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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)

Our Women's Section — Timely Notes and Useful Hints

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Our Women's Section
Timely Notes and Useful Hints

But why Helen? Why not Concordia, or Nancy, or something French? Does it matter? It does—to me.

When I first essayed the writing of Women's Notes for the “Railways Magazine,” I was exercised in my own mind as to the propriety, or not, of signing my own name. Advertisement or anonymity? Anonymity won, for reasons hereinafter given. Canvassing among friends for a suitable pen-name produced a great variety of nomenclature, from the erudite (classical Latin or fashion-note French) to the warmly related (Aunt Jenny or Cousin Sue). I dislike the pedantic and I have a positive hatred for fulsome friendliness.

The pen-name puzzle reached such a pitch that I could write nothing but lists of foolish nom-de-plumes wrung from my fevered brain. The date of publication was drawing near. The Editor was waiting. Like cool rain from a brazen sky came the suggestion “Helen.” The problem was solved and I gaily despatched my first assignment.

It was not until I saw the Women's Page in print that I recognized the affinity of Helen to a dream-name of my childhood. “Helena” it had been then, and to me it still is Helena, in sympathy with that child I once was. That child, like most young things, had a quaint habit of mispronouncing words, sometimes quite simple words. Such an one was “Helena.” The proud heroine of an early birthday gift book remained for years “Hel-een-a,” until an unthinking adult, until then rather admired, on being told some of the story, corrected the heroine's name to Hell'n'a. “Hell'n'a”; What a hideous name! Dear Hel-een-a! Must you suffer such an indignity? The book lost much of its magic, and was put away. The memory of a glorious name, dragged down to the commonplace remained.

So, in resentment, and in vindication of that child I was, I sign myself Helen—to me, “Hel-een-a.”


As to the delights of anonymity, these are they. I become so free. I revel in liberty; in the equality I confer on myself by writing familiarly of others, of the great, of the lowly, of the merely eccentric; in the fraternity authors know—how friendly, in the name of art, we greet the opening bud, the dipping gull, Phoebus Apollo himself—with what warmth we espouse the cause of an ill-starred hero, with what sympathy view the soul struggles of our heroine.

Furthermore, anonymity allows one to use, so much more freely, the known. Not that you, who are unlucky enough to be known to me, will find yourselves displayed by my pen. Ah, no! I am a little abler than that. As the artist mixes his colours, so do I blend my friends; from them choose characteristics which, filled out by means of that faculty I can find no other name for than imagination, form a composite personality. No, you will not find yourself in my pages—a touch of you, perhaps, but you won't recognise that.

As to environment—city, village, train, boat, hotel—neither my power of description nor yours of observation is, in all probability, great enough to allow of recognition. Guess, if you like. And while you vainly probe, I shall continue to sign myself “Helen.”

going ski-ing?

More and more New Zealanders are taking advantage of their winter playgrounds. Of sports, ski-ing gives, in full measure, the pleasures of skill, grace and speed. Here, as in everything, we poor humans have to clothe ourselves suitably against the elements and for ease of movement.

For a ski-ing holiday, the wardrobe is as important as transport and accommodation. The best material for ski-suits is proofed gabardine. Have plus-fours or trousers, whichever you prefer. The suit is best made in a dark colour (black, navy blue or green) with accent given by gay accessories—gloves, scarves, caps. Don't forget the long, woollen, knitted stockings for wear with plus-fours. Good ski-boots are very important. Of course, they may be hired at the mountain hostelries; but once having ski-ed, you are bound to do it again, so it is well to buy your own boots, made to your own measurements. Skiing is like golf. It requires a fairly large outlay at the start, but once having begun, the initial expense is soon forgotten or regarded as well worth-while in view of the pleasure already received and still to come.

The most useful garments for wear round about the accommodation house are tweed skirts, silk shirt blouses and woollen jumpers or cardigans. Woollen undies, of course, are an important part of a winter wardrobe.

Be ready for merry evenings. Have two or three pretty dance frocks and a comfortable wrap.

My best wishes for one of the best holidays you've ever had.

* * *

to change the neckline.

Perhaps you have a woollen frock with a rever collar. You are accustomed to wearing a tuck-in scarf. As a change from that, and in order to bring your frock more in line with high-neck fashions, have the material standing up round your neck. There are several smart ways of holding it in position.

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A cord and “boblets” are easy. If you know someone who is clever at threading beads in flat strips, have her thread some for you in shades to suit your frock—half an inch wide and up to thirty inches long, according to how long you want the dangling ends in front to be.

I saw one frock with a choker of bone rings. Of imitation tortoise-shell, they were joined with windings of wool to match the dress. Ordinary white rings can be crocheted over in any colour required. Remember that the more wool you wind in joining your rings, the more effective will be your choker.

* * *

brighten the kitchen.

I suggested painting the kitchen. Mirabelle opened her eyes wide. “Now?” she asked. “Of course. The sooner the better.” “But wouldn't you leave that till the spring? Everything looks so dirty after the winter. It's so nice, in the spring, to make everything fresh and new-looking.” “Oh, yes, but …. Anyhow, I'm going to paint it now.”

I can't be bothered arguing with Mirabelle. I always feel I'm really up against her mother, and that I can't put my case effectively through Mirabelle.

What I'd like to tell Mirabelle's mother is that I don't use a coal range which makes everything even grubbier in winter, and even if I did, I would prefer my kitchen to be cheerful. On dull winter days a kitchen can be a very depressing place. Anything I can do to lighten and brighten it, is worth doing.

Another thing I almost said to Mirabelle is that the spring itself is such a cheerful season that, even when one is indoors, one's eyes and thoughts are outside. I'm afraid a kitchen can't contain me in the spring—there's usually a leaf tapping at the window or a stray sunbeam to beckon me out.

Meanwhile, I'm going to have a working bee. Anyone can try his or her hand at washing down the walls, but I need an expert for painting the ceiling. A boxer would be best, as he is used to keeping his hands up. But I don't think I know a boxer.

I'm going to be the one to choose the paint. It's going to be a very good enamel, as kitchen-walls require fairly frequent washing.

I don't think I'll have white this time, but a warm cream. There are a few nail-holes that I must putty up. My trouble is that I'm always thinking of new places to hang things in my kitchen and cup-hooks have a great attraction for me. I'm going to be ruthless, though. Out comes everything except what holds something in a truly labour-saving position.

And when my kitchen is painted, I'm going to make some flat cushions to tie on the seats of my kitchen chairs. Age must have its comforts.

* * *

health notes.

Rheumatism.—A disease with fever, pain, inflamation and swelling of the joints.

This scourge of modern life is familiar to us all. Even if we ourselves have escaped it (and no doubt we have a secret feeling that we might not always be so fortunate) we have come into contact with sufferers afflicted with rheumatism.

We have in the past more or less looked upon rheumatism as a liability that age is called upon to accept, but now we are realising that it is no respecter of age and should consider why so many persons have it, and how we can try to protect them. Rheumatism attacks children even more insiduously than adults, and in their case the joints are less often affected than the throat, heart and nervous system.

Children predisposed to rheumatism should not be over-excited or overworked. They need a placid, cheerful existence, and any signs suggestive of rheumatism should be treated thoroughly without delay.

In early childhood the so-called “growing pains” may indicate a rheumatic tendency, and the attacks of tonsilitis and sore throats should be attended to with the utmost care.

We particularize here a few factors which play an important part in the causation of rheumatism:

1. Actual germs producing poisons in the system and a slight injury in a joint or muscle or other part of the body causes the trouble to settle there.

2. Uric acid in the system.

3. Various glands failing to function properly.

4. Insufficient exercise.

5. Neglect of the teeth.

6. Excess of starchy foods and meat is susceptible to rheumatism.

7. Insufficient fluids—partake freely of water, barley water, lemon and orange drinks, etc.

8. Sleeping in damp beds, or exposure—rheumatic fever may result, eventually causing various heart troubles.

Dealing generally with the above, we realise how easy it is to neglect our general health and allow ourselves to become prone to develop the characteristic aches and pains which, if neglected, may ultimately lead to rheumatoid arthritis, lumbago or sciatica. First of all it is very important to have adequate suitable daily exercise, and to resist the frequent temptations of using motor cars, tram cars, etc.

We should be grateful to be able to walk a few miles daily instead of allowing ourselves to be driven from place to place. What equals the buoyant feeling experienced after a brisk walk?

Diet naturally comes in for a fair share of attention and we can help to keep ourselves free from this disease by a light nutritious diet of foods rich in vitamins, such as butter, milk, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and an avoidance of an excess of starchy foods and meat.

In conclusion, we might add that the cause of rheumatism varies in each individual and that a person susceptible to this complaint may even acquire it if her tissues become “run down” for any reason.

Much can be done by attention to our general health to check the ravages of rheumatism, and it seems a small price to pay for freedom from this disease which is gradually claiming more and more victims.


Chilblains are really a slight frostbite. They develop when there is poor circulation in the part affected. The best preventive therefore is to eat nourishing food and have sufficient exercise—warmth being an important factor.

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Persons who are predisposed to chilblains should aid circulation by massage of the hands and feet. The use of methylated spirits, with the massage, is helpful as it hardens the skin. Any affected parts may be painted with weak tincture of iodine, but this should not be applied to broken chilblains.

the dressing-table.

The average woman is proud of her dressing-table, the toilet appointments, besides being necessary are nowadays a source of beauty.

Women who spend a large portion of their allowance on beauty products and are scrupulous as to their hygienic application to the face, are sometimes most unhygienic in their treatment of the products themselves.

It is so easy to spill the powder when refilling the bowl, to forget to replace the cover, to keep the puff in the container and to leave a film of powder on the table top after wielding the puff. Powder puffs are neglected and become virtually dirt traps; and the powder in the open bowl collects foreign matter easily, which is then transferred to the skin. In fact, the “thing of beauty” in the morning becomes a “messy looking” affair at the end of the day, the accessories being kept neither healthy nor hygienically.

It is stated that nothing is more revealing of a woman's character than her dressing table, and we should avoid having the term “messy” applied to our dressing-table, if this is taken as symbolical of our character.

Brushes and combs should be washed frequently.


Soup is a necessary and wholesome item of the diet during the winter months. It adds variety to the menu and can be made at little cost.

A thick soup should be about the same consistency as cream, while a clear soup can never be too transparent. It is most important that stock should never boil quickly, but just simmer. Do not add vegetables till the stock has been well boiled and skimmed.

Pumpkin Soup.

1 lb. pumpkin, 1 tablespoon butter, ½ pint boiling water, 1½ pints milk, 2 tablespoons flour.

Cook pumpkin till mashed, rub through sieve and add milk, butter and flour (rubbed smooth with milk), salt and pepper to taste and cook till smooth and thick as cream.

Superior Quality Soap.

Here is an easy way of saving ten shillings on every 20lbs. of soap that you use. The only ingredients required are 5lbs. fat and a two-shilling packet of” Soapsave “—the wonder soapmaker. Add to one gallon water as directed on packet and you have approximately 20lbs. of the finest household soap. It not only lathers easily, but has a special advantage in that it does not harm delicate colours and fabrics in the washing of clothes. It is also pleasantly perfumed. If unable to obtain Soapsave from your local store, send postal note and grocer's name to A. Murdoch & Co., Manufacturing Chemists, Dunedin.

Kidney Soup.

2 sheep's kidneys, 1½ pints stock, 1 oz. butter, 1 oz. flour.

Skin kidneys and cut them up. Melt butter and fry kidneys and flour till brown, add stock, boil, add vegetables, simmer till cooked. Some kidney may be served in the soup.

Mulligatawny Soup.

Take 2 quarts stock with vegetables cooked in it, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 dessertspoon chutney, an apple cut very fine, 1 dessertspoon cocoanut, salt. Boil all together for ½ hour, thicken with a little cornflour.

Tomato and Celery Soup.

2 lbs. tomatoes, 3 onions, 1 cup barley, 1 pint milk, 2 quarts hot water.

Boil tomatoes and barley in the water for two hours. Strain and add milk. Bring to boiling point and season to taste.

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