They Donít Come Any More

By Denis Colclough

Once morning at 3.30am I was awakened by the clinking of bottles. Thinking that a burglar, having brought his own refreshment was mixing a lemonade shandy, I peered out of the window. A milkman was delivering milk to a neighbourís house. This surprised me for I thought that street vendors were a relic of a bygone age. I had declined the services of the delivery milkman long ago after he persistently delivered sour milk at an hour coinciding with the delivery of the evening paper. Why the two services were not combined I never knew.

E. Perry & sons milk float

E Perry & Sons, Meadow Road, Quinton

What has happened to the people who sold their wares in the street? The breadman has long been absent. He used to give his horse his nosebag outside my house and it was not unknown for me to take old ĎDobbiní a bucket of water, which cunning ploy often resulted in my rhubarb receiving a beneficial dressing of fertiliser.

G F Davies milk float

G F Davies, milkman

Cap Badge

Wacaden Dairymanís cap badge

The saltman from Lower Gornal with large blocks of salt on his cart has not been lately either, nor has the three wheeled Wallí s ice cream bicycle complete with the man in his peak cap and whose container was full of Ďdry iceí and ice-lollies. I know that the rival Midland Counties ice cream man was often in heated discussion as to their respective territorial rights, but I havenít seen either lately.

Then there was the man who used to take and develop photographs while you waited, it is true that they were dark and faded quite quickly, but for 6d not many people complained. And what became of the man, of Italian extraction I believe, who rode his cycle with a trailer attached complete with a pedal driven grindstone. He sharpened knives, scissors and garden shears. Perhaps the sight of women (why never men?) sharpening their knives on the doorstep lessened his trade. There was also a man on a bike wearing a beret with coils of onions around his body and bike. He had come a long way and he couldnít understand us, only the Grammar School attendees could understand him slightly. Why his onions were preferable to the ones outside Mrs Evansí shop I donít know. Perhaps it was his Gaelic charm, Charles Boyer was very popular then; women swooned at him at the local cinema.

Of course there were the handcart fruit and vegetable sellers and the doorstep haberdashery entrepreneurs, complete with suitcase, and many more. Come to think of it, the milkman with his three wheeled cart, milk churn and long handled scoop hasnít been around either. What a pity they donít come any more.

Edís comment - Thank you Denis for these lovely memories

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