Extracts of a recorded conversation with Herma Hansle and some of her family, recorded in Smethwick 2019.
I was born in Clarenden in a small town called Coronel's Ridge in Jamaica in 1937. It wasn’t a very easy life, it was a hard life but we managed all right. We had lovely weather but life was tough. I am 82 this year.
My parents had a shop, so even though it was hard, they were still the better-off ones in the community. My parents were really generous so when some people came to the shop and didn't have any money, they would still give them things. They also had a field which would where they used to grow crops as well.
My dad's name was Herbert Wheeler and was born on 31st January 1909. He was always giving, he was a giving person. He was very busy in the field and she was very busy going to the market.
They were very good, kind-hearted and willing to help others. But my dad was a really giving person, my mum always had a row with him, not meaning any harm but he was always giving, and me mum was trying to put her foot down from him giving so much. But my dad didn't really listen to her, he just kept on giving, because he was the type of person. He would go to the field and get yam and bananas and things and he would always them drop off at other people's houses before he got back to our house.
My mum wasn't a mean person but sometimes she didn't really like it when he'd go to the field, come in with his dirty clothes and perspiring. She thought he should come home on time instead of being at the field and digging and giving it all away, he should be home relaxing. But he didn't really listen to her. He died in 2001, gone but not forgotten.
This is a studio photo of my mom, and with her are my two sisters Yvonne and Grace, and my younger brother Patrick. It was taken in Jamaica about the 1950s. The photo on the right is of my sister Grace getting married to Neville in Jamaica in the 70s.
Coming to England
I came to England in 1953 to join my older sister Linda who was already here. This is a photo of her taken in the 50s. She didn't have any children herself and because there were so many of us she wanted one to go to England to join her. She was trying to choose the best one to take and in the end they decided to take me as I was sixteen.
She was a very religious person, very strict. And she was lovely, she used to look after me.
We first lived in Oldbury on the Wolverhampton Road and I worked in the Raleigh factory in Smethwick.
This group of three photos were taken not long after I arrived in England. The two beach photos are from a work's trip to Blackpool you can see me and Linda on the group shot. My first job here was in the Raleigh factory in Smethwick. I think it was very unusual for people to see a black person on the beach in those days.
The studio photo was taken in a studio in West Bromwich.
The photo on the left is of George who went on to marry Linda. He worked in Smethwick in the buses for 25 years before they both decided the move to Chicago in America.
The photo on the right has my sister Linda who is second on the right. She was a lovely person, she was very strict, very religious, but also a very giving person.
This is a photo of me taken in the 60s with my best friend Cutie. I was married by this point and had moved into the house next door to Linda. Cutie is also in the photo on the right with the camera.
We were very stylish in those days, and always tried to look our best.
This one on the left is of me with two of my children Tony and Joy, and again with my friend Cutie. My son Tony says that I am wearing my 'fashion killer' glasses in this one! It was important for me for us all to dress well - I took a lot of pride in how we looked.
The photo on the right - I can't remember who this person is, we think she is a family friend. But we love the photo and it really captures the atmosphere of the time.
Looking at all these photographs now brings back so many memories, and it's lovely but also a bit sad.
This is my son Tony of the left, I think it was probably his 10th birthday party in 1969. And this photo on the right is of some of the family on an old Polaroid print. It's a bit dark but I do like it as it shows what it was like a bit in the 1970s. It's of Audrey, Irene, myself, Tony, Juliette and Winston.
It was a busy life bringing up the children and working. We all went to church on a Sunday, the children all did activities like Boys Brigade, Brownies and Guides. I made sure the children didn't miss out on anything. I am very proud of my family. The family is strong, and we have at least 3 big get-togethers every year. Lots of game playing, lots of talking. These days though it can be a bit much for me as I am getting older, and I am Cinderella in the kitchen! Although these days everyone chips in with the cooking, it's really nice.
The photo on the left is of my mum's brother Erad and was taken in Smethwick, my children called him Uncle Ran. He is such a nice man, very hardworking. He used to work in a foundry, and doing all sorts for me, he even built me a back wall to my house.
The photo on the right, well it's an old one of my sister Grace. It was taken in Jamaica back in the 50s, I love this one as she looks so confident and beautiful, which she is. She still lives in Jamaica.
I have had many jobs, and for a long time I worked in Poplars Nursing Home in South Road in Smethwick. I used to do everything, I was a head-carer, kitchen, and if fact they just used to leave me in charge.
This one on the right is a party I went to with some friends called the Solaces. I used to enjoy going out, especially after I was divorced.