Phyllis Maple : Work and Marriage
Rita L. Jacob
Having left school at fourteen, Phyllis went to work in the kitchen on Salisbury station; in 1935 meeting Reginald Maple who worked there as a trolley boy. Her account of Reginald’s birth in Rollestone Street is very amusing; at that time, there being a number of superstitions surrounding pregnancies and confinements.
‘They always thought that he’d be born with a cow’s head [chuckling] an’ horn because a cow run in the house just before he was born … It got loose because they used to come up from where they’d been sold they be in like auctioned and in Brown Street’
When they started courting, however, Phyllis left the station as the management disapproved of relationships between staff, becoming a cook housekeeper to John Wright the poulterer before working as a shop assistant in Woolworths.
‘I left, there, railway station, because the manager didn’t like, his staff going together you know boys and girls meeting so I left there so that my husband wouldn’t get posted away ‘cause he used to do journeys down to different places and taking things down on the trains, but, so I went and lived in n’ of course it gave me a chance to save a little bit more money up towards our eventual home and marriage’
Phyllis and Reginald courted for two and a half years; walking for miles around Salisbury ‘walking n ’talking hand n’ hand’. They celebrated their engagement in 1938 with a small family party but did not marry in 1939 as intended; partly because a bungalow that they wanted had been sold:
‘Forder was building these houses but because we hadn’t put the deposit down he thought we’d lost interest in it and he sold our bungalow so we didn’t get married in thirty nine’ an’ wait[ed] two more years after that but that was what we planned we used to go over fer a walk an’ see it being built n’ all the rest of it an’ then we didn’t get it in the end’’
Instead the wedding took place at St. Martin’s Church on 8 October 1941; a reception then being held at St. Martin’s Club at the top of Milford Street. Shipsey’s were responsible for the catering but the cake was either made by Phyllis’s mother or Foster’s Bakery, rations being saved for this:
‘I don’t know whether she did make my cake or not, I think shegave up her rations to Fosters the baker it was then and she gave her fruit sugar rations because this was early in the war forty one and they made the cake and we were able to have it iced at that time But when my sister had her [wedding]she had a cardboard cut out over the top of ‘er cake n’ they just had the fruit cake underneath’
Phyllis was also able to have a wedding dress; this being purchased at a shop in Catherine Street:
‘We ‘ad to give up coupons in those things you either bought material with yur coupons or you did [as] I did … I bought it in a wedding dress shop in Catherine Street, and it was um, just plain with like a little sort of little bolero over the top but it was white satin and then just flared out a bit at the bottom it was not very fancy … an’ I still have it’
Reginald wore his naval uniform as he was now a stoker on a battleship; a white bow replacing the usual black one at the front of his collar. Both he and Phyllis knew that he could have been recalled to his ship at any time but, fortunately, this did not happen, the wedding and reception taking place as planned. Despite two family tragedies, their marriage was to be a long and happy one, lasting over fifty years.