Everything old is new again

Betty Edwards donates her dishware collected through John Fraser's General Store in the 30s, 40s and 50s

Betty Edwards with the complimentary dishware handed out by John Fraser's General Store.

The ‘new’ exhibits for the summer include “The Bridge Party”.  In the days before television, DVD’s and computer games, people oft times socialized by playing cards.  An afternoon of whist or bridge constituted an opportunity to hone your card skills and catch up on what’s happening in town.  Bridge parties were one such social event.  This would often afford the hostess the right occasion to show off her minor hostessing skills and provide her guests with cookies or finger sandwiches cut out in the shape of clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts.  There were bridge  clubs and tournaments held on a regular basis.  Would the card players that used to and/or still do play bridge call and give us a bit of information on bridge playing in Quesnel?  How does a bridge tournament at the museum sound?

Manager Elizabeth Hunter and I spent an enjoyable afternoon recently with local author and historian Betty Edwards.  Betty (as in Walter and Betty Edwards from Kersley) is just a wealth of information about life in the Cariboo, during the 30s, 40s and 50s in particular.  At this time, Betty donated dishes to the museum.  The reason these dishes are so special and of historical significance is they were promotional items from John Fraser’s General Store.  In the olden days, businesses would often show appreciation to their regular customers by giving them gifts such as dinnerware.  Now there was a little catch to this – you only received one a month.  So each time you made your monthly trek to town to pick up groceries, you received another piece of that china.  One month it might be a serving platter, another could be the cream and sugar set.  Eventually, you would wind up with a table full of dishes.

Be certain to stop in at the museum and see these.  By the way, Betty is including this story in her new book about life in the Cariboo.

Many stores would have giveaways like John Fraser did.  For example, CD Hoy gave away engraved silver trays and Overwaitea had engraved silver trivets.  We need to convince Randy Erixon to loan his to the museum as he has both!  It’ll take a bit of convincing but in the interests of preserving local history I’m sure we’ll persuade him – eventually.

Hope to see you as you “pass time” at the museum.

It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today.

– James Freeman Clarke

Honey Affleck is chair of the museum commission and regular Observer columnist.

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