I was watching The Darkest Hour last night, and drinking scotch in solidarity with Winston Churchill. I’m sure I’m not the first to think (and hear) that our experiences during the COVID 19 pandemic are similar to those of people during World War 11.
Well, yes. But mostly no.
Yes, we have a common enemy. And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens. And it’s going to be a sacrifice of one sort or another.
But things are a lot better today than they were then. I realize that I’m supposed to look back on those times as being somehow nicer, kinder, when people were more cooperative and could count on their neighbours. But those nice, kind people stood back as thousands of their neighbours were rounded up and sent out of the city, and sometimes out of the province, to what amounted to concentration camps just for the crime of having Japanese ancestry.
My mother left the rural community of Aldergrove to work in Vancouver for the telegraph exchange in 1943 or 1944. I sometimes wonder how her life was different than mine.
Clothes, for one. I can go online and order anything I want and it will be brought to my house for my approval. At the beginning of the war in Canada:
Everyone was given a book of 66 coupons to use to buy new clothes for one year. For example, a men’s shirt cost 16 coupons. This reduced to 48 coupons in 1942 and 36 in 1943.
By mid 1941- silk was no longer available since it was used as the material for parachutes. Therefore, women rushed to purchase all the silk stockings available.
In fact, later in the war, Saba’s, a ritzy store that specialized in silk and other expensive fabrics, had a regular riot on their hands when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (luckily, no one was hurt). Nylon was just as rare and special as silk.
So clothes had to last as long as they could. They were darned, mended, rehemmed and remade until they were ready to fall apart, and then they were remade into something else. None of this fast fashion of today.
And clothes were borrowed and shared. In the boarding house where my mother lived girls would often exchange clothes to have a “new” look for a date.
So let’s do a little wartime thinking.
So let’s take this opportunity to think about how we mindlessly shop for clothes until we have closets and drawers overfilled with cheap, disposable outfits that we never wear. Let’s start thinking about how much clothes really cost, think about buying fewer pieces and wearing them more often.