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Category Archives: 40s Life

How to Plan a Wartime Wedding

From the Australian Women’s Weekly, February 1940 –

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Prewar Interiors of April 1939

Prewar Interiors of April 1939

Hello, again, I know it’s been a while…but I have busy working and setting up my new online vintage store (still hoping for bricks and mortar one day). If you have time please visit at.   http://www.kittenvintagemackay.com/

Anyway, it’s gray and cold and wet here in usually sunny Mackay, the perfect day to read old magazines and cuddle up with a cat or two.

cats on a sofa
Here three articles on decorating from April 1939. It’s just amazing how modern some of the furniture looks – I swear I saw a chair like that one below right at IKEA!

modern furniture for a flat 1939

We only get a few weeks of winter here, but on a rainy day like this I’d love to be sitting in front of a fireplace. I usually put the fake fireplace on the television (through YouTube) but the television blew up this morning after a severe thunderstorm…Well a chance to make the living room more vintage perhaps!


And to finish here is a lovely ad for floor wax…have a great weekend!

vintage ad for fishers floor wax, 1939

Sewing Bees in Wartime

We hear a lot about ‘Make do and Mend’ during Wartime, especially when clothing rationing was in effect,  but maybe you haven’t heard about sewing bees. Quilting Bees were popular in America in the early 1800’s, as a way for women to meet others and tackle large quilts that would be cumbersome by themselves. They provided socialization, friendship, wisdom and sharing of supplies and tools,  and basically involved a group of women getting together and sewing.

The first mention I have found of a wartime Sewing Bee is in this article from December 1939 –

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30 December 1939 Australian Woman’s Weekly

Red Cross Sewing Bees see to become popular in Australia.

bee27april1940

27 April 1940  Australian Woman’s Weekly

Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) was probably the one who began to make Sewing Bees popular in England and Australia during the War, forming a Red Cross Sewing Bee for the women of the royal household at the palace each week from as early as November 1939.

queenbee

15 June 1940 Australian Women’s Weekly

You can also watch a little video her Great Sewing Bee of 1939 here.

This article from the American Woman’s Weekly in March 1942 is a little different, as rationing is not really mentioned, and the ladies are sewing more for themselves than the troops, but it is interesting to ‘see’ these ladies in action at their sewing bee.

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sew2

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Sewing Bees are obviously meant to be a cooperative event. There is a recent British TV show called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ which is a reality TV contest type show, which to me loses the point of sewing bees, but you can watch it here.

Have you joined a Sewing Bee or thought of doing so? Tips for joining an online sewing bee can be found here.

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

I am in between scanners at present, so here is one Post I prepared earlier…

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was the Prime Minister of the UK for most of WWII, from 1940 to 1945 (and again from 1951 to 1955). He is often stated as being one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century,  and his radio broadcasts help inspire the British people during the war.  His children also did their bit to help the war effort.

Churchill’s only son, Randolph, served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and the SAS),  Eldest daughter Diana gained the rank of officer between 1939 and 1945 in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, middle daughter Sarah, between acting jobs, joined the WAAF and went on to interpret aerial photographs for British invasions.

Winston Churchill is accompanied by his daughter Sarah, Cairo, December 1943

 
Youngest daughter Mary worked for the Red Cross and the Women’s Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). Mary also accompanied her father on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S Truman and Joseph Stalin.

Churchill with daughter Mary at Potsdam Conference

This article from November 1940 shows how the girls captured the publics interest-

churchills dashing daughters

Unfortunately Diana suffered nervous disorders and in 1963, age 54, while working for a suicide prevention organisation, she committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Sarah is best known for her role in the film Royal Wedding (1951), with Fred Aistere, and she made about nine movies in total. Problems with alcohol led to her death in 1982 at the age of 67.

 

November 1950

 
Mary, on her marriage Lady Mary Soames, was the last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill, and died in 2014 at the age of 91. She left a fortune of more than £22 million, in trust to her five children, and in December 2014, Sotheby’s London auctioned on behalf of her heirs, 255 items out of her collection, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father. Mary’s daughter, Emma Soames, has written a book about her mother, which you read about Here.

 

the tragic Churchills

November 1963

  
 

15 Lessons Learned from “The 1940s House”

   
I have just been rewarding the wonderful BBC Series “The 1940s House”, and each time I get something different out of it. Here are fifteen lessons I learnt this time –

  1. The utilities were often cut off after bombing raids – water, power, gas. Be prepared. Store bottles of water and some easy to prepare food ( a 3 week to 3 month supply is a good start). Have a back up way of heating water and food.  Learn how to make a fire without matches.
  2. Grow a vegetable, herb and fruit garden for food, barter and healing (like comfrey for sprained ankles).
  3. Keep chickens and ducks for eggs. Be prepared to breed and butcher your own if you want to eat meat. Think about other small animals for meat and fertiliser, like rabbits and cavies. (People did actually resort to “roof hare” in war torn Europe ie. Cat). Get into aquaculture – fish are often easier to farm than cute and furry animals!
  4. If you have room, get a milk goat or two and a couple of beehives. Dairy foods and sweetners were rationed and hard to get.
  5. Learn to cook from scratch – especially basics like bread, stews and basic yoghurt and cheeses. Practice with powdered agh and milk and have some on hand.
  6. Learn to sew and have a good sewing kit so you can “make do and mend.”
  7. Have ” no tech” days – turn off the TV and cook, cool and heat without power. 
  8. Have a stock of real books and games for entertainment when the power goes down. Get the kids to make their own board game. Learn an instrument. 
  9. Keep a diary, or blog, or write letters to keep your language alive and your brain active.
  10. Cut down or cut out the alcohol, unessessary drugs and cigarettes, otherwise you may need to quit cold turkey.
  11. Shop locally and eat fresh (to back up your own home grown), walk to the shops and leave the car at home. It saves waste, can be cheaper and healthier and is better for the planet.
  12. If you want a job and can’t get one, volunteer – it can give you a boost as well as helping others.
  13. Keep a couple of lipsticks and hair dye kits (if you use them) on hand. They can boost morale. 
  14. Also keep a stock of toilet paper – it is REALLY important! Moisturiser, toothpaste and soap are also important. 
  15. Be nice to your family members, and ensure your children know to to do basic chores!

Living on Wartime Rations – Day 2

Being a Sunday I decided to make something different for breakfast.  I found an easy recipe from 1943 – savoury breakfast patties.

recipes from 1943

recipes from 1943

The lemon tart recipe looks interesting too, I might try that one day.

 

ingredients for savoury breakfast patties, mixed batter & grated onion & cheese

  

breakfast patties served with a spoon of yoghurt, spring onions & a side of shredded lettuce

 

The patties were excellent – my husband loved them so much he said he would make them next time, as he saw how easy they were. The recipe served four (one daughter was away), and it used one weeks ration of egg and cheese for one person. Yoghurt was available in the early 40s, and could be delivered in 1/2 pint bottles. Some cookbooks books advised making your own yoghurt from the bought stuff, using part of the powdered milk ration.  As to the lettuce with breakfast, food ministry leaflets remind us that –


For lunch we had beetroot sandwiches. I did think about using grated beetroot but I had a can in the cupboard and used that instead. They were “interesting” according to Ms 14 and “yuck” from Master 10, but we grownups enjoyed them. We drank iced tea, made from yesterday’s leftover tea and the juice of one orange – refreshing and not too sweet.

  
For dinner I bought a shoulder of lamb on special (still $20, but hopefully it will be enough for sandwiches on Monday) and decided to slow roast it, as per the following wartime leaflet advice.

  

I sliced the fat on top in a criss cross pattern, like for Christmas ham, sprinkled on salt, pepper, dried oregano (I’m out of Rosemary, which I love), and a bit of red wine vinegar, covered it in foil and baked at 150 degrees Celsius, fan forced, for four hours. We ended up with just over three cups of dripping, and I used a little of that to roast the potatoes in.

 

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb just  about to be carved

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb just about to be carved

 
It did shrink a bit, as you can see the bones sticking out.  The potatoes were in for about an hour with the lamb getting warm (instead or parboiling) then I took the lamb out at 6pm and turned the oven up to 190 for half and hour and browned the Spuds. We just had some steamed broccoli, carrot and cabbage with it, and horseradish cream rather than sauce or gravy.

 

slow roasted shoulder of lamb and veg, wartime food

Looks boring but tasted fantastic!

 
The verdict? Lamb is our new favourite! Tender, moist and delicious., and super easy. The small shoulder fed six of us, with enough left over for the kids sandwiches for school tomorrow, and a pot of soup.

Passed the evening watching the fabulous ‘1940s House’ documentary/ reality show, which you can find Here.

Living on Wartime Rations – Day 1 & The National Loaf

    Yesterday was Saturday, the first day of our week of living on wartime rations. Given that the children are meant to be having around 7 slices of bread a day, we had toast for breakfast, from day old bread, with a little butter and plum jam that I made last Summer.  The children had one glass of milk each and hubby and I had a coffee with a spoon of cream.

    Day old national loaf, homemade plum jam and almost a weeks worth of butter for five

      

    Toasted national loaf, a smidge of butter and jam and coffee with 1 tbsn cream

     

    bean and grated carrot sandwiches – I love my ‘new’ vintage op shop cloth ($1)!

     
    We ate sandwiches
    with homemade bean paste and grated carrot for lunch with a glass or two of water each, followed by a small locally grown mango each.
    I usually bake a loaf of bread every second day – grain and wholemeal – so the kids are used to it for their school lunches. It won’t be a shock like it was to millions of white bread eating Britons when the mainly wholemeal National Loaf, was introduced. Bakers were banned from making any other type of bread except the national loaf, made with national flour, and many people hated it.  But being high in vitamin B, wholemeal flour was nessessary for people eating smaller amounts of meat and eggs.
     
    why eat wholemeal bread

    from The Australian Women’s Weely, November 1944

     
    Recipe: The National Loaf (makes 2 loaves)

    • 1 ½ lb national flour (wholemeal with 15% white or potato flour)
    • 1 ½ tbsp salt (this is a LOT but it helped to preserve it)
    • 1 ½ tbsp dried yeast
    • 1 dsp honey or treacle
    • 450 ml tepid water With 1/2 vitamin c tablet dissolved

    1) Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).

    2) Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

    2) pre-heat oven to 200°c then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap. if it sounds hollow they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

    (I often use the juice of half an orange in my mix instead of the vitamin C tablet, it helps the bread to rise and means less kneading, and provides the sweetness for the yeast instead of the honey. My mix is usually two cups wholemeal, one cup grains, 1/2 cup rye and 1/2 cup white and just a pich of salt which makes 1 loaf. I find a tablespoon of oils helps the bread keep and makes it softer. Sometimes I leave out the grains and do a different shape, like ciabatta, or rolls, just to mix it up a bit!)

     

    the wholemeal grain loaf, this one didn’t rise very much!

     
    We had an exciting afternoon tea – left over bread with jam, no butter, for the kids, who also had milk in their tea, and just black tea for us grownups. I have just been rewatching the first episode of ‘the 1940s house’ and have been inspired watching the ladies go without so the kids can have more! I am pretty sure my son sneaked a mandarin as well.

     

    the world’s most exciting afternoon tea

     
    Dinner was a stew – kangaroo. We don’t have rabbits here in Queensland, but kangaroos are plentiful, and although it has only recently hit our supermarket shelves, country people have been eating ‘roo’ for decades. My stew recipie is based on the brown stew guidelines below, from my new goto book (which you can find as an ebook on Amazon).

     

    my new go to book, Eating for Victory

     
     

    tips for good wartime stews

     
     I used 500gm kangaroo for the meat and added one clove of garlic and some dried oregano for flavour. The tomatoes were a gift from a neighbour and the veggies were scrubbed instead of peeled for less waste and more vitamins.

     

    Kangaroo stew ingredients, including 1 clove of garlic. Note the flour, I had just kneaded the bread and didn’t want to waste it!

     
      
    Being Saturday I did have one cocktail, but the rest of the night was water. We had a square of dark chocolate each and an after dinner coffee for the grownups.

    Not a bad first day, and I also op shopped, gardened, put up a new fence for the ducks and did laundry. And finally found my elusive tape measure and measured vintage tablecloths for the Etsy store. Yeh me!

    Identifying Japanese Planes During WWII

    I am so grumpy with Blogger at present, and am again in WWII mode, that I have decided to resurrect this blog – I hope you’ll stay with me!

    Being an avid watcher of shows about WWII, I am always interested to see that many people could identify an enemy plane by its silhouette, paint color and markings, and even sound.  I suppose that after seeing enough of them, you would, but what about the first time – how did they recognise them?

    They had help of course – propaganda posters and ads, and even articles in magazines, like this one from February 1942 in the Australian Women’s Weekly.

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    Image

    Of course the red dots, or rising suns, help a lot. I can just imagine little boys all over Australia and the US making models and painting them – and then probably pretending to shoot them down.

    I have a kit for the boy somewhere, might have to dig it out!

    Hollywood’s War Work, 1942

    Hollywood did it’s bit during WWII in raising much needed War Bond money.  Hoyts Theatres and Fox films had ‘buy a bond to get in’ film premières, which in November 1942 alone raised three and a half million pounds. Stars such as Gene Tierney, pictured below, sold ‘a billion dollars’ worth of bonds in September 1942, in 300 US Cities.

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    Other actors helped out in different ways.  In 1942 Hollywood workers themselves contributed 160,000 pounds to the Red Cross, and invested around 80,000 pounds a week in war savings – not bad for a little town of 33,000 people.

    Actress Linda Darnell qualified as a nurses aid, and with her friend Ann Miller ran a day-nursery for mothers enaged in war work.  Here is Linda Darnell rolling bandages for the Red Cross.

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    More than 2000 of Hollywood’s workers were in the Armed services by the end of 1942, and Hollywood also make training films for Allies, Government propaganda movies and sent copies of movies to troops in remote locations.

    Some stars gave their metal jewellery to scrap drives, and others, such as Cobina Wright, pictured below, did their bit for the ‘Dig for Victory ‘ campaign.

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    As many movie making technicians joined the service, some actors spent their free time learning a trade, in case manpower shortages meant that movies could not be made.  Here is Ann Corcoran using an Acetylene Torch.

    anne

    Some glamour girls, such as Ginny Simms and Ann Jeffreys shown below,  simply helped out as hostesses in US Service Canteens.

    girls42

    Photos from PIX Magazine, December 5, 1942

    Wartime Food Storage Tips

    This wartime article from 1944 has great tips on how to store food in your fridge and pantry, and how to store things if you don’t have a fridge. Not everyone had a fridge in the 1940s – I know my grandparents didn’t have one until the 1960s, and used a Coolgardie safe instead, a very basic form of fridge which works on the simple principle of evaporative cooling, developed from the old meat safe.

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    Image

    I already have a cat, so I am off to a good start!  I think we may try and build a coolgardie safe next – some ideas here, and a plan for a meat safe here.

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