A note about the friends and relatives mentioned before reading this epic account of Cyn’s journey- 36 pages, closely written, on both sides of small thin letter paper!
When in New York, Cyn gets in touch with some of the men she had known from when they were stationed in Newcastle during the war, Bob McKenna, Len, and Hugh Brown, now both Lt. Colonels apparently- meets their wives and families and enjoys catching up. Catching up is not necessary with her own family of course, but she hasn’t seen her cousins since the trip she and her mother made to New York the summer of 1939 (see posts of her Travel Diary). Her three older Simmons cousins, Millie, Marguerite and Mona, (Aunt Ettie’s girls) grew up in New York, and in the intervening 7 years, Margs and Mona have both married, so we have Millie and Ford Pembleton, with Hugh and ‘little Monie’ living in Highland Mills, but at Camp in the summer; Marga and Bill Jaeger, and their son Alan; and Monie and Owen, with the sisters living right next to each other in Long Beach. Up in Central Valley, New York, their uncle Arthur Hazell, Uncle Artie, and his wife Aunt Phine live, and their nieces drive Cyn up so she can see them. They spend a few days at the Camp with Millie and Ford, and Bebe, Uncle Artie’s grand-daughter, turns up to see Cyn again too. They’ve kept in touch over the years with letters and photos, but talking (and tea) is essential!
Thursday 29th August.
Dearest little Momma,
I have just finished writing a “proper” letter to you & Dad, & now I’m sitting down to write an improper letter to you, giving you all the lowdown and dope! I have meant to do this so often since I arrived in New York, but I have been just rushing around & don’t seem to have had a moment to spare so you can see that now I am writing I have lots & lots to say!!
I am going ‘way back to where I arrived in Halifax because ever since then I have been writing letters to both you & Pop, so they have had to be concise with no bits of gossip! In Halifax after we got through the Immigration authorities etc. on the ship, Gwen & I went to see our luggage through the Customs & they told us there, only to keep one case for the train & then to send the rest “In Bond” to New York, so that we wouldn’t have to bother with it at all until we got there & then we could see it through the Customs in New York instead. So we did that & then we still had some time so we walked into the town – not a very inspiring place but after a while we found the main street & looked at the shops. I nearly carried out my threat of buying a pair of shoes at once but I restrained myself as I had no room in my case to pack them. Instead I bought a suspender belt – such an eminently sensible thing to squander my money on! We were most impressed, I think, with the fruit shops – great piles of apples, oranges, bananas, melons, peaches, plums, raspberries & goodness knows what – and all so cheap. We went back to the ship for lunch & said goodbye to various people – my Jamaican pal Hugh, for one, & then went to the train. It was not crowded, which was one blessing- the carriages were rather like those we have, with long cars & where the people sit opposite one another with a table between, but instead of four people sharing a table, there were only 2, and we had lots of room to move about. Gwen & I went & had tea, & then later on had to stand in a queue for dinner! However, it was very nice when we got it, & afterwards the porter came & made the bunks, which intrigued us very much! The top bunk pulls down, & the underneath one is made of the two seats pulled out & of course a mattress put over. They are really very comfortable, & I got a lot of fun out of climbing up the ladder to mine & getting all closed in with my curtains. We kept sticking our heads out & talking & it seemed so strange to look along the line & see male & female heads sticking out, & men wandering in pyjamas from the men’s room, & women trotting to the women’s room in dressing gowns! I slept quite well, but some didn’t as the train was slow & stopped a lot, & every time it started again, it gave a tremendous jerk that nearly shot you out of bed! Apparently it is rather a habit of American & Canadian trains but once they are running they are very smooth.
Some bright sparks got us up at an awful early hour, because of course when anyone begins rummaging around, everyone else feels that they can hardly stay still, so we were up & ready by about 7:30, but even then there was a queue for breakfast! However, it spent the time & when breakfast was finished we didn’t have long till lunch! There was a man on the train called Pat, that I played deck tennis with and he came along & talked with Gwen & I quite a lot, & even the Admiral & his wife talked to us & were very nice & kind. The wife talked to Gwen, & the admiral to me & they were most interested to hear all about what we were doing. Altogether I didn’t find the journey at all tiresome because we sort of settled down for it, & then there was plenty of room & we could walk about & talk to people, & didn’t feel cramped at all & also we looked at magazines & changed with other people, so that we didn’t any of us get bored. We arrived in Montreal at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon – by the way I must tell you what a lovely muddle we had with the time- on the ship of course, we put back an hour every night – then in Halifax we were an hour ahead by their time- on the train it was an hour different still (Standard Time) & in Montreal we were on Summer Time & that was another hour different! We ended up by never knowing what time it was at all! At Montreal we wanted to be out to shop before the shops closed, but with the hour difference in time, we only had an hour to spare, & every minute of that time was left in the darned station! We had to arrange about sleepers & reservations on the New York train, then we had to get our cases we had with us, put into the Baggage Room while we went out, and it took ages. Gwen succumbed to an attack of homesickness I think- anyway, she felt poorly & sat & looked miserable, so I coped with her case too, & then it was pouring with rain when we came out, so we took a taxi to a big hotel that a Canadian girl had told us about, the Mont Royal. It was an immense place & we wandered round, & saw a sign pointing to “The Coffee Shop” so we thought we’d go & have a cup of coffee, but on our way we found a row of shops (in the hotel) & one of them was a drugstore, so we went in & had an ice cream soda & Gwen felt better. She was a nice lass, but a bit “sweet”– I feel that if I was with her all the time I might have wearied! After the soda, we looked at the other shops & as we stood, a middle-aged man going past just touched my arm & said “Hiyah!” So I grinned and said “Hello”. He didn’t really stop but called out “You’re from the States, aren’t you? “So I laughed & said “No, I’m not – I’m from England.” whereupon he was stunned & his eyes popped out & he stopped & came back to talk! He was an American, just in Montreal for business & he said he’d just seen me & was sure that I was an American girl!! I felt quite flattered, because I was feeling quite grubby & crumpled after the train (in my maroon spotty dress – carrying my coat) and felt that I must have been looking much smarter than I thought. (a lot of feeling about this!) The man was funny- he was a bit drunk I think, and greatly tickled with Gwen & me. He’d never seen an English girl before, & kept looking at us & saying “But I never thought English girls would look like you!” He insisted on taking us for another soda, & gave us each a packet of salted peanuts & then left us after shattering us both with a hearty kiss on the cheek! As you can imagine, we spent most of the rest of the evening giggling!!
After this episode we walked along & looked at the shops in the main streets & ended up at a big cafeteria for supper, & then went back to the station & got our cases out of the baggage room. Just as we got back, a thunderstorm began & and it was terrific, & in the middle of it all the lights went out! You can imagine the confusion! However after about 10 minutes they came on again, & by this time most of our party had arrived back & we all were waiting to go on the train when suddenly over the station loudspeaker I heard my name! I nearly had a fit, & listened & it was “Will Miss Cynthia Ewing call at the Information Desk.” So with great agitation I trotted across & the man said there was a message for me & gave me the phone. A man’s voice said there was a telegram & read out “Welcome to these shores. Hope you had a good crossing. Please ring Ashland 43840 on Monday morning. Len.” Wasn’t that a lovely surprise? And so nice of Len – it was the first real word of welcome I’d had, and I was so touched at his thinking of such a thing, & going to so much trouble to send it to me in Montreal. I felt quite important too, having it announced in the station! I joined the others, and we got on the train & found our sleepers all made up for us which was a most welcome sight as we were all tired. As soon as the train started, we got ready for bed, & were in our berths when the Immigration and customs people came around, but they were very jovial & friendly to us & didn’t even look at my bag. They took my great card of fingerprints!! I don’t know if I told you before that there were three men teachers with us- two of them had their wives with them, but the third one was called Rowland Purdy & came from Pudsey in Yorkshire! He was quite young- in his 30s and it wasn’t until that evening on the train that he got the ladder for me to get into my berth, that I realized his left arm & hand were withered & he can hardly use them. So I realized that was how he hadn’t been in the Forces & had been able to apply for the exchange.
I slept like anything that night & we were due in New York quite early, but the train was late, so I got breakfast quite comfortably, although I had to queue. I put on my green & white striped dress & white hat, & looked quite clean for my arrival – but I needn’t really have worried, because we had no sort of official reception as we expected & no reporters! Dr. Paul Smith from the Department of Education was there & a lady, Mrs. Powell, from the English-Speaking Union, & a Miss Burbidge from the British Embassy – also other odd men. We had to wait for our cases to be brought from the train so Dr. Smith said that he would wait from them while Mrs. Powell and Miss Burbidge took us to eat, because some hadn’t had breakfast, so we did that, & when we got back to him our cases were there. Much to our sorrow & agitation though, we discovered that we couldn’t get our other luggage out of Bond, as the Customs didn’t come on Sats. or Sundays- you should have heard our opinion of American Customs! I wasn’t so bad, as I had quite a decent size case & my two dresses, but some of them only had the clothes they had on, & a tiny case with pyjamas & washing things. We were each given a card telling us where we were staying, & we sorted ourselves into groups & about six of us shared a taxi. I, of course, went to International House and I was terribly lucky because some of the others went to a hotel which was $7 a day, whereas we paid that for 3 days, & of course there were meals on top of that. The I. House is a sort of hostel attached to Columbia University & founded by Rockefeller, but it is also a sort of International Club & there are every sort of nationality represented. It is a beautiful big building with a little park in between it & a big church. Both of them on Riverside Drive looking over the Hudson which was just lovely. The House fronted onto the Park & we all used it as a sort of garden & sat on the benches & it was so nice.
When we first got there, we got our rooms & had a shower & got dressed again which made us feel much better. I forgot to tell you that Gwen was not really attached to our 1st group, but to the 2nd, so she was going to stay with an English friend of hers who had come over to marry an American- in fact, it was in order to see this girl that she had come early. The friend was waiting at the Station for Gwen, so off they went, & I was supposed to ring Gwen later, but she gave me the wrong name or address of her friends, so I never got around to it, but I’ll write when I get to Toledo. All the other girls, Joan, Dorothy, Nancy, Ann, and Brenda who were in our Cabin came to I. House, except one, Mickey, who moved in the next day, as the hotel was too expensive. So it was nice to have them & we all got on well together. On the Sat. afternoon Joan & Dorothy & I took a bus into town – it was very convenient, because the bus passed the door & took us to 5th Ave & there was a subway just down the street which took us to Times Sq. and Pennsylvania Station. We went to 5th Ave. & looked at the shops, but most of them were closed. We got sort of worn out after a bit so we went down a side street & into a drugstore and had more ice cream sodas. The man behind the counter had come from England when he was a kid, so was tickled to bits with us, & insisted on us eating cream cheese & jelly sandwiches which were luscious! He told us where we would find a shoe shop open back on 5th Ave. so we went there & I got a pair of high heeled sandals- toeless & with a heel strap – brown & white! Joan got a white pair, so we were PLEASED!
We went back to I. House for supper – it had a sort of help-yourself canteen which was very good, and afterwards Joan and I went to battle with the American telephone & ring up our friends. I rang up Monie, & she sounded very pleased to hear me & asked when I could come to see them, so I said I didn’t know yet, so we arranged that I would ring up again on Monday & let her know. She told me that Margs & Bill were on vacation & had been staying at the camp with Mill, but were spending that weekend at Artie’s and were driving him & A. Phine to Marie’s, so it was no good my ringing them up just then, nor Uncle Artie either. My first call having been so successful I rang up Jim Wallerstein next, & talked to him. He told me that Hugh had just gone back to Broadalbin the day before & asked me to go out with him one evening, so I thanked him but didn’t know quite what was happening, so said I’d ring him back on Monday too. Next I rang Hugh at Broadalbin, but I could get no answer, so I rang Bob McKenna, & he wasn’t in, nor his wife, but one of his daughters answered the phone, & Bob afterwards told me that she could hardly understand a word I said, I was so English! I said I’d ring again the next day so left the telephone with the prospect of having it all to do over again in a few days time! But I didn’t mind. I joined the other girls & they were talking to two American school teachers who had been taking a summer course at Columbia, & they came from Colorado! They were very friendly & we all went down to the cafeteria & drank sodas & some of their friends joined us & we had quite a nice time.
On Sunday morning after breakfast we had our first meeting. It was held in a room at I. House & began at 9:30. First of all Dr. Smith talked to us generally & then he gave out various letters & literature which the principals of our schools had sent us, then finally we divided into groups according to our subject and we had a lady to tell us about D.S. (Domestic Science) in America. There were only 5 D.S. teachers & two of them were needlework only, so there were really only 3 of us general domestic science, & funnily enough we were all going to Ohio. The other two are in much smaller towns than Toledo, but not far away, so I will probably see them. One of them is called Pat Ridley & comes from Bellingham & trained at Northern Counties, isn’t that funny? She is younger than me though, so we didn’t know many of the same people & she teaches in the South of England.
We carried on our discussions till 1 o’clock then had lunch, & in the afternoon some members of the American League of University Women were coming to take us sightseeing. Five of us banded together & were very lucky, as we were taken in a car by one of the husbands, which was lovely, as some of the others had to walk & go by bus & it was very hot. Our man was called Mr. Tozzer & he was a very nice kind old gent, & determined to show us all he could. He took us first to a place called the Cloisters. It is a Historical Museum built by Rockefeller on the plan of a mediaeval French monastery & it is really lovely. It is on a hill overlooking the river & the view is beautiful & it has terraces & courtyards & was cool & pleasant. We just rushed through & then drove to see the new Anglican Cathedral which is being built – St. John the Divine. It is an immense place & has some lovely stained glass windows & chapels to various saints. After that we drove right along the Riverside Drive – not actually on the drive but on the Parkway which has been built below, just by the river. The debris from the tunnelling of the subways was put there along the river & the parkway built on it, & at one place there is a notice up saying “At this place the parkway is built on rubble from the bombed buildings of Britain brought over as ballast in ships during the war.” Wasn’t that interesting? We went right down to the Battery at the tip of Manhattan, so that the other girls could see the Statue of Liberty which they hadn’t seen before, then we drove through the Bowery & Chinatown & to Wall Street, & then to 54th St. to the English Speaking Union where they were giving a tea for us. They have a lovely place there & the tea was very nice & all the E.S.U. people were too, too charming- very social, you know! So I was devastatingly charming too & talked to everyone I met & got on beautifully! It finished about 6:30, another kind man offered us a lift home, so I waited & went with Dr. Smith & Rowland Purdy & the American man & his wife. When we got back Dr S. & Rowland (I know you will laugh at that name!) (He doesn’t look a bit like the other Rowland – fair-haired & blue-eyed!) & I had supper & then Dr. S. thought that it would be a good idea if some of us went out on a little spree! So we thought it was a lovely plan & we arranged to collect some of the other girls & meet at 9:30, as Dr. S. had some work to do first. I got Joan & Nancy & Ann & Dorothy & we were sitting with Rowland when in breezed Mr.Tozzer & the other American man & his daughter to ask us to go for another ride around the city to see the lights, but we had to decline as we were waiting for Paul (Dr. Smith). I don’t think I told you yet what a very nice person Dr. Smith is. He is about 40- and in looks reminds me rather of my friend Carl, but not so tall. He is the kindest, most patient man with a grand sense of humour, but very very sincere over his work. The whole bunch of us must have been a sore trial to him, but he was never irritated or cross, but always ready to listen to us and help us in anyway he could. Everyone of us felt that he was a friend, & no one had anything but praise for him. Because we were staying at I. House, I expect, & we saw a lot of him, he became very friendly with our little group & he had a great fun teasing me, which we both enjoyed immensely!
That evening we went along Broadway to a “joint” where we drank beer & ginger ale & talked & felt wildly wicked because it was after 10 o’clock at night & the bars were still open! It was great fun.
Next day we had arranged for another meeting, but it was very short because we had to go to Pennsylvania Station & get our trunks out of Bond & the Customs people were only there a short while. It was pouring with rain, so a few of us banded together & got a taxi & got to the station 1st & we were lucky because the Customs men would only take so many of us & the rest had to come back in the afternoon! I was 1st and got through O.K. The man opened my trunks & asked “Got any presents for anyone?” & I said “no” & he dived in & brought out the bread knife! So I said brightly “That’s a knife – you see, I’m a Cookery Teacher!” So he said “oh yes” & put it back again!!
After the Customs I had to go and get my ticket for Toledo, & I had to stand in a queue hours for that. Then I had to go to a Bank and get some Travellers cheques changed, & then I decided it would be silly to take my trunk to I. House & cart it around with me, so I forwarded it to Toledo & thought I would send the girls their things later, & I was very glad I did, as it saved me ever such a lot of trouble. I then put my cases in the Luggage Room & went with Brenda & Anne to a Cafeteria for lunch, & then we went shopping. Before this however, I had done some more telephoning. I rang Bob McKenna on Sunday evening, & he asked me out on Tuesday evening. Then at the Station on Monday morning I rang Len & it was just lovely to hear his voice again- we chortled at one another over the phone with pleasure! He asked me out to lunch on Tuesday, then I rang Jim & he asked me to dinner on the Thursday, so I had a lot of nice dates! I decided that I would stay at I. House till the Friday & then go to U. Artie over the weekend & to Monie’s on the Monday till the Friday, when I would leave for Toledo.
The shopping that afternoon wasn’t terribly successful, as we were all just worn out with our mornings tussle in the station, but I got a pair of black gabardine shoes & Anne got a white hat, so we were quite pleased. We somehow lost Brenda & spent ages touring 5th Ave. for her, but gave it up eventually & took a bus to the station, collected our cases & took a taxi back to I. House & of course Brenda was there before us!
That evening was the official dinner & it was held at the Men’s Faculty at Columbia. I put on my blue & white cotton from Le Sport, which I had just pressed, and I was dizzying round waiting for the others by the front door, when a little man came up to me & said “Excuse me, are you English?” so I said yes, & he went on to tell me how he was a Persian & he loved England & the English people & how he had never spoken to an English girl & could he talk to me, & looked at me with most pathetic brown eyes, so I, being kindhearted, said I was sorry, but I was going to a dinner now, but I’d probably be back by about 9:30, & if he was still there I’d see him then.
The dinner was very nice, but some of the teachers were dreadful & came rolling in hours late – I felt most ashamed. Afterwards we had speeches from Mrs. Pearl Wanamaker, a big bug in American education, but very nice & Dr. Smith & various other people & one of the teachers replied & thanked them all. Afterwards we all talked to everyone else & said goodbye because some of them were leaving that night or next day, as this was the end of the course.
We went back to I. House afterwards & it was only about 9 o’clock, so I rang up Hugh and this time he was in & very pleased to hear me. One of the first things he said was when was I coming up to stay with them so I said that I was sorry but I wouldn’t have time, but he kept insisting & Lee came & talked to me & said that everything was arranged and that I must come & then Hugh said that Jim Wallerstein was coming up for the weekend & that they had planned for him to bring me up with him & so finally they talked me into it & I said I would go on the Friday with Jim. I then rang up Monie & she had Margs there & I talked to them & arranged that I would go down to Long Beach & spend the day with them on Thursday & then go to stay on the Monday after being to Hugh’s. They said that they would drive me up to Uncle Artie’s when I was with them & not to worry about not spending the weekend with him because A. Phone was so queer that it was just as well. And they said that they would write & tell him about my coming, as Margs was writing anyway & it wasn’t much use phoning him in case the connection was poor, he couldn’t hear.
After all this I went to the lounge, but before I met my little Persian I got a message to ring Dr. Smith’s room. So I did & was told that he had left a message for me to wait for him. I didn’t know if it was just for me, or for the others too, so I told everyone else I could find & then went & had a little chat with my Persian who was called Ghani! He was very interesting, but in a little while I saw Dr. Smith, so I bade him farewell & he made me promise that if I was in I. House the next afternoon I would talk to him again!
Dr. Smith came & the others were all there & then we talked & and I realized that his message had been just for me & our little group, for us to go on the spree again & here I’d collected masses of people! However some of them dropped off & finally about 11 of us set out, & we went to another little place & drank ginger ale & beer again & had a lovely time just chatting & talking & by this time Rowland was quite a friend of mine, and I had a little giggle thinking of someone saying that even if there only was 1 man and 75 women, they were sure I’d manage to achieve his friendship against all odds-and I did too! He is a nice young man- quiet, but friendly & he & Dr. Smith got on splendidly together, which was very nice as Dr. Smith’s home is in Washington & Rowland is going to the Chevy Chase High School which is just outside so they will be able to continue their friendship. When we got back that evening, we were all standing on the steps chatting before going in & Dr. S said “Well I think everything should be all right, & I’m not worried about any of the exchanges at all. The only one that isn’t quite right, I’m afraid, is Cynthia’s.” We all looked at him in amazement & I said with horror “Mine, Dr. Smith? What’s wrong with it? “& he said “Well, we got rather short changed you know. We were expecting full size & we only got a half pint!” Of course we all roared with laughter & Dr. Smith patted me & said it was a shame to tease me, but I enjoyed it. He told Rowland later, that he really began to enjoy the exchange when he began teasing me & then he got a lot of fun out of it! Another time he was talking to Rowland & me & he was saying that there were some of the English teachers he was a bit worried about & some of the Americans too, that he’d have taken off the boat if he could, and he told us quite a lot of his troubles, & Roland & I decided that he wouldn’t be confiding in us if he didn’t think we’d be all right! He told me that I would just take the citizens of Toledo by storm, & what I would have to take care of most was that I wasn’t killed by kindness & too many invitations! So it sounded as if he was quite optimistic about my success.
On Tuesday most of the other teachers began leaving- Joan and Brenda stayed until Wednesday, but when I left on Friday there were only one or two still there and Roland who left on Sunday would be one of the last. I went into town on Tuesday morning, dressed in my Wetherall skirt & pinafore with my white hat & blouse & shoes & bag & met Len at a very nice restaurant called “Town and Country”. The girl from the British Embassy, Miss Burbidge told me that it was one of the best in town & we had a lovely lunch. We talked & talked & Len was just the same & we had the nicest time. He told me all about his going back into the regular Army, & by the time we finished eating & gossiping it was 3 o’clock. So we left & Len asked me to go out to dinner with him on Wed. evening, as he was by himself, and his wife and little girl in the country.
I went back to I. House, and there was little old Persian waiting for me, so out we went & looked at Grant’s tomb & sat in the Park by the river and I told him all about England & he told me all about Persia. He works for the Bank of Iran, and has been in America a year, but his brother was in England before the war & Ghani thinks everything English is wonderful, so I did a little Anglo-Iranian propaganda! (A Persian is a new one for my list!) One thing Ghani said tickled me- that was “In Persia we die for a blonde”! So I said I must introduce him to Joan, as she is very fair, but he said no he meant a blonde complexion like mine!
I went back to I. House and got ready & at 6 o’clock in walked Bob McKenna, just as tall & bald & nice as ever. He had his wife Mary in the car, & she was very nice, & we drove to the bachelor apartment of a friend of his, where we all had a drink. We then went out to dinner to a French restaurant nearby, & we had to wait & wait for hours before being served, & then we drove over & collected an engaged couple whose names I’ve forgotten as well. They then took me to a most amazing place in the Bowery, called “Sammy’s Bowery Follies”. It was just like a bar-room you see in wild west movies, and all the waiters had on striped vests, & there was a stage show going on all the time composed of the fattest women you ever saw dressed up in Naughty Ninety costumes. Most of them were aged, but they sang (or bellowed) and bounced & went around the tables & kissed the men & were quite amazing. The audience was composed mostly of ordinary people like us, but amongst them were one or two real hoboes and tramps just off the street! Bob had never been there before, & he kept saying “Well, you’re really seeing something, Cynthia!” After that we went to a nightclub in York town which is the German part of the city, & we danced there, & they finally delivered me at I. House at 3:30 a.m.! In some ways the evening was great fun, but I found Bob very much changed – I remembered him as being so jolly & crazy & now he is quite quiet & very settled down. All the other people knew one another, so I was rather quiet too, and they probably thought I was very shy, but it’s difficult when they were all chatting away & sometimes when they talked quickly I honestly couldn’t understand what they said! Bob told me that I had brought back some very happy memories to him, & he seemed quite sorry & envious when I told him of Len going back into the Army. I liked his wife, she was very “wise-cracker-ish”, but nice to me, and they told me to write to them & tell them how I got on & tell them whenever I came to N.Y. again.
On Wednesday I talked to Rowland and Dr. Smith – & he was teasing me about being out late with a MAN! Then we had lunch & they went off to the docks to meet another contingent of teachers arriving on the Sacramento. I thought of going too, but Dr. S. said it would be very hot & tiring for me & not to come & afterwards Roland told me that they were there for hours & it was dreadful. I spent the afternoon at I. House & up came Ghani again so I went & sat in the Park with him again & had just given him a long explanation about the difference between N. Ireland and Eire, when he suddenly said “Would you like to come to Persia?” So I said oh yes, that I would like to see it sometime & I was very fond of traveling, so he replied “Oh no – I meant, would you like to marry me & come & live in Persia”. WELL! You can imagine! My eyes just bounced out with surprise & I was so shattered I couldn’t think of a thing to say! And I had the most dreadful time trying to convince the little man that I wouldn’t dream of such a thing! He had it all worked out that I would soon learn to love him, & that he was patient & kind & good & would love me forever, & that I would soon get used to living in Persia & that it didn’t matter a bit about my being a Christian, but that the children would have to be Mohamedans– or even if I minded very much, they could be Christians too! Can you wonder that I was speechless! I kept trying to explain to him that even if we weren’t of different nationalities, we were absolute strangers & he would say well what did I want to know about him & there we were again! He said that he had fallen in love with my appearance at once & that he knew I was good & kind, but that even so he wouldn’t have proposed if I had been American or Chinese or any other nationality, but he knew that being English he was quite safe – that an English girl would be honourable & true & sincere. Poor little man! I finally convinced him that I had other ideas, but I had to give him my address & be most cruel about not seeing him again before I left. Can you imagine if I were to throw up my years teaching & marry a Persian!!
After this little adventure I went & got ready in my green & white dress & white hat & went into town & met Len at the Harvard Club. We had a drink there – he looked sweet, by the way, with a red bow tie on!- then we went a taxi ride round the town & ended up at a Chinese restaurant called Port Arthur. We had a lovely dinner there & then rushed off to the theatre to see “Oklahoma”. I was just thrilled with that because I had often read about it in American magazines & how good it was, & I was delighted to get a chance to see it – and it lived up to my expectations completely. It was the loveliest, happiest show I’ve seen in years- the music was pretty, the dresses & scenes were lovely & the people very good, & in one scene there was a “dream-ballet” which I loved. Afterwards we walked down Broadway & saw the lights, then went to another famous place called Reubens for a drink & a sandwich, then Len took me home. It was a lovely evening & I enjoyed it- every moment. Len was just the same & just as nice & we only wished that Nan could be with us too. He seems very happy & content about going back in the Army, & is to be stationed at Fort Munro in Virginia & says that I must come & stay with him & his wife when I’m on holiday & see what life in an Army Camp is like.
Next day was Thursday, & I got up early-ish & was in time to get the subway to town & the 10 o’clock train to Long Beach. It took an hour to get there, and off I got, & found Monie & Bill waiting for me and Alan in the car. They drove me to Marga’s where she was waiting & Owen came along too. It was such fun to see them all. Marga looks just exactly the same & so does Monie I think – at first I thought they didn’t mind so much how they looked, as they weren’t made up at all, but they soon put lipstick on & looked just the same. Bill is perhaps a little greyer – otherwise the same & Owen I vaguely remember, but he had all his teeth out, poor fellow. Marga’s house, both inside & out, I recognized exactly from the snaps she sent us, & both hers & Monie’s are dear little houses – so neat & compact & everything so nice. They both have flowers in front & quite a little garden at the back with grass & flowers & were really lovely. Monie and Owen seem to be very happy together – Monie is not nearly so quiet as she was, & is full of fun and easy-going & she & Owen are just right together. They were both awfully sweet to me. Marga too seems very happy, contrary to what I had expected, but she & Bill seem to be getting along fine & both of them just adore Alan. Marga thinks the world of him, as well as Bill, & they both love to talk about him. He is really a beautiful boy too- his blonde colouring & pink cheeks are lovely & he is big for his age & so friendly & chatty without being too “fresh”. I enjoyed him immensely & don’t wonder that Bill and Margs are so proud of him.
We had a lovely lunch at Margs, & then Bill & Owen went out to do something to the boat, & Margs & Monie & I sat in the garden & talked & talked & talked! We discussed every member of the family we could think of, and had a lovely time, but we all kept wishing that you could be with us too. Bill made us a drink- he was nice to me too, but I didn’t see very much of him – then I had to leave to get back to I. House to get ready to go out with Jim Wallerstein, but we arranged that I was to ring up Margs as soon as I was in New York on Monday & she would tell me about trains to Long Beach.
I got back to I. House & went to my room to get ready, then my buzzer buzzed & I went to the phone in the passage & this was Jim W. downstairs. I had on my blue & white cotton again & white hat & down I tripped into the lounge to pick out Mr. Wallerstein. I was expecting a fat, well dressed, rich looking, man-of-the-world-ish Jew & I gazed around, and up ambled a fat, bald old-ish looking man, in the most sloppy clothes & ancient dirty white shoes that I ever saw! I don’t know how I managed not to register amazement! He is younger than Hugh, but he looks at least 50, & he seems to be a bit lame too & walks just like a gouty old man – I was so surprised! However we chatted & out we went & got a taxi, which drove us to his apartment – which was a lovely place – & there were two married couples, friends of his, waiting for us. One couple were 40-50-ish & nice & the other was younger & rather slick & I didn’t like them much. We had a drink there & then went to a French restaurant for dinner, & from there to the theatre to see a play called “Harvey”. I had read about this play, all about a man whose best friend was a white rabbit, 6 feet tall called Harvey – but no one else could see him. The idea was great fun & some of it was very amusing, but I was a bit disappointed- probably after I’d enjoyed “Oklahoma” so much. We then went back to Jim’s apartment & the slick couple left & the rest of us had a soda, & then they brought me home – Jim arranging to pick up me up at 4 o’clock next day to get the train to Schenectady.
Next morning I packed & Rowland very kindly offered to help me with my cases. I had packed one for the weekend, & the other two we took down to Penn Station and left at the Long Island luggage office, so that I could collect them on Monday. Then we went out & looked at shops & then went to a cafeteria for lunch. When we were shopping Rowland had bought some candy- toffees & a box of sugared almonds, & after we had lunch, we were just leaving, when I saw this box on the table, so up I lifted it & said “Oh don’t leave your candy behind” when there was a crash and a rattling hail of sugared almonds all over the table & floor for yards around. The darned box had been upside down! I was so embarrassed & covered with confusion & Rowland laughed & laughed & everyone around about laughed & all the people going by walked “crunch crunch” over sugared almonds. It was dreadful! After that we walked along to Times Square & went to a movie – what it was called I have no idea! But it was very exciting – all about spies & chasing people. Then we came out & took the subway back to I. House. I couldn’t find Dr. Smith anywhere to say goodbye to, so I wrote a note for Rowland to give him, then I said goodbye to Rowland & we were quite sorry to part.
Jim arrived with his slick friend & they took me & my case to Grand Central Station – the first time I’d seen that one & it really was beautiful – the great central hall, with the ceiling all blue & stars on it – & filled with a rushing mass of people. We got the train all right & sat & talked for a bit. Jim is very shy I think, & rather absent-minded & vague, so conversation was a little difficult, but we managed! We went for dinner, & had to wait over an hour in a queue, but we got it at last & very soon afterwards we got to Schenectady – it took about four hours I think. Hugh was waiting for us there with the car- and I felt so scared getting off that train! He looked just the same as ever, even in civilian clothes & was full of fun. It took us about 30- 45 minutes to drive to Broadalbin & of course it was quite dark, so I didn’t see the country at all. When we got there all the lights were on, & in we went & found Lee & J.P. waiting- J.P. was allowed to stay up to see me. They both looked so much like their photos – J.P. rather a plain little boy to look at but he said “Hello Cynthia” in such a nice friendly way if he had he known me for years, & we were the best of friends from that moment. In fact I just fell in love with J.P. and think that he is quite the nicest boy I’ve met- he’s so friendly & adult in some ways but not all at all cheeky, & yet in other ways he is very sweet & young & easily hurt. Lee was awfully nice to me too- she is slim & has a pretty figure & pretty hair, but her face is lined & she looks her 40 years all right. She seems to be one of these quick, rather brittle people – easily irritated & rather sarcastic, but she was kind and nice to me. After J.P. had shown me his trains & a few other things, off he went to bed, & the rest of us had a “nice cup of tea” & talked! Apparently Hugh has become quite a tea drinker, so that’s one thing England did for him! Their house is so fascinating – I can’t really describe it, but downstairs it is all wood inside as well as out, & the wood is varnished & polished on the walls as well as the floor. The stairs go out of one corner of the living room – which has a huge fire where they burn logs – & lead into a bedroom, which was mine. Through this bedroom you go to other bedrooms & one bathroom – there was another downstairs – & in the morning I used to be in bed while everyone trafficked through my bedroom!
The air was quite chilly at times, so on the Sat. morning we all had breakfast in the living room by the fire & Lee got a lovely breakfast. Then Hugh insisted that I hoist the flag up the flag pole while he took a picture of me, much to everyone’s amusement! Afterwards I helped Lee wash up & made my bed- by the way, Susie was away on her vacation, so I didn’t see her. The races were on at Saratoga Springs, so Hugh asked me if I’d like to go, so of course I said yes, but unfortunately children under 16 aren’t admitted, so J.P. couldn’t go. It was finally arranged that Jim & Hugh & I should go, & Lee & J.P. meet us for dinner about 6:30, & we had to set out about 12, to get there & get places before the races begin. Before we set out, Mr. & Mrs. Brown called & I was introduced to them & they were so sweet. I could see what Hugh meant when he said his Mother and you were alike, but she is the quietest lady – I hardly ever heard her talk at all.
It took us about an hour or so to get to Saratoga & we went to the Grandstand & got places & programmes & everything & I was tickled to bits, because I never saw a race before. The course was so pretty, with flower beds & fountains in the middle of the circle & there were crowds & crowds of people there, but it was a little bit showery, although the sun shone brightly in between, but it didn’t matter as our seats were under cover. We didn’t bet with bookies at all, but Jim was our bookie & Hugh & I put on our bets with him. It was much nicer, as we just bet small amounts, & could back lots of horses in each race & it was great fun! We were doing pretty badly but we got one wonderful winner & at the end I came out 55 cents to the good & Hugh was down about a dollar!
After the races they took me to one of the springs & I drank some of the water, but I thought it was pretty horrid- it smelled of sulphur & tasted salty! Then we drove up along a lovely road to an inn by a lake where we were meeting Lee & J.P. for dinner. The country around there is just beautiful. It is the foothills of the Adirondacks & there is this lovely lake & way past it the mountains rising up in the distance – & there are woods & streams & meadows around the lake & the white farm houses set amongst the trees so that it looks like a picture postcard country. The inn was such a nice place & we had a drink & then a really wonderful dinner, but unfortunately there was a group of about 12 people- some from Broadalbin who knew Hugh & Lee & they were as drunk as could be & just had the place in a riot. They were at the next table to us, & sang & shouted all the time & thumped & banged on the floor, so that we couldn’t hear ourselves speak- J.P. thought they were most amusing, but Hugh and Lee were fed up, as they kept calling to them & it was such a shame, because it spoiled it all & we couldn’t enjoy our lovely dinner properly. We were quite glad to leave finally & another thing, Lee was mad at Jim, because he started quite a flirtation with one of the drunk women & kept turning & talking to her & ignoring us! I drove home with Lee and J.P. & shared my 55 cents winnings with J.P.! On the way we began talking about Canadians & J.P. cracked them up for anything & was full of their praises, & I said “What gives you such a high opinion of Canadians J.P.?” & he said “I don’t know – I never saw one!” which tickled his mother and me immensely! After we got back J.P. went to bed & kissed us all good night & we sat in the fire light & played the gramophone- it was an electric one & they had lots of records, so it was a lovely. Next day we had breakfast in the morning room – a gorgeous breakfast with ham and waffles. Then we cleared up, and they were going to have a picnic lunch outside, so the men lit the fire in the outside fireplace & then Hugh fixed up the gramophone outside & left me there to amuse myself. They went in the car to see about the others who were coming, and I helped Lee a bit & sat in the sun. Mr. & Mrs. Brown came & a school teacher friend of theirs, a nice man called Jack, and we all had such fun eating hamburgers & salad & coffee & cake & lemonade till we couldn’t eat anymore- oh – & I forgot- corn on the cob too! Afterwards J.P. and I went to his swing, & we swung each other till I was nearly ill! Then I chased him all over & ended by breaking the heel off my old brown sandal! But it was fun.
By then, it was nearly time for Jim to go, as he was leaving on the Sunday evening, so Mr. & Mrs. Brown left & all the rest of us went to Schenectady to see Jim off. I just went up to Broadalbin in my Wetherall suit & took my blue & white cotton dress, but I wore the cotton all day Sat. & Sun. On the way back we had a very pretty drive & then J.P. took me for a cycle ride, which was a hoot. On a strange American bicycle riding on the right side of the road. I felt most odd. After that, we went down to Mr. & Mrs. Brown’s house & we all sat & talked & I quite inspired Jack with a desire to get an exchange to England! It was fun – I felt as if I had made a convert! When we left, Mr. & Mrs. Brown were so sweet to me & asked me to write to them & to come & stay at Christmas or any time I liked. Wasn’t it nice of them? Then when we got back J.P. went off to bed & kissed us good night & when Lee came down she said to me “You know what J.P. thinks of you? “& I said no, & she said “well, he tells me that he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings or anything, but that he likes Cynthia just as much as he likes me. In fact, if he had to choose, it would be just 50! 50!” Wasn’t that lovely? I felt so flattered & Lee was quite amused. We had such fun that evening, gossiping about all the people we know, & I discovered that Hugh is now a Lieutenant Colonel too & had thought of going back into the Army like Len, and then decided against it.
Next morning we got up early & Hugh & I set out for Albany after breakfast. J.P. was quite sad to say goodbye & so was I, & he said that he’d miss me even more than he’d miss Jim, & he gave me some drawings he’d done for me & told me to keep them always. Lee invited me to come & stay at Christmas, but I said I’d be going to my cousins’, but she said to come for a few days if I could. Hugh had to go into Albany to his main office so he drove me there & I got my train from there, instead of Schenectady. He took me to the office & introduced me to various people, then I sat around for a while & he & a Mr. File took me out to a very nice restaurant, Keiler’s, for lunch. They gave me clam broth, which was a specialty, but I dare’nt tell them it tasted just like hot sea water to me! After lunch we went to the station & Hugh put me on the train.
I began to write a letter to you on that journey down, but it was most terribly hot & the train wiggled about & so I gave it up & talked to a nice man who sat next to me. He was from Utica and was in the shoe business, & when we got to New York he carried my case for me, & gave me a lift in his taxi to Pennsylvania Station. I rang Margs & there was a train in about 15 minutes, so I got my other two cases out of the luggage place, & caught it easily. Then when I got to Long Beach another nice man carried my cases for me & Monie & Owen were waiting with the car, so I did very well for assistance!
I stayed at Monie’s & had Aunt Ettie’s room & it was very comfortable. We had a nice dinner at Monie’s, then Margs came over & we arranged to set out for Central Valley at 9 o’clock next morning. It was Bill’s first day at work after his vacation, but Alan & Margs & Monie & Owen & me & Ginger (Monie’s dog) all piled in & got to Uncle Artie’s by lunchtime. We went in & it was lovely to see Uncle Artie again & I thought he looked well & Aunt Phine looked just the same. They have a woman called Ethel living with them now & she seems very nice & puts up with A. Phine. We had a very nice dinner, then we sat a little on the porch & I talked to Uncle Artie, then we all went a drive in his car with Margs driving & it was a lovely run. When we came back, Hugh had turned up, as he been to a cub meeting & we all got ready & said goodbye to Uncle Artie & drove over to Ford & Millie’s camp. It is a sort of wooden bungalow in the woods, & just this summer they have had running water laid on & they have a sink & a lavatory & wash basin, & just before we came they had a big fireplace built in the living room & it was very cozy. Mill & Ford were both very sweet, but both looked older I thought- although they didn’t act older! They were both full of fun & games & so were their children! Hugh is small for his age & has the same little face, so that I could easily recognize him & he is full of energy & go. – Monie is a dear little girl, with pigtails & one front tooth missing! They both took quite a fancy to me – novelty you know! – & I liked them both, but they weren’t so well brought up as J.P. I didn’t think. I should imagine that they are quite typical American kids- Mill & Ford let them do as they please most of the time, & they aren’t made to sit down properly for meals or anything whereas Hugh & Lee are quite strict about J.P. and his manners. I said something to Margs & Monie later about it must be difficult to get Hugh & Mona to settle down when they went back to H. Mills after the freedom of the Camp & they both laughed at me & said “They don’t settle down – they’re always like that!” Alan thinks Hugh is wonderful of course & tags along after him everywhere. We had a nice dinner & then – by the way the Simmons girls & husbands are terrific tea drinkers! – then we sat & gossiped & finally went to bed. I had the couch made into a bed right in front of the fire, so it was lovely.
Next morning the kids woke us up early & we had breakfast & went down to the “dock” (a little jetty on the lake.) Marg lent me a bathing suit & we all bathed- Alan too. In the middle of it arrived Bebe & Ethel- Bebe had arrived to stay with Uncle Artie & over to see us, but she hadn’t her bathing suit, so she came again in the afternoon to swim. She looks very much the same – a bit more mature & glamorous & just engaged of course. She is going to teach a year & get married next summer. Mill & little Monie & I went for a row on the lake, then we had lunch & afterwards I went down to the lake again with Bebe who had come back. I bathed in the morning & washed my hair in the lake, but it wasn’t terribly warm, so I didn’t go in again in the afternoon. Bebe left then & we all had dinner & set out back for Long Beach about 8 o’clock & arrived at 11. Alan slept all the way.
Next day we slept late & then Monie & Margs and & I drove over to Garden City & we had the greatest fun looking at shops. I wanted one smart dress, & ended up with a plain black one that fits me beautifully & does all sorts of things to my figure! Margs & Monie both like it, & it only needs to shorten the hem a little bit. I also got a bathing suit next day – a lovely two piece effort in silk jersey, with a white background & colours on it & it looks very cute!
After shopping that evening we went to Margs to dinner & it was nice. Then Bill had to go out to a meeting, so we washed dishes & then looked at pictures of Alan & then old pictures of Margs & Monie & their trips to St. Vincent and I saw all Margs glamour evening dresses & her wedding dress, so we had fun!
Next day, we spent the morning in Long Beach & in the afternoon Monie & Owen took me to New York & put me on the train to Toledo – and here I am!
This letter has taken days & days to write & is certainly some effort! I’m going to send it off now or I’ll go on adding bits & bits & it will never get sent. I shall begin another one with my Toledo adventures & send it soon. Everyone here is being very kind to me, but I do miss you & wish you could be here too – Margs & Monie & Mill & Ford & I were always talking about you. I hope you’re not being too lonely- some of the time has gone already & I’ll soon be back. I hope that some of my letters have come from New York – I’m sorry that I’ve been such an age in writing this long one, but now that I’m here, I’ll get more organized about letter writing. It was lovely getting your letters at Monie’s – I loved having them & hearing from you. I miss getting letters here, but when I get a permanent address it’ll be better. The Y.W. is very comfortable & I got through my first day at school today all right – it was a teachers meeting, so I meet the kids tomorrow! Oh dear!
Lots & lots of love to you – take care of yourself- from Cyn.