Remembrances of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society
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Co-op building from days gone-by

Co-op building as it stands today in need of repairs

I am looking at the building as it is today, but seeing it with a good deal of nostalgia, as I remember it during the late thirties and the forties, along with two sister stores, one in the middle of High Street and the other in the New Yards(Cassillis Road).

During that time all three stores were busy and vibrant destinations for all of the townsfolk to replenish their pantries. I recall that the high store (Whitehall) and the middle store (High Street) were the ones preferred by our mother and to which I was dispatched with a message basket, a written note of the goods required and the co-operative book. A book was assigned to each family, into which was entered the total amount of each purchase and then at a specified time dividends would be assigned to the owner of the book. Each book had a specific number attached to it and I can still remember our number to this day. I also remember all of our family's identification numbers which were assigned to each person during the war years.

The shopping experience in those times was vastly different from that of today. There were no pre-packaged goods, everything was taken from bulk in the store, cheese, butter, etc., etc., weighed, wrapped in wax paper or put in paper bags, right in front of you and deposited into the message basket, none of those ubiquitous plastic bags in those days.

I still remember the outstanding feature of the stores as being the aromas of the all the various foodstuffs combining to make one quite hungry, depending on the time of day one happened to be shopping. Blackley's the licensed grocer was another store I liked to go into where the aromas were a little different.

The Co-op had wooden floors, as did most stores in town at that time, and if your were shopping near closing time, out would come the buckets of sawdust to be strewn across the floor, dampened with water and then swept away to leave a clean floor, how times have changed.

There was a double door which separated the grocery store from the drapery part of the Co-op, which gave access to the bakery where it was possible to purchase warm baps (rolls) to take home on a cold morning. On a cold morning you would have liked to linger longer than you were able to, just to enjoy the warmth which was permeated with the mouthwatering aroma of bread in the process of baking.

The Co-op also owned a small fleet of electric delivery vans which were stored in the back area and as I recall, Alexander Burns, former Provost of the town was one of the drivers.

In those days Maybole was a bustling, mostly self sufficient town, full of energy and energetic people, a great place to grow up, a great place full of memories.

Jim McAlpine  

Jim McAlpine with Skye. Jim is now living in Ontario, Canada.
More of Jim's stories below