Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Clean & dry confessions

John & Pearl Newman with Carol Tricker (left)

John & Pearl Newman with Carol Tricker (left)

Anyone lost a glass eye or a set of false teeth? These are just some of the strange things that John Newman has found in customers’ clothes during half a century of dry cleaning. John went into the dry cleaning trade straight from school in September 1958, though he had been helping his father, a specialist silk spotter, from the age of eight. Highly experienced, he has learnt the business from the bottom up, training for five years on the job in cleaning and spotting.
He worked in Eastbourne until 1965, and then Dorset Cleaners (later Dawn & Dorset) in Elphinstone Road, before moving on to Sketchley’s. In 1992 John decided to start up his own business, Newman’s Dry Cleaners, in Bohemia Road. “Bohemia residents are a good crowd,” he said, “There’s a real community feeling. I noticed that as soon as I started. People would look in while I was fitting out the shop just to ask how I was getting on.”
John’s wife Pearl is a partner in the business, and also has a job at the pharmacy. Their staff, Carol Tricker and her niece Sharon Galloway, have worked for John and Pearl for many years. Glass eyes and false teeth are not the only things John has found left in customers’ pockets. He also found a bundle of bank notes to the value of £1,000 in a TV personality’s suit.  On returning it to its rightful owner John was given a reward and a bottle of champagne. A customer once brought John a garment with a stain on it which had previously been taken to the Queen’s dry cleaners. “They couldn’t get it out, but John could! It was like a red rag to a bull!” said his wife Pearl.
Another challenge John rose to was cleaning a wedding dress made of gold threads that was shipped to him from America, and had to be specially packed to be sent back. He cleans costumes for local theatres and operatic groups, including some for Glyndebourne Opera, a tradition set by his father. Customers come from an area stretching out to Tenterden, Rye and Battle, for John’s specialist service.
When the shop is shut, John enjoys pressing trousers, at a rate of twenty to the hour. “I love it!” he says. Outside the world of dry cleaning, his hobbies are classic cars and singing in Hastings Philharmonic Choir.   

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