Blasts From the Past
As part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of All the World, excerpts from three early-day articles are reprinted here. The language and reporting style have changed but the spirit of The Salvation Army – providing help to the poorest of the poor – is easy to recognise.
Cellar, Gutter, and Garret
From All theWorld, July 1885
'God’s for the cellar, gutter, and garret.’ It stood out before our eyes blazoned in scarlet letters on the jersey of one of the cellar, gutter, and garret captains, a girl whose fresh colour is paling in the stifling air of London slums, but whose eyes are still as bright and hopeful as eyes that ‘see Jesus’ always are, even though gaiety dies out of them before the sight of the world’s great need.
God for the cellar, the gutter, and the garret. That is what The Salvation Army has meant from the first day that that tall dark stranger took his stand on Mile End Waste, ‘to talk to the unchurched multitudes’. Every year it has sought to ‘go lower,’ every year it has pondered ways and means of coming closer to the great unwashed, whom most people prefer to keep at a respectful distance. Painfully conscious it grew that there was, below the saved prized-fighters and thieves and drunkards, whom it counted by thousands in its ranks, a stratum still untouched, human beings never drawn from their dens to its barracks, depths which its existing means did not reach ...
Into this gulf of ‘Outcast London’ the lasses of the Women’s Training Home have leaped.
What if three or four cadets took a little room down in one of the worst districts of London, dressing like the people, living among them, mixing with them as part of the same world, helping them, sympathizing with them, loving them?
Up a dark, narrow staircase in a certain tenement house in Seven Dials is a bare little room, kept scrupulously clean. Here lies a man suffering from hip-disease, who has lain in the same position for three years, supported by his wife who has two young children dependant upon her.
Is it nothing that the cadet who found him out is now able to write, ‘Though often in great pain, he is sweetly resting in Jesus, and the calm, placid look on his face tells of peace within’?
In the same week this girl reported a man and his wife who had ‘seen better days’ and who were living almost on the verge of starvation, having pawned everything available for money to pay the rent, that the husband, rapidly dying of consumption, might not be turned into the streets. He says that the very first lassie who came to him, ‘seemed to bring God with her’. Both show by an utterly changed life here – the result of our girls’ efforts to prepare the invalid for the next world life which he must soon enter.
The Food Kitchen
From All theWorld, May 1917
Stories from the Slums
Kitchens in London and the Provinces
The Army takes the initiative in supplying ready-cooked meals for the poor
By an onlooker
The Public Kitchen for supplying freshly-cooked meals to the consumer is being hailed with delight wherever it has been adopted; but even before the Ministry of Food had announced the desirability of adopting a system of central feeding, owing to food shortage, The Salvation Army, with its usual promptitude, had risen to the situation by opening up a number of cheap Food Kitchens for the supply of good, wholesome meals to the poor at cost price.
The Kitchens are attached to the Men’s Shelters, which are admirably adapted for the purpose, being equipped with all the necessary appliances for serving food on a large scale, and so successful has been the venture that by the time this magazine is in the hands of our readers a large number will have been established ...
The food varies at the different centres; but preference is, of course, always given to that which will supply the most nourishment at the least cost, and so every tariff announces penny portions of haricot beans, green peas, rice pudding, suet pudding, and thick, nourishing soup. More and more the people among whom the Army works are realising the nutritive quality of this sort of food, and find it a good stand-by for a hard day’s work.
Said a traveller from a well-known wholesale firm where the food is procured, who saw everything made and sampled all the dishes: ‘This food is magnificent, it’s just life to the people, and a perfect food for the children; but the pity is that the people are unable to cook such meals for themselves.’
It is the efficient cooking which makes the food so tasty and appetizing. ‘I cannot think how you make these beans so mealy and tender,’ said a lady who came down to investigate and to test for herself the quality of the food. ‘My beans won’t come soft, however much I cook them.’
‘Send your beans to me, madam,’ replied the officer, smiling, ‘and I’ll guarantee to make them tender.’
From All theWorld, November 1918
Poeloe Si Tjanang is the name of the island on which this particular Leper Colony is situated. It is one of a group of islands that lie off the East Coast of Sumatra, and at no great distance from the beautiful and thriving town of Medan.
The island is about twenty miles square in extent and most of it lies very low. At high tide a good deal of it is more or less under water and one would think that it would be most unhealthy, but this is not the case, as experience and medical inspections have shown.
The whole island is well wooded with all sorts of tropical trees and palms, while in the thick underbush wild pigs are rather plentiful, perhaps too much so. Crocodiles, too, are often seen in the waters round about, and it has been said that an occasional tiger has found its way across from one of the neighbouring islands.
The men have their own section and the women have theirs, while there is provision for the few married couples to live as though they had their own home. Now and again there are cases of boy and girl patients sent to the Colony, and then arrangements are made to place such boys under the care of some of the trustworthy men patients, who treat them as though they were their own sons. In the case of girls there is never any trouble in finding a woman patient who is delighted to mother the child ...
Close to the place where the Bandage Room stands there is a Hospital Ward; at least, this is the name it is known by, but in reality the whole Colony is one succession of hospital wards.
Possibly this particular building has got its name only by the fact that it is more like a hospital than the others, for in it we find the patients who are no longer able to attend at the bandaging in the mornings, nor go any more to meals in the Dining Hall. There were some thirty lepers in this large Ward, and all of them were hastening towards the end more speedily than the others.
While in the vicinity of that Bandage Room and the Hospital Ward I experienced a strange feeling, and it was as if a voice spoke to me, saying: ‘You feel squeamish upon beholding all this suffering, but what of your comrade Officers, these choice spirits who live here continually and do all they can for the Master and the Salvation of the souls of their patients with a joy that cannot be explained, and who would not desire to be relieved of the work?’ As I stood there I prayed, and shall continue to pray, that God Himself may bless, use, and protect them.
During the twelve months that had just gone by an average of 359 patients have been fed, clothed, and nursed daily, at a cost of a little less than £1 per patient per month, and this includes the Doctor’s salary. Surely it speaks volumes for the management and economy of the Officers in charge, to whose devotion I have already paid tribute.
The full text of these and other articles can be found on the International Heritage Centre website: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/heritage