As we approach the end of another year, many of us like to look back and reflect on the events of the previous twelve months. One hundred years ago today, the “Friend” editor did just that at the end of a momentous year. In the issue dated December 28, 1918 he wrote,
“The End Of A Great Year – What Of The Next?
So we have come to the end of another year – and such a year! Did any of us, even in our wildest dreams, expect to see one like it?
A year ago we were down in the dumps about the war. There is no disputing or disguising that. The enemy, having done well in 1917, were known to be preparing a terrible offensive, to be launched against us in the spring. . .
True, we knew that our cousins from across the Atlantic were coming to our aid, but could they come in time? The U boats were terribly active – their sinkings were greater than ever. And food rationing was coming, bringing with it visions of want, if not of actual famine. We went to bed at night in dread of death from the air. The sky was dark overhead; the horizon darker in front. The hour of destiny for our country seemed to be approaching.
And to-day! – The clouds have gone. The sun of Victory beams upon us. . . Even yet we do not quite realise what has happened. . . But we can all stand joy, and soon, as the familiar things come back, abundant supplies of food and light and coal, better train services and postal deliveries – and when our dear ones return to us – we shall feel that we are living in the good old age of peace once more.
And yet it will be a new age. Of that there are many signs all around us. But we believe that it will be a good time – a better than we have ever known. The agony of the past four years, the sacrifice of so many splendid lives, have assured that for us. Soon we shall be reaping the harvest of joy after the sowing of sorrow, and gathering in ‘the far off interest of tears’.”
A Land Of Plenty
“In the domestic domain, which bulks most largely with my fair readers, the peace-time will bring changes. Another couple of months, and we shall be done with ration books and coupons, except perhaps for meat. Possibly coal and gas also may have to be rationed for a while. But what a satisfaction it will be to have a sufficient supply of sugar and to see on the table good fresh butter and jam. Dozens of other things, from matches and candles to black lead and blacking, that have been scarce, will become plentiful again. It will be like going from a land of poverty to a land of plenty.
But will things remain as dear as they are just now? Many will. We must make up our minds for an era of high prices such as they have had in America for years. And what about domestic ‘help’? Will those who used to keep a servant be able to get one again? Possibly, but not at the same wages. Girls who have been so well paid at Government work will not go as servants for fifteen pounds a year again. But if our outgoings are to be bigger, doubles our incomings will grow, too, and the balance will be adjusted once more.
And so, as Dickens says, all is for the best in this good old world – and a Happy New Year to everybody when it comes!
The Man at the Helm.”
What a difference a year makes. And the “Friend” has witnessed almost 150 of them throughout its history. For all of that time, it has chronicled the changes in its readers lives and interests.
You can read more about how times have changed in our 150th Anniversary Edition.