Auction Floor Bedlam

In the days before supermarkets
in the 1950’s produce auction houses
along the street from the wharves,
auctioneers opened up at 4 am for
the big Monday sale to take in
produce to sell to greengrocers and
fruiterers from suburban shops.

On Sunday nights Chinese market
gardeners parked laden trucks
outside on the street,  slept there.

At 4 am they surged in through
unlocked doors, over bare planked
floors covered in fine earthy dust,
jostling each other with Chinese
shouts at the tops of their voices.
Aiming for the best auction places
they wheeled in sacks and boxes of
potatoes, cauliflower, other vegetables,
each kind to its own long bank.

Over the road fruit was wheeled
on to the floors from boats in the
lighter basin behind, boats laden
with fruit from the south, from
tropical islands neat the equator.
More fruit rolled off trucks
from the orchards out west.

With each bank lined up while
store men patrolled, gardeners
and auctioneers rushed off for
breakfast.  From 8 am the
auctioneers’ staccato calls filled
the air, greengrocers, fruiterers,
wheeled purchases to their trucks,
to sell in little suburban shops.

By 11 am the frenzy was over.

Auction Floor Bedlam

5 thoughts on “Auction Floor Bedlam

  1. We went to Auctions in 1970’s, In mid-Wales. Got some good buys, which we sold on to dealer who operated out of Amsterdam. Those were some days … Started to make us wealthy, then we left for Canada …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the word fruiterers. I’ve never heard of it before. I used to go to the farmer’s market with my dad in the middle of the city. All of that live action with different cultures of people and their various languages – I loved it! A bushel of apples filled my senses with the smell and the anticipation of a crunchy sweet treat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t seen the word “fruiterers” on shop signage since the 1970’s, fruit and vegetables here are now mainly sold by supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and occasional fresh produce shops. But it used to be on many small suburban shops selling fruit and vegetables.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great description. Brings back memories of our big fruit and veg markets. Not by the water though but colourful and multicultural just the same.
    We still have fruiterers although they’re gradually being consumed by the big players.

    Liked by 1 person

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