ID: ML2019_004_090 / Ron Green

TitleMemory Lane - Mersea shops
AbstractFollowing on from my last month's visit to Mersea shops in the 1940s which gained quite a few favourable comments, I thought I would look at a few more.

I mentioned Katie White's little shop on Queen's Corner which sold a wide range of sweets, toys and other goodies. Katie was a little old spinster and the last of a family of shopkeepers. Her father Samuel Cant White had shops in West Mersea, Peldon, Abberton, Tollesbury, Tiptree and Maldon.

There were two gent's hairdressers on the island, Freddie Wass in Mill Road and Johnny Hart in the village. During the war when these two men were in the forces, Albert Rash opened a barbers in Kingsland Road, since demolished to make way for the filling station. Albert promptly closed his shop when the men returned from war, he didn't want to take work away from men who had fought for their country. He had served us well. Gents hairdressers sold male contraceptives. I was in Johnny's chair one day and the door opened and someone crept in. Johnny put down his scissors and after a few whispered words reached up to a little box on the top shelf and took out a small envelope which he took out to the gentleman. Johnny had noticed a lady waiting outside and coming back in couldn't resist a peek over the curtain as the couple walked down the street. 'Cor, she was a bit of alright booy' chuckled Johnny before carrying on with my haircut.

Opposite Johnny's was 'Liza's, Eliza D'Wit who sold sweets and cigarettes etc. Liza was another little old spinster and was usually out the back when you walked into the shop. It was customary to shout 'Shop Liza' and wait while she came shuffling and muttering through from her kitchen to serve you. Two doors away was 'Cadder' Mussett's, usually attended by 'Brassy' an old man who shuffled around in his carpet slippers. Brassy's performance is well worth recording. If you handed him a 10/- or £1 note he would crumple it up into a tight ball before flattening it out on the counter. This was presumably to check if it was counterfeit. He then turned the coins of your change over several times before handing them over.

The White Hart was always busy and the public bar possessed a thick fug of tobacco smoke and stale beer which wafted out into the street on warm summer evenings when the windows were open. I was passing one such evening when the drinkers came out moaning and spluttering. When I asked what had happened I was told Dick had broken wind.

The picture shows a group of local lads on Liza's doorstep. It was taken by the late Ted Woolf in the mid 1940s. Cadder's shop is just visible on the right.
The names are Ron Procter, Hugh Maylor, Dick Cudmore, Ken Mole (fisherman), Don Procter, Johnny Hempstead, Peter Vince, Jimmy Simmons, Derek Cranfield, Gerry D'Witt, Don Pullen, Dennis Cook, Dennis Whiting, Arthur 'Bob' Milgate, Burton Cook.

AuthorRon Green
SourceMersea Museum