On the right hand corner of Desmond Street looking up towards St Benedict,s Church was our local greengrocers. Although the entrance was actually on Heyworth Street, there was a side window in our street. Harry Howarth and May Dreaper owned the shop and did a good trade there. I,m not sure why these proprieters had different names, were they living over the brush or living tally? as some called it in those days.
I used to go shopping her for the vegetables for the pans of scouse that we had in our household. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have meat in with the vegetables, moreoften not as there was not enough money for a trip to the butchers at the bottom of our street and across Breck Road.
May Dreaper would always give me an apple or orange or even a pear if she was in a better mood, when I went into her shop. The fruit always had a bit of bad in it, these we called "fades". The shop always smelt of thyme or sage and there were bunches of these herbs hanging in all corners of the shop, drying out. I would ask for a pennyworth of potherbs and would get a brown paper bag filled with carrots, a few potatoes, a small swede, a parsnip, an oinion and some of the dried herbs that were hanging up. This was all that was needed for our scouse or stew as it is called outside Liverpool.
At the bottom of the street across Breck Road was Unsworth,s our local butcher. Nan, my guardian, almost always insisted that Jim, the older man serve her as he always gave us a bit more or a bit better joint for our money. Ken, the son, never got a look in to serve the older customers who had been going to the shop during the war years and getting good rations.
Then there was our paper shop, Jim Maxwell,s. They lived in New Brighton over the water and travelled over to the shop each morning to open for six o,clock to give the workers their papers and cigarettes. I especially liked Jim because when I was ill and off school, nan would go up to the shop and tell him and he would send me loads of comics, dandy, beano,hotspur,beezer,topper and film fun. O.k. they were all out of date and old stock, but they kept me quiet all day reading and doing the puzzles in them.
Mrs. Mudd ran a cold meat shop at the bottom corner of Desmond Street and Breck Road. We never bought anything in this shop as it was too dear for us, but I did go there for my Auntie Louie who lived at number 40 Desmond Street. Mudds had some lovely Holland,s meat pies and puddings and her salmon paste was out of this world.
Another grocers shop where we didn,t go was Jim McQuaid,s on Breck Road, on the right at the top going into town. I used to go there for Auntie Louie,s weekly shopping order until the shop employed a delivery boy to bring the shopping to the customer,s houses. I used to wait for the order to be made up in the shop and sit on the steps behind the counter, or go into the room beyond and look around for the mop or brush that Stan, the man that took over the shop when Jim died, wanted. The lad who did the deliveries was a boy who used to live in our street next to Auntie Louie,s, Stanley Rickerby, a happy friendly lad. The shop was situated to where Dr. Madison,s surgery was, opposite the petrol station owned by, or sold, Shell oil.
There were two "Uncles" shops in our immediate area. These pawn shops were known as uncles by the people who used them as a way of expressing where the goods were. Perhaps also because they were more in there than their own homes, so they looked on them as family.
Say Uncle Ronnie came home from work and wanted to go out that night to a darts match, he,d want to know where his suit was and nan would say that it was in Uncle Erics, or Eric Milton,s pawn shop because we needed the money to get the tea with. These pawn shops loaned you money on goods for a short period. You could buy the goods back with the money lent plus a small amount of interest. The goods could be re sold if they were not redeemed by the customer within three months. The other "uncle" was Healings at the bottom of the next street, Northcote, and facing onto Breck Road opposite Fishguard Street.