Willow House: Flo

Posted on 08 November 2012 | Narrative

Flo has lived in York for her whole life, and as of the week of sharing her story, a grand total of ninety-nine years.

Willow House: Flo

She recalls with nostalgia her days at primary school – it seemed that everyone she knew went to the same one – and her working life at Rowntree’s factory. Flo worked at Rowntree’s from the age of fourteen – an age that to me seems shockingly young to start working, but she assures me this was standard – until the age of sixty-two, spanning forty-eight years with the company.

She describes with great fondness the ballroom dances that the company organised every Friday. For just one shilling six pence you could attend the dance in a hall with a live band and would be given a meal during the interval. Everyone would dance with everybody else, which captures in a phrase the friendly spirit of York she is so fond of.

During the war, everybody would band together and share their resources, fostering a real sense of community. It was virtually impossible to get by without relying on one’s neighbours. It was common, during air raids, to rush into whichever neighbourhood Andersen shelter was nearest, regardless of who owned it.

Coming from an age when many of us do not even know our neighbours’ names, Flo’s stories of York life during wartime offer a valuable lesson about comradeship and community during times of crisis and times of peace.

This story and the others featuring on our website this week (w/c 5th November 2012) have been gathered by volunteers at the University of York.