Monday, 11 September 2017

Dear Ruby - Agony Aunt of Yesteryear

Flicking through a 1930s Home & Companion magazine, I was bemused by one of the replies on the problem page and would love to know what you think.

Home & Companion Magazine March 21st, 1953. In Vintage Magazines

Dear Ruby, I am thirty-two and I live alone in one room.  I have no relations. I have known Jim for some time and he has asked me to marry him, but it’s no use pretending I love him. He has some very silly habits. But he offers me children and a home. Ought I to marry him? Lorna. 

My first thought was – NO!     



Ruby, however, disagrees with me:

Certainly, I should marry Jim if I were you. But you must make up your mind that you are going to make a success of your marriage and that you are going to make Jim happy at ALL costs. By building him a good home and giving him children to love you will find that you will be making a happy life for yourself. Ruby.





Oh come on Ruby you might be condemning the poor woman to a life of servitude. Be a good girl, marry a man you don’t love, wait on him hand and foot and be sure to provide him with children! 

If Lorna is still alive, she will be in her nineties now, it would be interesting to find out if she did marry Jim.  And if she did, was she happy, did they have children, did she stay with him?  How tantalising it all is… 




Your comments are always warmly welcomed so please go ahead and tell me what you think. 

If you are interested in vintage magazines you might like these previous posts;

60 comments:

  1. Hi Barbara,
    Sounds a bit dodgy to me! You sure Ruby Ayres is not a psuedonym for Gilbert Harding?

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    1. Oh my goodness I hadn’t thought of that, but perhaps it is! :-)

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    2. Oh, I did!Gilbert Harding was writing quite a bit at that time, wasn't he? Psuedonyms were common for popular writers to use in different publications. I wonder if there is a way to find out.... Anyway, I hope Lorna had a happy life ( I LOVE the book Lorna Doone!). It was a very different time and Lorna does sound very lonely. I would have advised her to get out more and meet people and be found by a man she knew she would love. I am an incurable romantic... LOVE your posts, Barbara!!

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    3. That is so interesting Colleen, and I think you just might be right. I will have to do some digging around and see what (if anything) I can find out. Lorna certainly had a flavour of Gilbert about her, although I didn’t realise it until it was pointed out to me.
      I like your advice much better than Ruby’s, and I do hope there was a happy ending to the story. Thank you for your always kind comments I really appreciate them. I'm off to bed now, night Barbara

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  2. Would love to know if she married Jim too

    Julie xxxxxx

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    1. Hello Julie,
      Willie (see comments) reckons she married Tom and Willie knows that because they moved next door to him and had 14 children. :-)
      Hugs Barbara xx

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  3. I think I would have preferred the single room alone, what a strange piece of advice. Had to think of Milton's quote, 'Better to reign in hell that to serve in heaven'. Have a great week, hugs, Valerie

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    1. Hello Valerie, that is the PERFECT quote and I couldn't agree more. Hugs Barbara

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  4. HaHa! This is gonna be fun....I love this silliness! :).
    Firstly Lorna did'nt marry Jim...She married Tom..how do
    l know..because they lived next door to me! For forty years.
    They had 14 children..he never worked, he never had the time..! :).
    HeHe! You see we can ALL make up stories...and they reckon 50%
    of those stories are made up...In fact you look on line, there
    are some really amusing ones! Here's a few to be getting on with..
    It's dear old Dedrie...And, she's still going....

    https://www.indy100.com/article/nine-agony-aunt-letters-which-will-make-you-happy-youre-single--WkK9BqTuSZ

    Vintage magazines...I've loads of them, hiding away in corners,
    and cupboards, also a lot of my daughters, that came out, that
    l've kept, say the first 6 copies...Like The Ren and Stimpy
    show...Brilliant! :).

    On a serious note..as far as l'm concerned, there is only one
    thing that counts before a commitment to marriage...and that
    is....L~O~V~E...! Not wealth, not houses, not convenience,
    not even the necessity..Not all marriages are successful of
    course..even more so now~a~days...But at the end of the day,
    life, and marriage is what you make it...! :).

    Saw a letter in an agony column once...
    The question was..."Do you believe in sex before marriage"?
    The answer..."Yes! As long as it does'nt hold up the ceremony".

    Great post Barbara...Just up my ally/street...HeHe Could go
    on and on..Yes! I know! I usually do...!!! :0).

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    1. Dear Willie now that’ I’ve stopped laughing I can reply to your comment! Fancy Lorna and Tom living next door to you! What an amazing coincidence and it sounds as though they had a VERY happy marriage.

      Thanks for the link I’ve just taken a quick look, and I know I’m going to enjoy the letters. I’m sure Dedrie was on TV the other morning. I could be wrong because I didn’t catch her name. She was answering calls on This Morning.

      You are absolutely right about love being the important element in a marriage without it, there is no marriage.

      As for the sex before marriage joke – the old ones are always the best!

      Thanks Willie, I loved your answer.

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  5. My, my, how times HAVE CHANGED! I am grateful that at least for a large portion of the world's population, that women have a choice. I know there are still some cultures where marriage is an arranged affair, but LOVE is always the best response, solution and motive for any relationship. I agree with YOU my friend!

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    1. I’m very happy to know you agree with me Anita, I though you would. Who in their right mind would marry for the reasons suggested by Dear Ruby.
      Love and friendship make the world go round, and your friendship is priceless to me.

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    2. At first, I agree with all of you. BUT. Can you imagine no relations? Can you imagine no family? After thinking it over, who actually loves before marriage? Sure, there's attraction and fire, but I know that I love my husband in a way that I couldn't even imagine before we were married.

      So I am the odd one out. I think, depending on what those "silly habits" might be, I wouldn't necessarily advise against marriage.

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    3. Hello Jody, I’m really pleased someone (you) came up with a different viewpoint. I must admit I started to think along those lines, but I can’t get past Lorna saying about Jim’s very silly habits.
      It sounds as though they were already irritating her, and she didn’t even live with him so can you imagine how much worse it would have got over the years.
      Terry and I have been married for 47 years now, and we manage to irritate one another with our 'silly habits’ but after so long together we’ve learnt to ignore them, or at least not remark on them! Maybe Lorna and Jim would have developed a loving relationship, but I can’t help thinking she would always be yearning for love and romance rather than just making do. Barbara

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  6. This was fun. But its true, love is always the answer to get married. Or maybe friendship and respect for each other as second best.

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    1. I agree with you. Friendship could well be a good basis for a happy marriage, and love often grows out of friendship, but I worry for Lorna because she was already complaining about Jim's very silly habits. I'm glad you found it fun - it was intended us such. Have a lovely week.

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  7. That's sad and hilarious at the same time. Marriage is not the sort of thing you jump into to solve problems. But at that time, women didn't have as many options. Much fewer jobs were available, so I can kind of see her temptation. The ideal of a happy family is hard to resist. The reality, however, is usually much more challenging.

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    1. I agree Tamara it’s a bit like couples having a baby assuming it will strengthen (or perhaps rescue) the marriage. Perhaps it does at times, but I know plenty of occasions when the exact opposite has occurred.
      My dad was always telling me I didn’t need to worry about my schooling because I would soon be married with a husband to look after me. He had the best possible intentions, and times were different then, but I’m glad I didn’t listen.

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  8. How times have changed.
    Then again, people stayed married back then. Sometimes for worse, but for better they learned to live and work together as a couple.
    I wouldn't want to marry a woman who didn't love me.

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    1. You are absolutely right Alex. Terry and I stayed together through thick and thin even when parting would have been an easier option. My parents and his would have been horrified by any mention of divorce. You stayed married no matter what! All these years later, we can look back and realise we didn’t do so badly.
      Stick to your guns when it comes to marriage and love – it is essential.

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  9. Oh man...those magazines from then. They're a fascinating little time capsule but the views are ridiculous. Women were little more than well tended for slaves/servants and their only goal was to procreate, cook, and clean. It's just...guh.

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    1. Hi Robert, attitudes were not all that different when I was growing up in the 50s my dad still expected my mum to ‘do as she was told’. He thought I should do the same when I got married but the fact I refused to have obey in my marriage vows rather dispelled that myth. I was happy to love and to cherish but to obey… no way!

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  10. I say fire Ruby.
    I'm with you, I'd love to know what Lorna decided and if she had a good life.

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  11. PS. I think Robert's 'guh' pretty much sums it up:)

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    1. Hi Sandra, I love that ‘guh’ it expresses so much feeling!

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  12. I also would have preferred the single room alone. Love the images and story, Barbara. :)

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  13. Now Barbara that is certainly an interesting question concerning Ruby. I think a story could be built out of this old letter. Thanks for sharing. Hugs!

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    1. As do I Debbie, but I’m not the one to write it – how about you?

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  14. I am with you. No. No, no and hell no.
    Alone is better than alone in a loveless marriage and a servant to boot.

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  15. This is a fun and creative post because we get to peek back into how people thought in the 1930's. I bet the response would be so much different were it posed to readers today. But if I were asked today, I'd prefer a good book, a cheeseburger and cable television. (lol) Hugs...RO

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    1. I like your idea of a book, cheeseburger and television RO. It would certainly make for an easier life and I’m all for that! Hugs to you too.

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  16. I've always thought it better to be happy and single than unhappy and married. There was a Ruby M Ayres who was a writer of romantic fiction in the 1930's. I wonder if this is the same person ....

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    1. That’s a very good notion! I recognise Ruby M Ayres, but I don’t know very much about her, but I can feel a little research coming on. Thank you for the input and I agree with you about being happy and single rather than miserable and married. My dad was fond of saying, marry in haste, repent at leisure, and I’ve always thought that was good advice.

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  17. Ruby does a great job of getting my blood pressure to normal and I run low. Grin.

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  18. Oh Willie, lol!
    I agree with Jody that at the time Ruby's recommendation was probably wise, especially if Lorna desperately wanted children. I mean Lorna didn't say that Jim made her skin crawl and she couldn't stand to be in the same room with him, LOL! And we ALL have silly habits!

    Times have changed, thankfully, and we women have more choices in life.

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    1. It’s no good Diane. I just can’t imagine Lorna being happy with Jim (I hope I’m wrong) but if his silly habits were already annoying her just think how much worse it would be if she lived with him. I want to believe she ignored the advice and fell head over heals with a dashing young man who made her blissfully happy.

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  19. What do I think? Aunt Ruby should be fired! That's just a disaster waiting to happen!

    Thanks for popping over to my blog. I enjoy your visits and I'm always glad when you come over and leave a comment! It's always appreciated.

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    1. I think so too Jeanie!

      I really enjoy your blog you always have something interesting to share.

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  20. Oh my, times certainly have changed. The advice line that concerns me the most is: "make Jim happy at ALL costs." Lorna might have been a good candidate for an online dating site. Glad to hear she married Tom instead! :)

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    1. Times certainly have changed Marcia, and thank goodness for it! I’m so glad Willie gave her a happy ending – well if you can call fourteen children and a stay at home husband a happy ending. :)

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  21. Wow! I think that Ruby's advice is terrible. Sounds like she is saying to live a fake life for the rest of your life and serve a man you don't love. Yikes. Glad times have changed. I am curious if the marriage took place and how it all turned out. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Stephanie, according to Willie she didn’t marry Jim. She married someone called Tom, and together they went on to have fourteen children. Willie knows that because they lived next door to him for forty years!
      I just love the silliness don’t you? Thanks for joining in.

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  22. I would love to know, if she did marry him! I love the pictures you put with this post Barbara! Big Hugs!

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    1. I found the pictures in another of my old magazines and just thought they fitted the story perfectly. Thanks for noticing them. Hugs Barbara

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  23. I'm more than a wee tad late to the party, Barbara, but I simply love this post because I can vent and rant, things I can't do on MY blog.

    First, I'm not sure how many people who live in the States know what an "agony aunt" is, since we refer to then as advice columnists.

    Poor Lorna. Today she could go on the internet and find a date, or visit a speed dating site. For children, she could adopt, or receive artificial insemination. However, in the 1930s, there were fewer options than today. From what I understand, your best bet was to go to church to find a man.

    Although I have a decent sized home, not a single room (probably in a boarding house), I can't possibly imagine WANTING to settle down with someone she doesn't love. I have seen too many marriages that don't work out, even when the couple are in love when they take their vows.

    If Lorna wants to be an unpaid servant, answering to Jim's every need and desire, then I say go for it. If she truly wants to be happy, 32 is young enough for her to go to school and learn a valuable skill which will soon be needed in the war effort. Once employed, she will have a better chance of meeting Mr. Right, not Mr. Right NOW or Mr. ALWAYS Right.

    I really enjoyed this post!

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    1. Never too late and always very welcome, venting and ranting is positively encouraged! We all need to ‘get things off our chests’ from time to time.

      I’m sorry about using ‘agony aunt’ I just assumed it was a universal term. Advice columnist would have been a better choice, but it didn’t occur to me.

      It must have been very difficult for Lorna to ‘find a man’, and she was probably in danger of being labelled an old maid by the time she reached her thirties but I really hope she ignored the advice. I hadn’t thought about the war looming, but of course it was and everything would have changed then. I just hope she did find Mr. Right, and they had a wonderful life together – but then I’m an incurable romantic!

      Thanks so much for your comment, I really enjoyed reading it.

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  24. Dear Barbara it would be fascinating to know if Lorna did marry Jim or someone else. What a fascinating thought. Hmmm I guess it was advise of the times. I can't imagine today's women in Britain or anywhere else in the world thinking in those lines. Do you? Like you I hope Lorna found her Mr Right and lived a happy life till the end.

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    1. I don’t know about the rest of the world Shashi, but I don’t think it would happen in Britain now. Or at least, I hope not! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone who knew Lorna could solve the puzzle, there could be children or grandchildren somewhere. We just need one of them to read this post. :)

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  25. Hope you're having a great day, Brilliant Giant Machine. He he.
    I'm convinced that's a time machine......

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    1. Not so great Sandra, I had some dental work on Tuesday and have ended up with a very swollen and bruised face. Still compared with all the awful things going on around the world, it's not so bad.
      I like the idea of being a time machine - there are lots of times I would like to travel back to. I'm not sure I would want to travel forward, but I'm sure curiosity would get the better of me, and I would be off.

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  26. Things were so different then. I wonder if Lorna married Jim.

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  27. I wonder too, and it would be great to find out.

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  28. Ha ha, I'm thinking Jim's "very silly habits" would get worse over time!
    I too wonder what Lorna eventually decided.
    A great post Barbara :D)

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    1. I have a feeling you are absolutely right about Jim, and I think it would have driven Lorna mad! :)

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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