Day 98 #100DaysOfOldDays
Kate O’Reilly, from my hometown, recently posted a collection of photos on her Facebook page, that she took in a museum in Limerick; Old Irish Ways. I wish I had some of these photos in the earlier days of our 100 day project. A couple of the photos brought back so many memories of times gone by.
This photo in particular! In the 70’s, some shops still looked similar to this. Soden’s in Bailieborough was one. The old weighing scales and meat slicer on the counter. The old cash register. Newspapers and comics laid out. Cigarettes in 10’s and 20’s, visible to the customers.
“I’m going up the town for a few messages,” Mam would say when was going to the shops.
On a week day she bought something for the dinner, and bread and milk. Nothing that wasn’t needed! Although, sometimes she’d buy five penny bars but end up eating a couple of them on the way home, so we’d get half a penny bar each.
We loved the Friday shopping that was brought home in a big cardboard box—or two. They contained much the same as every other week, but it was still exciting to empty them. Maybe there’ll be a sandwich cake this week, or digestives instead of the usual Morning Coffee biscuits.
When we went shopping with Mam, we had absolutely no say as to what went into the trolley. We wouldn’t dream of trying to sneak anything into it. Christ, you didn’t take those kind of risks when you were a 70’s child! We also took little notice of what Mam put into the trolley. But when the big box landed on the kitchen table, we dived right in.
We were a sliced pan family. Some people were Batch Loaf…religiously!
There would be at least four sliced pans in the box—brown for Dad and white for us. And a bag of wholemeal flour for making the brown cake.
There would have been a pot of Mace strawberry jam, Mace marmalade and Mace diluted orange. (Mam always kept a check on the pennies and bought store brands whenever possible.)
She bought cream crackers, which she had to hide from us. There was always Morning Coffee biscuits, sometimes Marietta. It was later in the 70’s that the bourbon and custard creams became regular items in the shopping box.
A box of loose Lyons tea. It was well into the 80’s before Mam bothered with tea bags. Tins of beans and alphabet spaghetti. Tins of creamed rice and peas. Jelly and Instant Whip for Sunday. She had to hide the jelly with the cream crackers, because in reality it was a big fat square jelly sweet…a giant wine gum! And it smelled so delicious…of course she had to hide it!
Birds Dream Topping was an alternative to fresh cream. It was such a treat to get it, which wasn’t very often.
“Give it a whirl.”
Birds powdered custard. Oxo cubes. A box of Bisto—the one you had to mix into a paste with cold water. Never instant gravy.
There might have been a sachet of Apeel powdered orange drink and Rise and Shine from Kelloggs.
A four stone bag of potatoes. Carrots, parsnips and onions for the stew. And cabbage and a turnip. Always!
We would get some sweets on a Friday. Penny bars, lollipops or jellies.
Porridge, cornflakes and Weetabix were our cereals. And I’ve just remembered…Ready Brek. I hated it!
Apart from the tall plastic container of Saxa salt and the smaller one containing white pepper, Chef Brown Sauce and Coleman’s mustard were the only condiments on our table. If there was a bottle of tomato ketchup in the box we got excited! In the summer we had Chef Salad Cream.
So what fridge items were in the box? Bottles of milk—even though the milkman delivered to the door every morning. Sausages and corned beef. Calvita cheese and Easi Singles. Eggs. A big square tub of margarine; the soft spreadable creamy type that lasted a week. It went on the spuds, the bread and for making buns. And a lump of boiling bacon.
On the top part of our fridge there was a small freezer box so there was very little frozen food in the shopping. There was always frozen peas and fish fingers. Sometimes frozen burgers. We got excited if there was a block of ice cream and a packet of wafers.
Most of these things still exist and some are in my own shopping bag every week. But some are very hard to get or no longer exist.
3 Hands washing up liquid. I’d completely forgotten about it until I spied it on the top shelf in Kate’s photo.
Floor polish in a tin. You had to get down on your hands and knees to polish the floor with this stuff.
Mam used Daz washing powder (and sometimes the Mace brand) to wash the clothes. Daz gave your whites a bluey white.
Remember the little muslin bags that contained a cube of blue stuff? It was stirred around in the washing to make the whites whiter. It was called Bluing. I think it’s still available in liquid form but maybe not in the wee muslin bags.
Vim was a scouring powder for cleaning the sinks and the toilet bowl. It came in a fat cylinder box with holes on the lid so you could shake out just as much as you needed. Waste not, want not.
Mam used Sunlight and Lifebuoy carbolic soap for household cleaning. We had Palmolive and Shield soap for bathing. Although, I have memories of being scrubbed at the kitchen sink with the carbolic soap on a summer’s evening, when ordinary soap wasn’t enough to remove the mud, grass or tar marks on our hands and knees.
There was definitely no liquid hand soap or shower gel in our bathroom. We had bubble bath sometimes. Mam had nice soap for herself; Lux, Camay or Imperial Leather. (She still buys Imperial Leather.)
Camay created a soft creamy lather that gave a woman a complexion as smooth as porcelain. Most of the adverts showed women washing their faces with Camay soap and being amazed at their beautiful soft skin afterwards.
But this particular advert has a more humorous slant to it! I think it’s very funny!
Iodine was used for cuts and grazes. TCP was also put on cuts and used as an antiseptic for most skin ailments.
Any mention of a stomach ache and we were fed Milk of Magnesia or Syrup of Figs. I didn’t mind Syrup of Figs, but dreaded Magnesia.
Here’s an old-fashioned metal list of the messages.