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since, and is now known as The Wee Shop. Anyway, Mrs Beith was to me every inch a lady; I always wanted to take over her job when I grew up. She wore spectacles which dangled from a gold chain when not in use, and beautiful silk blouses in pastel shades, which were fastened at the neck with a big brooch, and she would wear a rubber thimble on her finger as she flicked through bundles of ten shilling and one pound notes. There were two sides in Mrs Beith's shop; one side was the counter for comics, sweets and general groceries, on the other was a glass front separating the public from Mrs Beith, which was the post office side where she kept postal orders, books of stamps and an ink pad and rubber stamp. I remember the day my mother told us Mrs Beith had died; I was young, but I still felt we had lost a friend and a very important character in Prestonpans, and indeed we had.
We went to the baby clinic at the Mary Murray Institute with my elder sister and her first baby. Nurse Wardrope was in charge and she weighed the babies and dispensed orange joice and baby food very effectively. It was Nurse Wardrope who had assisted in my entrance into the world, and every time she saw me, she would remind me of it,
The doctor's surgery was another place where my personality would change. If I Had to attend with a minor illness, I would immediately change from a cheeky chatterbox of a girl to a quiet polite well-behaved child as soon as I stepped through the door. The surgery1 is now a hairdresser's opposite the Labour club, but for years, as the public of Prestonpans will know, it was the overcrowded place we all came to be healed by either Dr Brown or Dr Bolton. The surgery was hardly ever empty, sometimes it was so overcrowded there would be people waiting outside and sitting on the steps opposite, waiting for their names to be called. The procedure was to knock at the wooden door which covered a small serving hatch into the receptionist's office, and tell the receptionist your name and which doctor you wished to see, then if you were lucky you got a seat in the waiting room, if not you stood outside until your name was called. This job fell to the patient nearest the door, who then opened the door and called out the name of the next patient. Often there was silence except for the sniffles and coughs, but as each patient came in there would always be someone who would enquire as to what the person was suffering from and half of Prestonpans would know, so there were no secrets in the doctor's surgery. Today we have a spacious health centre, a far cry from the old days.
When I was older, twelve years old, and attending first year at Preston Lodge School, I applied for a job after school at Lowes the local market gardens. My friends 'and I would rush home after school to change into
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