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Doreen Blake has lived in the Hollingdean area since 1939. In 1943 she married her husband, who was the son of the sub postmaster in the Hollingdean Dip, and joined him in the shop.

"The Post Office was the focal point of the village. People used to come in for their allowances, to send parcels to their loved ones during the war, to get books from the library or just for a chat. Bread used to be very difficult to come by and a lot of women who worked at Allen West used to do shift work. By the time they finished the bakers were sold out, so my father in law, bless him, used to buy several loaves, wrap them up, and keep them under the counter for the women.

In the Dip there was our sub post office, two butchers, two greengrocers, a bakers, a wool shop, an off license, hairdressers, newsagents, chemist, and a boot menders which became a wet fish shop then a fish and chip shop. It was really like a little village - it was self contained. You didn't need to go to London Road or go to the market to do your shopping. Everything was in the dip. On the Hollingdean Road was the abattoir which I hated especially of a late summer evening when you hear the cows mooing - if i'd thought about it long enough I would have turned vegetarian.

With our shop being a newsagents and because there was only 3 days a year when they didn't print the papers - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday - we were only closed for those 3 days. My husband was up at 4 every morning in order to open the shop at 6 - and with so many of the men working on an early shift at Allen West it used to be like a little club.

My father and my husband used to have an allotment. You had to grow your own produce during the war because things were rather scarce. Fruit was very, very scarce, you never saw a banana or an orange. And then the queues! Word would get round that they've got so and so at a shop and then you'd go down and tap on at the end of a queue and hope against hope that there was going to be some left by the time you got there.

They talk about all this organic farming but they're only going back to how it used to be years ago! My sister and I used to get a penny a bucket for collecting the manure on the road from all the horse and carts and that used to go on my dad's roses. As we got a bit older we felt it was a little bit beneath our dignity! In 1951 the Hollingdean estate was cut. I suppose we knew people had to have houses to live in but we were very sad because you were almost in the heart of the country. I used to take my eldest son up to see the pigs and calves and he loved it.

If I was a young mother now I don't think I'd ever know any peace, but in those days I'd pack my kids off with some sandwiches and a bottle of lemonade


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