With the milk in hand I could now move on to delivery. I first I had to harness the horse and load the float. In the beginning Mr Jackson went with me to show me the route, but he need not have bothered for it was familiar to the horse that knew both the route and all the stops. This I did everyday except on Sunday. It did not take me long to know my customers, their milk orders and foibles. The horse too had its own, as it would not move on from one customer until she had come out and given it a “treat” of a crust of bread. On one occasion when she was not about the horse walked over the sidewalk and waited outside her door. There was nothing I could do about it.
And having delivered their milk I picked up the empty bottles using a hand held crate that as I emptied, filled with the returned ones, getting fresh from the float and putting the empties in their place. The customers began to know me and I really enjoyed meeting them. Once a week I collected the money, recording it in my order book, giving change and accounting to Mr Jackson on my return. All this I found very satisfying; it was not only being out alone, but meeting the customers, attending their wants being trusted and given the responsibility.
One day Billy was sent, or just came I can’t recall to “help” me. I think it more likely he was sent by Mr or Mrs Jackson to just get him out of the way. He was an awkward youth, not very bright and spent his time teasing me, but I didn’t react to this beyond telling him to behave himself. But the next thing he was teasing my horse ‘Jacky’, one I loved and spoke to affectionately and worked well for me, by lighting and holding ‘for a joke’ a lighted match under its belly. I knew nothing of this and was getting on with my business at the float: the horse’s natural re-action was to kick out, and kick out it did, his hoof a formidable weapon. What made it worse was that being winter he had adhesion screws in his shoes and one these heavy iron, studded, shoed, hooves struck my knee. It shattered, I fainted and came to in a nearby house covered in blood.
An Invalid at Home
Taken by ambulance to Sefton General Hospital on Smithdown Road, Liverpool about 8 miles away, I was treated there. In those days treatment was by today’s standards extremely crude and little was done beyond stitching me up, and telling me to let my broken knee heal naturally. Soon I was discharged to get better. There was no alternative other than to go home where I was not very well received. I could not walk, nor could I climb the stairs so I had to sleep in the front room on a couch, enduring my mother’s reluctant administrations. When the air raid siren sounded, I went to sit with her and John under the stairs until the bombing was over and the all-clear was heard. Father was usually out fire watching or something, his health surprisingly permitting that, or maybe he just wanted to get out of the house. To aid healing I was told to walk, and this I had to do with a stick in the cheerless surrounding streets. As might be imagined I was far from happy.