A few days back, in the narrative Adieu To Grandad Jack’s Ladders, I relayed the tale of chucking a 53 year old set of step ladders into a skip. This garbage receptacle hired for use in a purge a multitude of items garage in situ.
These steps, which’d been my paternal grandfathers elevation aids, hadn’t been fit for purpose for decades. The sole reason for their long term hoarding a purely a result of familial sentimental value.
Yesterday, as I proceeded with this spring (well, late winter) clean of the vestibule which rhymes with farage, I stumbled upon another family heirloom once owned by the very same forebear. This a 70 year old cup presented to him by his employers at the time, Greenhills, for being 1951 Traveller of the Year.
To clarify, my grandpa wasn’t a gypsy, as some may assume from his winning of a solid silver topped accolade engraved ‘Travellers Cup’. This trinket not awarded for excellent clothes peg sales, or impressive distribution figure of lucky heather. Nor indeed from tarmac laying achievement, or kudos for acquiring the most ostentatious caravan on his site.
No, at that juncture of his life, grandad Jack was a travelling salesman. This trophy presented for being Greenhills’ top peddler during that calendar year. His mischievous banter and outlandish sense of humour no doubt a catalyst to this impressive sales accolade.
If memory serves me correct he sold bedding, linen, haberdashery, and prizes to local working mens clubs for bingo prizes. Employ he took a step further in the 1960’s when he went on to sell the same items in his trinity of Leeds shops. The Armley, Beeston and Calverly stores bearing the shop moniker of ‘Strachan’s Fancy Goods’.
An eternally restless soul, who frequently sought spirit raising career change, employment in sales was just one of many working roles Jack Strachan undertook. Others including milkman, fireman, fish & chip shop owner and the provider of gratis slight of hand tricks. An example of the latter his pretending to remove a coin from a hapless victims ear.
I recall as nippers my younger brother Ian received a rollicking from our mother (Maggie) after getting a sixpence piece stuff in his lug hole after attempting to mimic grandpa’s black magic. Thankfully (well nearly) for Ian the reverberations of his body consequential from mum’s slap on his backside freed the coinage without requirement for hospital attendance.
However, our kid didn’t learn his lesson about dabbling in the occult. Not long after the coin tomfoolery, he endeavoured to replicate a slight of hand trick seen on TV. This hooey played out after witnessing a magician made an egg disappear from under his handkerchief. An episode where Ian heavy handedly attempted this trick, leaving a cracked oeuf an particularly eggy hankie.
Keen not to receive a similar lambasting from mater, he misguidedly returned dad’s cotton rag into the sideboard; foolishly believing no one would notice Unsurprisingly this clandestine move only delayed the inevitable as Maggie found the egg bound tissue not long after; subsequently administering the same punishment to her youngest son.
On finding the pretty grimy cup, I resolved to cleaning it with Brasso, with a view to keeping this as a family heirloom. The silver cup to be gifted to one of his great grand children who, despite never getting the opportunity to see their forebear, carry on his mischievous grin and jocularity.
Consequently, this 70 year old trinket not following Jack’s stepladders into the skip. Even if I wasn’t a sentimental old soul with an interest in family history, the fact it highlights familial achievement and bears a silver stamp means the cup’s staying put.