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Memory Lane: A florist’s meticulous diary of ‘matches’ in the 1940 and 1950s

Memory Lane: A florist’s meticulous diary of ‘matches’ in the 1940 and 1950s

SuppliedThe wedding of Muriel and Walter Gates in the 1940s. As food and textiles were rationed, couples often indulged on the floral arrangements. Weddings and flowers just naturally go together. So when, a few years ago, a bunch of discarded business diaries was found in the former Feilding home of deceased florist Pat Mason, the new owner knew he’d come across something historically important. Written by Mason herself and covering the years 1944 to 1953, the diaries contained meticulous notes about each bridal bouquet and floral accessory made up and sold, their prices, their owners, and even fabric swatches marking changing fashions in wedding styles. It was a mini-time capsule, the social story of a district, and also of Mason and her husband, James Murdoch Mason. READ MORE: * Spotlight shines on Manawatū’s past during Local History Week * Flashback: Book outlines life of whaler who didn’t fit the stereotypes * Colin Murdoch’s pen latest item for South Canterbury Museum The notebooks were donated to the Feilding Coach House Museum’s community archive. Last Wednesday, historian and author Marilyn Wightman gave a Local History Week talk at the Palmerston North city library about the find. She and her husband’s own family background as garden nursery owners gave an extra dimension to her interest in the Mason diaries. She’s currently writing an article about the find for the 2020 Manawatū Journal of History . “The mainstay of a florist’s business was hatches, matches and dispatches (births, marriages and deaths),” she says. For her History Week talk, Wightman focused on the “matches” for which Mason created her floral work. “Brides would make an appointment weeks ahead of the wedding date, and Pat would discuss the size and scope of the wedding party’s needs. All these were duly listed, along with necessary details […]

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