Saturday, December 30, 2006

Our bread was delivered by Mr Fido who had a bakery in Bradley and came round with his horse and cart. It was beautiful bread. You could smell the newness of it.

For groceries, Tommy Baker had a general shop in Yew Tree Lane, Coseley. He kept bacon and butter on the cellar shelves. He sliced the bacon and cut the butter himself. He would cut you half a pount of lard. It wasn't very hygienic; he used the same knife and the same cloth for everything. The mice used to get into the sacks of oats that he would serve his customers from. He had big jars of sweets that he'd weigh into quarters. He sold potatoes and cabbages that he'd weight out on his big scales. For milk, I'd buy tinned condensed milk. His mother used to make groated pudding that he'd cut up to sell.

My cousin Violet and me would find something to go round for on a Sunday morning. The front door would be shut so we would go round the back door and play the piano in his kitchen. He thought he was courting the daughter of Akerman the solicitor. He would dress himself up, put on his best brown boots and the would go on the train to the theatre in Wolverhampton, but nothing came of it.

Tommy Baker had a backyard where he kept coal and you could buy that from him. We would sometimes get a load of coal from Baggeridge when my uncle Harry and my cousin worked there. They both got the disease of the chest that miners got, though they carried on working with it. There was one man that I used to see in Yew Tree Lane. He was a poor old miner. He couldn't work far. The miners didn't get any compensation.

There used to be pits in Yew Tree Lane; there was one right opposite our house. We used to play on the heavy wheel on the floor and there was a big stack that was blown up. In the General Strike of 1926, miners would dig holes for coal themselves. We used to have boiling hot summers then. Aunt Esther made pop with lemons and sugar, and me and Violet would sell the pop to the sweating miners.

Aunt Esther would go to Horseley Fields where they sold cheap crockery. She would go there with a big straw clothes basket and bring a basket full of crocker back on the train. Me and Violet would go round people's houses selling the crockery.


My dad worked at the Cannon Iron foundries at Deepfields, Coseley as a moulder making gas stoves. He would fill a long ladle with molten iron at the furnace and pour the iron into the pattern. It was a hot, sweaty job. I used to make flannel under-shirts to soak up the sweat. I would buy the material, cut out the shirt and stitch it up anyhow. My dad didn't mind so long as the shirt kept him dry.

My dad would often change his under-shirt when he came home at midday for his dinner and to smoke his cherrywood pipe. He would cut across the fields and I would have his dinner cooked ready. Even though some of the men hadn't got time for their dinner, my dad always had, and he turned out better work. He would be one of the last to stroll into the factory as the hooter was going. My dad's work didn't bother him, but he was a good worker. He didn't make waste like some of the moulders did.

In the First World War, my dad worked at Cranes in Wolverhampton, making ammunition. This was war work and it kept him out of the army. If he had stopped at the Cannon during the war making gas stoves, he might have been called up. We had a shell from a hand grenade by the side of the grate.

He always liked to be smartly dressed. When he went courting my mother, he told us, the children in the street would run away from him because they thought he was the policeman.



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