Ella attended many schools in her early life as her father was a farm servant and had to travel around for work. She was at Aberlour school for four years and also Inchbroom (there were three in her class). She was also at Drainie School where Elsie Goodall was. Ella’s father got a job as a labourer building the new Bishopmill School and the family moved into Elgin. Ella turned 14 on 29th November 1941 and was at work before Christmas. Ella’s first job was for Maurice the Bakers on the High Street in Elgin. Ella got Elsie her job there because she was walking to work by herself and wanted company on the dark route through the park.
Maurice the Bakers was where the Walkers Shop is now on the High Street in Elgin. Ella remembers the oven being in a little room. She also remembers the bakers’ trough with their dough in it. (Elsie has more descriptions of working in the shop).
Her next job was at Smiths the Bakers (where Decora’s framing shop is now).
She remembers Elgin High Street had lots of shops on it including Boots the Chemists. It was a busy place. Every close had a name e.g. Picturehouse Close, where the cinema was. The houses down the closes were very small with a living room, a bedroom and a black grate. They were for the very poor. Her mother made “Clootie rags” which then made “Clootie mats”. her father made a frame and then stretched hessian sack across it. The rags where threaded through the weave and made a rug for the floor. Ella remembers it as something which collected dust.
Later in life she moved to Gloucestershire but came back every year to see her mother and her 7 sisters. She returned to Elgin when she retired and lives in the same place as Elsie, her childhood workplace companion and friend.
Memory contributed by Ella Simmons from Elgin
There are number of names for the Clootie Mats. They can be called “proggy mat”. There are also Clootie trees decorated with Clootie rags. A search for any of these keywords will bring many images of these traditional craft activities.