« Guardian Angel | Main | Episode 6 »

A Shout From The Attic: Shopping At The Co-Op

...From somewhere behind the shop proper came wonderful aromas as currants, raisins, sultanas, and sides of bacon, smoked and green, each contained in huge, moist jute sacks competed with sticky dark brown sugar from Demarera to fill the shop with the heady scent of good old times and the riches of the British Empire...

Ronnie Bray recalls Co-op shopping during the war years.

For more of Ronnie's reminiscences please visit A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

The other regular trip, after Ma stopped walking me to school, leaving me in the care of my sister René and later to blind chance, was to the Greenhead Road branch of the Huddersfield Co-operative Society’s grocery store. We called it the Co-op with two syllables, although some called it the Cworp with only one syllable. The branch manager, Mr Pearson, was a tall thin man with a kindly manner, thin metal spectacles, but no hair to speak of. We filled our basket with bread, cocoa, butter, sugar, eggs, bacon, wartime-scarce tins of corned beef from Argentina, and other things, but little to interest a sweet-hungry lad, then had it ‘booked’ to our weekly credit account. Biscuits came loose in glass-topped boxes on a wooden rack holding a dozen of the best varieties. My favourites were hard tangy ginger biscuits, and I love them yet.

From somewhere behind the shop proper came wonderful aromas as currants, raisins, sultanas, and sides of bacon, smoked and green, each contained in huge, moist jute sacks competed with sticky dark brown sugar from Demarera to fill the shop with the heady scent of good old times and the riches of the British Empire. Sugars were weighed out on the huge brass balance and poured into deftly and rapidly made cones of stiff blue paper, their tops magically fastened without adhesive so as not to spill, but, once opened, they could never be reclosed as the highly skilled but lowly paid shop assistants had done.

Past ten years of age, and navigation became my own affair. From that point, finding my way about was something that, like Topsy, just grewed, as I tried one street after another and found that they led from thoroughfare to thoroughfare, through back streets, well inhabited little yards, down ginnels, up snickets, and across worn old footpaths across undisputed empty plots that were dotted around to host the annual invasion of the Rose Bay Willow Herb. These places formed an intricate web of tracks. Useful only to slow moving aimless wanderers and the more rapid and purposeful pace of those seeking to avoiding arrest.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.