Monday, May 19, 2008
Myra Elizabeth Rees (née Thomas), age 7, 1943 – 1 year
Myra Elizabeth Rees (née Thomas) was in Craig-y-nos as a seven year old for one year in 1943.
“I have no sad thoughts about being in Craig-y-nos.” - Myra
"I’m one of nine children,( my mother buried some) and after my older sister died of TB, she was 15, we were all tested.
I was the skinny one and I was so puny and ill-looking that they took me into hospital for observation. I was one year in Craig-y-nos, in 1943, then a year and a half in Llanybyther.
But I don’t know if I had TB…
My father took me on the bus to Craig-y-nos.
They searched my hair for nits then put me to bed and I remember crying for my mother. I was in a state … I didn’t understand what was happening to me.
Sister Morgan with an an adult young patient
Myra remembers little about her year in Craig-y-nos except “ there were no sad memories”.
“The only person I remember is Sister Morgan. She was a white-haired woman and she was a bit strict, but I didn’t dislike her.
Nobody was nasty. I can’t remember anybody being nasty.
“ There was a woman who cleaned the floors. She always used to throw tea leaves … you know the tea leaves that have been used for making tea? She used to scatter that over the floor.
(Many children have referred to this method of floor cleaning and it is clear that it fascinated them ).
Her father visited her regularly, though her mother only on two occasions for she was pregnant again and the journey to Craig-y-nos by public transport was long and involved several bus changes. Sometimes her father walked from their home in Banwen to Craig-y-nos.
“We had to go out every day, for walks, and you would be given a little white shoulder bag on your shoulder and they used to give you cheese and a tomato in this thing and we had to eat that while we were out.
I didn’t like cheese so I used to throw it away.
I think the food was allright but I was such a poor eater, a terrible eater.
Returning to Craig-y-nos many years she said:
I could smell the same smells of the trees.
I didn’t go there till I got married. My husband took me in the car.
We didn’t have a car when I was a child … it wasn’t a very easy place to get to … well, you had to catch so many buses, you know, to Craig-y-nos. It wasn’t very far really when you go by a car.
Today Myra lives in Glynneath.
“I was living in Banwen when I was little, on the Banwen Road, between Banwen and Glynneath.
When I started school they put me to sit by this girl who lived not far from me.
And her mother objected to me sitting next to her. I always remember that, but I sat with somebody else then. That was a little bit of a stigma.
On leaving school Myra went to work in a factory and has enjoyed good health all her life.
“I’ve been married now a long time. I’ve got two children and I’ve got four grandchildren and I’m a great-grandmother.
Her memories of her time in hospital are hazy:
I just remember that I knew I was in hospital, and do you know, like you get used to being there. And when they take you away from Craig-y-nos, it’s a bit of a wrench.
I think it was because I didn’t go home. I went to another place. I can’t explain my feelings but I didn’t feel glad or anything, you know. I cried when I got in there first … I remember crying for my mother.
When she did eventually come home again it did feel a bit strange.
“I still knew my sisters names and everything, but I hadn’t seen my youngest sister because she wasn’t born before I went in.
And I was talking a bit different
I was amongst different people and I picked up their way of talking.
I expect I was saying lots of things different.
We didn’t have no running water, no electric or anything. We had coal fires, that’s all, and my mother had a place to cook and things like that.
We bathed in a tin bath. We didn’t have none of the mod cons where we lived, and we used to walk two miles to school every day and walk home.
We lived on the outskirts of Banwen. I always had company, you see, with my brother and sisters. We’d go further on and there’d be some more children living nearer the school and we’d be catching up with them too, and we’d be walking with them as well.
Then, of course, the Labour Government came in then and we had taxis to go to school because we were living more than two miles from the school.
I’ve got cousins over the Rhondda … they used to come down in the summer to us because we were a lot of children.
My father’s sister, she had ten children, and some of them used to come down and stay with us for the summer holidays. My mother was from a farm.
My granny gave my mother and my father land to build a bungalow. That’s why we built a bungalow.
So, we had a lovely childhood."