Jim Wright on food storage and shopping

Jim Wright interviewed by Kirsty Robertson in Newton Stewart, July 2012.

Jim recalls how flour and oatmeal were stored in his mother’s kitchen in the 1940s and how she ordered and obtained groceries and other goods.

  • Interviewed: 27 July 2012.
  • Ref: DG10/8/1/2.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre.



KR: Did she [your mother] have a meal ark [A chest, esp. a large one for holding grain or meal, s.v. Ark, DSL]?

JW: She had a meal ark.

KR: Yeah, would you like to tell us about it?

JW: A meal ark was, it was usually, I would say roughly, aboot four-foot long, aboot three-foot high, it had a flap on it at the top and then a sloped, and then it sloped down. Inside, inside it was partitioned and there was a bag o meal and a bag of flour, in the inside. And there was a wee shelf inside and your baking soda and your cream of tartar, they all sat in there and the spoons for dishing that into the. Ye see this was before self-raising flour, you used baking soda and cream-of-tartar. Apparently, ah think it was the cream-o-tartar that made them rise. Ah cannae mind that but ah don’t know, but that’s what she ca’aed them.

KR: So that was oatmeal on the one side ?

JW: Oatmeal and flour, and just normal flour on the other.

KR: So where did she get her, her supplies from, her messages?

JW: Well the local grocer came from Glenluce in a van. She phoned – we had the phone – she phoned her order down on a Monday and when that order came up on the Saturday she paid the grocer. Of course he had it a written doon. He’d a big book. He’d a [unclear]. It’s a funny thing, once she’d paid him ah can well remember, for some reason in these days they put a penny stamp on and you signed, and ma mother signed through the stamp. [This was a legal requirement up until 1964 in order to render a receipt a legally valid document] The draper was the same. We’d a local draper that called, he called regular too frae Port William. And we bought all our clothes, we bought a our clothes fae this draper. We ordered them, we ordered them and he supplied them and if we wanted we could pay him the next time when he come, we didnae need to, he’d come every three months and you’d pay him, you’d pay for the, an then whatever you’d owe him.