Days of old

This was November 10th last year…..

…..and this was November 14th last year:

Crisp and even. The following week it was deep.


This was Nov. 8th, 2020

Temperature: 75 F

Long term predictions are for “less snow” than usual. Coldest period mid-December to mid-January with snowfalls expected in December/January and early March. This was for Glens Falls, NY. Cambridge is too small for long range forecasts.

In any event, I wake up, look out the window and proceed accordingly, pretty much the same way regardless. Feed the cats/scoop their poop, repeat.


Almost certainly, I got my enjoyment of writing from my father. He hated cold weather with a passion. In his later years he liked to tell people that he had survived the Spanish ‘flu in 1916.

He had an inclination for bronchitis but enjoyed almost impeccable health till the age of 93. His mother, who also had the ‘flu, survived but died prematurely of pernicious anemia.


What brings this to mind is not our own current epidemic, but the fact that while looking for something else, I came upon some old documents that were my father’s.




Two flimsy bits of paper were the ID required in wartime Britain and Malta, which is where Dad was sent.

It makes you wonder how anyone survived, when you consider the security measures and the holograms and plastic ID cards and endless passwords we are lumbered with today.

Boy were things different back then.


Depends who you ask, I guess.

Of course I mean after the War. We still had ration books when I was a child, and London was wrecked.

So it depended on your location and needs.

Just like now.


As I was saying, my father was something of a writer. He never had anything published, but he wrote and he wrote. Lots of letters and I’m not sure what else.

In Barbados days, Dad had an office or sorts that he repaired to and for hours all you heard was the sound of his old Olivetti typewriter. Often, my mother would say to me crossly “what’s he writing all the time?” God knew, but at least he wasn’t under her feet!

The recipients of Dad’s letters found them amusing, for the most part. Sometimes they were printed in newspapers or magazines, like the stories I posted here:

Occasionally, though, letters came back in response. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the missive that brought the following reply. Presumably it was a critique of Theodore Dreiser’s “American Tragedy”:


The name St John is very obvious, but I don’t know the surname, so I decided to see if I could find out. I’m not convinced it’s the same person, but I found that a writer called St John Ervine lived at “Honey Ditches”, Seaton, on 16th February, 1949 and it seemed slightly surreal to read the following words, extracted from letter to him by a “talks producer” named John Boyd:

The election here referred to was the US election of 1948. Who “Beattie” was, I am unable to discover.

It felt a bit strange reading these words at this particular time:

“The election excitement has died down now and we have virtually a one party house. You may be pleased, I am not. And I hope that as a democrat you are displeased – surely any government needs constant criticism. About Beattie, well, I agree with you: the man contributes nothing. I wish I thought that his successor wasn’t annonentity. However the whole thing makes me sick – cabinet ministers going round on white horses, hysterical women dressed up, bands booming, and in all the god of Reason completely dethroned. You are a lucky man to be in a civilized country.”


(By strange coincidence (?) one search produced a C.P. Beattie who was a Professor of Bacteriology at Sheffield University who wrote an article in 1948 about guess what: Infectious diseases. Hmmm.)


Also with my father’s documents, I found two old postcards

The Bear Hotel in Stroud, Gloucestershire, still exists. It dates from the 16th century, when it was a coaching inn.

The postcard itself is some 85 years old.

The Hotel Ritschard, in Lugano, Switzerland, is now the Historic Lakeside Hotel , opened in 1906.

This postcard is roughly 100 years old, sent to my father by his holidaying parents when he was a young boy.


A bunch of old stuff….

5 thoughts on “Days of old

  1. Love your “old stuff”. Finding a box of it while you are looking for something else is usually an interesting diversion and can send you down the most interesting trails…

  2. Old stuff is amazing. It’s weird the things you find out about people because of their belongings. I found out that my grandpa was an Alchemist – he was trying to make gold form different chemicals. It still blows my mind!

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