Saturday, 21 January 2012

47 years ago

Hands up how many people can remember what they were doing on this day in 1965, it was a Thursday. Those under 47 don't need to answer ;O) I've just been flicking through my diary for that year, and you will be pleased to know I had quite a good day at work on the 21st of January. I was 15 and a Woolies shop girl. 'I have at last got a move onto the jewellery counter. Val will stay with me for a week then she will go onto make up. There is a new girl coming and I will move on Monday.' Then I wrote, 'I posted my letter to Jack at last, and took some shoes to the menders.' Who was Jack? There is a reference to him in the entry for January 1st.

Jan 1st 1965. 'Mum told me that we will save to go to Australia and live on Jacks farm. I will love to go because I want to get away from Stretton and to be with Jack will be lovely. I told Lyn (friend) and she will be sad to see me go. Anyway, it's a long time away and we might not go till a few years time.' This is the day dream of a very naive fifteen year old, we didn't go to Australia. Jack was the nephew of Bob who lived next door, friends of mum and dad. Jack came to visit and I immediately had a crush on him.

Want to know some more?
Jan 2nd. 'I didn't go to work today because I have a cold, I just sat around coughing. I bought a film for my camera to take some photo's of Jack. On the tele I saw Juke Box Jury, Dr Who, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I bought a box of chocolates and ate them all.'

I bet you can't wait for the next entry now, ha ha.
Jan 3rd. I didn't do much today. I saw a fabulous film about warships. I took a photo of Bob hanging his washing out. Mum is poorly. I washed my hair and coloured it Golden Chestnut. I put it in rollers but took them out before I went to bed because I can't sleep in them.' Ha ha, gets better doesn't it.

Jan 4th. 'I went to work as usual but I've still got a cough. Lyn told me she's got lodgings with an old lady of 50.' It makes me smile when I read that now. Good grief, I am 62 and don't consider myself old at all!

Jan 8th. Usual day at work, (on sweety counter). Saw John today and he tells me he's got a job and will be earning £8 a week and he says he will be able to take me out.' John was Lyn's friend and I fancied him like mad. He had long hair and a motorbike. I was dreaming that he might like me better than her.

Ha ha, this is funny, just as I wrote it.
Jan 10th (Sunday) 'I stayed in bed till 10.30. I didn't do much. I washed my hair with bubble bath and it turned out lovely. Later I had a fabulous bubble bath. I love having a bubble bath because you can relax in it and the bubbles cover you. I saw a film later (on the tele), and I sat by Jack. He is so big and fabulous.' What a silly girl I was.

Jan 14th. 'We were ever so busy at work and I was left on my own for most of the time. John said he would take me out this weekend but I don't suppose he will as he has said it twice before, and he hasn't.' I wasn't very lucky with boys at that time, I was forever being stood up. Waiting on a street corner, and an hour later still there and no sign.

I didn't like it on the jewellery counter so asked to go back on sweets.
March 12th. 'I am made charge girl on sweets (that's one step below supervisor). I started by cleaning the sweet bins out (under the counter). I am glad I am back on sweets.'

Woolies used to be a very busy shop in the sixties. I can remember customers waiting to come in at 9am, it was packed out all day. We used to serve them from behind the counter, weighing up loose sweets, then weighing the pick n mix after they had filled their paper bags. Customers were waiting three deep to get served. There was boxed chocolates, the seasonal goods, Easter eggs and selection boxes. I used to do all the counting in the stockroom. We called it 'doing the binders', big books where we entered all the stock we had, then the head of department did the ordering. I could hide away there for a couple of days out of sight, and dip into the sweeties without anyone seeing me :o)) Oh happy days. The Woolies which went bust not so long ago was nothing like the shop I used to work in.

I left there on Friday the 29th of October, and got my holiday pay in the last wage packet, a grand total of £8 2s 1d. I started work at Melias, a chain of small grocery shops, on the following Monday. I never did get to go out with John, or anybody else. In fact I didn't have my first date till I was almost 18, and then I didn't like it very much, ha ha. But that's another story. Toodle pip. `


  1. I wasn't born then of course but I love to look back on events from the past, be it the form of photo or diaries!

    It's lovely that you still have diaries from back then to dip in to for memories :)

  2. I was five and in kindergarten. I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. Does that count? LOL.

    Renee :)

  3. I was 12 then. Our woolies was "fab". It had wooden floors and counters, both highly polished. At the back of the shop was a coffee bar and it was the highlight of the week to go there with my friends on a saturday. I hated coffee but I drank it My cousin worked on the record section, I thought she was the bees knees. You could choose a record then listen to it on headphones in a little booth. 4 years later my best friend got a job there and part of her interview was having to know her 9x's table. Unlike todays shop assistants, she had to know what change to give. She worked on the cheese counter. Happy days.

  4. I have my great grandmother's diary from the mid 1930's when she came to visit with my grandparents and my mom who was a toddler. They went to a lot of Shirley Temple movies and canned up a lot of fruit that summer.

  5. Wasn't born til 71, and my parents weren't married till 66 so I wasn't even a thought then. It's great to look back at old diaries, brings back so many memories. Thanks for letting us have a peek into your diary. I remember the pick and mix from Woolies, in about 1978, used to get a bag each Friday when we went shopping, fruit bon bons, peppermint creams, nut brittle, chocolate fudge etc. Used to spend my pocket money on a 7 inch single from the charts too. When you mentioned about colouring your hair, it reminded me of the little sachets of Shaders and Toners that you could buy at Woolies too, they would last around 6 washes. Girls at school would wear them a lot but, if they got caught in a heavy shower of rain, the colour would end up running out of their hair and down their face. Not a good look. :-/

    Came across this blog entry about Woolies that may be of interest to you, Ilona.

    Our old Woolies on the High Street is now a Poundland. Do miss Woolies though. Thanks for invoking such great memories for me. Cheers, Christy

  6. I was 18 and in college. I could have been in class that day and later working at TG&Y, sort like Woolworth's. I loved working the candy counter. Some people could not figure out how to weigh and charge the right price. I could figure it out easily and loved sampling chocolate the whole time.

  7. It's funny about Lyn having lodgings with an 'old lady of 50', because when you're young anyone over about 40 seems old, but also back then everyone looked so much older than they do now at the same age. Grannys really did look like grannys then.

  8. I worked in Woolies on a Saturday morning in 1965 - 4 hours for 8 shillings. I was on the sweets counter too - I loved it! We had little notebooks on a string with a pencil in case we couldn't add up in our heads. I never used my notebook. In those days we all knew our tables and how to do mental arithmetic. I am 61 years young.

  9. Can't answer your question haha..but sounds like they're great memories.

  10. Did you have the wooden floor boards in woolies? I remember buying my first single record in there.
    I still have all my letters I sent to Mr.T from before we were married when he was working away, they sound so immature now, lol

  11. That's such an excellent story, Ilona! Great idea. :) Sounds like Woolies was far more traditional back in the sixties. I envy you being a teenager in the sixties - did you get all worked up in Beatlemania? :D

  12. Wean of the Woods22 January 2012 at 10:44

    47 years ago, I had been married 3 years and expecting my first child - both husband and child have now vanished ! that's life ..

    I worked in Woollies when I was 15 too, I worked on the biscuit counter and I too loved weighing out the biccies - I can't believe people actually bought 'half a pound' of biscuits (that's about 250 grms to all you bright young things out there!)
    I was moved to the haberdashery next and I loved it, selling nylons, scarves, hankies, gloves - everyone wore gloves in those days, even light ones for summer.
    I loved the wooden floors in Woollies and those beautiful huge mahogany counters with glass tops - gone, never to be seen again sadly.
    After that it was secretarial college for me and doomed to boring office work until my family came along.
    You did what your parents told you in those days - yes we did ! and my Mom said I was going to be a secretary so that was that - no arguing !
    oh happy days - ha ha

  13. I was only 5 in 1965 but remember going into Woolies - polished wooden floorboards, pillars painted glossy green halfway like the walls and cream above. Little tracks along the ceiling where the pods with the money in went to the cashier when you bought something... I still have a miniature china oil lamp that I bought for 6d - happy times :0)

  14. I was 21 this time in 1965. It's my birthday today too so Ilona it's so appropriate for you to be making this post.

    I worked for the Chief Constable in Warrington then and I was just about to go abroad (Germany) to work in a few months.

    Woolworths I remember so well, as someone said, the wooden floorboards and also the beautiful wooden counters. Upstairs they used to sell crockery, that wheatsheaf stuff and the design with slashes on it that is really trendy and sought after nowadays.

    I have never kept diaries ever since my Mum read mine once and I got in a lot of trouble about it! Perhaps I should start one this year.

    I love the reference to 'an old lady of 50'. But they would seem like that to us, as Grans looked like Grans (actually mine didn't, she made up a lot and bleached her hair, but she was a hairdresser).

    Lovely memories and nice for us to read too, takes us back to how simple life was really!

  15. Loved your blog today Ilona. I have some lovely memories of the older style Woolies - you brought them right back. At Christmas my dad would take me there to choose a gift for mum and he would buy me a record from the record department. We would choose a record then listen to it in a booth with headphones on. He taught me how to inspect the record for any scratches before paying for it. Then we would get some sweets on the way out. It was an exciting day out. I don't think my kids felt the same about going into Woolworths, and didn't seem too fussed when it closed down. Ah well, I bet they have their own/different happy memories when they grow up.

    And how lovely for you to have all your memories written down for you to reflect on (I destroyed my diary, which I kept every day for a year, when I found someone reading it :(

    I am reading a library book at the moment called The Girl on the Wall by Jean Baggot. Its an autobiography of a 69year old woman who rather than keeping a diary she made a tapestry each picture depicting different events in her life. Its a fascinating look into the past and she rights beautifully (like you Illona).

    Thanks for sharing. Debs x

  16. 1965, I was 9 years old then, I do remember the old Woolworth store in Stockton on Tees, which moved to brand new premises further down the High Street, which is now a B&M shop.

    I got my 2nd 45 rpm (single) called Son of my Father by Chicory Tip from the old Woolies store in 1972.

    There were the good times.

    Thanks for the memory.

  17. Lovely memories, I worked Saturdays and school holidays in the big Woolies in Kingston-upon-Thames.
    I remember vividly being told never to stand around doing nothing behind the counter but to 'tidy the bags'.
    I mostly worked on the haberdashery counter with hair-grips, and slides, and ribbons - I loved it!

  18. I was around then but only just! On this date I was in Mama Lovelygrey's tummy probably giving her heartburn! x

  19. How interesting to read about the lollie counter at Woolies. That was my first job too- I was 15.


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