This is a dream find for fans of quirky curios.
Graham Stanley, who manages the @BlackrockVillage Twitter account has discovered two fascinating vintage artefacts hidden for decades inside the drawer of a French bedside locker.
The first gem is a bar of soap dating from 1934. How the table and its content made their way to Cork is anybody’s guess.
The soap, packaged in a perfectly preserved cardboard box stamped ‘Savon A La Gyraldose’ was made in July 86 years ago on the Rue de Valenciennes in Paris. It had fallen out of the back of the top drawer and into the lower compartment, only to be discovered years later when its new owner took a closer look.
The La Gyraldose brand was a popular choice at the time and was sold in Parisienne pharmacies. Recommended as a feminine hygiene product, this little box likely lurked in many women’s bathroom cabinets in the Thirties.
In fact, the name directly translates as “the hygiene and the toilet of the ladies.” Pretty frightening when you consider it included ingredients such as thymic acid, a colourless solid used as an antiseptic and trioxymethylene, a fungicide which was used to disinfect hospitals.
A letter to mama and papa
But there were more intriguing discoveries to be found; the hidden compartment in Graham Stanley’s bedside locker also held a letter written by a young boy to his parents, dated July 24th, 1939.
The contents of the letter, which is beautifully addressed to ‘Monsieur et Madame Gustave Deryeke’ on 14 Rue Malus in Lille, revealed the boy had been doing his apprenticeship in Paris.
It’s likely Madame Deryeke read the message and put it into a drawer for safekeeping, never to be seen again.
A little digging reveals the family’s property still stands at 14 Rue Malus in Lille in France, today, although it’s unknown whether any relatives still live there.
Yay Cork reader Vincent Tigreat volunteered to translate Graham’s letter. Here are its contents in full:
I apologise for not writing earlier. I did not have a minute. I have so much work to do, I have been going to bed at 1am for over a month and waking up early to get back to work.
I won’t complain, and things are going well, which matters most. Yesterday, I was putting my papers in order and when I saw your June 4th 1939 letter, I told Mireille “Oh! What is she going to say?” But it isn’t my fault, I have cards [postcards?] to send Andrée Francoz. I didn’t have time
[…] work, my manufacturers/sub-contractors are all on holidays.
But that’s enough about my work, I believe you are both healthy and will soon be on holidays if that isn’t already the case. Unfortunately, if the weather is similar to ours, that won’t be very pleasant. It rains every day.
Our health is more or less good, Mireille is a bit tired. She’ll be able to rest for a while since I believe things will be quiet for a fortnight as all orders I received have been outsourced. She helps me well, enjoys working and helping me, and with the two girls it’s tiring, particularly since they’re the agitated type, but at long as they’re well that’s the most important.
Maryse, when we ask her where Daddy’s gran lives, she answers “in Lille, with Grandpa Gustave” because she […] her grandpa Charles in Palaiseau. […]
She’s becoming more and more interesting and her talking is improving. Arlette tries to make herself understood. They’re both sending you big kisses.
That’s it, I have told you a little about everybody and it’s almost 1am. My eyes are starting to close.
All my friendship to you all, as well as Mireille’s. Kisses…”