The days when nothing was wasted
We hear a lot of talk about austerity these days, but for some of us not having much to get by isn’t a new thing. Do you remember the times when mums spent hours darning, when kids lived in hand-me-downs and every plate was left clean?
‘Make do and mend’ was a wartime necessity, but making do was a way of life in the 1940s and 50s. And it’s a mentality that’s hard to shake off. If you grew up during or just after the war, you probably still hate seeing anything go to waste.
Enjoy our look back at when mums cooked leftovers to perfection, dads were dab hands in the vegetable garden, and every girl was a whiz on a sewing machine.
Knitting and sewing wizardry
Handmade clothes became the norm. It was amazing what magic could be created from an unwanted curtain or a pair of dad’s old trousers.
You’d hear the click-clacking of knitting needles as woollen jumpers, scarves and hats were rustled up. And it didn’t end there… even old cast offs were unpicked to be knitted into something more stylish.
Repairing and re-using everything
When clothes weren’t being made, they were being mended. Anything and everything would be darned – and larger holes patched up. It was the only way to deal with school uniforms that had fared badly in hard fought street battles and playground scrapes.
Worn sheets were cut (or ripped) up the middle and the outside edges sewn together. This may have made the sheets last longer, but my goodness, it was uncomfortable lying on that seam!
Everything that could be was recycled. Brown paper would be folded carefully and kept for wrapping paper, or used to get stains out with an iron.
Homemade toys and vivid imaginations
Toys were very often homemade. Dads’ hand crafted dolls houses and used old pram wheels to make go-carts, while mums and daughters made teddy bears from old fabric.
Our imaginations were our biggest plaything. We’d turn old rope into a skipping game, wage war with conkers, hold snail races and spend hours concocting perfume from rose petals.
Even after rationing ended, the ‘waste not want not’ attitude lived on. There was never a morsel left on the plate and leftovers were a way of life. Remember bubble and squeak, pies filled with meat from the Sunday joint and trifle made with stale cake?
Many dads had a patch in the garden where they’d grow everything from carrots to gooseberries. Fruit and vegetables always tasted sweeter from the garden.