Counters (2006)

Location : Norwich

I was born on 19.03.1917.

I was born in Buxton Nr Aylsham, Norfolk and went to School in Hainford. My parents were called Edward and May Field and they were Farmers.

I joined Jarrolds in 1938 when I was 20. I lived on Grange Farm, Hainford, Norwich

I worked on the farm. But I was one of these people who got bored, you know – just with men around.

I saw this advert in the paper, the Eastern Daily Press, and I applied and that’s how it all sprung up from there.

First of all I went in for a month as they have extra staff at Christmas and I did that for two years. Mr. Grant who is the Manager asked me if I would stay on which I did. I worked in the Chemistry Department. I don’t think I ever worked anywhere else – it was always the Chemist Department.

In those days, there were Counters which had to be dressed every day. We would dress every morning and arrange in a setout and then at night you would have to take it all down again. There was filling shelves of course and serving customers.

There was so much more civility then. You always said, “Yes madam, no madam, can I help you madam?” Not like today, when you go in a shop, they are too busy talking about what they did the night before – but we wouldn’t have dared done that sort of thing. You had to say “Can I help you madam” and give your full attention to that customer, which you did and you didn’t expect to do any different.

We wrote out bills in those days and of course you used to have to add it up yourself and put it in those, I don’t know what you’d call it. And it went up to the counting house. They were tubes, like air tubes, I forget what you called them. But you dealt with that and then the change came back, you know and then you gave it to the customer. But you had to do the bill yourself and add it up and so forth. And every customer expected a receipt.

I worked with M.T. and Mr D., (I think he was the first chemist) and then we had a boy who was D.B. When he left school at 14 he came to work with me on the department, and he sort of helped generally like you do.

This M.T., she was the Dispenser. She was a horrible person – strict. And she told you what to do. And you would always be getting into trouble because we didn’t put the counters up or dress them properly or you know. And inside the counters, they had to be all dressed as we called it, filling up the stock and so forth.

We were all very happy.

In the past it wasn’t all piled up like it is now. You helped people. Served people

I loved the comradeship. The people were all lovely, you know, except this Miss T., who was a horrible person really. But we got on alright. She kept in touch with me till she died. She died in a home. She was over a hundred when she died. It was only about last year.

I liked everything about it, I was very happy.You haveto remember that I didn’t have to go. I chose to leave home and go. I enjoyed it.

I was expected to work 9-6. But then getting near Christmas, it would be getting up to 9 ‘o clock at night.

When I started I was paid £11.

We used to do all sorts of things. We had Whist Drives in the Restaurant. There were lots of things going on. The staff were very sociable together, you know, very happy.

We went on day trips. Mostly we went to Lowestoft. Why, I don’t know. I can’t even remember how we got there. I suppose we used to have a coach.

I think it was a marvellous place to work. I think they were all very nice. John Jarrold was a little boy then. He used to come into the chemist with his mother.

I worked for 3 or 4 years to start with. And then there was the war, so I worked with the WAF. Then I went back to Jarrolds to work after the war.

Working at Jarrolds was good. Being an only child, living on a farm a long way from anybody. My father employed all the men in the village, so we weren’t allowed to associate. It was lonely, although I had various friends and so forth.

I made lots of friends. We all used to go out in groups.

I made friends at Jarrolds and keep in touch. There’s only 3 or 4 alive as far as I know. I’m nearly 90 and there’s not a lot of people who live to that age.

D. M.,D.D. in those days. I see her. I go and see her sometimes.D.B. who used to work with me. I don’t see him, but I have spoken to him on the phone. Then there’s R.M., who was on the Stationary. I always write to him at Christmas. But D. is the only one I keep in close contact with.

I have a friend at Hoveton, who is now in a home. She’s even older than me. I met her through Jarrolds. Everyone was friendly, you know happy.

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