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The weather has finally cleared after more than a week of rain. It seems appropriate that the sun will shine on this day of thanks.
I was going to speak about my grandfather-in-law, who was at Dunkirk, who saw Germans shooting Canadian sailors in the water, and who survived the sinking of his ship (the Skeena) off the coast of Iceland, only to live a long and incredibly full life.
Or I would speak of his father who was at every major battle of the First World War and survived being gassed.
Or I would speak of coming across the grave of Corporal Ainsworth Dyer in the Necropolis Cemetery in Toronto’s Old Cabbagetown. I was walking along and I came across this single new stone among those a hundred years old (many victims of the influenza epidemic after WWI). It was the middle of summer, months after he was killed, and yet the grave was absolutely covered in fresh flowers and Canadian flags.
But I don’t know if I could do them and their stories justice, is all, so I won’t even try. I will just say ‘Thank you.’ You made this world better by placing yourself between the enemy and those they would harm and by risking yourself in ways we cannot truly fathom here today.
And since this is nominally a crafting blog, I will share with you this poem I found in a book of war verse published in 1918:
by Elmina Atkinson
first published in The Bookman
Gray Gauntlet, you of the wristlets wrought
Of home-spun soft and gray,
Do you hear the flashing needles click
Three hundred miles away?
Oh, it’s purl and p lain,
And a toss of the arm,
For freeing the endless thread:
And mystic whisp’rings with each stitch
Too sacred to e’er be said.
Gray Gauntlet, you of the sword must go,
We of the spindle stay:
And our needles speed that our lads may march
Mail-coated in woolen gray.
Oh, it’s slip and bind,
And seam and count,
And turn the heels with care:
No craven fears in the meshes hide
But only a murmured prayer.
I’ve decided to continue the theme of Canada at War throughout this week in honour of Remembrance Day. Today its something a little different. From the Nova Scotia Archives, I present to you a cook book supplement published in The Halifax Herald and The Halifax Mail on 10 April 1945. According to the Archives, “This supplement was compiled from more than 8000 recipes submitted to the newspapers’ contest. Entries were received from more than 300 communities in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.”
It may be found here in its entirety. It includes such wartime measures such as various ways to ‘stretch’ butter, ways to cook less expensive cuts of meat, and how to make a roast last for several meals.
This is a newspaper supplement so it also shows many advertisements which are so evocative of the time. An ad for O’Malley’s Fine Bread states that bread is “one war-time food that’s plentiful and economical.”
Another, for Gruen “Precision Watches“, states that since most of their machinery has been turned over to the production of “Precision Instruments for war,” it’s selection of watches is limited, so “make your selection early.”
This ad for S.P. Zive and Son Ltd. “Furnishers of Happy Homes” on Barrington St, offers to help you furnish “the home that will compensate for the hours, days and weeks spent in fox-holes, in the filth and cold and for the long, tiresome drive so necessary to the conquest of Hitler and all he stands for.”
I live in a neighbourhood full of such houses, all built during the boom-time just after the war, for young men and women starting lives that many of them feared they would never get to live. Many of these homes look remarkably like the one in the picture.
Still more ads point to life (and even luxury) after the war. This ad for Kay’s department store offers a discount to discharged service men and women (and their families) “to assist service personnel in rehabilitation to civilian life.”
One for fancy silverware from Birk’s states that such lovely place settings will be available again after the war, and that “it is worth waiting for.”
And since this is a cook book, I will end with this great picture of a WRCNS (Wren) Cook from December 1944. Frankly, I think the guy on the left is interested in more than her pies…
Last minute edit: I just found this fascinating document as well, all about Nova Scotia’s natural resources and industrial capacity and how it benefits the war effort – check it out!
I was going to save this for Remembrance Day proper, but when I saw this I just couldn’t wait.
These are some of the people of the village of Saudemont, France, liberated from the Germans by Canadian troops in 1918.
Just look at the joy and relief on their faces (there are some closeups here). The grin on the woman in the front row in the helmet makes me grin too, as does the young man with his arm around the woman old enough to be his granny.
This is why we fight. This is why we go to war.
Check out the site where I found this – their collection of historic photographs is fantastic.
I had some other things I was going to post today, but I think I’ll let this one stand on its own.
(1) One of my favourite webcomics, Buttersafe, recently posted this gem:
(2) Things to do with glass jars. Ever since I was a kid helping my mum and grandmum with the canning in the fall, I have loved glass mason jars. Well, here are a couple of neat non-food things you can do with them and with other recycled jars:
—> From Martha Stewart Crafts, a sewing-kit in a jar (instructions here):
—> And from Apartment Therapy, glass jars used as picture frames:
(3) And now for something silly, here is a flowchart which describes how to Explain the Internet to a 19th-century British Street Urchin
(4) In the spirit of last week’s ‘doing the needful,’ here are some more interesting words from around the world. My favourite ‘untranslatable word’ from this list has got to be Tartle, a Scottish word meaning “The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name” (this has happened to me *so* many times!) Mamihlapinatapei comes in a close second, though, as something I have also experienced.
(5) One last thing to finish off this list. I love everything about this photo: the boots, the socks, the obviously handmade garter, the lighting, the angle of the shot – everything!