April 16 1968

Happy Birthday!

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ontario.
16th April, 1968

Dearest Mummy,
Do you mind a letter typed in red? I knew the typewriter needed a new ribbon but Charlie has had it up in his room for weeks and now I find the black part of the ribbon looks as if the moths had been at it, it is so full of holes!
Thank you so much for your letter started on my birthday and for your Easter card. We have just had the most glorious Easter weekend we have ever had in Canada. As you know it is usually still so cold here and even if the snow has melted, the ground is still frozen and we don’t expect spring until about the middle of May, but this year it rained a lot in March and the snow melted and this weekend it was beautiful, with temperatures in the 70s and the grass turning green, and green shoots coming up everywhere. I had washed the porch last week and cleaned the windows, so we got out the garden chairs and were even sitting out under the big tree, although it has no leaves on it yet of course! When we went to Church on Easter Sunday we didn’t need coats (didn’t get a chance to wear my new one) and for once all the flowery Easter hats looked appropriate! Lindy was very industrious and did quite a lot of gardening and cleared most of the flowerbeds, and Cec even got some of the vegetable garden plowed, which was extraordinary as it is usually too wet for weeks after it has thawed. Charlie had quite a cold, but it didn’t stop him from playing baseball, football, horseshoes and going swimming every minute he could! It is still heavenly weather now and I am sitting typing on the porch, but of course we are all back at work again. Lindy is disgusted as it poured with rain during the week they had for Spring Holiday in March, and she says if we had had the holidays in the old way we’d have had all this nice weather! However, I really felt I needed that rest in March, and now we had a lovely weekend, and everyone feels more cheerful when the weather is nice. One thing, as soon as the weather became nice I got my hay fever again, and was sneezing and using Kleenex by the boat load, so yesterday morning I decided I would have to take a pill which I did. Lindy said, “But Mummy, you’ll fall asleep at Nursery School, but actually if I keep on my feet and I’m busy I don’t get sleepy, so I was fine all morning, and in the afternoon I had the car, and went all over town buying things for the nursery school – cookies and paste and goodness knows what – and then home, got dinner ready, washed up and then sat down to look at the paper, and bonk! – I was asleep. So uncomfortable too – I woke up after a while and took my glasses off, and said to Cec “I hate doing this – you should wake me up” and bonk! – I was asleep again. I struggled up at 11 o’clock and went to bed and slept all night without turning a hair. You wouldn’t think that one pill in the morning could do that to me, would you? But it does – I don’t feel a bit sleepy or dopey, and even when I sit down to read I don’t feel tired, but with no warning, I’m asleep! I took another one this morning, so I will have to try and keep busy tonight and not sit down!
Do you remember Edna Renaud? She must have been to some of my coffee parties sometime when you were here. She is English, blonde and not very tall – was married during the war I think. Anyway, she walked up from her house with her dog this afternoon and had a cup of tea with me. She belongs to a group which is trying to get a Children’s Hospital in Ottawa, and they have various things every now and then to raise money. This year they are getting their friends to do the work for them! They ask their friends to have a coffee party or tea party and collect one dollar from each guest for the hospital, and in a weak moment I said I wouldn’t mind having one. She has brought me special paper napkins etc.- called a ‘Hostess Kit’, so I will have to get busy and have it sometime I suppose. [It was built by the time I was teaching in the 70s- I substituted there when unemployed.]

Mrs. Barltrop is having her Golden Wedding this summer – June, I think – and I have promised to ice and decorate her cake for her, and also some of us are going to help Eve with the refreshments for the Open House she is having for her Mother and Father. Mrs. B has been in bed for nearly 2 months with her legs – she has very bad varicose veins and has had a few operations, and apparently if they break out they don’t heal properly unless she keeps them up all the time, so this is what had happened. However, Marjorie had a lunch the week before last with Mrs. B. and Eve and Ruth Lockwood and me, and this was the first time she had been out. She still has to rest a lot but is doing fine. She and Mr. B. had been going to England as a G.W. trip this summer, and the Dr. says she can still go but must take it quietly and rest each day, but her MOTHER of 95 has just fallen and broken her leg and is in hospital, so she is in a turmoil about this. Lindy and Charlie were astounded to hear that Mrs. Barltrop had a mother! [Added in handwriting] Later: Phone call from Eve & she is flying to England tomorrow as her G’mother is very ill & Mrs. B can’t go.
Do you remember someone else – Hilary Mackey who has the house behind us where Flora Wansbrough used to live? She is a widow, English and a bit peculiar we think! Anyway, since the Fall she has had a sister living with her from England, – she is older than Mrs. Mackey and is called Miss Titcum! She comes to our church and to the WA and of course we all kept getting her name muddled up and at home I called her little Mrs. Tittlemouse, so that we hardly dared call her anything, but it turns out that she is a retired Domestic Science Teacher, and when I told her that I was one once she became very pally and said that I was to call her Doris, which I find very difficult, as none of us like her very much. She is one of these English people who finds everything in England so much better than over here, and she has a kind of superior expression all the time as if there was a rather disagreeable smell! When she smiles she looks as if it was hurting her, and one of the Canadian girls said that she was the kind of Englishwoman who should have stayed at home! Poor thing – I am sure that she is lonely as Hilary is out at work all day, but she is really very hard to get along with. She reminds me of Mrs. Rothwell in that she is soppy about animals you know! She takes Hilary’s dog and another little one for walks every day and I usually meet her when I’m coming home from school across the fields. I met Becky Rothwell the other day, by the way, but I couldn’t remember the name of the lady whom you had met so I couldn’t ask her. Mrs. R. is in this home for elderly people, and Becky says is well, but doesn’t take much interest in things or people now. Do you remember Grace? Mrs. R.’s sister Mrs. Ward? She is older than Mrs. R. and is well over 90 but is just as spry as can be apparently.
I was amused at you and A. Muriel drinking my health on my birthday [April 3] in Tia Maria – we didn’t have some actually on my birthday, but at the weekend we went out to dinner and when we came home we had a glass of Tia Maria too. If you remember Cec had bursitis just then, so we didn’t go out to dinner on my birthday – I just hate making my own birthday cake, but it looked as if I wouldn’t get one if I didn’t make it myself, so I roasted a chicken and made a four layer cake with chocolate icing! By the weekend Cec had been to Dr. K. and was feeling better, but on the Friday it was Exhibition Night at the High School, and both Lindy and Charlie were involved so we had to go to that. Lindy’s class was putting on a play ‘Pyramis and Thisbe’ all in Latin, and Lindy was Wardrobe Mistress and we had been busy making Greek costumes etc. for weeks past, and also she was in a group of girls who did Israeli dances in the gym. Charlie was Quiz Master in a Math. quiz and helping in one of the Labs, so we had to go around and see them doing their stuff. The Latin play was screamingly funny – Lindy had told us it was, because although it is a tragedy on the lines of Romeo and Juliet, the male lead ranted and roared so much that everyone laughed, and the villain of the piece, a lion, was taken by Janek and Fredi, and they were a great success in a lion’s head and a yellow blanket!
And you probably don’t hear much about Canadian politics in the WI, but this was the weekend of the Liberal Convention to choose a new Liberal leader to take the place of Prime Minister Pearson who is retiring. Actually, at the same time the assassination of Martin Luther King happened in the U.S., so everyone was worried about that, but of course everyone in Canada was very interested in the Convention to find out who our new Prime Minister would be. It was fascinating to watch on TV and to hear the various men speak, and on the Sat. they had the final voting, so we couldn’t go out to dinner that night, but had to stay at home and watch with tense excitement. We are all very pro-Trudeau and were very impressed with his speeches and talks on the TV, so we were very excited and delighted when he won. He is very intelligent and most un-politician like, in that he never makes the tub-thumping kind of speeches full of clichés, but is very reasoned and logical. It will be most interesting to find out how he gets on. Anyway, we finally decided to go out to dinner on the Sunday, as the following week was Holy Week, and I felt that if we left it much longer I would never get my dinner out! We went to a place that we had heard served a Sunday Smorgasbord for the family, but it really wasn’t very nice! Linda and Charlie went with us and it was OK, but not a place we’ll ever go to again, so it was nice to have a Tia Maria when we came home!
I forgot to tell you what I got for my birthday – Cec gave me a pair of baby doll pyjamas, Charlie a new wallet which I needed badly, Lindy some brush-on eyeshadow (very glamorous) and a pair of darling little pink earrings. Then from Dottie I got hankies and from Nan a smart patent leather handbag in a kind of tan colour. I did thank you for your birthday parcel when it arrived, but I am afraid I must tell you that I was unlucky with the contents! The slip was too small for me – it must have been a very small 34, because I take a 34 slip all the time, but of course in a nylon jersey which stretches more. Anyway, it fits Lindy so I passed it on to her. The dress was pretty, but you know I really look awful in a straight shift dress – just a little square tub! I could get it on, but it was tight on the seat and much too big on the shoulders and bosom, and of course when I sat down it skinned way above my knees like all these tight skirts do. I felt sorry after you had gone to all the trouble of sending it, but I feel it is better to let you know the truth rather than being polite and telling white lies about it, so that you will remember another time that I am a PearShaped Hazell and not a straight up and down one! I wondered if any of my friends were the right size to wear it and thought of Pat Tomlinson, so on Monday Linda and I dropped in to see them and I gave it to her and she was just delighted. I feel that Pat was really a nice person to give it to, as we have always exchanged our daughters clothes – Joanne’s coming to Lindy and Lindy’s to Susan (that time is past now – they are all very much the same size) and Pat works hard and doesn’t have too much for herself.
Anyway, after that Lindy and I went to the new Shopping Centre, and I bought myself a pretty new Brunch Coat with some of your money – it is a pink and white striped material, a nice firm cotton and a tiny stripe, and has smocking around the neck and across the top of the pockets, so I am very pleased with it. I still have more than half of your cheque left so I think I will get a cotton dress as I don’t have many just now. I sent a lot of real old ones to you last Fall, and last year I got more things suitable for travelling and not for just the house and garden. I will let you know what I get.
I am filled with admiration for you making the Altar Frontal – I know that the other lady did the embroidery, but making it up was a big job and I am sure that it must have looked beautiful when you had it finished and on the altar for Easter. Our church was just packed at Easter – no 5:30 service like A. Muriel, but at 10:30. It is so nice to see some new families and the congregation growing bigger now that there is new building in the district. We were the faithful few for so long, and now to have to put extra chairs in at Easter and have even a few who are new coming every Sunday is a lovely change. Mr. Graham is keeping well and we had a joke with Marjorie. Apparently [Cyn and Linda would have been teaching Sunday School upstairs during the last half of the service, so would have missed the sermon] he preached a sermon a few Sundays ago where he lent over the pulpit very solemnly and said “Now I have a very serious question to ask you. WHAT am I going to wear at Easter?” and then went on to talk about the Easter Parade etc. Anyway, on Easter Sunday here was Marjorie wearing a new hat of white flowers and we said “How did you dare after Fr. Graham’s sermon and she said “Oh the funny thing is that I didn’t hear that sermon. When he was giving it I was at home sitting up in bed making the hat!”
I see that you and A. Muriel sent Caroline Bryan money for a wedding present. Jeannie [Cyn’s cousin] sent me an announcement and I meant to send something, but with Jean being away I left it, and now the wedding is on Sat. Perhaps we’ll send a cable and I can send a small present later. I wonder if Alan and Donna will have a big wedding? I think Marga would enjoy it, but probably not Bill! But it is up to the bride’s parents after all. [More Hazell descendants getting married- Caroline in England, Alan in New York.]


To answer the questions in your letter, Lindy was speaking against Ottawa becoming a Federal District in the Debate, but this was just the part she was given – not necessarily her convictions! Charlie got quite a good mark for his Mohamet paper, but was criticized for being too partial to him! He doesn’t like his history teacher at all and doesn’t get very good marks from her, but one thing he will probably have someone quite different next year. You were asking about Phyl Douglas’s mother – yes she is still alive, and Phyl goes to see her often. She is blind and deaf, poor dear, but still her mind is fine. Every now and then she has another heart attack and they think that this time she will go, but so far she has recovered. The Ganders came and had Easter dinner with us and it was nice to see them all again. I was talking to Lee about her sister Johnny – she is not at the Civic Hospital now but in a hospital where more or less incurables are. There doesn’t seem to be anything else that the Drs. can do for her and they can’t tell Lee what will happen or anything. They get her up in a wheelchair each day now but she still can’t help herself much – she can lift her arms a little and turn her head a bit but that is all. Strangely enough Lee says she will do certain things Lee tells her – such as “Put this on the bed Johnny”, but she can’t get her to nod for yes, or shake for no, or even squeeze her hand if she understands. They got her a small radio and she appears to love to listen to music, but she can’t turn it on or off herself, and Lee says that after 4 in the afternoon there is very little care and very few nurses. It is most heartrending and distressing, and poor Lee has become so careworn this winter. You were asking about Graham Smith – we heard that he and his family had left Ottawa and gone to Hamilton where her family lives. Then at Christmas we got a card from them with that postmark, but no address so I hope that he is doing better there, poor fellow.
I must stop now as it is 11 o’clock and I have managed to keep awake all evening, by not sitting down on the sofa! But just before I go I must tell you that on Sat. your grandson is setting out to walk 40 miles – or at least so many of the 40 as he can! I will enclose a cutting to tell you about it and I will let you know how the poor footsore boy feels and how he makes out. Cec is giving him 50¢ a mile and I am giving him 25¢ and Lindy 10¢ and he has a few other sponsors, so I hope he makes out all right.


Hello to Doris and Luenda from us all. How is your dear little white pussy? Our Saki is fine and sweet and fit, but did I tell you that our poor little Noli died? [The hamster.] He got sick apparently and couldn’t run on his wheel and then he just slept and slept until he died one night, poor little fellow.
Much love from us all to Auntie Muriel and please thank her for me for her birthday card. Lots of love to you from Lindy, Charlie and Cec and
Cyn.

Marjorie and Cyn at the Golden Wedding- no cake showing!

This April letter tells Carol about the activities of the Costain family in the spring of 1968, and so combined with the scrapbook, enables me to cover the summer too. Although just mentioned in passing, Cyn gives an idea of the children’s involvement in activities that would later become part of their adult lives. Linda belonged to the Debating Club- even in a school of 2000, limited appeal led to a membership of about 10 students- (not that she grew into a speech-making politician, but I’m fairly sure any teacher can address a crowd at the drop of a hat), and enjoyed helping with amateur plays. Charlie participated in the Miles for Millions fundraiser each year from this point on, which foreshadowed his adult marathons and biking tours. The whole family was interested in the political change in Canada, and the events of 1968 were world-shaking enough to ensure that the Costain teens would keep an eye on current events for the rest of their lives. The scrapbook shows pictures of the Golden Wedding the Women’s Auxiliary of the church were helping to celebrate- but not a photo of the cake that Cyn decorated for it!- and the announcements of a Hazell wedding and a new Costain cousin, Jeff Moor.

The children both were promoted at the end of June, Charlie to Grade 12 and Linda to her final year of high school, Grade 13. Cyn’s year of working at the Nursery School was over, although she would remain an organizer, and available for substitute teaching if needed. And plans were made for a cottage rental for the month of August, with enough room for teen friends or visiting family.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: