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Working in the grocer's shop

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Rationing

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Kathleen Barwick
Location of story: 
The Swillett, Chorleywood, Herts
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Joan Smith for Three Counties Action on behalf of Kathlenn Barwick aand has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I worked in a grocer's shop in the Swillett during the war. The shop belonged to Mr P C Ball. People thought he was a policeman because of his initials. It was all rations - 2oz cheese, 2oz butter, 2oz margerine, 2oz lard for every person. Sugar was rationed - I think it was a pound. Bacon was all cut up in rashers - you couldn't get a piece to boil. I served dry goods and Mr Ball did the bacon and other things. Everyone had a book so that they didn't cheat. You had to mark it down so that they didn't get things twice. Bread wasn't rationed, we always got enough but no butter to put on it, just horrible hard margerine. I had to cut up the butter - half a pound into four pieces. People grew vegetables and brought them to the shop for Mr Ball to sell. We didn't have much fruit - nothing from abroad, no bananas or anything like that. We had dried eggs which was horrible stuff so we kept chickens. John had a shed for his mororbike and we made it into a chicken house.

My husband was in the army. Wives had to work if you didn't have any children. John, my husband, didn't want me to work. I had evacuees, a family from up north, a mother and a little boy, and then later she had another little boy. I was at work and she was in my house because we had three bedrooms and they had two. You were paid a very small amount to have evacuees. She bought her own food. She was very nice.

I had to go to St Albans when I was called up. I had to get the early bus at 8 o'clock to get there. I chose to work in the grocers. I liked working in the shop because you saw people. I got about ten shillings a week(50 pence). Mr Ball had a bicycle and used to deliver orders. Sometimes I went to Slough to work in Mr Ball's shop there, and only came home at weekends to see what the evacuees were doing to my house. One day a week I had to go to Chorleywood House (the big house across the common) which was a convalescent home for soldiers, and I had to help with the nursing. I had to do a night duty, and then go to work in the shop. Once there was a bomb dropped on the common because they tried to hit the railway line. We didn't go out walking for fear of bombing. I had a bunkbed in the cupboard under the stairs for when the sirens went and there was an air raid.

I went on working in the shop after the war. My husband was in Burma and he was shot in the leg and his muscles were damaged. The evacuees went back when it had all quietened down. They were town people and had to change their ways. They kept in touch

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