May 2 1956

True, Cyn’s 41st birthday was the month before, but I’ve already posted her mother’s card! This was from me!

2nd May 1956
4th May.

Dearest Mummy,
At last I am thanking you for my birthday presents! Actually they didn’t arrive as late as it looks, with my writing in May – they arrived the very day I posted your last letter – but that was bad enough, wasn’t it? Someone must have been trying to hatch them out! Anyway late or not, they were very welcome and it was really nice having them to look forward to! Thank you so much for my lovely mats. I do like them & of course we have already been using them. Everyone I show them to likes them just as much as I do, but I don’t think anyone would fall for them at $5.00 – my friends are poor like us! It is so nice to have eight too & I know that they will all be used to bits. I am still reluctant to part with my old ones, battered as they are. It was sweet of you to send me the panties too – very much needed! Of course Cec laughed & called them bloomers, but the fact remains that they fit my posterior a lot better than the tiny briefs! The children were just delighted with their books & “Henry’s Wagon” particularly is a great favourite. If you remember it at all, on the last page the little boy is all painty & he says “Bessie – I’m a little messy”! & the children think this is the funniest thing they ever read – they go into gales of mirth over it & are always quoting it!

Besides my birthday parcel & card we all want to thank you too for our pretty Easter cards & little presents which arrived at the same time. The children love “Puppy Pals” & I love my little notes which I have already been using. You will probably have nearly forgotten all these things as it is such a long time since you sent them but we are enjoying them just the same!
I am sitting in bed writing this – my favourite desk! – & snuffling away. The children got colds last week – not bad & they went very quickly, but we had a few busy days & they both seem to freshen them up this week & today I have it. It is no wonder as we have had the coldest, most un-spring like weather. On the few occasions the sun does shine, everyone thinks “Oh at last” & then it is gone in a minute. It was the wettest April ever recorded & imagine – our crocuses are just blooming & one or two brave scillas and nothing is growing it’s so cold. Summer time began last weekend but we are doing no gardening yet.

The last time I wrote was nearly 2 weeks ago & I was getting ready for my party. I finished my dress & everyone was very complimentary & I think it looked all right! I wore the black velvet cummerbund (I bought to go with that black lace skirt) & black accessories, but I’m still not too keen on the colour. I have worn my grey & black striped suit quite a few times & am very pleased with it – everyone thinks I’m so clever – me too! The party was kind of queer! Not our fault & the food was a success! I had drinks with cheese straws & cheese canapés; fried chicken, asparagus au gratin, salmon mould, tossed green salad, melba toast & butter; chocolate soufflé or mince pie & whipped cream; coffee. The queerness was due to the fact that everyone seem to be coming or going or gone all evening! To begin with Cec went downtown to pick up Pete & Lu & Santiago at 7:45, so I expected everyone about 8.0. Teddy & Fanni arrived then, but poor Cec had to wait nearly 3/4 of an hour as all the others were late, so they didn’t arrive until nearly 8:30. Then Teddy & Fanni broke the news that their wretched female guest was arriving by train at 10.0 & Teddy had to go & get her! However, we all got going & after a while began dinner, but before dessert Teddy had to get up & go, & then we’d all just finished our dessert & were having coffee & I cleared away when Teddy came back with Miss Hughes (I told him to bring her) so I served them dessert & coffee & we all sat back & then not long after they finished Pete & Lu said they had to go. It was just after 11, but apparently they didn’t want to be late, so of course Cec had to take them & Santiago & the others left too. Cec said later “What a mess!” & I felt so too – we never had time to sit & enjoy ourselves which was so annoying.
I had cleaned & worked so hard getting ready for the party that last week I just sort of sat back & let things slide! Pat & her girls came up to tea one day, & we took them with us in the car to the Library another day & then one morning we went to Margie’s to see the new baby. Of course Lindy had been longing to see her so she was very thrilled, but just saw her for a minute as she was going to sleep. Margie looks fine now & her parents were leaving this week as everything seems to be going well.
On Friday the children got an invitation to little Wendy Ramsay’s birthday party on Sun. so great was the excitement. I went downtown on Sat. to buy birthday presents for them to take & I got Lindy a crinoline! She has been longing for one, so I got her a little white nylon net waist petticoat & she wore it under Gunborg’s pretty red & white Christmas dress. I also got Charlie a new suit as his little brown suit is too small & he needed one for the summer – it has navy shorts & a blue shirt and he was just as tickled as Lindy! On Sunday we all went off to S. School (Charlie comes regularly now – tags along after me all the time, but is very good) & then had lunch & rests & got ready for the party. They set off with Daddy very pleased, holding their presents & full of excitement – Daddy was to leave them & call for them later & Lila was to be there! After a little while I heard Cec driving back & glanced out at him & here was Charlie with him! In he came, very red eyed & weepy & lip going down & his Daddy disgusted at him! Apparently they got in & got their coats off & all was fine when it suddenly struck Charlie what was really going on & he began to howl to go home! He was quite happy to be back although rather sad at missing the birthday cake! However Lindy had a simply wonderful time & Nan said she was as good as gold, so I’m glad one member was a credit to the family! S. School has really made an enormous difference to Lindy, so I hope it will do the same for Charlie – in time! About the S. School I am trying to get an assistant as I have about 10 nearly every Sunday now – about 20 on the register – & it is very hard to try and keep track of them all. If one wants to go to the bathroom & I take her, they all want to come too! So I’m trying to get a high school girl to come & help with them – I still make all sorts of cute things for them & we had a darling little model for David & his sheep & now we are doing Jesus at home in Nazareth & I have cut out pictures for that.
On Mon. I was at the dentist again & have one more time to go – Friday. They are all fillings but none bad – so far I haven’t had to have any injections to help me along. Charlie says he’s going to show the dentist his teeth on Friday but we’ll see what happens! Tuesday we had the car & shopped & went out to Orleans & got meat etc. I got some for Doreen, the New Zealand girl & took it round – she is just due to have her baby & is sitting waiting to depart! She is going to the St. Marie de Montfort Hospital on Montreal Road near here so I’m interested to hear what she thinks of it. Phyl & Alec Douglas & family have just moved out to one of the houses on Research Rd. (where Doreen Moore lives) behind the Montreal Road N.R.C. They are building this summer & had to move from Acacia, so have gone there in the meanwhile. It is v. crowded for them – only 2 bedrooms – but also just $40 a month rent! Fanni & her 3 boys are off to Switzerland on Sat. – Teddy will follow in 2 months time & they will all come back in Sept. They have let their house & Teddy is staying with friends. I don’t envy poor Fanni one bit – the thought of that ocean trip & then the train with the three boys makes me shudder! It is just about arranged that we leave on our trip to the States at the beginning of June & call at Ann Arbor on the way, as the Sutherlands are packing up around the 20th. We will really only be away for 2 whole weeks, but with 3 weekends, so I think that will be long enough for us all & yet give us time to visit. I keep planning what clothes we’ll take, but if the weather doesn’t improve I’ll have to change my ideas!
Did I tell you that all the Canadian Civil Servants got a pay boost? Cec’s is $500.00 a year & he will get another ordinary raise in June so it all helps! We are going to try to save the raise!
I have always meant to comment on the West Indian curry lunch you had when you were with Ford & Mill etc. at Bequia – it sounded very intriguing, but I don’t think I would ever have the nerve to make it “sight unseen” as it were! I’ll have to try it first! Actually I don’t care for curry too much, but maybe I just have never tried a good one – certainly I’ve never had one with all the exciting side dishes. I make one or two Chinese dishes now, but “American Chinese” really! I want to get a Chinese cookbook!
I am reading your old letters & come across the comments on Ken & Cec working out a fire alarm system – there are lots of them on the market – Cec & Ken just wanted to save money & make their own! Cec helped Ken make his & fix it, but we didn’t get ours yet! You also ask (re. Gordon Sutherland’s job) who is Director of N.R.C.- well, it is different – Dr. Steacie is the President of the Council, but the Council Members themselves are all from all over Canada (universities etc.) Dr. Herzberg is the Director of the Physics Division with a special affection for the Spectroscopy Dept!
Talking of babies, you were asking which June’s was – a great big boy apparently, so George should be pleased about that! I got a note from her & all seemed to be going well, but we don’t correspond regularly.
Cec was very interested about Angela Kellman not being allowed to get a job – he thought it was all baloney & he asked a few other fellows & they never heard of such a thing, but he says he will phone up tomorrow & find out for sure.
I have been meaning to thank you so much for your good intentions over giving me £10 for my birthday which were foiled by the British Gov’t! Aren’t they silly? Cec wondered what they would have done if you’d just sent me a cheque & I’d sent it to be deposited. Anyway it was very sweet of you to think of it. Sometime what I would like is a nice twin set – any colour except red! Actually if you got Nan or someone to buy it & mail it to me as a present I wouldn’t have to pay duty, so would really be much nicer for me than my ordering it from a shop. I would love little button up cardigans for the children too, as the little old blue ones have been so useful, but I don’t mean to bankrupt you! My boosum is 34” now!
You certainly seem to be having a general exodus from St. V. just now, but I hope some nice people come in their places! Have you seen any more of the young Hatch couple – the girl sounded v. nice, but you don’t say much about her husband. Is your stamp friend Mr. Turton coming back or is he leaving all together? I was very interested in all the scandal & wonder if any more has happened about the Webb woman – I can’t understand these females that leave their little children- I read “Anna Karenina” the other day & she made me sick. Always gawping on about how she loved her son & then going off & leaving him. So it’s not just St.V. – it’s in Russia too.
It is now Friday & I have got my teeth all finished thank goodness. Linda had a touch of earache last night & as it was a miserable rainy day Cec came home & stayed with the children while I went. They were quite sorry to miss the jaunt as they love to go in the bus & afterwards we usually have lunch in town. They sit & play in the dentist’s waiting room while I am having my teeth done & are very good. On Mon. my appointment was an hour & they just played & chatted together all that time.
Yesterday I made Charlie a little pair of shorts out of the famous blue corduroy & I have begun a little jacket out of it for Lindy, so she will have a little suit with the skirt. This is it & this is the nylon orlon shantung I made my other dress of.

It is a bit like this- very full skirt. I am getting pretty quick at making things now which is good as you know how my interest can wane!
Must stop as it is late & I have to add a bit to Cec’s letter to his mother. I didn’t hear from you last week so ‘spect I’ll get a letter from you tomorrow just after I mail this.
The children send hugs & kisses – they are just as sweet as ever – at times! And at other times they’re awful!!
Lots & lots of love from us all – Cyn.

I was charmed by Cyn’s mention of Cec and their landlord Ken fixing up a home-made fire alarm, even though one could be bought commercially. In those days, of course, there were no smoke detectors so I don’t know what they came up with (I was only 4 so have no memory) but it reminded me that Cec’s ingenuity was not confined to his Lab. Thirty years later when he had achieved his long-held ambition to have a swimming pool in the back yard, he spent a happy month clambering about on the garage roof with black hoses, installing his own passive solar water-heating system, to his great satisfaction. And I can put this laptop down on the coffee table he designed and made for us and remember all sorts of his clever projects through the years- sandboxes, a doll’s bed for Christmas 1955, and in the future as we grew older, a swing, a teeter-totter, badminton courts, vegetable gardens, and, working with his dad one summer, the final touch to the outside patio- a stone barbeque for summer parties.

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