Victor the Stick Man (1958)

If we wanted to make a couple of pennies we would just call in and asked if he wanted any bundles of sticks made up or any sacks filled.

When I lived in Appleby Street, we had a lad called Victor who used to supply sticks to the shops around the doors.  If we wanted to make a couple of pennies we would just call in and asked if he wanted any bundles of sticks made up or any sacks filled.  As everyone had coal fires in these times, sticks would be used to start the fire off before putting the coal on.

The machine used for to make the bundles was just a simple handle fitted to a bench with a centre piece in the middle of two parts, and as you filled the middle with sticks you pulled down the handle.  This tightened the bundle of sticks together so a piece of wire could be tied round to secure it.  You then lifted the handle back up and presto you had a bundle of sticks.  If the lads already had dozens of bundles made up, then we would put them into Hessian sacks that held 25 or 50 bundles each.

Sometimes on a Saturday, Victor would ask if we wanted to go out delivering with him.  This was a bit of an adventure because we would turn up around 7.30 or 8 o’clock in the morning, help load the horse and cart and away we went.  We thought that we had been a thousand mile and delivered a million bundles, but in reality, we never got further than beside the roundabout at the Coast Road as it is today.  Of course, in the 1950s you could have 5 or 6 shops in just a dozen streets so you thought you had worked like a horse.

One day we went down and there stood an old army wagon.  The poor horse was put out to pasture, as we were told then.  These were great times and at the end of the day we got around a shilling (5 new pence today) but we felt like millionaires.

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