|On leaving school in 1946 I went to Clifford White and Co (Builders) to start an apprenticeship. The war had just ended and men were returning and coming back to their old jobs. There were shortages of everything and rationing was still very much with us. If a local pub got a delivery of beer the news travelled fast and the pub was soon dry again. Cigarettes were also in short supply and I recall in the summer of 1947 we were working at Reeves Hall, East Mersea re-roofing a barn. As the boy, I was sent off to buy fags for the men and my first port of call was East Mersea Post Office. At that time it was in the last house but one on the right hand side at the far end of East Road. It was next to the garage which was still working at that time and selling petrol.
I had no luck with cigs so I set off on my bike 'Up West' All the pubs had an Off Licence but they were not always open so I went to the little shop at The Fox which was a proper shop selling sweets and a few bits of grocery. It was near what is now the main entrance - the entrance in those days was on the West side. No luck there so it was off to Queen's Corner and Katie White's and from there a short trip up Mill Road to Joan Unwin's. Back to Kingsland Road and to 'Snuffy' Cornelius at the cycle shop, surely I could get something there ?
A few years earlier I used to accompany my cousin Peter Green delivering Co-op meat to East Mersea on a Saturday - by trade bike of course and we would call in to Snuffy's for five Woodbines. I used to keep his fag going for him while he went round the house with the meat. I suppose I had my first smoke at the age of nine but I never was a smoker. Sammy Weller had a little shop on the corner of Rainbow Road, has long since been demolished to make way for Susan May's house and salon. Nothing there. I wouldn't think the Co-op were selling cigs and I don't think I would have tried Slaughter's Central Stores which was later to become Whiting's (and is now the site of the Co-op). I guess my next call would have been 'Cadder' Mussett's and then almost next door to 'Liza D'wit's. She was an old lady who didn't keep much stock so I guess leaving out Howards Stores and Robins in Church Road I would have gone down the Hard to Alice Hewes' next door to Gowen's and then the very last I would have gone to Bernard and 'Auntie' Hilda Cudmore's round at the The Nothe. I may have succeeded in getting some of the brands asked for but failing that most shops had du Maurier and Craven A so I would have taken them. They were not a man's cigarette and the usual response when I handed them over would be "Bloody Craven A. Is that the best you could get?"
Alice Hewes' shop next to Gowens on Coast Road. She took over the shop when her father John Hewes died. It is said that John Hewes would not sell cigarettes to women. It was against his principles to encourage women to smoke and he sent them up the road to Sid Hewes who kept a sweet and cigarette shop near the Causeway.