From the summer of 1952 when Carol went back to St. Vincent before Charlie was born, up to this point, she kept Cyn’s letters, so there is a record of the Costains’ lives in detail, once or twice a month, as the babies grew, and Cyn and Cec put down roots in Ottawa. Now that Carol is planning to visit in 1955, the letters surviving become more infrequent- this long letter is the only one from January, although there are references to others, presumably Air Letters, that are missing. After this one, there is one letter from April, then Carol- Grannie- arrived and mother and daughter could catch up on all the years of things missing from letters, and the children could get to know Grannie instead of having imaginary picnics with her picture! I will be able to illustrate those months because of Cyn’s scrapbook, but the letters in 1955 do not resume until after Thanksgiving in the fall, when Carol left for New York to visit her sister and nieces on her way home.
Sat. 25th Jan. 1955.
I was busy in the kitchen this afternoon & Charlie marched in, so I said “Hi, boy!” & he gave a great grin & said “Hi, Hyn!” As I was giggling over it I thought I hadn’t told you much about your remarkabable grandchildren lately & that I better get to it while I remember a few of their doings & sayings because they seem to grow & change so quickly. They really play together very nicely now – of course with various fights & squabbles in between! – but they play Mummy & Daddy to Linda’s dollies & will walk around solemnly together pushing the pram. Charlie will look after a baby very carefully when Linda gives him one to hold, & says “My itta (little) baby!” They will walk hand in hand now sometimes, & look so sweet & Linda will help Charlie take his shoes etc. off. Charlie talks about everything now, but still not nearly as distinctly as Linda always did. She spoke so clearly right from the beginning, but he still needs an interpreter! He can’t say “L”s & says “ ‘inda” & even “Hewo” for Hello etc. He has such a sense of humour though & a real chuckley laugh – it makes you just laugh to hear him. One evening he got up on the kitchen chair & was looking out at the lights of the cars coming up the road in the darkness & suddenly he saw his own reflection in the glass & said “ ‘ook! There’s me!” then waved violently “Hi, me!” Charlie still eats very well – particularly his dinner – & he loves potatoes & gravy! When I am getting dinner ready he’ll come into the kitchen & say “Davy tonight, Mummy? Any Davy tonight?” & if I say yes, he gets so excited and rushes to tell his Daddy! Linda is still terribly conservative in her eating & won’t try new things, but she eats a good breakfast & fairly good lunch, although varies over her dinner. They both still drink lots of milk & love fruit & fruit juice. Like Peggy’s little girl, Charlie still has his bottle of milk! He will drink everything else out of a glass & has for ages, but he won’t drink milk, so I haven’t bothered – the Drs. say “what does it matter – give it to him if he wants it” so I don’t mind!
We still have Banney and Jonaclo with us – I was most amused to hear that it was quite a Hazell “trait” & that you & Monie both had little friends. I knew it was quite common with children, but don’t you think 2 1/2 years old was pretty young to begin? It usually seems to be children of 7 & 8, so I thought Lindy was pretty clever!! I also think her vocabulary is amazing for 3 years old – of course she picks up a lot of words from books & doesn’t always know quite what they mean, but she uses them quite correctly. For instance one of her favourite remarks at the moment is “What is your problem?” & another “I’m so confused!” Both of these she actually gets from Alice in Wonderland & she loves them! One day Cec was talking & said something was “really _ ” & then he hesitated & Linda said “extraordinary!” & that was just the word he wanted! Last week I promised Mrs. Blachut I would look after Janek & little Daniel (the baby) one afternoon while she went to see a friend with a new baby in hospital. Linda was very thrilled over this & kept asking when they were coming & said “Mummy & Daddy have guests & visitors & I have guests & visitors too!” We made some cookies & she was helping they collect the things for them & when we were ready to begin she settled herself & said “Now we’ll get down to work”! Afterwards I was telling her that she & Janek & Charlie could have a little party with juice & cookies at her table & she was very pleased & said “Oh yes! I want my party to be gay!” Don’t you think that she has an amazing choice of words? I may say that when we came in from a walk this morning she said “Take off your scarf, Mummy – you look just like a little carrot stick!” But she certainly can make me laugh with her bright remarks.
One day a few weeks ago I was ironing & Charlie & Linda were playing around in my bedroom (that’s where I iron). I had made the bed, but hadn’t put the coverlet on, & the first thing I knew they had it off the chair & spread comfortably in a corner of the room & Lindy informed me they were having a picnic on it (grass with flowers I presume!) They trotted off to the kitchen & there were all sorts of preparations & finally they came back & settled down with your picture from the dressing table on the coverlet beside them & a little jar with some little bits of bread in & they sat & ate this with great enjoyment & said you were at the picnic with them! Another thing that Lindy said one time which made me laugh was when I had put them to bed for their afternoon nap & said “Night! Night!” just as I was leaving “But Mummy” said Linda “It isn’t Night Night! It should be Lunch! Lunch!”! I always tell her now when we are going out & Anne the babysitter coming & although they both like Anne we have the occasional fuss when I tell them & then in 5 mins. it’s over & they don’t care. Anyway the last week or so Linda keeps asking each day “Are you going out tonight? Or staying at home with the children?”! I think I must have told you about Anne- she is a Dutch woman who lives just down the road & has a little girl & boy just about Linda & Charlie’s ages. She is young & round faced & jolly & so good with the children, so I never feel a qualm at leaving them with her, but she is expecting another baby this summer so I don’t know how long she will feel like babysitting. When we have guests in Lindy & Charlie know all about it of course, which is one of the disadvantages of having all on one floor, but Lindy is very fond of waking up just as they are going & demanding to get up & wave to them. One night she informed me “I like to see my friends go!”
I was telling you about Janek and Daniel coming one afternoon – last Thursday it was. Actually it turned out to be a terrible cold day – it dropped from about 15° to 5° below zero during the day & there was a fierce wind blowing the snow into great drifts.
By afternoon our driveway was practically drifted across with snow & I wondered how the Blachuts was, so I wasn’t surprised when at last she phoned me and said “Oh Cynthia – I am stuck in the driveway!” She said both the children were crying & she couldn’t get the car to budge, so I said “well come round & have tea with us instead” & they did & we had a nice time! After they left I flung some dinner on & told the children to watch out of the window & went out to shovel the driveway a bit so that Cec could get the car in. Besides the drift across the middle of the driveway there was another huge one just by the highway & Cec could never have even got off the road, so I shovelled & shovelled for 3/4 of an hour & got a space cleared & it was COLD! I blew my nose on my hankie & put it in my pocket & in a few minutes when I went to blow again it was frozen hard! When Cec came home he had some soup & then went out & shovelled the rest before he could get in – it went down to 20° below that night, but it was -40° at Chalk River where Joan & Ray are! It has continued so cold since then & of course we still have these huge piles of snow as it never melts, but out here it is really beautiful – it never gets dirty & messy as in town & you look out for miles around at beautiful white fields without a footmark or a trace & it is lovely.
Telling you about Fanny getting stuck reminds me of a dreadful day I had last week. I had the car & decided to get a lot of things done, so I dressed the children & we planned to go quite early in the morning. However the people in the apartment below Mrs. Rothwell’s house (Mrs. R was away) phoned to ask if I would let their dog in – they let him out before they went to work and he hadn’t come back when they left. So I put the children in the car & seeing Prince sitting out in the snow I went to let him in. Talk about wild goose chases! That darn dog would not either come near me or the house! He would trot off across the snow on a little path & I would career after him only to find of course that my weight was more than his & plonk! I would sink through up to my waist practically! After about 15 minutes of this I left him to it & returned to the car with snow in my boots, my sleeves & even down my neck! We drove to Orleans to the butchers & then drove to town as I wanted to go to the Customs Office. I got 2 shirts from Harrods for Cec at Christmas, both 16 collar, but one is about 2” smaller on the shoulders, chest, sleeve etc. than the other & doesn’t fit him at all. If I take it to the Customs I get my duty (I paid to get it in) refunded before I send it back. We got downtown & I was parking the car when a helpful man informed me I had a flat tire! I didn’t know what to do as it was getting late, so I abandoned the Customs & as the flat wasn’t quite flat drove to the nearest service station & got them to change the tire. It was cold & windy, so I took the children to a supermarket nearby & we bought a few things, then I decided I’d better just come home as the children’s lunch was due & they were getting fed up, so as soon as the car was ready I just turned & drove home. We have to back into the garage now as the driveway is so steep & slippery we can’t back out, so I was trying to do this & the children were yakking & of course I got agitated & drove into the side of the drive & got the car stuck in the snow! You can imagine! However, I took the children in & later in the afternoon when they were asleep had another go at both the car & that wretched dog & had no success with either! In fact the car got worse as it was on a slope & the only way it would go was the wrong way! Cec & Mr. Blachut finally jacked it up & pushed it over a couple of times when they got home that evening & then sees could yes it in the garage, but I was so frustrated!
I don’t seem to have told you much of our doings this year – in fact my letters have been very scrappy I know. Well we have really been out quite a bit – we all went over to Jim & Lee’s on New Year’s Day & had a lovely turkey dinner with them – we tried to make the children go to bed & have a sleep in Jim & Lee’s bed afterwards so we could have some peace but they just chattered & called out so in the end we gave up & came home. Lee is well – very large of course, & fed up with waiting – but feeling pretty good. The baby is due sometime the beginning of Feb. but Dr. Smith thought it might be early – however no news yet. The phone rang this afternoon & I was sure it was Jim with news, but instead it was Ray between trains – had been to New York to a meeting. We had a chat but he had no time to come out – they are all well. Then another night we went to Margie & Cy’s for a Buffet Supper – there were supposed to be others there but no one else could come because of colds or some other reason, so there were just the 4 of us & we had a nice time. The boys had got a “hockey game” for Christmas with balls and little levers etc. & it was a great fun & Margie & I as well as Cec & Cy got quite hilarious over it!
Another night we went to the Ramsay’s – Nan & Don, remember them? They had their 3rd daughter in September & have just recently sold their little house & are now in a nice big one but plan to build in the spring I think. They had quite a crowd, 12 or 15 I think, & we played some games & had a very nice time – to my surprise I may say, as I hadn’t particularly wanted to go!! Did I tell you that the 3 new Fellows to the Spectroscopy Dept. came before Christmas? They are all married, one from Sweden, one Australia & one S. Africa. The latter I haven’t met, the Australians are so-so but the Swedish man & his wife are very nice. They have an apt. on Putman St. – just below Acacia – so are near the Douglasses – they have two little boys, 20 mths & 5 yrs, so the older one goes to school with Donnie Douglas. Poor little fellow he could speak no English to begin with so it was very difficult for him, but Mrs. Clayman says he is very happy now. I took the children one morning to Phyl Douglas’ for coffee & Mrs. Clayman & her youngest boy were there & we had a nice little party.
Cec & I thought we would be really foresighted one night & we booked Anne a week ahead to come one evening so that we could go to a show as we haven’t been to town for ages. Then of course when the evening came there was nothing that we particularly wanted to see! However we went to see Walt Disney’s “Vanishing Prairie” & ended by enjoying it very much – it is all about animals so I liked it much more than the desert one which was a lot about snakes & creepy- crawlies!
A week ago Sunday we took the children & had tea with Mr. & Mrs. Shoosmith – they have a new house they moved into not long before we moved here & it was the first time we’d seen it – it is very nice. Last week I went out 2 nights running, by myself – such goings-on! On Tues. I drove over to Lu’s & had supper with her about 8:30. Pete is away & Lu phoned & asked me & although it is a long way I thought it would be fun. We had a nice chit-chat just by ourselves, but it is 10 or 12 miles across the city & it was snowing so I didn’t really relish the drive. The next night I went to visit Mrs. Rothwell who had in the lady who lives in the house opposite, Mrs. Cardinal, & her sister, & we all played bridge. Mrs. R. & Mrs. C. are of an age & have known each other since school days I think, so there is great chattering!
Our sole venture in entertaining was a Buffet Supper we gave on the 7th. We had Lila (the girl from Cec’s work I’ve talked about); a fellow from Belgium who has been here more than a year but we’ve never had him out before – his name is Dr. Charles Courtois & he is also a Jesuit priest!- ; Phyl & Alex Douglas; Mr. & Mrs. Clayman (the Swedish couple); & Fanni & Teddy Blachut. Cec brought Lila & Charles home with him from work & we had a cup of tea then the rest came at 8, but it meant I had to be all organized by 5:30 – however, I was! With Charles coming & I knew Teddy was a Catholic too & it being a Friday I had to have a fish dish, so in the end this was my menu.
Danish Fish Pudding with
Lobster & Mushroom Sauce
Chicken Livers in Bacon
Green Tossed Salad
Pickles – Hot Rolls
Peach Spanish Cream and Pineapple Bavarian Cream
We gave them Marsala wine to drink before dinner & then afterwards played Rumoli & a few had high balls & beer, but mostly ginger ale – a very temperate crowd! Everyone raved about the dinner & I think it was nice too! The fish pudding was a great success – I made 2 & put them on to steam about 6 & had the sauce all made ready to heat up. The Spanish Rice and rolls were ready to heat up to & the chicken livers on toothpicks just take about 10 mins. in the oven, so I really had very little to do at the end. Everyone ate everything & seemed to enjoy themselves – it was just about the end of my Christmas cake which you can see didn’t last long. I was amused at you wondering that I should make one when you didn’t think the children would eat it – what about us!!
Mon. 31st Jan.
News! News! Lee had her baby sometime early this morning – another boy – & both doing well. Jim phoned about 10 a.m. & told me – he took Lee into Hospital about 1 a.m. & the baby was born about 7, so that wasn’t too bad – especially as there were no signs till about 9 yesterday evening. Jim says that they didn’t mind which it was so neither are disappointed at a little boy, but of course Cec & I had a giggle & thought they weren’t as clever as us!!! Jim is staying home a few days to look after Barry & then going to work a few afternoons while other friends in the apartments look after him. We talked about it with them before, but with our being so far the side of town it makes Jim’s work very far away so it seemed more of a hindrance than a help to have Jim & Barry here, but I suggested that if Lee doesn’t come out of H’pital until a week today that perhaps they could spend the weekend with us, but we will wait & see.
It is still so cold – hardly gets above zero each day, so we are staying in – the children & me, that is! I am sure that Monie & A. Ettie will feel so tickled when they hear of all this winter weather – if it is anything like this in N.Y. they are really missing a hard time. Do you know- Lindy & Charlie have been in bed an hour or so now & Lindy is calling out in a kind of chant- “Mum – mee – I am a little bit lonely – Char – lie is asleep – I am a little bit lonely”! Today she was wailing & whining before dinner & I told her she must be tired, she had better go to bed, whereupon she wailed “I’m not sleepy- I’m worried!” & then later she said she was “missaluble”!
I was so pleased to get your last A.M. & hear that A. Ettie & Monie had arrived safely & that you were all having a wonderful time talking your heads off. And such lovely presents too – how nice of them & how exciting! What fun that they are with you in time to see Princess Margaret too – which reminds me I was dreaming all about Cec & I apparently being in St. V. too & getting a gold printed invitation! I have just been reading about Princess M. leaving London today – I hope she has a nice flight across the Atlantic this cold & stormy night – I wonder if she gets agitated too, just like we do when we are off on a journey?!
I got Jeanie’s letter last week, but haven’t been to town since so haven’t got her patterns yet. Will probably go on Sat. as I want a few odd things & it’s so much easier to go by myself. If I take the children down it’s all right to go to one place & do one thing but more than that is too much for me! I went downtown about a week ago & got Linda a new snowsuit – actually hers was still all right but Charlie has been wearing Lindy’s first little snowsuit handed down & it was really too small for him & not very warm, so the poor little fellow got her present one handed down again & she got a new one! Actually you can hardly tell as I got dark green again, but there is such a limited choice of colors. Scarlet is a favorite, but Linda doesn’t look nice in it, navy blue is another, but it is so dark for her & makes her look pale & wan. I had thought of brown but saw none in that colour but instead got this one for $14.95 reduced to $8.00 so got a bargain I thought. It is nylon, windproof & waterproof & a lovely thick quilted lining – the little cap is separate & is unfortunately too small so I want to see if I can change it – if not I’ll get a little woollen hood.
Your new glamour hair-do sounds most intriguing – my hair is a mess at the moment – you know how it goes straight with the dry air in the house in the winter & the last time I had a cut it seem to make it look worse. Lindy’s & Charlie’s are both quite straight now – but both will wave quite nicely I think when they are a little older. Charlie still creates when he goes to the barber & the last time the barber made quite a hash of it & you know how little boy’s hair grows straight down their little heads & they have a kind of little fringe? – well his is all lopsided & he was really shorn too – not enough left to curl anyway! It is getting a bit darker too – will be Cec’s colour I think, not very fair.
About the debate on “to come or not to come” of you & A. Moo I can quite imagine all the discussions! Really I think it would be so nice if you both came – even though you wouldn’t have much money – if you visited all your friends, relations, daughters, nieces, sons-in-laws, nephews etc. etc. you wouldn’t “sit-down” on anyone very hard & as Cec says if we ever can save enough money to visit St.V. we will certainly sit down on you! I think it would probably be much more fun if you came together as you would probably do so much more & visit around more if you have each other for company. In N.Y. for instance A. Moo likes to sightsee (& I know A. Ettie isn’t too keen) & you & she could probably have a good time just going to places together. While you’re here too, I am still so tied with the children it would be nice because you & A. Moo could go quite a few little trips together – a day or so in Montreal – & a boat trip & so on which I couldn’t do & which you probably would never bother to do alone. Tell A. Moo she’ll probably be glad she’s deaf & able to turn off her earphones sometimes when both my children begin yelling!! I do think it would be lovely if you could come though – for one thing the children are really so much sweeter now than they ever will be again. Once they get older & go to school they aren’t nearly so cute & it’s a pity you shouldn’t see them when they are such fun – particularly little old lover-boy Charlie! He is so loving & cuddly & when he gets older he probably will be too boyish to show it whereas now he’s just a real smoocher! (Ask Monie for interpretation!!)
This is really turning out to be some letter, isn’t it? I really should have ended on the last page, but as I didn’t here I am with 2 more sides to fill! I haven’t mentioned Lea & Darryl in my last few letters – well, as far as we know they have left Ottawa & gone to stay with Merle & family at Port Arthur. Lea phoned one day saying that’s what she planned to do & we’ve heard nothing else. What precipitated this, was that a week before Christmas & a week or so after Lea got a nursing job at the Civic Hospital & 2 or 3 times had attacks of “hypercardia” I think it’s called. Anyway it is a sudden attack of very rapid pulse & heartbeat which leaves the person quite exhausted & is caused by strain, tension etc. She’s been leaving having them for the last 6 months & told to rest etc. but this time the Dr. told her she just have to get away or she would be in for a really serious illness & breakdown. The whole business is still incredible – all the time Wendell has been in Ottawa working at this book salesman job (house-to-house sale of encyclopaedias) every penny he has made has gone on payments, gas & repairs for the car he insisted on buying. He’s never paid his mother anything for lodging, never paid for any food, never even bought Darryl Christmas presents – & yet he & Lea just about chain-smoke & neither of them have given that up. Cec & I just can’t understand them & goodness knows what will happen – we feel kind of sorry for poor Merle who has enough bothers of her own.
I haven’t heard from Dottie or Nan or anyone since Christmas – I must also write to Mrs. Scott. Thank you for telling me all about poor Mary Egan – what a terrible time she has had. I wonder if Michael & little Anne are paralyzed or what – or if there is hope that Anne with treatment will be all right. [Mary’s husband and daughter seem to have caught the polio virus, which was affecting people around the world in the early 50s. In Canada the Salk vaccine was available in 1955 and on.] I haven’t heard any more from poor Anne in Cambridge, I must write to her again.
I felt so mad at Jessie – really she is the limit! I sent her & the children a birthday parcel in Oct. No reply. I sent them all a Christmas parcel. Two days after Christmas a card from her – air mail – posted about Christmas Eve! Then last week a thank you letter from Zinnia & a P.S. Your parcel is on the way! I said to Cec I thought I’d stop sending them presents because Jessie is such a one – I sometimes think the parcels I send are the big attraction! Certainly little Zinnia is very good about writing thank you’s, but I wonder what sort of education & up-bringing she is getting – one letter she wrote about “somethink” & this one is full of film stars & going to the pictures every week etc. A far cry from the Eton & the Upper Ten I feel! Must stop – this will cost a fortune! Love from Us All to You All – A. Moo, A. Ettie, Monie & You – Kisses from the children –
Lots of love from Cyn.
P.S. Remember Frank from Australia in Cambridge? Heard from him – marrying a N. Zealand girl next month.