My early working life

By Raymond Brown

Many thanks Duncan and Keith for your responses.

My main reason for making this enquiry was to find out the whereabouts and what happened to the Willis family. I started work there at the age of 11 in 1947 as an errand boy delivering groceries etc usually to older people who could not carry their purchases. On delivery I was usually awarded a 3d or 6d tip (old money). The carrier bike had a very deep basket and being only 11/13 years old I had great difficulty in reaching goods in the bottom of the basket. I sometimes had to put the bike on its side to get them out.

Other duties were to tidy the warehouse, sort out the fruit and vegetables and to make sure they were suitable for sale. I also assisted with the making of bouquets and wreaths. I usually worked on Friday evenings and either a half or a whole day on Saturday and some days during the week during school holidays. After a while I served customers in the shop and got to know the price of all the products. All adding up for the total of the bill was done manually.

When I was 15/16 Mr. and Mrs. Willis would go shopping in Yarmouth and leave me in charge of the shop. I recall one amusing incident, and the older generation will remember this, when a ship carrying oranges was wrecked just off the coast. Tons of oranges were washed ashore and hordes of people, including Mr. Willis, gathered them up. We spent quite some time washing and drying them ready to be sold. I am not sure if oranges were at that time still on ration.

Mr. Willis was known as Ben and Mrs Willis as, I think, Lilly. Duncan, you are right when you say that Mrs. Willis was a happy smiling lady. They had two children, Margaret and Graham. Margaret was learning to play the piano at Miss Benson's next to the shop and Graham at that time was a toddler and I used to help him climb over a high step leading to the back of the shop. I learned later that Graham was keen on football but I don't know if he took it up seriously.

Mr. and Mrs. Willis were good to me and wanted me to stay on after I left school possibly to look after another shop. Although this was tempting I was more interested in engineering and went to London as an apprentice with BOAC (now British Airways). I spent the rest of my working life associated with aircraft.

To recap, any information about the Willis family would be appreciated.

Regards – Raymond Brown.

By Raymond Brown
On 28/01/2011

This page was added by Raymond Brown on 01/06/2019.

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