Commercial Motors and Country Dwellers.
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By a Country Housewife.
I have often read of the "great lumbering motor" that has neutralized the pleasures of dwelling in the country. My personal experience has been that quite the reverse is the ease. The motor has made the position of the country housewife a tolerable one. For reasons which need net be entered into here, it was essential that our little household should leave town and take up its residence in some quiet and healthy country spot. We did not want a big house, and estate agents turned up their noses when we mentioned the rent suitable to our means. Advertising proved of little value. The few replies which we received to our many appeals in the Press were quite unsuitable. It was through the agency of a motorvan that we at last secured the house we wanted.
A house "found" by a van-driver.
Our little general help was extremely proud of her brother who was, so we were continually given to understand, "a driver of one of these 'ere motors." He came down to see his sister, and paid his respects to the master of the house at the same time. From his own account, there were few parts of the country that he did not visit, at some time or other, with his an. The house-master--good, easy man—had a brain wave. He supplied a brief account of the house we were in search of to " Ole Sam." That gentleman stood on one foot and. looked very, very wise, indeed. He listened gravely, and then assured us that he and his mates were continually meeting with such places in the course of their travels. Sure enough, in less than a month, a badly-written letter came to my husband. From the account supplied by "Ole Sam ' the house he attempted to describe-was exactly what we were in search of. I paid a first visit of inspection. From a purely house-wifely view-point it was ideal. " The very place," I decided. "Here my husband will be able to work in peace, and at the same time be able to secure the rest he is so much in need of." • And then doubts arose. The house lay over a mile from the high road, and almost four miles from the local, town and the station. It was approached by a drive nearly half-a-mile in length, and then a further half-mile of cart track led to the front door. "How were provisions to be secured ? What was to happen to the laundry? How could we obtain coal. and the many other things necessary for the house? " All these thoughts arose in my mind. However, 1 decided to take the house, and keep the domestic troubles from my husband so far as possible. That dear hut short-sighted man went into rhapsodies when he saw the place. One eventful day we moved in—and my troubles began.
The independent local trader.
The local traders flatly refused to send the small supplies we needed such a long distance. We had to carry the provisions the four long miles from the town. Fresh bread was only known to us once a week. Only too often, when a trader did not carry out his begrudged promise as to delivery, I was informed, on making inquiry, that it did not pay to deliver to such a distance from the shop. We were continually being "let down."
"Ole Sam's" sister and myself nearly broke our hearts and our backs in struggling with the heavy washing, for we dare not trust to the infrequent visits of the local laundry people. My husband-chiefly through a bad liver attack, it must be admitted—solved many of our troubles at one fell swoop. We ran short of coal! The poor man sat in his study and chafed his frozen fingers. The coal had been on order for nearly a fortnight. B40 'Won't they send it up ? " he demanded. " Not until they have another load to send in this direction," I told him, repeating the words of the local merchant.
"Oh! " said he. And I knew that trouble was looming ahead for somebody.
Motorvan delivery from London.
That night we walked down to the post office, and dropped hall-a-dozen letters into the box. They. were addressed to some of the big London business houses. The replies soon arrived, preceded, however, by the much-needed coal sent by motorvan from a big firm in the Brompten Road. The face of the driver of the local coal merchant when he brought up the long overdue load three days later—and was sent back with it—was a picture.
" It'll be a tong time afore fe comes adrudgin! up 'ere agin," he grumbled. I sincerely hope it will," I answered him. The other London firms were quite,as enterprising. • I wrote to the second nearest town—emboldened -by our success—and now a three-wheeled delivery van. comes as regular as clockwork for the laundry. A little stack of address post-cards Stands on my writing desk. They are supplied by the various London houses that desire our custom. Practically every want is catered for. Clothing, grocery ironmongery, meat. house' hold goods—all are supplied by motor. Week by week the respective trade lists, giving. the latest •• prices, and drawing our attention to any special line that the firm in question may have acquired, arrive: The prices rule much lower than is the case with our ; local tradespeople, who are nearly all of the " old established country town" sort.. . Little novelties of many descriptions are centinually brought to our notice in the circulars. We are as up-to-date as if Oxford Street, W., lay at our doorstep. We have no longer to wait on local convenience. Take fresh fish, for example. On a Monday morning we are informed that Messrs. Dash and Co. are exnecting a supply of salmon during the week, which will be sold at such and such prices. We order by return, and the fish comes down with the usual supplies. Later on, we stroll into the local town. The fishmonger has nosalmon. He tells 'us that it is not to be obtained anywhere. When, some days afterwards, he does secure a supply, we find that its early freshness has departed—without affecting the price in any way, he it noted. We imagine the adventures of the fish. The late buying in the market, the packing and the carrying to the station on .dusty trucks7 the waiting about on the platforms. the transit by rail, and the carrying from our local station to the fishmonger's shop. Little 3onder then, the high price and the poor condition. The motorvan of the big store brings our fish practically direct.
Autres temps, autres rumors.
The same conditions rule in other cases. Coal costs us six shillings per ton less than when bought locally. In over two years we cannot call to mind one instance of the motorvans failing to effect delivery. Some of our friends followed our lead, and the local traders began to wonder at their lost custom. Gradually, the boot of independence was changed from their foot to ours. At this time of day they almost fawn on us to obtain our little orders.Before, they judged us to be absolutely dependent on them, and Made no special effort to please.
notice that some of the more enterprising traders in the town have now got three-wheeled motorvans of their own. It was evidently the only means where by their waning trade could be revived.