Saturday, 26 December 2009

Joan's Journey Chapter VI. Work and Romance


I left school in 1954, without any idea of what I wanted to do, or career pattern to follow. Almost at once I secured a job with the Co-op and worked at a shoe shop on the Stratford Road. I enjoyed the work and learned a great deal about footwear but unfortunately the compulsory Saturday working, coincided with my enthusiasm and support for the Birmingham Football Club, which played most of its fixtures on a Saturday. At such a young age, perhaps it was impulsive of me, but I gave in my notice to the Co-op. While I was looking for another more suitable position, I took a temporary job in a factory opposite the house in Sherborne Street. I remember the working conditions being very dirty and oily, but the work saw me through until I secured a more permanent position. I saw an advertisement in the local paper for a junior clerk/telephonist, with a local company name of Finney Presses Ltd.
The company was located in Berkley Street, just off Broad Street. They promised to provide commercial training and they were certainly true to their word. Within twelve months I was fluent on the switchboard, a comfortable typist, training to do double entry bookkeeping, and prepare wages. I would accompany the Senior Wage Clerk to the Bank on Broad Street and would walk back with a large bag of money for the weekly wage bill. The money was worked out and put into individual envelopes. I had the task of delivering those packets all around the factory, to each workman. At Christmas time the company would hire a room and we would all be invited to a dinner. This was not the usual Christmas fare, but was very enjoyable; it was always a Lancashire Hotpot, the favourite meal of the Managing director, Mr Trevor Jones. In addition, before breaking up for the Christmas recess, he would personally present every one of his employees, workers and staff alike, with a Dundee Cake.
It was at Finney’s that I first met my future husband Geoff. On my first date with Geoff we went to the Forum Cinema on New Street. I remember the first film we saw was called “Hit The Deck” It was a musical and of course very romantic; he bought me a box of chocolates and paid to go into the better seats. He says now, that he immediately fell for the girl with the freckles, and was trying to create a lasting impression. We regularly dated after that and if we were meeting to go out in the town, we would arrange to meet in front of a store called Galloway’s, it stood at the top of New Street, and was a popular meeting place for young couples. Geoff would always treat me to chocolates and we sat in the upper circle, our favourite seats.

In no time, I came to know all the Millington family and formed an attachment with them all. At the time Geoff was an apprentice with the company and was still earning only a small wage. Our opportunities for leisure were obviously limited and we each bought ourselves a bicycle. We would travel for miles every Sunday. During the fifties the roads were very busy with cyclists, far fewer people at that time owned cars. We would cycle to local beauty spots such as Bewdley, Clent Hills, and sometimes further distances, Clee hills and Ludlow. We would travel to all these places, and return on the same day. I know that the years have taken their toll and in our present physical state, it is difficult to believe that we were able to cycle up those steep inclines. We also travelled around on longer excursions to various seaside places, using the Midland Red bus company. About this time we took an interest in traditional jazz, and attended many jazz concerts at venues including the Windsor Theatre, Smethwick, the Dudley Hippodrome and the Birmingham Town Hall. Other leisure activities included visiting amateur dramatic performances and visits to variety concerts.

Geoff up the Malverns


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