Easter Eggs and memories of times past
My second blog of the day! Must be feeling creative…
Since my last post was about returning to Niteroi after the Easter Holiday, it just brought to mind a thought I had just before Easter when we stopped at a particular shop to buy Easter Eggs for people. The general pattern here for presenting Easter eggs for sale is for shops to rig up a frame and hang their Easter Eggs to the frame… so when you want to buy one you “pluck” the egg from its hook and take it to the cash desk. They are sold in large foil wrappers here, not boxes.
Now, for some reason, this display was a bit different and took my mind back to displays of Easter Eggs at my dad`s shop when I was but a child. Of course family and friends know how old I am, and anyone who has been following my blog from the beginning knows that as well, since my first post was just after my 65th birthday as a write (right) of passage. So I don`t mind telling everyone we are talking very nearly sixty years ago.
Originally the family shop was just a corner shop but soon after father came back from his war service in Africa he obviously started making plans to expand the business onto adjacent land which he had managed to buy (actually I think it was, perhaps, already in family ownership, not sure?) The first extension was to provide a “modern” local sub Post Office and then when I was about seven or eight I suppose another shop was added which became a sweet shop. So, for that time it was quite a large shop just dedicated to sweets, although it would not now be regarded as large! The shops were all on a very busy corner of Lincoln High street, near what was then Lincolnshire bus station in the city. And St Mark`s Post Office was a very busy Post Office too, so the sweet shop had a very high footfall – LOTS of customers in other words.
Christmas, Valentines, Easter and Mother`s Day were all highlights of the sweet shop`s year and father had clearly got the hang of things by the time I was ten and eleven and all these big dates brought huge numbers of extra products into the shops by way of boxes of chocolates and tins of chocs and toffees as well.
BUT, Easter was the one where the quantities of products showed most, because, of course, Easter Eggs were mostly hollow and so each purchase required a large box full of chocolate and AIR and the eggs were piled very high – on the shelves, on the floor, in the window, behind the counter, behind the shelves of ordinary sweets. Up the stairs from the Post Office to the staff room and father`s office, on the landing and in the office as well. Pretty well anywhere you could put a stack of Easter Eggs there would BE a stack of Easter Eggs.
For a young lad, there was always an element of excitement about such major shopping days, and I used to enjoy helping out at the shop, but, strangely, all of this had slipped so far back into my memory as to have disappeared, only to be brought out by seeing a display here in Brazil – how strange! And, really, the displays were so different… but there was just something that set the memory off.
I suppose this all lasted for about a dozen, maybe fifteen years or so and then it all stopped very suddenly. Ted Heath`s Conservative Government were strongly lobbied by Tesco owner Jack Cohen who wanted the freedom to set his own prices which he said would be good for consumers because the prices would come down. The law of the land at that time was for manufacturers to be able to say what the retail prices should be and woe betide any retailer who sold at a discount – he would be cut off from supplies of that product.
But Cohen`s pressure resulted in Resale Prices Act 1964 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resale_Prices_Act_1964) and this was the end of our piles of Easter Eggs. Melton`s still sold Easter Eggs, of course, but the large piles were seen in Tescos, Marks and Spencers and other retailers now. Because of their huge buying power they could sell their eggs for about the same amount as wholesalers were able to sell to what were now smaller retailers like Meltons.
Ah well, things come and things go, but memories of times past stick with you, even if deeply buried.