November 1962

Charlie is the one at the back.

November is not a great month for camping but it appears that Charlie’s Cub Group (the younger division of Boy Scouts) had a cookout one weekend.

Cec preferred indoor activities, and went bowling with his colleagues from the Lab.

The Costains no doubt sent best wishes and congratulations to Santiago Polo on the occasion of his wedding, and probably some of his friends from the Lab in Ottawa attended.

However, for the Costains, the main event in November seems to have been preparing for the Public Speaking Contest at the school. Both children incorporated some personal connection into their speech based on the gifts Cec had brought home from his trip, but most of the speech was informative and factual. Cyn typed their efforts but at this level, there was less input from her. The speeches were given in class, then the best competed within the school. Linda made a case for reading being her favourite hobby, and ended her speech on ‘Hobbies’ with this paragraph. “Most boys and girls have at least one hobby. I collect postcards, small china figures and dolls of all nations, and I learn a great deal every day through my favourite hobby, reading. One of these might lead to my life work and anyway I will get a great deal of pleasure from them.” This speech went no farther (probably to her relief), but Charlie was once again one of the 7 contestants in the Intermediate Level with his telescope speech.

After touching on the history of telescopes with Galileo and Newton, he went on to explain that Newtonian telescopes like his were based on mirrors, and gave details about the biggest in the world at Mount Palomar, then returned to his personal experience. “It is rather unfortunate that at first when I got my telescope, it turned cloudy. Instead of looking at the sky, I have had to look at other things. I can see the Uplands Airport radar tower about 5 miles away and I can watch it turning around with an occasional flash as a plane comes down. I can also see birds in perfect detail on the telephone line if they would only stay in one place. The magnification of the telescope is 126 so if a bird is 126 feet away, it appears to be only 1 foot away from your eye. I have also been looking at the sun, and for this I put a special sun glass in the lens.” He goes on to describe and explain sun spots, then his observations of Jupiter and Saturn once there was a clear night. He finished with “I don’t know much about astronomy yet but it is very exciting to look and to learn.”

This time, Charlie won the Intermediate Contest, and got a letter of appreciation from the Fairfield School District Association, as well as a page of the scrapbook devoted to it. The typed copy probably was sent to Carol in the West Indies, but the rough copy survives.

As a teacher (my life work?), the adult Linda found looking at the children’s work at the Grade 6 and 7 level an indication of future direction. I believe Linda’s ‘Hobby’ topic had met some opposition when she stated that her hobby was reading books. Her speech carefully defines the different sorts of hobbies- Collecting, Crafts, Activities- and in the latter category, which she explains as doing things for relaxation, she lumps all sports (which she was not at all interested in) with bird-watching, gardening, and, in her case, reading. It was an argument which she made sure to win, presaging her interest in debating in high school and her future success in essay writing and exams at all levels- not to mention the collecting of a library of over five thousand books.

Charlie’s speech shows his interest in science, and illustrates clearly the technical points as well as personal observations made with his telescope. And I believe at this point, the Costains started to plan their 1963 summer holiday, when there would be a total eclipse of the sun, best seen from the province of Quebec with a telescope …


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