The contributor's schooldays and the persecution she experie...
Date 12 September 1976
Track ID 39610
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Track Information

Original Track ID

SA1976.150.A4; SA1976.150.B1

Original Tape ID

SA1976.150

Summary

The contributor's schooldays and the persecution she experienced as a traveller child.

The contributor's family travelled mostly in Perthshire, living in farmers' huts in winter. When she was seven, the family moved to Brechin and got a house for the winter. Her father had never fully recovered from the effects of mustard gas during the war. He died when the contributor was fifteen. Another reason for taking a house each winter was that children had to have 200 attendances at school each year. The contributor's mother mistakenly told the teacher that she was eight when she was only seven, and the teacher used to keep her back at night to help her catch up, not knowing that she had to walk five miles home in the dark. There was a special class for traveller children at Andover School in Brechin, but the contributor and her sister were put in the ordinary class. She describes how she felt when parents complained about their children having to sit next to her.

The contributor won a bursary to Brechin High School. She went for less than a year, as the other girls made her life a misery. They taunted her with: "Tinkie, tinkie, torn rags, / Go tae the well an wash yer rags." She used to hide, and smoke her cutty [short] pipe. As a result of this experience, she avoided the country hantle [crowd] even as an adult. She ran out of school after an incident: a girl planted ten shillings in her pocket and claimed it had been stolen. This girl was killed by a car the same night, and the contributor blamed herself for cursing her. The contributor never went back to school. Sometimes she went with her father and hid under grass cuttings in a trailer on the way back. Once, her mother pushed her past the school hidden in a pram.

Item Notes

The examination would have been the 11-plus, taken at the end of primary school to determine which secondary school children should go to.

Item Subject/Person

Whyte, Betsy [Whyte, Bessie]

Language

Scots

Genre

Information

Collection

SoSS