Carol Ewing left England in March, and arrived in St. Vincent where she was to share a home with her sister Muriel in April, after having paid visits to other family members who lived on different islands. Cyn wrote this long letter and the airmail letter that followed, almost at the same time, and sent them to her aunt Trix, Carol’s older sister, in Trinidad, where her ship stopped.
I find Cyn’s scorn heaped on the humble broom as amusing as Cec did- I feel sure they existed in England or what was Hogwarts using?- but the broom I remember from my childhood was a push broom which I assume is the one she considered superior.
M0nday 13th March. 1950
When you are reading this you will be in the midst of the tropics, and here I have just been shovelling snow! Ever since we came it has been cold and snowy, sometimes a heavy fall, and sometimes just a little, but when ever it begins to melt away, there is another fall. There was one last night & it looked so bright & pretty outside then I went & asked Mrs. Kaufman if I could borrow their shovel, and I shovelled our little side path & Kaufman’s path and the sidewalk. While I was busy the postman brought your A.M. of the day before you left, and the one from Mary Ewing, and Mrs. K. told me to ring her bell when I was finished and she had something for me. She thinks I am crazy, I’m sure, & over the shovelling snow, she kept saying “My, but how unusual!”!! But both she & Mr. K. are very kind & will do anything to help us – they lend us books & magazines & an ironing board & iron, and the thing that Mrs. K had for me was a lovely yellow rosebud. She said her house is so upside down that it didn’t look right, so she’d like me to have it, & I was so pleased – the first flower I’ve had since the lovely ones I got on the ship. Poor Mr. & Mrs. K. are having such a time- they got our apartment done first, & are now in the middle of having theirs done & living all amongst it. They have had a beautiful new bathroom built, & all the kitchen remodelled & modernized & are having a new cooker & frig. & the stairs were moved when our place was made separate. They have the carpenter here for long enough, & tiler is coming off & on to put tiles in the kitchen & Mr. K. is painting doors & the decorators have yet to come. They have everything under dust sheets and no carpets & poor Mrs. K. just sits in a chair in the corner as the only comfortable place! She is little- about 50, but dark, while he is even smaller I think & grey & thin – but about 50 too. He has quite a sense of humour, but I don’t think she has as she doesn’t laugh at any of my remarks, but takes them quite seriously! However, we have a long chats when I go to borrow anything, & she was telling me that she came with her parents from Russia when she was a girl – Mr. K came from Manchester, I think I told you. They have 2 girls, both married- the eldest with 2 little boys & the youngest just married in Sept. & her husband doing medicine at the University – I haven’t seen any of them yet.
When I last wrote and told you of my doings, I think we were just about to go to Toledo for the weekend, and what a gay time we had! Til & Lois came up for us & arrived at about 5 o’clock on Friday. I had dinner ready- tomato juice, roast pork (by request of Cec!) baked potatoes succotash (little green beans & corn- frozen veg) apple sauce, then raspberries (frozen) & cream & coffee! Then we drove down to Toledo, which took about 1 1/2 hrs. I was quite excited to see the house & everything again, & we had my little room at the top of the house & everything looked just the same. Til & Lois have television & are crazy about it, but I don’t like it much although I wouldn’t tell them that! The programmes seem pretty poor although the pictures are mostly clear & good. We watched a bit, then went to bed & I said it seemed funny to have a MAN in my room! Next morning Cec & I slept late (of course!) & when we got up Lois had gone to the Airport – she only goes once or twice a week now – & Til was busy tidying up. We were to have dinner at about 1:30 because Marie Stoll had invited us all to a cocktail party for me to meet all my old friends in the afternoon, then Ruth (Lois’s sister) & family were coming over that evening to see us. However, during the morning Mrs. Atkinson phoned, and asked Cec and me to tea next day then Mr. A. talked & said that he wasn’t going to wait till next day to see me, but would come up right away. Mrs. A. was going to a meeting that afternoon to hear our old friend George Hammersmith speak, & when she went he would come up. Well, we waited a bit & he hadn’t come, so Til & I went out and shopped for groceries & when we got back, about 12-ish, here he was & Lois was back too. We all sat & talked & then Til & Lois were in the kitchen & he went out to his car & brought back a bottle of whiskey & insisted on us all having a drink! Til & Lois wouldn’t, but I had to have a little one & he & Cec had one, & he settled back and & kept filling up his & Cec’s glasses! We all giggled afterwards because Til said she tried to win the bottle for us – when he produced it first & handed it to me, Til said “But what a pity to open a new bottle- let’s have some of ours & then the kids can take the full bottle to Ann Arbor” but Mr. A. said “Oh no – this bottle isn’t going to Ann Arbor “& afterwards took the remains of the bottle away with him! Anyway amongst other things he told us that it was Mrs. A’s birthday on the 18th & he was giving her a surprise party & wanted to get her out of the way while it was being prepared. So we were to invite the two of them to A.A. to tea on the 18th (a Sat.) then drive back to Toledo with them, where the party would it, in the meanwhile, have been prepared by friends presumably. We were then to stay the night with them after staying to the party. So of course, we had to say we would, although we got very little choice in the matter!
But this time it was getting on for 2 & he was still sitting there, so we thought we would get him to go by saying that Cec had to get his hair cut. Lois said she would take us in her little car, so we all got up, but Mr. A. sat tight & I said “Well I don’t suppose you’ll be here when we get back, Mr. Atkinson” and he said “Oh I probably will!” So we had to leave him with poor Til! Lois’ new little car is the cutest tiny thing you ever saw. When I stand beside it, it comes up to my chin and I can see right over it! It is about 1/2 the length of an ordinary English car & inside it has four seats & four little doors! I fit it in the back all right, & Cec sat beside Lois- his head touched the roof & his legs were scrunched up, but he got in!!
When we got back, here was Mr. A. still sitting drinking, & poor Til in desperation had set the table & got the dinner all ready. Finally, as he made no move, she asked him if he would have dinner with us, but he said no, & when we sat down to dinner at 3:30 he left at last! We nearly died laughing!!!
We had a great rush then & ate & washed up & got ready as we were supposed to be at Marie’s between 4 & 4:30, but it was near 5 when we got there. She looked just the same as ever & Mary Bargman, who lives with her was there, & dear Mrs. Pasquier, & Mr. & Mrs. Nauts (the Principal) & Mrs. Pasch (the Dean of Girls) & two other teachers, Miss Johnson & Mrs. Bacchus. Some of them were just about leaving by then, but most stayed & everyone talked. I had a little chat with Mrs. Pasquier who wants us to come & stay with her in our new house & Marie came & asked about Anne & Howlett & so on. After a while George Hammersmith appeared from his meeting & seemed very pleased to see us & was asking for you. Mrs. A. told us the next day that he had been panting to get away from the meeting & finally told them he was off to meet the finest little Englishwoman he knew! And that he was absolutely charmed with you!! At last everyone began to go & we stayed & chatted a little longer & then went too. I forgot to tell you that besides drinking Manhattans they had all sorts of gorgeous snacks & we were so stuffed with dinner we could hardly eat a thing! Also Marie & Mary gave me the cutest little present- three glass bowls- thick glass – like so
The two small ones, one has HE on, & the other SHE, & the big one has SHELLS, & there are 2 colourless plastic spoons. They are for eating boiled eggs “turned out” & I think they are rather sweet & awfully nice of them to give me a present.
That evening Ruth & Ernie & David & Mary L. came over & we just sat around & talked & the kids played their pieces on the piano & Til played a bit. The kids look very much the same, but a bit longer in the leg, – I was telling Cec, I never took to them very much, but it’s probably because they never take any notice of me! He thinks they are nice kids!
Next day we slept late again, & had dinner in the middle of the day, then about 3:30-ish Lois took us to the Atkinson ‘s. We talked or golly- I should say, they talked! They practically told Cec all about Canada because they go there for holidays each year so know much more than him! He took it all quite calmly, but now & then said flatly “I don’t agree with you”! I went with Mrs. A. into the kitchen when she got tea ready – it turned out to be high tea- cold meat & salad & then tinned pineapple & pieces of cake, & we didn’t eat till about 6, but it was just as well, as I was still full from our huge dinner. Mrs. A. talked all the time in the kitchen & I said yes & no, & finally at tea we asked them to come to tea with us on the 18th as arranged & so did our dooty. They took us to Til’s about 7:30 and we were exhausted! Cec thinks he’s a pompous little man!
We spent the evening watching television & then next day, of course, Til & Lois had to go to school. Til came back at 11:30 & we had lunch with her & then she took us to the bus depot & we took a bus to Detroit. We wanted to enquire about our 3 trunks – the 2 wardrobe trunks & Cec’s tin trunk of books- which we had had sent by freight from Halifax as we had excess luggage. We had filled in the customs forms for them when we went thro’ Detroit in Feb. but had heard nothing, so we went & enquired at the Customs & C.P.R. offices. No one knew anything but we got the name & address of the C.P.R. man in charge of freight & wrote to him when we got home. We have had a reply now & Cec has to go to Detroit again tomorrow (it is Thursday now!) & take the keys & clear the customs, & he will also go across the river to Windsor (in Canada) & see about our 8 boxes. It will be nice to get all our things again, as we are just managing along on china. We have bought quite a few pans & kitchen stuff (cute white & red enamel pans!) as we needed it anyway, but we only got the bare necessities in china. Also Cec needs his books & I’m sick of wearing the same clothes!
Since our Toledo weekend we have been very quiet – it was nice to get home again too! We spend our evenings playing cribbage, reading, (we’ve joined a detective book club, & got 6 new books FREE on a bonus! We then get a book of 3 stories each month, but need take only 4 during the year if we want!!), writing & and you will be glad to know that I am at last sewing up Cec’s grey pullover! I find it quite strange to be just a housewife now, & realize it much more than I ever did in Cambridge – I seem to have nothing to do, & yet always doing something! I clean & cook & shop – it is quite a walk to the nearest shops, so I only do small things during the week & on Fri. afternoon, I go to Mrs. Sutherland’s & we drive to the big super market & have a real “do”, then she drives me home with all my purchases! Twice now, I have gone back & had a cup of tea with her & a chat, & last week she told me I could use her washing machine instead of going to the Laundrymat, so I took my case & we had tea while my washing wooshed around! We like the Sutherlands so much, & they are very nice & friendly. Mrs. S is about your height & slim & fair, with a thin face, & she is just as English as Swedish now. She has a little accent, but loves England & says she’s more at home there than Sweden now. Dr. S. is middle height, dark, slightly curly hair & wears glasses. He is jolly & when he laughs reminds me so much of Len Burton & the way he looked when he laughed. The girls are all sweet too- Ann is dark & like her father, while Kirstin is more like her mother, & the little one Mary is just like herself – she has a fringe & two pigtails & is cute. They are always full of enthusiasm- one time we went, they were cutting out little houses & churches & colouring them & sticking them up & making villages, & last time they were going to do a play of the “Three Bears” & were all typing & learning parts! We went & sat with them last Sunday evening, as Dr and & Mrs. S. were going out & they get lonely. So we went about 8, & I typed Anne’s part for her, & we listened to the radio, then we saw them in bed & read them a story! We just sat downstairs & read our own books then till Dr. & Mrs. S. came back & then we all drank milk.
We went to the pictures for the first time last week & saw “Jolson Sings Again” & the cutest cartoon about a little duck & a little mouse! Then we went to a drugstore & had a chocolate milk shake & I had a nice time! I enjoyed the picture very much, & we saw the cartoon over twice. Cec wants to go this week & see “Twelve O’Clock High” a war picture with Gregory Peck that is supposed to be very good, but his classes had little exams this week & he has to mark them, so we’ll wait & see if he gets them done by tomorrow evening. This Sat. is the one the Atkinson’s are coming up to tea (not looking forward to it much) & it will be a funny tea party with only 2 cup & saucers & no teapot! Cec & I will have to use the plastic cups & saucers from Bar’s picnic case, & the only thing I can think of is to use the coffee pot as a teapot! We have just been using teabags in cups so far, & haven’t bothered to get a tea pot- anyway all the ones in shops here are horrid! I am having a nice “cuppa” and a choc. biscuit now, as a matter of fact & writing this on the kitchen table! We have changed our times of meals a bit now, & eat at American times as it is more convenient. We have breakfast about 8:30- 9.0, then Cec either goes to the Lab or to take his class on Tues. & Thurs.. He comes home for lunch about 12:30, back at about 1:45 and home again at 6,- I also have my cup of tea about 3:30, & we have a glass of milk & a piece of cake or whatever there is before we go to bed. Cec had to have a medical for the Univ. & the Dr. said he was OVER weight! Goodness knows what he’d say about me!! I don’t think we’re putting on weight here tho’ – just about the same. Cec keeps saying we must do exercises & does one or two every 3 or 4 days!!!
Who do you think we had a letter from yesterday? Lee & Jim Gander – forwarded from England. They are near New York & had a baby boy in Jan. – isn’t that nice? I also had a letter from Dottie this week & one from Anne a little while ago. I have written to my father twice & have a parcel ready to send him- choc. biscuits, sugar lumps, chocolate etc.
This letter is turning into a book, but I might as well go the whole hog & answer your letters before I close- mostly, I’ve answered them as I went along, but just in case I missed anything. Thank you for Denis’ letter & photo – Cec & I couldn’t help giggling at some of Denis’ high flown language, but he’s sweet just the same. I’m glad they’re having a baby & hope it will be a boy as I am sure both he & Winnie would like a little Bobby & I think it would be nice. In one of your other letters you mention our rent & AGL saying it was about £35 pounds- at the old rate of exchange $4 to £1, it is £20- just the same as Connie & Len’s other flat was- at the present rate it is nearly £30, but the old rate gives you a better idea of the value of things here, & as we get Can. & Am. dollars the devaluation doesn’t affect us in that way. After our first months expenditure we have some idea of what it is going to cost us to live & we are trying a budget! I am given $20.00 housekeeping money each week- or rather $80 a month, & must buy food, laundry, papers, etc. – and I want to try & save out of it to buy all the household things we still need! I told Cec I’d be feeding him very economically for a while, but it is quite difficult as butter is nearly a dollar a pound & vegetables seem very expensive to me – as well as meat of course. Hamburger – which is about the cheapest thing is about 60¢ a lb. & all the fish is frozen of course. I am saving up for 1. a mop. 2. a carpet sweeper 3. an ironing board 4. a kitchen stool and steps – not to mention all sorts of other little items! My cleaning utensils at the moment are a brush, handbrush & dustpan & duster – I call the brush all sorts of horrible names – it is like this
& I say it is most inefficient. I use it for carpets & for sweeping the floors, but tell Cec it does neither properly and that the English have much nicer brushes!! He was most amused in the shop when we got it, because I acted so amazed at such a thing, that he said the man would think I was some poor little rich girl, who’d never seen such a thing as a broom in her life!
To go back to your letters, I wonder so much if you will really see Hugh in Trinidad. I do hope so, as I know you would both get a big kick out of it, and I would love to hear all the news. You’ll have to tell him where we are & that it would be fun if he could drop in & see us some time. Til was asking for him too, when we were in Toledo.
I am so glad that the Solicitor at the Courts of Justice was nice & kind – I know you would be dreading seeing him rather, & it is such a relief to know that he is someone whom you can write to, & who will do the best for us all. I think I told you I had a letter here from the Lord Chancellor’s Clerk in reply to the one I wrote & it was very nice too. I have just been re-reading your account of your present to Ruth & the party & all, & your rug sounds very nice. It reminded me of a remark in Dottie’s letter which made Cec & me roar with laughter – she said she hoped you got Ruth a handsome present & left the price on!! The blouse I sent Ruth was pretty – I hope she likes it- white with lace insertions-
Actually there were 3 or 4 bands of lace, & the material between was sort of ruched. I enjoyed your letter all about the party at the Savoy so much, & was very glad you told me all about the clothes & food & celebrities & everything. It sounded as if it must have been really nice & I am awfully glad that you went, even if you did have misgivings beforehand!
You asked in one letter what the furniture is like – well, it is quite nice, & the bedroom has a double bed (!!) which is comfy but creaks & groans & makes the most awful noises if you just sit on it! Anytime Cec gets in you’d think the whole thing was going to collapse so you can imagine his remarks! There is also a dressing table & stool, & a chest of drawers, & a big closet with room enough for all our clothes to hang. In the sitting room there is a big day couch (navy blue & navy cover, yellow curtains) which will turn into a double bed, an arm chair (dark brown), a desk & upright chair, a little side table beside the armchair, & a little stand on which we have books. We are to get another arm chair when the Kaufmans get some new furniture, & we think we might get some bookshelves later on. There isn’t much place to put things in the sitting room, but there is a big built-in cupboard where I put my work basket etc. On the landing there is a linen cupboard with shelves, & at the top of the stairs another cupboard for coats, boots etc. In the kitchen is a little table- about 2’ wide &3 1/2’ long – it has a flap which goes up & makes it square. I have it covered with a red check oilcloth & as we only have 1 tablecloth anyway at the moment, we don’t bother to use it! There are 3 chairs, & another cupboard for brushes etc. – plenty of cupboards anyway- also the door to the attic is in the kitchen, & we put our trunks up there & I hang socks & stockings to dry on a string.
I was most excited about the Election of course & interested now to know what is going on. The A. Arbor paper isn’t much good, but Til & Lois have lent us a little radio, so we can listen to the news now. I wonder if there will be another election soon- anyway their plans will be curbed a bit. I have just discovered the picture of the dear little bear in your envelope, & think it is so sweet. Cec will love to see it when he comes home. We often talk about poor Spivvy & wonder how he is getting on. There is a white cat lives across the street & he reminds us of him, but it is so cold he isn’t out much. I wrote to Joan & sent her an engagement card, so I hope she will write and tell us about Spiv. I wonder if Jean Lock has her baby & what kind it is.
I can’t think of a single other thing to say, so I had better stop before I do, & go onto 6 more pages! I have to wash the lunch things still, & get dinner & finish the ironing. I must write to Dottie & a few of the N/C people too as I haven’t done so yet. I wonder if you got many letters written on board, or if you were just lazy and let the time slip by as I usually do. I hope that by the time you landed you were feeling fine and well again – what did you wear & tell me all about it? I want to know all about the trip & the people & everything. Don’t forget to tell me too, if there is anything you find you need out there & haven’t got- or anything you are short of.
It has begun to snow again so it looks as if I’ll have to be unusual and shovel again!!
My love to everyone, but most of all to my little Mama –