Today, we’re back in 1942, with eight year old Brenda, who lived in Surrey. She seems to have been in hospital and was now convalescing after a small operation and to cheer her up, her father – an upholsterer by trade but currently in the RAF – made her curtains for her dolls’ house. Her grandfather was a ‘carpenter instructor’ and may also have had a hand in some of the furnishings of her orange crate dolls’ house, which I will share with you another time. I have the very faded green, silk curtains which may well have been the very ones her father made for her in 1942. Brenda’s letters are mundane, yet fascinating. It’s moving to think her parents kept the little girl’s wartime correspondence and that at some point, someone thoughtfully reunited it with the dolls’ house she mentions in most of the letters.
Brenda’s drawing of a garden – and there is another of flowers – is reminiscent of the toy gardens often sold alongside dolls’ houses. Britains made their first Miniature Garden series in 1930. Lead flowers, trees, ponds and gardens were often purchased as well as commercial dolls’ houses. Brenda asked for – and received – a garden fork for her dolls’ house so it’s possible she originally had a garden along with the house, although now there is no trace of it apart from the fork and a couple of miniature pots of geraniums, for the house’s window sills. I suspect the garden was also an escape from the obvious horrors of war. Not just a place to ‘dig for victory’ but also a refuge and distraction.
My Dearest Daddy Pet.
How are you Dear? quite well I hope. I had three letters in one day from you, because I didn’t get the one you posted to the Hospital but they sent it here.
I could see the curtains you made from my bed, did you make those flowered ones? I saw the dark green ones, like we have got on the landing.
It isn’t a very nice day yet, very windy and looks like rain. I have done one side of my dollie’s frock and unpicked the skarf. I took Teddy to the Hospital. It too quater of a hour to take my A & Ts out [adenoids & tonsils] because the nurse told me Mummy’s going to sit in the bed-room and sew. Grandma Leatherhead came to see me on Saturday. [Leatherhead was where Brenda’s paternal grandparents lived, not their surname!]
I hope you will like the drawing of a garden.
A week to morrow you will be home. Won’t it be just lovely, what a time we shall have to-gether. I have got a loose tooth. I am writing this letter in bed. The time is 5- twenty two and I shall soon be having dinner. I shall have bread fish and saygo pudding. Dr Eastern came to see me yesterday. It is very cold out to-day. Dickey doesn’t sing yet. I am writing on the paper you gave me. My throat didn’t hurt a bit only when I swallowed. We saw one of those big lorries in Leatherhead once.
You ought to read JUST JAKE in the paper he says HANG IT HOW THE DEUCE DO YOU EXPECT AN ARTIST TO DO HIS BEST WORK WHEN THE MOUTH KEEPS MOVIN’ ABOUT?
He’s making a marrow out of clay. It’s so funny I thought you’d like to read it. I rote the address of the envelope. Well I must say good bey for now, I hope you are quite well and fit. I am quite well thank you, Lots of love from you Everloving xxxx Daughter xxxxxxxxxxxx Brenda xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [Pencil]