ID: ML2021_005_078 / Ron Green

TitleThe tuppeny water pistol
AbstractIn my school days there was a little shop on Queens Corner owned by Miss Katie White. She sold a range of things including toys and sweets, a school boy's dream. Walking home from Barfield Road school to my home in Suffolk Avenue I often stopped by to see what was in the window. One day I spotted a water pistol priced two pence - old money of course. I decided I wanted that toy and worked out a plan. Each morning we could have school milk - a third of a pint priced at a halfpenny. Each morning mum gave me my milk money which was usually a penny and I would get a halfpenny change. I worked out that if I saved four halfpennies of my change I could purchase that water pistol. The day duly arrived and I went in, handed over my four half pennies and got my pistol. Katie was a little old spinster, sister of builder Clifford White, an old family of shopkeepers. Her shop was always well stocked - possibly over stocked and there were piles of cardboard boxes everywhere. Sometimes someone wanted something from a lower box behind the counter and whole heap would come crashing down with a lot of muttering from Katie.

I couldn't wait to try out my new toy,. There was usually a large puddle behind the hedge of The Fountain forecourt so I nipped across the road and loaded my pistol there.

Katie's father Samuel Cant White had several shops. As well as West Mersea he had a shop at Peldon, Abberton, Maldon and Tiptree; he also had shops at Tollesbury and he was agent for Barclays Bank. His son Clifford White built the Barclays Bank on the corner of North Street, Tollesbury and Bank House which later became Cook's Garden Centre in Church Road West Mersea.

Katie White's shop - Queens Corner Stores, on the corner of Mill Road. Photo from Tony Saye

Samuel Cant White's shop in Church Road, very close to the corner with Churchfields. Only the buildings on the extreme left, survive, no longer a shop. Photo from Alan Smith

AuthorRon Green
SourceMersea Museum