Great times at Frankie’s Ritz Cafe

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I read with sadness of the passing of Les Frankie.

Although I did not know him personally, I worked at Frankie’s Ritz Cafe during the summer of 1961.

It was a great place to work for a teenager and those few months serving holiday makers and locals with fish and chips, pots of tea and milkshakes has lived long in my memory.

Joe Frankie kept me on after the holidays because I’d finished my GCE’s and was migrating to Australia with my family later that year, which was very much appreciated.

The cafe had disappeared when I drove past the area on my last visit to Shields and the throbbing hub that was King Street, Ocean Road and Fowler Street seemed long gone.

What that all meant was brought back to me last year when I read Bill Bryson’s book The Road to Little Dribbling in which he bemoans the death of the British high street.

Change is an inevitable part of life and we must adapt as the North East has certainly done, but I do hanker for that balmy summer of ‘61 when the arcades on the seafront blared out the music of The Shadows, Roy Orbison and Del Shannon and I could buy a warm pork pie from the butchers at the bottom of Fowler Street on Saturday morning.

Gordon Lambert,