Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Thrift

My appointment at the dentist's was at half-past eight this morning.

It was minus ten degrees Centigrade. I walked there as it's less than ten minutes' walk, but by the time I got there my face was hurting with the cold. The sky looked pretty so I took a photo with my phone.

As you can see, on the right of the photo is a building that's having some work done on it. As I passed it, I saw the faded letters on the side.

THE THRIFT, is what it used to say.

I remember it well. The Thrift was a kind of forerunner of the supermarket. In the 1960s we still lived where I live now - just round the corner. Next to the Thrift was a little butcher's shop - the best one, we thought, though if you didn't like it there was another one about a hundred and fifty yards away.

There were lots of corner shops then. Across the road in my top photo, by the car, was Perrin's the greengrocer's - they were always friendly there. Now it's a house, not a shop. The building that is now the dentist's was Cawdron's - another grocer's. Across the road from it was the Post Office - again, now a house, not a shop. At the next corner was Jones's the draper's. About three hundred yards down the road in the top photo, on a corner, was another grocer's, my favourite, and next to it was a cobbler's. Just along the road was a parade of shops (I still call it a "parade") with the newsagent's and Turnbull's the baker's. There were, in fact, corner shops on almost every corner.

The Thrift was very unusual for those days in that you wandered around and helped yourself and put your purchases in a wire basket. They sold all kinds of grocery items - and some fruit and vegetables too - though we didn't buy fruit and veg from The Thrift - why would you when there was a greengrocer's across the road?

My mother didn't like The Thrift much, but my grandmother - who lived with us - seemed to love it and spent a lot of time shopping there.

I had a childhood of corner shops. "Daphne, could you just nip to the butcher's and get a pound of mince? And could you call in at Perrin's for some bananas?"

For bigger orders, the greengrocer's lad would come round on his bike with all your fruit and veg in a basket.

On my way to the corner shop, quite often I'd meet one of my friends on the way, on a similar errand or just out for a ride on her bike. The ten-minute errand could stretch out for half the afternoon and include a lot of conversation and some hopscotch or skipping.

Eventually, something happened that was to change it all for ever. Safeway the supermarket opened at Oakwood, about a mile away. Goodbye, corner shops. I miss you.


Blogger aerate harsh ladle said...

And in these times of harsh weather conditions, combined with longer-term issues such as the cost of fuel, what do we need more of so that we can walk to stock our cupboards? More corner shops. Sigh.

5:20 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

I also mourn the passing of proper local shops - and with it, that sense of community. And High Streets all look the same these days too with their horrid chain-stores.

That is why I like the Continent so much, because unlike here, they still, for the most part, do have local shops (I'm thinking France, Italy, Spain etc).

8:38 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I grew up in a fairly small East Yorkshire village where we had eight shops plus a cobbler's and a seed and grain merchant's store. There were two sweet shops, a post office, three grocery stores, a butcher's and a baker's. In the sixties the village population quadrupled. Now there's only one shop - the village stores.

1:14 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I know you probably don't celebrate it, but here's wishing you a wonderful Christmas season there in coldest England. Health, happiness, safety, and all that. Maybe even a little prosperity. A package of warmer weather is in the mail.

1:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home