THE CLYDES - Dorothy Clyde
There were no supermarkets when we first came to Prestonpans
in 1947. Because my father, who was a stonemason, lost a lot of
work due to bad weather in winter where we lived in Peebles, my
mother bought a greengrocer-cum-sweetie shop in Prestonpans High
Street. The greengrocer part was O.K.. as far as I remember but
the sweetie part was a bit depleted! For the benefit of younger
readers. sweets were still rationed at 1 lb. per person per month
and. for whatever reason, there were only a few jars and lots
of empty spaces on the shelves.
For every bar of chocolate or 4 oz (110 grs.) of sweets, coupons
were cut from the customer's ration book and at the end of each
month my mother counted the coupons and sent them to the relevant
government department. She would add an extra 'nought' or two
and hope no-one in that department counted them. No-one ever did
apparently! Good job there were no computers then cither! So.
gradually, the stock increased and to supplement it. my mother
made treacle toffee and tablet cups. sherbet and little sticks
of liquorice to dab it with. and sticks of cinnamon. She also
made. on a regular basis, scones, doughnuts, cheese straws and
'clootie dumpling' which she sold by the slice. some to men going
to football matches!
Bananas at this time were also in very short supply and. when
they were delivered, they went 'under the counter', literally!
My mother then tried to sell them only to people with children.
Gala days were a big event in the year and we used to close the
shop (I worked with my mother for a few years) and take numerous
crates of small bottles of lemonade along with all the other kids'
favourites already mentioned, to the field and we worked like
Trojans removing bottle tops all day. At the end of the day I
couldn't have been more exhausted if I'd been running in every
race with the kids!
Another time of year that comes to mind was Halloween. My mother
used to save the large brass 3d. pieces in a cocoa tin and. on
31 October, we had a steady stream of guisers at our door. At
the end of the evening the tin was almost empty but we had enjoyed
the entertainment and it was my mother's way of giving a little
back to her customers.
The shop was hard work and long hours but my mother loved it and
when I speak to people who were once her customers they still
say how much they liked "Mrs Clyde's fudge"!
Just as my mother loved making things to sell so. also. did I-but
in a very different form. From as far back as I can remember,
my one abiding love was for drawing and painting. So. when A W
Buchan of Portobello advertised for pottery decorators I applied,
and that was the start of my years as a potter.
I didn't have much experience of the making process but I watched
how each step of making and firing was done and, with practice
(lots of it!) my pots became known as Pypers Wynd Pottery.
Mugs were the most popular but I also made cereal bowls, sugar
and cream sets. salt and pepper pots. butter dishes-cum-ash trays
and other bits and pieces which I sold to shops within a 30-40
mile radius. I had one large order to Fort William every year
for a number of years. It seemed to sell extremely well there
and then the ownership of the craft centre changed hands and the
new owner didn't want any. However, I soon replaced that order
with others for personalised mugs etc. from staff at schools,
hospitals and factories and also a fair amount of pottery found
its way to all corners of the world, no doubt to "ex-panners"!
Prestonpans has always been known for its pottery and there arc
still a lot of people in the area who have collected items (teapots
being a well-known one) or had them handed down. I did once collect
some red clay from the foundations when they were building Inchview
housing and made a few pots from it but it was difficult to clean
out the stones etc. so I made it into liquid clay with water.
put it through a sieve and used it as a glaze. Along with some
green colour it looked very similar to some of the glaze on plates
made in Prestonpans all these years ago.
However, change is inevitable and now my workshop has been converted
to a house. Digging the drains unearthed some interesting shards
of pottery. I wonder how long they have been buried under the
cobble stones and just what stories they could tell?
An example of Dorothy 's pottery showing a milk and sugar in
the familiar dark cream and brown, and a bowl.