||SHOPS ON LONDON ROAD
In all small localities there were many, many small shops because transport was almost non-existent. Little villages were almost self-sufficient. We had a bake-house,3-4 milkmen, people grew their own vegetables, etc. etc.
Grandfather's shop -A little shop(where my father lived), on the left-hand side of the two semi-detached cottages, between the Fountain and the Talbot. He sold wool, lace, shoe-laces, dies, pencils, elastic, and many, many things of that nature and sweets. Sweets were all in a glass jar. Nothing was wrapped in those days. I can remember this little shop which had a hanging bell over the door, counter and racks.
The poverty in those days necessitated my grandfather going far-a-field. He had a horse and a box-cart. He would go round peoples' doors in Shenley, Loughton, Old Bradwell, Whaddon, Nash, Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and Simpson. He made his rounds just to sell a few odd bits and get a penny here, and a penny there. I remember when he died in 1933-34, my mother-a stickler for having everything right, used to spend countless hours going round to collect money from people it to my grandfather.
There was a cellar underneath the shop, which was frightening. It was very dank, damp and wet with a smell of rotten potatoes. The shop floor was wood. Wooden floors had a habit of either rotting through damp or disintegrate with woodworm. I have vivid memories of the floor having pieces of tin nailed all over it-to cover any holes. A patchwork of tin with no symmetry. There was an attic too, but it was almost forbidden to children. I don't know why.
The house -My recollections of the little kitchen was that everywhere was always black because there was a huge oven where the cooking had to be done from an open fire, which meant smoke.
Miss Benbow's Shop -Next door to my grandfather's house,(coming down the road towards the Talbot) was a little house. There was a well in between where they got the water from-beautiful drinking water-wouldn't be approved today because there were always little things squirming about in it. Some comedian once said "You got your meat at the same time." It was said that my father's brother once was letting the bucket down into the well to draw the water, and he didn't fasten it properly, and the bucket fell off. So he was in the bad books for many, many months because he had lost "the bucket".
The lady next door, before my time, had a little shop-probably selling the same sort of things as my grandfather. She was known as Polly Benbow. I did know a Miss Benbow, but she didn't have a shop in my day. Her brother, Mr. Benbow to me, had a large shed. I was allowed once or twice in there. There were lots of big timber in there. Legend said that at one time he used to make coffins. He was a woodworker and a wheelwright.