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A Front Shop 'Sally'

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

I worked as a 'Sally' - a front shop sales person - at a Lyons teashop in the Strand, for 9 months from September of 1952.

I worked as a 'Sally' - a front shop sales person - at a Lyons teashop in the Strand, for 9 months from September of 1952.

I would get to work in the morning, the van driver would arrive and deliver long van trays full of bread and cakes and buns. I would place some of the goods in the window so that passers-by could see what we were selling. Before the end of the day, usually, most everything had been sold.

Rationing was still in effect to some degree. For some reason all I can recall selling was bread both brown and white, small bread rolls that were quite hard on the outside. We sold buns and cakes and fruit cake. Lots of Swiss Roll and Victoria Cream Sandwiches which were very popular.

At times I would be asked if I would like to do some extra work on a weekend and if I did this would usually be at a different teashop. One was almost at Trafalgar Square. I noticed the place is still there but of course is now a different business. One day I was asked to go and work at The Strand Corner House and I thought that this was the most exciting thing to do. it was a fabulous place. They had a salad bar there that was out of this world. I had never in my life seen so many good things to eat.

One of  the benefits of working at the Teashops was that we were given a really good meal. There was a place sectioned off for the staff where we could eat. I think had it not been for getting fed there that I may have starved as in those days I did not have a lot of money.

 I remember I wore a navy blue one piece sort of jacket I also wore some sort of a headpiece. We were inspected to make sure our hands were clean before we started work. There was an old fashioned cash register at the counter. We had to add up in our heads in those days. No such thing as calculators.

I only worked there about 9 months but it is a job I fondly recall. 

Orchard House was amazing. We were trained in classrooms and had to go through some rigorous classes. When we left there we felt like we were something special.

I do recall that one day Googie Withers the film star came in and bought a small brown loaf from me. She was appearing close by in a play, think it was The Aldwych Theatre. One day Derrick De Marney came also.  

All the staff at the teashop in the Strand were wonderful people. Most of them were Londoners with a few Irish. I was from the North of England (Yorkshire).

The only reason I left Lyons was because I managed to get a job in a glass factory closer to where I lived. Otherwise goodness knows I might have still been working there when the store closed. I did not work in the glass factory very long as I did not like it. I found it very boring and decided to move back home to Bradford in Yorkshire in about August of 1953. I took a job in a Textile Mill where I trained to be a Warper.

Then in 1959 New Zealand were seeking skilled workers to go down to NZ free passage and I was chosen by this Mill who interviewed me in Bradford for the job. I  left Bradford on the 18th May and sailed the next day from Glasgow in Scotland arriving down there in June of 1959. I stayed down there until July of 1961 when I came to California. Never really intended staying but I am there still. Got married to an American whose father was born in Haydock Lancashire. I had two children, a daughter, Gloria, who is 41 and a son, Erick, who will be 39 in April. My daughter is married and my son is engaged and getting married next year. That is about the story of my life.

Some photographs of nippy training at Orchard House (scroll through to view):

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