WHEN all the men went to war, Marion Harris found herself instantly promoted from sales assistant to manager at the grocer shop she worked in on Maryhill Road.

It was 1940, and Marion was in her 20s. Her son Dan, now 88, recalls it was hard work for her, especially as rationing had been introduced in the January.

“When I hear people talking about food rationing, there is never any mention of the shopkeepers,” explains Dan, who was prompted to tell his mother’s side of the story by our recent feature on the 80th anniversary of food rationing being introduced in Glasgow.

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Dan, his brother Billy, mother Marion and father George, lived in a room and kitchen on Garscube Road.

“The shop my mother worked in was on Maryhill Road,” explains Dan, who now lives in East Kilbride with his wife, who is also called Marion.

“Every morning when she arrived to open the shop, there was a long, long queue of people, mainly women and girls. The customers all had to be registered with the shop, otherwise they would not get any rationed food, even if they had a ration book with them.”

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He adds: “My mother had two female shop assistants working with her. Every morsel of rationed food had to be accounted for. To do this, my mother would take all the ration coupons home at night and, in effect, prepare the ‘books’ for the auditors – in this case, the Ministry of Food.

“When you consider this went on for a number of years, it must have been very tiring for her, especially as she had to prepare the financial accounts for the accountants too.”

On top of handling the shop, Marion Harris was a busy housewife and mother.

“She also had the cooking and housework to do and her Tuesday half day off work was spent at the steamie,” says Dan.

Dan recalls the first time he realised war had broken out.

“It was my eighth birthday on September 1, 1939,” he says. “I was sent to the shop for our usual Sunday treat – sliced dumpling.

“When the grocer reached out to give me the dumpling, she asked for my bag. This surprised me as she had always wrapped it up in brown paper.

“When I told her I didn’t have a bag, she said, “there is a war on, so out with your shirt tail”!”

Dan laughs: “I ran out of the shop as fast as I could, blushing and shocked, with no dumpling. We never went back to that shop.”

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Dan and Marion were born in the same tenement, 15 months apart. They were both evacuated during the war but sadly, Marion’s mother, Suzanna McGlone, died when she was away.

“I came back to find I was the mother of the family,” she says, sadly.

“My mum died of kidney disease – back then, there were none of the treatments we have nowadays. I was only 11, but I had to do the shopping, handle the rationing books, go to the steamie and clean the house …it was hard.”

Dan and Marion got married in 1953 and will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary in March.

“She says I married her for money,” jokes Dan. “Marriage allowance was £2 a week back then.”

What do you recall of rationing in Glasgow? Share your memories by emailing ann.fotheringham@glasgow times.co.uk or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.