This long letter is disjointed because the first three pages are missing. Cyn writes the first 9 pages on one side and then turns and writes page 10 on the other, up to the back of page 4, where the letter ends at page 15. It was mailed in an Air Mail envelope but because of the stamp collector, half the postmark is missing- it was sent in June and appears to have arrived in Kingstown, St. Vincent, on June 19th 1954. The Costains seem to be settling into their new neighbourhood nicely- keeping up with their old friends and making new ones, and discovering connections that show how small a world the Ottawa of the time was.
[starting page 4] imagine what it is like, but Cec says it will undoubtedly make up for it! We have been gardening quite busily – with the rain the weeds have been sprouting badly, so whenever I am out with the children I am busy pulling & in the evening Cec & I have been planting a bit. There is an old man with greenhouses just down the road so we have bought some plants for our front big bed from him – canna lilies – nicotina- blood-red petunias – asters & white & purple sweet alyssum for a border. We have roses & big oriental poppies & iris just waiting for some sun & Cec has transplanted chrysanthemum slips – I plan to plant a few seeds in the bare spots but haven’t got them yet! Do you have Balsam & Portulaca? They are supposed to flower all summer & be very pretty so I thought I would like to try some – also do you remember that pretty plant you tried to find the name of when you were here? It had green ferny leaves & a spray of pink flowers? I think it is Love-Lies-Bleeding & will get some seeds & see!
Our doings haven’t been very exciting lately, but on Sat. evening we had Alec & Phyl to play bridge & had a good time. Alec has just been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada which is a big honour – particularly at his age – & was away in Winnipeg to their annual meeting. Everyone is very pleased at his success as he is so well liked & so helpful at work as well as being very clever. Next week is the big Spectroscopy Meeting down in Columbus, Ohio & Cec is going down to it with most of the others from the Lab. They will fly down on Sunday & back on Friday – all expenses paid! We had vaguely talked about driving down with all of us & me & the children visiting in Ann Arbour & Toledo, but apart from my illness & the move discouraging us, I really hate the thought of travelling much with the children & staying in other people’s houses. They are so much happier & better at home & it would be no holiday for me – in fact much more wearing. When Cec is away we’ll have the car & hope to visit Lee & Barry & a few others maybe.
Last week Cec & I went to the pictures to see Walt Disney’s nature film “The Living Desert”– our 2nd time this year! There is a Dutch girl called Jo Vanderbruk who is a maid with some people not far away & if her “family” don’t need her, she will sit for us & seems very good & capable. Our egg man, Martin – also Dutch – found her for us & her sister works for Mrs. Aiken (Mrs. Hughes’s d.) across the road. We liked the film but were a little bit disappointed as we had heard so much about it & probably expected too much.
The weekend before we had invited Joyce & Les Haywood out on the Sat. evening, but in the morning Les phoned to say Joyce had a bad cold & they couldn’t come. It turned out to be a pouring wet dreary day, so on the spur of the moment we phoned Chris & Phyl (as Alec was away) & said “how about some bridge? “& they were both delighted, so Cec drove in & did my grocery shopping & brought Chris home to dinner & Phyl came later & we had a nice evening. On the Sunday it was quite pleasant & we went over to the Ramsays to tea. Their older girl, Shirley is about 5 & Wendy just 3 mths. older than Linda, but both so plain! Nan is expecting again in September & is very well but dreading the heat. Don’s parents arrived this Sat. for their first visit to Canada, & Don is taking them a 6 weeks tour of Canada & the States beginning with the journey down to Columbus this weekend. Chris is going with them to see the sights as he will be going back to Denmark this Fall & it will be a lovely chance for him. I don’t envy poor Nan left to cope with the 2 children alone for 6 wks. but she says that anyway it is so much better than taking them on the trip she doesn’t care!
I told you about the previous weekend when Chris was with us, so I won’t tell you anymore about that except that we did enjoy it. He is so nice we all wish he would marry some nice Canadian girl & stay here, but there doesn’t seem much chance as I don’t think he has even dated anyone. The weekend before that was Boris’s wedding & I really can’t remember if I told you much about it. Joan looked very nice & had such a pretty net and lace crinoline dress and a long veil – the only thing was that at the reception I didn’t feel she matched the dress! She was full of bounce & kept dashing around whereas I felt she should be stately & dignified! Her matron of honour was small & fair in a pinky-mauve taffeta (Cec thought an awful colour & I’m not fond of it either) & Boris’ 2 sisters – dark & tall – as bridesmaids in a fairly deep blue taffeta. They wore bandeaux of the taffeta with pearls on their heads & the bouquets were pretty- pink carnations & blue hyacinth blossoms threaded on pink pipe cleaners as trailers & the whole frilled with net to match the dresses. My outfit was admired also & I think it is nice too!! My hat is so- just a little poke bonnet affair but a pretty red & the dress is very plain but the stripes go in a nice way & the frills make it pretty.
I am so glad that you like your birthday dress too & that the cousins approve – I hope you find it really useful. Joan & Boris have a furnished flat for the summer near N.R.C. but we weren’t able to go to a “Present Display” they had just before the wedding so we haven’t seen it. The fellows had a stag party for Boris a day or two before the wedding & they had a good time except that Dan repeated his birthday party behaviour & made an absolute fool of himself. Drunk & sick & revolting & Alec & Cec had to bring him home & put him to bed. Cec was so furious & disgusted with him that he has hardly spoken to him since & thank goodness they have moved now. They have rented a house for the summer & it is over the other side of the town, so I don’t intend to see much of them in the future.
Talking of the other side of town reminds me that a few weekends ago we had a phone call from Mrs. Burrough – remember – Al Macnamara’s m.-in-law? Al was in Ottawa for the weekend on business, & as it was such a short time they were inviting his friends to come & see him, instead of his trying to get around & would we come to tea on the Sun. It turned out that they had just built & moved into a new house right next door to their old one. They had a big garden on a corner before- an extra house lot & were offered $3000 for it, so instead they built themselves a bungalow & sold their old house. It was a pouring wet day, but we drove out & ploughed through a sea of mud to the house which was still quite unfinished inside – they had been in 2 weeks & there were no cupboards yet & lots of finishing to be done & afterwards we discussed it with Pete & Lu who were also there & couldn’t imagine why they condemned themselves to such discomfort. We had a very nice tea – about 6 or 8 of us there – it was Lu’s first meeting with Mrs. B. & she told me afterwards that each time she looked at her my description of her as having a face like a Pekingese jumped into her mind & she nearly giggled! Al has just got his Ph.D. from Sask. & he & Betty will be back in Ottawa in the Fall – Al going on working for D.R.B. under Pete.
I have all sorts of letters to thank you for, but as this letter is getting so long already I won’t try and answer them this time, but next week when Cec is away perhaps I’ll have an orgy & go through them all! You asked a few questions on Lindy’s little letter so I’ll answer those- about 5 miles to Cec’s work at NRC I think – just 15 to 20 minutes drive anyway. I haven’t heard a word from Jessie all year- sent a note with a new address asking for news & if the baby had arrived etc. but no reply as yet. Had a note from Anne early in the year, but nothing since. She was back teaching again & the baby was doing well, but she seem to be finding it pretty hard work & I don’t wonder. Janie was at nursery school. No word of Jessie F. in her letter & I can’t recall anything startling about anyone else. I never hear from my father now & haven’t written since I was ill. Keep meaning to make up a parcel to send, but haven’t done so yet.
You ask if I had met Mrs. Hughes’ daughter, Mrs. Aiken, yet & I did – just last week. My neighbour, Mrs. Rothwell, took me over one evening & then just left me on the doorstep as she had a man coming to do the garden! She is a funny old lady, but it was quite embarrassing as we had only met in front of the television set on Coronation Day so our acquaintance was of the briefest & Mrs. R. had invited us over! However we chit chatted about children & living out here etc. & then I asked something about “Was her mother up at the cottage now? “& she replied “Oh well – she’s in Toronto at the moment – but you know Mrs. Hughes isn’t my mother. My father has been married twice & he & my mother were divorced & Mrs. Hughes is his 2nd wife!” Well – I was amazed! Of course, I passed it off & we talked of other things, but when I came home & told Cec, we were both so astonished! I think Mrs. H. always just talked of them as “the girls”, but I had so taken it for granted that they were hers & now to find she really has no children. Mrs. Aiken (Shirley) has 3 boys – 5, 2 (Charles) & 8 mths. & she seems very nice. Their house is very, very, modern as I told you & she showed me over & I found it most intriguing. It is big & has its back to the road & a lovely view over the fields behind through one entire wall of glass. Very nice in many ways, but still a lot of work I think.
I have never mentioned my neighbours much to you, but they are worth it. On one side of us is an old wood house which has obviously been here for years & has a big garden. It belongs to an old country dame who works away in the garden wearing a most aged sunbonnet. With her live two daughters – one with a little boy Jimmy & the other, Mrs. Hansen, in the upstairs with her husband & two children, Pauline (4) & Glyn (2). The latter were the children we saw at first & thought it would be nice for Linda to have company, but we were soon put off! A.) Mrs. H is one of those talky- talky- talk women – completely unexpressionless face, but gabs continually- about my age or younger I suppose. The first 2 weeks we were here I couldn’t put out a diaper on the line or pull a weed out of the garden, but she was over talking to me. All full of plans of how I would take her children a walk one day & she’d take mine the next etc. & if I set out a walk, she’d dash & say to wait she’d come too. You can imagine! I was SICK of it! I knew all about her pregnancies & that she thought she might be going to have another baby & really her conversation was not edifying! B.) The children both are runny-nosed & dirty most of the time & although the little girl seems quite a good little thing she mostly looks a sight. C.) Pauline has an accent & before long Linda – the little copy cat – was saying “Yeah “& “Hellow” & “Paulaine” & worse! I, of course, corrected her, & then I heard her saying “Say ‘Yes’ Pauline – not ‘Yeah’” “Can you say ‘Yes’ Pauline?” etc! Anyway, as you can imagine, we weren’t enthusiastic & apparently Mrs. H realized it & took the huff as she never comes near now & yells at Pauline if she comes near us! Just as well. Also – she is having another baby apparently & hasn’t been out much.
My other neighbor, Mrs. Rothwell, lives in the tall 1/2 of our house & is very different. She is a “Lady” just in the way Chris & Miss Lefroy are & in fact reminds me of them a great deal in many ways – about 65 to 70, I imagine. In appearance I have an idea that she looks as I remember Mrs. Maconachie looked- wavy white hair & a roundish face with blue eyes. She is so funny in many ways, but a real dear – her son, Ben, inherited Grandpa’s big old farm down the road & all this was once his land, but now of course he is selling part of it for a building & making lots of money. Mrs. Rothwell’s husband was something quite important in the Agric. Dep’t. Of the Gov. & they are all well-known Ottawa people, so she is quite the Grand Old Lady of the district. Ben is married to Becky (I have just met them casually!) & have two little girls, 5 & 4, Cathie & Margo, & Georgie 2, the latter with very bad eczema, poor little fellow- also gets asthma etc. & can’t touch dogs, cats etc. or have flowers near or anything. Mrs.R. also has a daughter with 2 boys & 2 girls – and who is their father – none other than Dr. Goldwin Smith – Charlie’s producer!! Mrs. R. & I were so amazed when we discovered! She & I chit chat most days in the garden & she is a lot of fun & likes to be Lady Bountiful, Cec says! She drops in with custard or jellies for the children or something or the other & I am so far behind in returning favours I’ll never catch up! She likes the children & Cathie & Margo come to see her quite often & Linda likes to play with them. Once in a while Mrs. R.will drop in for a chat & it always amuses Cec as she will one day bring me a book about the painter Cezanne, or another day something else & he says she is trying to educate me! But like Miss Lefroy I think she is very interested in everything!
I also have made an acquaintance down the road – a girl called Pat Tomlinson with a little girl, Joanne just 3 mths older than Linda & a 3 mths. baby girl, Susan. We chatted one day when she passed with the children & have met a few times since & she seems a real nice girl & Joanne is a sweet little blonde. So far she & Linda don’t do much except gaze at each other, but they should get to know each other soon. I had them up to tea last Fri. & Pat & I were talking & she said her husband was in the Gov.- working for the Veteran’s Admin in a certain building. I said, oh yes, Cec & I had gone there once as he got D.V.A. help of course & when we came to Ottawa he had called. So Pat said “Oh, my husband worked in that dep’t. with fellows who studied abroad” so I said “How funny – maybe he remembers Cec – all I can recall of the visit was that there were 2 men & the younger one wore a hearing aid” & she said “Well – that’s Bill – my husband!” Wasn’t it a coincidence?
I must end now & mail this – it is now Wed. & a lovely hot day so we will go in the garden when the children wake up. Next week I’ll answer some of your lovely long letters & thank you properly for the knives – they came safely & are a blessing. Lots of love from us all,
xxxx from Linda & Charlie- Cyn.