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It was quite usual to have a sign or symbol outside the shop indicating to the passing public what the shopkeeper's trade was. At our greengrocers, Waltons, it was a large bunch of plaster bananas hanging at maybe 10 to 15 feet above the pavement. I had been told that these were bananas but of course I hadn't ever seen a real banana at that time. When I eventually did see one, I was very, very disappointed to find that it was only about 5 or 6 inches long rather than the two or three foot plaster version.
I only remember one greengrocers from when I was growing up in Edgware in the 1940s. It was called Waltons and was next to Edgware tube station. All I ever remember my mother buying there were potatoes, although I suppose she would have bought other seasonal vegetables and fruit. The potatoes were weighed out for each customer using the 'balance' type of scales with heavy weights on one side and a large dusty scoop on the other. The potatoes were then tipped into a brown paper bag.
The door of the greengrocers was always open and it was always draughty inside. It was also scruffy because the the potatoes, carrots and other vegetables came straight out of the ground unwashed and unbagged in rough wooden crates. Layers of dust seemed to cover everywhere.
This display is worth examining in some detail because it is so different from anything that I ever saw in wartime. In fact that is how it can be dated to after the war when the seas had become safe for merchant seamen to bring in more than our basic necessities. Yet it would not have been very much after the war because the British Empire was gradually dismantled after that.
The imported goods that would never have been seen on display in wartime Britain are the grapes and bananas. Nevertheless, the display show the continuing shortages in that so much of it is made up of British seasonal goods, particularly apples and pears.
The display prices are clearly marked in the old money of pounds, shillings and pence.