B is for Butcher and Bicycle

April 2, 2014 at 11:59 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Dad left school in early 1935 at the age of thirteen and a half. He was on his way home from school when he saw a notice in the window of a butcher’s shop in his home town of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England. The notice said “Boy Wanted”.


He went into the shop and the butcher said, “Yes, son. What can I do for you?”

“It’s not what I can do for you, sir. You have a sign that says ‘Boy Wanted’. I’m a boy and I want a job.”

The butcher was impressed with Dad’s attitude and said that, if he was available and if his parents agreed, he could start the next day. He never returned to school, and went to work for the butcher six days a week, taking orders and delivering them by heavy bicycle to the local farms and villages, over rough roads and hilly country, in sunshine, sleet and snow.

Butcher's shop 1920s

Dad handed all his earnings to his mother to go towards feeding the family, but he was allowed to keep sixpence a week.

A few months later, Dad decided he wanted his own bicycle. He approached the owner of the local bike shop and asked if he could purchase a fixed-wheel bike (their cheapest) for sixpence down and sixpence a week.1909_Royal_Enfield_bike

When the owner found that Dad had a regular job, he agreed to the terms Dad had stated. Dad paid his sixpence religiously every week. By the time he moved on to an apprenticeship as a moulder at age fourteen, he had fully paid for the bike.

During the warmer days of the northern England summer weekends, Dad rode that bike, then a better one he bought later, over many miles of countryside. He would take some bread and meat, or bacon and eggs, and camp overnight by a brook, sleeping on a tarpaulin and wrapped in a blanket.

He said that those weekends were wonderful for a teenage lad with a sense of adventure, and regretted that the freedom he had then has now been lost.

Young man with bike 1920s

The story of the butcher and of the bicycle shows how Dad exhibited initiative and determination from an early age. He kept both of those qualities all his life.


Do you think youngsters show enough initiative and determination these days? Do you think they have lost many of the opportunities that once existed for youngsters with such qualities?


© Linda Visman 02.04.14


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  1. Excellent blog post Linda! And there goes Ben’s Challenge 😉 I can see where you took your ideas from for your book…lovely story..

    • Yes, you picked that up Brenda – the note & the delivery bike. It is good when you can get ideas to write about from your own family 🙂
      Many thanks for dropping in and I hope you will visit often.

      • I enjoy reading your posts Linda! Very interesting 🙂

  2. Beautiful, Linda. What stuff your Dad must have been made of.

    • He was one in a million, Don. I miss him heaps, but he always said that, in spite of the setbacks, he had a good life. How good to be able to say that!

  3. What a great story! Times have definitely changed! I’m not sure if it’s young people not having the same sense of adventure, or parents not allowing them the same freedom, but whatever the reason, it’s a real shame.
    Kirsten @ Black Coffee and Cigarettes

    • Hi Kirsten. Thanks for dropping in and commenting. Lovely to have you. 🙂
      Yes, whatever the reason, the kids of today don’t have the opportunities that Dad had – nor those that children of my generation had. And that’s definitely a real shame.
      Hope to see you back here sometime.

  4. Recognised Ben’s Challenge in there too. Lovely post Linda. I love the photos of a time gone by 🙂

  5. My son is having a similar childhood…kids have more freedom in rural Brazil and are welcomed everywhere. My little boy goes on his bike riding round our farm with his friends from all the next door farms…they are safe from all but the war wounds of tree climbing and den building. It’s a major reason we live here now instead of the UK…they seem children here for much longer, it’s the Latino way, huge family groups going out is also the norm, all age groups mixing all the time together. We’ve lost that in the UK, such a shame.
    Enjoying the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

    • You and your son are fortunate Maggie. And I am sure that farm living also provides more freedom than they would get in most cities.
      My own five sons were brought up in the country and benefitted from the open spaces in a similar way.
      Thank you for dropping in and for commenting. Much appreciated.

  6. Beautiful entry about your dad. Times certainly have changed, don’t you think? I like to believe some youngsters do show a bit of initiative and determinations, but their numbers are not what they used to be. Life really has become all too easy for most people now, and the drive to succeed does not seem to be so intense.

    I love the illustrations you’ve used.

    • Thanks for dropping in Sarah; great to hear from you. And thanks for your lovely comments/
      Re times have changed, I also think that – especially in the western countries. As you say, things are often too easy for them, so there is no need to seek out alternative activities or adventures. However, it is good to see how many do also travel, to experience different cultures.

  7. I think times of changed and that it would now be rare to find a young person with such a sense of responsibility and ethics.

    • yes, times have changed, but I thinks there are still great youngsters out there. They don’t always have the freedom Dad had – nor the responsibility, but they are there. They just need the challenge, perhaps. 🙂

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