A tribute to my Dad – Reginald Price
There are those in Gloucester who have grown up knowing my Dad, many others who have got to know him through the many years in business, the common link I think all of you would agree upon would be my Dad was a very warm and friendly person always eager to help others when required.
My Dad grew up knowing what hardship was all about, one of five boys (second from the youngest) as is not unusual in that environment, life was not made easy. The usual second hand clothes from older brothers what was left over usually cold at meal times and the worst one of all was older siblings commandeering your personnel possessions.
In 1947 his Dad, my grandfather due to injuries incurred in the First World War (lost an eye and shards of metal embedded in his leg) was taken very ill and could not work anymore.
With three brothers in service, the youngest still at School at nearly sixteen years of age, my Dad stood up to the challenge and lied about his age to take and pass the Driving test to keep the business running.
This involved not just the milk rounds which was demanding in itself but running the family provisions store which was well supported by the local community, in fact it was the focal point for people to shop and meet for a social chat, the Thomas riches School, boys made a bee line there for their penny lollies and small glass of Tizer with a knob of ice cream.
This shop opened at 8am and closed at the earliest 8pm and when the fair was in the park it was 10pm. My Dad not a person to miss a opportunity would even send one of our vehicles into the park loaded with provisions to supply the fair people.
My Dad in his early years spent a lot of time with his dad because of his brothers, which latter proved very useful with reference to learning the mechanics of the business.
His drive and enthusiasm was like a magnet, it quickly attracted customers that liked his business approach, which created a job for his younger brother followed by in later years my brother and myself.
Dad was the first to see the value of the shop trade when all around him the competition shunned the custom, in Gloucester we supplied 90% of the corner shops even the multiples like Tesco Linbar, International stores, Birdseye walls & Berni Inns to mention a few.
Much later in the company’s development my dad introduced a six day working week into the industry in Gloucester, we were only the second in the county to introduce electric milk floats.
The speed and size of the gallonage was growing surprised us all including our competitors who cast their eagle eyes over our business, but with the loyalty and support of our customers (we call friends) has stood us in good stead all through the years.
The price to pay for all this success was Dad working sixteen hour days, seven days a week, no holidays for the last 34 years and certainly no lieu days for illness, even at his own wedding there was no time for a honeymoon, it was just two hours at Weston super mare, which was just enough time for a walk along the sea front.
My brother and I were usually in bed when my Dad came home, the only way we could get to see him was if we went on the milk rounds which we both did from the age of nine, and that was when the real family relationship developed from father to friend, confidant and mentor.
On the other side of my Dads personality, he has always seen the good side in people and tried to help people in genuine need, in fact talking to a lady recently about Dad she said your Dad is a genuine man of the people.
I recall a case in question in Bartholomew’s flats by Gloucester park top of the building, a little old lady on her own slept in a chair, ate no square meals and had no visitors or family to call on her, this came to my Dads attention he had my brother and myself go with him to buy a new bed and tins of food with fresh fruit to help improve the ladies quality of life.
Dad also loved to buy tins, and I mean lots of tins approx. 30 of Quality street to hand out sweets to the children and OAP’s, he even brought fudge as treats for customers dogs, there was no escaping the fact my dad had a large soft heart.
Dad had only two self-indulgences he liked his cars his last and current is a thirteen year old he had from new an X Type Jaguar which he keeps in pristine condition, the other was push bikes sadly due to replacement knees and ankles in recent years the bikes have been moth balled.
My Dad had always been a very fit person until due to swallowing problems requiring x-rays this revealed a weeping ulcer in the throat, the poison of which had been working its way up the wind pipe and into the lungs. On further examination of the x-rays the consultant revealed to me his worst fears in his opinion Dad had only two months to live; Dad had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis of the lungs and in the final weeks developed Bronchopneumonia.
Dad was never told the results, so my Dad brushed aside this inconvenience as if it was the flu; he then continued to do a full day’s work for another eleven months never stopping even when needing supplementary oxygen on a daily basis.
This is a man two years ago at age of 80 was interviews by BBC radio unbelieving he was still working and even more surprised he started at 11:30pm and completely blown away by the fact was actually supplying the BBC’s milk on a daily basis.
There is so much more one could say and everyone who ever knew my dad will have their own memories of their association with him over the all too quickly past 82 years.
Dad I love you as only a son can and any small thing I have been able to do to ease your discomfort I consider it to been a privileged to help in any way possible.
Dad I now and the rest of your family know you did now want to leave yet, there are many things occurring within the family and new challenges ahead, but events were out of all our hands.
Rest in peace Dad but do look down on us from time to time, do not leave us completely.
WRITTEN BY REGINALD’S SON PAUL PRICE
F R PRICE & SONS (GLOUCESTER) LIMITED
GLOUCESTER’S MILK SUPPLIERS