Monday, August 31, 2009

Test Card 4 : Take Home Some Books

The last of the Test Card series - for the time being - shows a branch of the booksellers W H Smith in 1940 at the height of the blitz. During night after night of heavy bombing houses had to be "blacked out" so as not to provide navigational indications to passing bombers. And what to do during those blacked-out evenings? Take home some books of course. Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow.

14 comments:

  1. Okay, so here is my ignorance... (because we didn't cover this in history lessons and I can't remember Dad's Army clearly enough) Were the blackout blinds strong enough to block out the electric lights or did they have to read by candlelight?
    Surely the screen from the Nintendo Wii wasn't too bright to shine through?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kab : I suspect it depended on the effectiveness of your black-out material and the wattage of your electric light bulbs. They probably got away with playing on their Wii (what else could you do for those endless hours in the Anderson Shelter)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jolly good stuff, that blackout material - I used my parents' "left overs" to make a dark room from my bedroom for years!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Entertainment, including books, was different then as I'm sure you'll remember. No mindless TV for a start, although of course it would have seemed a godsend after war-time austerity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ok if the house had to be blacked out how were you going to see to read? intrigued.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My eyes would have hurt like hell if I read by candlelight. Even reading by a bedside lamp tends to hurt after a while. But it makes me feel a bit more compassionately towards WSmith, these days I don't feel that kindly towards them!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't imagine enjoying a book while bombs were sounding off in the distance!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now you ignite such memories, not that I'm old enough to remember the Blitz but my father was. And having a severe case of blogger's block you're inspiring me a little here with your blackouts and blitzes. My folks lived in Manchester and from what they told me blackouts were just that. No more than a torch, oil lamp or a candle or if there was bombing, into the cellar. My mother made her equivalent of a 'prom' dress out of blackout curtains.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As I recall( from history lessons and my own research ), the black-out was fairly effective( as far as keeping the lights from seeping out ). The Luftwaffe already knew their targets, directions, ranges and times to get there; they more or less were "bombing blind", wot?

    I'da been in the cellar anyways!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love how everyone always looked so "put together" when they went out in public. This woman is so elegantly dressed. Sigh. I was born in the wrong time period.

    I'd really like to see what books are on that cart!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another amazing photo--so much history there.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for all the comments. I'm glad everyone liked the series. Willow, I have to say that you and I share the same approach : the first thing I did when I scanned the image was to try and enlarge the book titles.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Blackouts, Anderson shelters, bombing, Air Raid warnings, and W H Smith. I remember them well.
    W H Smith is a tad different now though and I won't talk about the parties held in our Anderson ... smiles. Oooo Alan, I never thought I'd look back with nostalgia!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've been taking tons of books home lately. I suppose I could use more... as long as no V-1s and V-2s are headed my way.

    ReplyDelete