I’d love to spend a penny…

Another leaf has fallen from the tree that is my life.

My sister phoned to let me know about the death this morning of a man who was part of our childhood. Small in stature, but big in heart, he was known and respected throughout the neighbourhood. You have heard about him before today, I talked about him here.

Mr ‘O’ was always helpful, always happy and smiling. He owned the local newsagents and sweet shop. We were allowed to dally for an hour before deciding how to get the best value for the pennies burning a hole in our hot little hands. “How much is a this Mr O”, or “How many of those for a penny” were questions always answered with patience and a smile.

When he knew that Jack & Grannymar, yes, it was always Jack first, were coming down to Dublin for a weekend he ordered an extra copy of Jack’s favourite English paper!

Sweet jars

Sweet jars in a row like these will always be a reminder of Mr O. RIP.


15 thoughts on “I’d love to spend a penny…

  1. Oh you brought back memories, GM!
    People like Mr. O were so much part of my growing up years, they were an entire breed unto themselves, in their little shops knowing what comics you read when you had the money, giving a few extra wafers with the brick of icecream to ‘stretch it’.
    RIP Mr. O – there’s a special shop for you to run, upstairs.

  2. WWW is so right. We used to walk as a family down to TheDon, a sweet shop in Romily, Cheshire each Sunday evening and spend our 20 pence on lollies. Same deal, amazing colours and massive jars. Mmm, lemon sherbets and three foot long liquorice straps! I lament the loss of the little corner shop now taken over by massive supermarket duopolys. Our local little shop is now run by Indians and the shelves are full of Indian food. Not that it’s a bad thing but not an authentic sweet in sight and they don’t stock my favourite Heinz Mayonnaise!

  3. Ah, I’m sorry Mr O is gone, the world will be a lesser place. Spar is not the same! I had a Mr O too, his name was Seamus Urell. He used to give us an extra fizzle stick for the donkey (god help it!) and unbelievably sold tights! You’ve made me feel guilty, well, regretful, as I was not as involved in my community and don’t know when he actually died.

  4. WWW

    Mr O always had a bundle of ‘backnumbers’ – comics that were out of date under the counter and you could buy them for half price!

  5. Baino & Jo

    Mr O was special, they broke the mould when he was born. I am glad it brought back memories

  6. Grannymar he sounds a wonderful gentleman who will be sadly missed. Reading your linked post, Mr O’s shop sounds a lot like the one my parents owned when I was a child. Can you imagine living behind a sweet shop~ but I also had to work pretty hard from a young age, serving in the shop and delivering papers!

  7. Paddy has said what I wanted to say really, and said it very well.

    Rest in Peace Mr O.

    GM – do you remember buying ice cream wafers as a child?

    The shopkeeper would ask whether you wanted a 1p, 2p or 3p wafer. He would then get out a block of vanilla ice-cream and mark it with a special metal divider, before cutting the ice-cream to size.

    Those were the good ‘ol days before cones came into vogue and before health and hygiene inspectors were invented 😀

  8. Chris ~ did you not tire of eating sweets? I bet you are good at long tots in your head.

    Paddy ~ Mr O was part of our childhood.

  9. Steph,
    I remember the ice-cream blocks, Palm Grove of HB and the flavours were plain or ripple! Am I right in thinking there was a block with three colours in it. Mr O made an art of marking and cutting the ice-cream.

    If you bought a full block he wrapped it in an old newspaper to keep it cold! Can you imagine that happening nowadays?

  10. The local sweetshop didn’t have a such a big place in my life, though I do remember how hard it was to choose from such an incredible selection of sweets, and how excited I got spending my 1p or 2p or 3p. And goodness, I ‘d forgotten about the ice cream wrapped in old newspaper. How ingenious we had to be before we got all those modern appliances like domestic fridges and freezers!

  11. Nick, I rescued you from my spam bin. 😳 Were you a naughty boy to land in there? 😉 Apologies., I will try not to let it happen again.

  12. The Mr (and Mrs) Os of this world seem to be long gone in the Urban Jungle….or is it just the (so called) Feral Youth that causes the problems?

    One ‘O’ from my child hood was Effie Bell of the Village shop which seemed to be miles from anywhere but wasn’t really.

    Effie, my parents insisted we called her Mrs Bell, used to wrinkle her nose like a rabbit. She had a bun and wore an all round pinafore. Hanging from the ceiling were broom heads and sides of bacon. ‘Out the back’ was where she kept the paraffin and candles along with the kindling wood. Not that any one would have bought kindling as far as I know. We all had hand axes to chop it. I still have ours over 50 years later.

    Effie made bags out of blue (sugar?) paper for sugar or salt or flour. I don’t kow if she used butter pats to serve the butter but wouldn’t be surprised if she did.

    BTW what’s all tis about having 1p, 2p, 3p etc to spend? I had 6d a week pocket money and remember offering to pay back the 5s that I accidently threw int o the local pond once on my way to Mrs Bell’s shop. It was wrapped in a shopping list in my pocket amongst the stones I picked up to throw into the pond.

    I’ll shut up now…..’cept to say I still love Aniseed balls in a conical bag.

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