Hidden among a lot of paper, tucked into those funky little Royal Mail envelopes, was this set of fascinating vintage ephemera in the form of letters from the 1960s. A teenager named Olive wrote them to her aunt, also named Olive, and had a lot to say about what was going on at the time!
My goodness, it was a lot. We get to read about teenage fashion choices, the Beatles, the Queen, and… well, you’ll see. This batch of retro paper is a great introduction to what we find while hunting for and preserving vintage ephemera!
You can click through the first letter at your leisure below, or just read my transcription.
Dear Aunt Olive & Family,
Thank you for your last letter.
Angus’ boat sounds marvellous. I am enclosing a picture of the Queen holding Prince Edward on her official birthday. I think the Queen’s tour of Germany has done a great deal of good for relations between Germany and Britain.
I expect you will have heard that the Queen’s honours list was announced. The ‘Beatles’ were given the M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire). Many of the teenagers think it is marvellous. I’m afraid my friends and I think it is ridiculous. My mum is ‘fuming’ about it. I think this will lower the honour of this title. Everybody says they have helped export. I quite agree about this but they themselves have not done it willingly, it has just happened because of them. All that they have done is achieve a personal ambition. I always think that it is people who have done something to help others that should be honoured in this way. And they are not the only people to have gone on tours abroad. I think they must give a wrong impression of Britain’s teenagers to people abroad, and it is mainly due to groups like them that teenagers are largely looked upon as irresponsible, screaming young fools.
Next Thursday we have our Sports Day. I have not gone for any of the serious races, but I have gone in for all of the funny ones. e.g. Chair, Camel, Wheelbarrow, etc.
Next Tuesday is our Parents Day. We have been busy doing projects lately and I have a picture which I embroidered going on show then. I am now making a donkey. I have made the main body in grey felt with a mane & tail of grey fur fabric. I just have the saddle and little carrots and things for putting in the ponies’ bags to make now. So I might have it finished in time to go on show then as well.
I am getting my dress home today which I have made at needlework. I am going to wear it when the girls of my class have a night out. We are all going out for our dinner one evening in the last week before we leave Seymour Lodge. We have booked at one of the hotels quite near the school and as it is in Dundee, I am going to stay the night with one of the girls.
Mum bought me a new pair of shoes to go with my dress. They are dark brown suede, with a sort of ‘T’ strap. They are mod shoes. I don’t know if you have this craze in Canada, but they are shoes with fairly rounded toes and thick heels. Mum says they remind her of the shoes when she was young.
Well that is all for now. Cheerio, God Bless,
P.S. I am also enclosing a cartoon which I cut out of the Sunday Post. It is typical of the craze that boys have for letting their hair grow long now. Often girls can not be recognized from boys because they all wear ‘jeans.’
From what Olive has written, we can deduce that this letter is from 1965 as that’s when The Beatles earned their MBE. There was much tut-tutting about it at the time as the honour typically went to veterans and civic leaders, so for it to go to a musical group was… not taken very well by some people. Olive, for example. Look, Olive had very strong feelings about the MBE, apparently!
Anyway, Seymour Lodge was a private girls’ school at the time of this letter, and closed around 1966. The school had moved from Seymour Lodge itself to a different building during the war, and the property was put up for sale in 2012. There’s a good chance it’s a private home by now.
Olive Returns, With a Vengeance!
That’s not all we hear out of Olive—in fact, we get another batch of letters here that you can also snatch for your digital ephemera collection.
Here’s what she has to say this time.
Dear Aunt Olive and Family,
Thank you very much for last letter and the calendar. Thank you also for the pattern for that poodle. I have made four already. Two white ones and two pink ones. Thank you also for your Easter card and the parcel you sent.
Penny just loves her toy and she runs about the house shaking it. Also thank Audrey for the pencil, note-pad, and soap-dish.
At the weekend we were at Pitlochry camping. On Sunday it was lovely and warm. To-day I sat my ‘O’ level Arithmetic. It was not as bad as I expected. At least I was able to attempt all the questions, but whether they are correct or not I don’t know. I will not get the results to these exams until about June.
‘O’ level means ordinary level whereas ‘A’ level means a higher grade. These exams are all for the Scottish Certificate of Education. These exams are usually sat in 4th Year at Secondary school, but I left in 3rd year to go to Seymour Lodge and have not had the opportunity to sit them until now. These exams are just to prove that you have attained a reasonable grade in the various subjects.
I am having my photograph taken tomorrow at school. Our whole class is being photographed as we are the leaving class. If it turns out alright I will send you one. It is being taken in uniform.
Well I will have to end off now, God Bless,
Further confirmation that Olive was part of the private school at Seymour Lodge! I think what she means by “the leaving class” is that her group were the last students that would attend the school, as it was to be sold within the year.
Now, she mentions a town called Pitlochry, which has a population of about 2700 people. You’ll find it on the River Tummel in Scotland, and it looks to be quite lovely! Has anyone been camping in Scotland? Do you get eaten alive by bugs during camping season there, too?
Anyway, thank you for joining me today to read young Olive’s letters. Now that we’ve spent some time with her and traveled back to 1960s Scotland for a while… it’s on to other things! Tune in next week for more digital vintage and a story or two.
P.S. If you like what you see here, consider buying me a coffee. Every dollar buys me more time to spend working on this site. ♥