49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa, 9. Ontario.
11th Sept. 1968.
Well, the children have been back at school for a week now and things are beginning to get back into the old routine! With being on holiday nearly right up till school time we seemed to be very disorganized, and Linda in Grade 13 had to buy all her textbooks herself – the school provides them in all other grades now – so this was another scramble around. And of course, she had nothing to WEAR! It has been hot and humid, and she hadn’t much in the way of cotton dresses and her wool skirts etc. were too warm so this was another panic! Every one of us needed a haircut in the worst way – Cec and Charlie with curls all over and Lindy and me all shaggy, so we had to hasten to be respectable once more! I shudder to think what chaos we will be in this time next year getting Linda off to University!
The Nursery School started on Monday – at least Monday and yesterday they had Open House for the mothers and children and I went down to help with coffee for the mothers and give assistance where needed. The Nursery School is absolutely full now and we even have a waiting list, so we may open part time in the afternoon if we get enough children. I don’t know if I told you that we had a great upset not long after the school closed – our Director, Mrs. Kunce, sent in her resignation. She had a new job at a new Day Nursery over in the West End – of course a Day Nursery is a much bigger responsibility as it opens before 8 in the morning and the children are there all day until six or seven, and have meals too. She is getting a lot more money, but golly, she must be working like a fiend. I don’t know when she will see her own children. We were very sorry to see her go as we all liked her, but we felt she should have given us a bit more notice, as jobs are usually advertised and taken in Feb. and March, but we were very lucky and managed to persuade a neighbour in Rothwell Heights, Mabel Bennett, to take the job. She had taken all her training at the University with Mrs. Kunce, but had never taken a regular job as she has a family of 3 and didn’t particularly want to work, and we suggested she try it for a year anyway. By next year Gertrude Pierce will have finished enough of the training so that she can be Director, but at the moment we felt it was a bit too much for her, so she is going on with her night classes this winter and is second-in-command, as it were. Mabel is very nice – I have known her a bit for years, but she goes to the United Church, so I never knew her well, but she is lively and a lot of fun, so I think that she will be very good. We have got an Englishwoman, Mrs. Greenwell, taking my place. She and her family were new in the church this time last year, and they all work hard for the church. Her daughter, Laura is quite a friend of Linda and Charlie’s although she is a bit younger, and she has a boy of about 11. Mrs. Greenwell has done a lot of Brownie and Guide work, and has looked after children for mothers who are working, so we think that she will be pretty good. I am now the Registrar and Treasurer, which is keeping me busy. While I was on holiday other people looked after the registration, and the auditors were looking at the finances, so they were all landed back on me and I have been working hard to get everything straightened out before the school began. To complicate matters, the Post Office decided to give us door-to-door delivery instead of the Rural Route mailman, so all our addresses have changed and of course all our Nursery School forms giving people my address to send their fees, have to be changed – grrrr!
What with that and the fact that all the other organizations feel that they have to begin the year with violent energy, I seem to have been going to meetings every other day since I arrived home. The WA, which is now to be called the ACW – Anglican Church Women – have a meeting tonight, and I was at a Scientist Wives executive meeting on Monday. I am now the Social Convener of that, but I have co-opted Fanni to help me, so I think we will have quite a good time.
I hate to see the summer end, but I must admit that it is kind of nice to be back at home and have everyone but me back at work! Doesn’t that sound mean and horrid? But each year I think, oh, the summer – lovely lazy time – nothing to do but rest and enjoy yourself – and then I find that I seem to be busy all the time, and in some ways it is more work than the usual routine! It certainly seemed to be so this summer and although it was a beautiful place and a lovely cottage I can’t say that I came home feeling very rested. In fact I feel that I have relaxed and slept better since I came home than I did the whole month that I was away. It was partly having so many people around and partly Cec not being well I think, and also the fact that usually when we are at a cottage everyone helps with the work, but when there were so many of us although everyone did help, I still had to be the boss! You know I did all the cooking, which I chose and don’t mind at all, but I planned what we would eat and had to go shopping for it – and for all those people there was a lot of shopping – and then if the kids forgot it was their turn to wash up or anything, it was me to go and see they did it, and then washing and ironing too as well as the usual beds and sweeping and dusting etc. so there was plenty to do. You asked what about bed linen – they were all single beds in the cottage, so I took sheets etc. for us for and Granny and Grandpa, and then one extra lot for Joanne who was there the first weekend. I asked Merle to bring their own, and then I just took out them off the beds and washed and dried them each week and put them on again. I had to leave linen in the house for the Butchers coming to stay, so I could not take any more extras, but fortunately the weather was good and even when Granny and Grandpa left one morning and Charlie’s and Linda’s friends arrived that afternoon I was able to have the sheets washed and the beds ready! Merle told her sons to bring bed linen when they came, so fortunately I didn’t have to worry about them – just provide the beds. You asked if Sharon was any more helpful and how John was – well really I cannot say I enjoyed their visit much. Sharon is quite calm and competent with the children and so on and she had them to look after, but I don’t think she ever lifted a finger to help or even offered to do so. The children are sweet but Stephen would have very little to do with anyone except his parents so you couldn’t get to know him much. I was amazed about the baby – he is a dear little fellow – all smiles, and really very good, but Sharon would feed him and then leave him in his little plastic reclining baby-chair-bed thing that they have now, until he began to get fretty. Then she would put him in his carriage in the sitting room and rock him for a little till he fell asleep. There she would leave him in the middle of everyone in the living room, sunny and lovely outside, but no, here he was in amongst the cigarette smoke and chatter, and of course in about 10 or 15 minutes he would begin to stir around. She wouldn’t even wait till he woke up properly or cried, but she would have him up, out of the carriage and in his chair again and wide awake. He spent so long in this chair that of course he got bored and so he would fret and then you would pick him up – of course Linda and I didn’t mind this! – but it seemed to me the weirdest way of treating a baby. Sharon said “Oh, this is how he always is – he only cat naps!” However, one afternoon she was sleeping and Linda and I put him in his carriage and took him a walk up the lane until he fell asleep and then left him outside under a tree and he slept for an hour or more, and John said “He loves to be outside! Strange people! John did not impress me much this time – he seems to be getting more selfish and so irritable and grumbly! Bad hay fever & asthma is some excuse! Of course he considered the cottage as he does his parents’ home, so he didn’t have on his company manners I suppose, but when I would make lunch with soup, cold meat, cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers for sandwiches and then peaches, and cookies and tea afterwards and he would grumble at having nothing decent for lunch, I got mad. I told him that if he knew of a better hotel he could always move! When Linda grumbles at a meal now I just say “You’re just like your cousin John” and she is greatly offended! Liz and Lorne’s visit was a complete pleasure – the contrast is very marked and it is a pity, but one can’t help but compare.
Tomorrow I am going with Lee Gander and some of her friends to a small village about 50 miles away where there is a little shop which sells materials at bargain prices I have heard of this place for a few years but never knew exactly where it was, but Lee said she had gone and next time she was going she would take me, so I am looking forward to the trip. It used to be in a little house with every room crammed from floor to ceiling with bolts of material, I heard, but now they have got a shop, which is better though still packed tight, so I am looking forward to seeing if I can get some nice material. Before I do any sewing for myself I must lose some weight – I always gain in the summer when I make lunch at home for the children and we have sandwiches and I bake more cookies and desserts etc. so all my clothes are tight now and I must really get busy with a diet. Both Lindy and Charlie have quite filled out this summer- Lindy (about 5’6″) weighs 120 pounds and Charlie (about 5 foot 8 1/2 inches) I think is even over 120 a little bit. Lindy is quite horrified, but actually she is just nice but no longer like a little girl. To go back to the Ganders, Barry did very well in his Grade 13 last year and is beginning at Carleton University here in Ottawa this Fall. He went out with some friends to BC this summer and picked fruit to make some money, as it was very hard to get jobs here in Ottawa. Five boys drove out in a station wagon and took a tent and camped on the way, but from what Lee said, any money they earned seemed to be spent very freely as Barry had to phone for more on the way home! He hasn’t been very well since he came back and Lee was worried but he was to go for some tests to the doctor so I hope that they found out what it was and can do something about it. Dougie begins high school this month, so he is not so small anymore, but Cathie is still in Grade School. I was asking Lee about her sister Johnny, and there seems to be no change and no hope – in fact if anything she seems to have retrogressed since I talked to Lee at the beginning of the summer. Then, she could take a comb and put it on the bed if Lee told her to, but now she can’t even move her arms herself, and she doesn’t seem to hear or take anything in. Lee says that she is really in a coma all the time, and she seems to have given up any hope that there will ever be a change. Poor Lee, she has gone through such a dreadful time and for months she went to see Johnny twice a day and hoped against hope, but now it’s as if she feels it doesn’t make any difference to Johnny whether she goes or not and through the summer she has been up at the cottage, and just gone in a few times. She says there is a good nurse and she is well cared for and this is really all she can do.
On Friday I am having Mr. Graham and Marjorie and Dick to dinner and then to show us their pictures of their summer travel. Marjorie and Dick went to Prince Edward Island this summer and along the coast of the Maritimes, and Mr. Graham went to Europe – Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy – so he will have some lovely pictures. Very fortunately, he was home before the trouble in Czechoslovakia, but we had arranged for him to meet friends of ours Joe and Eva Poldus, who have been over here – Joe is a physicist – and we are all concerned about them. Another of our friends, Joe Pleva, is now here in Canada, and has been here all summer – he is a professor in Prague, and his wife and son and daughter are still there. We heard that his daughter of 18 had reached West Germany, but Joe had said right at the beginning that if the Russians went in he could never go back, so we don’t know what he is going to do. Mr. Graham gave me a beautiful present from Florence – a lovely oblong tray with turquoise and gold colours, so I was very delighted. The Butchers gave me a set of 4 table mats and napkins – very fascinating – hand blocked or whatever they call it – and of all sorts of different cats, but I do wish that they could have managed 6 or 8 instead of 4 – I never have just 4 people to a meal! Sam Butcher also gave Cec a book on glass blowing which was nice, but I couldn’t help it be a bit amused – Cec’s friend from work, Franz Alberti lent us his boat, so as a thank you Cec bought him a beautiful little radio costing about 60 dollars. I said that I thought this was a bit much, but Cec said “Well if we’d had to rent a boat it would have cost us 100 dollars or so” and I said “Well, we lent the Butchers a house and if they’d had to rent it it.would have cost them much more than 100 dollars!” But still! I was a bit fed up with the house when I came back – Sally had this useless babysitter girl with her and between them I felt they could have left the place more as they found it, but one job they did do over and above the call of duty, was to wash the kitchen walls and ceiling! They were dirty as we plan to paint this Fall, and were leaving it to do then, but they must like washing walls more than wiping spots off floors and ovens!
I must stop now as I seem to have spent all day on this letter with millions of interruptions. The phone has rung about 10 times, one of them Ruth Lockwood who sends her love to you. The other calls were Nursery School or WA or something, and then I spent quite a little while watching a bad little groundhog sitting on a box beside our garage! He has been having a ball in our garden eating tomatoes and corn – along with his friends the birds and squirrels – and Cec has put mothballs in his hole and hoped that Saki would chase him away, but he was just happily sitting up there in the rain as if he owned the place!
Must stop now, but will write next week and answer some of your questions. Love to Auntie Muriel, hello to Doris and Luenda.
Much love from us all