The recent death of Miss Doris Munday at the age of 91 brought back memories of my school days in the 1930’s. In those days Doris’ mother had a grocery and sweet shop in the front room of their home, 77 Station Road. There was no need for planning permission then and it always seemed that most of our street had a little general store in the front room!
Apart from going across the fields the only way to get to school, either in Church Street or the High Street from the west end of Burton Latimer was via Station Road. William Street ended in a tin fence and Pioneer Avenue in a hedge. These two streets were only linked when the Recreation Ground was opened in 1938.
Clutching either a penny or a ha’penny we would enter the front door. Hearing the bell, Mrs Munday would emerge from behind a curtain at the foot of the stairs. She always seemed to be sucking a sweet! Being confronted by so many large sweet-filled jars it was difficult to choose what to have. “Come along you children, make your minds up, I haven’t got all day”, was the regular impatient remark. Sweets would be put into paper bags that came to a point. In later years, Mrs Munday disposed of the business to Mr & Mrs Dennis Miller who lived only a few doors away. The premises are now a hairdressers.
In her working days, Doris was an experienced clothing machinist and later a sales assistant. She was also a keen tennis player and the court next to my former family home, Regent House, has been established for many years. Originally it was grass and I can picture Doris playing with Phyllis Aveling (nee Booth), Hilda Whitney and the Tailby twins, Harry and Alfred. There was an adjoining barn in the garden of Regent House which provided shelter to the players when it rained and my mother always provided them with a welcome cup of tea and a piece of cake.
The groundsman was a Mr Sturman who lived in Finedon Street. When marking the lines, he would be followed by his little white dog. It is said some owners take on the looks of their pets. In this particular instance, the resemblance was remarkable!
In those days tennis was a popular game and there were at least twelve courts in the town at businesses and private houses.
Not many people spend all their life in the house where they were born, but Doris’s father had also built it. The long garden contained many fruit trees and vegetables would be grown here to sell in their shop. Mr Munday would carry out his deliveries with the aid of a horse and cart.
Doris enjoyed her holidays twice a year and until about four years ago regularly went abroad. She always kept her photograph album handy to show visitors the snaps she had taken on her various outings.
Much more could be written about Doris’s life and the days of her youth. Then, there was hardly a car to be seen on the streets; the shoe and clothing factories were in full swing too. The present generation could not begin to imagine cattle being driven along the High Street from local farms, or the sight of Mrs Preston riding out in her carriage. Mrs Preston did this right up to the early 1940’s when she was in her nineties.