April 12 1951

This letter is one of the long chatty ones, but before I begin, I must say that I am shocked at the amount of drinking going on during Cyn’s pregnancy- it’s amazing that my development was not affected!  Two weeks before this, their night of celebration in Detroit for Cyn’s birthday included drinks and wine, and now Cec’s present from St Vincent!  Apparently it was not until the mid 70s that doctors began worrying about it, and public health advisories began in the 80s.  However, alcohol was clearly an infrequent treat in their household, owing to the student budget- a toaster was definitely a more desirable acquisition! 

803 Granger Ave., Ann Arbor, Mich.

Thurs. 12th April.

Dearest Mummy,

The starting decoration at the top of the page is my red preggy dress that you were all laughing about! It is quite pretty, isn’t it? Everyone has been very complimentary about it & my suit & say that they are some of the nicest maternity clothes they’ve seen- particularly the dress, as it has a nice neckline & it’s a little bit different. I got a cotton dress last week too – it is green & white – partly striped & partly plain green, & it looks nice & cool. I am definitely into preggy clothes now & can’t do a thing about it! – I suddenly seem to have become much bigger! I decided yesterday looking at myself in the mirror, I looked Stout!! But when we went to Detroit with Dawn & Bert less than two weeks ago, I had to pin the skirt of my mat. suit to keep it on, & now – the first button is getting tight!!

My poor little Cec has got such a bad cold today – yesterday he had a little sore throat, but neither of us thought it was much. However last night he took 2 anahist tablets, but it must have been too late because he woke up with a real sneezy, stuffy cold. He stayed in bed all day, but got up for dinner this evening & is now sitting doing a jigsaw & feeling a bit happier. I do hope that as it came so quickly it will go just as quickly & that he will soon be well again, as colds make him feel so badly, poor honey.

Yesterday he was so pleased & excited about MacArthur though! He was lying in bed while I was getting breakfast & when it came on the radio, he just leapt out, quicker than I’d ever seen him get out of bed before!! Feelings are very mixed, it seems, amongst the people, but the anti-Truman, pro-MacA. groups are bellowing loudly in the papers etc. so you hear most about them. Cec said nearly everyone at the Physics Building he spoke to, was pleased though, & Charlie (my boss) was telling me today that he & all the men in the Institute were pleased, but he said a lot of the girls weren’t! We listened to Truman’s speech over the radio last night & thought it was quite good, but no one around here has much good to say for him – even if they’re Democrats they compare him so unfavourably with Roosevelt.

April 3, Cyn’s Birthday.

I got a nice, long, long letter from you yesterday- begun on 3rd, my birthday, & posted on the 5th.  Also, on Saturday we got our parcels! Thank you very, very much for all of them. We were so excited when the parcels arrived on Sat. afternoon, as usually the parcel man comes when we are out, & he won’t leave the parcels, but just a note & we have to go to the P.O. & get them. However, this time it was fine, & we were very tickled because we were supposed to pay 15¢ on each parcel & by mistake the man only charged us 15¢ altogether! They never bothered about the “refined cane juice” at all, and we were so delighted! Cec had a nip straight away, & then before dinner we mixed cocktails & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! It is scrummy!

Refined Cane Juice!

My parcel was lovely too, Mummy, and I love all the things – the nightie is so pretty, & fits very nicely. I tried it on, & apart from my bulgy tummy, it looked lovely! The little baby jacket is cute! I keep giggling at it because it looks so little & funny & fat, just like the baby will probably!! I rather like the shade of blue – it is a change from the pale baby blue & looks very cheery & nice, I think. And of course I am so pleased to have the baby pillowcases – none of the ones I have are very nice, & I haven’t many anyway, so it will be lovely to have some nice new ones. Altogether it was a lovely parcel – or rather 2 lovely parcels- & we loved getting them – thank you from all of us.

By the way, in your letter of yesterday you asked if I had felt the baby moving yet, & just yesterday I did feel it for the first time! At least, yesterday I felt something odd rather like a series of burps in my tummy & it dawned on me what it was, but I think it has been going on for a little while & I didn’t realize what it was! Anyway, today he or she or they were bouncing around again, so they seem to be feeling quite lively & frisky!!

I have been going to the Mother’s Classes on Wed. evenings fairly regularly – there were a series of 7, & I have been to 5- but they were mostly just repetitions of what I already knew. Of course, if you hadn’t read any books or anything & were just plain iggerant, they would be a lot of help!! I thought the nurse who gave most of the lectures was a bit dumb, but this was the first time she’d done it & she improved as she went along. She reminded me of my Cookery School days- giving demonstrations on bathing a baby using a silly, little doll etc.!!

Since I last wrote I haven’t done very much at all – last night I washed clothes & on Tuesday evening both Cec & I felt so tired when we came home that we had a rest & then went out for dinner! Wasn’t that nice? We went to a place near here & had a $1 plate which was quite good, & I felt so relieved at not having to cook! On Monday evening I went & played bridge with some of the girls. They occasionally think up one of these sessions at work, & one of the girls invites everyone to her place to play bridge, & as I had refused 2 previous do’s, I felt I had to accept this time. This week is actually the spring vacation at the University, so one or two of the girls’ husbands are away (job-hunting etc.) & so they were all pleased, but I was quite reluctant, as by the time dinner is over, I’m usually very glad to have a bit sit & rest! However, off I went, & there were 6 of us – so awkward- but 4 of us played, & everyone talked- all about work- & altogether we didn’t either play good bridge or have a good chat, as it was nothing but “shop” all the time!

At the weekend we had a nice time- on Sat. Cec went up to the Lab. early & I drove MacT. and did all sorts of chores, like washing to the laundromat, clothes to the cleaners, pay the laundry, shoes to be mended etc.! Besides that I went to the bank & changed library books & bought a bunch of daffodils. It was quite hot & coming so suddenly with everyone still in winter coats we were all gasping! Cec came & had lunch with me in town & then we did some shopping- quite unintentionally! I intended to buy another ball of wool to finish my baby jacket, and get your birthday present, and after we’d done that successfully we bought Cec 2 shirts as he is getting rather short & wandered along to a new jewellery store which was having a huge opening sale! They were giving away free bread baskets- little woven oval things for buns etc. instead of a plate you know, so in we went to get ours, & came out not only with the basket, but with an electric toaster too! We saw these nice automatic pop-up toasters in the sale for $12, & as they are usually much more, & will still be more in Canada, we decided to plunge, as we decided the Atkinsons had definitely cut us off without a toaster by now!! We are going to have a big campaign to sell our other electric waffle iron & then we will come out square!! Actually, we didn’t get any extra money out for these extravagances, so we are scrapping along very hard up this week, with hardly any housekeeping money & no pocket money at all! But never mind – we are having lots of lovely toast!!

Monday 16th.

It is now Monday & I am having fits that this won’t reach you in time for your birthday, but I will write violently today & hope that it catches a quick plane! On Friday Cec’s cold was still bad, so he spent the morning in bed, but got up for the afternoon. Millie was one of the girls whose husband was away for the week, so I had invited her to come to dinner. Jerry had gone to New York to have interviews etc. & as it was a bit of a rush trip the Dr. advised her not to go. Anyway, I warned her about Cec’s cold, but she still said she’d come, so we got back from work to find Cec had been trying a little cane juice cure & was feeling quite cheery although still sneezly & snuffly! We had a fish casserole, with mashed potatoes and peas, & a dish of celery sticks, radishes, Sp. onions, carrots sticks etc. & tinned peaches with vanilla pud. afterwards. We sat & chatted most of the evening, then I drove Milly home.

On Sat. Cec felt a lot better, & really was more like himself, but he was still sneezing a bit, so he didn’t go out. I went to the Super Market & to the Library & Cleaners & so on & what with one thing & another that seemed to take most of the day! Jean & her husband Al, had invited us to a party that evening, but as Cec was still so snuffly, I went round & said we’d better not come. They called it a “cooling-off” party, as it was just before they moved from the house they had rented, into a nice new apartment! Yesterday I was really energetic, & did all the cleaning I should have done on Sat. I let Cec sleep & cleaned the rooms & did the stairs & bathroom & felt very virtuous! Then in the afternoon I mended his slacks & sweater which I had put away to do for ages, so altogether I got lots done. We had asked Gordon & Gunborg to come in during the evening, to sample our cane juice, & they came about 8:30 & we had a nice chatty evening! We mixed the rum with Rose’s Lime Juice & it was very good. We hadn’t seen each other for quite a while, so it was really nice to be with them again & we all enjoyed ourselves. We had a jigsaw out on the table which we had been doing, & of course Gunborg got enthralled & could hardly drag herself away! We are finishing it now – at least Cec is, & I keep stopping to look & put in an odd piece! We have both been at work today & Cec really seems to have got rid of the cold marvellously quickly & I haven’t caught it – touch wood! I was quite looking forward to having a mild touch of the sniffles, so that I could stay home for a few days, but of course it probably would have developed into something much more, & I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all!

I must begin & stop now as it is nearly my bedtime, but before I do both Cec & I hope that you will have a lovely lovely birthday & many, many happy returns. We will be thinking of you & sending best wishes on the day & will drink your health in cane juice! I am afraid that your parcel will be late but we hope you will like your present & have lots of fun in & with it! My love to the Aunties – 

      And lots & lots to you, 


                                 Cynnie & Cec.

MacArthur’s resignation.

Cyn had a story about being British, living in Michigan, and walking on eggs when it came to American politics.  (She had practice from visiting her American relatives.) It must have been in April 1951, when General Douglas MacArthur was dismissed from his command of the Korean War (since President Truman and other world leaders had no desire for World War 3) and came home to address Congress.  Cynthia was driving in a car with colleagues from work when they must have heard part of his speech on the radio:

I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

Good Bye.

Cyn, revolted, kept quiet, not sure what the attitude of the others might be until a woman in the back seat said in a drawl, “Don’t it just make you kinda wanna throw up?”  

And so say all of us.

Ironic that I am posting this on the eve of the American election now in 2020.  As Canadians, we just follow Cyn’s example, keep our mouths shut, cross our fingers, and wait in suspense.

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