4229 Berwick Avenue.
4 June 1947.
Dearest little Mama,
At long last I am managing to begin the gossipy letter but I have been promising you. I intended to begin last night but I thought I would read through your letters I had to answer before I started and it took me so long that I didn’t get any farther! Now today I have another one to thank you for- a lovely long one posted on 1st June, so it has been very rapid, and I lay on the bed and read it and enjoyed it immensely – particularly your visit to Irene & her sitting out in the garden-to-be with the builders!
I have decided that the only way to get organized over the gossip and answering your letters is to begin with the oldest letter I have & comment on it, and it will remind me of all the things I meant to tell you – the oldest one was dated the 13th April, so you can see that I am going way back!
In it you were just commenting on getting a p.c. from me sent on the plane the time I was in Atlantic City & that seems such ages ago. I think I sent you another p.c. of the aeroplane when I was coming back from Washington- I sent Pete Burton one I know- maybe you have got it by now. You will probably have heard of all the dreadful plane accidents there were over here last week – the one at La Guardia was a United Airlines plane & it is the 1st one they have had for years & years- they had a special safety certificate, because they had been accident free for so long.
You were also mentioning my Easter trip & it really was not so expensive as you would imagine – of course I paid my share of petrol etc. as well as hotels, food & so on, but there was no cost for the car, & so compared to travelling in any other way it was terribly cheap. I spent $110 I think, which included an odd drink in New Orleans & the pralines & everything, so I didn’t think it was bad. On the trip with the Atkinsons to Canada I paid my own expenses, but not petrol, & it was cheaper because we didn’t stay at such smart hotels or eat at such good places, & it was all right, but I was glad we had splurged in New Orleans!
You were writing about Nan’s wedding present & I think I told you in my A.M. last week that I had got it and sent it off. She sent me a list 1. Tablecloth 2. Bedspread 3. Rug or blanket 4. China, so I thought I would get her a candlewick B. spread like yours, & Til & I went down to one of the big shops & they were having a Linen Sale! I got a lovely cream bedspread & then I suddenly saw these beautiful blankets, so I got her a blue (double size) blanket too, & I think they are both lovely. They were reduced & together came to $22, & I thought that was very reasonable- at home I expect you would hardly get one blanket for that. The electric blankets, by the way, cost around $35, so that was too much, but I think for you to get them a warming pad would be lovely, or Nan says that they are very hard up for table cloths – they have mats etc. but very few cloths. After your remarks re. china & Nan’s too, I was inspired to go and look at some & I fell for some very pretty sets of pastel (pottery ware, I suppose.) Over here they don’t sell in 1/2 dozs. & dozs but in 4, 8, etc., but I got 6 of everything & thought that I might keep 4 & give Nan 2, so that she would have them for herself & Dick anyway. They are really sweet I think- one set is pale blue, one pale pink, one yellow & one green & I got a pink & a blue for Nan. I have just finished weaving Nan’s mat & Til is cutting the threads for me (very complicated – I’ll show you when I have the mat!) & it looks adorable. It is green at the back & the top is peachy – pink & white. I have enough yarn to make another one & Til & Lois made a lovely green & yellow & black one for me – they are awfully pretty & washable too – awfully easy to make as well, but unfortunately you have to have a frame so we can’t make them when I get home. By the way when I was in Canada I got 2 hot water bottles & a thermos flask, so I think I’m a good girl! I don’t think I will get the curtain net though Mummy, because as far as I can see all cotton stuff is very expensive- none under about 75¢ & that not nice, but I’ll look at net & decide later.
I was very tickled at your telling me about Irene’s remarks re. the pearls! By the time she gets my account of how I spent her money she will know that I didn’t get them at Woolworths! I sent her a string for Mrs. Scott you know & a pair of earrings, & a twisted pearl necklace for herself – actually they are not so expensive in the shops, but on top of the price there is a high tax for jewelry, so I am inclined to get fooled & think they are much cheaper than they really are!
You were writing about the Sheedys in your letter & Denis’ “borrowed” car, & I wonder if you have ever found out from Winnie whose it is! Denis wrote to me for my birthday & told me all about it & it is Neville’s, but what arrangements they have made about how long the lend is I don’t know! Who do you think I had a letter from yesterday? Joe, the horror! After all these months! He said he thought he’d better get a letter off before I came home & I should think so too – I was just thinking what a meanie he was! He said something about going to N/C for Whit. so maybe you saw him. By the way, you were asking if we were on Daylight Saving Time here, & we are not in this part of America, but some parts are, so it’s very confusing! Washington time is an hour different to us & so is Indiana, but all the trains planes etc. stay on Standard Time, so when you’re travelling it is all most difficult & I can never tell whether train times are going to be the same or faster or slower! I was greatly tickled at your cattiness over Maud’s past cracks at school teachers!! I bet you that she will still think all other school teachers (me!) have a very easy life! I agree with you that Nan will probably find a great difference when she is married, not having her own money & having to be careful, but I expect that she will get used to it soon.
I was just horrified to read in your letter how much Bella had paid for the little ballet dancer brooch she sent me for my birthday. As you guessed I don’t like it much & can’t imagine ever wearing it, & I never thought it cost anything like that. I was an awfully long time writing & thanking her & Mrs. Johnny but I finally did get notes written off this week, but I sent them by sea. I got letters from Amy & Mary Nutley this week & I must write to both- Amy thanking me for mags. & Mary sending Mary Johnson’s address in Connecticut. I hadn’t realized at all that I still hadn’t told you about my plans for the summer, until you told me about hearing them from Mary. Well, this is how it is. Til’s Mother arrived from Alabama on Monday, stayed the night & then Til took her to stay with her old sister up in Michigan. After we finish school Grandma comes back here & on the following Monday (16th) Til & Grandma set out to drive to Connecticut to spend the summer with C’Zelma, Til’s sister, & I am invited to go too. C’Z is a cellist & lives with another woman musician Em., & last year C’Z had a very serious operation for a brain tumour & is still weak & has a partially paralyzed face I believe, but is much better now. I thought that when I was in Connecticut I would visit Mary J. who lives not far away. I intend staying about 10 days with Til & her family then I thought I might try to get a weekend in Boston to see a little bit of New England, then I will go & spend the whole of July with Margs, Uncle Artie etc. as they see fit! At the beginning of Aug. Til is driving back to Toledo so I am going with her (Grandma too) (no train fares for me you see- isn’t it nice of Til?) I will then get all my trucks packed & sent off to the ship & it will save me the worry of carting trunks around all summer, & after that I’ll come back to New York & sail on 16th Aug. I have just bought some new luggage too- as I was sure I’d never get it all in my old! I have to get new locks for my old trunk anyway as they are both broken. But my new things I got at a Surplus Army Goods Store! An Army foot locker – black with a steel top & locks & an aeroplane case- biggish – they were cheap (compared to the luggage at shops) & seem good. I can see you wondering how I am going to get through the summer after all these purchases, but I tell everyone I am going to live on charity! Actually I’ll only have one train fare to N. York & when I’m staying with people I won’t have many expenses- I hope! This weekend I am going to pay my passage & pay Lois for Nan’s present & my luggage (charged to her account!) & get the rest of my money in travellers cheques & just see how much I have left!
I forgot to tell you that Til’s son Bill arrived here on Tuesday, so we are having all Til’s family one after the other! He has a pilot’s job down in Florida you know (instructing also) & had to fly an aircraft up here, so also took his holidays & is staying about a week or so. Lois works out of the airport & they keep very much out of one another’s way. I think it is a little bit of a shame that he should come just now, because poor Lois is going to be left alone here all summer & now we’re not having a chance to make the most of our time together, before we go. 11:30 p.m. so I am going to sleep now – night night – love from Cyn.
To continue! I am so glad that you had such a nice birthday, Mummy, and that all the things from me arrived at the right time. I know it’s a long time ago now, but still! The flowers from all your friends sound lovely & it was nice that the fun of presents etc. was spread over two days, so that the thrill was prolonged! I am very glad that you liked the photo – I thought the colouring was good too. I am looking forward so much to seeing yours – you told me about going to get it taken & getting the proofs in a little while, but you never mentioned what they were like when you did see them & I am most intrigued!
I think Mr. Wood could be trusted to have you looking your prettiest! I am glad that the blouse fitted that I sent for your birthday too. I have a red & white one just the same & I have used it a lot, but find that the back jumps out ! By the way- talking of my photo has reminded me of something else. A few months back, Hugh mentioned in one of his letters that he had seen a picture with a girl in it who reminded him so much of me- her voice and ways as well as looks. It was Teresa Wright in “The Imperfect Lady”, so when it was in Toledo last week Til & I dashed off to see it. It is about England in the 1900s & was fairly good, but the girl certainly was like me in some ways – I could see a likeness in her face, & Til said her voice was like mine, & in one place particularly where she had her hair down & was looking in a mirror, I nearly had a fit, because just at that moment she looked so like me that it was as if I was looking at myself! It was quite an odd sensation! Afterwards Til amused me immensely, because in the film the girl was too, too ladylike & Til said yes, she was just like me, but I was more of a hoyden!!
I sent off my coupon book to Nan this week, so hope it will be all right – I don’t see why not – I’m sure they can’t do anything about it because if they hadn’t wanted them used, they could have cut them out when I left. I seem to have been getting an awful lot of new clothes lately. It is just Fatal for me to go down town if I don’t want to spend money, & when I was buying the things for the girls I kept seeing things for me too!!
I told you about my gaudy jersey dress & as well as that I got a pink felt hat and pink suede gloves, which I wear with my blue corduroy suit or my navy 2 piece dress (I cover the red belt up) & with some of my other dresses, so it is very useful. The hat is one of the biggest I’ve ever had, but it’s kind of turned up, so people say it makes me look tall! I’ll attempt to draw it, but I have no idea whether I will succeed!!
Doesn’t it look funny! But it is really quite nice & becoming, & is the sort of hat that you can wear with your hair looking a mess & still it looks all right!
Before I went to Washington I finally managed to get a raincoat, & I am just delighted with it. I have been trying & trying, & either they were much too big or an ugly colour or something. Then suddenly I saw this one – it is called a Cravenette & is the kind of raincoat that looks like material, & it is a lovely shade of pale blue, so I am wearing it as a summer coat & no one is any the wiser! The only coat I have for summer is my camel-ly one & it is too hot, as well as being a bit worn! My raincoat is very plain – only big full sleeves- at tie belt and one big blue button. I like it very much.
I have also got myself two cotton summer dresses, which are pretty – one is pale gray trimmed with white piqué, and the other is turquoise blue with white buttons, and I have also got a new suit! You know that I have been trying to get a suit since the spring & haven’t seen a thing I liked – or if I liked it, it was much too expensive. Then one day about 2 weeks ago Til & I were ambling through town looking in shop windows, & she said “Look, that’s a pretty suit” & I said “Yes, isn’t it!” & before I knew what, I was in the shop trying it on & it fit me & I bought it! It is grey & is a very fine material – I think it must be a mixture of wool & cotton- & it has a tiny tiny little stripe lllll- like this – so fine you can’t see it unless you’re close. The thing that kills me – & will slay you & Irene too I know! – is that it has a bustle effect, & my suit & my seat together are a riot!! Til roars & says it looks cute! The skirt is straight & plain and the jacket is what they call a cutaway, & they are very fashionable here- you can hardly get a suit with a straight jacket.
These look very peculiar, but you will get some slight idea of what it’s like. I look definitely “hotsy” in it! I wear it with my pink, or with white (from last summer) & I was most embarrassed because when I wore it to school one day this week ( I was going out speaking) all the staff paid me compliments & of course all the kids too- the favourite comment was “Oh Miss Ewing I do like your suit. Boy! Do you look smooth!” I think that is the end of my clothing purchases, so now I don’t think I have anything else left to get for myself, except maybe a pair of shoes. I do hope that you like your dress & that it fits. It isn’t very ultra or fancy, but it is a pretty colour & I thought it would suit you & that you would like it. I do hope you can wear the funny little hat – I think if you wear the pinky-red & white dress, white hat & gloves & brown shoes & bag it should look nice. I got the brown bag before I got the dress, or I would’ve got you a white one, but the brown will be more useful anyway. The hat can be worn back or forwards, brim up or down, so it is very adaptable!!
You mentioned my small boyfriend Rowly in one of your letters & although he still comes every Wed. with his sister, I have been doing the dirty on him & going out, so I haven’t seen him much! He has really been getting a little pest the last few times I’ve seen him & just won’t leave me alone a minute- Rowlys certainly do seem to fall for me, but I certainly do tire of them quickly, don’t I!!!
I haven’t heard another word from Joan Greenwood about the flat, but I suppose that once she knew I would share, she thought there was no more urgency about it! I must make arrangements with the bank to pay her my share of the rent though, after the other girl goes, so that I definitely have my claim staked! I hope my account can stand it!! Anne said she told Jessie F. about my sharing with Joan & she didn’t seem very pleased, but goodness she is sharing with Joan Watkins now & didn’t mention anything about my joining them, so why should I worry!
There is quite a lot of talk among Marie Stoll’s friends here of how she & I must meet in New York, as she will be back before I leave, but so far nothing definite has been done. I am curious of course, but not pining! I asked Dr. Smith in Washington about the “youth & inexperience” of the British teachers & he said that it really wasn’t so that there had been complaints. Only one Ed. Authority had said they’d like an older person & I am pretty certain it wasn’t Pam’s – I think she is quite good despite her naïvety(??) naiveness (??) (!!) and as she is “out in the sticks” at Fostoria anyway, they wouldn’t want a very sophisticated person there!
You were asking about Lois & Til’s cars – neither of them keep them in the garage as it is pretty old & too small for the cars! They sit out on the side path, & nearly everyone around does the same with their’s. Like you, everyone is always asking at school how Lois can afford to buy two such gorgeous cars, but of course Lois saves all her money earned at the airport, & had been saving it for quite a long time to buy a car.
They also had the Chrysler to turn in as part exchange, & Lois hardly spends any money on anything else, as she does nothing but go to school & to the airport most of the time & buys very, very few clothes. Also Til has been saving her (private) teaching money too, & they combined. By the way – you were right & Maud wrong – it is Lo-is not Loy!
Do you remember the dinner that Lois & Til & I went to with Mildred when we got back from our trip? You said that it sounded as if we had a good time after all, & it was so funny because we did! We were all just dreading going, because we had had plenty of her as it was, then she had annoyed Lois immensely by trying to give her & Til some money as a thank you for taking her, & then finally we had talked over her peculiarities and mannerisms & expressions so much that we were sure we would giggle when exposed to them again! However, we sent out in a very sober mood, and picked up Mildred & drove to this special place she was going to take us to, only to find that she hadn’t booked a table & we couldn’t get in! So then we went to another place in town – famished with hunger – & Lois bought us all a drink before dinner to loosen the atmosphere as it were! And then Til got going! The mere sight of a drink makes her merry sometimes & she pretended to get quite high & began getting very pally with Mildred! There was one place in Mobile called Constantine’s that we ate at & Mildred thought it was wonderful & everywhere else we went she kept harping on Constantine’s till we were sick of it. So Til every time she took a drink turned to Mildred and said “Mildred (slight lisp!) here’s to Constantine’s- good ole Constantine’s!” & Mildred would drink & Lois & I would nearly have hysterics! Til was so obviously being crazy that we could laugh without being (too) rude & she just brought up everything she could think of & Mildred just thought she was being so pally & Lois & I nearly died- I eventually got quite gay too & joined in & we had a wonderful time! We think that afterwards when Mildred was sane & sensible she realized we were making fun of her, but she hasn’t cooled off towards her- only towards Lois & me! She is friendly with me again now though – probably because I’m going soon!
Did I tell you that I am going to give poor Mary Stuart a disappointment? Because when I got her letter telling me that she had a share in the money and to get her stockings, I had already spent it all & sent away most of the parcels! I am just writing to her to tell her the sad news. It was nice of her to send a present to Nan’s shower & all the presents sounded lovely & everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. All the girls told me what fun it was- Nan, Pam and Dottie & also watch marvellous eats you had! I’m glad Florence Schmidt came & added some excitement-I can just imagine how spectacular she must have looked arriving with her great parcel! Dottie said she was slightly overdressed in her opinion, & I think lots of the American women are-they go in for brooches & pearls & earrings & clips & bracelets & rings, until the effect is overwhelming!
I don’t think I ever told you of another tragedy that happened a little while ago- it wasn’t very cheerful so I thought I wouldn’t tell it for Pop to read, not that I suppose it would matter, but in some moods these things make him gloomier. One of my students, a girl called Evelyn Snyder was killed in another motor accident. She was a little dark girl, very chatty and friendly & after school she worked in the grocery near by that Til & I go to. One morning at school, she asked me to buy a ticket for a dancing display given by the dancing school she went to & she was telling how she went after work in the evening. That evening she was being driven home from the dancing school by an older lady & gentleman & a doctor drove right through a red light at a crossing & smashed up both cars, & killed Evelyn. Everyone was so shocked because it was practically identical with Mrs. Whaley’s death and Evelyn was a nice little kid- she was a senior, 17 years old, but small in build.
I think I told you all the places I visited in my Washington trip, – I just had a wonderful time altogether – the hotel was such fun, the weather was perfect, & the place is marvellous. I took my corduroy suit & navy 2 piece & new blue raincoat with my new pink hat & gloves & everyone was most complimentary! I had 3 invitations by strange men to dinner- one a policeman who showed me Pres. Truman! But I turned them down. Dr. Smith was just as nice as ever, & I quite enjoyed the chance meeting with Rowland- it was so silly! I had to invent all sorts of excuses why I hadn’t written & told him I was coming! Joan Burbidge, the girl at the British Embassy I had met in N.Y. at the beginning & liked & we had a nice dinner together & a gossip! Also the Ohio Representative, Mr. Ramsey & his wife were very nice about showing me around-altogether everyone was terribly kind & helpful, & all sorts of strangers pointed out sights to me, & showed me where to go.
I don’t think I have ever said thank you yet, for cleaning out my drawers etc.! I give you full permission to throw away my holy vests & pants! By the way, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed in Lois & Til’s cast off’s – there were aren’t very many & Til didn’t have hardly any & Lois’ will be too small for you. Most of the things I sent in the parcel (2nd hand) I want you to keep for me! Except the shoes of course. You needn’t worry about your weight but golly, mine! I am up to 108 lbs or 110 lbs & last night we had Frances Kaya (5ft 2ins) Lois (5ft 4ins) Ruth (5 ft) & Mary (Lois’ sister) (5ft 6ins) & do you know I weighed more than any of them!! Just wait till I get my good old bicycle & pedal some of my fat off! N.B. Don’t you dare throw away my snow boots – I love them & can’t afford to buy anymore! I am so glad that the other parcel of food & the one of pralines arrived safely. I had a praline down there & thought they were lovely too. I think the parcels have been doing much better recently & I only hope that all of the ones I’ve just sent off will arrive safely after all the buying & packing etc. It was quite a job!
I think your idea of not going away this summer, but of coming down south in the autumn & visiting me & everyone else at once is a good one. I certainly don’t think there’s any point in coming to London or anything to meet me – I’ll have all my luggage & I’ll just get on a train & come home & won’t waste any time! But it will be fun if you come down to Cambridge & stay in the flat with Joan & me & see my new abode.
I loved hearing all about Irene & her home & her adventures – she is a hoot! I can just imagine her thoroughly enjoying herself in her own home with her own husband. I sent Mr. Coplin a bunch of mags. by the way, & I hope the poor man is getting better. I was very honoured to hear that Irene had my picture up – I think she gets practically as much kick out of telling people about me being in America, as I get from being here!! I was tickled about the competition between Nan & Irene & Irene championing Bill’s woodwork – I bet she daren’t say a word to Nan! I can imagine Nan being a little bit touchy like Maud if any aspersions were cast on Dick or his efforts! Very natural of course!
I was greatly amused at your meeting old Pinky & her inquiring tenderly for me! It is nice of Mrs. Rainer & Prue to ask – give her my love when you see them – also my old Postie and Mr. Wilkinson!
You were mentioning my trip to Lorraine with the Atkinsons & the gathering of the Tyneside clan! Was I bored! And the thing that shattered me was that the old lady & gent used such a bad language I nearly died! Swearing every 2nd word! The trip to Canada with the Atkinsons was very nice, but of course nothing like the fun of going anywhere with Lois & Til. The Atkinsons are sweet & very kind to me, but they’re not “my type” & a little goes quite a way. In the car Mrs. is a great “pointer-outer” – you know “Look at that Cynthia, – and this- and that house over there – and the river!” till I was about dizzy & she isn’t content until I exclaim & say how marvellous each thing is about 10 times! Also they had friends again in Owen Sound whom we visited all one evening & I was tired to death & bored too! However they are nice & enjoy showing me off I think! They didn’t mind at all about the Banquet- they were bored too that time, & it was Howell’s doing leaving early, because he’d had no sleep the night before, so they couldn’t blame me! Howell’s & his brother-in-law have opened this fruit stand & on top of their ordinary jobs, they keep it open day and night & are just about killing themselves- idiotic I think! The Atkinsons tell me Howell still has nerve trouble from the war & that with this business it’s getting worse instead of better, but wouldn’t you think he’d have more sense & get himself some peace & quiet instead of doing 2 jobs & getting no sleep. He has gone down to Tennessee for a week to visit his people, so I don’t suppose I’ll see him again & it really doesn’t worry me a bit!
I don’t think I have anything more spectacular to tell you at all! The lunch for Mr. Bowsher etc. passed off very well, & last night for Frances etc. coming here for dinner we gave them roast beef & Yorkshire pudding & they were most amused! This week is full of farewells – all the kids at school asking for my address, & one class gave me a great corsage of white flowers & another a very pretty gold & blue brooch. On Wednesday the Faculty are having a lunch in my honour & on Friday the Home Ec teachers of the city – I’m not looking forward to either – I’ll be so embarrassed!
I have decided I can’t afford to send this letter by A.M. but I hope it will reach you soon.
The latest arrangements are that for my holidays I leave here with Til on 16th June & will only stay until about 24th in Conn. & then go to Long Island, because Til wants to come back sooner now, & I said I wanted to stay a month all together with the cousins. But I’ll write A.M.s to let you know what goes on. Lois will be here all the time & will forward letters if necessary.
Take care of yourself and be a good girl. My love to Maud & Bella & Winnie & Mrs. Johnny
With lots for you