Monday, May 12, 2008

Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins), 1950-53

Coronation Year - balcony girls with some of the decorations ( 1953). (Back) Mari Jenkins (front row from left) unknown, Florence, Ann, unknown

Mari went into Craig-y-nos as a nine year old.

" I often think there wasn't a great deal wrong with me but I think a lot of it was to do with the fact that my sister was there.

Sister Outram with Llywella Jenkins

My sister Llywella was sent home and she was in bed on blocks. She had injections every day. She was told she could never have a baby because she wasn't well enough and that she would have to rest every afternoon.
They did worry about other children in the family. I think I was in there as a precaution.

I only remember having one injection with Dr Huppert and it frightened the life out of me. It was one where they stuck a needle in your side. It was quite a big long thick needle and I remember it was when I was in the bed by the piano. I had to lay on my side. I actually saw this big needle coming and I thought 'oh my god'. I don't remember any pain or anything after. I got the distinct impression they were draining something.

I remember having something out of a bottle rather than tablets and I don't like taking medicine now.

"I remember one night seeing someone sitting at the piano with a white sheet over them. I don't know for a fact it was someone because everybody denied it had been them. I was young and didn't think about ghosts. I had heard about ghosts but we did play tricks on each other and I am presuming that was one of them. I could be wrong because nobody ever actually owned up."

I had a doll in there and I've still got it. I remember they checked your parcels.

Alfie Repado, the gardener with Mari and Myfawny boating on the lake. This was all strictly forbidden.

Fun and games
We had a lot of fun in there. I remember midnight feasts on the roof. I spent more time on a 'couple of hours' so I was able to go out some part of the day. I was quite naughty. I would skip around in the night.

Mari on the roof of Craig-y-nost Castle - strictly forbidden!

"Only remember the good bits"
I think when you're young you do forget. It's like having a baby. You do only remember the good bits. I think that must happen with other parts of your life as well. I think we have blocked out parts of it.

I don't remember ever having gastric lavages. I could have blocked it out because it wasn't nice.

I don't remember many bad memories. I just remember the fun we had. Doing silly things like going up on the roof, going to the lake when it was out of bounds and guiding out in the woods.

Christmas 1951 in Craig-y-nos

I don't remember much about Christmas, birthday or visitors but I know I had visitors because I've got photographs of visitors there. I do remember attending concerts and films in the theatre and I'm sure we probably went there for Christmas as well. I had a feeling we used to go every Monday.

Regime at home

I remember at home we all had our own cutlery, our own cups, our own towels. It was a bit of a regime.

I am paranoid about the bed being untidy. I still make beds with hospital corners.

I do open the window every day. I was in hospital recently and it was very hot. The window would only open about 4 inches, 'in case people throw themselves out'. I was telling the doctors and nurses I was a child on a veranda – and people didn't throw themselves out.

Hospital regime
Yes, it was a harsh regime, but it was normal because that was the way they treated patients then. They told you what to do.

The one thing I remember about the floors was that they used to come round every day and throw tea leaves over them and the tea leaves used to pick up all the dust.

Mari with Ann in the background

There was no play room or day room – you just played in the ward.

If you weren't on the veranda you went to visit people out there and you spent your time either in bed or talking to your next-door neighbours.

Matron Knox-Thomas receiving a gift ( we think it is the piano) from Friends of Craig-y-nos in 1952. Mari is in the front row second from the end, right-hand side

I don't remember being cold. I do remember having the tarpaulins and they were sort of tied above your head when it was wet or snowing or whatever.

The only meal I can remember was on a Wednesday when we had rabbit and mousse which I hated and still do.

If you were up you would eat your meals around the big table in the centre of the ward.

I don't remember any form of heating.

Balcony girls 1953. (from left to right - back row)Florence, Maair and Ann. (front row)Myfwany, unknown, unknown.
It was the other patients who helped you to settle. That's why you got so close to them because obviously they were the ones you were in contact with daily. They told you what was going on.

Modern treatment of TB
When I had TB recently, they didn't tell you anything. Just told me to take these tablets every day. They don't tell you not to mix with people. You're never told to rest. In a way I would prefer it if they told you. It goes against everything we were told when we had it originally.

Life after Craig-y-nos
I missed my 11plus and when I came home they wouldn't let me go back to school till I was 14. I went back to school for a whole year before I finished school at 15. I didn't have much education really."

"I found going back home a problem. I found it all rather small. I was used to being in a big ward. My mother said I used to smell all the food.

Mari on the stag

I think the experience of Craig-y-nos does have a long lasting effect. I realise more so now because I have talked about it. I realise now I am paranoid about the bed, I know I'm fussy beyond and I'm still very wary of smells.

I also think that was the reason for me choosing to work in a big shop.

I do think it's only now I realise the effect when you start to think about it. We still have our own cups and saucers. Our cutlery was washed separately. I think my mother must have been told to do that."

Mari worked in a store in Port Talbot and then moved to London to work in Bourne and Hollingsworth:
"I always wanted to work for a big store." ( When I moved to London I stayed in the same hostel as Mari - Ann)

Mari and Ann on the balcony in Craig-y-nos and last year on the balcony of Ann's home in Scotland

Mari is married with one son. After her divorce she returned to Wales and lives in the same street where she was brought up. As a single parent she had to find a way of earning a living and trained as a nursery nurse. She has since re-married.

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