Friday, 18 September 2015

The demise of the bottom drawer!

Firstly, welcome to Jules via here and Dotty's Daughter via Bloglovin.

Hands up if you remember saving for your bottom drawer?

For those of you who don't know what this was, it was an age old custom of filling a bottom drawer of a chest of drawers (if you could afford to fill it that is), with things you would need when you got married and left home to become a wife.

I started my bottom drawer when I was about 17, hoping that one day I would meet Mr. Right and everything I had saved hard for, would be useful.

I can't remember everything I had in there but know I had some tea towels, dishclothes, a counterpane (anyone still have one?), a blanket, double sheet and two pillowcases. Those took me an age to save for especially as my first job was was just £7 per week and £5 of that went to my sister for house-keeping:(

Being young and naive, I didn't realise that my 40 hour week was basically slavery for such a paltry sum. I did however, enjoy this first job, straight out of school where I worked for the Fatstock Marketing Company (FMC). This involved sorting out the deliveries/transport of livestock, from farms to the abattoir and elsewhere, whatever was needed by them.

In return, our reps would come into the office with pies, joints of meat, sausages, eggs, bacon etc, which we took in turns to take home. We could even order something for Christmas, I ordered a 3lb loin of pork, for free:)

Eventually though, staff changed and I no longer enjoyed working there, so left to go to The Halifax Building Society as it was then, for the princely sum of £96 per month - wow!

That enabled me to begin my bottom drawer.

As life would have it, by the time I got married, I had left all shared accommodation behind and was living on my own, in quite a big bedsit, with a tv and music centre (supplied by Radio Rentals).

DB was single and had lots of electrical things, so between us, we only needed to buy a bed, fridge, freezer, cooker and suite. The cooker and fridge were wedding presents, the rest we bought gradually on 'tick' - now that is a blast from the past.

Does anyone remember a bottom drawer, if so, what was in it and did it come in use?

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

22 comments:

  1. Thank you for the welcome. I hadn't heard of a 'bottom drawer' but it sounds like it would have been a good idea. X

    ReplyDelete
  2. Expect those of us who remember a bottom drawer are going to be of a certain age, me included. I don't remember having very much in it.

    I got my first job in 1961 as a short hand typist in a solicitor's office and my weekly pay in cash was the huge sum of 5 GBP - gave mum 3 GBP toward my keep. How things have changed!

    Enjoyed your blog today, good memories indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first job was many years after that, so my pay was indeed dire. I did want to train as a mental health nurse but the pay of £165 per annum put me off!

      Delete
  3. In the USA it was called a Hope Chest and cedar chests were even sold under that name. Seems so archaic now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Hope Chest, a wonderful name!

      Delete
  4. I remember collecting pyrex and teatowels for my "bottom drawer".
    My first job aged 16 was as a library assistant at £50 a month. The hours were long with 2 nights a week until 7pm, one of which was either Friday or Saturday. My bus fare for a weekly ticket to work was just £1 a week. I can't remember what I gave my mum but I felt so wealthy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is certainly something nice about having your own money.

      Delete
  5. As a good Canadian girl of Scottish background, I had both.

    I saved up for my Hope Chest and it had bedding in it. My "bottom drawer" was a box under the bed and had baking tins.

    My son's fiancée wants a hope chest but sadly they are hard to find and expensive these days. Before they set up house together I told them to start gathering things they would need. She had all her cleaning supplies and laundry supplies bought and stored in a laundry basket and bucket! My son gathered glassware and mugs.

    Everything is in use

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How great, nice to know the thought is still around.

      Delete
  6. I too had a Hope Chest. It had some pillowslips I had embroidered and various other household linens. My nieces (21 and 23) who have had paying jobs throughout their teens have accumulated so much for their own that they have stored them in a corner of their room they refer to as their "Hope Corner". Times have changed!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Never heard of a bottom drawer but I had a cedar chest. I actually still have the chest but now it is filled with family memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How lovely to still have it and being able to fill it with new memories.

      Delete
  8. I am in my 70s and bottom drawers were a joke even when I was young....if you got engaged that was the time for putting a few things by. Hope Chest is what bottom drawers are called in the U.S. although that term is even more old-fashioned here. Women have many more options these days than just getting married and being a housewife....thank goodness that went the way of bottom drawers too...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They weren't a joke when I was younger and when I got married, had lots of options. No way was I going to be able to stay at home. We couldn't afford it for a start, also mortgage costs were quite high, as was the cost of living.

      Delete
  9. We came from England to Canada so my mum always referred to my bottom drawer.. I actually got a hope chest for my 18th birthday and started collecting things. Mainly kitchen stuff and sheets and towels. Lots of hope chests were cedar lined but they were expensive so I didn't have one of those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems like the cedar lined ones were top of the range with a price to match. Perhaps the nearest equivalent now is the amount of things required to go to uni to be able to look after themselves.

      Delete
  10. I remember a little Moulinex food mixer, and a trifle bowl. Still have the bowl actually. My first paypacket was £9 and I spent £6 on a pair of Levi jeans. My mother was horrified. From then on my wages were strictly divided into four: one quarter for Mum, one quarter for my fares (I commuted into London every day from the shires) one quarter HAD to be saved and not touched - my Dad was adamant about that, and one quarter was for spending, such as clothes - I had to be smart for work - toiletries, birthday presents etc and I had to pay half the phone bill too - this was extra to housekeeping as they said I was the main user! Didn't mind a bit - felt very proud to be supporting my parents and paying my way. A quarter housekeeping doesn't sound a lot now, but that was what was asked of me, plus I had to help round the house and garden, and babysit my brothers at weekends when my parents worked at the local hospital. I was so glad I saved that money too - when I was 21 and got married, I had (almost) enough money to put a deposit down on a two bedroom maisonette. How many young people can afford that now, the way house prices have gone up?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. House prices are a big problem aren't they? When we got married we could only have a mortgage to 2 1/2 times DB's wages (mine weren't allowed as their idea was I would soon be having babies and would therefore have to give up work). Just a few years back you could have up to 90%!

      Delete
  11. I remember 'bottom drawers' being for girls who were engaged. For my 18th birthday in March 1976 all the family bought me 'useful' presents for going to Uni - like a travel iron! My grandmother bought me a leather writing case - it was well used for a few years but now holds memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guess it all came in handy no matter what it was bought for.

      Delete

I love hearing from you, will read all your comments and try and answer any questions you leave. Don't forget to come back and read my reply! All comments are moderated so if you try to link it to a commercial web site, it will not be published.