LETTER: Sterner stuff in the 1930s

The report in the Herald [January 27] about the “horrible” conditions endured by Simone Muzzall [‘My baby was freezing for five days’] caused me to reflect on the conditions we suffered in the 1930s.

During freezing cold weather with snow and ice in abundance and no knowledge of such things as central heating, we were subjected to conditions which today would be truly described by that, nowadays much over-worked word, horrendous!

Each average household would sit before a fire if they could afford the coal or had the wood, and try to keep out the cold draught wafting in through highly inefficient wooden window frames with sash windows that rattled in the wind despite the packing of newspaper in an attempt to seal them.

The result of sitting in front of a fire for extended periods produced a red blotching down the fronts of the ladies’ legs which could be seen on all the girls when they went outside.

The babies were sat on mum’s lap in centre position in front of the fire, wrapped as well as possible and what material was available was stuffed against the bottoms of any door allowing access to the room in an attempt to keep out the draught.

Everyone would be wearing what overcoats or other clothing they possessed and on the fire would often be a hot-pot consisting of whatever bits and pieces of food, including bones, which would be kept going, if possible for days and days.

The ingenuity of parents in those days to exist, let alone live comfortably, was extraordinary. Nobody complained. Thoughts were always directed at how best to endure the conditions and experiences were shared by all in efforts to improve circumstances.

Without being critical of anyone because circumstances are so different nowadays, I nevertheless find myself wondering how much efforts people make nowadays in order to maintain or improve their circumstances when problems occur.

RON SPICER

Meadowlands Avenue

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