Monday, 24 July 2017

A shopping list, a coal receipt and a little bit of how we lived in the winter of 1963

Now in an age of online shopping I still like the idea of making a list and going down to the shops but I have grown lazy and have reverted to that simple practice of the man with the van.

And today that was what arrived at 6.30 this morning courtesy of the latest supermarket to get into the business of delivering our groceries.

I resisted for a long time arguing the joy of getting out and meeting people and choosing for myself was a paramount adding that it was just another example of that creeping invasion of the internet into my life.

But historically of course the idea of the man with a van is not new, and if I had been from a certain class I might well have expected pretty much all of my food to have arrived at the door courtesy of the “boy and the cart” from the local tradesmen.

The only difference I suppose is that instead of sending the servant with the list or making a phone call today the order is placed by computer and of course the man in the van is equally likely to be a woman.

And as I stare at the itemised receipt I am reminded what a wonderful little bit of history this list is containing as it does not only a record of what we consume but the cost of everything from two bottles of Gavi, three of Pinot Grigio and assorted household products.

All of which neatly leads me to the shopping list made out by my old friend Marjorie Holmes in the winter of 1963 along with a receipt for two bags of coal delivered to the house by H.Hawkard, “Coal & Coke Merchant, Station Approach, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.”

Now such lists and receipts are the stuff of everyday life and most will be discarded pretty much straight away.

My father being a more canny person did tend to keep these records if only to make it easier to shop next time, which I guess is not unlike that tab on the online site which directs you to your favourites.

In the case of Marjorie few of her shopping lists have survived so I can’t say how typical this one was but it gives an idea of the cost of living back in 1963.

Moreover it indicates she was both a regular customer of the Co-op as the divi number at the top of the page testifies and that the order was delivered.

Back in 1963 we still had a Co-op on Beech Road and the coal merchants continued to operate from the Station approach after passenger trains ceased to rum from Chorlton into Central.

Of course there will be those who mutter this is small history, compared to the bigger picture which saw the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before, the assassination of President Kennedy in the November of 1963 and the slow decline in the popularity of the Conservative Government but this is my sort of history.

Pictures; shopping list circa November 1963 and coal receipt, November 1963, courtesy of Marjorie Holmes from the collection of Andrew Simpson

1 comment:

  1. I remember my Mum pushing me to the coal merchants at the station in my big pram in the smogs of the mid - late 50's to get bricketts for the fire (she'd put them in the 'belly' of the pram). The 'office' was a little wooden shack and the man behind the counter was called Harry Tune (or Toon).