John Gaisford has fond memories of the shopkeepers and tradesmen, who kept the residents of Osney, Oxford, supplied with goods.
He recalls in his memoirs: “Our street, Bridge Street, boasted two shops, Reggie Hammond’s and Annie Walker’s, and a bakery, Woodward’s.
“You could buy almost anything at Hammond’s – my favourite was tins of broken biscuits set out in a row outside the shop.
“My dad used to send me there to buy his five Woodbines or Players Weights. I can see Reggie Hammond now – a tall, upright, balding figure, with his striped apron, cutting the cheese with a wire.
“All this time, there was food rationing, but did we starve? Never, we always had something to eat.
“Woodward’s bread and cakes were a delight. Often, I would be sent there before 8am to pick up a sixpenny loaf.
“Mum would cut us a slice and the margarine would melt because the bread was still warm. Mr Woodward would also bake your Sunday roast for a penny.
“Albert Hunt carried out deliveries for Woodward’s. He had a horse called Tom, who knew the route inside out – he knew where to stop and to get a free pint of beer at the local pub.”
Mr Gaisford, of Springfield Road, Botley – well known in later life as the Oxford Mail’s speedway and greyhound racing correspondent – recalls how he often helped the Co-op milkman called Lionel.
However, his days as a delivery boy ended when he fell under the wheels of the milkcart and was laid up for several weeks.
Another familiar sight was Oxford Mail delivery man Pat Patrick.
“He would wander down Bridge Street hollering at the top of his voice, ‘Oxford Mail’.
“People would come out of their houses to buy the Mail, as it was the best way of knowing what was going on in those days. It cost just one old penny. We also had a regular visit from the rag and bone man, who took things off you for a small reward. Most popular were rabbit skins – rabbit was a a big part of the meat diet during rationing.
“Another way to make an odd penny was to find Corona and beer bottles and take them to the shop to get the deposit. There were no such things as plastic bottles and cans in those days.
“The only takeaways we knew in those days were the fish and chip shop and the faggots and peas shop in Church Street, St Ebbe’s.”
The Gaisford family – William and Hilda Gaisford had five sons and two daughters – were one of the biggest on Osney Island.
The lived originally at 67 Bridge Street, but moved across the road to No 26, a former pub, which had more room to house the growing brood. More of John’s memories soon.