The Shoe Shop

Co-operative Society worker's recollections

Contributed by:

Mrs Isa McKenzie (née Cameron)

Clydebank Life Story Group


The Shoe Shop



May and I were fourteen when we started work on the same day in 1943 as Junior Shop Assistants in the Central Footwear Department of the Clydebank Co-operative. The Department was a recent addition to what was and still is known locally as 'the Big Store'. Although it had a two door frontal entrance of its own, it was linked by an inner galvanised roller door to the main shop. However in recent years the footwear department was moved into the main store and the extension was sold and now operates full of gambling machines.

There were six female members of staff ranging from fourteen to twenty and two older girls. A female Assistant Manager and a male Manager.

This gentleman was in his fifties, about five feet five, slim built and very bald. He was always very smartly dressed in either a dark or speckled grey tweed suit and all accessories to match and of course highly polished shoes. In the winter he wore a heavy light coloured trench coat, a soft hat, or a heavy dark cloth coat with a bowler and of course an umbrella. Very dapper.

His ego as manager in such a large co-operation was tremendous and his hobby of horse-riding also boosted this.

The Assistant Manageress was an unmarried lady in her late forties, always very smartly dressed, who in her twenties had been in a train accident and had appeared to have recovered well from her injuries, until a year later when sitting at a meal one day her Mother asked her why she was looking so stunned? And she said she couldn't hear anything at all.

Investigations found that she was now stone-deaf and it was a delayed result of injuries received in the train crash. Unfortunately there was nothing in the way of hearing aids etc that could be any help and she had to go and be taught how to lip-read which she became very proficient at. To give you an instance - one day she had told off one of the girls who, when she was finished, turned her back on her and started to murmur about what she thought of her ticking off and the deaf lady said: ' And don't you talk about me like that!'.

She was a small lady but a very strict disciplinarian. One of the rules was no more than three shoes out at time when a customer was trying on shoes. I don't know if she thought it looked untidy or whether they thought someone might whip a pair into their bag when you weren't looking, but if you were found breaking this rule she would call you away from the customer to behind the showcases and give you a dressing down.

When you heard your name being called form her office as she was checking the previous day's sales, you knew you had probably made an error in calculation or taking the requisite number of ration coupons (clothes) from a customer and you would be dispatched to collect same. What an embarrassment!

One thing we found out on a staff visit to her home was she was a very talented pianist and it made the fact of her deafness even more tragic.