Daisy Maynard. Windrush Cymru: Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History, 2019

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An oral history interview with Daisy Maynard in Cardiff, discussing her experience of growing up within a family which migrated from the Caribbean during the 1950s. Daisy Maynard was born in November 1925 in Basseterre, St Kitts. She came to Portmanmoor Road, Cardiff.
Interviewer: Dr Adeola Adellis
Interviewee: Daisy Maynard
Date: 30th September 2019

Part 1 of 2

Smile, Camera, Action!

[Full name] Daisy Repolta Maynard, I’m not name my Father’s, I’m in my Mothers name, but, my Father was Frederick, [my Mother’s name] Daisy Maynard the same, they give me name after her because we lookin almost the same like when I born, you know.  [Mother was a] Seamstress, she learn [taught] a lot of people, and put up Brides every week.  [Father was a] Policeman, Chief in Police [laughing] don’t take no notice of me here. [Born] I think 1925, in 2nd of November, I think so yes. [Place of birth] Bass (Basseterre) in St Kitts.
[Growing up in St Kitts]

Yes, alright, nice, different, we were livin near to the (bread)[sea] front and in the sea every day, or when we get holidays we pack, we bag and we go the place further down name Lyme Keel and we got all day, with the food and swim, and they had a place named Brinston Hill, when you go up there you see the whole world, and we used to go up there, we had some friends they joined the Guides with us, the adults in charge of this, we used to go up there sometimes for a couple of days you know.  When you up there you see the whole world, Brinston area, but I, it’s alright going up but I didn’t like coming back down, it’s steep and one side if you go over your gone, you know, yeah, [brothers and sisters] Yeah, I only think one brother, but my Mother had eight of us or something so, yeah, Kathleen, Maud, Linda, Eileen, Lolly, Kilty yeah I think it was that seven girls and one boy. I think I’m the third, Kathleen, Maud...either the third or the fourth I between there.

(Irish Dance School?) I down school there, they call ours The Poppy Show.  (Eilish Down School?), we went up to, before we go school I (?) you know like a private school for us, and then we go to (Eilish Down School and then from Eilish Down School we got to up to the big school, up by the park, I remember them, and our Church was further up to the park there, Moravian Church.  That’s where I used to sing in the choir and the Minister there, he used to love me [laughing] I was a character.
[As a child]

Singing and dancing, and then (?) tell my Mammy and my Daddy. I was a character for true.  My Grandmother used to say “What that big old man come calling here for you for, what that big old woman come calling you for, she and I used to telling them things, I don’t think they used to believe me, but just to laugh, yeah.  Yeah, yes, [Liked St Kitts] but here I am, I’m not in St Kitts, Cardiff, in Wales.

[First impressions]

I can’t remember [how old when I came over here], well come over to learn something like nursing or you know so, I started at home, but it’s not such a big thing to them, started nursing and I came over, that is alright.  I think was in the 30s minimum, [in your 30s] I think so, 19 something minimum[when I came over], [had Vic, and Ralph and Yvette already], so maybe more time, [had a family in St Kitts] Yeah, before I came over, yeah, [to continue nursing] yes and you know it’s England you come to see, but be truthful to come in (?) it wasn’t so grand, only now be truthful you say; [before I came] I thought it was very high posh and thing.  I mean it’s posh but when you come you meet people on the street begging, when they...you know you’ll see them on the street begging you and all that, but be truthful when I come I went straight, I came to (?) develop more nursing, but at the time I couldn’t get in and it had a place called Super Oil Seals, when you go in there, there’s only coloured people in there, cos it was on a job, they done….. moulding, and the ladies enter the spring in, and be truthful, when I went there the lady she was from Ireland or somebody, Mrs Lamb, she used to say to me “Mrs Maynard, if you have any friends, bring them, I’ll give them a job. 
So she always come talking to me, so they always want to know what she saying, by just that she must have just took to me, you know.

Well I’m telling you truth, I can’t go against them, and I’m not going, because I have no….anywhere I am they always stick to me, so I can’t say no ones against, you know.  Well, it’s some people make them against them innnit, the way they act.  Right now in here, they say to me right here now, yeah.  [When I came over in my 30s] I had Rita and Ralph and a girl, I had them home, [left them at home] I came with friends. Well they was with my parents then so you know I thought they was well cared for, you know; but be truthful when I came here, we was taken back [aback] honest to God, you know used to see them in the street, begging.
[The journey]

I took a plane to Barbados, but when we get off the plane we didn’t see nowhere because, they just put us in the truck, you know we call them a truck, straight to the jetty and we get on the boat, and you know the boat, half way there, half way this, but it was alright, so we used to do, if you sleep on the bed tonight, we let somebody else, for it was so packed you know, we were so packed, Oh, I never seen everywhere you go, they pick up the people, so the ship was so packed you sleep tonight here and we you know, and then somebody else used to do, taking turns, yeah. It was packed. No [I don’t remember the name of the ship]. 
[On arrival]

I was surprised, you know, when we got here first, it’s a lot, hell of  a lot, to…...Spain [first], yeah, but we didn’t stop, just get off an all…..but I know is Barcelona, they said “BARCELONA KIA KIA KIA” they was shouting, I’ll always remember that, “AKIA, KIA, KIA” she was telling us that is Barcelona and then we come... It’s a hell of a lot to be truthful.  [My first job] was at Super Oil Seals, well I can’t say how long [I was there], then I went to a place they call Hamadryad Hospital [Butetown, Cardiff], take it from there, start work my way up, you know. [Super Oil Seals in Wales] Yes, Yes, up Western Avenue, a factory.  Yes, [I came straight to Wales. Well when I come to Wales.

I come to somebody in Wales, me and my friend came to she Uncle, he was here before, so, we came straight to here, went to Portmanmoor Road,  I remember that, the first place we went; and Shirley Bassey you know, we was friends, and they used to say to me, her Mother was white and her Father was a tall black man, coloured like a ….and they used to tell me “Don’t go nowhere with her”, she was a …...they used to tell me she was a girl of her veil [laughing] they used to say “Don’t go nowhere with her”, but you know, none of (?) since you get in touch, you know by then they was saying, because she was a terror [laughing]. One night we were by the thing and she said to…..we was talking and I was talking to her she said
“Who the hell are you?” and when she says that, she had to leave the bloody place, they say you mean that young girl when she come here we had to tell her “Don’t go nowhere with you” and they start on us, she had to left the place, so sometimes your mind….[laughing] she was a devil of a girl, you see.  Well I mean I was young then but still you wanted some company, you know.

Well I tell you the truth I never met nobody that said “Well, we don’t want you here”, or that, anywhere I work, they seem, even in here now, in here, they treat me sometime better than the old people.
[Going back]

Yes, Hamadryad nursing, and from Hamadryad, I think, I went up the Heath (the open Las?), I worked up there and from there you know just continue, Ely Hospital [Lansdowne]. Where here I am now, in the homes? Pont canna [Homes] that is where? Oh, yes Llandaff Rd yeah, by the park, innit.

No, I’m telling you the truth, if I tell you so, I be telling lies on them, I never have a trouble with none of them, even the bus driver then, they used to fool me when they see me coming, the driver and I used to say “I tell me Mammy and me Daddy” they just want to hear me say it, I never have no trouble with none of them and I’m not going to tell no lies, I’m here now living here and I don’t have no trouble, right. I don’t have no trouble, I’m one of the old and they (?) me.!!br0ken!!If they see me talking they say don’t trouble Daisy she up the pole, if I not talking they say “Don’t trouble her, she up the pole”, if I see anything I start you see, if they’re telling this one, “sit down”, I’ll say “leave her alone, leave her she can’t help it” you know, some of them they try to push them down and so and so.  [don’t like to see bad treatment] No, no, no not at all, you asked to come here, I mean some
of them, they’re a bit…you know, they can’t help it. I mean they born like that, we born, everybody have a born difference.
[Being young in Cardiff]

Yeah, they used to have a dance down the docks called Frenchie, and I used to go now and again, and I used to say “Come on Dais do the Boogie Woogie” [laughs] it’s the Boogie Woogie, Oh God have mercy. [Singing] let’s do the Boogie Woogie, Oh, that’s life [loved to dance], yeah and singing, yes singing, I don’t think so [join a choir] always forget to go to church, but if I go anywhere you know they said me “come sing”.

Yes, as I tell you I don’t have no problem, if I tell you I had a problem, I be telling lies, even now I’m in here, no problems with them, I have no problems, and if I tell you I have problems I be telling lies on them. Always had a lot of friends, even when you were living in Ely, used to go to the docks and do social things]. Yes, yes, lots of friends. Well I don’t have much time hanging around cos I always working, but you always meet them on the street you know, I mean some used to be begging or so you know, but still it’s nothing to do with me.  [Working] Well that’s I come for, yeah. Only Victor, [came to join her] only Victor, he was the oldest, well happy [I felt happy], I don’t think he even think did know me, no can’t remember [how old Victor was when she left St Kitts], but was three of them, Victor, Ralph and Yvette, can’t remember, but my Grandmother was around then, you know well the family was around there and I think his Father was still there, innit; his Father died since, he come over here.  I used to send parcel, (bargains?) but them things was cheap, things was really cheap here then times, yes I used to send things. Really I look after them cos what I came for you know, things was cheap then, and people were helpful, they was really helpful, but no now.

Yeah, quite a lot, quite a lot of people changed, well what I say, they see you now and because you more (?) up  than them, they’ll say “Come here, come for all job and money?”) (?) we won’t come here but I say they had to send for us, because you all wouldn’t work, getting a couple of bob so they think that was the way we come down too, they say “Oh you come here take your small island, yeah, your small island your born in country.
Well they say “your small island, your born in country”. I say “well we come here because you won’t work and that’s why” you know is that why they brought us here you know, they let us see for the Windward [Windrush].  They get their couple bobs and when they see you passing they say “Give me a penny” but if you give em the penny they ain’t gonna buy bread, it’s either fag or they wanted to drink. You can laugh though.

It is, it’s still innit? [St Kitts, British Colony] [No], No? Oh!
[Came on a British Passport] Yes, Yes [I felt British], yes I’m a British, I’m (?) [feel Kittitian] yes, I’m here and they make me comfortable and happy so I’m here, but I still leave from St Kitts, both of them the same [British, Kittitian].  I went back once innit, [more than once] well it’s the same to me because my...I have a lot of families there and friends still around you know.

No never retire, how long I retire Kat? [not long, Daisy used to work in her 70s, doing sleep ins in supported housing]. Yeah, yeah, where is this? A home is it? [yes, an old peoples home] I’m not bloody old [laughs]. [Retired from the Hospital, gave her a clock] Oh the clock yeah, [A lot of the patients, went into independent living in the community] independent yes, I remember where I used to go in one and left a home with some kids, a kind home, I work night, and when I going home they used to run out the place “Come back Dais, come back Dais, come back” my heart used to go out for them you know, and some of the staff used to get annoyed because they do this, I say “well they calling me”, they call me back because they know….I you know.  I know they upset you, but I mean they are kids and they want lovin you know.  Some of them [staff] used to say “go for me, go for me” I used to say (?) They didn’t like me but I didn’t care, some of the staff, I used to tell them, leave them alone [residents].  They want lovin you know.  Especially when I finish, if I do nights and I finish in the morning, I going and they say “Come back dais, come back Dais”, honest it always come into me heart you know, some of the staff say “What the hell is this.” because they know that I love… I know they’re wrong but you can’t just say “Go on from me, you’re wrong” the kids their here for lovin innit.  You wouldn’t like to have kids and other people treat them like that, it’s bad, [supported housing for people with learning disabilities]. In the homes.
[95 years old]

[laughs] don’t tell me! Me never feels that old, [I feel ] alright. You tell me that, me think me just 50 odd, [laughs]. Oh! never mind.
A lot [of changes in Britain] yes a lot, well be truthful I’m not speaking bad about them, well some might be I do say “you come take all the job” or something so.  But otherwise I’m telling you the truth, know where I work, I was happy, even though they might say it right in front of me face and something else behind me back, they make me feel alright OK, I can’t tell no lies on them, do it behind me back, they behind me back, but in front me face they make me happy.

How to live? I have to tell them to live a good life, if anybody on the street and you seen them on the ground, try to help them up.  When you keep your head up and see anyone, “Good morning”, “Good afternoon, Good Night” if anybody see you on the road and you getting into trouble and they tell you get home, get your way back home.  Do not stop with bad company's, for my days was good and bad, and when I say good and bad, was good, but when I said bad, not bad like now.  Not bad like now, cos if when I was growing up and I see you coming up the road, I run the hell back.

Yeah [laughs]when the snow come down, we couldn’t go to work, we had to share….we had to stay, we couldn’t come out, so we had to stay in and one time I had to go home, because there wasn’t nobody around to get something in the shop and I fell, Oh my God! Jesus guys, I coming back home [laughs] but then I get accustomed to it, you know, the snowman it come down. I had to go and get a pair of boots, to put on, in town they had C & A, and I’ll always remember it was a brown colour, and you get your coat on, I think I still have the old coat somewhere around here, unless they (?) it.  Otherwise you get accustomed to it.

Yes, you mean from home that I brought here, a chain, that was my Mothers, nice chain too, it had Italian, my earrings, you know clothes yes, but I always remember my chain, it was my Mothers Italian, nice chain, but I don’t know if I will see it again, and I always wear earrings, but you know moving from different places, you…..
[Used to cook a lot, rice and peas and johnny cakes] I had a machine innit? I had a machine, I think, I used to sew, I used to get a lot of jobs, when I were working in the factory, they made shirts, God it was cheaper, it was cheaper to make them for them when they go to buy them. Yeah, well, not me alone was about three of us could sew [Mother taught her], she was a big seamstress.  When you see holiday time, your Mother can’t sleep and she’ll go and have a nap and get up, there’s me and the sister before me could sew, three of us could sew.

Yeah, used to get jobs, a lot of jobs, especially when I was in the factory, it used to be cheaper for me to make them, they say than buy them. I used to make a lot, brassiere, panties, I don’t do it now, I don’t even know where machine is, since I moved.  [Did a lot of cooking] Yeah, West Indies food, rice and salt fish [laughs] dumplings, rice and peas, beans. I haven’t been on the market for along time you know.  I used to get a thing for to make sauce [pig feet], they never used to know what to do with them, I used to show them, when I went to in the market, I can let them know [laughing] they used to say to me “What you do with them” I used to tell them, how I cook them and one time, a fella down in the market, where I used to go there, they say well “Here you are, nice two, cook it for us and bring them in” (?) They never could eat them. Oh God! [People in this county don’t eat pigs feet], well they try them and they want to know (the udder with them?).  Good things they throw away now you know.

Well when I come back, you’ll know, so when I cook some I take it down and show them and they say “Oh my God!”

Part 2 of 2 [no vision, audio only]

[Involved with Masquerade in St Kitts as a seamstress]

Yes, clown suit, you know they dressed up, make it all and then they bells on clown suit masquerade, short things we make them, and different things we used to do for them you know, (a play?) and they used to have nurses, well we call them nurses and thing, we used to make the clothes for them, with pinafore and so on, and they used to have batches you know women and men, women is the nurses and the men is thing with their gun over their shoulder, and I always used to remember this song they used to sing:-
“Mother when you leave us home”
“To this world we must go”…..and then they said
“March done”
[Singing] “Mother when you leave us all”
                   “To this world, to this world”
                   “Mother when you leave us all”
                “To this world must go”
                “March time”
I remember one time I was playing out by us and I followed them, and I couldn’t come back, we have a place near Old Road, there it’s just the sea and a narrow road to go, you know and I couldn’t come back because, I went down with the crowd, but to come back... and the Police they hold me up in the Police Station, well they didn’t know me you know, and they wouldn’t let the Police (?) until they come for me. Oh, God I can’t forget that I tell you, they say “What you doing down here?” I run away with them, but I couldn’t come back on my own, got to come back, I couldn’t come back on my own, because it’s a good way out of the town, you know, and you pass the very part Old Road place, it’s a narrow road and the sea water and mountains, till you get down in the town, and when they catch me the Police, they hold me and put me in the Police Station.  They see me run away see. I always remember that. Yes masquerade, I don’t know if I still have it home still. Ribbons and the Bull. I used to [like carnival] yeah I did.
[Carnival in UK]

Yes, well it my children and me and a friend of mine used to start up, otherwise it was dull.  We start up things you know, that music we sing a song you know.  They used to call me the singer, they used to say the singer coming in for the singing sometime, I didn’t know what I was singing, but I’m singing, and the bus driver, they see me coming they turn off, but they only teasing me see, they used to tease me.
Yeah always singing, going annoying if you don’t get out you know.  But sometimes I sing because they like to ask questions you know, too much questions when they hear me sing, they were listening to singing, then they  question.  [Like to sing] anything about, any song, you know...’Somewhere over the rainbow’ [singing]
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
There’s a land that I love there
Once in a lullaby
and please release me, I like, that was Tom Jones, and the song that used to go, ‘You better watch out’ that’s Christmas song, you know that
You better look out
Santa Clause is coming to town
dai da dai
I really like that one too.  Yeah, I really like singing, I used to sing all the time.  They used to say the singer coming now, sometime I wasn’t singing, I was making it up [laughs] but it because they ask me questions you know so, I sing, never mind.
[Making costumes for people with disabilities in the hospital]

Yeah, just for them to have a little you know, well to be truthful, when me come here, it was so gay, when I say gay, it was more quiet at Christmas and what, and then we start to get more quiet, [Carnival is Christmas in St Kitts].
One or two of us [from St Kitts working in the hospital] I start out in Workwood Hospital, Hamadryad, Ely Hospital and then the Heath, the Heath is the last Hospital they opened.  Oh I remember I never seen two men tall so in my life, they was from British Guyana, and then they came to the hospital, they call me to tell then about, to explain about the works, what we done there in the hospital, tall Oh I never seen two.….and the two of them tall alike, they was from British Guyana, they said, but they was around looking to know what we all doing each hospital.
Yeah, it was Workwood Hospital, Hamadryad Infirmary and the Heath was the last hospital I worked.
You’re welcome.  I’m telling the good story, it’s true mind.