"a magnificent household manual"
A few years ago I started researching my family history and began the process of getting touch with relatives with whom we had all lost touch. This included a cousin in Tasmania and her family, and more cousins in Derbyshire whom I now refer to as Long Lost 1 and Long Lost 2. My delight at finding these, and other, relatives knows no bounds as they are all genuinely delightful and I will do an article about the basics of family history research at a later date.
When I told LL1 and LL2 about The Wartime Housewife, they very kindly lent me a book which the husband of Tasmanian Cousin had printed in the late 60’s/early 70’s, although the look and tone of it is more 50’s. It rejoices in the name “At Home with Marjorie Cooper – A Household Manual”. The cover announces that it includes:-
Cooking, Slimming Recipes, Health and Beauty, Diabetic Aids, Beverages, Household Hints, Tips for Show Cooks, Knitting and Handicrafts, Party Foods and Games, Gardening, Animal Care, Ideas for Christmas and Poems.
Mrs Beeton eat your heart out. This is a book for people who have no-one to ask and may not even have m/any other books. My cousins went out there in 1947 and, after years of struggle, built their own house on stilts and established a life for themselves. They were incredibly isolated from everything and everyone they knew and amenities were at an absolute minimum. Even now, her son’s address is something like ‘R888, Pioneer, Tasmania’. Er, that’s it.
This book has everything (including a paragraph on how to look after ‘Baby ‘Roos’) and, as I try out some of the recipes and advice, I will share them with you. This was also a time when she thought nothing of putting named photos of her grandchildren and her home address and telephone number in the book. How times change!
I love the idea that The Wartime Housewife could be this sort of resource. Although few of us experience the kind of isolation my cousin endured, our modern day isolation is just as real. Many people have completely lost touch with the skills and resourcefulness that came naturally to some of our parents and definitely our grandparents, and often we are not geographically close to our families who would, at one time, have handed their skills and advice to us. Most of us have lost the understanding that the work we do in the home and with our families (men and women) has a very high value indeed and should be applauded.
I will leave you with some extracts from her introductory letter.
“I try all things; I achieve what I can because nothing in this world is as good as usefulness”
“.. remember it is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy… worry is rust upon the blade”
“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way”
“So much to do, so little done by some”
This is followed by a long chapter on Soup.
My kind of woman.