About Me

My photo
I am a mother of two girls and live in a two hundred year old house in a Dorset village. I love to bake, knit and sew. I love social history and collect vintage everything, I sell the overspill on Etsy

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Forties Fortitude

Mum and Dad
Married in the 1940s (OK then, divorced in the 1960s but wasn't everyone?)

During the last four weeks I have been surrounded by everything 1940s, firstly I HUGELY enjoyed The Nightwatch on BBC2 earlier this month. I feel humbled by what women in Britain had to endure during WW2.
My mother was born in 1923, she was 16 when war was declared. She joined the Land Army and did a mans work on a farm in Kent.
She dated men knowing that she might never see them again after that goodbye at the station.
Along with her peers she made her own clothes, painted her legs when stockings were short, did her own hair and in every photo that I have ever seen of her she always looks glamorous and well groomed.
This has never left her, even at 87 she has to have her lipstick on

Then I found this hoard of 1940s "Woman" magazines. In a box in a bookstore, I have read them and they are utter gems. Post WW2 and full of optimism.

The graphics and colours are bright and breezy, all is about freshness, fashion and what you CAN do on a shoestring. Things are looking up!
One was published the week that sweet rationing ended, with letters suggesting that now that sweets were readily available people didn't really want them anyway.

The adverts are fascinating, some old favourites are there, Mum deodorant, Horlicks, Fairy. These are interspersed with headache and tension remedies, make up, perfumes and a myriad of household items.
Everything was "gay" and women were reclaiming their femininity.

And Evelyn Home's problem pages prove that, in fact, not much has changed at all over the years. Although her answers are, in many cases, quite brutal in what they expect the 1940s woman to endure.

These women are a brave breed, now in their 80s and 90s we should cherish them and listen to them, they can teach us much


MadBirdDesignsUK said...

Great post. My Mum was in the Land Army, and also demonstrated how to use "War Rations", Dried Eggs and so on. She cycled round to all the local village halls to teach the women how to cook and keep their families fed. Joan

Deborah said...

I recently helped Mum get her Land Army medal, she loved her time on the farm, somewhere I have a lovely photo of her in her uniform.

Thanks for commenting, it is great to get some feedback