November 11 1953

Map showing the building expansion in the Beechwood area.

31 Acacia Avenue.

Ottawa. Ont. 

11th Nov. 1953.

Dearest Mummy,

Today has been a holiday, but Cec went into work this afternoon so it really has seem just like any other day. This morning he put storm windows up & the forecast for tomorrow is “snow flurries” so winter really seems to be upon us – horrid! The storm windows have been really hanging fire for about a month, but Cec has a funny rib which seems to crack every once in a while (in the Navy & at Cambridge) & one day when he was fixing my clothesline he did it again, & it was quite a while getting better, so the storm windows got left – fortunately the weather hasn’t been very cold, so it was all right.

Thank you so much for your letter of Nov. 1st- it arrived last Friday (6th) & in it you ask if the letters come regularly & if so when. They do usually come on Friday-just occasionally on Sat. – & believe me, I owe so many letters that Friday is just about the only day I trot to the mailbox with eagerness! You know the mail comes about 3:30, so both of my little companions are up & around & although I sit down & read your letter right away, I usually have to re-read it after they go to bed before I can take it all in! Linda thoroughly objects if I sit down & read or just sit! I can sit & sew, but if I sit down to rest my weary bones up she trots with a book to “read a story”! When I finally persuade her to go & play with something as I am reading Grannie’s letter she obligingly withdraws a few feet & keeps up a flow of conversation & questions while Charlie grabs at the paper & says “Ba-bab-bab” & likewise! I do enjoy your letters so much though – both news of you & all the relatives & even people I don’t know! – also chit-chat & questions about the babies etc. I am never bored – far from it – & I am just sorry that I haven’t told you more often how much I look forward to them, but each letter I write seems to be scribbled in such a hurry. I think back to the “old days” when I used to ensconce myself on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon & write 8 or 9 letters in a go & although I sometimes wish I could have an uninterrupted day at letter-writing, I still wouldn’t change! When the children are asleep in the afternoon I very often finish off washing or ironing & get dinner ready so that when they wake up I can take them out, then in the evening by the time they’re in bed & dishes washed I really collapse & it takes such willpower to get my writing things out! To you, I can usually babble on effortlessly, but to other people I just sit & try to write & gaze blankly & get nowhere!

Effortless babble- 7 pages both sides!

I felt so sorry for the poor old men with no shirts in your letter & will certainly send an assortment of Cec’s. All his are just about on their beam ends at the moment & so we have invested in 2 nylon ones so I won’t have to iron so much! They have come down in price now & one Cec got a fellow to get in the U.S. for him & the other we got “on sale” from Simpson’s Christmas catalogue & they weren’t much more than a good cotton shirt. They have semi–stiff fused collars and cuffs just like ordinary shirts & you just shoosh them in suds, rinse & hang up dripping & they dry looking smooth & elegant, so I am delighted! Both Cec & I are hard up for clothes as always & don’t plan to buy any just yet! I was laughing at you & Auntie Moo saying “Poor little Linda” when I spent all her family allowance on kitchen things – she, without a doubt is the best dressed Costain! In the last year she has had at least 6 dresses I can think of – 4 prs. trousers- 1 jacket – 1 cardigan – 2 blouses – 1 snowsuit – 1 man-tailored (!) Harris Tweed outfit- innumerable pyjamas, socks, T-shirts etc. etc.! while poor Ma has had 1 cotton dress, 2 cheap skirts & 1 jumper. Poor Papa has done even worse, but little old Charlie boy does pretty well on hand-me-downs from his affluent sister! Actually, she and Charlie grow so they have to have things & believe me, except for her pale blue tweed outfit she is still not the “best dressed child on the block”!!! Charlie is wearing your dear little overalls all the time now & looks so cute in them – he also wears lots of things that Lindy used to wear when you were here too – the little yellow & red & white overalls you gave her & the little pale blue T-shirt- has just about grown out of Bren’s little blue knitted woollen suit & has grown out of the little red slippers you gave Lindy for her 1st birthday! He is wearing Una’s Viyella rompers which are still nice & big for him & is really quite well set up with things Linda is out of, but I can see it won’t last too long as he is growing quickly & catching up. His head is past her shoulder now, & although she is growing too, she is quite small boned & dainty & is even beginning to lose her fat little baby pot belly!! Lindy is wearing the overalls made out of your dress & is very proud of them (I shortened legs & straps a bit) & keeps saying “Grannie made these for my” so I don’t disillusion her. Just lately she has got all muddled up over “me-my-I” although she had them quite right before, but I expect she will get over it soon. Did I tell you that she had made up a poem?!! Just like her Mother but with more sense than “Wriggle my tail”! She likes to get under the dining room table & calls it her little house & she said one day “I’m in my little house. I’m a little mouse.” She can now clean her teeth, take off and put on her shoes & socks, put on panties but not much success getting them down over her fat little bottom! – & get up & down stairs standing up & just by herself – grown-up style!

I have meant to tell you that the yellow sheets you sent for the crib fit Lindy’s new bed beautifully & look very nice on it. She has Til & Lois’s quilt & a flannelette blanket on top of her & stays under the covers quite well now. Even old Charlie is getting a bit better at it & he used to crawl out no matter what we did. They are so sweet in bed together- if Charlie wakes & cries, or cries when we put them to bed you hear Linda talking to him & sometimes singing until he stops & when they wake up they laugh & jump & giggle & have such fun. Dan babysat for us once a while ago & I told him not to bother going in if Charlie woke & cried as he often does & then goes to sleep again. Anyway, he did wake & Dan had to bustle in, whereupon Lindy woke up & looked at him & said “Go away, Dan, go away. It’s all right, Charlie- go to sleep fella!” & peace was restored! To go back to Lindy’s clothes- the little green snowsuit she had last year is handed on to Charlie now, so we ordered another cheap one from Eaton’s so that she could keep her tweed outfit for best. It is quilted nylon, just about the same shape as last year’s & with white fur around the hood & I ordered a size 3 in blue. When it came, they had sent green as the blue is out of stock & we found that it just fit Lindy & no more so we decided we’d have to get a bigger size. However, the green looked nice & we thought that after all it would look better to have her & Charlie “matching”, so we returned it & ordered size 4 in green. When it came it was red! It didn’t seem much bigger & with the white fur she just looked just like a miniature Santa Claus! Also you know, Lindy doesn’t have much colour & the red seems to make her paler & mousier. So back it went again! Today at last we got the green, size 4 & it looks very nice & she is tickled with it – it is big for her, but so much the better.

About my clothes – as I said, I don’t plan to get much & really now the children are small I go out so little that I feel there is no absolute necessity. Thank you so much for your offer to finance a coat or a dress for me from Harrod’s but I’m not going to take you up on it. I still have about £80 in England & could easily get myself some things sent if I wanted, but as you know I never could get clothes to fit me in England & I feel it would be just hopeless to have to try alterations myself. A coat or suit would be impossible & even a dress, when I think of all the taking in on the shoulders & lifting waistline etc. etc. which I always used to have to get done, I just shudder. Harrod’s send me their little catalogue once in a while but although their things look nice it seems far too much of a risk & then there is always duty to pay this end & no chance of returning the things if you don’t like them. I would far rather wait & maybe you could make me or have made for me a couple of cotton dresses in the summer – it shouldn’t be too difficult because I must be pretty much the same size as you now – bustier though!! I hope to get a new dress around Christmas or after, and as for the coat, my red one is still not too bad after cleaning & it’s nice & warm so I don’t care – after all, the only places I go to during the day are to the Grocery store or Mr. Dube’s post office, so I don’t need to look very elegant! In the evening if we go to people’s houses we always go in the car & so I don’t feel I really need a new coat. 

One reason we want to be careful & save what money we can is that our lease expires in May & Mr. Labelle has given us our 6 months notice to leave. He wants the house for his parents (so he says) & so can tell us to move, but that means we must find another place, then have all the expense of another move. In some ways I don’t mind leaving here – it is nowhere near as nice as when you were here when we first came – with all this building business at the back & nowhere for the children to play & then having our landlord right next-door acting quite possessively, a lot of the advantages have gone. However, it seems very doubtful whether we will be lucky enough to find another house at such a low rent & although I hate the idea of an apartment after having had a house I would rather do that than pay $110 a month for a house or more. Lee & Jim & Lu & Pete pay $100 a month for their apartments & their rent is to go up to $110 but that includes fuel etc. of course, whereas we pay $200 over the winter for coke. It is quite a problem, But we will have to see what comes up- whatever we get, we will have to buy a stove & a refrigerator so that is something else we must say for. Mr. L is not keeping us to the lease but says we may leave anytime we get a place, so after Christmas we will begin looking. Whether Dan gets married in the New Year or not (heard nothing more of it) we will tell him to find somewhere else as we may move at any time. We certainly wouldn’t dream of having both of them here no matter what happened & believe me, we have at least managed to get him to see that he hasn’t the run of the house & we see very little of him, thank goodness. I don’t feel like extending any hospitality to the girl even if anything does come of the affair – as far as he is concerned I am just a landlady.

I was most insulted to see you say in your letter that I “seem to lose weight easily”! If you only knew the will power & self-control it takes to be perpetually hungrey for even a week! I just kept on my extreme diet for 2 weeks (with breaks for eating out!) but since then have been very careful, no cakes, no cookies, no desserts except fruit (mainly grapefruit with no sugar!) only 1 slice of bread a day, 2 cups of tea a day with 1/2 sp. sugar (1 for breakfast, one for tea) coffee with saccharine after dinner, no potatoes or candy & still I can’t get below 123 lbs. I will have to go on my eggs & grapefruit diet again & try & get down to 115, but it’s cruel! On Tuesday evening Cec & Cy went to the movies to see “The Malta Story” & I just yearned for something sweet, so I was wicked & made a small plateful of chocolate fudge & had an orgy! It was the first candy I’ve had for about 2 months & it was lovely! Of course I diet hard when we are on our own but when we go out or have visitors in I relax & it’s lovely! On Friday & Sat. it is St. Margaret’s Church Bazaar & I got a card about it last week. I told Cec I might take Lindy on Sat. as there is a Fish Pond etc. & also Tea & I thought she would have fun & he thought it was a good idea & on reading the card about the stalls he asked was I taking anything to the Home Baking Stall. I hadn’t thought of it, but called up Mrs. Stewart & she gave me the name & phone no. of the lady in charge of it & I called her. She was just delighted at my offer, poor woman, as only 5 out of 16 people on her list had volunteered & she was doing so disappointed etc. so I said I would make something & take it in on Sat. I thought I would make some pies (coconut, orange etc.) on cardboard plates & maybe some little butterfly cakes in paper cases – I can make the icing different colours & they will look pretty.

You were asking about Claire in your letter- she is about my age I should imagine – half Indian & half Scottish! Her marriage etc. is quite mysterious – in fact Phyl wonders if she ever was married! – but she told me once that she got her divorce 3 years ago & I have gathered that the man deserted her before even the baby was born. Anyway, the little boy, Jerry, was taken care of by the Children’s Aid & in foster homes till Claire could take care of him & now she has him with her & takes him to a nursery school on her way to work every morning & picks him up in the evening. She is just devoted to him & tries so hard to get everything he needs & take care of him well & I feel so sorry for her having such a responsibility- he is a nice little fellow- 4 years old – very dark like her. She has a room in a rooming house, which from her account sounds a bit odd- drunken landlord etc. – but she talks of cleaning her room & making Jerry’s clothes & obviously does her very best. I give her most of my old clothes & various things as I feel she does need all the help she can get. The operation she had was to have all her female organs removed & the treatment she needs or the other op. I told you she may have to have is because it hasn’t healed- reason – going back to work too soon. Poor woman – I do feel so sorry for her. She is very good with children & I like to have her to babysit, but hesitate to ask her too much as it means dragging little Jerry too. I tell Lindy sometimes now that we are going out & Claire & Jerry are sitting downstairs till we come back & she doesn’t seem to worry at all. 

You ask how I manage with them both outside now & really we do very well – Lindy is such a good obedient little thing & walks along “Helping Mummy push Charlie” nearly all the time. Occasionally she will say “Lindy running” & trot along ahead for a little way, but she never goes off a curb by herself & always holds my hand crossing the road. I thought I had Charlie all organized on a schedule to fit with Linda – he didn’t seem to want to sleep in the morning & since he had his colds I hadn’t been able to put him out in the pram especially as it is chilly now, so I just kept him up all morning & then gave him & Lindy lunch at 12 & put them to bed till 3. However I found Charlie wasn’t sleeping soundly & was very crotchety when he got up, so the last few days I’ve put him to bed at 10:30 & he has slept soundly till about 12:30 when Linda goes up. Then I feed him & he plays until 3 when she gets up & he goes to bed again until about 4! This way I have one or the other of them up all the time & also by the time Charlie gets up it is too late to go out these winter days, but certainly Charlie seems much happier & they are both better tempered on their own! I’ll just let it go on for a while & see what Charlie does. They are both eating very well just now – Linda is still very funny in some of her fancies but she eats bacon, eggs, cornflakes, meat (sometimes- loves things like wieners, bologna, sausages etc.) potatoes, milk, bread, crackers, bananas, apples, oranges, grapes & still baby applesauce, but will eat no puddings, desserts etc. and very few veg. You asked about why I didn’t make sponge cakes the other day – because my daughter won’t eat it! The only cake she will eat is chocolate cake & she turns up her nose at all homemade cookies & still eats her old Sunwheats!

Charlie has cereal + fruit + milk for breakfast – meat + veg + custard + milk for dinner – cereal + fruit + milk for supper. He loves banana which he has once a day with his cereal & is quite annoyed when he tastes and & finds it’s apple or peaches! He is beginning to eat cookies & crusts with many chokes & splutters, but is awful at drinking out of a cup. I give him juice every afternoon & we always have chokes & spills! Part of the trouble is that he won’t even try to hold a glass or cup himself- he won’t even hold his bottle – lies & holds his ears & lets you hold the bottle!

I must begin & stop now as it is Thursday & after 11 p.m. Tomorrow night we are going to Margie & Cy’s for bridge & on Sat. Lee & Jim are coming here. Last Sat. we had Boris & girlfriend Joan – we still don’t really approve of her – Boris is so nice – friendly & one of those people you feel as if you’ve known for years – she is pleasant but doesn’t seem to have any warmth or personality – strange. No engagement yet, but they seem to be going steadily!

Linda sends big XXXs – every morning while eating egg she has a spoonful for Grannie- one for A. Muriel- one for Grannie’s pussy & we are now beginning to have one for Doris! Big wet loving kisses from Charlie & lots of love from us all-

Cyn.

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