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The Day Before Yesterday: 25 Meeting Our New Grandpa

...Market day was Friday. This stayed open until nine o'clock at night. Mum often went in the evenings to this market. I loved to accompany her on these occasions and listen to the friendly bartering, and the goods got cheaper as the time got later. Mum often got fruit at this late hour. Oranges were twenty-four a shilling and grapes could be bought at next to nothing, You knew they would need eating almost straight away, but our family were quite capable of doing that...

Gladys Schofield recalls pre-supermarket days.

To read earlier chapters of her entertaining autobiography please click on The Day Before Yesterday in the menu on this page.

Our grocer man had retired now. Mum got the groceries delivered as usual, but the order was taken to the shop each week. This became my job quite often as I was the oldest at home now that my brother Charles was working.

I also walked to a larger shopping centre with a better variety of shops. These stood side by side the length of a long street. I bought Mum's crocheting cotton here. I walked to this centre which would be about one and a half miles. You headed down to a valley, winding down street after street until you reached a viaduct where every now and again the trains would rattle past above you with a hoot and hiss of steam. As you passed under the viaduct the shops were there before you. Mum gave me a penny to ride back home on the bus as that was all up hill again.

Market day was Friday. This stayed open until nine o'clock at night. Mum often went in the evenings to this market. I loved to accompany her on these occasions and listen to the friendly bartering, and the goods got cheaper as the time got later. Mum often got fruit at this late hour. Oranges were twenty-four a shilling and grapes could be bought at next to nothing, You knew they would need eating almost straight away, but our family were quite capable of doing that. It was a fun place to be, each one pitting their wits against the other to get a sale or receive a bargain.

Why was there so much laughter? Where has it gone? Why don't men whistle as they did? And we seem to have stopped singing as we go through our daily chores. I think we benefit most from simple pleasures.


Who would scrub the concrete steps outside a house these days, or clean the outside window sill, colouring the edge with a donkey stone (a soft sandstone), that left its colour on the window sill in shades of fawn or white?

It sounds silly now but the long rows of houses looked quite smart as each one did this weekly. We didn't get time to be bored. Each house was a home, not just a place to sleep.

Hopscotch was another children's game, the squares were chalked in by children usually at the back door. I had a broken piece of tile for a hopscotch. You got quite expert at sliding this from square to square. The boys all had marbles to occupy their minds; these are still in use today.

Staying up late was good in another way. I was able to fetch supper. Once a week we had fish and chips. They seemed to taste better when we were children. The delicious smell travelled in the air for quite a long way. Threepence it cost for one portion of fish and chips, tuppence a fish, one penny for chips. They cooked your order fresh as you waited for them, which wasn't long.

You could watch them batter the large pieces of fish, usually cod or hake, depending on the catch, dip each piece into batter and slide it into the large pan of fat. The same was done with the chips in another part of this cooking unit. Vinegar was always used with the salt for seasoning. Tomato sauce must not have been used in the chip shops so early, although HP sauce was used in our home.

Your order was first placed into white paper and then covered well with newspaper to keep them warm until you got home.

My grandma on my mother's side didn't often come to visit. When she came, she would stay with Aunty Miriam and call to see all of us while she was there. My granddad had been dead a long time; I was only six months old when he passed away. She lived about forty miles from us. People didn't travel as they do today, and the distance she came was something like us travelling to the other end of the country.

She was married aged twenty to a man twice her age. He was a widower with a family, the oldest girl just a year younger than my grandma. My granddad had a small farm. Mum would tell us about the things they got up to when they were young.

They had six children together, four girls, my mother being the second, and two younger brothers. They had a happy marriage and my grandma didn't marry again until just six months before she died. Granddad had left her quite comfortably off, and it was quite a surprise when we heard she had a new husband.

The fog was very bad a week before Christmas, when she arrived with her new husband. This frail sixty-five year old lady, similar build to Mum, just a bit taller, her hair swept back off her bold forehead and held in place with a comb. She always wore a high necked blouse and once told us her favourite colour was rose pink. I could see she had been a pretty lady in her youth as her skin was as clear as a much younger person,
and she carried herself well.

We were presented to the new grandpa, a small, bald man who seemed to be impatient to be on his way. Maybe it was because Gran had a very bad cold. We didn't see him again anyway.

My aunty sent for the doctor to Grandma. She was getting worse instead of better, although Grandpa thought it was a lot of fuss about nothing. The doctor said she had pneumonia.

She was left with her daughters to care for her as Grandpa was out most of the time. She told them she had made a big mistake in marrying this man and was very unhappy.

She died on the last day of December and was buried in the local churchyard. Grandpa took everything she owned and disappeared. We never saw him again, or anything that was hers. The doctor said he could get her better but she didn't want to live.

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