Cyn’s letter opens with her guilty confession that she has anticipated her April birthday and opened the small parcel her mother sent with the West Indian delicacies she’d asked for! The Burney Sugar Cake she refers to (may have just been the family name for it) is a street sweet, ginger (hence ‘burney’) in crystalized sugar, which I love too, but I think her
eating it on arrival was a wise move on Cyn’s part, since the last time I brought some back from a St.Vincent visit, the ginger shreds got mouldy before I could finish it!
Cyn is obviously still recovering from her miscarriage, tired and resting when she can, and the explanations about the cost of the blood transfusions are a reminder that Canada did not have a medicare system at this point although the federal government passed a bill that year that started the discussion with the provincial governments. It would be another decade before that was settled.
A reminder about Cyn’s Father, Dr. Ewing: He, a Protestant from Northern Ireland, had been institutionalized before Cyn had married and she & Cec and Carol had left England, and had since converted to Catholicism. He had been considering being buried back in Ireland, which would have been a problem since his immediate family lived overseas, so hearing that he had changed his mind would have been a relief, and the Newcastle cemetery where his neighbour Mr. Sheedy lay more familiar to them.
16th March 1957
What do you think I am doing? Lying in bed eating Burney Sugar Cake & making a PIG of myself! I know I should have kept it for more than 2 weeks yet, but when it arrived yesterday I put it away & then today I took it out again & opened it! Actually I didn’t think you would scold me for opening this one as the other has also arrived, but the mailman put a card in our box to say it was too big to go in & I must collect it from the P.O. I will really keep the next for my birthday – I don’t think Linda would let me open it – she was quite worried about my opening this one, but was resigned when I told her you sent another – she said “My, what a kind Mummy you have!” Haven’t I, though?!! Cec & I had some stewed guavas for dessert tonight & oh – they were yummy! I don’t mind them being stiff or anything – I just love them anyway & I did enjoy them so much. Please tell Doris & her sister (wasn’t it her sister who sent you the guavas?) that they were the nicest thing I’d tasted for a long time – most delicious & delectable! As for the B. S. Cake I can see I’m going to put on pounds – I just can’t resist it & am nibbling away all the time! Thank you very much Mummy for two of my Favourite Foods – I can’t tell you how much I am appreciating them. I am looking forward to my other parcel, but in the meanwhile this is lovely! It’s funny, when I wrote and asked you for the things to eat I thought that the cashew nuts would be the easiest to get & maybe you wouldn’t be able to manage the other 2 & here it was the other way around!
I also have to thank you for your nice letter written just last Sunday which arrived this evening. Cec got it from the mail box after Lindy was in bed so I will give her your letter in the morning & she will be thrilled! She has been asking me ever since she wrote if you will have got her letter yet & she will be so pleased to have a reply. Her tooth is still wobbling away! She has had 2 weeks at school without being absent so things are looking up, but don’t imagine for a minute that we’ve all been well for 2 weeks – oh no! Ha! Ha! Cec has had another cold & last weekend he was feeling better so we planned to all go out on the Sunday & have dinner in a restaurant. On the Sat. evening Cec made a pan of popcorn as a treat & Jimmy came in for it & Cec shared it with them so none of them had very much (the children love it now). Then at about 1 a.m. Linda felt sick & from then until about 4 a.m. we were busy! She sicked up a bit & retched etc. but I thought it was just too much popcorn. Sunday she was better, but wan & not eating, so it was just pointless going out to eat & we just stayed at home. However on Thurs. I suddenly got the trots very badly but it only lasted the day & then I heard from Phyl that she had Andy & then Nancy with the same type of thing – just lasting about a day – then Margie had Danny with the same – then last night Charlie got it! He sicked up & had quite a few spells from about 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. & today has slept mostly but been drinking juice & ate a little supper & is all right now I think. Of course, we’d again planned to go out for dinner tomorrow so whether we’ll get or not I don’t know!!
Well, we did go out for dinner & although Charlie still looked a bit peaky he was full of enthusiasm and had turkey for dinner! He & Lindy had a lovely time – so do I! – and Lindy was most intrigued because it was St. Patrick’s Day & all the restaurant was decorated in green & the waitresses had green hats on – the hostess even had green fingernails! Unfortunately poor Cec has the bug today & is feeling quite miserable this evening, but one good thing is that it doesn’t seem to last long so I hope he will feel better in the morning.
I went to S. School yesterday morning for the first time & the poor lady, Mrs. Kuhn, who took my place must have been more than delighted to see me. She has had such a time as not only have I been absent, but Pat Tomlinson also & even Mrs. Dunn who helps Pat, so poor Mrs. Kuhn for 2 Sundays had both classes to cope with! Pat is resigning as she is finding it too hard with trying to cope at home as well as go out to work & the children haven’t been well & she has been quite worn out. I am sorry as she is such a nice girl & I shall miss seeing her, but I certainly think she has been trying to do too much. Yesterday we had 5 teachers there, just for a change, & of course not many of the children showed up! You were asking about Mrs. Martin, my babysitter – yes, I still have her & find her just as good & dependable as ever. She is a staunch Anglican & also teaches at our Sunday school but has the 8 & 9 yr. olds I think. At the moment she is having a worrying time as her husband is in the hospital for a strangulated hernia operation & they also took out his appendix, & she is kept quite tied with her old mother-in-law, so she can’t get out till her husband is home again. He was getting on well though the last I heard. The Dutch woman, Ann, whom I used to have, is also sitting again & was here on Friday evening when Charlie was sick. The children are so different now about sitters- they like to see them & say hello & even had a strange babysitter, a teenager, a week or so ago & never minded. Charlie didn’t make a bit of fuss about Ann staying even when he was sick & as Ann has a little girl, Deenie, in Linda’s class at school (in the afternoon though) she & Lindy had quite a chat.
We were out on Friday to have a buffet supper at Willa & Stewart Woods’. They had invited Lu & Pete & Margie & Cy & ourselves, but when we got there we found the Garrets hadn’t come as Margie had this bug too & the 2 little children had had croup & she was pretty worn out. We had a nice evening with a very enjoyable supper & wine, but before the end of the evening what with being tired & the wine I was yawning away! I’d had a busy day as I’d been to Dr Kastner in the afternoon & I’d been finishing a dress to wear & then Charlie throwing up his supper! After we left he sicked up again & then when we were home a few more times. Dr. K. examined me & says I’m to go on with the iron & to come back in 2 months. Apparently he may then have to cauterize me which sounds horrid, but Lu assures me it’s just a little “zing”!!
The dress I made I am very pleased with – I like it better than anything I’ve made for myself. It is made of the jersey I bought at the Mill last Fall & I worked hard at it all last week to get it done for Friday evening – & just managed it! I covered buttons & belt buckle & even made bound buttonholes, so I am improving & I was pleased with the fit. Lu was very complimentary & said it looked most professional which pleased me as that is what I always think about her things.
Re. the doctor, I told Cec that you thought he should have a check up to & he agreed but said his blood was O.K. anyway as he went to the Hospital a couple of weeks ago & gave a pint of blood to replace one of those I had & of course they tested him then. He will give another later on – Cy offered to, as he is a regular donor, but Cec thought that as it was just 2 he could return them himself. It was $60.00 for blood, but when the blood is returned you only pay for the use of the service etc. about $10 or so. Imagine – no one who has had jaundice can be used as a donor, so I would never be any good! Apparently the bugs still float around in the blood.
Cec & I have been giggling over you & the modern artists! I am quite sure we would both agree with your comments. Lindy, by the way, was delighted with her letter, but amused that you thought it was a duck on the pond – she says it’s a fish! Despite your compliments about her picture, she is no artist – she is like her Mama & sticks firmly to houses & trees & nice simple objects! Charlie even more so – he doesn’t try to colour much & isn’t nearly so interested in crayons & cutting & doing things like that as Lindy was. He has enjoyed the cut-out-&-stick books you sent him, but he wants me to help when he does it although he is getting a bit better at it now.
You were asking about our dinner at Dr. and Mrs. Narasimham’s – well, it was very nice & not nearly as highly spiced & seasoned as I feared! (The pork chops were were for our lunch by the way)! We began with glasses of juice, then for dinner (buffet style) there was rice (cooked with bay leaves & cloves) a curry of vegetables (potato, cauliflower etc. but not too hot), eggplant fried in batter & another dish I’ve forgotten – also a salad. Afterwards, there was a most interesting dessert – it looked like nice white snow balls floating in syrup! The snowballs were made of the white part of junket sort of, sieved & formed into balls around lumps of sugar, then simmered in a sugar syrup, & then the sugar lumps melt & the balls are hollow. They were very sweet but nice.
Phil & Alex’s party some weeks ago was great fun & I enjoyed it. I had a nice sleep in the afternoon & went to it feeling quite rested – most unusual for a Mama! We played one or two games & had a good supper – it was a potluck did I tell you? Everyone took something & I took boned stuffed chickens – 2 small ones – & they were much enjoyed.
In talking about the Christmas present list you asked about my Father & I have been meaning to tell you I had a letter thanking me for the children’s photo. I sent him the laughing one & I was so surprised because he really seemed proud of it & taken with them & before he’d shown no interest at all. I shall send you the letter to see what he says, & then last week I got another letter – not so clear as the first, but still talking about the children’s picture. In it he says he has decided not to be buried in Ireland but in the cemetery where Martin Sheedy is as it would cost so much etc. & talking about the children says something about “they could use the money in 20 years time” so I don’t know what he means, but I knew you’d be glad to hear the end of the Irish idea. I will send both letters when I answer them.
I also had a short letter from Mrs. Scott thanking for Stephen’s present – they are still in Killingworth & Mrs. S. seems to be getting on all right. I send him something at Christmas as I feel I would certainly do it if Irene were there & now she and Bill are not the poor little fellow needs remembering even more. [Mrs. Scott is Stephen’s grandmother, both his parents having died before he was 3 (he’s 5 at this point).]
Lindy’s dress from England was the pink & blue checked smocked one I got Nan to send when she got your jerseys – I think I must’ve told you about it – anyway I saved it for Christmas. Cec smokes a pipe a bit now, but still cigarettes too most of the time. Charlie’s razor isn’t really electric you know! It is just a little plastic thing that goes b-r-r-r as you press it on you & it cost about 35¢! He loves it & always shaves when Daddy does! My pale blue dressing gown was a big surprise – at least I’d asked for a dressing gown, but Cec chose it. I took it to Hospital in a case with me & then they sent the case home with Cec the next day, so on the last day when I was tripping around for routine x-rays etc. (everyone is done) here I was in a little Hospital shift! I was in the Civic [Hospital] by the way – Cec asked Dr. K. about the St. Louis de Montfort & he said “My God no – they’d just let her bleed to death there!”! It seemed very nice to me & people who have been in seem to like it, but they are apparently short of nurses & the doctors all seem to be a bit wary – also it is very French of course.
We still hear from Gunborg & Gordon – she wrote me a very sweet letter about the mis. – & they really seem to love being in England again. Their house sounds most palatial & upper crust!
I will be very pleased to send you the Memo slate things & the Pancake in your B’thday parcel & also the Scotch tape – I’m glad you told me & don’t forget if there’s anything else just say the word.
I must stop now as it’s late & poor Cec has gone to bed – hope his tummy is better in the morning. Forgot to tell you Claire is coming every other Wed. again & I do enjoy having my floors done for me! Cec says I should keep her & I will for a while anyway.
Must away – love to Auntie Muriel – hugs from the children & lots of love from us all –