The rest of 1966 carried on as usual, but the atmosphere in Canada was one of simmering anticipation- the next year would be one hundred years since Canada’s Confederation as a country separate from England, and the whole country- townships, villages, towns, cities, provinces and the federal government- were preparing Centennial projects to commemorate the occasion. There was a catchy song in both official languages playing all over- “Ca-Na-Da, (one little, two little, three Canadians) notre pays! Ca-na-da- (now we are 20 million) we love thee…” – or something like that. And to make sure that Canada was on the map, the latest world’s fair, called Expo 67, would be taking place in Montreal. Building was happening everywhere!
The Costains would be going to Expo, since Ottawa was near enough for a day trip, and were involved in various local events, but their project for the centenary was different. After celebrating Canada’s birthday, they were going as a family to England: the first time in 18 years that Cyn would be back, and able to see the friends that she had written to all those years. So work and school life continued with an added edge of planning, saving, and expectation.
The letter continues with the events of July 10-24 …
Mom and Dad went up to Lea and Wendell’s cottage on the Sunday evening (10th) and on the Mon. I baked the anniversary cake. I made it in my 3 square Christmas tins and used a very nice birthday cake recipe I had. I made the big one at the bottom white and the two smaller ones pink just for fun. On the Tues. I iced them all with a gold coloured icing and put the smaller cakes on foil covered cardboard squares, and made dozens of different sized gold coloured sugar bells, and then finally on the Wed. I put it all together and decorated it and stuck on the bells and then put the whole thing in a big plastic bag and put it in the freezer! In the meanwhile, on the Tues. evening I was in bed and just asleep when the phone rang and here it was Carman – they were at Renfrew about 50 miles away and would arrive in about 1 1/2 hours. What a to do! Of course they had a big tent and the idea was that they would sleep in it, but it was about 12:30 then and the thought of trying to put up a tent and put tired children in it at that hour of the night was a bit much, so I rushed upstairs, and woke Lindy and Charlie. We took Linda’s things into Charlie’s room and made up the sofa for her, then in her room we had two single beds, the sofa and an extra mattress on the floor for the 4 children. Then the family room with the new sofa bed was all ready there as Mom and Dad had left the day before, so I decided that Leona and Carman could just crawl in there. They finally arrived about 2:30 with all the children asleep on a mattress in the back of the station wagon and they were very good, all woke up smiling and we tucked them up in bed and they were very lively for a while. David is 8, Leslie the little girl is 6, Robin is 4 – 5 soon, and the youngest Phillip is 3. They are quite nice little children, but maybe it was because they were all together in one room, but there seemed to be an awful lot of argument and tears and telling tales! Perhaps I’ve just forgotten what little children are like. I certainly had forgotten how early they wake up, and every morning I was awakened at 7 or earlier with bangs, thumps and bumps from above while their parents slept happily through it! Leona is very calm and good tempered with them – perhaps too much so, Carman is the disciplinarian but somehow they didn’t strike me as too happy a family. Carman is very self-centred you know and not at all easy-going and nice mannered as Cec and he is quite horrid to both Leona and the children at times we think. As for being a help while a lot of people were around, he needed a full-time slave of his own all the time – I got used to finding his shoes, sandals, dirty glasses, coffee cups etc. each morning when I went into the sitting room (he never went to bed before 3) but the day I found his dirty socks in the middle of my living room carpet as well, I nearly said what I thought! However! Mom and Dad were coming back from Lea’s on Thursday afternoon, and Linda and I were to stay home that evening and babysit while the rest of them went to the first Football Game of the season. In the afternoon Leona and I went down to Shoppers City for me to do my grocery shopping for the weekend. You can imagine – I filled cart after cart and ended up with a bill for over 100 dollars! We arrived home with all this – a roasting hot day – to be met with the news that while we were out Russell had called and they would be arriving in about 1 hour! We dashed and got all the food put away – quite a job – and then there they were. Now in this family there is Russell and Errol, and then Terry who is about 3 months younger than Linda (14) – he is a very nice boy – in fact the whole family is really nice, and Terry and Charlie (13) got on like a house on fire and were buddies straight away. Then there is Brian, Brent and Bobby- the latter about 9 and the others in between, and then a little girl Barbara, who is 7 or 8. The little girl is cute, with front teeth missing, and very sweet and affectionate, whereas Leslie is the most self-centred young lady you would ever meet! They all piled in, tired and hot, and they would have been here sooner but Errol got sunstroke in Winnipeg where they stayed a few days with one of her sisters, and had to go to hospital, and was still headachy, and not feeling too good. Just after they arrived, here drove up Wendell with Mom and Dad, so there we were, 19 for dinner! Wendell wouldn’t stay but set off to drive back to the cottage to get Lea, saying he would be back about 8, and the idea was that the Russells would go over and sleep at the Atchison’s 5th Avenue house – they have no rooms let now. I had been going to have chicken for dinner but I couldn’t manage that but fortunately I had bought dozens of frozen meat patties, so I cooked them and had corn and French bread and salad then ice cream cones and grapes, and I think everyone had enough to eat. At least everyone got one helping always as I was last in line over the weekend and I always found something to eat! We hardly got everyone fed when they had to begin going to the Football Game as they already had the tickets, and fortunately, Charlie (who is now a regular paper boy down at the NRC like he used to do for Johnny) was given a ticket by one of the papers, so they were able to take Terry with them. Errol and I cleared up and she is a marvel that girl. I liked her very much and talk about a help – all weekend if there was a job to be done – Errol did it. She didn’t wait for me to begin or to ask, she was just right there working and was the most efficient and practical helper. Leona would help but she would dash off to do something for the children in the middle, or sit talking and forget there were dishes to be done, but Errol would have them finished before anyone noticed if she could. Frankly, Leona is a nitwit, Cec and I decided, but Errol is very nice and we liked Russell too – he is much more like Cec than Carman is and he and Cec got on very well together. He would give Cec a hand with things too, whereas Carman would sit under the tree and read while Cec cut the grass around him, sort of thing. Anyway, that first evening we sat and waited for the Atchisons to come, and Linda and I put the little Carmans to bed and as time went on we decided that the Russells might as well sleep that night in Carman’s tent which he had put up under the old apple tree – where the children used to sling the hammock. Errol was keen to get her children in bed as they were all tired, so eventually they unpacked and put the children to bed in the tent, and still no Atchisons.
Finally the others came back from the Game, and poor Errol was just about dead on her feet so off she went to bed, and of course then, at about twenty to 12 Lea and family appeared! Well, we finally got to bed about 2 or 2:30 and awake at 7 of course – the little dears! With Mom and Dad back in their own room we put Carman and Leona on the porch to sleep – and of course they heard their children even less! We had 19 sleeping that night and breakfast was from 7:30 till noon! Leona annoyed me madly by rushing to make everyone bacon and eggs as they appeared whereas I reckoned that anyone wanting breakfast after 10:30 could have coffee from the perc. and make themselves some toast and marmalade. I might say that I was having a baking morning and had cleared everyone outside as it was a lovely morning and I made pies and cookies and a cake and could really have done without the bacon and egg activities! The Russell family were to go over to Lea’s that afternoon and take their luggage to stay, but I said for them to come back to dinner as I was sure that Lea wouldn’t have a meal ready – anyway she is still hobbling around with her back, so I had said why didn’t they all come but Lea said Oh, no, they wouldn’t, but I suggested that they come for coffee and dessert later, and she said they would do that. I had a big 7lb. roast of beef, so we were going to have that with roast potatoes and green beans, then sponge cake with raspberries and ice cream for dessert. I decided that the children could eat on the porch and as my table will hold just 8 adults, which we would be, I set the table in the dining room nicely, and was all organized when at 5 o’clock Lea phoned could they come to dinner after all as they had nothing ready and Errol had persuaded her I wouldn’t mind. Grrrr! This was 4 extra, and believe me, there was no roast beef left for sandwiches next day! Merle, Dix and Bruce were arriving that evening, but we didn’t know when – so Errol said they wouldn’t wait so that she could get the children to bed in good time, and they and the Atchisons left about 9. I had got ready Charlie’s room for Merle and Dix, and Linda and Charlie and Bruce were to sleep out in the tent – they had air mattresses and sleeping bags and it was a lovely big tent. Lindy and I had a good laugh – before they all came, I told Linda that they were probably all too old to sleep together like in the good all days, and she would have to sleep somewhere else, but when it came to the point there just didn’t seem to be any other place, and none of them seemed to think a thing about it, so in they all went together and had some very good bedtime chats! The Moors finally didn’t come till after midnight as Dix had to work that day, so we had another late night. 15 sleeping that night!
The next day was the Golden Wedding! Everyone was supposed to be here at 5 o’clock, so that we could take pictures while it was still nice and sunny, so I suggested that the families all go swimming in the afternoon, so that I would be left a clear field, and that is what they did. They all went to Lea’s and the youngsters went to a nearby beach on the Rideau River with some of the adults, and Merle had a chat with Lea, and Mom and Dad stayed here and had a rest and Cec and I got things ready. I set a buffet table on the dining room table with the Wedding Cake as a centerpiece, and gold candles and it really looked lovely. I had bought a huge 24 lb. turkey at Shoppers City and for an extra 15¢ a lb. they roasted it for me and had it all cooked and piping hot at 5:30. This was a great blessing as it saved having the oven on all that hot day and saved me such a lot of trouble. Besides that I had a big ready cooked ham, and I made a tomato aspic salad, a potato salad, a macaroni salad, a green salad, and a mixed bean salad which I had got Leona to make for me the previous day. Then I had hot rolls carrot sticks, celery and radishes etc. and then the cake with ice cream for dessert. Everyone was back in good time, and I was all ready and beautifully organized, and we all got dressed – Lindy in her blue linen which I had made and which looks very nice, and me in my new shaded blue dress for the first time. Leona had a white linen sheath, and then when the Russells and Atchisons came, Errol had had her hair done and had curled Barbara’s and they had on Mother and Daughter dresses of a very pretty pink and white lace which Errol had made them for her sister’s wedding. They looked so pretty and the dresses were lovely. Bruce and I rushed and got the turkey and put it in the oven while we took pictures outside, and then we went in and Russell and his family gave Mom and Dad a big bunch of carnations and the Atchisons a bottle of ‘Golden Wedding’ Canadian whisky, and Merle and Dix gave them a card with the present of the trip to Prince Edward Island. Cec and I had been shopping at Birks and we got Mom a lovely little gold brooch of a spray of tiny maple leaves made of 3 kinds of gold – yellow, white and red, and for Dad a tiny little tie pin of one small gold maple leaf with a wee diamond dewdrop on it. They seemed very pleased and we thought they would be nice mementoes for them. We then had dinner, with Russ carving the turkey, and Dix the ham, and there was plenty for everyone – we sat some in the dining room and some out under the tree and it was just lovely – the weather couldn’t have been more perfect – not even any mosquitoes! Afterwards Mom and Dad cut the cake, and then Cec produced champagne (we found we could rent glasses from the wine shop for 25¢) and we all drank their healths, the children in coke, and ate cake and ice cream. It really went beautifully, without a hitch, and everything was so pleasant and went so smoothly that I really felt much less tired than the 2 previous evenings. The next day, Sunday, we invited everyone to come for a Wiener Roast to christen Cec’s new barbecue, so the Russells came after lunch – at least poor things, I don’t think that they got lunch at Lea’s and I rather doubt if they got any breakfast either from what I’ve heard, but anyway they brought Darryl and Patty Lu with them, and they all had a good time, playing badminton and baseball etc. We had planned supper for 6 and of course Lea and Wendell didn’t appear until 7 or after but we didn’t wait for them. We had hot dogs and salads and Potato Chips and afterwards watermelon and the 2 pecan pies I had made. Cec was very pleased because his fire worked beautifully and the hot dogs were lovely. We sat around and chatted and then bade farewell to Russell and his family as next day they went with the Atchisons up to the cottage for 1 day and then on the Tues. Merle and Dix left with Mom and Dad to drive down to Brantford and Russ and family were driving down the same day and spending a day or so with them then heading home again as Russ only had 2 weeks. He has another week’s holiday but he is a great hunter you know and some friend of his had arranged a week’s hunting in the Fall with a plane, so he was keeping time for that. He left us some moose sausage in the freezer, but we haven’t tried it yet! This left us with just the Carman family, and it was a bit of a mistake, as we were all so tired after the weekend, that I would really have been much happier if they had all gone! However, they did go to Lea’s for 2 nights and then came back on Sat. evening and took Cec and me out to dinner and to another football game. I had actually never seen a football game in Canada, so it was quite fun as it was a lovely evening but although Ottawa won it wasn’t a very good game. I enjoyed the dinner which we had at an Italian Restaurant, and we had yummy pizzas. The Carmans left the next morning and really we all collapsed in a heap! Quite a visitation.
Our next excitement was our own Anniversary, on the Tues. and Cec and I went out to dinner at a German Restaurant and had a very nice dinner and then went on to a movie “Walk Don’t Run” with Cary Grant, which was quite amusing. I forgot to tell you that before the crowd came, we all packed into the car – Mom and Dad and us 4, and went to the Drive-In to see it “Born Free” the film about Elsa. It was really marvellous and we all enjoyed it so much – if you ever get the chance, you should see it.
After all my own excitement, I had to gird my loins and get down to work again, as there was a wedding in our Church on the Sat. afternoon, and the WA were catering to the reception, and I was in charge. It was a young man who lives here in Rothwell Heights and comes to our church, although his parents go to the United, and his bride comes from a small town not far from Ottawa, but apparently her parents didn’t approve of the wedding as they didn’t even come to it, and the young couple paid for everything themselves. We felt so sorry for them as they are very nice -not young and silly and dashing off to get married in haste, but had gone together since High School and she is a teacher and he has just got his BA and is specializing for a year and then going to teach Gym etc. Anyway, it ended in being a very pretty wedding, and we served them a nice cold buffet and it all went very well. The only bridesmaid was a disappointment though – her dress was rather an ugly shade of dark gold – more like a Fall wedding. All this time Linda and Charlie were toiling away at typing – we did let them have 2 days off while all the family were here, but otherwise they went every morning and seem to have done very well. They are not madly fast yet but seem quite accurate – more than me! – they finished on 4th of this month and apart from having a Czech. Dr Poldus from work to dinner one evening, and Mr. Graham and the wife of a new Fellow of Cec’s who hasn’t come yet another evening, life has been placid and I have been slowly getting the washing and ironing done and tidying and cleaning gradually. Linda and Charlie’s rooms were just shambles after the little Costains left – no other words describe it. They had every toy in every cupboard all over the place, although we told them certain things weren’t to be touched, and some of Charlie’s things will never be the same again! Lindy thinks we were very silly to have the whole house so clean and beautiful before they came, but at least I can remember that I had it looking nice once this summer! I forgot to tell you a very important piece of Costain news! Charlie has just reminded me that on our wedding anniversary I was standing next to him and suddenly said “You are taller than me!” We immediately dashed and measured, and sure enough he is about half an inch or more taller, so here I am the smallest member of the family! Linda is about half a head taller than I am now and whereas last year she was about the same height as Janet and Joanne was much taller, I now notice that she is as tall as Joanne and that Janet is left behind. Now to get back to some of your letters. You were talking about the Test Matches in one of them and asking if we were interested, but really we never even hear of them hardly. Last week I heard a BBC news broadcast and they said that the WI were beating England hollow and since then Cec has been talking to a Fellow at the Lab. who is going down to the University in Jamaica or Trinidad – I forget which – to teach for a year, and he has been getting the local papers and is very interested and told Cec how well the WI team are doing. This man, Barry Morrow got his PhD in Cambridge and has a nice English wife, and they have just got a little baby. I expect everyone is now very interested in the Empire Games, about which we do hear something, but mainly how Canada is doing so it is very hard to get a good overall picture. Cec probably knows more as he hears the late night sports review on TV but I don’t watch. We have just been watching the TV news now at 7 o’clock, as a big new bridge being built over the Rideau River partially collapsed this afternoon, killing about 6 men and more than 50 more seriously injured. It seems fantastic that in this day and age such things could happen but earlier this year a new building under construction did the same thing, although fortunately not so serious. You feel that something must be very wrong. You mentioned earlier that you had heard that Vivian Leigh and Sir John Geilgud were at Young’s Island, and we were interested because Cec met them when he was down in Washington at Easter. He stayed with a scientist friend and his wife and while he was with them they took him to the first night of Sir J.G. and V.L.’s new play, as the young brother of Cec’s friend was in the cast. At the moment, I can’t remember the man’s name or the name of the play, but it was going on to New York after Washington, and it must have been after the New York run that they came to St. V. After the play Cec was taken backstage to meet the cast and was introduced to V.L. and warned that she didn’t enjoy being told that she was remembered in ‘Gone with the Wind’. Cec said that she looked beautiful on the stage, but older and very tired near by – she hadn’t been well during the run, and they were quite anxious about her, because of course she had TB once and so I don’t suppose is very strong. [See post January to May 1966] You were answering my letter and in it talking about Harry Kroto and his wife up at the cottage, and getting him all confused with one or two others who were there! Harry is a very dark vivacious young man and he is from England and his wife is English too – he has a strange name because his parents were refugees from Germany before the war but he was born and brought up in England. They are leaving NRC at the end of this month after their 2 years and he is going down to the US for a year. We will have a farewell party for them when we come back from Brantford. You were asking about Linda and Charlie’s reports – they arrived about a month ago and were both good without being wildly outstanding, but that is fine with us! We hear that Darryl failed Grade 9 again, which means that he, at 16 is behind Charlie who is 13. He is certainly one mixed up boy, but you couldn’t find a nicer, more polite boy during the time he spent here with all the visitors. Lea is dreadful with him I think, but she always has been and this is the trouble we gather – he is resentful and uses school to get his own back. While we had our guests we were so pleased because our garden looked very nice. It has been so hot that everything has bloomed and finished in no time at all, but just then we had masses of delphiniums in flower and lots of yellow and gold and orange day lilies and it really looked lovely. Even our centennial rose was blooming madly, but we were disappointed because it turns out to be a multi-flora so the flowers are small, and although they bloom in clusters and make a nice show we prefer the bigger blossoms. It is a lovely orangey-red colour though, so we are glad it is doing well, and even Charlie’s poor little dug-up rose put forth one flower! Our little Saki is growing into a lovely little cat and is lots prettier now and just as playful and sweet. Linda throws her around like a little bag and the children play with her by the hour and she is so good tempered and will jump at your feet as you go by or pretend to pounce on you, but never a scratch or bite, and always little soft paws without a claw showing. We got some pictures yesterday of her when she was tiny and we all had to laugh as she was so funny and tiny and wispy with a little straggly tail! Now she is really pretty and so white and clean, but still a little cat – an appetite like a baby horse though. The hamster is as fat and cuddly as ever, and his appetite is pretty good too – a bathtub full of pablum twice a day – a doll’s bathtub that is! Also sunflower seeds and peanuts and some lettuce or celery or apple. Ruth Lockwood is going to look after them for us when we are away. My sewing came to a halt when our visitors came, but as I told you I did finish the pale blue linen for Lindy and she looks very pretty in it as it is just the colour of her eyes. She thinks it is too plain, but I think it is very nice. She finished her yellow shift too and then I made the material you sent me for my birthday with the big navy blue flowers on it into a very nice dress for me with a front opening, which is a nice change from struggling with a back zipper. And I like the pattern and think that I will make another like it but I find the material very crumply – you know, you wear it once and then it has to be ironed again, even if I have starched it. You say that you don’t think I like the materials which you sent me much, actually I do like them, except for the fact that they both have the kind of mauvy-pink colour which I don’t care for too much. I was going to make the pique into a sundress, but I have no time now, and think I’ll keep it till next year. I have worn the dress you brought me from New York last year all summer long. I don’t know what made you think I didn’t like it – I do, but if you remember last year we didn’t have much weather for sundresses, whereas this year I have worn hardly anything else. The one you gave me is lovely as it doesn’t show the dirt much, and when I do wash it it opens out and is so easy to iron! Thank you so much for the cheque for $18. I told Linda that you had sent her $10 and she is very thrilled. She has been so good this summer, with only 3 dresses really, as nothing from last year would fit her, so her pale blue dress, the yellow dress, a grey and white dress we bought and a couple of summer skirts is all she has had apart from a pair of jeans and a couple of pairs of shorts! Anyway, with her birthday coming and going away too, I thought she could do with something else, and we went shopping and got her a very pretty two-piece. The skirt is a nice soft sage green and the top, which comes over the skirt at the waist is a cream colour with a little half belt in front of the green. It has a plain round neck and is sleeveless and she looks very nice in it. It is made of a laminated jersey – like the mauve coat, you know, but a finer thinner material, so should look nice, both for best and then when she begins school next month. I suggested to Linda that she use your money to get two nice blouses and she is very pleased with the idea. The linen one you saw sounds lovely, but perhaps it is just as well that you didn’t get it as she is so tall and long waisted that we have to be careful that blouses which are slim enough for her are also long enough. The ones she wears for school are the shirt type with good tails that tuck in well, and she thought she would get one with a green print (which she has already seen and had her eye on) and a nice white one. She can wear them with the green skirt. [Note: in 1966, girls were not allowed to wear trousers to school. We didn’t wear uniform, but there were rules!] And I will send you some green string and fertilizer for your violets when I get home from the cheque too, and you didn’t say if you wanted batteries now or not. Let me know.
I must stop, as I have been typing all day off and on, and my fingers are sore! At the moment I can’t think of another thing to tell you but probably I will sooner no sooner seal the letter that I will think of all sorts of interesting things. Anyway, much love from us all and say hello to Doris and Luenda and Mr. Cox and Dowers from us. One evening when everyone was here we had a film show and Merle asked to see our West Indian pictures, and it took us back quite a while! [Since the trip had been a decade earlier!] Love to Auntie Muriel and Peggy and much love to you from Cyn.
Dearest Mummy, It is so long since I wrote you a proper letter that I hardly know where to begin. I am so sorry, but after our visitors left, we all were just exhausted, and seemed to spend the first week either sleeping or sitting, and it was only last week that I finally got the last of the 16 sheets washed and ironed, not to mention the other odds and ends! In addition to that all the garden things are flourishing and I have been picking and freezing – raspberries, green beans, wax beans and peas. The small carrots are ready and the beetroots, so I should get on with those sometime today. The raspberries haven’t been as good as last year as it was very dry for a while when they first began and the berries were just little wizened up things, but then we did get some rain and they improved. Mom Costain when she was here just loved a jar of blackcurrant jam which I had made 2 or 3 years ago, but I am the only one who likes it here so I hadn’t bothered since. However, when I have the currants it seemed a shame not to make some jam for her to take home so Cec picked me the currants on Sunday (sitting peacefully on a garden chair!) and I spent one entire evening topping and tailing the miserable things and then making the jam. I don’t think there is more than 2 lbs. of it – I put it in small plastic jars with lids – but it was more than 2 lbs. amount of work. My fingernails are still stained black. We still have lots of currants on the bushes, but I don’t think I will deprive the birds of them! Leona was crazy about gooseberry jam, and again no one here eats it except me, so we picked a big plastic bag full for her to take with her, and they were still very firm, so she hoped that she would get them home and be able to make some jam. I still have the bag of gooseberries in the freezer from last year! We have had a simply incredible summer – beautiful sunny weather day after day for 3 months or so. Ever since the children finished school at the beginning of June it has been lovely nearly all the time – we have had occasional thunder showers and one or two cool days, but always the next day has been warm and nice again, and we have even had more pleasant hot days than miserable humid ones. We have had it very hot – over 90 quite a bit, but the nights have been quite pleasant and usually the humid horrid weather just was a day or so, and then nice again. Yesterday turned very hot and humid and was over 90, but there was a thunderstorm about midnight and today is lovely and cool and sunny in the high 70ies. It has been perfect for all those people who have cottages, and would have been so nice for us last year! However, we certainly couldn’t have managed our visitors nearly so well without the gorgeous weather, so I can be thankful. Actually, the hot weather doesn’t make me any more energetic of course, but there haven’t been all that many days when it was an effort to move, although I am beginning to get fed up with trying to think of meals without putting the oven on! I must be needing a holiday to be getting fed up with cooking, and ours begins on Tuesday! We drive down to Stratford on Tuesday, and stay in a Guest House. That evening we go to see ‘Henry V’ and then next day Cec and I hope to go over to London for a quick visit with Pete and Lu Forsyth while Linda and Charlie stay in Stratford and go to the matinee of the opera ‘Don Giovanni’. This seemed the simplest thing, as really our children and the Forsyth children don’t know each other now and have very little in common, and Charlie was quite heartbroken at the thought of not seeing the opera, which is his favourite. Personally, Mozart’s operas don’t thrill me that much, but he loves them. Then when we come back we go to see ‘Twelfth Night’ that evening and afterwards drive to Brantford. That makes an awfully long day, but we arranged it that way as Merle and Dix thought that they might bring Mom and Dad over to see ‘Twelfth Night’ too, and we would all be going back to Brantford together. While we are in Brantford John and Sharon and their new baby Steven will be there too as they are home for a month, and while they are there there will be a double christening on the Sunday with Lorne and Liz’s new little baby Cynthia. I had thought I might be godmother to my namesake but they are both going to be a little members of the United Church so I don’t suppose they will have godparents.
Lindy’s birthday is on the next day and we will spend most of the day in Brantford and then go back to Stratford to see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and spend the night before we drive home the next day. We will be away just 8 days, but it will be a nice break, and Cec took quite a lot of time off when we had the visitors etc. so he doesn’t have much time to spare if we plan to take a month in England next year. You will be glad to know that we have saved airfare to England and back, so now all we have to do is save the money we will spend when we are there, and we won’t have to “Go Now – Pay Later”! I have at least 3 very nice letters of yours to answer, and all sorts of things to thank you for, like the cheque and anniversary card etc. but I think that I will begin by trying to get you up to date with our doings, and then I may find that I have answered some of your questions while doing so. I think that the last time I wrote you a decent letter was at the end of June just before Mom and Dad came. We had the Sunday School Prizegiving on the 26th and in the afternoon the S.S. races etc. and then the Chicken Barbeque – do you remember last year? It was a very hot day again and the chicken got a bit burned but everything else was fine! The next day Mom and Dad arrived by train during the afternoon both looking very well and exactly the same as they have looked for the last 10 years.
The next evening Lindy and I were invited to a shower for Alayne Staniforth by Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Craven. Alayne is the eldest daughter of Phyllis Staniforth, who you will probably remember is a very close friend of Margaret Savic’s. She and Margaret have always been pillars of the Altar Guild, so this is why the Shower and all of us Church ladies were there. Alayne is the oldest girl – there are 2 others, one training as a nurse, and one, Pamela who is Linda’s age. Alayne is a Hospital Librarian, and her fiancé is a Medical Student and they have been going steady since High School, although Robert moved with his family to Vancouver about 4 years ago. They are to be married on August 20th in our church, and then will live in Vancouver. The Shower was great fun, and Lindy and I made up a Kitchen Basket, with all sorts of little presents in it for our gift and she really got a wonderful lot of useful things and no duplicates. I even managed to make her an apron, and Linda wants one the same, so I will have to hustle on with it! Alayne’s was blue and white stripes but Linda is going in for green this Fall, so I have got a white material with green and gold spots, and a gay green trim, so I hope it will look nice and that she will be pleased. We had quite a nice visit with Mom and Dad – not doing much, and of course Linda and Charlie began their Typing Lessons on 4th July, and had to be there from 8:30 to 11:30, so this meant an early rising. They left here at 7:45 and got the bus downtown, and it put them off right outside the door of the Business School (next door to the Zenith Shop.)
We had Carman’s friends Joy and Jack Locke over one evening to meet Mom and Dad as they knew them from when the Lockes lived in Penticton, and late one night the phone rang and here it was Carman, saying that they had decided after all to make the trip East, and could we cope with them. Of course Cec said yes, and they were to arrive on 13th, driving and camping on the way. In the meanwhile, Mom and Dad had told us that Russ and Errol’s little girl had scarlet fever when they saw them in Saskatoon and didn’t know if she would be well enough or the boys catch it, so we had no idea if they were coming or not.
That week Cec took some days off work and he and Dad began building a big barbeque fireplace in the back garden. Dad had built a big retaining wall at the back of the garden of his new house in B.C. so Cec thought he would have expert advice, but of course the job turned out to be an enormous one and took much longer than they thought as always happens! It is at the back corner of the patio, and if you remember Cec had piled there some cut limestone blocks which Ken had used for a fireplace in the other house and which had been torn out when they remodeled. Cec always said that he would use them to build a fireplace, but of course he had to build it out of concrete blocks first and pour cement for a platform, and then face the whole thing and chimney with the limestone, so it was a very big job, but it really looks beautiful now. It is sort of 3-cornered, with the firebox and chimney in the middle and two wings on either side, which Cec has covered with slate tiles, so that there is a working space on either side. Cec of course wanted to get it done before all our visitors came, as we didn’t think our little hibachi would be much use for all that crowd, but Grandpa went away in the middle of it, so he had a hard time getting it done in time. However, he managed, and we christened it while they were here and Cec was very pleased that he could cook 36 hotdogs at once!
Just a note of review of the Costain Family: Mom and Dad Costain had 5 children: Merle, Lea, Cec, Russell and Carman, all married, with a total of 16 grandchildren. Merle, Lea, and Cec live in Ontario- Lea and Cec in Ottawa, and this is where the family plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their parents’ marriage. Mom and Dad, and Carman’s family live in British Columbia so have the farthest to travel, Russell and family live in Saskatchewan (although Cyn says Alberta, which surprised me) and in the end all (except the 2 oldest grandchildren, Merle’s sons John and Lorne and their very young families) managed to make it to Ottawa in July to celebrate.
[Continued from Monday’s letter…]
Tuesday. Linda and Charlie are off to school for their exams and Cec is away to work, so here I am to finish my letter. I am meeting the children at 12:15 and we are going downtown to get Daddy’s birthday present and Father’s Day present! This year the Columbus Meeting isn’t until Sept. so for once Cec has his birthday at home – we are going to celebrate by having Mr. Graham and the Grahams over for bridge. We thought that we would get him a new card table for Father’s Day as the old one is not very presentable now, but as F’s Day isn’t until Sunday he won’t have it for this occasion. Saki is rushing madly around at the moment trying to run off some of her high spirits! She just loves going outside now and climbs all the trees and the other day we couldn’t find her anywhere and then looking up the old apple tree we saw her fast asleep up in the branches. She still uses her sandbox inside, and doesn’t seem to think the garden soil is the same thing at all. While Cec was away last week we took her down to the Vet. Dr. Cherry for her distemper shot, and poor little thing she had a horrid time. She was just terrified and gave a great squall when he gave her the injection and then bit the assistant who was holding her and rushed off. Her ears have always been very dirty inside and I had cleaned them a bit with the cotton covered sticks and warm water, but I told the vet and he gave them a great cleaning with cotton wool and got out gobs of black stuff and of course she hated this. He then looked at some of this stuff under his microscope and found she had ear mites and showed me the little things wiggling (Charlie wouldn’t look – Lindy wouldn’t even come into the Vets.) and so he put some stuff in her ears and frightened her some more – so much so, poor little thing that as she was climbing up Charlie and me she had a B.M. and didn’t do our coats any good! However, she soon recovered when we got her back in the car – which she quite likes, and I have been putting in the ear stuff and she doesn’t mind me doing it. She also has some vitamin drops and she loves them and licks them off the dropper with great gusto! Noli is doing fine and is just as fat and gentle as ever. Saki loves to watch him in his cage and if we go out quite often will go and sit up beside the cage for company. Of course if Noli is out on the floor Saki thinks he is a plaything, particularly if he runs, so we keep them apart! Our plans for the summer are slightly more organized – Mom and Dad are arriving on the 27th of this month, in 2 weeks time. We have got a beautiful new sofa bed for the family room, as we felt they had slept on that old one for so many visits that they deserved a new one for their Golden Wedding! It is a brown sofa when closed, about the same length as the old one, but it opens out so that the head of the bed is the back of the sofa, and so makes a big Queen-size bed. It has a foam mattress and is very comfortable – the children keep begging to open it out so they can lie in luxury and watch television! Just after we had ordered this what should happen but the washing machine should break down! Of course when it broke down last time over 2 years ago the man told us this was giving out and that was breaking down etc. and it had been leaking, so it was expected but of course it would happen just then. Cec said it wasn’t even worth getting a repair man out to look at it and that we should look at new ones, so 2 weeks ago we went out to Simpson-Sears and got a beautiful new one. It is pretty much like the old one but just a few more adjustments – in the old one I could either have the machine full of water or if I wanted a smaller wash I had to stay there and push the button when it was full enough, and then come back and do the same thing for the rinse, but this one has three amounts of water and I can set at any one and it does either a small, medium or large wash. While we were waiting to get it I went back to my old friend the Coinwash, and of course got all behind and in my washing and ironing and seemed to spend all last week catching up. I was in the middle of washing all the curtains etc. too and had got Lindy’s curtains and bedspreads done but now will have to attack the rest. We have got the Indian rug in the family room and it looks very nice and fits the colour scheme beautifully and makes it much cosier I think. To go back to our visitors this summer – Merle phoned up when Cec was away, and apparently she had got fed up with waiting to hear what Russell and his family were going to do this summer and had phoned them. You know the rumour has been going around that they would come and visit us for Mom and Dad’s Golden Wedding celebration, so at Christmas I wrote and said how pleased we would be to see them etc. – not a word. So we asked Mom when we wrote if she had heard if they were coming, and she had heard they might, and so it went on, and the same with a brother of Dad’s called Uncle Harry, and it was so annoying because none of us here knew what was happening. Well, finally poor Merle couldn’t stand it and phoned them (Russell is with Bell Telephone and we think can probably phone free) and after talking they said yes that they would come leaving Alberta around the 8 or 9 July and camping on the way – they have 4 boys and 1 girl. Then Merle said would they write and let us know but they said they didn’t know where our address was would Merle let us know, so poor Merle had to make another long distance call to us! If I were her I would have been mad! As it is I don’t much appreciate being a hotel where reservations needn’t be made! Merle and Dix and Bruce will arrive on 15 July and the celebration will be on 16th – Uncle Harry isn’t coming we just heard from Mom on Sat. so at last we are beginning to know what is happening! I called Lea to tell her the developments, but she’s is still in as bad a way as ever with her back and expects she will have to have it operated on – she doesn’t know when – so she is out of it as far as any entertaining goes. However she does have plenty of room so I think that Russell and his family can stay with us for a few days and then when Merle etc. come they can go over to stay at Lea’s and come to us to eat – as far as I can see this makes it 14 for meals and nine to stay part of the time and 11 the rest of the time! Linda thinks it would be lovely if all 14 were here and we could put them all up except as far as I can see the sitting room sofa would be the only place for her! I feel with this crowd I just can’t do much preparing – I’ll just have to wait and cope when it comes – I just hope it isn’t one of those Ottawa heat waves! Merle and Dix are taking Mom and Dad a trip to Prince Edward Island so will be only here a weekend I think, and I don’t suppose that Russell and Errol will be here very long as driving to and fro will take 4 days or so each way, so it will be a wild few days! I plan to do one thing beforehand and that is make a 3 tier wedding cake for Mom and Dad. I won’t make a fruit cake, just a white one, but I will make it in 3 square tins and ice it in gold and decorate it and I think it will look nice and be fun. I will freeze the cakes iced, I think and then just decorate it at the end, so it won’t take too long. Lindy and Charlie think they are having a very Organized summer – at the end of this month they are having tennis lessons for 10 days down at the tennis courts on the Lower Level of Rothwell Heights, then in July they are going for typing lessons at one of the High Schools in town, and Charlie now has a Paper Route – it is not really a route as it is the one he used to help Johnny Lockwood with at the NRC buildings on Montreal Rd. and all he hast to do is go and sit beside a pile of papers in the beautiful new air-conditioned hall! Johnny used to do 2 buildings but found his money was disappearing from the building where he just left the papers alone, so Charlie now does this one and he’s very proud of himself as he makes about 2 dollars a week. Lindy is panting for some babysitting jobs so that she can make money too, but so far she hasn’t done too well. In August we are going down to Brantford and Stratford for a week. We have booked a room in Stratford and will see Twelfth Night, Henry 5, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Lindy and Charlie are going to a matinee of an opera Don Giovanni while Cec and I go to London to see Pete and Lu. Charlie was most distressed at not seeing the opera which he said he wanted to see more than anything, so this was the solution, as really the children don’t have much in common with Pete and Lu’s 2 now, and hardly know them. We will then go to Brantford for a few days, and John and Sharon will be there and their baby christened. Lorne and Liz are expecting another baby this week – Debbie will be 2 1/2 now I think, and poor Liz had taken 2 night classes all winter and was sitting the exams last week! Now at last having caught up on all my news I will try and answer your letters. I got one last night – thank you so much for it – written on 6th. I am glad that you got my letter with the recipes, I don’t know if they will be much use to you, but I know you and Auntie Moo like to see them anyway. If you can get the chocolate chips I think you would like the Pot au Creme dessert of mine – it is very rich and creamy tasting and very nice for a party – if you put it in small dishes you don’t need much in each one as it is so rich. I hope that you enjoyed the Queen’s Birthday Parade – it is nice that the Admin and his wife have been inviting you to some of the things as I know how much you enjoy them. Lindy was quite disappointed this year as I didn’t bother to sign the book to go to the Governor General’s Garden Party and she had made up her mind that she was old enough to go this year! But I think it is fun once in a while, but not every year. I am glad that you enjoyed the visit of the nice blind men and had a drive out to see Lily Purnett with one of them. I was amused about Mrs. Manton and her son who is going to McGill. As you know the distance between Montreal and Ottawa is counted as nothing here, but I am quite sure that when he is in Montreal at University he will have no desire to come visiting some unknown family in Ottawa. He will have all his own friends and activities and would think it an awful bore. I am so sorry that I forgot all about the cheque book. I will get one this afternoon and send it to you. I also have a box (small!) all ready to send with the stockings for Auntie Moo and I must get it wrapped and mailed. Your Bank Account number is 8900 I think but I will check and let you know for sure when I send the cheque book. The children say thank you for the letters – perhaps when they are taking their typing lessons you will get some epistles from them. I am so glad that you met Mrs. Bedell – I haven’t heard anymore on the radio lately as I just have it on you know and it depends what I am doing as to whether I hear the talking bits or not, and in the summer I am out and about more. You mentioned in one of your letters having heard from Brenda and I have often wondered what happened about the scare that Arthur might have a spot which was cancerous. I imagine that they found it was all right or you would have said, but I hope everything is OK. I am sorry for them – they seem to have had a pretty hard time, travelling around and never settling for too long in one place, and some of the places pretty dreadful climates too. I am sure she must be longing to get back to England and have a proper home, but of course they must go where Arthur has a job. How is Richard doing in Australia? What part of Australia is Hazell Ann living in, and is Richard anywhere near? I am glad she is going to have a baby and I hope all goes well. I am glad that Jane and Bill are having a nice leave, but sorry that they didn’t come via Canada this time – next time, I hope. It was a big disappointment for John and a blow for all of them after all his hard work. What do they think he will go in for now? You ask about Charlie and his music lessons – well Ken and Dot only came back from Florida last month and are going away at the end of this one so poor Charlie doesn’t get much encouragement! I think I may have told you that the Scotts bought a small house trailer down in Florida and so when they go back in the Fall will have it to live in. It is in a trailer-park and they pay $25 a month and the park people look after it and the garden and keep it all in good shape whether they are there or not. Ken got it for 500 dollars from a man whose wife had left him and was on a drinking binge – trust Ken to get a good bargain! All the others were well over 1000 dollars. Dot is having a little music recital out at Cumberland next week, so Charlie is having to practice and refurbish some of his pieces, but anyway as long as he keeps it up a bit I don’t mind. The clarinet playing at school fell through – it was in the lunchtime you know, and someone didn’t come and then came back and they never seem to get any further than the ones who went regularly got very bored. By the way, you also ask about Lindy in one of your letters, and you will be interested to know that she is now a young woman! No trouble, but it seems very odd to me to have to remember such things at the supermarket again! She still complains over her small bosom but she actually has a little bit of a figure now. I am horror-stricken – I found an Airmail letter amongst yours, and thought oh, an old one from Jean, and ripped it in two, and then suddenly realized it is from Peter and that you had said something about wanting to keep it, so I will have to return it to you in 2 parts! I think you will still be able to decipher the name of your shares. You really shouldn’t send me letters you want to keep, you know. Well, it is 10:30 and not a dish washed, as Dottie used to say! I must stop and get something done and I think that I have really caught up with all the news. Our love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Peggy and her family when you see them. Hello to Doris and to Luenda and Mr. Cox! Much love from us all – so glad that your blood is behaving itself,
dear grannie, Mummy said half an hour ago that she was going to write to you a letter, but I don’t believe her. (i before e except after c) maybe if she hears this going it will stir up her conscience, but I wouldn’t count on it. I am finished school except for one (english) exam. I am making a yellow summer dress for me, but I am feeling dopy so mummy must tell me what to do. Whoops here she comes! by lc. it is now the next day and I doubt if you will ever get your letter. but go on hoping. lc it is now 2 days later. keep hoping.
Monday, 13th June. [Carol’swriting: Got it on 25th.]
Well, Linda kept you posted on my progress – or non-progress, but at last I have begun your letter! Last week I was very disorganized as Cec went to the Canadian Association of Physicists Meeting at Sherbrooke, Quebec, on Wed. afternoon, and Lindy and Charlie had exams last week and we were all at 6es and 7s! Neither of them had to sit all the exams, they got recommended in most things, but Lindy had to write three and decided to write English too, and see if she could improve her mark, and Charlie was recommended in everything, but had some marks in the 60s so decided to take those exams and see if he could improve them. He got recommended in Math. with a mark of 88 but took the exam to see if he could get his mark up to 90, but he doesn’t think that he made it! Some of the exams were in the morning and some in the afternoon and other days they didn’t have to go at all, so with Cec away we slept late in the mornings and everything was in a muddle. Cec came home on Sat. evening, and this morning I was so unaccustomed to the routine that I slept in until 8:20! Linda and Charlie both have an exam tomorrow morning and then they are finished for the summer and are feeling very sorry for the poor little kids at Fairfield who begin exams today and have another 2 weeks of school. I am so sorry that I have been such a long time in writing. Of course when I am determined to write a long letter, I always seem to put it off until I have a longer time, and it gets later and later. Linda has just come down in her bathing suit – it is a glamorous new 2 piece in navy and white and she looks very cute in it. We are having a roasting day today – well over 80 but quite a nice breeze – and last week after a very hot spell that finished off the lilac and tulips in short order it got so cold and when Cec was away we had to put on the furnace it was so cold and rainy a couple of days. I feel virtuous because I went out and gardened all morning, we are having a very bad year for mosquitoes so I haven’t been doing as much as I should, but this morning I covered myself with mosquito dope and went out and fixed up the small bed at the back just along the side of the garage you know. Do you remember Pat gave me some little plants last year that made quite pretty little green bush-like clumps which turned red in the Fall? It is called coxchia but I don’t know how to spell it! Anyway that whole bed was covered with seedlings so that it looked as if it were growing pale green moss. So this morning I transplanted some to the back of the other bed by the patio and wherever I wanted them and then dug all the rest up. I have planted nasturtium seeds along the front and then lots of my geranium slips and up the back some chrysanthemum plants which I had from a pot of chrysanthemums in the house. I have also planted a clematis plant at the back, with some strings to climb up to the garage roof so I am hoping that when next you come I will have a beautiful clematis vine! I planted all my patience plants out in the front last week and I have planted marigolds in the front bed where I had petunias last year. Cec has put cement curbs all along the sides of the driveway, and he has got some flat square cement paving stones and he has made a path from the front path to the door onto the porch, along in front of the garbage cans! The curbs give it a nice finished appearance, and we laugh, because Marjorie Graham keeps remarking about how nice they are and how she wishes they could get some, and she is still talking about the container for the garbage cans, so Cec says Dick must dread driving past our house! Do you remember Charlie’s rose? Well, it looked very dead this spring and we were sure that it was winter killed, so about two weeks ago we dug it up and of course we then found one tiny shoot on it still alive, so had to plant it hastily once more! We thought that we had probably finished it, but it seems to have done it good and it has quite a few shoots now and it’s looking quite healthy. We bought a Centennial Rose, which by the pictures looked very pretty and it is growing well, and I hope that we will have some lovely Centennial roses. Last time that I wrote was just before we had the second of our two big buffet dinners, on Friday 27th May. It went very well – we had June and George Lindsay among others – I felt very guilty as we hadn’t had them for so long, but George has been down in Kingston this year taking some high-powered course and only home for weekends, so it was hard to organize anything. George was on top of his form and telling funny stories and Linda thought he was very funny. He isn’t as terrified of her now that she is no longer a tiny baby! Anyway, after that was over, I thought oh, goody, a quiet week – I’ll get some sewing done, so on Monday I cut out 2 dresses for Linda – the yellow one she is making for herself, but I began the pale blue one, then on the Tuesday I went to the bank and grocery shopping and all the odds and ends I do when I have the car, and then about 4 o’clock, the children were home from school and I had just put all the food away when the phone rang and a man’s voice said hello and who should it be but Alan Jaeger! [Cyn’s first cousin once removed, son of her New York cousin Margs.] I was completely amazed as I had no idea Alan ever thought of coming up here but it turned out that he had a week’s unexpected holiday and he decided to come to see Canada. I discovered all this and that he was on his own and had settled in a Motel on the Montreal Rd. so I invited him for dinner and told him how to get to our house. I can tell you I scuttled around because we had been going to have hamburger and so I dashed to the store again and got a roast of beef and some strawberries and everything was in control when he arrived at 6:15. He was very nice – Both Cec and I thought that he had improved since we met him at Mill and Ford’s camp that time, but he is so like his Father – I can’t see any of Marguerite in him at all- and as Lindy said afterwards not much sense of ha – ha! He stayed till midnight telling us all about his work – of course Cec knows about computers so they could gab about them, and about his adventures in Quebec where he’d been before he came to Ottawa. Cec invited him to the Lab. next morning and showed him around a bit and then took him over to the City Hall for lunch and then he was going on his way. Next day was Wed. and Marjorie had invited Cec and me to come for dessert and coffee after dinner and to play bridge with Mr. Graham (Rector)! We were one over, but we had an uproarious time as Mr. G. seem to thoroughly enjoy himself and although he plays well he isn’t the dead serious type and we had a lot of fun. Thursday I had suggested to Lindy that she invite some of her school friends to dinner as they live quite a distance away some of them and they never see one another once the holidays begin, so she brought 3 friends home with her on the school bus and I gave them tea and cookies and afterwards dinner on the porch. About 8 o’clock we sat out in the car to take them home and one girl lived on a farm way out in the country so that we weren’t home till after 9:30. We had never been to this little village before and I don’t think that I could ever find it again! On Friday one of the Fellows at the Lab. got married. He is an Englishman called Phil Bunker and he married a Hungarian girl called Eva. She left Hungary after the uprising and went to England where she met Phil and when he came over here on his Fellowship they arranged for her to come and she got a job here and they got engaged. With her parents still in Hungary and his in England they got married in a Registry Office but in the evening some friends of theirs whom he had known in Cambridge gave a Reception Party for them and we were all invited. It was very nice – mostly people from the Lab. but the host was a Dr. Earnshaw who had married an English girl when he was in Cambridge and he had a brother married to another English girl, so Cec and I had a lot of fun talking to them and to the Earnshaw parents. We had champagne and a nice wedding cake and although it was very informal it was very nice. Eva had made her dress – it was a very pretty shade of turquoise lace, short and quite plain and straight with a little overblouse to match, and she had made a little handbag and hat in the same material, and she had a spray of roses pinned to her bag. On the Sat. we had 2 young couples and their babies to dinner! Cec has had this young technician for quite a few months and felt quite badly about not having him and his wife out sooner, so we invited them with Harry and Margaret Kroto whom I have spoken of before – he is one of Cec’s fellows this year. The Kroto’s baby is now about 4 months and the Joffrey’s about 8 months but both of them settled down nicely and slept all the time they were here! So that was the end of my quiet week!
The letters resume! They sound exactly the same: thank you for your latest; sorry for not writing sooner; hope your health is good; and include details of garden, house, cooking, school, church, work, and friends. But the three years have made a difference. The Costains have settled into their home, a bigger house on an acre of land, with a vegetable garden and lower lawn, (sometimes used for badminton), a front lawn with flower beds beside a driveway leading to a garage and, in spring and summer, dive-bombing swallows indignant at the paperboy and various guests approaching the front door and disturbing their nesting on the columns holding the roof up. The covered porch leading to the back door also opens to the back yard with a patio (work in progress) around a big shade tree, and an old, climbable apple tree shading the path to the vegetable garden. The back rises to a wild strip covered with long grass and a few bushes, which makes the area private and great for summer parties. Both children are in high school: it is the era of the swinging sixties, with the British influence strong on popular culture: the Beatles, Twiggy, Carnaby Street, and issues like boys’ long hair and girls’ mini-skirts arising. Cec continues to welcome new Fellows to the Lab, travel to conferences, and tend his garden, Cyn works at church activities, sews and organizes the entertaining, and there are new pets- Nicki died, and now there is a new white kitten named Saki, and a hamster called Noli who lives in a cage but comes out when the children insist. May 1966 was a busy time, with planning for the summer and the next year already in hand. Reminders of names: Dot and Ken Scott were first of all the landlords of the Montreal Road house, then friends- Dot taught the children piano, and then they sold the Costains their present house, which had been built by Dot’s father, Mr. Watt, and built themselves a new house a bit further east. The Rector, Mr. Graham, had had health problems I think, and was taking care. Neighbours and church friends in the area came to dinner with older friends from the Costains’ early days in Ottawa, Margie and Cy, and Jim and Lee. And finally, Jeanie Graham was the daughter of Marjorie and Dick Graham, and Sue Tomlinson the younger sister of Linda’s friend Joanne, both 10 or 11, and of the right size for Linda’s out-grown clothes.
Box 330, R.R.1 Ottawa, Ont.
Dearest Mummy, I am really way behind in writing to you this time! As usual, I have ALL SORTS of excuses which I will now tell you about! First of all though, thank you so much for your letter of 8th of May– at least that was when you began it – I don’t have the postmark on the envelope because Ken came in one day and saw your letter lying on the counter and admired the stamps so much that I gave them to him for a friend of his. He and Dot are back from Florida again and have bought themselves one of those ‘permanent’ trailers in a Trailer Park down there, so next winter they will go down for 6 months and have their trailer all ready waiting for them. Dot is giving Charlie his music lessons again, but I can’t say that he is practising much. Can you believe it, the children finish school at the end of next week? At least after that there are exams and it depends on whether they are recommended by their teachers as to whether they will have to sit the exams or not. Linda just sat one last year, so I don’t suppose that they will have to sit many, and then the whole glorious summer is before them!
Well, the main reason that I didn’t get a letter written to you earlier was that we had our Maytime Fete on 14th and so I was very busy with my last minute projects. I never manage to get things done beforehand. I routed out things for the White Elephant stall, made fudge and coconut ice for the Candy stall, made two little dresses with little headscarfs to match for the handicraft store – they were adorable – one size 3 in white with a pink stripe, and one size 4 pink with a little dot on it. When I went into my Sunday School the next day here were 2 of my little girls all dressed up in them – their mothers had bought them at the Bazaar! I also made 12 triangles for teenagers – you know those headscarfs the girls are all wearing, and I found them marvellous for using up all my odd bits of material, and they were all sold. I had a kind of Specialty Food Stall up in the Balcony and did short demonstrations every hour, and for that I made meringues, petit fours, 4 strawberry pies with whipped cream, 2 strawberry meringue cakes, 2 chocolate cakes and 3 white layer cakes. I decorated them there in the demonstrations and sold them and various jams and jellies etc. as well. The Bazaar did very well on the whole, as we cleared 450 dollars which is more than we had made the last time or two, and it wasn’t such a wild rush as [when] we had it from 11 o’clock till 4 and served both lunches and teas. After that on the Sat. of course I lay back and did nothing all day Sunday, after we’d been to Church. On the Mon. however, Cec had a meeting of men in connection with the Physics Education in the High Schools, and Linda and Charlie made themselves scarce as both their science teachers were there! I made little pizzas and Swiss Apple Pie for them, and then I had the WA here the next night and make Strawberry Mousse for them with their coffee. Then on Friday, I had a Buffet Supper for 12, counting Cec and me. I found that with not doing any entertaining at the beginning of the year when we were waiting for our carpet, we were way behind, so I am having another big supper this week and maybe an outdoor party for the Lab. in June, and then we will have done our duty! Last week we had a couple, Bernice and Ken Leigh–Smith he is a Navy friend of Cec’s who has recently come to live in Ottawa, and Marjorie and Dick Graham, Margie and Cy (only he was sick and couldn’t come) Jim and Lee and a young couple from the Lab who were up at the cottage last year you may remember, Chris and Fokker Kreuzberg. We had Shrimp Baguettes and Ham Rolls with our drinks, then I had a cold decorated Salmon Mayonnaise, Chicken Breasts Gourmet, Rice with peas and pimento, sliced cucumbers in sour cream, a jellied Sunshine Salad and hot French bread, and then a Chocolate Soufflé and a Savarin au Rhum for dessert. It all went very nicely, despite the fact that it was a pouring wet night and the birds had built a nest in the fan from the kitchen so the whole house smelt of garlic! This was our long weekend holiday, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and after the coldest wettest most miserable weather for weeks, it was simply gorgeous with temps. up to 80 and everything bursting wildly into bud. Cec was gardening of course, and got his vegetable seeds in and we had our first asparagus from the garden. The children had a good time too and had the hammock out and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Yesterday afternoon Cec took some asparagus over to Mr. Graham, and said that if he found his garden noisy to come over and sit on our porch, so he did, and we gave him orange juice (not many calories ) and he lay back and seemed to enjoy it. He was going to his sister’s for dinner, so left about 4:30 and then after we had dinner we waited till it was dark and had our fireworks. Ours were a very modest assortment as Cec said that he thought L and C were too old for fireworks now, but I didn’t, anyway we would miss them! Of course, Dr. Legault [the dentist across the road] had a tremendous display with every sort of large expensive firework going, and they went on for hours, so we had them and the Dupuy’s [next door] displays to watch as well as ours! The youngest members of our family are doing nicely – Saki is still as sweet and loving as ever, and she is now enjoying going out in the garden – for long enough it was so cold that we didn’t take her out. She is so funny – like Nicki she likes to go out with the children, and if she gets left in the house she cries. It isn’t a miaow yet, it is a little squeaky cry, very pathetic, and Cec says when we all set off for church she begins to cry until he calls her and then she tears over to him when he calls her and purrs and licks him because she is so pleased she isn’t left alone. Noli is getting big and fat and Linda took him to Sunday School last Sunday to show him to her children, and incidentally to mine too. I must say that he is very patient and puts up with Linda shoving him in her blouse and down her bed etc. and very rarely nips her – once in a while he will make a little pool on her, much to her annoyance! I don’t know what you made you think that we bought our kitten – the Ad. in the paper we answered said “Free kittens to good homes” and although I offered the lady with the 17 cats some money for Saki she wouldn’t take it. She is just a plain ordinary white kitty, I don’t know what kind. I must stop now as I have cut out a dress for Linda and feel that I must get it made quickly or school will be over and she will be wearing nothing but shorts and jeans all summer. It is a pretty pale blue linen type material, and I have got her a yellow print which she is going to make into a shift for herself. As usual, hardly anything which she had last year will go near her – in fact I don’t think that any of her dresses fit her – we had a great time passing them on to Sue Tomlinson and Jeannie Graham, but fortunately she didn’t have very many! I have bought her one grey and white striped cotton and she has a couple of summer skirts and blouses and that is it. Charlie too couldn’t wear any of his last year shorts etc. so he has been outfitted too – even I have been buying some clothes although I haven’t grown out of mine, but my excuse is that I am getting them all ready for our trip to England next year! I have bought a reversible raincoat and a nice crease resistant summer dress in shades of blue. Cec laughs at my logic that I am saving money by getting the clothes now! I was out planting marigolds this morning as the forecast was for showers later today, although it is 80 and very hot. The leaves have come out in a rush, but the apple blossom isn’t out yet. I have been snuffling with hay fever all weekend, and have had to resort to my pills so daren’t sit down anywhere for long or I fall asleep! It is not bad when I take them so I hope that the worst is over. Much love from us all, and love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Doris and Luenda. Take care of yourself, lots of love, Cyn.
The winter continued with family, work, school, and church activities in Ottawa. After their confirmations, the children took different roles at church. Cyn taught the youngest Sunday School class, 3 and 4 year-olds, and Linda took the next class up. The rector was now the Reverend Llewellyn Graham, a widower with a scholarly attitude, a love of England where he had studied, and a wicked sense of humour when among friends. The whole family enjoyed his visits and Charlie became an altar boy and helped during services.
In February, there was excitement in St. Vincent when the Queen and Prince Philip visited. Cec travelled too, to a conference in Texas. From Saskatchewan came the news from John and Sharon of the latest arrival to the family- Steven Moor- who was the first boy of the next generation, and everyone was sorry they lived so far away and couldn’t show off their baby. From B.C. there was a photo of Carman and Leona’s family, David, Robin, Philip, and Leslie. The Costain grandparents (who lived in Penticton near the Carmans) were coming to Ontario in the summer to visit and celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, and we all hoped to meet the cousins if the western families came too.
Around Easter, Cec went to a meeting in Washington, staying with a scientist friend. Because the friend’s young brother had a part in the play, Cec saw Gielgud’s newest production Ivanov on its pre-Broadway tour when he went with them to see it, and actually met John Gielgud and Vivian Leigh backstage after the performance. Cyn pasted the Playbill into the scrapbook with the young man’s name highlighted: Miller Lide. Later, her mother would write about Gielgud and Leigh holidaying on Young’s Island in St. Vincent after the Broadway run had finished.
April was Cyn’s birthday, celebrated with a card from one of her New York cousins down visiting her mother in the West Indies, and, as the summer approached, it was the season for weddings. The scrapbook celebrates three: children of old friends of Cyn’s in England, and invitations from the young men in the Lab- Klaus Huber and Phil Bunker. And at the end of May, the letters resume, and although not regularly preserved by Carol in St. Vincent, there are enough to give a more intimate look at the mid 60s, for which I am very grateful! The antics of the Golden Wedding that summer deserve a blow-by-blow description…
When school started in September, Linda and Charlie were once more on the same schedule, both catching the bus for high school. Charlie had an additional bit of pressure from his piano lessons, because he was planning on sitting a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the winter.
At the N.R.C. Cec was happy to welcome the Dr. and Mrs. Morino from Japan who had both come to spend a year in the Lab. They were very kind to the children and shared aspects of their culture with us. Cyn kept the charming ‘Thank You’ notes they sent after social events, and pasted the kanji that I assume were their names into the scrapbook. Dear Dr. & Mrs. Costain, Just a short note to thank you for giving us such a nice party. Everything about it was wonderful. Sincerely, Yonezo & Yoshi.
Linda had an Origami book with papers included but had not been able to figure out the tenth piece, the iconic Japanese crane. I remember sitting on a lab stool being coached by Mrs Morino- “now the outside becomes the inside”- as she showed me finally how to achieve the 3D effect that had eluded me. It remained with me, as I whiled away the tedium of Grade 13 Biology 4 years later by folding cranes and penguins and stars under the lab bench.
Also of note to the N.R.C. was when Dr. Steacie, the President of the N.R.C. from 1952 until his death in 1962 who had introduced the Postdoctorate Fellowship program, was honoured by Carleton University that fall when their new Chemistry building was named after him. The Herzbergs and N.R.C. staff were happy with this recognition.
The entries for ‘Presents Sent’ and ‘Received’ and ‘Cards Sent’ for 1965 in Cyn’s ancient Agenda Book are the last lists. The records of Christmas from 1932 to 1965 filled a years’ worth of pages, and the actual 1965 gifts give a picture of the time- Cec got a Harry Belafonte record and fondue forks from the family, Cyn a projector for those slides, and both children got English Annuals from their Grannie this time- which they enjoyed, but now are very much of that time- not PC at all, in fact, offensive in many ways. Linda got more books, of course, including the next hardback in the Little House series she was collecting, and Charlie a Gloucester High School sweater. And with the Christmas cards received, the Costains got the usual adorable photos of their friends’ growing families.
The Moors- now with both older cousins married, reduced to Auntie Merle, Uncle Dix, and Bruce- came up from Brantford for the occasion, and probably Lorne, Liz, and Debbie were also in Ottawa, staying with Liz’s family in Rockcliffe. John and Sharon out west had another reason for staying at home besides Christmas being a clergyman’s busy season- they were expecting their first child in February. There was a lot of planning going on for 1966 that Christmas- the summer would bring celebrations for Granny and Grandpa Costain’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, and the whole family would try to get all four generations together in Ottawa!
A note about the new high school. I went into Grade 9 at Gloucester High School, along with students from the entire township, some living as far as 40 miles from the school. Some came from the French village of Orleans, other from farm communities with one-room schools, and they had a long commute on school buses. It was quite a culture shock even for us living locally- the high school had a cafeteria where one could buy lunch, an auditorium with a stage, and a library. There were 5 grades in High School, 9 to 13, and 5 different programs offered- 2 year Hairdressing for girls, and Auto Mechanics for boys, with a certificate after completing Grade 10; 4 year Business and Commerce for girls and Technology for boys, with Junior Matriculation and Graduation after Grade 12; and an Academic stream that continued into Grade 13 for those aiming for university with Senior Matriculation at graduation. There was a Francophone stream for the French-speaking students, and French or Français classes for the academic students, depending on their mother tongue. There were 10 Grade 9 classes when I began, so over 200 students in that grade alone, and the school grew every year I was there- a second floor added on above the original level; a new wing with more technical and shop classes; a tower with pie-shaped classrooms replaced the teacher’s parking lot; and after 5 years, a community swimming pool being built beside the school, so gym classes could take advantage of the facility. Meanwhile, the developments around the school continue to expand. In Grade 9, cows in the field separating the school from the new highway used to come and look in the windows. In subsequent years, there were townhouses, apartment buildings, and new roads covering the fields beside the school and between the Montreal Road that we had lived on and the Queensway a mile south. The village of Orleans was growing, new developments went up in the fields beside the Ottawa river, and were spreading to join up. It was the baby boom generation being educated and 10 years later, in my student teaching year and times of unemployment that followed in my 20s, I had 3 more English-speaking high schools to choose from in the area, with French high schools operating separately. Ottawa had grown.
The scrapbook page for 1965 shows invitations and Valentines, showing that the adult Costains were involved with friends both local and abroad. The computer card is an invitation from Cec’s new Post-Doctorate Fellow, Harry Kroto, and his wife Margaret. They were a marvellous young couple from England, interesting, enthusiastic and full of fun. I remember one party with people from Cec’s Lab. where Harry and Margaret played a magic game with their audience, using a blindfold and the poker from the fireplace as props. The blindfolded one of the pair knelt on the hearthrug, and was able to identify which person the other was pointing at- I presume by verbal cues- and the children thought they were the coolest couple ever. Harry was always quite clear about his interest in the visual arts, and how he was torn between science and art as a career. The Krotos were in Canada in 1967 which was the Centennial Year, and visited Expo 67, with the geodesic dome as the USA Pavilion. His later work on Carbon 60, buckminsterfullerene, was linked to this, as he explains:
Cec did not live to see Harry get the the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 but he was sure it would happen when he heard about Harry’s work with buckyballs. When Harry learned Cec was ill in 1991, he sent him a book- A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. MacKay, into which he had inserted a quotation from his time at the N.R.C. : Cec Costain- “If it doesn’t work, just kick it here.” to HWK in 1965 when the power supply did not work. On the cover page he wrote, ‘To Cec and Cin, Two of our very best friends with love Harry and Margaret. Thanks for engineering my move to microwave spectroscopy- By far the nicest group of scientists due in no small measure to you and E.B.W. The quote on page 62 is one of my favourites. P.S. The rotational spectrum of C60 is too weak even for Jim W. to detect.’ The admiration and affection were mutual. Other friendships are illustrated on this page- the third Sutherland daughter, Mary’s, wedding invitation, and a cryptic thank you card from a visiting Australian, Frank (Mercer?) whom they hadn’t seen since their Cambridge days. The year continued with family birthdays, Spring Break and Easter, with school and work, but the big excitement of the spring was Carol visiting from the West Indies.
She was there for all the activities in June, the summer, and on into the fall- her usual long stay, having not seen the Costains since 1960, she would have needed to adjust to the changes in the children! Charlie’s Graduation from Grade 8 was the final event of June, but there were other activities first. Grannie would have been very happy to be there for Charlie’s Confirmation in early June at church, and her best hat would have come out for the Governor General’s Garden Party.
Cec’s birthday and Father’s Day were celebrated, they enjoyed snaps from the Costains out west, and the whole family was pleased by the new porch at the back of the house- the open deck from the garage to the back door was now screened in with comfy chairs and tables, nice for eating in during the hot summer days when the mosquitos were bad under the trees!
The annual photo of the Lab on the steps of the N.R.C. shows Dr. Herzberg and Alec Douglas centre front, greying, Cec smiling in the second row end right, and Harry Kroto third row far left also with a big grin.
As the school year ended, the children wrote their exams- an intimidating exercise in high school for Linda, with the gym lined with rows of desks, fluorescent lights buzzing, invigilators prowling around, and hundreds of students writing earnestly in the hushed atmosphere. Both got their reports and were promoted, but Charlie’s graduation was a special ceremony because he not only got his diploma and the Citizenship Award, he also was the Valedictorian, speaking on behalf of all his fellow graduates.
After that, the family once more rented a cottage for three weeks in July at Lake Bernard.
There were beds, but not enough bedrooms, so the children slept on the open, but sheltered, porch. The renting family had asked the Costains to look after the raccoons, and Linda and Charlie found that this meant a whiskered face and a very hand-like paw, peering at them in bed.
The kits were adorable, and the children fed the family who went down to the lake to wash their spoils, which was a relief to all concerned- both animals and humans just as happy to keep a certain distance from each other.
In August, Cec went on a trip to Denmark and stayed with their friend Chris Müeller. Linda turned 13, finally a teenager, and she and Charlie got ready for high school- Linda assuring him it would be much better than elementary!
The fall of 1964 was fun for Linda- she enjoyed high school: the increased independence, the variety of interesting classes and teachers, the library and cafeteria, and new friends- although the number of students took a while to get used to. Her marks remained good although she attempted without much success to follow her mother’s profession by taking Home Economics as an elective- making a blue flannel shift to wear in Sewing, and producing a sad liquid soup that should have been a chocolate pudding in Foods, which seemed to be more about the costing of the dishes than actually making them. She found learning Latin was more interesting.
In Grade 8, Charlie was once more in the Speech Contest, with his account of the eclipse that the family had witnessed the year before, and this time he was runner-up to the winner. The Eclipse Charles Costain In ancient times, people were terrified when the sun was gradually blotted out and day turned into night. We know now that it is just an eclipse but people used to be frightened when this happened, because they thought that the world was coming to an end. Nowadays instead of being terrified, people are fascinated to watch such an interesting event. We are not taken by surprise because scientists can tell just where and when it is going to happen. The last total eclipse predicted was on July 20, 1963. We were driving back from Quebec City and went off the main road to a farmhouse, and asked the farmer if we could set up our telescope. He said that we could, and we were soon ready for it. In a while, we could see a small black bite out of the sun, and it began getting a bit darker. Slowly the sun was covered and I realized that the birds had all gone back to their nests, and there was a hush that made me shiver. The eclipse was nearly total when suddenly a cloud drifted over the sun, and no matter how hard we looked, we could not see the total eclipse. The farmer and his wife who were inside watching television probably got a better view than we did because there were no clouds at Grandmère where the television cameras were but at least we made an effort to see the real thing. We soon were packing the telescope and getting ready to leave content, but rather disappointed at not seeing it all. The speech went on to a more scientific discussion, and ended with the news of Prime Minister Pearson’s funding of a second telescope to be built in British Columbia in honour of the Queen’s visit, to be the second largest in the world. Since this was where our uncle, Carman Costain, worked, I’m sure it was good news in Penticton.
In December, the Christmas routine began again, with the card list now about 150 strong because of Cec’s travels and scientific contacts, and Cyn’s scrapbook reflects this, with cards from all over- India, Spain, Poland, as well as England. Of course news from friends came too, and a card from the Sutherlands- Dr Sutherland had been knighted in 1960, and this year, 1964, had become the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge- included Kerstin’s wedding announcement with the news that they would be moving to San Diego. (Cyn and Cec realized the days when they babysat the Sutherland girls in Ann Arbor were long ago.) The parcels to friends and relatives were sent off but this year, there is no mention of J.M.G.E. in the list, so Cyn’s father must have died in Newcastle earlier in 1964.
Charlie’s 12th birthday was followed by Christmas, with Auntie Dottie sending the English Annuals we loved, Linda getting clothes and books, Charlie a tabletop hockey game, the cat giving us vinyl, and the adults getting more practical things. The Costains looked forward to 1965 with anticipation.