On the corner of City Road in Walton, by Gwladys Street, close to Everton's Football Ground and Daglish's Pawnbrokers in Goodison Road there was a small newsagent's shop. As children in the Nineteen Fifties my sister and I would go into the shop to buy sweets, often just before going to one of the many cinemas in the area. The shop's owner was Mrs Hughes. She was a small lady who appeared as if by magic from the living quarters, stage left as anyone entered the shop. Of course it was the bell that rang as you opened the door that alerted her to a customer. The bell was a primitive metal apparatus that attached above the door frame. It still rings in my memory. Behind the shop counter upon the wooden shelves, there stood row upon row of bottles of sweets. We were spoiled for choice although we did have our favourites including lime and soda, chocolate toffees, wine gums and liquorice sticks. We would point excitedly at the preferred sweet bottle. Mrs Hughes would climb up onto a small ladder and bring the bottle down onto the counter. It was usually two ounces that we asked for and she would shake the sweets into a metal container on a set of ancient scales. Looking at the weight shown she would calculate the price.
That's just a bit over she would say, shall I take some out?
No, no! We would say in response, gladly paying the extra half penny for our treat. Off then we would go to the cinema with our dad to watch some of the great stars of the period, such as Alan Ladd, Doris Day, James Stewart, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster or John Wayne. Happy days!

In the same area, opposite St Luke's Church, between Andrew Street and Nimrod Street was a block of shops consisting of a general store, a fish and chip shop, a barber's shop, a chandler's supplies shop, a newsagent's shop, and a fruit and vegetable shop. There were several fish and chip shops along the length of Goodison Road to choose from including Goodge's which was the first one as I recall, not far from the bicycle shop at the top of Spellow Lane. Most of the chip shops had green and white marble effect tiles on the walls and high counters with polished metal aluminum tops that were hot to the touch from the freshly wrapped fish and chips placed upon there. My childhood favourite of all these fish and chip shops was called Leo's. He was a big man with muscular arms that showed his tattoos as he transferred the fish and chips and scallops from the sizzling fat friers onto the greaseproof paper ready to be wrapped up and taken home. As children my sister and I were in awe of him! In those days an enquiry about salt and vinegar on the fish and chips resulted in what would be considered a health risk today.The vinegar that they used had a pungent taste that remains in my memory.
The barber's shop that my dad took me to was called Stanton Plumb's. What a great name! He was a small man who wore a black beret and a brown overall. I remember being seated on a block of wood on the barber's chair to have my hair cut. A short back and sides was the order of the day! The shop was always busy. Later on I went to the barber's further down Goodison Road owned by Mark Oliver. Unlike Mr Plumb, Mark would engage you in earnest conversation, often about politics as he cut your hair whilst looking at you in the large mirror. When giving you your change he gave you stamps with CCCP on them! He talked about how Russia had a better system than we did. I wonder if he ever went there to live.

The other corner shop that I remember fondly from my childhood was owned by Joe Mathews. This was at the corner of Walton Lane on Goodison Road, by Goodison Avenue and Spellow Lane. Joe and his family lived in the house adjacent to the shop. He was a very kind man and he allowed my mother and other families to have things on tick and to settle the bill at the end of the week. Nowadays we might use a store card or a credit/debit card, but in those hard times after the war we were lucky to have the trust of the local shopkeeper. The shop was always busy. I can remember the stacks of Liverpool Echo's including the pink football Echo on the counter and the layout of the shop even today some sixty years later. As you entered the shop the main counter with the newspapers was facing you, then it went off into a triangular shape to the right where the rest of the general supplies for sale were kept. A fridge containing ice lollies and ice cream was in this area of the shop. If you bought a Walls Brick of ice cream, Joe would wrap it up in an old newspaper for you to take home to keep it cold. Funny to think that the chip shops would also wrap food in newspaper to keep it hot!
We owe Joe and people like him a good deal. I would hand him the list that my mother had written and he would fill up the shopping bag for me to carry home. The list usually ended with and oblige, meaning that she had no money until payday on Friday. Joe would peer over his brown horn-rimmed spectacles and feign annoyance by putting his hands into his brown overall pockets. Joe would often give me something to eat on my way home. A famous lady politician once said there is no such thing as society. How wrong she was and always will be.
The shop has gone now and so has Goodison Avenue. It is a car park for Everton Football Club. But I can't pass the spot close to the statue of William Dixie Dean without remembering the shop and its owner and his family. Thanks, Joe.



By Briant Briant

This story was added on 10th January 2012

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