our homework. In the wintertime it was a matter of keeping warm. And the days went by. In the holidays I was outside all the time. We didn’t actually think of entertainment actually.
DE: What about when you got older?
JA: Well, I was fifteen when war ended but that was wonderful you know because we could then, I could then be a member of the Young Farmers’ Club and I was allowed to to go. I had an autocycle. My father bought me an autocycle. That was a bicycle with a thing and I used to come in to Brigg. I was allowed to come to Brigg in the dark, it was safe in those days, to Young Farmers’ Club meetings which were absolute bliss after being caged as we were. But we didn’t know anything else. So it was lovely to be there.
DE: So what happened at these? These Young Farmers’ meetings then.
JA: Oh, that was fun. I mean we used to go to the local pub and I mean we had talks and we had [pause] I can’t remember a lot about the talks but we had competitions and of course we were allowed to go to other farms with with our friends judging cattle. It was so exciting actually, you know when you think of the young people today but it was so exciting having had nothing to have this. That’s how I met my husband.
DE: And do you want to talk a bit about that?
JA: Well, if you like. I mean he, it was exciting because he lived at Spridlington which was on the road to, you know where Spridlington is?
DE: Yeah.
JA: On the road here and all our courtship right up to us being married to come and see me he had to have a chain in the back of the car and the chain was to bring the chain from his father to my father or, and when, when going home it was to take the chain back from my father because you were not allowed to travel with petrol at the end of the war you see. You had to have a reason for using petrol.
DE: Oh, I see. Right.
JA: So to come and to come and see me he had to have a genuine farming reason to come and see me.
DE: Oh, I see. Oh, that’s clever.
JA: So this chain would have lived in the back of the car if any police stopped him he was taking the chain from his father to mine.
DE: I see.
JA: Backwards and forwards.
DE: Right. Yeah.
JA: And then he could pick me up and we could go to the Young Farmers’ Club and then there were dances then. But you see I always think people are not wise enough. When I went into the nursing home to have my first baby who is seventy next birthday I took my ration book with me. Times were so much worse after the war.
DE: Right.
JA: I don’t think people realise that.
DE: Yeah.
JA: How we had to pay back and we were very hungry and rationing was very strict after the war.
DE: And there was, that was worse after the war.
JA: It was. Yes. It was. Everybody was happy and glad to be able to do it but food was so important.
DE: So in one way you had this freedom that you were, you know —
JA: I had the freedom to go. Well, a certain freedom. It felt like wonderful freedom but it was still restricted to the fact that it had to be rural. It had to be, you know it had to be sort of [pause] and then then it became and then you see I was fifteen when war ended. Sixteen I started at the Young Farmers’ Club. By the time I was eighteen then we could have dances and we could go out and be much more social. And tennis parties. And my husband went away. He was older than me. He went away to agricultural college and I was going to go but of course I went but when it was picked that I was to go I couldn’t I couldn’t because all the ex-servicemen coming back from the war they all had priority.
DE: Sure. Yeah. Of course.
JA: And we met some and my husband was there at the Agriculture College at Sutton Bonington with a lot of the people, men who were ex-soldiers. He was a lot younger than most of them because he’d started and they came back and we had some wonderful friends actually who had been in the war. A lot of tragedies.
DE: So your husband was a little bit older than you.
JA: Yes.
DE: What —
JA: He was two years older than me.
DE: What did he do during the war? What were his —
JA: Well, he was a farmer you see. He was a farmer and he was working. He was working on the land to produce food. It was. It was work and sleep.
DE: Right.
JA: And, and that’s what [pause] that’s all we, if you don’t know anything else you accept it.
DE: Yeah. So I’ve mentioned it before we started recording but I believe you had a couple of links to RAF stations in Lincolnshire.
JA: He had a lot more links because he, living at Spridlington they were more or less in the flight path from Scampton and he and his father used to stand and count Lancasters going out at night and then they would count them coming back in the morning. And you know he always said how dreadfully tragic it was.
DE: And I understand your sister in law was in, in the WAAF.
JA: No.
DE: No.
JA: No. No. I haven’t got a sister in law.
DE: Oh, it’s [pause] was there somebody who was a driver?
JA: No, I don’t know where you got this from.
DE: No. Okay. Never mind.
JA: No. No. No.
AA: Guy Gibson’s driver. That’s Fred Albones.
JA: Oh, yeah. That is a relative of my husband’s.
DE: Oh I see. Right.
JA: Yes. Yes. Yes. Which was over there. But it was, it was a strange upbringing but the whole point I’d like to emphasise is the fact that because we knew nothing else it was acceptable and what was so wonderful and we appreciated it so much was the freedom afterwards. When by today people have freedom from the day they’re born we, I now look back and I still think we had some wonderful times when I was seventeen and eighteen which today the youngsters would just think was stupid. But we hadn’t had anything else.
DE: Yeah.
JA: And then of course which was the most exciting I left school and my father decided that because he had no son that would I like to be a farmer you see and take over the farm. So that’s why I really began to work on the farm and so then when I was seventeen, I’d be nearly eighteen he bought a tractor.
DE: Wow.
JA: And I had the tractor and it was a little grey Fergie but it didn’t have a cab but I could go plough where I’d been actually ploughing with horses and I mean ploughing. Not many women of ninety two can say they’ve ploughed a lot of land with two horses. And then I had a tractor to come plough with.
DE: Okay. So I mean you said that you really loved working with horses, you know.
JA: Yes, I did.
DE: What was it like swapping over to having a tractor then?
JA: Well, it was you were just sat on a seat. You weren’t walking behind.
DE: Oh right. So it was —
JA: But it was always cold. No, but I still I love the horses as horses but I realise that I could do a lot more work in a day with a tractor than I could with two horses.
DE: So how, how long did it take before the the horses had gone and —
JA: Well, I don’t know. Gradually tractors, things began to go so quickly when war ended you know because tanks had been in the war and tractors soon were invented. You know from the little grey Fergie we got another tractor, another tractor and within a couple of years it was amazing how quickly —
DE: And I suppose they just kept getting bigger and more powerful and —
JA: Exactly.
DE: Yeah.
JA: And less labour was necessary.
DE: How many acres did you have?
JA: My father had, it was interesting he had three hundred and forty acres and he also had another rented another forty acres of pure grassland which was in those days was a very good living for a farmer. You would need three, four times as much today to get the same benefits.
DE: So, so it was mostly potatoes was it?
JA: It was. It was arable.
DE: Right.
JA: And then we did have cows which were bought for me because I wanted, I liked animals so we had a bit, we had a small dairy herd which was mine which was very nice. I thoroughly enjoyed them but the trouble is I soon found out that cows don’t differentiate between Fridays and Saturdays or Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
DE: Yeah.
JA: And I found it rather tiresome but I had to do it because this was what was decided because when everybody else was going out on a Saturday afternoon I had to milk the cows.
DE: Sure. Yeah.
JA: Good discipline.
DE: So what happened when you, when you were married then?
JA: When I married. Oh, it was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful to be married. I mean I loved my husband but it was so wonderful to get away. I was free. I was free to make my own decisions. Free to decide what we were going to have to eat. Free to decide when I was going to go shopping. It was marvellous. It was a good job I married him because I really needed to get away.
DE: So what happened to the farm?
JA: Oh, the farm. Father carried on of course. I had a sister came in then. A younger sister.
DE: Right.
JA: Whom had got a boyfriend who hadn’t got any land and he came and sort of took over. Took charge. But I was so pleased to get away. It was wonderful.
DE: So where did you live?
JA: I lived at Hackthorn. In the rectory. I don’t know whether you know Hackthorn. We lived in the rectory for a time and God it was cold. There wasn’t such a thing as central heating. But we stayed there and then we went to live up at Binbrook. By then I’d had a baby of course and life moved on.
DE: So, can you tell me a bit more about, you know your life after the war?
JA: Oh, well as I said after the war I got married in in 1952 and then we moved. My husband was a farmer. We lived up at Binbrook. I had another baby. Then then another one and then he came along. That was it. It was hard work but but then I I’d been used to living in the country. I’d been used to being on my own. I’d been used to discipline. So it was great.
DE: Did he ever, did he ever travel?
JA: Oh yes. All the time. As we got, as we got older we got freer when the children were grown up and we came to live down here. We travelled a lot. All the time. And we made the most of it and we still do actually. It was because my husband he got leukaemia. He started when he was only fifty seven and he died at sixty five and so we made the most of those years because he’d only been given three years to live and he actually managed to live nearly ten.
DE: Wow. Okay.
JA: Crossing our fingers. Very good. And so we made the most of it you know. It was each year, ‘Come on. We’re going to go.’
DE: Explored.
JA: Make the most of it. And I don’t regret a single thing.
DE: No. Where did you go?
JA: Oh, we travelled all over. We went, we went to and travelled to and all over been to Australia. We travelled around New Zealand. We went to Europe. We went to America. I went later to the Galapagos. He didn’t go to the Galapagos with me but we did. And we had a wonderful doctor and when we wanted to go to New Zealand he said, ‘Oh, that’s alright.’ We had to see the consultant said, ‘I’ve got a colleague in the Auckland. If you turn ill you can ring him in Auckland.’ So we had a camper van and and travelled all the way around the New Zealand for the month.
DE: Wow. Okay.
JA: Making the most of it.
DE: Yeah.
JA: If you know that the end is near you. So, I’m still travelling.
DE: But you know you didn’t fancy ever settling down anywhere else that you —
JA: Actually, when we went to New Zealand my husband loved it so much the first time we went if he hadn’t, he was an only child and if he hadn’t had elderly parents who were still alive it was like that. I think it wouldn’t have needed much for us to to emigrate because he loved New Zealand. Thought it was the ideal place but there it is. Times change.
DE: So how, how much do you think Lincolnshire has changed?
JA: Oh, well it’s unbelievable how it’s changed. I mean it’s still an arable county and even when I was a child there were, there were cattle but it was beef cattle. Sort of single herds but nowadays it’s now all well of course with the war all the grass had to be ploughed up to produce food for people and so it was never laid down back again and so it is much more an arable county and of course the tracks are just huge. The machine. But the machinery is, it’s enormous. I mean progress. I mean even in this last, even since my husband died I mean the the mere fact of the television and the iPads and all those sort of things I mean he would have a fit if he came back [pause] So life moves on but it always does.
DE: Yes. Yeah.
JA: But and I think every generation has said we’ve seen the best of it. But I don’t know. I’m just in a way I’m just sad that I’m getting old because I want to know what’s going to happen in another ten years. You’ll see it. I shan’t.
DE: I don’t know.
JA: That’s what, I don’t think I want to live to be a hundred and two.
DE: I’ve interviewed someone who was a hundred and two.
JA: Have you?
DE: Last year. Yeah.
JA: Oh, come again in when I’m hundred and two and see what I’ve done in the last eight years!
DE: I just, you know I’m just wondering if you have any other stories that you’d you’d like to tell me that you might have thought about when you heard I was going to come and meet you.
JA: No. Life, I think life has been, it sounds a bit monotonous as though you know I’ve not been almost killed in an air raid or anything like that but I can’t. I can’t think of anything that there are so many bits aren’t there in life. I think the most important thing is to make the most of everything and not to be too critical. [dog growling] That’ll be the post coming. No. I, of course when you’ve gone I’ll think of all sorts of things.
DE: Oh, yeah. But if I switch the machine off you’ll think of something.
JA: That’s sods, that’s sod’s law. I mean I do regret not getting [pause] The only thing I think that I wish that my parents had insisted that I carried on with further education. It’s alright that I loved the horses and I loved the land but I had a good brain and I should have used it. But then my life wouldn’t have been the same as it is today.
DE: And then you couldn’t go to agricultural college because there wasn’t —
JA: I missed out on that.
DE: Yeah.
JA: Mind you I didn’t really mind because by then I I was realising that I was in love with my husband and that we would get married and you did get married in those days you know. You didn’t live together and that sort of thing. You got married and I mean literally I had a baby nine months after I was married.
DE: Right.
JA: And, and that was the way my life went. But I do regret whenever like I said I try to do it occasionally, you know. I loved to read. I love history. I’m interested in in everything that goes on. I wish I’d had more of a trained brain. But [pause] but it’s no good. It’s no good regretting because it’s happened.
DE: Yeah. Yeah. And I dare say you’ve educated yourself.
JA: Yes.
DE: By the things you were reading.
JA: Yes. Yes.
DE: And the places you’ve been and things so —
JA: The places I’ve been and I’ve always been a great embroideress and a great sewer and I’ve done things around the Pony Club for twenty years. I’ve always done things but but not for money if you like.
DE: Yeah.
JA: Otherwise, I’d, and I was also a marriage guidance counsellor for forty years which was interesting.
DE: Wow. Okay. Can you tell me about about those things and the Pony Club? And working in marriage guidance.
JA: Yes, if you like.
DE: That sounds fascinating.
JA: Oh yes. Well, Pony Club I loved because I, I love kids. I don’t like, I don’t like small children very much but I do like teenagers. There aren’t many people that actively like teenagers [laughs] and I used to love running the Pony Club. It was, it was great. Well you know there were kids and ponies and again it was the horses wasn’t it? And when I look back when I I see the rules and regulations now that there are about having children in groups and I mean we used to have Pony Club Camp and I would quite happily have twelve, have thirty twelve and unders sleeping in farm buildings with their ponies and I would be the only one sleeping the night with them but I never thought anything about it but if something had happened. But it didn’t, did it?
DE: No.
JA: So, I loved running that. That was okay. But so many, and even today somebody in the supermarket only last week you know came up to me. She said, ‘I think I know who you are.’ So I said, ‘Oh yes?’ she said, ‘You’re Mrs Albone aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘I was one of your Pony Club girls.’ So I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘I’m fifty next week. Do you remember me?’ Well, I had to talk myself through it but she was slightly different at fifty than she was when she was seventeen.
DE: Of course. Yeah.
JA: And as for marriage guidance well I just, I like people you see and I like people. I like to be able to listen and help people. I mean it worked for me. And you see my generation in those days because I hadn’t got a career in inverted commas so many of my friends if you like didn’t either. They came home from school to help mother or came into their own farm home. So they either sort of played a lot of golf, or a lot of us did a lot of social work and, you know we ran the Pony Club or we did other things for other people because we had to do something that was away from the farm and it’s sad nowadays because but everybody now has a career and they earn money. So that is why I think a lot of social things they find it difficult to get volunteers. So this is why I went in to doing my marriage counselling. Then it became Relate and then I became a sex therapist which was great fun I have to say. It was because there was, no it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t because so many people had so many sadnesses and if you could help them through that it was fantastic. But —
DE: No. But I suppose you had to keep a bit of an open mind and I suppose a sort of farming background would help a bit with that would it?
JA: Well. Yes, well it was just the fact that I mean I had a lot of experience in the fact that I had been, you know I’d been alive. I’d had a family. I’d had parents. I’d had you know. I’d lived in many ways.
DE: So it’s a sort of passing down your experience.
JA: Yes, and actually you know when all is said and done with all counselling work it isn’t what you say it’s, it’s being able to listen. It’s what they say to you is what, you know, or they sound off against you.
DE: Yeah.
JA: Which I found very interesting. Quite traumatic at times but good and my husband was always cooperative. He didn’t want to do it but he was very happy for me to do it. I mean he was busy farming wasn’t he?
DE: Sure.
JA: And fishing.
DE: Fishing.
JA: Yes.
DE: Okay.
JA: Farming and fishing.
DE: So did he, did he not get involved with the Pony Club then either you were saying?
JA: No. No. He didn’t like horses.
DE: Right.
JA: Didn’t like anything to do with horses.
DE: Right.
JA: But —
DE: It was tractors and machinery.
JA: Tractors, machinery and going fishing.
DE: Right.
JA: But no but you see he was fishing and shooting and I was riding horses and hunting and so but we knew the same sort of people so we always used to say on a Saturday night we had an awful lot to talk about because we came from different angles.
DE: Yeah.
JA: I don’t know what you’re going to do with all this.
DE: Well, you know we will if you sign the form saying you’re happy for us to use it we’ll, we’ll put it as part of the archive.
JA: You want to say something Alex.
AA: Well, I was, I was just thinking that you could, you could enlighten a little bit more about, about father’s experience of being in the Home Guard and shooting rabbits during the Second World War and raising enough money to —
JA: Oh yes he did. That’s how we got married.
AA: That, that’s the story you should talk about. I think you could also could talk about having chickens in the, in the drawing room at Hackthorn when you first got married.
JA: Yes.
AA: In order that you had enough money and I think you could expand upon that.
JA: Yes, I certainly, yes.
AA: And also expand a little bit on, a little bit about what community was like during the war years. I think you’ve mentioned it but I don’t think you’ve really talked about how you actually entertained yourself just after the war. How, rural life was up to and around.
JA: Funny boy.
AA: Wartime.
JA: Okay. I, I liked about my husband he had a wonderful dog and he would shoot rabbits and he would take rabbits to market to sell and we actually got married on his rabbit money savings.
DE: Right. Okay.
JA: Yes. We went to local sales and bought furniture. The bed cost ten pounds I remember. But it was, it was a very comfy bed and, but, that’s, that’s how it moved because he had to work. So, you know. Well —
DE: So, what was the going price for a brace of rabbit?
JA: Oh, for goodness sake [laughs] I don’t, not a lot but there again well oh yes one thing is when I first got married I was you see when I, yeah that was interesting. When I, when I did get married I had in my bank account I had thirty two pounds because all my father ever paid me was four pounds a week even when I had the cows and driving tractors. Mind you I did get all my food and everything else. And I’d thirty two pounds in the bank and when I got married my housekeeping allowance was five pounds a week and five pounds a week in 1952. And out of that my husband always paid for the meat. Farmers in those days always paid the butcher’s bill and, but I managed to dress myself and feed a baby on five pounds a week.
DE: That’s inflation for you then eh. Yeah.
JA: That’s inflation.
DE: So, chickens.
JA: Oh, chickens. When we first got married we were desperately hard up and we had this enormous rectory which had a drawing room, a dining room, a sitting room, a kitchen, you know. So we thought what were, what were we going to do with the dining room? So we had, we put an incubator in and we had baby chickens. And then and then put them in the walled garden and produced eggs to help with our income. It was quite interesting when people came to the door when they’d hear the chickens in the dining room but still never mind.
DE: And Alex said something. A bit more about the sort of community life.
JA: Yes, I think the community life as far as we was concerned were dances once a week when there was, you know freedom. Tennis parties in the summertime. Grass courts when we had to cut the grass. You know, lined. No hard courts. We had to line, you know. Do it all ourselves. And that’s how we met our friends. And we did. And of course, the Young Farmers’ dances and then it got to be people’s twenty firsts and in those days it was so funny. I mean we went the ballroom at Brigg we always used to invite [laughs] for your twenty first you always invited the young people but you always invited their parents as well. So the parents would sit around the outside of the room watching the young people dancing you see. We were, we were accustomed to it. That was the way it was but looking back on it you know you couldn’t be a bit naughty or anything else because somebody was going to see. But it was the way it was and what I’m trying to say is you accepted the way it was. And that was it. Where today you know everybody has so much freedom. It’s fine. But that’s today, isn’t it? [pause] I don’t know what else to tell you, you know.
DE: So you’ve sort of painted a picture of of what, what happened in, in the summers. It was tennis and dancing.
JA: Dancing in the winter of course.
DE: Oh, there was dancing in the winter.
JA: We went dancing in the winter. Yes.
DE: Right.
JA: Yes, there were dancing in the winter. There was usually a dance every Friday night, you know. And yes, yes that’s reminded me. And I had a particular way of my mother made me, she was a most wonderful seamstress and she made me some wonderful clothes to wear to these dances because it was very important we had something new all the time. And when the New Look came in I had a New Look outfit which was extremely smart but when it was a dance a lot of the, they were ballgowns you see. Off the shoulder and I had a small pin had been given to me. A small pin of a fly and in the first place Sellotape. I used to manage to get this fly pinned on to my skin with Sellotape so I was always known as the woman with the fly. That was my —
DE: Well —
JA: Different to anybody else.
DE: What an odd thing.
JA: It was.
DE: Yeah.
JA: It was very interesting. Yes. But you had to have, you had to look different. You had to look special.
DE: Right and it obviously worked because —
JA: Oh yes, obviously it worked. Oh yes.
DE: You met your husband. Yeah.
JA: Yes, it worked.
DE: So, I mean you said it was a bit hard when you first got married and you had to have the chickens in in one room.
JA: Oh it was hard but then I was used to hard. Are you with me? I mean we we we were all of us used to hard work but we, we had each other. We had privacy. We were away from our families. And then of course I had a baby and it was a natural process but it was, it was good. It was really good.
DE: Okey dokey. Thank you.
JA: And then my husband got the opportunity of having a farm up at, up at Binbrook and so we moved up there and I always remember he was, whether this is applicable but he was, he was a lovely man my husband and he was very much liked by a lot of people and the local auctioneer who had no sons took him under his wing and I always remember him coming and said, ‘We’re going to get you a farm, Ted.’ And he did. He got this. He got this farm for him and we accepted it. And he said, ‘But you must remember,’ I’ve always remembered this, ‘Always remember you’re going to be successful but you will lose friends.’
DE: Right.
JA: And we laughed about it. Ted laughed about it. He was right. We did. Some of his school friends never spoke to him anymore.
DE: Because he’d—
JA: Because he’d suddenly become successful.
DE: Right.
JA: That was quite a powerful feeling actually in those days because when you’re young you like to be liked don’t you?
DE: So what did success mean then?
JA: Well, success meant that we moved. We moved into a bungalow that was built for us. We had another child by then. Success didn’t necessarily mean a lot more money. I mean we were still always hard up. But it meant that we were, well equity had increased. There was more opportunities. We were making a lot more friends up on the Wolds there. Completely new people. But we were still always hard up. We always seemed to be hard up actually.
DE: Well, I suppose that part of that’s, you know needing the next new tractor or bit of machinery or whatever.
JA: Well, yes. In farming one, one has stuff but you don’t have cash. I think it might apply today in many people.
DE: Yes.
JA: You have things but no —
DE: Yeah. So it’s investments. Yeah.
JA: You have land and it’s worth an enormous amount of money but it’s not much good having fifty acres of land that’s worth ten thousand pounds an acre if you haven’t got enough money to buy lunch is it?
DE: No, I suppose not.
JA: So that’s why I learned to sew and make things. Make things for my home and make things and I’ve sewed ever since. Oh and yes probably the main thing is which is not many people when I was eighty I had an exhibition of all my handiwork in the local village, in the local church because I had a friend, I always said that when I died I didn’t want a particular funeral. I would like to have an exhibition because I’ve always sewed and made things. Cushions. Everything in this house I’ve made. And so she said, ‘Don’t be silly. Do it now when you’re eighty.’ And I did and I had eighty eight pieces of from curtains to wedding dresses to embroidery to whatever that I have done all my life. I’ve collected it and never sold anything in my life but and made things for family and friends and everything else. Collected it all up and had an exhibition. It was fantastic. Raised a lot of money.
DE: Really?
JA: Yes.
DE: What charity did you choose?
JA: I gave it half to the church and the other half to, to Leukaemia Research because my husband died of leukaemia.
DE: Yes. Of course. Yeah.
JA: But he was I was glad I did it because you know, if I’d been dead I should never have enjoyed it should I?
DE: No. No. Were there many people came?
JA: Oh yes. Well, you see all my friends knew it was my eightieth birthday and it was and thanks to Alex he got it publicised in a local magazine and actually so many people have said, it was open for three days have only said to me the other day, ‘Well, let’s do it again?’ I said, ‘No way. Thank you. No way. Thank you.’ There we go.
DE: Smashing. Thank you.
JA: So what, there are lots of bits aren’t there? So what do you, do you put the bits together?
DE: No. We don’t edit anything. Shall I press pause for now.
JA: Yes.
[recording paused]
DE: So just started recording again. Electricity.
JA: Electricity. We, okay even as a child we had only electricity because we had a generator and it had a an engine but it only generated enough electricity for light. It was always going wrong I have to say but we were definitely one up on the local population who only had oil lamps. So electricity would come. I can’t remember when electricity, when we got to be on the electricity but the most important thing was the water because we had our own borehole as children and we dug a borehole. And we had cattle in the, we always had cattle even if we didn’t have cows. But we children kept saying to our parents, ‘This water tastes horrible.’ Because we drank water and those who didn’t drink the orange and this water tastes horrible. We would be eleven twelve. It would be sort of during the war but getting on in the war. Eventually my father decided to have the water tested. Of course, we lived on limestone ground and the cattle in the in the crew yards the water had, the effluent had filtered into the borehole hadn’t it. So we were actually drinking water that should have caused us illness. At that stage father decided right so we had to have water. We had to fetch it from a local bore, a local pipe two miles away with a, with a [pause] and my father and he said, right, we could still bath and everything still in this dirty water but he would never do. So my mother had to carry water from well was boiled in pans on her, the pure water for him to bath in. But we could bath in the dirty water.
DE: Right.
JA: So my father was an odd man. But this how we didn’t get any I do not know because the water was disgraceful. And that is I think both how my sister and I to be honest I wouldn’t like to say but I don’t think we’ve ever had a tummy upset.
DE: Right. It’s sort of inoculated you to everything.
JA: Inoculated us for life. Yeah. We’re both very tough.
DE: Crikey.
JA: And and and I honestly believe that it was because we were sort of —
DE: So when did you get the water better water supply?
JA: Oh, I don’t know, It would be around about, it was towards the end of the war. It would be about in 1943 ’44 when, when we [pause] No. I think we had water right to the end of the war. It would be 1945. Things began to go ever so fast once war was over. When we got mains. Mains water.
DE: What about electricity?
JA: Electricity. About the same time. About the same time we got electricity. But everything seemed to happen together. The war ended and we seemed to suddenly move up into the twenty first, twentieth century. And it was. But we didn’t die did we?
DE: No. And then you had to, you watched the Coronation on a, on your —
JA: Oh yes. A little box set. Yes. And my mother in law had bought it. Terribly expensive at the time I remember. I think about the same price as they are now. It was a lot of money in those days. And so half the village came and sat and watched it. But I was so because I loved clothes and I loved the Queen’s dress and everything else. And then later in life it was only after my husband died my daughter took me to London to see the Queen’s clothes and the Coronation dress was there in this exhibition in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace. I’d never been so absolutely amazed. It was so beautiful because on television it was only black and white and silver but in real life the embroidery on it was all in colour. It was, I’ve never seen anything more exquisite in my life as that dress.
DE: Wow.
JA: A bit disjointed.
DE: No, it’s wonderful. Thank you.
JA: Going from sewerage [laughs] to that dress
DE: Yes. Opposite ends of the spectrum. Yeah. Right. I shall press stop.
JA: Right. I think you’ve had enough.
DE: Thank you.
JA: I think you’ve had enough.

Collection

Citation

Dan Ellin, “Interview with Jan Albone,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 12, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39868.

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