Remember Me

Remember Me

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 21st, 1916 Letter #41 From Charley to his sister Vida Valerie

A letter from Charley to his younger sister Vida Valerie (VV) who is attending college in Holland, Manitoba. 

Can Red Cross Special Hospital
Derbyshire England

May 21st, 1916

Dear V-V
I see you still have that foolish idea about learning the Drug Business well the sooner you get that out of your head the better because as a woman you would never be able to demand any wages and you would never make a success of a Store of your own. 
I don’t by any means that it would be because you are not capable or anything like that, but it is because of the people of today do not feel much confidence in Women Doctors or Women Lawyers or Druggists and the drug business is no place for a girl.  In the Drug world people kind of laugh if you tell then you employ a female dispenser. 
So really VV if you take my advice you will teach and with the money finish and get your degree, then you are somebody and you have a decent social standing.  If this war lasts just another year or so, then I will be able to help you but till then do all you can towards finishing in Arts. 
          I am dispensing here but don’t like the place and in order to get a promotion I have to stay so you see how I am fixed.  I want the promotion and I don’t want to stay.
          You were saying Ina and Karl are Happy well I sincerely hope they continue to be so but I think the novelty of the thing will soon be over.
          Mother was saying she had Rheumatism.  I wished she was here because this is a hospital specially for Rheumatics you see this mineral water contains Sodium and Radium.
          Say you talk about getting fat, well I have gained just about 16 lbs since Xmas and it makes me look a lot shorter.  But even the fellows are noticing it and jolly me about getting porky.  My old tunic will not even as much as button on me.
          You see I never hear from any of them in Winnipeg. As I have only wrote one letter since I came back.  Occasionally Hess drops me a line or so but for the last three months I have never answered one.  I suppose the least I could do would be to drop a note anyway.  So some of these days I might get feeling sentimental and answer one.
Well Kid, I see by this letter it has gone to three different towns for me and on the back of the envelope it has written in Blue Pencil “Hello Dolly how are you old boy” so I must have a Winnipeg friend in one of those places. 
Well VV I am going to draw to a close remember me to Mother and Dad and think well on what I have said. 
Your brother

Just four months earlier in January 1916, some women in Manitoba became the first in Canada to win the right to vote in provincial elections and to hold elected office.

"In Britain, throughout the war, both the government and the press tended for propaganda reasons, to exaggerate the extent to which women took over men's jobs. Actual female dentists, barbers and architects - all of which were featured on war savings postcards - were extremely rare. Most male-dominated professions remained closed to women. Even in areas where they were employed in large numbers, such as munitions and transport, they were often treated as inferior, stop-gap replacements for enlisted men. Moreover, women's wages, routinely portrayed as 'high' in the wartime press, remained significantly lower than those of their male counterparts.

Many women did find their wartime labour experiences in some way 'liberating', if only because it freed them from woefully paid jobs in domestic service. But the comment made in 1918 by the women's suffrage campaigner Millicent Fawcett - that 'the war revolutionized the industrial position of women' - should be treated with caution."

From the commentary to the BBC TV series Out of the Doll’s House, which looked at the history of women in the twentieth century (1988)

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