|As a long-time resident of Cleadon Park Estate. I was saddened by the news that C.C.T.V. cameras were thought necessary at Park Avenue shops. known
as the 'Top Shops' as opposed to the 'Bottom chops' on Prince Edward Road. To a child in
the late '30s and early '40s. they were very important. We would go 'messages' for our
Mans or for neighbours and spend our pocket money there, usually on sweets or comics. All
their windows and brasses shone, and bore the owner's name above, unlike the 'node up' or
brand names of today.
Araker's Pork Butcher's came first. My mother could remember World War One. and people stoning German pork shops, and though she wouldn't do anything violent herself. she never shopped there.
Next door was Whitely's Shoe Repairs. When leather was in short supply, Mr Whitely used to place the nails in the soles of the shoes so that he could recognise his regular customers. His wife, a very pleasant lady, served in the shop.
On the corner was Ritchies Fish and Chips. Everyone wore dazzling white overalls, this was before detergents and man-made fibres were available. The range with it's sizzling pans, and green and cream back in an Art Deco style. We would queue for ages, clasping a page of Gazette to wrap our three penny-worths in, then stroll home eating them, often in the blackout. Chips have never tasted as good since.
Alex Bruce. Grocer, Hewison's Greengrocer's, and was it a butcher's? came next, Maybe I've blocked out the sight of meat hanging and the distinctive smell of blood and saw-dust. Even then, they upset me.
Strangely. there were two adjoining General Dealers. Bennett's, later Frier's, and Feetham's, sometimes called 'The Cafe', for some reason. Both very busy shops. Rationing meant clipping out coupons and 'points' and trying to keep everybody happy. All extra jobs during the war.
Look Bros next, Newsagent and Post Office. Then Cracknell's Draper's. where I used to buy knitting needles. They kept a wide range of goods.
Round the corner was The Dairy, run by the Murray family. Then Oliv Haagensen's Hairdressing Salon, where her brother Lawrence? a Hypnotist. also worked. He was best known for helping people to stop smoking.
If this small area was a hot-bed of crime, I never saw or heard of it. But I was young, maybe someone can tell me different.
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