Dear Friends: Many of you will remember growing up in a house with vintage wallpaper. At one time patterned wallpaper was the latest word in farmhouse chic! Take a look at these photos for a trip down memory lane.
Back in the early half of the twentieth century, when people didn’t have a lot of money to spend on home decor, they used wallpaper to brighten things up.
Wallpaper was relatively inexpensive and my own grandmother papered her farmhouse in Richard, Saskatchewan so many times the rooms practically shrunk under the multiple layers!
When I was twelve, I was allowed to choose my own wallpaper from the Simpsons-Sears catalogue for my bedroom at my farmhouse home near North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and it is still there!
For a brief history of my farm, a former air force training base, click here: Growing Up With Air Force Ghosts.
For a tour of the old kitchen, click here: Farmhouse Kitchen.
Remember the words to the old song “Flowers on the Wall,” by the Statler Brothers? The lyrics go: “Counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all; Playing solitaire till dawn, with a deck of 51; Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo; Now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do.” Click here to hear the song: Flowers on the Wall.
This song resonated with me when I was a teenager and bemoaning my fate about being stuck on a farm thirteen kilometres from town (then known as eight miles.) I’m sure at some point I resorted to counting the flowers on the wall!
Vintage Wallpaper Tour
Fellow author and farm girl Elaine Thomas grew up on a farm in the foothills south of Calgary, Alberta, although she now lives in Fayette County, Texas. I first met Elaine online through our mutual interest in preserving the stories of wartime veterans.
Last summer, she visited her childhood home armed with a camera, searching for some overlooked memories. Elaine mentioned that the trees framing the home are Balm of Gilead poplars that her parents planted in 1948.
The vintage wallpaper in Elaine’s childhood home has stood the test of time, and served as a backdrop for visits of five generations of her family! How fortunate that they retained ownership of this delightful farmhouse.
This is a beautiful floral print, one that I would be happy to use in my own home.
This vintage wallpaper with its delicate pattern of blue flowers and ribbons were found in Elaine’s upstairs bedroom, under the eaves. Elaine hung it herself and even covered the slanted ceiling with it.
There was a craze for Oriental-inspired decor at one time, hence this pattern with the pagoda.
People didn’t just adorn their walls with patterns, but their floors as well! Linoleum was cheap, and wonderfully durable. Don’t you love the combination of orange flowers on the walls with the green and orange linoleum on the stairs?
When my grandfather’s farmhouse near Richard, Saskatchewan, was demolished, my husband and I salvaged the flooring and baseboards. You can see photos by clicking here: Ten Ways to Make a New House Look Old.
Using a sharp knife, I also cut and peeled off some samples of wallpaper from the various rooms without really knowing what the heck for. But a few years later, for a family reunion, I carefully cut out and framed small samples and gave them to each of the family members as a gift, as shown in this photo.
You may have noticed — wallpaper is making a comeback! Dainty florals are no longer popular, but my daughter Janine in Calgary papered a couple of walls with this dramatic damask paper. Isn’t it lovely? Now I’m thinking I might find a room in my own house that needs cheering up!
Elaine sent me another photo as well, one which made me breathe a small sigh of relief. In my novel Wildwood, my character Molly discovers rhubarb still growing wild in the old garden after many decades. But I wasn’t entirely sure this could have happened.
However, Elaine vindicated me by sending me this photo – showing the rhubarb at her family farm. “The rhubarb grows in what was my grandmother’s little garden,” Elaine wrote. ‘It is at least 75 years old and still going strong. When I check it every summer, I’m always thrilled to find it, just where I left it in my memories.”
Finally, here is a photo of Elaine with her brother Art Taylor of Innisfail, Alberta and their personal Second World War veteran and hero, 101-year-old Winston Churchill Parker. You may read Winston’s story here: Winston Churchill Parker was POW.
Elaine is a fantastic storyteller and has recorded the memories of many veterans in her award-winning book Veterans’ Voices and Home Front Memories.
You may order this book, and check out her others, on her website here: www.elainethomaswriter.com
Thank you so much, Elaine, for this wonderful collection of photos from your old farmhouse. Long may it stand!
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Happy 100th Birthday, Ben Scaman!
Ben Scaman, who now lives in Calgary, Alberta, turned 100 years old on January 23, 2020. When I interviewed him a few years ago, I could hardly tear myself away, as he had two of the most interesting wartime stories I have ever heard.
As a Spitfire pilot, he was one of the brave souls who caught up to the V1 flying bombs as they approached London and knocked them over with his wingtip, sending them plunging into the countryside below. And he also took charge of a German fighter that surrendered, and guided it into his home base at Dyce, Scotland. You can read his story by clicking here: Ben Scaman: Doodlebug Destroyer.
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WARTIME WEDNESDAYS FLASHBACK
This week marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, Germany in 1945, when the city core was destroyed, including this cathedral. The blackened stones in the walls, that look like little dark spots, were all that was left of the church for the next sixty years. The story of how the cathedral was reconstructed virtually from scratch is truly heartwarming. Please read the story here, and share with your friends: Dresden Church Rose From the Ashes.
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WHAT I’M READING NOW
In preparation for our trip to Scotland in May, I’m reading all things Scottish. I realize that I’m late to the Outlander party which began when the first novel in the series was released some years ago, but I’m really enjoying this great romp through the Highlands (and also the TV version on Netflix, although it gets weaker after Season One).
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MY DANESFIELD EVENT
We’ll be visiting Scotland AFTER my big book event at Danesfield House Hotel in England, formerly RAF Medmenham and the setting for Bird’s Eye View, on the weekend of May 8-10, 2020, the 75thAnniverary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. You are welcome to join me there! You can find full details on the hotel’s events page here: VE Day Anniversary Event.
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Facebook: people either love it or hate it. I’m one of those who love it. Over the years I have made so many friends and joined so many interesting groups that I have now given up all other social media (except Instagram, because I enjoy looking at people’s photographs).
In response to complaints from Facebook followers who claim that they never see my posts, I want to share a few tips:
Facebook doesn’t show you everything. If you want to see more of someone’s posts, you must Like, Comment, or Share. Facebook’s computer records whom you interact with, and automatically shows you more of their posts.
Sharing is a good thing. I love it when people share my posts and it’s easy to do — just hit the Share button. You can then choose to either add your own comment, or let it ride.
To guarantee seeing EVERY post by someone, here’s how: find your friend’s page. On or near the main photo across the top, there’s a white box labelled “Following.” Click on it to see two choices: See First, or Default. Click on See First, meaning your friend’s posts will appear on your feed first. Facebook allows you to select 30 of your favourite friends or pages this way.
I have two Facebook pages – my personal page is Elinor Florence, and my public page is Elinor Florence-Author. You are invited to “Like” my public Elinor Florence-Author page (although it’s my public page, I post almost everything that goes on my personal page anyway.) Remember, go to the button called Following and hit See First if you want to see all my posts. And please feel free to Share all my posts!
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I really appreciate it when followers forward my email newsletter link to others whom they think might enjoy it. But lately this mistake has happened a few times – when someone else reads your email and decides they don’t want to subscribe, they might hit Unsubscribe at the bottom and by so doing, they unsubscribe YOU by mistake.
So if you forward my email to your friends, and I hope you do, just add a sentence saying something like this: “You might enjoy following this blog. But please don’t hit Unsubscribe or you will unsubscribe me.” I hope that makes sense.
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Dear Friends, I am spending another month in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — but I don’t want to inundate you with the ubiquitous photos of beaches and palm trees. By the time you receive my March letter, I’ll be back in the land of snow and ice. Until then, stay warm and well!