Memories Of Wick - Connie Dunnet Sutherland - Part 7
17th April 2014
Taking a dander down memory lane again Willie Nicolsons grocer shop in the High Street Wick (or Jim Tait's as it became in time) held a great fascination for me as a child.
As the clerk in charge of finances sat high up near the ceiling in a pulpit like desk overseeing us mortals on the shop floor rather like ants to -ing and fro-ing about our everyday lives .This lucky individual was one Isobel Steven whose father Sanny had a miraculous escape from the bombs which devastated Bank Row in 1940. His tailor shop was accomodated on the second or third floor of a block of houses which were adjacent to the spot on the road where the two bombs fell. He related how in a state of shock he slid down to t he ground amidst all the rubble,ceilings,walls, furniture you can imagine and found himself alive and unhurt apart from cuts and bruises and shock. To succeed to Isobel's job was the height of my ambition.
The apparatus attached at strategic points on the ceiling was composed of thin wires so there was no sense of shadow or darkness above the small saucer like shells containing the customers order /and or remittance, took up little space and had no detrimental effect on the light within the shop. Nowadays it would be composed of see-thru perspex or similar material. Not noisy but with a satisfactory grating swish would set off from Isobel's desk with a jerk on a handle pushing towards a counter where a charge hand waited for the disk to connect with the terminus with a satisfactory "ching" before reaching up to disconnect and unscr ew th e saucer and complete the transaction.
Health and safety would no doubt have a fit nowadays-but surely a strong lightweight metal mesh system could be devis ed to protect the public down below. Surely superior to the clumsy noisy suction tubes of today and to the satisfaction of train set enthusiasts. The advent of war put an end to such day dre aming. Rationing meant that people had to "register" with one particular supplier and as Nicolsons was the sole owner of such a magical apparatus they were quickly oversubscribed - alas not my family supplier.
Biscuits in those days were bought loose,displayed in the Companies tins. each varient set in paper "nests" to prevent crumbling. Packets were unknown so no shelves of biscuits "ready to roll" on the floor destined to appear on the table in front of a guest pray forbid as a plateful of "sand" Sweets have shrunk take for example "whipped cream walnuts" twirled chocolate pyramids containing a walnut, in the base covered in a thin white sweet cream and decorated with a walnut on top(2d) now reduced to the size of marbles but with an inflated price in new pence.
Clarnico marzipan bars again just 2d anyones guess what price today These have disappeared just like the machines mounted on shopdoors and in railway stations advertising Nestles 1d bars of fine milk chocolate. I was intrigued by the barrel of grated cork in "Kelly"s doorway which disclosed bunches of grapes buried deep within the cork for protection. Kelly's disappeared too with the arrival of Woolworths 3d and 6d stores taking up the High Street side of the Market Square.
Memories of Wick - Part One
Memories Of Wick - Part Two
Memories Of Wick - Part Three
Memories Of Wick - Part Four
Memories Of Wick - Part Five
Memories Of Wick - Part Six
Memories Of Wick - Part Seven
Other Wartime Related Items On Caithness.org
Wings Over Wick
A collection of memories on RAF Wick - World War Two compiled by Primary 7 Hillhead School (first published in 1993)