Memories of a Saturday GirlI was a Saturday girl at Creamery Fare Ice Cream Parlour, starting work as soon as I legally could in 1966 aged 15 years 3 months and working there every Saturday and during holidays, when needed, for just over 2 years until I left school.
I started off working behind the counter, which in those days was at the back of the shop, before a refurbishment moved it to one side and nearer the entrance, so that you could monitor customers entering and leaving. I began my career as a washer upper before graduating to making teas and ‘frothy coffee’ (way before Costa!), buttering bread and making ice cream sundaes including Peach Melba, Banana Split, Chocolate Nut and of course Knickerbocker Glory! These were all taught to me by Nellie, who was the expert. Nellie I believe came from ‘up north’ originally and she helped keep us young girls in order! I remember she had a long running feud with the lady who did the pot washing and cleaning. This lady, whose name I forget could only whisper and most of the time I couldn’t understand her, but I knew by her gesticulations she was complaining about Nellie. This feeling was entirely reciprocal.I also spent some of the time serving on the ice cream counter at the front. When the Greenford Granada cinema was still open there was always a big rush and long queues when Saturday Morning Pictures finished and you would see a sea of little faces eagerly clutching their pennies as they waited to buy their cornets. The closing of the Granada to be replaced by Tescos sadly affected this trade.
The worst job was at the end of the day, putting the chairs on the table and mopping the floor. Nobody could go home until this was completed. We used to curse customers who turned up at closing time and then order a meal as this delayed the whole process!Tom Arpino and Tony Infante were the Italians who owned the business. Tom was very quiet, working away in his office. He hardly ever smiled, but he was always good to us and the wages were above average. Every fortnight we had a share of the tips which was a welcome bonus. I think I started off at 21 shillings a week and it’s amazing how far that went! Tony was more jolly and always turned up in the evening to hand out the wages.The ice cream was made in the small factory at the back of the shop and during the holidays I sometimes helped out there, putting labels on tubs. A third younger italian worked there, but you had to be careful to avoid him as he was always trying to catch the girls for a kiss. Fortunately, Gaydon, the chef was aware of this and always came to the kitchen door to keep an eye out for us and tell him off. Gaydon was very kind and I loved the pies he used to make. This and ice cream with chocolate sauce was my favourite lunch. Their chocolate sauce was special and I have never since tasted its equivalent! Nellie, too introduced me to some northern delights such as cheese with fruit buns and ice cream with custard! Creamery Fare ice cream was delicious and this was long before the days of Italian ice cream with all the flavours was known in the UK when even coffee ice cream and their famous cassata siciliana (ice cream containing candied peel and cherries) was exotic.Sadly the ice cream parlour is long gone. Ice cream production moved to North London, but the brand name was sold in the 1980’s.
I later progressed to waitressing which, although nervous at first, I really enjoyed. I only had one real disaster when I knocked a cup of coffee over some poor man, who was really very nice about it. I think he could see I was so embarrassed! We used to have our ‘regulars’ and I particularly remember 3 elderly men meeting every week and ordering the same thing – sausage, egg and chips, pie and minute steak. Their diet never varied in all the time I was there. I used to call them my sausage, egg and chip men.