Eddie Davis

EDDIE DAVIS by Melvyn Davis Work in progress

My dad (Eddie Davis) was the eldest of two sons born to Mary Jane Lewis & James (Jimmy) Davis, on the 4th November 1913. I believe My dads mum, was one of thirteen children, & his dad Jimmy was one of twelve. Eddies younger & only brother Tom Davis, was on the committee of the Constitutional Club, Heath Hayes, for many years, & had worked for Chaseside Plastering (Stafford St.), & for Clarke’s furniture shop in Cannock.
Eddie & Tom spent a lot of their childhood time in Rugeley, because their mom was from a big family by the name of Lewis in Rugeley.
My dad eventually got awarded a place at Grammar School, but unfortunately, his parents could not afford the financial support required to send him.
However, at sometime just prior to being taken on by the Coop, I remember my dad telling me, he had just one day down the pit, with a few members of his family. He told the story, that when the shift finished, and the cage had got to the surface, one of Eddie’s uncles gave Eddie a kick up the backside and said to Eddie, “Yoh con do better than werk down this bloody black ole young man, and if yoh dare ter come back agen termorra, yole get another kick up the a***”…………….he said he never went back!

In his formative years, he played football, and was also a member of the Heath Hayes Brotherhood. He also belonged to a Boxing club that was held in St. Johns Church Hall – whether this came under the wing of the Brotherhood, I don’t know. My dad told me many times, that one night, whilst he was in the boxing ring doing a bit of sparring etc., a group of people came into the boxing club that he didn’t recognise. One of the group was particularly interested in the boxing, & stood watching for a while. My dad must have said “Are yer interested in boxing”?, to which the guy replied, “Arr, I am a bit”. As the story goes, another few minutes went by, and my dad said, “If yove got time, come and have a go, I won’t hurt ya”. With no more ado, the guy donned some gloves, got into the ring, and my dad got the biggest thraping of his life. When my dad had conceded defeat, the guy told him that the group of people that had come to visit, were from a police sports club, and that he himself was the Midlands Police Heavyweight champion. He also told my dad to be wary of whom he asked again. The only time my dad and I ever fought, was at one of his latter youth clubs, whereby if we got to the youth club early, we’d put the gloves on and do a bit of a sparring/boxing before anyone arrived, and occasionally when the club was in progress.

My dad then joined, the then, Cannock Coop Society in 1927, before it merged with Walsall & District Coop.

He married Grace Norris, in August 1936, (daughter of Fred & Harriet Norris), while working for the Coop.

He worked his way up, & by 1949, he was a manager, & worked at Ogley Hay, Boney Hay, Chase Terrace & Bridgetown Coop shops, before moving to Heath Hayes in 1957. A few years after moving to the Heath Hayes Coop, the old Coop was demolished, and the new ‘Supermarket’ was built. I also believe he was seconded to mentor staff at the oddly named Coop ‘Krazy Kuts’ store, in Cannock for a while, this being at the same time as he was manager at the Heath Hayes store.

I recall a humorous story that he used to relate, which was when he was managing at Ogley Hay Coop. One of the Shops Inspectors who frequently used to randomly call at all Coop’s, was a Mr Howard. Mr Howard from time to time, used to arrive on the dot at opening times or closing times, to check staff were on time to open & still there at closing time. Because of Mr Howard’s notoriety at being so punctual at opening times & closing times, he got the nickname with all the managers of ‘Ticker Howard’. (Ticker as in clock)
One night, Mr Howard started to approach the entrance to the Coop at Ogley Hay, when my dad spotted him, and said to one of the members of staff, “Hey up Alice, ‘Tickers’ just got out of his car to come and check that we ain’t locked up yet”.
Now Alice was oblivious to the fact that Mr Howard’s nickname was ‘Ticker’, and on Mr Howard entering the store, pleasantries were exchanged, and all was well until Alice said “Good evening Mr Ticker”. My dad always said he could have crawled under the shop counter, but got out of it someway – I can’t remember how.

My dad worked for the Coop for 51 years, and at Heath Hayes shop from 1957 until his retirement in 1978.

He was champion of two very early Heath Hayes football teams (along with his brother in law Jack Melloy & Royden Cartwright).

My dad was then leader of a Coop youth club, a Coop Judo club, taught people to swim on Sunday mornings, along with running his own Regent Dance Band. With regards to the Sunday morning swimming lessons, a hugely successful swimmer who eminated from these Sunday mornings, was Lois Lakin, who still lives on the village of Heath Hayes.

Another humorous story my dad used to relate, was with the dance band. He had played for the Walsall Coop’s annual Christmas dinner dance many times at the Kenmare restaurant, at the old Coop store in Bridge St., Walsall. On the night of one particular Coop Christmas dinner dance, the roads were very very icy.
Unfortunately, on their way home from the Coop dinner dance in Walsall, my dad’s old Wolseley car, (the type with running boards), slid off the road on black ice, into a telegraph pole, half way between Pelsall finger post and the Turf pub. The car hit the telegraph pole with sufficient force as to crank the pole over at a slight angle, but also to hurl the double bass off the car’s roof rack, just over the hedge into the field.
With the old car bumpers being spring loaded, the car sustained little damage, so the band retrieved the double bass, pushed the car back on the road, and got home.
However, it was customary for one of the Coop bosses to phone my dad the morning after the annual Coop Christmas dinner dance, and thank my dad for another really good night. But, no phone call was received by my dad until very late in the afternoon. The boss that rang my dad, started the conversation by saying, “I’m sorry I’m later than usual in ringing to express our thanks for yet another great night Eddie, but some silly bugger hit a telegraph pole last night, between Walsall and Heath Hayes, and brought the phone lines down, and they’ve only just finished repairing them”. My dad started laughing saying, “I know – it was me”. I heard that story a few times.

To relax, my dad had many days fishing at Barmouth, sometimes off Barmouth Bridge, sometimes off Jim Colley’s self built boat. Jim (originally from Poland), ran a very successful carpentry business a few doors away from us in Stafford St.. Jim later moved to live on the A5 Watling Street, and Jim’s business grew, along with his family, later becoming Colley Construction.

On my dad’s retirement in 1978, my dad started part time weekend work at Tyler Mall Home Furnishings Store in Wimblebury, and later Brian James Furniture store in Cannock, Brian James actually being started by a group of people who worked at Tyler Mall. Due to my dad’s popularity/notoriety in the local area, he outsold most of the full time staff at Tyler Mall, on his part time hours.

I have to word this next paragraph very carefully, because for a few years, my dad then became one of Santa Claus’s many helpers prior to Christmas, by dishing out Christmas presents, in a Father Christmas costume at Five Ways School, Langholm Drive.
My own children Peter & Victoria, were both at the school at the time, & Peter came home the one year & said, “Father Christmas had got a gold ring on his finger, just like Grandads !” This time it was me who had to find the right thing to say.

My dad then jointly started the Heath Hayes Arts Society, which I believe is still going strong today.

Then after putting his paint brushes to one side, my dad became an active member of the Heath Hayes and Wimblebury Parish Council.

He died on 31st August 1999, at the age of 85.

As Melvyn Davis, Eddie’s only child, I have lived on the village of Heath Hayes all my life, and still do, in Highfield Road. I was born on the village (at a very early age), at number 58 Stafford St., which is now Needwood House Nursing Home.
I have done my best to portray, just how much I believe my dad did for the youth of the village, in the following photo’s & words. I don’t know all of the people on the photo’s, so if anyone can help, please contact me via email at, davismelvyn@hotmail.com . All my life, my dad and I had been inseparable, and I miss him dreadfully. I have to say I’ve shed a few tears whilst I have been composing this, what I believe to be, a merited recognition of his selfless work.