1957-1958…

As I have explained before, I organized all my mother’s letters to my grandmother into binders a dozen years ago, and only stated posting them a year and a half ago. I knew there were gaps in the continuity, but it was a shock yesterday to discover, when I finished the binder in August 1957, that the next one opens in 1960! I don’t know what happened to the letters from the missing years- Carol and Muriel were robbed several times over the years, losing family silver, so why not a shoebox of letters? Or they may have been lost, displaced by a move, suffered from a West Indian hurricane- we have no details about those lost years, but the broad strokes are preserved in Cyn’s scrapbooks. I will attempt to cover those years with pictures and my memory before we get down to the minutia of Ottawa in the 1960s!

In August 1957, there were 2 Occasions that Cyn was getting ready for- Linda’s sixth birthday and the new school year in September. First was Linda’s birthday and party, when she was given the doll’s stroller as planned, and the new pink and white sundress her mother had been cutting out August 11th. Following the Baby Boomer pattern, Linda and Charlie’s school was new, and was built on and expanded as they grew too- the same would be true of their high school in the 60s- so Charlie’s Kindergarten start was delayed until the summer build was finished.

Cyn had told her mother that there would have to be two Grade 1 classes, and this was true with over 50 students, but Linda’s Grade 1 class was experimental, in that they were trying an accelerated model. The curriculum was divided into 3 modules per grade and the idea was that the accelerated class would complete 4 modules a year, thus starting Grade 2 in their first year, doing Grades 2 and part of 3 in the 2nd, and completing 3 and 4 in the 3rd- essentially, doing Grades 1- 4 in three years instead of four. This eliminated the problems that accompany bright children skipping a year, and just meant that the whole class would be a year younger than their contemporaries when in Grade 5. (Which is what happened, and where we pick up in 1960!) So the scrapbook shows Linda advancing as planned through Grade 1 without any problems- along with her local friends from birthday parties: Janek, Joanne, Pamela from Sunday School, and Mark and Mara from Kindergarten… Many of us were children of immigrants- Janek could speak 3 languages, Polish, Swiss-German, and English- and I apparently had quite an English accent when I started school. Lots of us also had fathers working at the National Research Council, and I remember my teacher confessing ignorance when I asked for help in answering the question of what my Daddy did- how did one spell Microwave Spectroscopist?- we settled on ‘Scientist’.

I’m pretty sure that on Hallowe’en in 1957, I was Little Red Riding Hood, since Cyn had made me a costume for a party, and Charlie was a clown again, but the scrapbook only records a picture of the Royal Visit.

As Christmas approached, I was involved in the Christmas pageant- as well as our class singing “O Tannenbaum”, perhaps because I was in the choir, Janek and I had to leave the class and go and rehearse with the big kids- and when the pageant occurred, we were little Swiss children- Janek in his lederhosen and I dressed like Heidi with a laced belt my mother made, over a wide skirt and apron.

Charlie’s Calendar, Linda’s Card!

Of course, Charlie had a birthday just before Christmas, increasing his collecion of Dinky cars and larger vehicles, Cyn sent off her parcels and Christmas cards, and interestingly enough, the children got travelling cases for Christmas, while Cyn received a fitted travelling wash bag…

In February, the expertise of our music teacher, Mrs. England, was proven when our 2-year-old rural school, won first place in our category. I am sure I was in the Grade 1-4 choir, but I remember nothing about it beyond my father mocking the vowel sounds she insisted we use- apparently we sang at length about “a H-o-o-o-o-o-o-p-py New Year” and “Little Lombkins”.

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