Unusually, Bess and Sid’s father didn’t farm. This was left to their Uncle Tom with Frank Bradley’s assistance and to these two men fell the tasks around the farm. Most of these were associated with pastoral farming, with half a dozen cows, two horses, hens and chickens. The hardest labour would have been haymaking in the rick yard. Though Sid and Bess’s dad wasn’t the farmer of the household, nevertheless he regaled the children with tales of a deaf and dumb cockerel and a one-eyed chicken. The poor chicken eventually died from starvation because his beak never went to where his eye told him the food was! No, their father wasn’t a farmer but he did work hard.
His day job, in modern parlance, was to work as a clerk for the railways at Curzon Street. He set off early in the morning and returned late in the evening for they worked long hours in those days, even in offices. He partook of his evening meal at wherever Sid and Bess happened to be, then it was back to work again at the off-license where he would assist the children’s mother. This activity finished at eleven o’clock and then it was to bed.
At the weekend father would harness up the four wheeled dray and set off on his beer delivery round in Acocks Green, returning with the empties. On some occasions he took the dray further a field to Saltley to collect coke for the fires in the house and the brewery boiler room. There was also a regular trip to Ansells` Brewery in Aston to collect spent hops. These would be mixed with chaff and so on to be fed to the cows in winter. Despite all this activity, the family became poorer because Sid and Bess’s father (my grandfather) had two weaknesses, horses and drink. This is not to say that these were excessive, more that they presented a constant drain on the family purse.
The job at the railway conferred travel privileges on Sid and Bess’s family, they could travel cheaply along the London, Midland and Scottish Railway routes as far as Ireland if they felt the urge. Despite this, my grandmother took no part in this facility and the furthest she ever travelled was to The Bull Ring in Birmingham city centre.
Across Yardley Road from the farm were some other barns which did not belong to Pinfold. It was here that a man called George Leech pursued his living. George was a ‘Jack of all country trades’ spending much time as a horse dealer and also working as a milkman. He wended his way to his customers driving a pony and trap with the churns on the back. Customers came to Mr. Leech with their jugs to be filled from the measure on his churn. He usually wore a brimmed hat and on rainy days, the water would collect in his brim and could be seen to be added to the churn by accident, as he bent over to fill his measure. He was not the only milkman to ply his wares in the area because there was also an old man on a bicycle who sold milk from the back of the bike although how much milk he could carry on a bicycle is questionable.
To return to George Leech Sid recalled that once, George bought a pony for his daughter at Henley Market. On his return home the young girl was most searching in her questions about her new pony who she hadn’t yet seen asking, ‘what colour is he, how large is he’ etc. When she asked about how long it’s tail was her father replied, ‘Just long enough to cover it’s decency!’