05/02/2016
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Shopping in the Sixties - Scottish nostalgia

7d0aaec6-9283-4fff-8936-1f86e9547b31

Scottish Memories reader Carolyn O'Hara recalls shopping trips with her mother in Ayr in the early 1960s.

Shopping with Mother was one of the first Ladybird books I possessed, its 1950s illustrations etched on my memory still, as are snapshots of food shopping with my own mother in Ayr in the early 1960s. Butchers, bakers, fishmongers, grocers, green grocers and of course, the sweetie shop: food shopping then was anything but a one stop shop.

My strongest memory was of visiting Douglas and Woods Grocers’ Shop in Burns Statue Square.  Shelf lined walls were crammed with packets and tins, well out of reach of customers, whose presence was carefully controlled by wide wooden counters, groaning with mysterious devices. With shopping list in hand, my mother might request fresh eggs from the basket; a portion of cheese, cut with frightening accuracy by a piece of taut wire, resembling an execution; a portion of butter, artistically patted into shape by wooden paddles before being neatly wrapped, like the cheese, in greaseproof paper.

But that was not all.  Most memorably, stout and jovial Mr Woods would lift me up so that I could dip my hand into one of the biscuit containers, its glass lid raised to reveal the tantalising array of loose biscuits within.

THE SWEETIE SHOP

A couple of doors away was Miss Strachan’s Sweet Shop. Similar in appearance to Mr Wood’s shop, though much smaller and narrower, her shelves were filled with serried ranks of tall glass bottles topped with chunky stoppers and filled with a rainbow hue of confectionery. When at last I had
been pinned down by my mother to make a decision, dainty pink and white stripped paper bags were employed to carry the precious contents safely home.

Girdwood Baker’s Shop would be next. This shop has for me the most regular memories from my childhood, for it was here, when I was a little older, that annually my father and I would shop together – as far as I can remember the only time we’d do so. The occasion was my April birthday when, as a special treat, we would collect my birthday cake. Iced in piped perfection and displayed on its shiny silver base, it was then enveloped in a white box conjured up with the precision of origami.

My mother’s shopping expeditions routinely took in Nesbitt’s the Butcher on Alloway Street. These visits are dominated in my memory by the sawdust floor and vermillion stained white coats of the scary-looking men wielding intimidating weapons. There was also an unmistakable odour about the place which made me eager to move on. But if the smell of the butcher’s was not to my liking, it was nothing to that of Boyd’s Fishmongers, in the same vicinity.

Apparently, long before I was able to express my dislike of the fish shop verbally, my screams as a baby began only if she had parked my pram outside that establishment, while she shopped inside!

Back to "Nostalgia" Category

05/02/2016 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Robert Burns died - On this day in Scottish history

Find out about the death of Scottish poet Robert Burns, who died on 21 July 1796 on this day in Scottish ...


Geologist John Playfair died - On this day in Scottish history

On 20 July 1819, Scottish geologist John Playfair died. ...


Scottish author A J Cronin was born - On this day in history

Scottish author A J Cronin was born on 19 July 1896. ...


Was Aberdeen the birthplace of Scotch whisky? Exciting new 16th-century find

Historians have uncovered the earliest ever reference to a still for distilling Scotch whisky which suggests ...


Other Articles

Actor John Stuart was born - On this day in history

Scottish actor John Stuart was born on 18 July 1898. ...


17th-century gold armorial ring found at Loch Lomond to go to auction

A 17th-century gold armorial ring found by a metal detectorist who has also discovered a rare Richard III of ...


Large number of finds at battle of Waterloo site in dig led by Professor Tony Pollard, University of Glasgow

A team working at the Waterloo battlefield in Belgium have uncovered uniform buttons from the Scots Guards ...


Economist Adam Smith died - On this day in history

Scottish economist Adam Smith died on 17 July 1790. ...