This started as a comment on Z’s wonderful stroll down memory lane, but she’s opened the floodgates and it’s run out of control, so it has to be a post here in its own right. Isn’t it strange the way that our minds work?
The dry goods grocer was Mr North, up Pokesdown Road, about a mile away. I think it was every Thursday when my mother would phone with the order, which would be delivered by bike next day, stacked up in the basket on the front of an old boneshaker by a boy maybe ten years older than me. I can see her handwritten list which she dictated over the phone; it used to take hours, because I think Mr North went and checked whether each item was in stock if he wasn’t sure. I have no idea what this stuff was.
Fruit and veg came once a week on Mr Starks’s horse-drawn cart. I really looked forward to this, because Mr Starks was like a jolly uncle, but mainly because of the horse, which I loved and which loved me, at least so I felt.
I’m certain that milk and coal were delivered, when appropriate. I can’t remember the name of the dairy, but the coal merchants might just possibly have been Cole and Sons. We kids were supposed to distance ourselves from lower-order tradesmen, but I recall those huge blackdusted coalmen with their hessian sacks on their shoulders and their wide grins – they might have been saying one day you’ll be a man like me, boy. I never was, of course.
Westons’ bakery delivered bread, in a purple van, but we had to go there for cream horns or slices, éclairs and other special cakes that couldn’t be made at home. I’m not sure about meat and fish, I think these had to be chosen on site, by sight, smell and probably touch. Sweets came from a shop charmingly named the Polliwog; they didn’t deliver. The next door newsagents in Kimberley Road did deliver, but I was allowed to run round there to collect my Eagle because I couldn’t wait.