Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Jottings from the Past

Having recently written about some old diaries I acquired from my favourite vintage shop, I couldn't resist popping back in to see if there were any more gems waiting to be discovered. Imagine my joy when I discovered another pile of diaries and a few bits and bobs from the same box that the other diaries had come from! So now I can learn some more about the diaries' writer, Mrs E. White.

My most recent finds include diaries from 1944 to 1970. Some of them even still have their little pencils tucked down the spine.

They're not always very easy to read. A combination of tiny handwriting, worn pencil and blotchy biro has made my eyes go squiffy on numerous occasions!

I love all the little extras you get in diaries. They can tell you so much about the time they are from. This jolly London theatres map is in the back of the diary from 1955. There are some great quotes scribbled by our diary writer in the back pages of this one - "Take light things seriously and serious things lightly", "Happiness does not consist of having what you like, but liking what you get". There's also a note that says, "Don't collect things"...oops, I've failed on this one already!

Here are a few tips for the fashion conscious, from 1965! There are also pages on 'Manners' ("There is no excuse for bad manners. Give the matter a little thought and you will agree that everyone can and should have good manners") and 'Do's and Don't in Letter Writing' ("Do use ink rather than pencil. Not only is it more polite, but pencil has a trick of going rather smudgy and being difficult to read").

Every now and again I come across something that's been tucked into a page of a diary. Just everyday things, like a newspaper clipping on how to clean car windows, a postage receipt and these bus tickets (which are in the diary from 1965).

Being a fan of the '40s, I was particularly excited about this diary. Unfortunately, it's all written in pencil, so it's proving to be a little tricky to read...

...however, I can make out some bits that tell me about daily life. Such as "Sent 4 sheets to Co-Op lanudry XW658". We still have things at home that have laundry numbers sewn into them. Oh what joys from a bygone age!

According to the Boots diary for 1952, there seems to be a postage rate for just about everything! Mrs White didn't write very much in this year, with entries only going up to 4th January (perhaps she had another diary for this year that she preferred to write in?) It appears these first few days of the year were "dull" and she went to Bromsgrove!

As well as the diaries, there were a number of letters and this telegram (dated 2nd August 1948). I must admit, it made me laugh out loud - "Dear Mother, please forward ten pounds, stony broke, love Les". Les (Leslie) pops up quite a bit in the diaries and I assume it's our writer's son. I think it was the term 'stony broke' that tickled me...reminds me of my student days!

These are the dated 9th January 1912 from our writer's father, the other from 18th March 1920 from what appears to be a long lost friend wanting to be in touch again.

The letter from 1912 reads: "Dear Elizabeth, I am sending you a Christmas Rose(?). Rather late, isn't it, but better late than never? We are sorry you don't seem to get better of that shin complaint. You must not worry about it, you will get over that soon and forget all about it. I am sending you an advertisement of a lotion you can get from the chemist that may do it good. Anyway, you might give it a trial. While I write this, Doggie is in front of the fire. He takes nearly the whole length of the room. He is as happy as a buck in a stocking and as fat as fat. Thank you very much for the spectacle case, it is very useful. Walter sends love and thanks for the tie you sent. Mother and Walter are sending you a present of calico soon. Mother is rather better than she has been. She is one day better and the next worse. We all join in love and best wishes to y and Jack. From your affectionate father."

Here's to letter writing, discovering bygone times and perhaps even getting to know someone we've never even met.


Pomona said...

What a fascinating find! A real window into the past for you.

Pomona x

BusyLizzie said...

Fantastic find! I have a diary somewhere that came with some vintage stuff I bought. Like you, I have had some problems reading some of the writing. I kept a diary in my teens, but not sure anyone would find it very fascinating... smile. Lizzie x

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hello Katie, Letter Swap Partner!
I love this post. Isn't it fascinating to get a little glimpse of a bygone life? You've been extremely fortunate to find all these diaries belonging to the same person. And the letter at the end is so evocative of those days long past. Wow, this really is treasure!
I've been caught up with teaching this week and last, so no thought to our swap as yet..... but next week looks free (!) so I should be able to consider the topic then.
Wishing you Happy Days!
Denise x

Ms. B said...

So neat! I'd love to find something like that!

Suzy's Vintage Attic said...

Oh Katie I do envy your diary finds! I started writing in a diary on a daily basis from the age of 10. I love looking back to see what I did today 10 or 20 years ago. A diary is such an intimate thing, all your thoughts, worries or secrets being revealed on paper. You must have read some interesting things. I'd want to find out more about the person and if they are still alive? I suspect not, some people are not sentimental and will get rid of a lot when a relative dies. At least they have gone to someone who will appreciate them, YOU.
Thanks for your lovely comments
Isabelle x