Being the genteel poor in the 1940s—poem


At a time when nobody was very rich
a country vicar with six kids
was paid with a roof overhead
and a goose at the door
and less than a thousand pounds per year
and of course, respect—like a poet or a pet.

A country vicar’s wife was paid
with expectations
and gossiping tongues
and a few nice friends
and soon a move
just in case
she felt too safe
or something.

Photo (c) My parents lived in the Chatham Islands for a year or two during WWI. Poem cc by 2.0 rachel mcalpine

12 thoughts on “Being the genteel poor in the 1940s—poem

  1. Sadje says:

    A quaint life.

  2. albert says:

    A hard life
    For the wife
    Who might fret
    That their pet
    Was not hers,
    . . . or worse.

    (Couldn’t not respond. Such an interesting story and photograph. I imagine there’s more.)

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You got it!

  3. Oh, this is so on the mark!! My husband grew up in just such circumstances. Amazingly, he went into ministry, too, in spite of it.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Service verged on servitude…

  4. JT Twissel says:

    My grandparents lived in a town where nobody was very rich and children were not pressured to achieve. It was nice.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That sounds like a happy place.

  5. JOY journal says:

    I wouldn’t mind being treated like one of our pets! Pastor’s wives still have odd lives. (Both of my grandfathers were ministers.) Blessings!

  6. lifecameos says:

    And this situation was always taken for granted – for years and years.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Almost feudal in one sense.

      1. lifecameos says:

        Yes, as it was for so long in earlier times.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Poignantly put.

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