Memory Lane: Queuing at the Central Stores to collect our divi

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Our nearest Co-op was in Oxford Street.

The grocery and butcher’s shops were together, with the bakery around the corner, in Cambridge Street.

If I remember rightly, the grocery shop had counters all around, with goods displayed on the back walls.

Sugar was weighed into sturdy blue bags.

Bacon and cooked meats were sliced on a fascinating machine, wrapped in greaseproof paper and put in a paper bag.

Cheese and butter were cut with wire rather than with a knife, and again put into paper and bags.

There was no cling film or foil available then.

As well as packaged stuff, this was where you bought your tinned goods.

However most fruit and vegetables were bought fresh, whatever was in season.

In the butcher’s shop the floor was covered in sawdust.

There were carcasses hanging from metal hooks in the ceiling.

As a small child I had no idea what these where and happily stood with mam while she chose the meat.

She was always shown it before it was weighed and wrapped, and adjusted accordingly.

We hardly ever went to the bakery department as she preferred Stokes’s, or Howe’s, Colorossi’s and Knowles’s, which sold bread or home-made cakes.

Boxed cakes were starting to be available then too.

Our dividend number?

Well, of course I still remember it, even though I cannot remember my own number from when I married years later. It was 940 – always said as “nine 40,” possibly to avoid confusion and miss out on precious dividend (divi)!

I can remember queuing at the Central Stores to collect the divi.

The queue started in the arcade and continued up the stairs to the office.

Everyone waited patiently, even the children, as it was worth having to supplement a lot of quite poor wages in those days.

Enid Allen,

Owton Close,

Hartlepool.