The ladies created hats & scarves, mittens & sweaters for the soldiers, but it was their grey socks that became the item most sought after by the Newfoundlanders and Allied servicemen. They were traded and even purchased amongst the soldiers. A tender gesture by many of the WPA ladies was to tuck a hand written note or poem inside the toe of a sock or the pocket of a shirt. These little scraps of papers from home brought comfort to the men and there is at least one instance of a pair of socks getting to the son of the knitter; another solider made it his business after the war to find the lady whose note he found – he did and he married her!
“I’ve knitted these socks for you, just you,
And I’ve prayed that God might keep you true,
And make you brave right through and through,
In danger’s hour.
MARY of Sweet Apple Cove”
“Into this sock I weave a prayer,
That God keep you in His love and care.”
A Pair of Grey Socks
A woman is knitting most all the day
A sock that shapes from a ball of grey,
Her fingers fly, and the needles click,
Fast grows the sock so soft and thick.
“Why do you knit at such a pace,
Dear woman, with patient face?
Is it for tireless little feet,
Or covering warm for the huntsman fleet?
“Or maybe for fisherman strong and bold,
Who fights the sea when the winds blow cold.
Or perhaps for the strong brave pioneer,
Who faces new worlds with dauntless air?”
“No, no, my child, ’tis for none of those
That I patiently knit in endless rows;
’Tis for nearer and dearer” — then a broken pause,
“For those who are fighting their country’s cause.
“For those who sailed on the ocean wide,
To do their bit ’gainst a lawless tribe.
Thus, I do for my country a woman’s part,
Who give the pride of their mother’s heart.”
“But what means the white row I see right here,
Is it a sign to make the pair?”
“No, that marks the socks for the slender youth,
Who does his part for the cause of truth.
“The red is the sign for the hardy man,
At the height of his strength in life’s short span;
But young and old alike do the same,
For life or death, for honour or fame.
“Blue in the sock is the medium size,
The colour dear to the sailors’ wives,
So in the grey socks, red, white and blue
Form our colours so bright and true.
“And that is why all the livelong day,
I sit and knit in the same old way;
And into each sock I weave a prayer
That God keep our boys in His love and care.”
by Margaret Duley