FEBRUARY 6, 1945
NEW YORK, Monday—To give you a more complete picture of current shortages in Great Britain, here are some additional extracts from the letter I quoted yesterday:
"One lady that I heard of recently bought a pair of boots (in England, boots mean heavy-wearing footwear) for her boy. In seven days they were done, and the heel completely off one of them.
"... After five years of war, households also need sweeping replenishments. I should say all households, rich or poor, are in this state. Yet it is estimated that the present quota for such goods makes it possible for but one household in ten to have a pair of new bed-sheets a year, and one household in five a pair of bed blankets. Long ago we had to split all sheets and blankets down the center and join outsides to the middle so that the unworn parts would be over the bed. Two years ago I unpicked the best two pairs of lined curtains I had, making the green lining into covers for our shabby chairs. Two weeks ago I unpicked three nightdress cases (you know, the envelope type with, usually, an embroidered flag). I cut a piece of the plain material right off, and hemming it, made a serviette; with what remained I made a chairback cover for a bit of new Christmas brightness. A very lovely but too large brocade coat, which once belonged to my mother, I cut up and made into two cushion cases, also for Christmastide. And so, with all other British women, I make and mend, ever trying to keep a once bright interior.
"Towels are couponed and therefore precious, for one cannot afford clothing coupons for towels. Curtaining of net and cretonne, too, are couponed, as are, of course, bedsheets. The unworn parts of towels make excellent facecloths for the bathroom. In earlier days, when I was yet the possessor of spare summer frocks, I found that these, at a pinch, made quite efficient nighties. Nobody saw me in them anyhow, because we saved light by having no illumination in bedrooms at all; and saving light, managed without blackout curtains in bedrooms, too. It is amazing how methodical one could get even in the dark, when placing clothing that one took off.
"Hardware today, like pans, etc., is difficult to get. Annually, one person in three can have a new pan or a kettle; one in seven can have a new knife, fork or spoon; whilst one in four can have a new jug or teapot.
"There are still no carpets made, and threadbare secondhand ones take prohibitive prices. I wouldn't attempt to buy one; in fact, I couldn't afford to—for Ted, although a policeman, does not receive the wages of war workers.
"Girls in their 'teens' very often earn double a man's prewar wage, if they are in war work. I know of some who start at six pounds a week, which is about $30. Ted's pre-war wage was 90 shillings, or $22.50, and this has recently been increased by its last war allowance to 100 shillings."