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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on It was a Hard Cash Society


It was a hard cash society. Purchases were made with cash from pocket -- no cash in pocket, no purchase. No credit cards, cheques were rare and treated with deep suspicion, no concept of spending future or potential income. Local shops allowed credit ('tick') with weekly settlement to selected customers.

Financial control did not mean bank accounts, it meant allocating the weekly pay packet to various containers. When the man from the Pearl called, his money was in that jar. When the rent man called, his money was in this jar. Any contribution toward an annual holiday in another jar, (used also unfortunately to correct levels in other jars).

Large and foreseen expenses were managed by neighbourhood clubs. In the Christmas Club a weekly contribution was collected and the total returned each year for festive expenses. The banker was usually a local shopkeeper (who felt happier extending weekly credit).

There was a jar for sundries, usually empty, which supported non-essential costs. One occasional visitor was the man who sharpened knives and scissors. He walked the streets pushing a handcart on which was a treadle-driven grinding wheel. No protective glasses or grinding wheel regulations for him.

A less welcome visitor was the elderly lady selling wooden pegs. Claiming to have 'the gift', she also offered insights into the future, for a consideration. By common consent, everyone treated her with respect, and removed any chalk marks on her departure. Her appearance in the street was quickly reported to anyone expectant, who stayed out of sight.

Another visitor was the Frenchman selling onions. I'm curious now. Unlikely that he was on his own, and chose our neighbourhood - there must have been a team of Gallic salesmen. Did they bicycle from Dover in convoy, garlanded with strings of onions? Why only onions?


Written by Smokey