Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sepia Saturday 105 : Bradford's Perfect Little Housewife


The link between my Sepia Saturday image this week and the theme image may be a tenuous one, but there is a solidity about it which could prop up a broken table leg. The picture shows my mother, Gladys (right), along with her friend, whose name I cannot recall. It was taken whilst the were on holiday in Cleethorpes in about 1929 or 1930 : the same holiday, I believe, during which she met my father. And it was taken round about the same time that she entered a competition organised by the local Bradford newspaper - the Telegraph and Argus - to find Bradford's "Perfect Little Housewife". I am not sure what she had to do - judging by the mores of the times it was probably bake a cake, indulge in a little damp dusting and press a straight crease in a pair of trousers - but whatever it was, she won the competition. And the prize was a copy of Mrs Beeton's Complete Book of Household Management. I am not sure what happened to the book - could it have found its way to Dominica? - but during my childhood I remember the block sized volume standing beside the two or three other books that made up the household library. And the link? The Sepia Saturday prompt was an illustration from a 1901 edition of Mrs Beeton's Cookery book. I can never think of Mrs Beeton without thinking of the young Gladys Beanland - Bradford,s perfect little housewife.

FOR MORE INTERPRETATIONS OF THIS WEEK'S SEPIA SATURDAY THEME - GO TO THE SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG AND CLICK ON THE LINKS

28 comments:

  1. That was too cool. Thanks.

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  2. Of course being a perfect little housewife would have been an accolade in those days. Can you imagine today’s ‘homemakers’ (male and female) being happy with that? Whatever Gladys did to win her title I’m sure it was well-deserved. The picture of her with her friend is one to treasure.

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  3. Oh she does look like the perfect little housewife! Imagine that title being handed out these days...ha ha...maybe somebody should really. If you had not mentioned they were friends, they do to me anyway look a lot alike! Sure they are dressed much alike, but even their hairdos are a bit different, but I could believe the other lady could be her sister! Nice photo of them both too! Now you'll have to locate that book! ;)

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  4. Yesterday I was in an antique store down here in Sonoma County, California (we're on vacation - sort of) and there were two big old boxes just full of old old post cards. I thought immediately of you. I wondered how on earth you choose which old old post card to have for your own. There were just so many - and so interesting. I'm almost thinking this could be a fun thing to do myself. :)

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  5. She may have been the perfect little housewife, but look at that sly smile. She obviously knew how to enjoy herself.

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  6. Excellent detail as to clothing and picture posing from that time period.

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  7. At first I thought they were twins-- they look so much alike.

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  8. wonder if she met your father before or after winning her title.
    I thought the two women were sisters before you told me they were friends.

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  9. Would it have to be a perfect 'houseperson' these days. Even Nell's 'homemakers' jars with me. Jack/Jill of all trades/professions - the list gets longer - but none tell you a much as the photo you've shown.

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  10. With apologies to Gilbert and Sulivan; "Two little maids from school are we".

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  11. Your mother and her friend could have passed for sisters, I agree. As to Mrs. Beeton's, I think some relative of my grandmother's passes the same tome to her, though I'm not sure who it might have been.

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  12. As I first scrolled down I though, "Whoa, siamese twins wearing one hat! How cool is that?" Of course, that was only for a moment.

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  13. Wonderful old photo..and yes I bet you Mom was very proud of her title! :)

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  14. That was quite an accomplishment for Gladys! The standards of perfection were quite high. Her impish grin does reveal another side to her personality.

    Are all your photos so full of personality due to great photographers? Or did the personality of the subject make the photographer's job easy? :) Your mother is lovely and her spirit shines through. A treasure of a photo.

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  15. They look as if they're about to sing the flower duet!

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  16. I have a strong suspicion that I would fail miserably were I to enter such a competition!

    I love the way they are posing. My mum always used to cross her ankles for seated photos :)

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  17. Your mom and her friend looked like twins to me. Upon reflection, they are like many young women: Fashion conscious and insisting on following style trends together.

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  18. Love the wonderful picture of your Mom and her friend, Alan.

    Hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas! Sorry I wasn't able to participate this week, but I am enjoying seeing what everybody else has done.

    Take care,
    Kathy M.

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  19. Hello:
    The picture of your mother and her friend is so wonderfully atmospheric.

    Competitions for the perfect housewife, what we wonder would become of such a notion in 2011? But how marvellous for your mother to have won a copy of Mrs Beeton's Household Management and such a pity that it is not still in your possession.

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  20. Are you sure they were friends and not related? They look like twins to me.

    Cleethorpes. Now Cleethorpes brings back a few memories. I spent a good few formative years in Grimsby!

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  22. Gone South said...
    I just found your blog as I was talking about hybrd-electric boat conversions, as you do, with a friend of a friend I just met at a party, and he gave me his blog address, and the only blog he follows, I discover, is yours.

    Now the only other new blog I have looked at this festive season is an old friend's husband, discovered via a Christmas letter, and he is a retired planner whose dissertation was on Halifax market, and the most recent entry in his blog is all about the architecture of Huddersfield.

    I somehow thought you might like to know this. He is www.Jonestheplanner.co.uk.

    I grew up in West Yorkshire but we have lived in Oxford for many years and I am enjoying being reached by West Yorkshire outreaches this cold December.

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  23. As so many have said, they look very much alike. You have such great pics of your mom. Might her winning the contest have influenced your dad? Probably more of that glint in her eye that did it....

    Cookbooks and recipe boxes hold great memories of our mothers.

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  24. A wonderful photo & a perfect link to the theme, I believe!

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  25. You had to be pretty darn good to win a housewife contest in the old days. I love the Japanese style parasol, too.

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  26. Oh how fun! I'd love to have a copy of that cookery book.

    Your mom was a beauty..and she sure looks a lot like her friend! I thought they were sisters!

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  27. A fine photo and story, Alan, but what of the poor runner-ups who did not measure up to perfection? Oh the embarrassment to have a 2nd place mother.

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