JUNIPER JACK

Juniper Jack was the last real pedlar to come walking through our villages, selling his wares at the doors of our village cottages.

A big man, six foot or more, fresh faced, with a neat beard. Slung over his shoulder, a large type of fisherman’s hamper, all sorts of haber­dashery all stacked neatly, cottons, needles, pins, studs, etc. and rows of ribbons and bows, in many colours.

How the family crowded around him on doorsteps. His visit was an event to be looked forward to, enjoy, and to talk about after­wards. My mum’s going to buy me a ribbon, or a bow, or slide if I do my tasks, or messages, when Juniper Jack comes. Sometimes she did, but sometimes, the money didn’t run to it, and “Well next time she will.”

These people very rarely went out of the village. At most to the next village. As Jack got older his steps got smaller, his visits less frequent. The carrier cart had made way for the bus and people went to town and bought their own. Jack got slower, and was glad of a lift, with the baker, butcher, or grocer as they delivered around the villages. Always polite and chatty. On dropping off at his nearest point, he would thank you for the lift, with a few words, such as “If you get to the next stile first, put a stone on it. If I get there first, I’ll knock it off.” We never worked that one out. Jack faded away early 1930’s.