Saturday, 15 May 2021

More Than Just Words

Hello Friends!

Recently, I have been poring over old documents and family records, most of which are of no interest to anyone, however, I came across a handful of letters which, while of no interest to anyone other than me, I found some very telling facts about how our attitude to smoking has changed.

I have cropped and edited the letters for security and personal reasons.

When my Grandfather was taken very seriously ill during the late 1940's, he required specialist care which could only be provided at a specialist hospital over 60 miles away.  As my family were not able to afford a car, and my Grandmother had to continue working to support the family, visiting him was nigh on impossible, unless she could secure a day off on one of the incredibly scant visiting days, along with an offer of transport, for travelling 60 miles by bus, with at least two changes of service for a strictly governed hour and a half of visiting {many will remember Matron and her Visiting Bell} it was a logistical nightmare, as you will see here:


It seems Draconian, doesn't it?  Then, we think of what is happening now with no visiting of loved ones in hospitals and care homes allowed for the past year or longer due to the pandemic.  At least today there is technology to support virtual visiting.  Yet, one thing remains the same: how hard it must have been to know you may never see your loved one again.

The following excerpts say more about the times and the attitude towards smoking than I have ever seen.  Remember, these letters came from a person in charge!


Just look at the fact that he was allowed to smoke in bed in hospital!  As I said, very telling letters indeed.
{The cost of tobacco must have gone up a penny!}


The final letter I will share was written after he had passed away.  Everything I have ever heard about my Dadcu is that he was kind, considerate, and a gentle man.  It must have brought some comfort to my Grandmother and Mother that his illness and hospital confinement, which was very long indeed, did not affect his temperament.  What a wonderful way to go, to just gently slip away while enjoying one last cigarette.  Such a gentle way of describing how he simply slipped away to God's keeping.

I am typing now with tears running down my face.


I hope you have enjoyed seeing this little glimpse into the past.  Letters are such wonderful things, and contain so much more than words.  They have no value to anyone, so I plan to offer them to the local Historical Society.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well

12 comments:

  1. Hi Deb! Times have changed, and prices , too. Smoking in bed would certainly not be allowed any more. Visiting hours are generally more frequent these days, except of course in Covid times. We were not allowed any visitors when I was in the clinic. This was an interesting look back, thanks for sharing! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Thank you, Valerie. Yes, many things have changed in 80 years. Smoking inside public areas was banned in the UK a few years ago, restaurants, pubs, cinema, hospital, busses, the lot. Recently, hospitals have banned smoking anywhere on the grounds. No visitors is hard on all concerned, but wholly understandable now too. Hugs, Deb.

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  2. Such a moving post and as you say so much has changed with regard to hospital visiting (in non covid times) and a complete change in attitude to smoking. I think it is a lovely idea to offer them to your local history society. I am sure they will be very pleased. A very interesting visit to the past. Stay safe and well.

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    1. Thank you. Obviously, there's a lot more, 7 letters total, and I just can't imagine the distress caused with the only contact for many months being by letter through a third party. How intriguing it is to wonder what my Grandmother wrote! Stay safe, my friend.

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  3. My goodness, Deb, this post is so touching. Though the times and the rules of safety have changed, the love conveyed is evident. It's lovely you have shared such a personal glimpse into the past of your dear ancestors. xoxo

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    1. I was thinking of you as I typed, for I know you once said about either your Daddy or Grandfather smoking, and your fond memories of the fragrant tobacco {I don't care what anyone says, tobacco smells good!}. I think it's magical how a letter written 80 years ago has such meaning all these years on. Thank you, my friend xoxo

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  4. What touching letters - so many stories behind the words of a time gone by. My Mum was bornin 1928 and at 18 she was told by doctors that smoking kept illness away!

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    1. Thank you, my friend. Yes, how our attitudes have changed indeed. My Mum was also born in 1928 and despite having sarcoidosis, was never told to stop smoking!

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    2. Just lost a post by touching a hot key! What very touching letters and amazing that Matron? had time to write them. In this day and age it hardly seems possible that so much attention to detail was given, to include family when they couldn't be there.

      A lovely idea to pass them on to the local historical society.

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    3. Thank you, Bovey Belle. I'm not sure it was Matron who wrote them, but in those days Matron was definitely a formidable force, and very much in charge.

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  5. Those letters are treasures, Deb, especially that last one. It paints the picture of his last days and what others thought of him -- which is highly indeed. I like these very much.

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    1. Thank you, Jeanie, so happy you enjoyed this post today.

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