The Firm of William Fraser
By Zena Walker
Zena says “My father’s business started in 1945. He came from Wishaw originally but he left Wishaw and first of all came to Leven where he worked as an electrician at the foundry. He used to do repairs for people and would go to their houses. He moved to Elie in about 1945 and he started the business as electricians. In the house we lived in first he had a wee room filled with accumulators and he was paid 6d for charge of accumulators. I was about 6 when we came to Elie – he had an old shop in Bank Street next door to the bakers. He started off the shop. I remember he used to have to go up country to the farms with big chunky heavy batteries and used to come back with eggs and such as payment for charging up the batteries. He did repairs in the shop but later he got lots of TVs that he used to have in the window and the shop was also full of other electrical items like hairdryers etc. He worked for 60 years seemed to be successful. My brother Jim qualified and Eric Smith joined him – and then he moved the shop to high street opposite the church. At that time we lived in 35 High Street.
I went to Elie school and Wade after that I came home had all the training I needed from my father (accordingly to him at least!) and for the next 48 years I served in the shop. We had very few days off – I remember when I had my daughter I worked until 6 on the Friday night, had the baby at 2 pm Saturday afternoon then it was back to the shop on Monday. We worked from 9-6 every day except Sunday of course and I remember we had a power cut one afternoon at about 5ish and lots of people were coming in for torches but my father kept open until 5 to 6 when he said – “I think we’ll just call it a day at that. We used to hire out TVs in summers months. He died in 1979 – he was 70. The only time off I had was when I worked as a lifeguard at Wade on a Friday and got paid six shillings for that. I started to help him when I was 9 with the accumulators and batteries. I used to clean the top of them, grease them and make sure the copper wire was intact and he used to give me two and sixpence for that. I remember my clothes being burnt by the acid even at the age of nine. We occasionally went on holiday to a farm to my father’s sisters. My brother Jim went to Wade himself and started apprenticeship and went to Dundee Tec for time to get his exams – two days a week. Another thing we used to do was that there were quite a lot of elderly people in Elie and we used to go round to their house and plug in their electric blankets to make sure they were ok.