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Hemyock - Some Early Memories

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Archived Stories A young chap on a bicycle with a long pole went through the village at dusk switching on the streetlights. Why was the switch up near the lamp?

Our neighbour Mr Salter in Station Road, Carpenter and Wheelwright had a workshop full of wonderful wood aromas. His grizzled hair was always covered on sawdust. He ground up pigments with turps and linseed oil to make his own paints.

My Ayres on the opposite side of the road kept a shop selling general goods including childhood treasures such as toys and penknives. Mr Howe, over the road from us at Hollingarth Farm, sold milk. As a boy I was sent across daily with a tin can with a lid and handle for a pint and a half. He asked whether I would like new milk, which he drew from the front two teats straight into the can. Or did I want old, which came from the back teats. He loved a leg-pull.

Farmers got a little more for their milk if they delivered it themselves to the factory. Many came down Station Road in traps and carts each morning.

Mrs Bird in Fore Street had a shop selling sweets, including gobstoppers and sherbet fountains.

Mr Straddling in High Street was a grocer. He cut off portions of cheese with a wire on a board.

The other Mr Straddling was the baker where the Post Office now is. In the war he was allowed to make off-ration pasties which were so tasty and filling.

Our adventurous exploration was to go out across the fields where Castle Park now lies. Half way across was a 'pond' surrounded by lush grass and a bad aroma. This was the communal village septic tank! In the stream we fished for bullheads, sticklebacks, and minnows. They tended to die later in our jam jars.

Upstream we ventured into the sawyard. It was exciting to watch them working, but Mr Sidney Pring would warn us away. In the same area was the village sheep dip. On the quiet, we played round it without thought of the danger. In the season what seemed like huge flocks of sheep would come bleating through the village for dipping.

Hemyock Market was a prestige event in its day compared with other village markets. The Railway Hotel did a roaring trade. Many bullocks, sheep, and pigs were driven on the roads to the pens. Crowds of men and boys all shouting and clamour, with much reeling and cursing.

In the War a coloured gospel choir came to the chapel in High Street to give us a concert. They were accompanied by a white officer to prevent them ravishing our womenfolk.

We children were encouraged to join the Rabbit Club to rear Flemish Giants for meat. American soldiers from Dunkeswell bought them for a whole £1 instead of the usual 3s 6d. GIs were very well fed so we hoped they kept them as mascots instead of eating them.

John Griffin