August 29 1960

As this first letter in three years shows, the Costains’ address has changed. This was not because they had moved- they hadn’t, though it is possible they had bought their half of the duplex (if not, they were thinking of it)- but because the community had grown, become a bit more part of Ottawa, and was no longer on a Rural Route for mail, but had a street address with the post delivered directly to their door. The children’s area for playing had expanded over the 3 years, and now included the hollow down the hill behind the house, and the field beyond that- complete with an old log fence where chokecherry bushes grew, handy for playhouses and mouth-puckering sustenance in season.
The letter was written just after they had come home after their visit to New York and to the Moors on their way home. Carol is still there, visiting her nieces and other family members for a month or two. Cyn has written her bread-and-butter letters to their hostesses, and can have fun telling her mother all the details of the rest of their holidays. She and her mother had seen the Niagara Falls on their American trip back in 1939, and she alludes to that fleetingly- 21 years makes a difference!

2043 Montreal Road,
Ottawa, Ontario.

Monday, 29th. Aug.

Dearest Mummy,
I wrote to Mill and Merle yesterday, so thought that I would have a little type today for a change, and I didn’t think that you would mind. Charlie had the typewriter out to write a poem as he has seen in their magazine ‘Jack and Jill’ that boys and girls send in poems etc. and have them printed, so he is fired with ambition! When it is done I will send you a copy.


Thank you so much for both your letters, and the letter to Lindy and the cards. The last just arrived a few minutes ago, and the children were very pleased with the pictures of the lake. We have been having sweltering weather since we came home – particularly the last day or so, and wouldn’t we have loved to just pop down to the dock for a swim! I only hope that we don’t suddenly get a deluge on Wednesday as that is the day we are having Lindy’s party, and I have decided to make it a Picnic Lunch in the garden. There are to be 8 little girls, and they will come at 12:45 and have hot dogs etc. straight away. If it is really nice I will set up the little grill and table out in the back and we will have it out there – if not I think that I will have it in ‘your room’. After eating we will play games outside – charades, sardines etc. – and then about 3:00 I will bring out the birthday cake and cool drinks and ice cream cones before they go home. They are to come in play-clothes not party dresses, so they will be able to play treasure-hunts etc. up in the field, so I hope that they have fun and that I don’t find it soo wearing. Last year we had a dreadful day – hot, humid and exhausting, and the children got tired of game after game, and really we were all fair wore out. Hope this year the time whizzes by! Charlie is to be my helper!
We were so glad to hear in your letter that the Sat. after we left was a nice day for the wedding. We heard that there was a hurricane somewhere off the coast that caused the bad weather on the Friday morning, so we wondered if it would ever get finished by the next day. We got out of the bad weather after about an hour, although it continued raining for quite a while afterwards, but it wasn’t the tremendous downpour. It was dull and drizzly all day really, but very nice for driving as it was cool and we didn’t have to bother with sun in our eyes or anything. It was a long drive but quite nice and uneventful, all along the Thruway, and we stopped every hour or so for drinks and changed over drivers. We got into Buffalo between 5 and 6 and had a bit of trouble finding our way as the Thruway was marked as finished right to Niagara Falls on the map, but we discovered that it wasn’t. However, we eventually found a motel on the U.S. side without too much trouble and got settled before we went out to dinner. After dinner we went to the Falls and saw all around the U.S. side – they have roads and bridges to all the islands above the Falls now, and we took a ride in a funny little train thing which took us around. We were on one of the islands when the lights came on and it was really quite disappointing as the spray was blowing towards us and the lights seem to just disappear into the mist, so it wasn’t a bit like the pictures we’d seen. We realized afterwards that it would have been much better from the Canadian side, but it couldn’t be helped. Next morning of course we did cross over to the Canadian side, and saw the Falls from there, but we didn’t bother with the boat trip or going under the Falls or anything.
We arrived in Brantford during the afternoon, after a lovely drive through the Niagara Peninsula – all orchards and vineyards and lovely roadside fruit markets, so of course Cec couldn’t resist this and we arrived at Merle’s laden with peaches, greengages, plums, and gladioliis! They have a lovely big house on a very pleasant, exclusive older residential street, with big old trees lining the road, and a beautiful green terraced garden behind, full of flowers, and behind that more trees and a sort of shrubbery. I had forgotten that their rented house in Brantford was furnished, so they had only had part of their furniture down, and as they had only been in their new house 2 weeks, they hadn’t got their other things from Port Arthur yet. Because of this we were a bit of a squash, but two of the boys slept in sleeping bags on air mattresses on the sleeping porch and we managed fine – particularly Cec and I, as Merle and Dix gave up their bed to us!
The first evening we set off after dinner to an Indian pageant! The Six Nations Reservation is very close to Brantford, and Merle and Dixon have lots of Indian boys and girls in their classes, and it was in this Reservation that the pageant was, in what they called the Forest Theater. It was very interesting seeing all the Indians dressed up and some of the dances – it was representing some of the history of the Iroquois Indians – but we didn’t stay till the end – we were tired and the benches were hard, and then to crown it all one of the Indian Chiefs went to see George Washington, and they recited his speech, first in Iroquois and then in English for half an hour and it was still going on when we left! As we went out they had stalls of Indian handwork, so we looked at these, and I thought I would buy a feather for the 3 children – not a big headdress, but single feathers which they had for sale, and when I asked the price I nearly fell in a heap when they said 3 dollars each! Instead we found a few more modestly priced mementos!
Next day – Sunday – Merle had planned that we would pack a picnic dinner and go to London which is about 60 or 70 miles away, where they have a lovely park with what are called ‘Storybook Gardens’ for the children. It was quite a long drive, particularly as we were all in one car – Dixon’s obviously! – but it was a lovely park, and we all enjoyed the Gardens. There were animals too, all very tame, and very nicely arranged and set out so it was a lot of fun. Afterwards we had our picnic in a lovely place just by the river, and then the children went for a sail in the Pirate Ship!
Monday was Lindy’s birthday and she had a lovely day. Unfortunately Merle hadn’t been able to carry out our original plan, because for one thing ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ finished at the end of July, and she had a very hard time getting any seats at all, it was so booked up. ‘King John’ wasn’t so popular, so there were seats for it but it wasn’t nice for the children, nor ‘Romeo and Juliet’, but eventually she managed to get us three seats for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ on the Tuesday and that was the best she could do. Fortunately the Film Festival was on at the same time and they said that they would go to that while we were at the theatre, and they said that they were sure we could take Charlie in and hold him on our knees, as when they had Bruce there last year, he couldn’t see and so sat on his dad’s knee all the time. Anyway, on Monday we just stayed at home and Lindy enjoyed her presents – the dress fit perfectly and she was in raptures over it so I was pleased! Merle and family gave her a dear little china family of deer, and a pretty cottonknit sweater, and she and Brucie spent most of the afternoon cutting out ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Lindy in charge of the ladies, and Brucie in charge of the gentleman! I took Lindy down town in the morning and bought her a pair of new shoes, which blistered her heel before the day was through! Auntie Merle made her a lovely big chocolate birthday cake with favours in, so we had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the cake enormously– both Linda and Charlie had two huge pieces (3 layers high) and I was amazed! After the children were in bed Merle and Dixon and Cec and I played bridge, and Cec and I had wonderful cards and could do nothing wrong – even bid and made little slams and piled up a colossal score – we felt it was so nice and hospitable of Merle and Dixon to provide us with such good luck!


On the Tuesday I washed and ironed and we had an early dinner and set out for Stratford about 6 as it is quite a long way away – 60 miles or so. We got there in nice time, and as Merle had said they made no difficulty about our taking Charlie in. Merle and Dixon and Bruce were with us and they went to see if there were any turned in seats, but there was a great lineup waiting for those even, so they went off to the Film Festival. Our seats weren’t together, so Lindy and I sat together for the first two acts, then we changed and Charlie and Cec had our seats and she sat on my knee on the other one. Lindy had on her new dress and felt very elegant, and really looked sweet – it is just her style. The play of course was fascinating – I just loved it all and seeing the theatre and stage after hearing and reading so much about it. However, I wondered how much the children would understand, and if they would like it, but I needn’t have worried – they loved every minute of it and have been acting Puck and Titania ever since! It was beautifully staged and the costumes were lovely, so even if they hadn’t understood it all it would have been fun to watch, but they really seemed to love it and Linda has had the book of Shakespeare’s plays out since she got home, reading bits of it over.

We didn’t get home till after 1:00, so we didn’t get such an early start next morning as we had hoped, but we were off by 10:30 and had quite a good day’s drive, although it was very sunny, which made it a bit more trying. We got home about 9 o’clock, and were so glad to see our home again even though we had a lovely holiday. As I told Mill the place is completely dried up, and you never saw such a dreary miserable garden – all the flowers withered, and the grass quite brown and crunchy. The only nice part is the back with the patience all in bloom, and down the hill we do have some tomatoes. The house seemed full of spiders, so I have been spraying around and don’t meet so many livestock now. Not long after we arrived home we were out calling and looking for Nicki, but didn’t see a sign, and then in a little while we heard a little meow, and there she was, so pretty and clean and so happy to see us – full of purrs and rolling over to have her tummy scratched! We were delighted to find her all safe and sound, and she has been eating ‘like sixty’ as Charlie says, ever since. The little black cat is still around, and Jimmy says that he had to keep chasing her away from Nicki’s dish, but I think she must have got the lion’s share, judging by Nicki’s appetite now.
Since we got home the children have had a nice time playing with Jimmy, and Cec has been at work and I have been trying to catch up on myself. We were all very tired so slept quite late on Thursday, but even after Cec went to work I didn’t seem to get much done – unpacked, sorted out etc. and that was all. On Friday we drove Cec to work, and then went to Steinberg’s to do our shopping and then to the butcher’s in the afternoon. I vacuumed and dusted, and then on Saturday I did a huge wash – I don’t know how people like Fanni manage to tour Europe with 3 children for weeks on end, because we were away 3 weeks, and I made 2 trips to Laundromats and did odd washings in between, and still when I got home I had a mountain of dirty clothes! Yesterday I went to Church in the morning and saw a few of the girls and saw that they have begun the foundation of the church, but I didn’t go close to examine the progress. Tomorrow I have been invited to a Bathing Party at the house of one of our more affluent residents who has a swimming pool which is to raise money for the church. I don’t think I shall bother to swim – particularly as we have just had a big storm and it is much cooler, but I shall be curious to see the swimming pool etc. The entrance is 1 dollar, and we get refreshments (I am to bake some cookies!) but no children are invited, so I must see what to do with L. and C. School begins a week tomorrow, so this is their last full week – I am always sorry to see them go back, and of course they are moaning, and it is hard to think that the summer is practically over.
I must stop now and do some housework and try to get some ironing done – I can see that what with making B’day cakes and cookies etc. and then the party I shall be busy till Thursday, so I had better get Cec some shirts to wear. I am looking forward to hearing all about the wedding when we see you again, and I am so glad that you had the blood test done and hope that it is fine. We enjoyed hearing about the babies and Monie – I had a nice little note from her when I got back. By the way, Cec and I were so tickled on the way home – the children had a lovely new play in the back of the car – acting Ford and Millie! Charlie would be Ford showing pictures, and Linda would be Millie and it was really uproariously funny – mostly because they were so serious! – They were most affectionate to each other, and Millie would say “Did you get enough to eat, hon?” And Ford would answer “Yes darling, that was a lovely dinner.” So you can see what a happy impression Mill and Ford made on them!
It will be fun seeing Marie’s home, but I can’t say I really envy you the visit – she is very kind and really hospitable, but I feel that it will be very wearing too! I know that you will love being with Mona Carol and Owen and look forward to hearing all their news when you see them.
Lindy and Charlie and Jimmy are all dressed up and acting Titania and Puck and Oberon, so I won’t suggest that they stop to write just now. They send hugs and kisses and thank you for the cards.
Lots of love from us all,
Cyn.

I remember the birthday party only because of the mishaps! The 8 girls at the party were set to play some sort of Hide and Seek or Sardines in pairs, and so scattered to hide in the sloping field behind our house. It was quite wild and untended, at the end of a hot summer, with a clump of elms, a huge boulder, dry tall weeds, and a length of log fence stretching away up the field, lined with bushes. Of course I was the only one who knew the terrain, and I took Joanne up the fence to hide in the bushes where we played house. Other pairs headed for the trees or boulder which could be climbed or dodged around to hide. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones playing house- Joanne and I came across a pair of snakes, screamed at the top of our lungs, and abandoned all hope of hiding by racing for the house. The other pairs headed for ‘home’ by the most direct route and when my mother enquired of us all, panting, what the emergency was, it was discovered that Pamela’s lovely blonde braids were covered with burrs. I hope the birthday cake made up for the pain removing them must have cost her!

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