Memories of Caleys: Crocodile Handbags at Caleys of Windsor, 1960s.
The Fashion Accessory department at Caleys in Windsor in the mid 60’s was on the ground floor opposite the Guildhall which led straight out onto the High Street pavement. Adjacent stood The Castle Hotel where a Lady from Windsor Castle walked down from to enjoy her morning coffee with friends.
On her return to The Castle she would stroll into my department almost on a daily basis for several weeks admiring our locked glass showcase of expensive crocodile handbags. It was obvious to all my staff that her Ladyship was intent on buying herself one but which one – that was the problem!
It was the skill of my then deputy, a Section Manager by the apt name, Miss V. Hyde (the department included small leather goods and larger leather travel goods) who was always hungry for a sale and who eventually brought matters to a close.
Yet another morning when several of the handbags were brought out yet again for the Lady to handle, check and open any inside zip fastenings and then view herself in a mirror with a bag on her arm.
It was at this stage standing looking at herself in a full length mirror that she noticed one of her preferred handbags had a rather distinct mark,like a cut, in one of the larger crocodile scales. She pointed this out to Miss Hyde and her immediate complaint then was that this bag was substandard.
“But Madam that is where the spear went into the crocodile” said Miss Hyde – and this was the very statement which clinched the deal!
“Really now. My coffee friends will be interested to hear that – please charge it to my account” came the reply.