mature items to wear of the wedding
My story part 21
Not content with doing a paper round for W H Smith, an after school and Saturday morning job at Barton’s Chemists, my brother a morning paper round and working at Andersons butchers, we decided to boost our income by also doing a Sunday paper round. Because Sunday newspapers mostly carried large supplements, they were quite heavy so we decided to construct some means of conveyance. With an old wooden box fitted with some pram wheels, we now had the means to transport the newspapers rather than carry them.
Unlike the delivery of the daily newspapers where the householder would call at their respective newsagents shop to pay the bill, the man, whose name escapes me who was the apparently sole distributor for the Sunday newspapers in the town, working from a shed in East Street insisted in payment at time of delivery. The people receiving the Sunday newspapers were aware of this and many rather than being disturbed early on a Sunday morning by the delivery boy would leave the money for collection on the doorstep. Although this would only be just a few coppers, none of the money as far as I know ever went missing. On our first day half way through the round disaster struck, a wheel came off our wagon. Unable to then fix it and not being a member of the AA or RAC we had to abandon it and carry the newspapers for the rest of the round. It was later recovered and repaired. After finishing our round, we would take the money collected to the distributor who, after counting it would then give us a very small percentage for our efforts.
When doing my weekday morning newspaper delivery, no doubt wearing my W.H. Smith cap at the required jaunty angle, at one house I would deliver to in Needingworth Road, owned by George Harrendine, of the local butcher family I would occasionally be met at the gate by a young girl of around eight years of age who would take the newspaper from me .Although not related to the Harrendines she would spend time with then during her school holidays. Little could either of us possibly know at this time but just ten years later that same little girl would become my wife. Now, having been married for sixty three years with two daughters, eleven grandchildren, fourteen greatgrandchildren, and counting, all these years later we remain very happily married.
In September 1946 at the age of fourteen I would leave school, and with the parting words of our headmaster, one Sammy Frith ringing in my ears ‘Leslie has much ability. He should succeed in his new position’ I ventured out into the world to seek full time employment.
I would now start my first full time employment as a telegram boy at St.Ives post office then situated at the cross next door to Robbs shop at a wage of twenty-five shillings a week. My job was to deliver telegrams in the town and surrounding villages by bicycle. Not only did I now get a post office hat but the whole uniform. At this time, sending telegrams was very much the in thing and represented an almost instant way to convey messages. There was a special telegram called a greetings telegram which displayed some form of printed greeting relative to the event be it birthday, anniversary or wedding. The message from the sender would be then included. The telegram would be placed into a sealed yellow envelope and conveyed in a leather pouch attached to a belt fastened around our waist. We telegram boys hated the wedding telegrams for very many would be sent at varying times of the wedding day and had to be delivered as they were received where later they would be read out traditionally at the reception by the best man. There could possibly be one telegram received early in the day for delivery say to Woodhurst or perhaps to one of the Hemingfords, and having cycled all the way and back to deliver the telegram on returning to the post office to find another for the same address so off you would go again and this could happen several times during this day. mature items to wear of the wedding
Much of my free time would be taken with fishing, messing about on the swings and slides in the Rec, playing football or cricket and generally hanging around town with my mates. One evening in the week to attend the youth club in the Constitutional Hall in The Broadway. Most Saturdays we would attend the afternoon matinee at the Regal Cinema at the cost of three pence or would meet up in the Welcome café in the Broadway where we would spend some time chatting, without buying very much, or in Townsend café in Crown Street. Here Mr Townsend would allow us, when a bit short of money, to buy our drinks or other items ‘on tick’ the amount owed would be written against you name in chalk on a blackboard displayed for all to see behind the counter. Most of us took advantage of this at some time or another and there was no embarrassment in seeing your name and sum owed on open display. We would settle-up at our next payday.
At the age of fourteen boys would traditionally change from wearing short trousers to long trousers. This would be regarded as the time you were no longer a child but a grown up. This was a time which all boys would look forward to and they would wear their new long trousers with considerable pride announcing to all that they were now grown-up men. At this time clothing rationing was still in force and a pair of long trousers required eight points, unfortunately by the time I became ready for the changeover we had insufficient points remaining and therefore much to my disappointment my change over boy to man had to be delayed for several months.
Dad would now finish working at Wyton Airdrome and start work at St. Ives railway station as a platelayer in a gang of men responsible for maintaining the rail line. My brother at the age of sixteen-started work as a porter at the railway station. At one time, he was sent to the shunting coal yard and told to help with the coupling of the shunted coal wagons. Unfortunately having no experience with this type of work his first attempt to apply the coupling resulted in his left hand being caught between the buffers resulting in the crushing and ultimate loss of two fingers. The person sending him to the yard denied doing so saying that my brother should not have been there. Long before the current culture of seeking compensation for such injuries, no claim was ever made.
Here a photograph of me at the age of fourteen posing in my telegram boy uniform, on my official post office bike, complete with long trousers in Peeks Yard Note the required jaunty position of my hat, making me look cool and trendy. (On the other hand, perhaps not!)