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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories

PART OF MY YOUTH


MOLLY AARON (nee Rhodes)

On November 23rd 1928 I was born at Throstle Farm. It was the worst storm for 33 years and Doctor McCarthey who delivered me said to my mother "You must call this child ‘Storm’ – she may become a famous writer". So they called me Molly Storm Rhodes.

My dear father died in 1943 after a long illness at the age of 43. I helped my mother through her tragic loss and helped to bring up my young sister Kathleen – she was only six years old.

I went to work at the Co-op in November 1943. I felt very nervous the first morning there. The manager Mr. Sutton and his under manager Mr. Robinson were in charge of the store. It was large and we had a lot of customers and a large staff. The shop consisted of provisions and drapery and another large room where flower potatoes and hen food was weighed and kept. There was also a rear entrance where lorries would come to deliver provisions from the Pontefract branch. Orders for customers were boxed and wrapped and stored ready for delivery. There was a stock room upstairs and a huge cellar for bacon storage, we didn’t have fridges then. The bacon, butter, lard etc. all had to be weighed and that department was managed by Molly Link and Amanda Garbutt. On the counters, customers were served by Madge Hobman, Joan Newlove, Gertie Ryall, Gwen Backhouse, Alice Glew, Mary Wilson and two other ladies whose names I can no longer recall. We three juniors, Betty Whitmarsh, Maisie Asquith and myself had the tasks of filling the fixtures etc. and preparing orders, getting them ready for delivery. Ronny Taylor and Ken Rawlinson were in charge of the flour room and they saw to the unloading of provisions and weighing the flour, potatoes and meal.

Not long after I was on the payroll they were called up into the Army and Navy. It was then up to us three juniors as we were made responsible for the flour room. It was a dusty job but it had to be done. We also helped to unload the wagons which was very heavy work. After a while the boss engaged a young lad by the name of Fred Holroyd. He was a good little worker.

I was soon made a traveller and as I had a push bike I was sent collecting orders to Fernley Green and Kellingley. I’ll never forget the first morning armed with a huge bag to hold my wallet money bag and receipt book. I got to know my customers numbers off by heart and never forgot my mothers – 16320! I also went collecting orders down Sutton Lane, Brotherton on Saturday mornings.

The hours were long 8.30 to 1pm and then 2pm until 6pm, half day was Thursday. Everything was rationed, paints, bread, tea, soap, flour all these coupons had to be counted once per month and taken to the food office. When the new ration books came out it was heads down for days as I helped Mary Wilson to register them all. Betty and I were soon sent with the drays and wagon to deliver the customers orders. My regular runs were Englands Lane, Hill Garth on Thursday morning with Bob Kershaw and Sandy, a big shire horse. Friday with a lovely little mare called Peggy, up Womersley Road, Quarry Avenue and Broomhill. I got quite good driving the horses and wagons and enjoyed the work.

Molly and Bill Aaron

Molly Aaron with her late husband Bill

When the war ended the men folk started to return home and took over our jobs once again. Bill Aaron returned after being taken prisoner of war on the notorious Railway of Death after 3 ˝ years and we fell in love. I went to work in my uncles shop in Pontefract and then in 1948, Bill and I were married and we shared 49 wonderful years together.

Molly Aaron (nee Rhodes)
March 2004

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