Daily Archives: July 11, 2011

Today’s Specials

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson:  you find the present tense, but the past perfect!  ~Owens Lee Pomeroy, 1929-2008  Co-founder of the Golden Radio Buffs of MD

“Judith, 3852 specials at Woolworths Churchill Dr” This was the subject of an email in my inbox today.  It made me think about the things we now buy and think we can’t live without.  So what are some of the 3852 specials for this week?

The specials include a whole range of grocery items, vegetables and fruits and some homeware items.  This made me think of how shopping used to be.

As you may know, I grew up in London during and after the Second World War.  There were no supermarkets and Mother shopped each day.  We didn’t have a refrigerator until I was into my teens.  We had several ‘things’ to keep milk and butter cold.  They were made of clay and shaped to go around either the milk bottle or the butter.  They were soaked in cold water prior to use and then as they dried out they kept the milk or butter fresh.

Milk bottles

photo – Dreamstime

Of course, milk was delivered each day and Mother shopped every day so there was little chance of either the milk or butter turning.

Meat and bread were also bought each day.  Our local butcher was Mr Ives and during the war, for a time Mother worked in the shop stamping the ration books.

Ration books

via Wikipedia

Obviously, all these years later I don’t have a photo of that butcher’s shop but it is very clear in my memory.  The meat was on show hanging on hooks suspended from the ceiling.  There was, of course, a cold room out back but as there was very little choice of meat at the time, it was mostly all out front on show.  I can still remember the smell of the shop.  It had sawdust on the floor and this is the smell that reminds me of the butcher.

The area in which we lived had a large percentage of Jewish people living there.  So we had some of their specialities to try.  The local deli had a large barrel of rollmops just inside the door.  What a lovely smell and what memories that smell evokes.  And the baker baked bread every day.  You could smell his shop from a distance.  Mmm ..lovely.  And not just the usual white bread.  He baked challah daily and as we were part of a Jewish family, we also bought our matzos there.

Hovis logo

Logo via Wikipedia

He baked wholemeal bread long before brown or other grain bread was readily available.  Mother though preferred Hovis.  This was (and I think it is still available) a brown bread loaf baked with high wheatgerm wholemeal flour.

But we girls, of course, preferred the daily baked, hot white, crusty bread that came from the baker.  I think he was Mr Smulevitch although that may well have been the name of the delicatessen owner.

The greengrocer also had to be visited most days because everything that was bought had to be carried home.  Mother, of course, didn’t have any means of transporting the shopping except by hand.  I didn’t particularly like this shop because the door was never closed and it was always cold in there.  And it was dirty and untidy.  Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables were not even brushed before being put into the large crates from which they were sold.  Vegetables were weighed using large balance type scales and then put straight into mother’s shopping bag.  She, of course, had a bag for vegetables as they all went straight into it.  No plastic bags or even paper bags then.

scales for potatoes

And of course, only fruit and vegetables in season were available then.  How different are things today.

And we didn’t have dollars and cents then or even the current GBP.  We bought things using pounds, shillings and pence.  Twelve pennies made one shilling, twenty shillings made one pound.  Pennies were further broken down into half-pennies (hapenies) and farthings (quarter pennies).   The subject of this currency will make a great blog someday.

This blog is meandering on as usual.  I shall close here but oh, I have so many things I should like to share with you about growing up in London.

I found the following quote when looking through The Quote Garden – http://www.quotegarden.com/.  When I can’t find just what I want in my books I turn to this site.  And because I didn’t know of Doug Larson I looked him up on Wikipedia that other stalwart of researchers.

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.  ~
Doug Larson