Earning my pocket money

The Beatles played more than once in Rhyl in the early 60s but they influenced us throughout that decade.

The Beatles came into my father’s shop once, or at least one or two of them did. They had done a gig the previous night and had brought in a film to be developed and printed.

The point is that at that stage my father wouldn’t have known one of them from another so to this day I still don’t know which of them brought the film in and who collected it that afternoon before they played another gig in the evening.

At that time they were still an up and coming band and any of us with the slightest link to Liverpool claimed ownership.

My awarenss of the Beatles came at the same time as my awareness of money and what it could do for you – buy 45s for a start.

Just like the Beatles I had a mixed attitude to money. Remember one moment they were telling us that money “can’t buy me love” and the next it was “give me money – that’s what I want.”

Until 1960/61 I didn’t really bother much about money. My parents gave me pocket money which would buy me sweets at the tuck shop and other bits and bobs.

Things like presents for my mum and dad at birthdays or Christmas were often purchased by one parent for me to give to the other.

Now I was beginning to realise if I wanted anything more I would need to find a way of getting the money to pay for it.

My first move, as many another youngster had done before me, was to look for a job I could do that didn’t affect my school hours – at that time that usually meant getting a job with the milkman or getting a paper round.

I chose the paper round.

Just down Crescent Road, not far from our house, was a street called Abbey Street and this is where Mr and Mrs Cork ran a newsagents.

My need of money came at just the right time because that same week the Corks were recruiting and they recruited me to start the following week on a Monday. Fortunately it was a half-term break and I didn’t have to go to school after my round.

I was up good and early and down at the shop by 6am. Other boys (no girls at that shop) were already loading their bags and heading out.

Mr Cork gave me a list of names and addresses with newspaper names against them and then presented me with a pile of papers and a bag to sling over my shoulder and sent me off.

Three hours later I was back at the shop with an empty bag. I had cycled up and over the H bridge to start my round on the far side. Fortunately I had my list of addresses and the newspapers were sorted in order. It was just a matter of finding the right houses and then finding the letterbox.

Some were high, some were low and a few were in the middle. Almost all of them were fitted with a spring which made the snap of the flap a gamble with my fingers.

After three days I had halved the time of my round and still finished in good time despite having to mark up my own papers from day two.

Then came the end of the week when comics were published and the bag got heavier.

I coped.

My next obstacle came on Sunday when the newspapers got twice as thick and some people decided to have an extra paper.

At least I was getting paid.

By the time the summer came I really thought a bit of extra cash would come in handy and the answer lay over the road to our house.

The Crescent Road Crosville bus and coach station.

The coach and bus station was directly over the road. On Saturdays throughout the summer coachfuls of holidaymakers would disgorge at this spot and I could help them – at a price. I could walk out of our back gate and be at work. All I needed was a couple of wheels and some wood.

As many others growing up in Rhyl at that time will realise I am talking about the noble trade of casing.

Youngsters swarming to Rhyl railway station in the 60s offering to carry holidaymakers’ cases to their digs

The man who rented the flat from us was a handy man with a saw and a screwdriver. He knocked me up the Rolls Royce of casing trucks. It had two large rubber-tyred wheels. The flat body was made from an old door with an end piece to stop cases falling off and it had a metal tubular handle. The truck was painted bright green and the handle was glossy black.

On the first Saturday I took up my station at the bus depot I was the envy of the other six or seven youngsters who waited for the first coach of customers.

Most casing truck owners waited for their victims – sorry clients -at the railway station which meant more trade for fewer casers at our site.

As the holidaymakers stepped down from the coach we rushed forward. “Carry your case sir?”

I knew that some of these people would be heading for holiday camps. One was quite close but still a trek long enough to mean you would miss the next coach.

I don’t know if I had a knack of spotting those booked in to local B&Bs but in most cases I managed to get a short trip at a basic rate.

If they named a place too far away I would just state an exorbitant fee. If they agreed then at least the trip was well recompensed. Most times they turned me down and I picked up a quick trip to John Street, Butterton Road or even to the big places on West Parade at a sensible rate.

Sometimes a trip would be so short that I could get back and still find people from that first coach trying to get directions.

Start at 9am and by 1 o’clock I had a pocketful of cash and could take the afternoon off. After all I didn’t want to be too tired for my paper round and horse riding the next day.

Things were looking good.

Next time: Down to earth with a bang and a bloody nose.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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