Vera describes her father’s grocer’s shop on Bective Street
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 16th September 2011 by Liam Physick
Vera talks about Jimmy Mack’s, the family grocer’s shop on the corner of Bective Street. She remembers a female customer, nicknamed Red Hat (a name which amuses Vera’s boyfriend, Michael), and how children from the local schools would buy sweets from there on their way to the dinner centre. Her father began working in the shop at the age of 12, and remained there until the family left Bective Street in 1973
Interviewee Gender: Female
Vera: With me dad being a grocer . . .
Vera: . . . and we had the corner shop on the corner of Bective Street (indecipherable).
Ian: Right, so you had the, you had the grocer, the local grocer’s shop?
Vera: Well, the local corner shop.
Ian: Local corner shop, yeah.
Vera: But, but as you say, we, we sold every, more or less everything, even during the War they had the, the, the ration books and I can remember them . . .
Vera: . . . cos obviously rationing went on after the War, didn’t they?
Ian: So what sort of things did they sell in the shop then? When you say everything . . .
Vera: All your groceries . . .
Vera: Yeah, all your groceries, sugars and butters and . . . what else?
Ian: Did they sell roast ham, cos I remember some corner shops used to a do, like a . . .
Vera: Yeah . . .
Ian: . . . delivery.
Vera: . . . you’d sell, you’d sell your bacon . . .
Vera: . . . and your cooked meats . . .
Vera: . . . your spam and your corned beef and your . . .
Vera: . . . your boiled ham, cheese, what you’d wear . . .
Vera: . . . we also sold a lot of sweets, sweets, cigarettes, lemonade, the milkman used to come twice a week, Hansen’s milkman.
Ian: Great. Do you remember any of the customers?
Ian: Go on then, tell me about some of the customers, some of the characters. (laughs)
Vera: Well, it’s more or less when I started to serve, they used to have a little old lady come in, we always called her Red Hat!
Ian: Red Hat?
Vera: She always, she always wore, we did, she wouldn’t know we did, but we . . . she’d come in and she, she was asking, she’d ask for whatever she was asking for, “Is it fresh even down to a bundle of wood?”! (all three laugh)
Michael: She’s got great nicknames, has me handbag! Red Hat! I love that!
Vera: Well, she always wore a red hat.
Michael: The same hat?
Vera: I suppose it was, yeah, yeah.
Ian: Go on, must have been other characters.
Vera: Well . . . I suppose, I can’t think of any off hand, that was the main one, but I can tell you things about, like, we, we had the three schools, there was, there was Earle Road school, Webster Road school. St. Hugh’s school, and St. Hugh’s had two classes up at the back of the cottages which is up, up Spekeland Road . . .
Vera: . . . there, and they used to take the children up and down from there to the dinner centre which was on Piggy Mug Square, course they’d pass the shop, by, you know, on the way there and back and they’d come in and buy sweets . . .
Vera: . . . we used to sell the penny, you know, four . . .
Ian: Penny bag, yeah.
Vera: . . . well, four caramels for, four Walkers for a penny, and . . . well, chewing gums and things like that, you know, biscuits like, like penguins, them sort of things.
Ian: And what was the shop called?
Vera: Well, we always, oh, it was always called, you’d always be sent to Mr. Mack or Jimmy Mack’s, which, me dad’s name was Jim.
Ian: Right. So, people referred to it as Jimmy Mack’s.
Vera: Probably, well, our regulars would, yeah.
Ian: Great. And how long did you have the shop?
Vera: Well, me dad, when, he moved in there when he was 12! (laughs)
Vera: So his mum, it was his mother that had it, and when he’s about . . . I don’t know, would he be about 20, and someone asked – he’d been learning the trade and, and someone asked – he’d, he’d been given, you know, he’d got the sack or something, there was a reason, but, one of our, their travellers at the time had, not only had come round to sell to you, they, they had their own shops, and they offered him a job to, to manage, so his mother said, “Well, if they think you can manage there’s you can, I’ll take a back seat, here’s the shop”! (laughs)
Vera: So, so, he was there, like, from the age of 12 . . .
Vera: . . . til we moved in 1972, yeah, 73, I should say.
Categorised under: Shops & Shopping