Film: 299

Education | 1940 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Young teenage school girls get practical lessons about how to be a housewife - shot in Glasgow in 1947. Shot in South Glasgow around the Shawlands Academy. Very good footage of the traditional training of girls to be housewives in 1947 plus some street scenes around Shawlands including very good exteriors and interiors of a corner shop grocer's.
Caption: Young Housewide and music (which stops and starts briefly).
Caption - with crew names.
Caption thanks the staff and pupils of Shawlands academy.

We see a glazed door with net curtains and on the door is the sign "housewifery". The door opens and a group of young girls run in - they are about thirteen or fourteen years old and are laughing and chatting - they wear pinafores over their school uniforms - a whole class of girls files through - lively and bubbly followed by a female teacher in an apron. The girls gather at a table at the front of the classroom - on the table is a basin and a pot - a blackboard stands on an easel - we see a kettle on the stone to the right. The teacher comes to the front and the girls quieten down and listen attentively - commentary about teaching homemaking in school: a new approach. The teacher who is quite elderly looking wears her grey hair in old fashioned braids; she is addressing the class and pointing to the blackboard which seems to contain a timetable for housework.

The girls listen attentively as the teacher gives out work cards; the girls mobilize. We see a close up of one of the listening girls as commentary tells us that housewifery is being taught in well equipped flats - the girl's hair is in pigtails tied by large ribbons. We see the cards containing assignements being handed out in close up. Another girl looks at the card she has been given. More cards are handed out to the remaining girls. The teacher hands out the last few cards in a kindly manner. The teacher holds one remaining card. She moves to the net curtained window and lifts up the curtain to look out.

We see into the playground where one, late figure is running to join the class carrying a coat. The teacher is seen through the window, watching. Now we see the fourteen year old latecomer running towards us in the yard. She runs urgently along an external arcade; the sun is shining brightly and the girl is wearing a pinafore like the other girls - (whimsical music plays). We see the girl entering the classroom/flat which has a vase of flowers on a table in the hall and a picture on the wall, the girl quickly puts her coat on the hall chair and runs to join her classmates - her hairstyle is reminiscent of wartime, the 1940s.

We see the teacher's hands impatiently tapping the assignment cards as the girls runs in apologetically (commentary introduces Jean, who is late). A shot of teacher's face, telling Jean off. Back to Jean who appears sorry, but takes her card which gives her a housewifely task to accompalish this afternoon - she smiles broadly as she reads. Now we see the black board with the assignments written up in lovely handwriting - the assignments comprise: preparing breakfast, preparing for a visitor who is coming for tea, going shopping, spring cleaning a large bedroom and preparing a spare bedroom for a visitor.

We see a close up of a bowl which is picked up by a girl who carries it to the table and puts it down; then she moves to the sink and washes her hands. Jean (for it is she), wipes her hands on a roll of towel- we see a coffee pot in the foreground - then Jean rolls up her sleeves and moves over to the bowl. She studies the assignment card and sees she must make a tart so she moves over to the oven and switches it on - it is an old model cooker with large knobs and electric hotplates - Jean moves about making sure she has all the ingredients and starts measuring out tablespoons of flour into a bowl at the table. A closer shot of the flour being spooned. She continues preparing the tart by rubbing fat into the flour. We see her hands rubbing in the fat. We see her face. Now she adds water to the mixture and her teacher approaches from the side. A smiling teacher and a smiling Jean, as Jean continues to mix. The teacher picks up the card and they consider it together. A closer shot of the teacher talking to Jean. Jean nods and gets on with things as the teacher leaves. We see Jean mixing the dough in the bowl in front of the table. We look up at Jean's face as she mixes. Jeans cleans away a few items from the table ready to roll the pastry. We see Jean's hands now, rolling the pastry with a wooden rolling pin. Now we see Jean in a wider shot as the pastry is rolled out - various kitchen utensils and bowls are on the table; the commentary explains that housewifery instruction like this starts at the age of twelve and by the time the girls leave school they have a solid knowldege of home management - Jean lifts the pastry onto a baking tray as another pupil walks behind her - Jean crimps the pastry around the edges. A close shot of Jean's hand crimping the pastry and commentary tells is the object of these lessons is to make the girls into good housewives. Jean is seen spooning jam from a large bowl into the centre of her pastry ring; she spreads it out. Now we see some remaining pastry on the table being cut into strips by Jean. Jean's face concentrates. We see the jam tart as Jean adds twisted strips of pastry into a lattice on top of the jam tart (whimsical music). Another pupil comes over and joins Jean and takes a look at the tart - then moves off - Jean takes her tart to the oven and puts it in. From inside the oven we see the tart being slid in.

At a netted window Jean fills a jog with water from a tap - we are told Jean is fifteen years old and has been training in the flat for three years now - she puts an arrangement of flowers and foliage into the jug and carries it off. In a corridor we see two other girls as Jean appears through a side door carrying the floral display - to the left is an old iorn radiator - in the background another girl is making a bed in the bedroom. Jean brings her flowers into the dining room and places it on a sideboard which has a 1940s style mirror hanging on the wall above it. Jean takes a tablecloth from the sideboard and spreads it on the dining table. We see a tea set on a tray next to Jean's flowers - she crosses and takes it. Jean lays the table with crockery, for tea.

Another girl enters with scones. The girl places the scones on the sideboard. Back to the table and the second girls indicates to Jean that she has brought in some scones. We see Jean's face as she continues laying the table. The table, laid with cups, saucers, plates and tiny vase of flowers and cutlery. Jean, in close up, ponders her arrangement, nods and is satisfied.
We see her put the tray on the sideboard and leave the room. She comes into the hall, picks up a dustpan and brush and decides to tidy the hall. We see the front door of the flat as she opens it and sweeps the doorstpe - we are told sweeping is nto her favourite job. Back in the hall, she closes the door as another girl hurries through carrying a tray - Jean sweeps the hall floor. Another angle of Jean sweeping the hall carefully as teacher appears in the background and watches; she approaches. Jean is sweeping the hall as the teacher stands watching her action. We see Jean look up questioningly as if asking for approval. The teacher is seen looking down at her smiling. Jean looks up, unsure. The teacher moves though the hall as Jean picks up the rung to sweep underneath.

Am electric kettle is boiling - a metal kettle of wartime design - lots of steam emitted. We see hands unplug the kettle and remove it. We are in a classroom now, full of younger girls doing domestic science; they all have bowls and are cooking. A row of girls in white aprons is seenm - one is grating something, others are stirring and mixing. A girl tips something from a jar into a mixing bowl - metal kitchen paraphenalia is on a shelf behind her, she moves off. Now a younger girl os perhaps twelve, wearing round National Health service glasses is brandishing a flat iron and testing it for heat by wetting her finger and touching the hotplate; she starts to iron in what we are told is the laundry - other girls are seen ironing in the background - then we moves and see others are doing washing in a large sink with a clothes horse in the background.

We see through the frame of an old fashioned wringer - an Acme mangle - the girl passes a spotted itme of clothing through the wringer and takes it out the other side. We see five girls, four watch as one of them holds a toy baby and puts him into a bath and starts washing him - this is mothercraft. The same scene with more girls in view and a supervising nurse in a white overall and white folded head dress - the girl continues bathing the rubber doll. A Singer sewing maching of the old treadle variety with a girl sitting stitching at it - we see the belt and the wheel of the maching. A class of ten girls sits sewing by hand in a classoom - one is trying on the item she has made. We see this girl putting on a dress over her head and struggling to get into it, wriggling about. We see her head still trapped in the dress as the teacher arrives and helps her through. Now nine girls sit around bandaging one another in a first aid class – one has a bandage around her head – another has her arm in a sling – a first aid box with a red cross is seen in the foreground. We now see a girl winding a bandage around another girl’s head and getting her nose caught up in the bandage – the guinea pig girl removes the bandage from her nose and sighs.

The external door to the flat is seen with the “Housewifery” sign – it is opened and Jean exits. Steps are seen sideways on as we see Jean’s feet hurrying down them – we are told she is going shopping. In the schoolyard we see Jean in her gymslip crossing the yard carrying a shopping basket.

A Glasgow street with an archway as Jean walks along the pavement with her basket- the camera moves along to where a policeman is standing writing things in his notebook outside a tenement building with characteristic Glasgow stone in the building behind him. Jean in her gym-slip and school tie walks along the street. We see Jean inadvertently bump into the bobby wearing the helmet of a 1940s police constable. We see Jean continue along the pavement casting a backwards glance at the policeman – then she waves cheerily at him. The constable waves back as jaunty music plays. Jean waves at him and runs along. A street corner – Jean appears around it – Glasgow tenements in the background and a hedge on the right. We see an old fashioned corner grocer’s shop with an Oxo sign in the window – also stacked tins of food in the window display – Jean walks up as traffic drives past – she looks into the window and then enters the shop.

Interior of a 1940s grocer’s shop – we see Jean enter – a shop keeper waits behind the counter and another female customer is in the background – on the counter is an old till in patterned metal and a bacon slicing machine is also seen – signs are around in ‘old money’ – shillings and pence – Jean approaches the man and takes out a ration book.

Over her shoulder now, we see the shop keeper look at the ration book – on the shelves are many tins of food and things in packets – shop keeper takes a pencil from behind his ear. Shopkeeper in close up speaks to Jean. Close up of Jean replying. Close up of a basket of apples at two shillings a pound. Jean’s face. Shopkeeper’s face. Shopkeeper writes in her ration book. Jean and the shop keeper look at the basket of apples. Close up of Jean asking “how much?”. We see the wicker basket of apples on the counter and Jean and the shop-man chatting at the counter about the apples which Jean is obviously coveting. Shopkeeper finishes marking the ration book – takes Jean’s basket. He lifts an apple and gives it to Jean who bites into it, delighted – in the background another shop assistant is serving another customer in a headscarf. A shot over Jean’s shoulder – we see the grocer’s shelves with things priced at eightpence and one shilling. Jean chomps an apple and waits for the grocer to return with her basket. Grocer comes back with the basket, filled with her order – he places it on the counter and Jean pays him from a purse. A good view of the very full shelves of cans as Jean turns from the counter and goes to leave. Outside the shop a bud goes past (or a tram) – Jean comes out of the corner shop and walks off as a lorry passes. We see her arrive back at the housewifery location – she opens the door and enters. She goes through the hallway, still eating her apple. Jean enters the kitchen where two other girls are working at the central table – Jean crosses the room to the old oven and opens it to check her jam tart which she removes – and then switches off the oven. Jean removes the tart from the baking tray and puts it on a plate as the teacher appears and looks on – Jean hands the tart to the teacher. Teacher looks at tart. Close up of jam tart on a plate which has been covered with a paper doily. Jean looks quizzically at her teacher hoping for her opinion. Teacher is delighted and smiles. Jean smiles broadly too as the commentary tells us such courses will help girls to become good housewives. Caption – The End.


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