Friday, 24 October 2008

A dog in a butcher's shop

On holiday in France, we visited the city of Chartres where we've been many times before, and walked past a very old butcher's shop. We must have walked past this shop several times in the past, but for some reason had never noticed before. Have you ever done that? Suddenly the moment is "right" and you notice something you'd ignored up until then.

My eyes lit up when I saw this particular butcher's shop because it reminded me so much of the kind of shop my grandpa had, and the trade my dad grew up in and trained in. The French butcher's shop is a protected building, and has an old-fashioned cash desk (on the left just behind the window) where customers pay for their purchases. The butcher doesn't touch the cash.

An elderly gentleman, about to go into the shop, saw we were interested and started telling us about the shop. That's him talking to me while husband Barry nipped across the road to take the photo. He told me that this butcher was the best in town and the queue of people inside supported that. The kindly gentleman told me that he was 78, and he thought that the butcher was probably 80. As he wasn't sure about this, he popped into the shop to ask the butcher how old he was (also 78), came out to tell me, chatted a bit longer and then went in to buy his meat for the weekend. We peered through the window a bit longer, in time to see a dog belonging to one of the customers eyeing a tasty cut!

This has prompted me to look out some of the old photos and family belongings I have, so here is a photo of my grandpa's shop. He is standing on the right, my grandma took the money and she's in the cash desk at the back of the shop, and the small boy in the cap and striped apron is my dad. He helped out at weekends as "butcher's boy" and took deliveries around on a bicycle with a large basket on the front for carrying the orders.

My dad looks about 7 or 8 years old here, which would put the date this was taken at around 1913 or 1914. Note how smart my grandpa and the two members of staff in the shop look wearing jackets, shirts and ties.

My grandpa had account books, made up to look like a now old fashioned British passport, for his customers, and here's the one I have in the family memorabilia I've inherited. I was quite impressed when I found this!

Finally, here's a picture of my dad with his staff, taken in his shop on the Old Kent Road in London, sometime in the early 1960's. He followed in the family tradition, not only of being a butcher, but of looking smart wearing a shirt and tie to work!


Abby said...

Nice to see pictures of Grandpa

Jackie H said...

This has brought back so many memories of shopping in shops like your dads when I was a child. My sister and I would go to the local butcher's (he was called the appropriate name of Mr Calver) with a note from my mum. Mr Calver would always say exactly the same thing as he read it 'Meet me in the moonlight, Nellie dear'! He was the father of my Brown Owl and the first message she sent me, when I was learning semaphore, was that one from her dad!

Barbara said...

Hi Joyce and friends,
This is such a cool post !
It is true that sometimes, we go past buildings without really noticing this or that. But this time, the details on that boucherie we really stirring up memories.
You have such an interesting family history, Joyce! You know that I love this, already being a hobby Genealogist.
Cherish your History and heritage.

Mellow Yellow said...

Thanks Jackie - I'm glad it rang bells and brought some good memories to the fore for you too! I enjoyed that story of the semaphore message. I wonder if butchers had some diverse "special skills" years ago because my dad could speak back slang (saying every word backwards) and it was used in the shop between staff when an awkward customer came in. I remember my dad telling me that they had caught a persistent shoplifter, who used to spirit chops into her shopping bag whilst in the queue, by communicating with each other in back slang.

Mellow Yellow said...

Hi Abby & Barbara,

Have just caught up with your messages.

Grandpa was a bit of a handsome hunk wasn't he?! I used to visit the shop on Saturdays when I was old enough to go there on my own on the bus. I would go in the afternoon and stay until the shop was closed & all was tidied up so I got quite good at sweeping up the sawdust at the end of the day! Then I used to get on the bus home and Grandpa would cycle along behind it, trying to keep up!

Thanks Barbara for your comments - maybe I do have some interesting snippets of family history, so I'll aim to share some of them. My parents lived through the London Blitz in the war, and I was told many tales by them of what it was like, so perhaps I'll write about them some time.

Maylis said...

Thank you so much for these pictures!