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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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dispatches from 1920

Good morning from Dorset, I have decided that I am going to start writing again after a very long hiatus and then an even longer period of procrastination after my last post. I love writing, it gives me a creative buzz followed by more creativity.
After the debacle of my last job (which I will write about when the thought of it becomes less painful) I have been enjoying a period of rest and have resurrected my Etsy shop and also am trying their Pattern site. I have been really encouraged by my Etsy sales and am listing new items on a daily basis.
One of the items listed is this magazine from 1920 which is a wonderful piece of social history from the Flapper or Gatsby era.  What seemed to be the worst war ever had just ended (WWII, "The War to End all Wars") The world was recovering from the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed nearly as many people as the actual war. Near to where I live there is an old churchyard and I remember seeing rows of tiny headstones, a whole family with children died in 1919, probably of Spanish flu.
The mood of 1920 was relentless cheerfulness, whatever you do, don't stop smiling and dancing. If you fall you will never get up.
The magazine demonstrates that whatever age you live in the concerns and problems are the same and people overcome things if they give it time. This has been a real lesson for me and has helped me through many troubled times.
Does your complexion look like mud?
The answers were the same in 1920, exfoliation is recommended using a flannel and soap, the use of cold water and a warning against "peels" Proprietary creams are suggested, "non oily".

Is your child peevish?

Liverish and irritible? Syrup of Figs! That's the stuff, release all that bile and unpleasantness and your child will be bright and energetic again. The aforementioned remedy was used in many households in a prophylactic way and dispensed on a weekly basis, often on a Sunday evening after the weekly bath, Children dreaded it and this practice lingered on until the 1960s.

The baby advice is sweet.

Making sure that baby is warm at night whilst ensuring that he has fresh air. Baby should be "like toast" Sensibly, the use of fires and hot radiators is warned against, also heavy blankets etc. Layers of warm, loose clothing, including mittens, is the answer.

And a nursery checklist which I think is lovely

The advice remains the same, every baby should have a guardian who loves sunshine, smiles, smooth running and restfulness.
In the twenties many households with young babies were probably dealing with grief, husbands with PTSD (AKA shellshock) and life changing injuries, wives who may have had affairs when their husband was fighting, women who had enjoyed brief careers but were now back in the home having given up their jobs to homecoming servicemen. Times were not easy and magazines like this with their cheer and homely advice were a great comfort.

This is the closest that I can find to an agony aunt in the magazine.

Queries about necklines and what to do with a length of black fabric. I'm sure that there were far more pressing problems...

From the fashion parades

Shorter evening cloaks with very precise measurements, these must be those little capelets so often seen in 1930s designs, atop the long bias cut frocks.

The whole magazine, which has many, many articles and a lot of lurid fiction (think Barbara Cartland on speed) is for sale in my shop at http://www.lechatrire.com/listing/398083447/antique-womans-magazine-home-chat-1920

What a long blog post this has turned out to be. Please take a look at my shop if you have time, many weird things to be found there and I love favourites.  Back to reality for me, Tesco and Lidl on a Saturday...


JD @ThirdShift Vintage said...

Thank you very much for sharing that magazine with us! It was fun to see the pages you displayed and I enjoyed your writing. You have a great shop, and I look forward to reading more of your articles!

Tina said...

Very interesting with a bit of history! I never heard of fig syrup! My husband's mother use to wait for Saturday night baths to give spankings that the children earned during the week. He said the waiting and anticipation was worse than the spanking!

Linda Shore said...

Wonderful article, Debs Lee. As you said, it's always interesting to be reminded of how many issues transcend the years. There's comfort to be found in knowing they survived horrific situations by remaining cheerful & upbeat. Suppose a good round of fig syrup for the world would return us to those days?

Deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah said...

Thanks so much Tina and JD

Deborah said...

Linda, I keep deleting the comment as my spelling is failing me. I was trying to say that a good few politicians could use some syrup of figs

vintagerenude said...

What a wonderful magazine. Such a great reminder that no matter the times we live in the issues remain the same. And we always survive and thrive.

Betty Powell said...

Absolutely delightful. Your writing style is so engaging, and I love the Thomas Hardy poem on the side. Fabulous collection of old advertising. :)