The March meeting is our AGM and we had a very large meeting with over 60 ladies present. We had Rhiannon (WI Advisor) present to see that it all ran smoothly. We voted unanimously to continue with our present committee of dedicated members and Jan Grey will continue as our President. As Jan was away on holiday our previous president, June Mitchell took over the running of our meeting. At the close of proceedings June was presented by Rhiannon with a beautiful President badge to remind her of her days as President of Woolton WI. June will be moving to Devon in May and we will all miss her.
Our Speaker was Mrs Rona Collins who had come to talk about Life in the 50’s and what a very entertaining evening we enjoyed. She painted a picture of life in the Liverpool stores (TJ Hughes and Owen and Owens) where she worked for many years. Rona told us about the happenings behind the scenes and we certainly enjoyed a very good laugh at some of the antics that staff and customers got up to. Rona worked as a Trainee and then a Staff Trainer and Controller and said that it was a very interesting time to live just after the war. TJ’s and Owen Owens had over 1,000 employees and 200 part timers over the Christmas period.
Rona told us about the time she was asked to go into the basement to sell men’s PJ’s for just 2/6p a pair and they went like hotcakes until one customer demanded to see the PJ’s out of the cellophane packet. Rona found that the jackets had no sleeves hence the Sale price! Another time they followed a shoplifter who had stolen ham but the shoplifter didn’t go outside the store but ate the ham just inside the doors so they could not arrest her. Another incident involve a customer bringing back curtains that had apparently gone threadbare and into shreds. Rona said that they couldn’t change them without the receipt and the customer returned the next day with the receipt which was 10 YEARS OLD!!
All the staff from the stores would go on a day’s outing and Rona used to organise these trips. She remembers ordering 2 trains from Lime Street and 2,000 tickets for staff. The Managers and their wives used to come along too. On one occasion six 15year old cashiers went missing and they couldn’t find them, but the next day they turned up as they had got on the wrong train and ended up in Manchester.
At Christmas time they always had 2 Father Christmases as it was a very tiring job. One year one of the Father Christmases went off ill and had to be replaced. She got in touch with the Job Centre but they didn’t have a 16stone replacement. This was because they had one costume to fit a 16stone man. Eventually they got the replacement who happened to be a Wrestler and they found out that he tended to drink in the lunch hour and they had reports about this. Eventually he was sacked for pinching the fairies bottoms! At Christmas time they would get the men coming to buy fancy nightwear and one man bought a really lovely baby doll nightie and dressing grown. After Christmas it was returned and his lady wife bought clothes for her three children with the money.
Rona remembers that they employed Roy Rogers and Trigger to open the Carpet department and he stayed at the Adelphi. He was to ride Trigger up London Road to advertise carpets. The horse wouldn’t go in the lift but they managed to sell £6,000 worth of carpets that day. They also employed Fanny Craddock but her demands for her own room and other requirements had the maintenance staff annoyed because of her outrageous language!