Saturday, April 12, 2008
Marian Thomas (nee John) teenager, 1950s
Marian Thomas (nee John), age 15, (1953-55 ) at the lake with a friend feeding the swans
“ On the whole I have happy memories .” -Marian
”Why has Mr Williams got tears in his eyes?” Marian remembers thinking as Mr Williams, the ambulance driver, and neighbour, drove her to Craig-y-nos.
But he knew I was going to be in for a very long time.”
He was right. Marian, 15 years of age and at grammar school would be there for two years.
“It was a long, long journey up the Swansea valley from Morriston. Then I saw Craig-y-nos and I thought I'd gone to prison. I was a bit fearful."
She was put in Ward 2.
“I asked the girl in the next bed to me how long she had been in and she said “six years.”
I sobbed and sobbed at nights for months.
The girl in the next bed had to lie flat on her back and she couldn't even raise her head to talk to me. The bed was up on blocks.
“There was a time when it seemed we we had nothing but potatoes and gravy.
“We kept asking where’s the meat?’
“Auntie Maggie felt sorry for us and brought us in some chips one day and would you believe it we had chips for supper that night!”
I had not been in Ward 2 long before they talked about Adelina Patti appearing at a special time in the night. Well, one evening the piano started playing. It scared me stiff. We think someone had put Sister Morgan cat on it. It used to come into the ward from time to time. Nobody ever owned up. But it frightened me.”
Eventually Marian was moved into the Six-Bedder:
“ After that I didn't look back.”
Once they held a séance in the Six-Bedder but they frightened themselves so much that they never did it again.
(Marian is surprised to learn that ghost tours operate in the castle and séances still take place in the Six-Bedder, though people now pay to be frightened - whereas they got frightened for free.)
Marian in the snow.
Apart from feeling very cold with the only heating being hot water bottles, she says:
“ On the whole I have happy memories of the place.”
Marian took her 6 O Levels while she was there but the school authorities did not recognize it cause they claimed it had not been properly invigilated.
“It was terrible. I was so disappointed. All my books and satchel were taken away to be decontaminated but I never saw them again.
I was told I would have them when I went home. My father tried to get them but we never did manage it.
It was not to be. You just got to concentrate on getting better and get on with life.”
Marian learning to walk again
Marian went into nursing, working as an auxiliary for more than twenty years.
“I think having had the experience of Craig-y-nos makes you into a more caring person.
Now married with one son and grandson, she realises, looking back that there was:” no psychological or emotional support for the children.”
On leaving Craig-y-nos she remembers crying in the car on the way home and her father smiling and asking her if she wanted to go back but no she didn't want to go back she just felt sad that she was all leaving all her friends behind.
Home was a nice detached house and she had her own bedroom with a big bay window.
“It was a lovely room yet it felt so small after the castle.”