Children’s lives in early 20th century Spain

What follows is the script of the video “Anther’s memories: children’s lives in early 20th century Spain”, which you can find in this tool.

Hello, I'm great-grandmother Antera, one of the protagonists of the stories you can read here. Well, I know I don't look like a great-grandmother, but this was me almost a hundred years ago! I have learnt from a little genie in the sand, my friend, that you were going to find out about some of my adventures and I could not resist showing you what the times I grew up in were like.

We lived in Madrid. My parents had a beautiful and spacious flat, inside a city building, with a large room to receive visitors, where my siblings and I ran the risk of getting a scolding from Marta, the babysitter. We were fortunate to have a bathroom for the whole family, although not all the flats had one and used basins, like the one my siblings and I broke to solve a complicated situation... You will see! We did not have radiators in rooms and before getting into bed in winter, we heated the bed with a brazier. One of my favorite places was the kitchen... with the smell of freshly baked muffins... Yes, that house brings back very good memories to me, although we didn't have a phone or a car. Well, my father was thinking about buying one like this.

At the time, children also enjoyed their toys. Do you want to know what they were? Well, you see, we had dolls and tea sets to play house, but we also had model cars and boats. In addition, on Saturdays we all played games with our parents, while the Lamb was messing around with his tin train. There are things that surely have not changed much. Our favorite day was Three Kings Day, which I spent with my four siblings. Yes, there were many of us! Some families were larger than ours.

Have you seen how elegantly we used to dress for photos? If only you had seen the clothes we normally wore... Look, look, I can show you some pictures. You want to see them? Boys 'and girls' clothing barely differed from that of adults. While they wore suits, sometimes with shorts, we wore beautiful dresses, like a doll. It was very normal, also, to wear a hat, especially girls, or gloves, although this was more typical of rich families.

I also have many memories of my school, which has changed so much. To begin with, it was not normal for boys and girls to go to class together. That started much later. Girls were taught household chores, such as sewing, while the teachers gave lessons about commerce and agriculture to the boys. Well, another novelty was the subject of Physical Education which, until then, had not existed. In the photo we seem a bit bored because, where we really had a good time, was during recess. Oh, that will never change! We played football, basketball; we took walks in the yard; and we talked about our things.

Do you fancy a tour through our classrooms? In our classes, there were no electronic whiteboards or computers. We wrote with pen and ink, but we did have something similar to tablets: the blackboards, where we did exercises with chalk. In addition, in the desks there were two holes: one where we put the inkwell and another where we left the pen.

The books of our time had beautiful illustrations. I remember the Primer to learn to read and write, or the Geography book. There were also books that only girls read, such as Flora's, with which they taught us to behave and be good girls.

Not all children went to school. In the ’20s, children's lives varied greatly depending on where they were born, in the countryside or in the city, in a poor family or a rich one. Some had to work from an early age and never went to school. Many followed the professions of their parents, like the baker’s boy who fought with Robert.

There were also many differences if you were a boy or a girl. Girls like me were expected to be housewives and prepared for it. In general, boys were allowed more freedom to enjoy open spaces than girls, but we all loved to go outside.

Do you know what we liked playing? Of course, nothing to do with mobile phones... On the street we met our friends and rode a scooter, we played with a hoop, we exchanged cards, or we jumped rope. There were always occasions to go out together for a walk, to see toys, to the park, to the fair, to the circus and, of course, to enjoy the countryside and the beach.

I invite you, like the children did a hundred years ago, to enjoy these stories and take them both to school and on vacation, in those magical mirrors that have already been invented.