Dearest Lindy, How are you getting on at College? Of course, I heard from your Mummy all about your arrival there & that Charlie went with you, & everything went well, but I want to hear more details from you, now you are nicely settled. I gathered you had a very nice room to yourself – but the colour scheme must have been rather a shock at first – reds & purples sound loud after your creams & gold, but it’s wonderful what one can get used to isn’t it? Cyn told me it was very nicely furnished and carpeted – so I hope you are remembering to keep it nice & tidy, is it inspected daily? [Shades of a pre-WW1 British boarding school!] It was nice that you 1st year students were there earlier than the others & had a chance to get to know one another before the rush & studies began – & I hope you have met some really nice boys & girls you can be friends with. I wonder how you got on, as just after you went to College, we heard on the radio that temperature in Canada had dropped from 80° to 40° & I thought of you & how you would not have your Mum handy to turn on the thermostat as soon as the temp. dropped – did you wake and shiver? We have been having some lovely, fine days, sunny, but chilly in the shade. You will be surprised to hear that I am still in New York. My time with Monie was cut short – as an old Uncle of Owen’s came to stay with them so I have been with Marguerite in the meanwhile, but will be returning to Mona this week until the 15th Oct. when I fly off to St. Vincent once more. Soon after I get back, our little island is to gain its independence, & there are to be great celebrations I hear – so I’ll be just in time for all the excitement!
We have had quite an exciting Service in Church today as the Bishop was there for confirmation & there was also a christening & Marguerite was presented with the Bishops’ cross- a big honour, but poor Margs was so nervous she didn’t enjoy it! although she did get a kiss from the Rector, who is a fine big, jolly young man – Must fly to the post now, so bye-bye. Write soon. Much love, Grannie.
Brief review to put this letter in context: Linda has just been deposited at university and is feeling homesick although enjoying herself too; Charlie has just started Grade 13 and is involved with coaching a young kid’s football team; Cec (Dad) is away at conferences in Australia and Japan; and Cyn (Mom) has been getting the church’s Nursery School off to a new year, and fixing up the house, which involved Charlie in painting outdoor nursery school furniture and indoor walls and ceilings in his spare time.
15 Sept., 1969 49 Cedar Rd, Ottawa 9, Ont.
Dear Lindy, I have just finished reading your letter. First of all, I will dismiss the subject of the football game against Jim in one line. Next – things around here have been pretty quiet with the exception of Saturday. That is one of the worst days that I can remember. We had a football practice in the morning, which was exasperating. I had planned to listen to the football game on the radio (Toronto at Ottawa) while painting Mom & Dad’s room. However, I couldn’t find brushes, the roller, or the pan for the roller. Mummy & I chased around the parish for them, but couldn’t find them – we finally borrowed a roller & pan from the Greenwells. The game was a close one, and gave me several heart attacks while painting the room. There were only a couple of minutes left in the game & Ottawa was winning by 6 points; I was rolling the ceiling – then suddenly I stopped rolling the ceiling, because I had just knocked the pan for the roller full of paint off the top of the headboard and upside down onto the floor. I screeched and Mummy came running, and she began to clean it up. She had her back to me. Then Toronto threw a long pass, got a touchdown (6 points) and it was a tie game. Then they try for the convert (1 point) which would put them in the lead. The convert was good, and I put my fist through the bedroom wall. I was extremely displeased. Mummy didn’t see the hole – she thought I had just hit the wall. I said “I’m going down to the Church to get the polyfilla.” (I had been using it on the slide.) Mummy didn’t know why I wanted polyfilla, but I stormed off to the Church, and she kept mopping up the paint. When I left, there was still 90 sec. left in the football game. By the time I got back from the church (with polyfilla) Mummy had finished clearing up the paint, seen the hole in the wall, recovered, and told me when I walked in that Ottawa had won the football game (they kicked a field goal [3 points] in the last second of the game). This time I restrained myself because, even if I hadn’t heard it, Ottawa did win. Murray came over that night, and by the time I went to bed I was 1/2 way to feeling human again. The hole is now patched & waiting to be painted. Laura & the Greenwells have asked me if “Linda has settled in” about 5 times already, and Maureen about 2 times. I haven’t seen any of your other friends except Joey & I didn’t say anything to her as I was in a hurry.
I hope your day hasn’t been as bad as mine has – hope your profs are O.K. I have to do my homework now, I’ll be hearing from you. Love Charlie
P.S. Roller & pan turned up – we had roller & think the Grahams had the pan.
This letter from my grandmother reminded me of more things I had forgotten! I have long been critical of my uncle Carman, but he could sometimes give marvellous presents that were spot on. (He could also give one that reflected an interest you had had two years before and out-grown.) As my grandmother suggests, sending me roses on my 18th birthday was a thrill, being totally unexpected for one thing, and also because when we had visited that summer and I had expressed doubts about going away to university, he had assured me that it was going to be a success, that I would enjoy it, in fact I believe the ‘best years of your life’ were mentioned. A bit sad if that’s really what he felt, but reassuring at the time in spite of the cliché.
18 Curley Street, Long Beach.
This is Labour Day & a holiday here, so I can’t post a long letter I wrote to your Mummy as I have no stamps – so have decided to enclose a note to you & to send you my verygoodwishes for Life at College. I don’t know when you go or what your address will be, so you must let me know, as I am sure you will enjoy getting letters when away from home.
That reminds me I heard from Aunt Muriel recently & she said “I’ve had such a nice letter from Linda- quite the best yet – she is growing up fast, so is Charlie, I can tell by their letters”- I was so pleased to have Cyn’s letter telling me all about your lovely holiday, I hope you enjoyed it all as much as yr Mummy did, she was especially raving about all the nice eating places & food you had all had. The island with the Zoo & performing whales & porpoises must have been fun – & that beautiful Butchart Gardens must really have been exquisite, or was there too big a crowd of sightseers for you to really enjoy them?
Monie’s roses are still flowering nicely, they had lots of rain in July & early Aug. so the roses are showing their gratitude, although it’s now very dry & hot & the lawns are turning brown. Cyn tells me your vegetables & flowers are flourishing – but so are the weeds – I hope you are helping to pull them up?!!
I enjoyed hearing a bit about your birthday – but tell me a bit more – did you wake up & lie & think – at last I am 18 & really grown up – or did you feel as usual? But I bet you must have had a big thrill when you were presented with a bunch of beautiful red roses by Carman – I was thrilled to hear about them!
Remember I wrote about books – I wonder if you have read- ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank – it’s a real life diary – written by a Dutch girl during the war. You probably have read it as it was a best seller. [I had.] I got it from the Highland Mills Library- do let me know if you’ve read it.
Monie & Gwen send their love, their dog ‘Penny’ is very sweet but getting to be fat & middle-aged like his master! They also now have 2 cats ‘Peppie’ is a big fine tiger – he is a smoky grey tabby & nice & very dignified, & as he comes stalking into the room he looks v. ‘tigerish’. Then the other one is still a kitten 5 months, & is a stray Gwen brought home, he is v. cute & playful & his name is SAM! Forgive my awful scrawl, hope you can read it. Give Charlie my love – he’ll be starting school this week, I do hope he works hard for a scholarship tell him. Hope you continue to get good news from your Dad – I hear your G.H. [the groundhog, my father’s bête noir] is growing fat on apples! He should have a name – Much love and all the Best from yr fond Grannie- PTO
P.S. I meant to ask you, how are you getting on with your contact lenses, I hope you are getting used to them- for folk to see your pretty eyes minus glasses! Love C.E.
More apologies for the gap in posting: Covid before Christmas, very minimal Xmas celebrations as a result, related health issues after, and a reluctance to attack the chronological problems caused by finding more material! However, this must be addressed, so a brief review of the events in the Costain family from August 1969 to December 1969. In August, the Ottawa family of Cec, Cyn, Linda and Charlie (17 & 16) went holidaying west to visit other Costains in Calgary and Penticton, then toured Vancouver and popped over to Vancouver Island before waving goodbye to Cec. He travelled to Australia and Japan for physicist meetings, catching up with friends and doing tourist things as well, and sending letters (already published) home too.
Cyn and the teens returned to Ottawa on the train- 3 days- painful for kids, relaxing for mother. Then Linda had her 18th birthday and focused on Going Away to University while Cyn and Charlie resumed their normal activities- September meaning Grade 13 for Charlie and the resumption of the church-run Nursery School for Cyn who was now in charge of finances, as well as teaching when needed. They took Linda and luggage to Peterborough, helped her settle, drove home, and very kindly wrote letters (already published) to keep her from feeling homesick! But both her grandmothers also had written to Linda, so back to August and September to include these, plus football details.
Grannie, (Carol Ewing, Cyn’s mother) had been staying a few months in Ottawa earlier in the spring and summer and had gone to her nieces, Milly, Marguerite, and Mona, in various parts of New York for August and September. She sent Linda a birthday airmail.
“Happy Birthday to You” Aug. 19th 69
It is time I was winging my good wishes to you- Darling Lindy I hope you will have a happy day & many many more – I have been looking at books (paper backs) & would like to send you one- (as an extra b.p.) but you seem to have read so many I’m afraid of hitting on one you have – so please send me a list, & when I go to Long Beach I’ll hunt for one for you – I am now busy reading ‘Island in the Sun’ & in some ways I am enjoying it, but I do think he is inclined to glamorise and exaggerate circumstances in the islands. It’s from the library here, so I must hurry & finish it, as I go to Long Beach on 25th when Mona & Owen are coming for a weekend, & and I’ll return with them. I am having a very enjoyable time with the Pems (Millie and Ford Pemberton). We went to the Barn Theatre last week & saw a musical ‘Guys & Dolls’ very amusing and the acting was first rate – some of the leading artists are from the big N/Y theatres – & although it’s a ‘Barn’ the seats are in tiers & it’s always full, although in the heart of the country.
Now tell me how did you enjoy your trip? I want to know all about the Rockies & the Glaciers & what about Penticton, is it a small place? I’m sorry I hadn’t your address there. How about Vancouver? I’ve heard that it is a fine city with lovely parks etc. I’m sure you must have enjoyed it, do tell me all about it when you have time! You must all have felt a bit lost when your dad flew off & left you on your own. Your train journey must have been quite an experience, I have no idea how long it would take you to get across Canada by Train – but I should imagine 2 days & 2 nights? Even Ford isn’t sure of that!
I’ve been out to 2 lovely restaurants, one called the ‘Fin and Claw’ & another which you & Charlie would have enjoyed called Helheah Turkey Farm Rest. where they gave us lashings of Turkey etc., I was real stuffed!! but it was a v. pretty place & most enjoyable. I spent most of Sunday with Monaliz & family – you would have loved her & her kids- they’re so sweet & friendly but not fresh!! The twins are like fish in the water & can dive well. How is your weather? It’s v. changeable here, but today is fine & hotter. I’d hoped for a card from Vancouver, I long to hear all your news; Love to you all I know how busy you must be getting ready for College. Best of luck- Grannie.
I started this blog as a means to transfer family archives to a more permanent format and share them with family and anyone else in the world interested in the past, living through what is now history, family relationships, and tiny details such as the price of a beef heart in the butcher’s shop in the 1950s. (Spoiler alert: 25¢) At the time, I had organized my grandmother’s horde of letters written to her by her daughter Cynthia into binders chronologically by date, from her childhood up through my childhood. I also had my grandmother’s photographs, roughly organized into albums in some cases, or into manila envelopes by my mother after my grandmother’s death. Another resource was my mother’s scrapbooks, kept from the time of her marriage, which have provided a visual element to many of my posts, and gave context and helped with the chronology of events when there were gaps in time from missing letters. With the help of my cousin Raey, I started this blog with a bit of family history told through my mother’s stories, and then transcribed the letters, learning how to dictate (which is maddening and requires constant correcting but is preferable than typing every letter out laboriously), add photos, and post the result- and getting great pleasure from it. Most of the letters are Cyn’s to her mother Carol, with a few from friends and family that were also preserved added in for interest. And that worked well until I reached 1969 when I left home for university.
This fall, 2022, I was happily transcribing letters from the fall of 1969 about Linda moving to Peterborough, Ontario- strolling down memory lane discovering things I had forgotten, and remembering wonderful friends I sadly lost touch with long ago- when I went rummaging for memorabilia to add to the pictures from the scrapbook, and discovered More Boxes! It turns out that I inherited some of my grandmother’s packrat tendencies to go with my forgetfulness. That first term at Trent was preserved in letters sent to me from friends, my grandmother, my father, my brother, and almost daily, my mother. I had committed the academic sin of publishing before I had organized my primary sources. And because I have been doing this in order by date, I must stop now- having published up to mid-November 1969- and go back to August of that year for 20 or more posts, to include the material I have just found. (Maybe WordPress would have a better way of doing this, but I am reluctant to delete already-published posts for the sake of chronology.) Then, for 1970 on, I have to integrate the rest of the letters from my university years with those already in the final binders, a difficult task since, unlike my grandmother, I did not keep envelopes, and my correspondents got careless dating them, so in some cases the year will have to be worked out by context. I thought I was nearing the end of my material, but I have just added a year more to my task!
So, my apologies to those who have been following this blog- we will now go back a few months to focus even more on the upheaval that occurred when the first child was leaving the nest. Let me assure you that the letters made this very much easier on the child in question!
Dearest Mummy, I am sorry that I have been so long in writing but as you can imagine it has been a busy time. Cec is now safely home again having been operated on a week ago today and had the right side of his thyroid gland removed. I told you he was going in for tests & that week he really had a going over & was fine except they found he had what they called “nodules” on his thyroid, so they or rather “he” – a thyroid specialist & a surgeon, Dr. Dover, said he would operate on Tues. This was Friday when this was decided so Cec was allowed home from 2- 8 on Sat. & 10- 8 on Sun. which was nice. It was a kind of wild week as Lindy came home on Tues. evening. It was what is called “Reading Week” & they are allowed to “Read” at home, so she had spent the weekend with the Moors in Brantford & then gone back to Trent for a tutorial, & then come on home. Of course we had to choose a pattern for her evening dress & then material & then gold sandals, & each thing involved trips to town & touring the shops & great agonizing & wailing from Lindy, so it was very exhausting! In addition, the visiting hours at the Hospital were from 2 to 9 p.m. so I went in for an hour or so every afternoon & then dashed home, got dinner ready, ate, washed up & then went back to the hospital for another hour or so. It turned out to be the dreariest grey rainy weather, so that was kind of hard too, but at least it isn’t too cold yet. Lindy had also lost one of her contact lenses (popped out unawares in the dining hall with lots of people around) but they are insured fortunately so she had to go to the Eye Dr. & be fitted again etc. Then she had to see all her friends (Joanne & all her family except Mum & Dad had mumps) & I sewed violently so that she could try on the dresses before she left. I finished the green one out of the sari except for the hem
(she decided it was a little too mini – I have to take the tacking out & let it down!) & I cut out & sewed up the evening dress enough for her to try on. I was delighted as it fitted beautifully. In the end Lindy chose a pretty material (I’ll send a piece) which is laminated (i.e. a thin foam lining) which does away with lining, slips etc. [The foam layer disintegrated into dust over the years, unlike cotton or woollen cloth!]
It is lovely to sew & holds its shape beautifully, so I am very happy with it. The only trouble was that the green dress has gold in the edging so L. got a gold purse and & sandals & evening dress mat. has a silver thread in it, so I have got a very pretty edging embroidered with gold beads & pearls which I will put around the neck & sort of tie the gold & silver together.
To go back, Lindy left on Sun. at 5:30 & then I took Cec back to the hospital in the evening, & Charlie & I sat back & caught our breaths! When the op. was done on Tues. the Dr. found that the right side of the thyroid was very hard & calcified, so he sent it for a section to be done. He was so nice, he told Cec when it came back he jumped for joy, as it wasn’t malignant but very inflamed & infected, so he removed the whole right side. Apparently it is called Hashimoto’s Disease & the thyroid infects & rejects itself – very peculiar. Anyway he was pretty dopey that evening of course, with all sorts of drips etc. but the next day he looked better & by the Thurs. he was up & about & looking much more like himself. The Dr. had said he would probably be able to come home on Fri. or Sat. but I could hardly believe it when Cec called on Fri. morning & said “Come & get me”. He is sleeping & eating well now, & the incision is healing well. Cec says he’s had his throat cut! & it is a long scar across the bottom of his neck. It is sore & stiff of course & his voice gravelly but he is really v. well, but of course jittery & nervy & restless & yet tired – which anyone is after surgery, but improving each day. Thank you so much for both your letters – will answer them properly soon. Thank you also for the $5 – will get the panti hose & socks & know L. will be thrilled. Will take pictures & send them. So glad A. Moo had a nice birthday & the card arrived in time. I am enclosing some Supper recipes for you – the 1st one is nice with cold meat & all are inexpensive! Much love from us all Cyn. Love to A. Moo.
November turned out to be a very busy month for the Costains- Cec had surgery, both children had Commencement, and Cyn had to manage it all. Her October letter to Carol had told about tests Cec was having in hospital the first week of November, and the planning and buying of new clothes for the children, but it is not until a month later that she gives all the details. [Next post: November 18, 1969] But, in keeping with the unspoken rules of writing-letters-to-mothers, she never shares the fears that the adults must have had, however relieved they all were after the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Cec has been in hospital, Linda has come home for Reading Week, shopped, and been fitted for her new dresses, Cec then had a thyroid operation and spent another couple of weeks recovering- with excitement of the graduation ceremony and dance, combined with the visit of his nephew Bruce to accompany Linda, to entertain him. His friends and colleagues sent cards with messages of concern, as did his daughter (who had seen him the weekend before his operation that Tuesday, and was going home the next weekend for her graduation .)
Dear Daddy, Sat. even. Bruce hasn’t phoned yet, so I don’t know when he’s coming. I got my essay done in time (the very nick of time) and have been resting. But Sat. evening is impossible to sleep on, so I’m enjoying myself watching a group of very happy people just went through the hall singing “Jingle Bells” and pressed me to join them, but I was laughing too hard- and I’m a good little girl. I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, hope you are home & can do the same. Love to all. Linda Card Page: For Daddy Get Well Soon… I Sure Miss You. I’m glad I’m coming back on Friday, I’m going to have fun. I hope you’ll be well enough to enjoy it. Love Linda
Thank you for your letter from St.V. which arrived this morning. I hope that by now you have found all your things that you packed away before you left and that you are all settled again. From what you say it doesn’t sound as if you got my AM letter to Long Beach before you left so I thought I had better get busy writing again or you will feel neglected. Our mails seem to be very poor just now – I mailed a letter to Lindy last Thurs. morning and by Tues. when she wrote again it still hadn’t arrived, so goodness knows how long it took mail to reach New York. Did you get a letter from Lindy before you left? I had sent her the picture of Donna and Alan to see and she sent it onto you, but from what you say you don’t seem to have heard from her. Perhaps by now Monie will have sent them on to you.
We are having a Smorgasbord Supper at the church this evening with a magician for the children afterwards! I cooked 8 lbs. of peameal bacon yesterday and we will have it sliced cold with cold turkey and then there will be scalloped potatoes and casseroles and salads, rolls etc. and dessert and coffee. I have just put a big upside down cake in the oven for my dessert contribution – I have made it with rings of pineapple and cherries in the middle of the rings, so it should look pretty. Marjorie is picking me up at 1 o’clock and we are going down to the church to get things ready and set tables etc. This evening I will help serve but not wash up! We had the magician last year, so I am not all that interested in seeing him again, so Cec and I might just eat and then come home. Charlie is busy at school – they are having a Basketball Tournament, and he is helping organize it and officiate etc. so he may not even come and eat – he is to phone me later on and let me know, but if he comes he will just eat and run.
I had a letter from Lindy this morning when I got yours, and poor child, for the first time she was fed up. Some bright sparks had decided to wreck her room as a joke and had not only stripped her bed but hidden an essay she was working on and various other jolly little things, so she was mad and quite upset about it. Very juvenile behaviour and of course Lindy never has had to deal with this practical joke business before, but living with a bunch of girls this sort of silly thing always comes up, and she will just have to learn to live with it. She had recovered by the time she finished her letter – I think that she was more upset because her two particular friends were away for the weekend and she didn’t have anyone to grumble to, but anyway she will have lots of friends this weekend because I think I told you that Janet and Joanne are driving down to see her tonight. They called in last night, all excited, to collect what they call a CARE parcel – goodies!
I spent yesterday morning baking and Mme Gemuse asked me if I was going to have guests and was very amused when I said no, they were all for Linda! I included a tiny pumpkin out of the garden so she can make a baby jack-o’-lantern for Halloween – it is only about the size of a rubber ball, so it will be a miniature! The girls also took down her winter coat and boots as it has suddenly got bitterly cold. We have had lovely weather and no frost at all – the nasturtiums and morning glories were still blooming and the poplar and weeping willow trees all green, and then on Wed. morning it was down to 20 and snow on the ground! Shocking! It was so cold that the snow didn’t melt on the grass and bushes, but is still sneaking around, the horrid thing! Tomorrow will be a bit milder they say which is a good thing as Cec is still busy in the garden clearing up and I had better try and tidy the flower beds.
I have been trying to remember when I last wrote you – not very long ago, but anyway if I repeat please excuse! We have been quite gay with dinner with Jim and Lee before the Little Theatre last week, and then on Friday morning Phyl suddenly phoned and said that there was a guest from Washington and he had brought his wife and they were planning to meet her and take her to lunch downtown. We went to the restaurant at the Arts Centre – we went there for coffee one day, looking out on the canal – and there were 5 of us, Phyl, Nan Ramsey, a Magda Jones and me and the lady, Mary Lide. Her husband is a friend of Cec’s and he had stayed with them quite often in Washington, so I was pleased to meet her. She is very nice – English and is a writer. She has had one book published called ‘The Bait’ but I can’t remember her maiden name under which she writes. We had a nice lunch and then met again in the evening for a dinner meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists which was very nice. We also went out to dinner on Monday to Marjorie and Dick’s and Charlie was quite disgusted at so many dinner outings and leaving him alone! Mr. Graham was at Marjorie’s and we had a very nice dinner and then played bridge. I think that we only played once last winter, so I was well out of practice, and of course Marjorie is very chatty! Dick was playing and she was watching and I made a bid and Cec replied, and just then Marjorie said something to me and I never noticed that he had jumped my bid! I just bid 3 no trump and of course ended by making a grand slam and Cec was very disapproving!
It’s now Tuesday – what with the Smorgasbord and the weekend, I got nothing more written. The Sm. was a big success – we planned for about 100 to 110 people and must have had 140 to 150. The only thing we ran short of was desserts and I think that was because a lot of little boys rushed up early and got seconds and thirds! It really is not such fun when there is a crowd – more of a scramble and not at all peaceful and relaxed and Cec thinks the quality of the cooking has gone down, as he got a bit of a casserole that was absolutely tasteless! But there’s not much we can do about it. We don’t really try to make money out of this – we only charge 1.50 per adult, 1.00 for teenagers, .50 for school children and under school-age free, with a maximum of 5.00 per family, but we made 100 dollars anyway.
I had to do my grocery shopping on Sat. morning because now that Cec’s technician with whom he used to drive, has left he just drives by himself and I have to drive him in and collect him when I want the car. It is quite a chore and I am beginning to see why wives like a second car in the family!
Janet and Joanne both called me on Sunday evening and told me that they had had a wonderful time down with Lindy and then L. called later and she seemed to have really enjoyed having them so that is nice. They apparently had a party in L’s room on the Sat. evening which was a big success and Lindy even had some boys there so that was quite something! The Gloucester High School Graduation Ceremony is on Nov. 21st and there will be the actual thing on the Friday evening at the school and then on the Sat. evening instead of a dance at the school the School Council has got together and hired a room and a band at the new Skyline Hotel for a dinner dance – cost 12 dollars a couple! (handwritten not typed: I have said that we will pay for the tickets!) Charlie and the other boys nearly fainted but comparing it to other years when the dance at school cost 5 dollars a couple and usually the boy took the girl out to dinner before, and then often they had a big party downtown in some restaurant after the dance which must have cost quite a bit, actually it isn’t so bad! It is to be Formal! This means long dresses for the girls but suits for the boys – not dinner jackets as it would be in England, thank goodness! Charlie needed a new Sunday jacket and I had asked him if he wanted a jacket or a suit and he had said, “Oh a jacket and slacks,” but when this dance came up he said to me that he thought maybe he should get a suit. We toured the shops right left and centre and it was so hard. Of course he doesn’t want a suit such as an older man would have – he wanted something a little Mod, without being Way Out, but it was very difficult to find. Some of the jackets he looked very nice in, but they were definitely noticeable – double breasted with high lapels and waists etc. – rather Regency style, but although he looked nice in them he felt a bit odd, and I could agree with him. Then tweed suits were very hot, and dark ones were very dull etc. In the end we found exactly what he wanted and we are both delighted – not only is it just what he wanted but it was a summer suit on sale and it was half price – 40 dollars! It is a young man’s outfit, and what they call a coordinated suit now. This means that the jacket and waist coat (yes, a waistcoat, very stylish!) are in a very fine glen check and the trousers are in a matching plain material. It is a rather greyish green colour (Charlie wanted green) and the trousers are very slim fitting. The jacket is single breasted and has three buttons and the waistcoat of buttons up higher than the jacket, so that it shows a little bit above. Charlie was a bit taken aback with the waistcoat to begin with but it looks so nice and altogether I think he looks very elegant in it – tall and slim. He wears a pale yellow shirt with it and a browny- greeny shaded tie and even Linda when she came home thoroughly approved!
Of course, Lindy was another problem. Neither she nor any of her friends had any hope of any of the boys in their class asking them to the dance, and it seemed such a pity to me that she should miss this big occasion at the end of her school career. So in the summer I suggested to her that we invite Bruce up for the Graduation weekend and that he should take her to the dance. At first she was quite horrified that Bruce [her first cousin, a year older than she] would be forced into taking her, but I said that he has always enjoyed coming out to visit us and he has no steady girlfriend so it wouldn’t be any harm in asking him, so she said all right I could perhaps mention it to Merle and see what she thought. Well, Merle thought Bruce would like to come, but she sounded him out and he was delighted, so wasn’t that nice? Lindy is going down to Brantford this weekend to see them and will get things organized I expect, as her Commencement invitation just came last week and I forwarded it on to her. When she was home at Thanksgiving we talked about clothes and of course she will have to have a long dress over which she was very excited! We have the beautiful pale blue and silver sari to make her an evening dress someday, but we both agreed that we would save it for another occasion and buy material for this one. What I did suggest though, was that I should make her a short dress out of the rest of my green and gold sari for the actual graduation ceremony. The Principal wants the girls to wear short dresses as this doesn’t make it awkward for girls who can’t afford long dresses, so I have quite a bit of the green sari left and a long piece which was a kind of stole on my dress and so we got a pattern for quite a plain little sleeveless dress with a little stand up collar, and I have been piecing and fitting and I think I can get it out all right. The sari has a pretty green and blue pattern at the end, and then a narrow gold edge along the sides, and I think I can get the pattern all around the hem and then a little of the gold on the collar. We will have to choose material and a pattern for a long dress when she is home next week, so you can see I am going to be busy! Isn’t it fortunate that I can sew – think how much money I would be spending on my daughter’s finery if I couldn’t! I meant to tell you that Charlie asked his friend Chrystal to the dance, but her father wouldn’t let her go, so he has asked a girl in his class at school called Maureen MacQuarrie – she lives over at Blackburn Hamlet and is one of the ‘crowd’ which has been going around together for most of the year so that is rather nice. She is a little dark-haired girl and has been in Charlie’s class since about Gr. 2 and I know her mother as she is a worker for the United Church, so I hope they all have a good time.
I wished that I had been able to buy the material for Lindy’s dress last week, but you know I wouldn’t dare without her approval! Ruth Lockwood and I spent the day in Montreal on Tuesday and had a lovely time. We decided to go down by train, so we made an early start and got a taxi for 7:10 am and caught the 7:40 train which got us in about 9:30. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had coffee when we arrived and looked at all the fascinating specialty shops in the Place Ville Marie and then went to the big stores. Ruth was looking for a slip cover for her sofa, so at each store we separated for half an hour and I bought thrilling things like socks for Cec and Charlie and a green shirt for Charlie and a scarf for me to match my fall coat (kind of pale turquoisey-green, difficult to match but I got one). I tried to get a hat to match my winter coat, the pale blue one with the greyish fur collar, but mink fur hats are all the rage or else knitted wool berets, and neither was what I wanted! I got some pretty material to make me a winter dress, sort of mauvy colour with little pink roses on – sounds odd, but I’ll send you a piece when I cut it out – oh and I also got a pair of black shoes. Poor Ruth had no luck with her slip cover, and I was getting worried that she would have nothing to show for her trip, but in the end I persuaded her into a dress shop and she ended by buying 2 very nice dresses – they are Crimplene and she likes that and they were reduced in a sale so that was nice. We had lunch at one of the big stores and then we had a snack before we caught the train at 5 o’clock and Cec met us at the station, so we felt we had a very successful day and enjoyed it very much.
I must stop soon and write a note to Lindy and then get on with cutting out the green sari dress – I was so glad when I suggested the idea to Lindy that she was thrilled with it – I thought that maybe she wouldn’t want a kind of “made over” again, after I made the blue one last year out of Marguerite’s dress, but one thing she may criticize Mother about some things but she is wonderfully appreciative of my dressmaking efforts. She tells me all the girls in College think she is so lucky to have such lovely clothes and a mother who makes them for her, and one of her friends was going home to her Graduation last weekend and she was so taken with Lindy’s last year’s blue the Lindy lent it to her to graduate in too! I hope that the green is as successful.
I don’t think that I have had time to tell you that poor Cec has to go into Hospital next week. If you remember all summer he was bothered with an irritated throat after he had a throat infection last winter, but when I mentioned the Dr. of course he put it off. Anyway when he was in Australia he got a very bad infection with a high temp. etc. and went to a Dr there and got something, but it was still there a bit when he came home so we made an appointment straight away with Dr. K. for a check up. Apparently Dr. K. thinks the throat is all part of a type of allergy which contributes to the sinus trouble Cec has and his nose is blocked inside a bit. His father has had the same trouble all his life and has had his nose scraped and so on and Carman and Merle have bad sinus trouble too. Also Cec has an enlarged thyroid gland, so Dr. K. had him go for a swab at the Labs. and he is to go into the hospital next week for 3 days for tests. After the tests the Drs. will decide what to do- if they operate then he will be in for 1 week or 10 days, but we won’t know until they make up their minds. Apparently they can make a picture of the inside of the throat with sort of measurements and see how enlarged the gland is etc. He is also supposed to cut down on his cigarettes, but so far I don’t think he is doing very well – maybe if his throat is sore afterwards he’ll have to stop and that will be a step in the right direction. Poor Cec, he has never been in hospital so this will be an experience for him, and I was teasing him and saying that he had planned to be like his Dad who has never been in hospital at all. However, I am very relieved that he is getting something done about it and that Dr. K. Is looking after him – I hate this business of not knowing and not bothering about going to the Dr.
I must stop now and get on. My love to Auntie Muriel and to Peggy and her family. Hello to Doris and Luenda and June.
With lots of love to you from us all, Cyn.
[Several handwritten postscripts!] P.S. What did Auntie Moo think of your dresses? I didn’t much like the colours in the one you got with Milly – a jersey with green & dark red etc. & I thought Auntie Moo wouldn’t like it either!
P.P.S. Cec came home from Australia via Japan & Vancouver.
[At the beginning of the letter] Charlie has begun taking the Driver Training Course at school – has got his Learner’s Licence & will take his test at Christmas.
As an addendum, here is a letter from Linda at university (missing the first page) written at the beginning of November, after the weekend she spent visiting her Auntie Merle and Uncle Dix and cousin Bruce in Brantford. … I’m just watching the antics of a couple of squirrels in a tree far away, but I can see their silhouettes clearly the darling jumpy things. I’m sorry I didn’t get anything written at the Moors but I had a fabulous weekend & I loved it & them & I want to go back soon! On Friday night [Hallowe’en] we kept answering the doorbell & then the kids [Bruce’s small nieces, Debbie and Cyndie] walked in & fooled me – Trick or Treat Brucie – and marched past us before I knew what was coming off. Then they stayed a bit & then Merle remembered that it was graduation at B.C.I. & so we went & I felt awfully out of place among the formals, but Bruce showed me around the high school & it was quite fun. The next morning we went into Hamilton because Bruce had to move to another room so I helped him & then he showed me around Mac [McMaster university, Bruce was in second year.] & it was raining. Then we came back & did nothing & worked. The Lornes came to dinner & it was funny especially Cyndie & her food. After they left me & Bruce went on working, but Sophocles bored me & his math prob. wouldn’t come out so we gave up & made popcorn & watched T.V. Well, on Sunday I went to a Baptist church, and although we missed the first bit, it was very interesting, and a change. In the afternoon we went over to Lorne’s & Liz & Cyndie went to Glenhurst, but Lorne made me & Debbie tea, and he & Bruce played the piano. After dinner, Uncle Dix & Bruce drove me into Toronto and put me on the bus & went, Bruce was being dropped off in Hamilton on the way back. Bruce had his Mac jacket on & the girl I sat with thought he was my boyfriend & told me all about Homecoming weekend (which she had gone to with her boyfriend). She chatted on for a bit & then tried to sleep, but I had my light on & there was a baby which cried all the time, so she didn’t succeed. Then I shared a taxi with another girl & got here, was greeted exuberantly, fell into bed & slept till noon today. I’m phoning you tonight & will be home soon Love Linda Must tell you about the psych exp.
This letter is the final one in the two month Linda-goes-to-university diversion, after which the letters go back to Cyn writing to her mother Carol instead of her daughter. (I’m sure she did go on writing to me, and that Grannie did too, but the first two months were the only bunch of letters I preserved, although a few from Cyn over the university years have survived.) At this point, Carol’s visits to relatives in Ottawa and New York are coming to an end, and she is going home to St.Vincent where she lives with her sister (Auntie Muriel). Cyn’s letters will continue the saga of Linda at Trent- most events long since forgotten by me- as well as her daily life and news, although when Carol got them is another matter, the cousin in New York having to send on her post to the West Indies…
Traill, Trent Wed. Oct 8.
Dear Grannie, This is the shortest of notes, just to tell you I’m doing fine and loving it here. I have lots of friends, and like all my classes. Tomorrow I’m going home though because it’s Thanksgiving this Monday in Canada, and I’ve managed to get no lectures on Friday this week so I’m leaving after my last lecture at 6 on the 7:15 PM for Ottawa. I haven’t really been home- sick – to cry my eyes out every night I mean – but I’ve missed everybody. And letters mean a lot to me so I’m very glad for yours. Mummy sent Alan and Donna’s picture to me & I think he looks a scream. Donna’s outfit is darling. A lot of the boys & professors here have beards, moustaches & long hair. Charlie is going to look scalped when I get home, after living with these types.
I’m looking forward especially to seeing Daddy, because I haven’t seen him since August. Also, there are lots of kittens living around here – although we’re not allowed 4 footed animals in residence – and we smuggle them into visit us, so I’ve been missing Saki too. You’ll be glad to get home and see your friends – both 2 & 4 legged – again. Say hello to June for me. I have Auntie Muriel’s book trough here with my favourite paper backs in for relaxation- everything from Jane Eyre to Elizabeth Gouge. And your teapot, (that is, my teapot that you gave me) decorates my bookcase – my table & shelves and walls are all cream coloured so I need a bit of colour.
I am taking English – all Shakespeare; History – Canadian only, darn it; Greek & Latin Literature in translation; Ancient History; and Psychology. I have about 12 hours a week in class – lectures or tutorials. We have these gowns – dark green, which doesn’t match anything, and they are an awful nuisance. We can wear whatever we want, so I can put on my slacks on cold days. It is very beautiful here now, with all the leaves turning – a perfect Thanksgiving weekend. A couple of West Indian girls are thrilled, and really looking forward to the snow – though I know they’ll get tired of it.
Well, it’s getting late and I’ll be in a bus for a long time tomorrow evening, so I think I’ll get to bed. Thanks so much for writing, if we don’t get at least one letter a day, we get awfully depressed (because everyone else seems to get mail when we don’t) so please keep it up. My love to everybody & have a good trip home. Bon Voyage. Love Linda
In the August of 1969, on the trip west, Linda and Charlie had stayed with their aunt and uncle in Penticton and met their four small cousins, David, Leslie, Robin, and Philip Costain. They wrote Linda letters in case she was homesick!
Monday 6th Oct.
Darling Lindy, These letters came for you enclosed in one from Leona, so I am sending them away at once as I know you will love them – what about being a “floter” and going to “gim”– aren’t they sweet! I also got your 2 lovely letters mailed 2nd & 4th – I always seem to get a nice batch on Monday & I enjoy them Hugely! I don’t want to stop to answer them now as I promised Charlie I would mail his today, so I will go & do so now & then come back & wash my hair etc. How wonderful to get a good haircut & only .50¢. I got fed up with mine about 2 weeks ago so dashed into S.C. Beauty Salon & got a trim only & was scalped! It is very short as you will see but I don’t mind – it will grow. I haven’t tried another Beauty Salon but don’t want to go back to Crista. I am enclosing the recipes the girls asked for & mail to the U.S. is .10¢ but Grannie leaves on 15th October, so try & get it off soon. I am also sending the picture of Alan & Donna & you can put it in your letter to Grannie – she wants it back for Auntie Muriel. I think Alan looks nicer than he really is in it – he’s 25 I think. Grannie says Donna is wearing a “peasant outfit” with flowered skirt & shawl to match & ruffly petticoat. She wears glasses with v. thick lenses but took them off for the pictures – got contact lenses for her wedding but finds smog in L.A. makes her eyes water. Grannie says Donna’s family are madly kiss-ey & she giggled at the thought of your & Charlie’s reaction! The picture is thick so may make your letter heavy, so you may need .20¢ stamp. Lovely that you can come on Thursday evening – we will all be waiting at the Bus Station with Big Smiles! I am so glad you are you & not Jean Craven! Or anyone else for that matter! The reason I must wash my hair is that Daddy & I are going to dinner at Phil & Alex’s tonight – Nancy stayed with Fanni’s sister Claire in Switzerland this summer & Claire is now here, hence the dinner party. I began to diet today so it’s sad, but I can begin again tomorrow! Must fly Love Mummy P.S. We’ll talk about jumpsuit & clothes at weekend – OK?
Dear Lynda and Charlie I am getting along fine in school. My teachers name Miss Johnson. I can write words like [printed words change to script] dog jig code add doc odd. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Is there any snow at your house. Have you had any storms at your house. Is Charlie any bigger this year. love Robin [This may have been a later letter, given the decorative paper.]
Octber 1/69 1496 Balfour St Dear Linda My simming went quite well, but I have to stay another year in beginners. I have had trouble with my tonsils lately so may have to have them out soon. School has been going quite well lately.I spend quite a bit of time riding my bike. I have a friend Named Michele. She is just 3 years old and spends a lot of time here. I decided to stop going to Brownies because I didn’t like it. I am going to figure skating this year. I hope you have sittled in at university by now and are not too homesick. Charlie must find it quiet at home at home without you. Love from us all, Leslie
Dear Linyda I passed my swimming lesson Test. I am now in pre-juniors I learned to write [script] ccccccc My teachers name is Miss Johnson. She is very nice to me. I passed into grade 3 I am in a choir at school. We go to gim everyday on Friday. It is very at school. We have libary everyday on Thursday. My book I got on Thursday Oct. 2 is called PROUD PUMPKIN Love Robin
Dear Linyda [I think his older brother Robin helped him write this, with the words in capitals done by Philip.] I passed my swimming lessons test. I am in floters now. I am in grade 1. I can print words like LOOK up down LUCKY JANET JOHN. Those are some of the words I can spell. WITH LOVE from Philip