Gable Ender

Our lives have changes a lot over the decades and while I, like many others, may moan about health and safety it generally performs a useful service to us all.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 3:00pm
Gable Ender
Montrose High Street in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of the family of the late Ken Hay.

Over the years, I have been indebted to readers for their stories and two such tales help illustrate that point.

The first, probably from the 1940s or even 50s, concerned a grocer in Northesk Road in Montrose. Just to be clear, the business is long gone.

He was of that era; a man who wore a large white apron and sold everything from food to paraffin.

That is where the story lies. "A gallon of paraffin please.”

“No problem Sir.”

The paraffin was duly poured into your can or other suitable receptacle.

“Could I have four ounces of boiled ham please.”

"Certainly madam.” Wipes hands on apron and cuts slices of ham.

My mother had a small shop in the 1950s/60s and virtually everything was loose; biscuits, sweets, potatoes etc.

I am not saying hygiene was quite as slack as in the previous tale but all of these items were handled and poured into a paper bag.

Of course, no one really thought anything about such practices. Today, particularly with our Covid concerns we would, quite rightly, be appalled.

Back then we lived totally different lives from today. People lived with open coal fires and used matches to light them.

Our parents and grandparents fried foods, which brings me to my second tale, told to me by someone who had worked as a message boy for an Arbroath butcher.

As part of his duties he had to take fat cut from the meat to one of the other shops where it was processed into dripping.

One day, while carrying his cargo of fat, he was involved in an accident with a car and the contents of the message basket finished on the road.

The lad escaped relatively unscathed and, after the usual conversation about whether he was OK, he loaded the fat back into the basket. When he got to the other shop the butcher gave the by now somewhat gritty fat a cursory glance before announcing it would be fine.

We may sometimes mock elf ‘n’ safety, but, there is a lot to be said for the way we live today

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