The Grantidote and Calderglen High School English Department worked together to discuss the importance of women’s stories and experiences and how both are so often overlooked when we consider the fact and fiction-based storytelling surrounding our lives. This forward-thinking school’s English department runs a yearly project for second years, asking pupils to research and write-up family history around World War I and teachers had observed the stories coming back were never about women. So, to address the missing archive and representation, Calderglen High’s Herstory Project was bravely born.
Mary’s story is expertly told here by her grandson, Craig.
This is the story of my gran, Mary Kid Newton. I chose my Gran for the Herstory Project because she is the closest relative I have that was born in war times and the woman I have the most information on in my family.
In 2005, near the time of my first birthday, my gran passed out at approximately 9am. We know this because her watch was frozen at that time after being broken on a table she fell on. My auntie was trying to call her all day, but my gran wasn’t answering. Upon hearing this my dad assumed my gran was at the bingo but my auntie insisted that my dad went to check. By the time my dad arrived at my grans’ my Uncle John was already there and said he could see my gran unconscious on the floor of her living room. My dad and uncle broke down the door and took Gran to the hospital and, sadly, she passed away five days later, she’d had a massive stroke and been in a coma since my dad and uncle found her.
My gran was born in a small village called Lochgilphead on Scotland’s west coast and grew up there with her mum, dad, four brothers and one sister. She went to Lochgilphead Primary School and then to West Argyll Secondary School when she got older.
While my gran was growing up during the war she heard about Italian prisoners who had escaped the prisoner of war camp near her area but apparently they later handed themselves in because they were being eaten alive by midges! My gran and her family would go to Aberdeen for holidays, visiting her cousins and other members of the family.
My gran left school at sixteen and quickly started working in the telephone exchange centre as an operator. My gran and grandpa met through work one day when my grandpa was fitting telegraph poles in Argyll, he had to check if the poles worked by asking operators.
My gran had her first child at thirty-five-years-old then proceeded to have two more over the course of the next three years (my dad being the final child).
In her last few years my gran really liked bingo, visiting her four grandchildren and her own kids, watching snooker and visiting and talking to family in Aberdeen, Livingston and Canada. After retiring, my gran moved to Dowanhill, Glasgow, but then right before her death she moved to Burnside, near Cambuslang.
My gran has impacted my family by sharing her views with my father and him then sharing them with me. I feel as if I know her so much more than I did before I wrote this essay and that makes me feel more attached to her through learning about her experiences.