The Personal Ad of June 9th 1966

The Personal Ad of June 9th 1966

This morning I saw this ad in an old Carleton Place Canadian. It was not only in the classified section– the editors also felt it need front page exposure. It said “the mother had deserted her child”. There is always two sides to every story, and we will never know if she had no way out, or postpartum depression. One thing for sure is it looks like there was no family to help her. In those days many did not know what to do as it was the age of respectability and one went away quietly.

Image may contain: text that says 'under. Phone 257-1864. WANTED RE Shav- run- es. of self even less hut- ade it m- ith ed is 15 1. DEAD STOCK Quick pick-up of dead and disabled horses cattle. Allen Fur Farm, phone Toledo collect 50-r-2 or Car- leton Place 257-1744. License No. 3-C-66. 17tf GOOD HOME for small dog, just a pup. Dial 257-3430. 23-1tx HOME for 18-month-old baby boy; seven days a week. Reply stating wages required Phone'
1966 Carleton Place Canadian

The life of the average married woman in the 1950s and 60s was very different from that of today’s woman. This was the age of conformity and very few women worked after getting married; they stayed at home to raise the children and keep house. Girls were trained to look after their husband, their children and whatever else was needed.

Shopping for food in the 1950s and 1960s was done every day as storing fresh food was difficult. There were no supermarkets, so the housewife would visit the local baker, the butcher, and the grocer individually, carrying all her shopping home in baskets or in a pull-along trolley. The local shops would also deliver your groceries, bread and meat, the delivery boys using bicycles to make their rounds.  I remember when the A& P opened up in Cowansville– people marvelled at it.

Monday was washing day in most households. No just popping the clothes into the machine and then into the drier for these women. If you were lucky enough to have a washing machine, it would be a wringer washer. This had to be filled from the tap. One side had a washing machine, the other a spin dryer. After the clothes had washed they were lifted out of the hot water with large wooden tongs, fed through the ringer. The whole kitchen would fill with steam as first the whites were washed and then the coloured clothes as the water cooled. 

Entertainment was provided by the radio and more and more people were acquiring televisions. Some, like telephones, were rented, not owned. All televisions showed programmes in black and white, and there were very few channels. The milk man came daily and delivered your milk right on to your doorstep – again he would take away the empty bottles to be washed and reused.

Clothes were often homemade, either sewn or knitted. Knitted items when outgrown were recycled by being unravelled and re-knitted into something else. When collars on shirts became frayed, they were unpicked, turned inside out and sewed back on. All buttons and zips from old clothes were saved for the button box. Socks and stockings were darned.

Dinner would be on the table ready and waiting for the man of the house on his return from work. Housework and the care of children was considered women’s work so the man would expect the house to be clean and tidy, meal ready, children fed and washed and his clothes all ready for the next day at work.

The Allan as they called it

Best of times or worst of times? Bit of both it appears.  Should a woman find herself in a loveless or violent marriage, she was trapped; she had no money of her own and no career. Or what happened when you had postpartum like my mother did after she had me. You cried in secret or were diagnosed as having a ‘nervous condition’ and sent away like my mother to the Royal Victoria Hospital/ The Allan Memorial and she was treated with all sorts of things that were not guaranteed to work.  My son sent me a link to “The Allan” yesterday and I felt terrible all day that my mother had no choice but to endure all this.

My grandparents were left to watch over me and my father moved back in with his parents. Each and every few days he made the two hour drive to  Montreal  to visit his wife who was receiving electroshock therapy to help treat “nervous conditions”. That was a common catch-all phrase used to cover everything from postpartum depression to mild psychosis. It was a very common treatment choice for the time and because of it her postpartum lasted over two years where she didn’t know me or my father.

No one spoke to Bernice Ethylene Crittenden about postpartum depression. No one explained to her that it was normal for her to feel like something was wrong.

So who knows the true story behind this classified ad see in the local paper? There is always two sides to the story, as I personally know, and I hope whomever this child was– he was loved and cared for.

READ the sequel-My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter

Do You Hate Me and My Stetson Hat?

Settler’s Stories……. Smiths Falls Record

Begging Your Husband for Forgiveness? What? What? What?

  1. Several Shades of Christina Gray –Home for Friendless Women in Ottawa
  2. Women of Ramsay – Spindles and Flyers–Sarah Ann
  3. The Remedy Women of Lanark County

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. My father was advertised like this in the newspaper. I think he was about three years old, so it would have been 1914. I have never found the ad, but I am sure his new family received money to take him. He never knew who his birth parents were. Thanks to DNA testing, I now do know. He was illegitimate, but for some reason was not immediately given up. We have no real idea where he was for those first three years. Of course, there is no longer anyone alive who can add to what we know.


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