Magazines (2006)

Location : Norwich

I started at Jarrolds in 1954. I surprised my Department boss cos I was only 14. My birthday is at the end of August and school finished in July and I managed to get a job at 14. It wasn’t unusual to start work at 15 then.

I started in the Education Department and moved down to the Magazine Department.

In the Education department I was serving customer who wanted educational goods, ruler, compasses that sort of thing for children.

It was just general sales in Magazines.

There was the overall head of Department, then the store assistants. If you had a problem you went to the Head of Department and got it sorted out but mainly you just served customers. In Education there was 3 other staff. The Arts – which was a separate section although still under the same buyer, as far as I can remember there was 2 staff in that.

All the other assistants were older than me. I think they were a bit shocked by my age at the time but I got on alright with them.

I enjoyed the Store. I liked the camaraderie and the general atmosphere. The customers were nice. You didn’t very often get a difficult customer – not at that time anyway. The atmosphere at Christmas was a bit hyper but generally very nice.

I enjoyed particularly the camaraderie among the staff. If you had a problem you could go to the Head of Department or if necessary you could go higher.

I liked reading, that was one of the reasons I went to Jarrolds. They were going to have a position in the Book Department and that’s what I wanted. But I had to start in Education until a vacancy came up. I spent most of my time reading. I always have.

I went to one of the Whist Drives that held. A couple of outings, car rallies and I met my husband there. Obviously he was the driver.

I was working in Education Department and he was a rep for the commercial stationery and he had to come up to collect some goods and took it from there really.

Al long as you done your job and were polite to customers, which was the criteria, it didn’t matter that you were courting.

It was a lot smaller than it is now and Departments were a lot smaller. The customers were still pleasant. They were always right, no matter what. Even if they were wrong. But you had to grin and bear it if they were wrong. It was just a nice friendly atmosphere al together.

I wasn’t in the Educational Department that long.

In magazines, as you know yourself, magazines come and go, newspapers come and go. And you just went with the changes. I remember the Eagle Comic and the Girl Comic, they used to sell phenomenally and then stopped printing them. And the children used to come in Where’s my Eagle?I’m sorry they no longer make it. Oh what am I going to read now. And you tried to get them onto a different comic or the next magazine up for them. It was good fun.

Regular customer used to come in, buy a magazine, probably come back the next week if hadn’t got it we would order it for them. So that they had it every week. You got used to their coming in. You got used to their names and in some cases you ended up calling them by their Christian names because they asked you to. But otherwise they were always Mr or Mrs.

I left in 1961, I was still quite young. I missed the camaraderie. I went to another store and there wasn’t quite so much camaraderie in that and the attitude of some the bosses was different. I missed Jarrolds to a certain extent.

It does hold a particular place in the city. It’s a family store and the shop assistants there knew their job. They knew their department upside down and inside out and sideways, whereas they don’t these days.

I worked 9- 5.30 until I was put in charge of the Magazine Department and then that was 8.30 – 5.30. I started on I think £5 per week, four of which I gave my parents.

When I was there it was more of a family store and I don’t think, perhaps shouldn’t say it, but I don’t think the assistants are trained like we were when I was there. I think it’s a big difference.

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