Ovingdean voices reminisce

Rea Hollis remembers a caring community and how the grocers looked after their customers.

Rea Hollis: early resident

“Cruse’s the grocers in Rottingdean did deliveries for the village.  The routine was you used to leave your door open and old Mr Palmer used to call on a Tuesday; I would leave a note and book showing what I wanted to buy. Off would go Mr Palmer with the book and then on Thursday he would come back and deliver the stuff.  You left the money the following Tuesday with the book so you were always a week behind.

There was one day when I had gone down to the beach with the children and it started to rain and I had got all the nappies on the line – of course, this was in the days before washing machines.  When I came back there was this pile of perfectly folded washing on the side in the kitchen and a little note from Mr Palmer which said ‘I know it’s going to rain and I couldn’t bear to see the washing get wet.”

“There was one winter in the sixties when we were completely snowed in, I think it was 1967, and we couldn’t get anything – no milk – it was in the days before you kept big stores of that sort of thing.  This particular day I opened the back door which was about knee deep in snow and there in the snow were four tins of evaporated milk.  I couldn’t think where they had come from.  I found that Tony Cruise – the son of the grocer in Rottingdean had been sent with a backpack on to deliver tins of milk for the families with children.  That was an example of the sort of caring community which did exist then.  People really did care for other people.  It was a very sad day when Mr Palmer told us that the grocers were going”.


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