When I first thought of reading my mother’s old letters to my grandmother, it was because I had been listening to CBC radio talking about the polio scares of the 1950s. My husband Pat is five years older than I and can remember the public swimming pools in Windsor being closed because of fear of polio. Had my mother worried about her children being affected, I wondered? I should read her letters and find out. But of course, reading one meant reading them all, for who knew where such information might be buried?
I knew I had letters from my past in boxes somewhere and that some of the boxes from my mother had letters that my grandmother had preserved from their past. I must have considered these of some value, since I had lugged them through our many moves (an average of every three-and-a-half years all our married life). We have made our second-last move (back to our house in Haida Gwaii- the last one will be the one forced on us by old age and infirmities); have as much space as we’ll ever have; Pat and I are retired and thus I had lots of time to consider A Project. So I dug out the boxes, sorted the letters and other documents into binders, and then left them alone for ten years.
My Family Letters Project involves 80 years of letters saved by and written by the women in my nuclear family to their mothers.
The youngest child of twelve, Carol Enid Hazell, was born in St.Vincent, West Indies into the British colonial empire of Queen Victoria. She went to school in England, returned and married Dr. J.M.G. Ewing (Gordon) in St. Vincent, and after World War 1, went to live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with her husband and daughter. It is hard to imagine how many letters they all wrote over the years: she kept in touch with her mother, brothers, and sisters in the West Indies, Britain, Canada, and the USA; but the only letters she saved were those from her daughter, Cynthia Ewing, written to her mother in Newcastle from boarding school in York, then as an adult, from Cambridge, Toledo, Ann Arbor, and Ottawa. When, in old age, she joined her daughter in Ottawa, she brought those letters with her. Between us, Cyn and I kept my memorabilia and those letters that friends wrote to me, although the letters I wrote home to Ottawa from England and Nigeria sadly seem to have disappeared.
This chain of personal letters to our mothers, of course, involves all our friends and the extended families, personal comments that I hope those living will excuse me publishing, and a lot of little details of life gone by, such as the information that my mother at boarding school as a teenager would have her hair washed every three weeks. [Letter dated May 8th, 1929] To the 21st century reader, this results in several thoughts, including ‘ick’, but also: at 14, someone else washes her hair? also, what did they all look like? and, oh that explains a few puzzling incidents in that Chalet School series (written in the 30s).
Adding to the vicarious enjoyment of these letters is the fact that nothing very distressing ever happens because no one wants to upset her mother: so agonizing experiences (if any) are kept private and don’t enter into the flow of weekly letters; and major events happen off stage since the family tends to get together in a crisis and so no letters are written, and the accident or crisis is only referred to afterwards.
As well, it should be admitted, I come from a very fortunate family: on both sides generally, there was health and enough wealth, in spite of the Depression and World War Two, no great tragedies happened, and if all marriages were not successful, most were, families were loving, and children were treasured. For me, reading these was like enjoying a familiar novel, or maybe a prequel: you know the main characters and the ending, but you are getting all sorts of new and entertaining information. As the boxes reached my memorabilia, 40 years ago rather than 80, there were notes and cards from my past, and that walk down memory lane was fun too. Those notes and artifacts add variety, since they are from friends to me- the odd letter in the collection from someone else added interest to my mother’s letters, but in 1951 she tells her mother how much she and my father enjoy the letters they get, but also says she is going to burn them since the collection was getting so bulky. How glad I am that my grandmother kept Cyn’s letters, one-sided though the conversation is.
So I read the letters, put them in chronological order in plastic sleeves and binders, annotated them with stickies when I recognized the names, and supplemented the narrative with the oral stories I’d heard all my life. My grandmother had a box of loose photos too, so I have slipped them in the sleeve too if relevant. My mother took a writing class in her 70s, and wrote short stories about her mother’s life: the eruption, the earthquake, fictionalized versions of family sagas. I include similar tales we loved as kids: our mother being naughty with a midnight feast at boarding school. And long term? As I wrote to my 97-year-old godmother in England, I can’t help thinking there is a thesis in here somewhere. Now we have the Internet, I think publishing these may be a contribution to the domestic history of the 20th century. My grandmother kept the letters from her daughter, and enjoyed reading them and putting them in order in her old age, and there are indications that my mother looked them over as well before her sight went. Now we have the technology I feel they should serve a wider purpose than bringing a smile to my face as I enter old age. The collection may lack drama for an outside reader, but the small details of life in the last century are strangely compelling. So I am posting these online and sharing the love with the world- because what these years of letters do show is a century of caring and long families and teasing, friends and connections and love.
At long last I am getting down to writing you a letter to yourself, and answering your letters. It is awful that I should take such an age to do it, now that I am having such a lovely long holiday, but I think my laziness has come into its own again & I find I have the greatest difficulty in doing anything! Til & Lois keep saying, well what would you like to do your last few days, & I say, just sit in the house & do nothing!
First of all, I am just delighted to know that you have got my parcel safely, & that you like the things. I was getting quite worried when the parcel hadn’t come, because you were relying on it so, and I thought how awful if it does arrive and you don’t like the dress or anything! However, you really sound as if you did, and although it isn’t really what I wanted to get you, it is summery & pretty & wedding-y so I hope that you have a lovely day to wear it. I wrote to Nan & Mrs. Allen today, & I was so glad too, to hear that Nan had got 2 of her parcels anyway. By now perhaps the wedding present has arrived – I have an awful feeling they’ll have a hideous amount of duty to pay, but perhaps they won’t mind, as a Nan has been lucky about getting her other things free. I didn’t really think that Lois’ things would fit Nan, but I think it is a good idea to send them to Mary, if she thinks they’re any good. I’m glad she liked the mac. – it is kind of oldish but when it is cleaned, it will probably look better. Did Maud like her silk stockings & Nan her nylons? You mentioned her bathing suit- I thought it was a honey, didn’t you? – and her dress but not the cardigan – I hope that fitted it all right. I am sorry that Lois’ shoes were a bit tight for you – perhaps the cobbler man would stretch them. How Lois got them on I don’t know because she takes a bigger size than me! Try & get someone to take a snap of you all dressed up for the wedding so that I can see- I think you’ll look very smart, Mrs. Ewing! I was tickled at your remarks re. the funny little white hat – I thought you might have a few doubts about it, but I’m glad that you got it so that it suited you and I’m looking forward to seeing you in it. I shall be thinking of you all so hard next Saturday – you must go & have a lovely time and remember everything to tell me and have every other drink for me & kiss all the men twice– once for you & once for me!
I wrote to Nan as I told you, & in N.Y. I sent her a wedding card, & on Thurs. I will send her a cable – I have spent quite a while this afternoon thinking up snappy messages!! I think my one to Irene was so good that I find it difficult to surpass!! I wonder if Irene’s & Dottie’s parcels have come yet. I do hope poor Dottie gets hers all right this time with no duty to pay, as she has been unlucky before. I haven’t heard from Irene for quite a while, but I had the nicest letter from Dottie the other day, welcoming me back & saying that she was going to have a Welcome Home Party for me, & also that she had it all set up for me to speak to the Gosforth Inner Wheel! So it looks as if you’re going to hear your daughter make a speech after all! I also had a nice welcoming letter from Pam Hapgood in Cambridge, & even one from the old Howlett! Whilst I’m talking about Inner Wheels though, that reminds me of Amy! and her crazy idea of Nan being offended at her! At the time of Nan’s engagement she wrote & told me about it, & how Charlie wouldn’t let her send an engagement present. I thought of mentioning it to Nan but then I thought I better keep out of it so I didn’t even allude to it in writing back to Amy. Isn’t she silly sometimes!? I was sorry you didn’t have such a nice time on the river, but I was pleased that you had at last been having some really nice weather & I do hope it continues for the wedding. Whadyaknow about Liz & Phil?! That’s what the radio announcers in N.Y. have been calling our Royal Couple! Of course everyone over here was tickled to bits & the papers gave blow-by-blow descriptions of the courtship etc.! I was as thrilled as could be & all the Long Beach folk & Hugh were greatly amused at me & said you’d think she was my sister! Well, darn it, this will be the 1st wedding I’ll be home for, so I’ll go or bust!
I’m answering your letters now so expect some skipping around! I was so amused to hear of our old friend Matthew from Gosforth now being curate at St. Luke’s. He should be a vast improvement on some of the peculiar curates St. Luke’s has had, and I hope he likes it. I remember seeing him in Tilley’s a while back & noticing how grey he looked. I wonder if he & Mr. McC. will get on all right – I expect Matthew is very tactful! You said about Mary Nutley being there & having a lousy fortune told – poor Mary. I never got around to phoning Mary Johnson, but maybe I will when I’m in N.Y. again – maybe! There seem to be so many things to do & anyway I am nearly a pauper now as I have been buying presents for everyone & have just about enough to get me to N.Y. & that’s all! I am living on Til & Lois these 2 weeks & they keep trying to press money on me, but I’m not quite as hard up as that! I warned them in Long B. I’d come back penniless, so they are expecting it – before I left I gave them all presents- Margs a beach bag (she chose it) Monie an English cup & saucer (she collects them) A. Ettie bowls for her MixMaster (she’d broken hers) A. Moo a little teapot for 2! I sent C’Zelma & Em a little English china teapot with roses on, as a thank you & they were thrilled to bits with it. C’Z has tea in the afternoon so she will use it! I am not going to be able to get Til & Lois anything, but I thought I could maybe send them something English- what, Heaven knows!!
I was interested to hear the news about the Sheedys, & surprised about Denis not being at Nan’s wedding – but Winnie will be there I suppose. Denis is quite getting around nowadays, isn’t he? I haven’t written back to Joe yet – I wonder whether he’ll find a nice wife in Ireland?! Well of course the news of Joan Greenwood’s perfidy was a great disappointment to me! At the time I got your letter I felt quite upset about it, because I have felt so pleased & counted on it so & was looking forward to having a nice flat. However, I’ve got over it now & it can’t be helped, & Anne is sweet to help me. I will write to her – I haven’t heard from her by the way- and thank her, & anyway I’m sure she’ll find me someplace to go to, & then I can look around. She said that Jessie F. seemed quite annoyed when she heard I was to share with Joan but she already shares a nice place with Joan Watkins, so I don’t see there’s room for me there & anyway I’d rather not if possible! I hadn’t got Joan’s material for her, so that is one good thing. I looked at some in N.Y. but the thought of spending so many of my precious dollars just killed me & I put it off & now I’m so pleased! The sad story of Lady? with her mink coat is going to make me into an honest woman – well – comparatively! I’ll be kind of 1/2 and 1/2! I was tickled at you buying 2 new hats in 1 week – then getting another from me! My, my, Mrs. Ewing- you’re going to outshine me as to headgears!
I was so pleased to hear that the “Holiday”s had come at last, & I’m sure it will be all right now. I wonder if Pop really enjoys them or if he reads them & grouches at the same time!! Anyway it will be something for him to do! By the way, I know you will be heartbroken, but I truly had no money left to buy net for the curtains! I intended to get some if I had any left after buying presents, but I never did. Ain’t I a bad girl!! You knew how much I loved the thought of buying it, didn’t you!! Anyway, I didn’t buy your net & you broke my poor little pink cup so we are quits! Don’t worry though – it can’t be helped, & if it is useable that is better than nothing. We’re both bad girls!
I called Mrs. Pasquier this week & I am going to have lunch with her tomorrow. She & Mr. P are going to be in N.Y. around 10th of Aug. & are going to invite me & Miss Marie Stoll out to dinner so it will be rather fun meeting her with the Pasquiers there. I won’t mind at all, whereas I wasn’t at all keen on meeting her alone!
Now about your photo – I think it is really lovely, Mummy. It doesn’t flatter you but it is just like you – pretty & sweet & nice. I like it so much – far & away the loveliest & best picture I’ve ever seen of you. All the people at Long B. loved it & Hugh liked it too, & I was so proud to show it to Til & Lois & C’ Zelma & Em & Grandma. They all think we look alike & they think you are as pretty as can be. I haven’t got a frame, as I was kind of scared of getting it broken & anyway I can get a nice one at home. Thank you so much for having it taken money – I think it’s beautiful.
By the way, I forgot to tell you, Til’s son Bill is married again! On 4th July to a girl called Jan, age 18, living in Florida. He just wrote & told his mother, & that is all she knows, & of course he never even mentioned being interested in anyone when he was here. Til has had a snap of her since & she looks all right! But isn’t he the limit?
Don’t worry about my being hard up – I forgot to tell you I have some English money, so once I am on the ship I will be OK & I will have plenty to get me home. Did I ever tell you that I thought your W.P. to Nan & Dick was lovely? An electric blanket indeed! Even if it is small it doesn’t matter, & I’m sure they’ll love them- I told Nan we had her cold feet on our minds!!! You asked about Jessie H. in one of your letters – I have never heard a thing but Anne tells me, Jessie F. tells her, that Jessie H. told her that she had written to me twice! Well, I never got them! I’m sorry in a way, ‘cos I’d like to take Zinnia something, but I’m just not going to- meanie!
I must stop now, as I don’t want this letter to be overweight. I will write to you & Pop tomorrow & tell you of my week’s doings- nothing really much! On Tuesday Til & Lois & I are to go to the Nauts to dinner, but otherwise no engagements & I leave for N.Y. next weekend.
The days seem to be going so quickly that before I realize it I will be on the Queen Elizabeth & home again. I was awfully sorry to hear that you had a nasty cold, Mummy, but I do hope that it is quite better by now, and that you are feeling fine again. I was so pleased to get your letter & so was Aunt Muriel, but we were both sorry about your cold & that you had been having cold weather again. Ever since I came to Long Beach the weather has been wonderful, with continuous sunshine until last night there was very heavy rain, & this morning it was dull, but is already clearing. I am getting quite brown, but I’m not trying to get tanned as I don’t want to get sore, and one day last week the sea was so warm that I stayed in much longer than I realized & got quite red, so since then I have been careful.
I am sleeping at Mona’s house now, but have most of my meals at Marguerite’s. I really haven’t done much at all – we have bathed in the sea about 3 times, & once in the canal, & most of our meals we eat on the porch. Last Wednesday I went into New York & met Frances Kaya, who was staying there for a few days & we had quite a nice afternoon shopping and gossiping and having tea. On Thursday evening some neighbours of Marg’s, Mr. & Mrs. Schwab, took me out a drive in the evening & to visit some friends of theirs, then Friday was Independence Day & everyone had a holiday. Margs invited Hugh Brown down for the day & he came in the afternoon & we all went to the beach & bathed. In the evening I was very keen to see fireworks so Hugh, Monie, Owen, Aunt Muriel & I drove to Jones Beach where there is usually a beautiful display, only to find that there wasn’t even the smallest sparkler! Hugh stayed at Margs’ overnight & next day drove me up to Connecticut to see Til & we had a lovely day. Unfortunately no one but Grandma was in when we arrived, but we had a nice time with her & the others came back later & we all had supper outside.
Sunday was both Aunt Ettie’s birthday & Margs and Bill’s anniversary, so there was quite a celebration. We all had dinner at Aunt Ettie’s, but didn’t let her do any work. Margs & the others gave her a dress & I gave her a pair of slippers & Margs some flowers. In the afternoon Margs & Bill had some of the neighbours in for wine & cake, then in the evening we all had supper in the garden – I thought it was quite chilly, but all the others laughed at me! Margs is very busy helping with a Church Fair which is tomorrow, & is going to be in charge of the Children’s Fish Pond, so I have been wrapping little packets for her. On Wednesday 16th I go up to Connecticut again & Lois will be there too, & on 18th we drive back to Toledo. I will stay there about 2 weeks to pack & then come back here before sailing.
This is just the loveliest place and I am having a wonderful time – at last the weather has become summery and I’ve spent the whole day out of doors. Til & Grandma & I set out in the car last Monday morning at 8 o’clock & drove 450 miles that day to Harrisburg. It was a nice sunny day, but not too hot, & we got on fine- I drove about 50 miles in the afternoon, & about 50 more in the evening, so it broke the monotony for Til & helped to give her a little rest. We went via Pittsburgh, & between that city & Harrisburg we were on a wonderful new 4-lane highway called the Pennsylvania Turnpike that goes for about 160 miles straight through the Allegheny Mountains. You pay a toll to use it because it is so much quicker & it is really marvellous because there are no crossroads or intersections, no houses or built up areas, only petrol stations & restaurants here & there & tunnels (6 of them) that go right through the mountains. We entered the highway at about 4, & then had dinner at a restaurant called Midway, & of course had to go on until we had finished as there are no hotels or anything along the road. By the time we got to Harrisburg we were glad to stop & spent the night in a very nice Tourist House. Next day we only had 250 miles to go, but the roads had a great deal of traffic and were mostly narrower & more winding so we didn’t get on so quickly. We didn’t go into N.Y. but skirted around & went across the Hudson by Bear Mountain Bridge, which was lovely scenery- in fact the whole way with the mountainous scenery was beautiful.
We arrived here about 6 o’clock on Tuesday & I fell in love with the place at once. Connecticut itself is lovely, with wooded hills & little towns & a very country look about it, & Poco just fits in. You drive off the road, bordered with little low grey stone walls, along a little lane through the woods, & there in a hollow amongst the trees sits the little white house. It looks so sweet, just like a house in a fairy tale because there is no proper garden or fences or anything, you just walk out of the house into the woods, & here & there are flowers growing in little clumps under the trees, or a rose bush growing up a rock, and the birds singing all the while. There are 4 acres of land- hills and valleys, wooded, & a ridge from which you get a beautiful view of the other hills. Til’s sister, C’Zelma, is the one who has been so ill- her face is still partially paralyzed, & she is still weak & has to rest a lot, but she is much better- her friend who lives with her is Em Smith (from Kentucky) & they both used to teach music, but since C’Zelma’s illness they have given it up, & are going to spend winters with Grandma in Alabama growing nuts, & summers up here. I like them all very, very much- Grandma too – they are fun & like me & are awfully nice to me. We have a nice time just doing as we like- Til & I go into the little town Danbury sometimes in the mornings, & I have bought a pair of dungarees to mess about in! In the afternoon, the ladies rest & I sit under the trees & just love it, then we sometimes go for a drive. One day we took our supper down & ate it by the sea, & twice we have cooked lunch outside on the grill under the trees – I made the charcoal fire & cooked the hamburgers on it!
Til & I don’t sleep in the bigger house as it only has 2 bedrooms, but there is what they called the Little House – just 2 rooms, one with twin beds in & the other with a piano etc. that Em used for teaching, & we sleep there & it’s fun. On Wed. Til & I are going to New York, & we are going to a theatre matinee to see an opera that one of C’Z’s & Em’s friends is in (a new one) & then we are going to spend the night & shop next day & go to “Great Expectations”. Then Til is returning here & I’m going to Long Beach. I do hope that you are both well & that the weather is good – I wish you were having a holiday in a nice place like this too-
Don’t you like my cunning little cards? I got them in Toronto, & think they are sweet as well as being nice to write to people to whom I don’t have much to say! They all have different pictures on, but I thought you would like this one!
Thank you very much for your nice letter I got last week. I am glad that you think Nan’s presents are nice & I do hope everything arrives safely. I got the last of the parcels off this week & thought I was all done & then I got a $10 bill from Pam asking me to get some other things, so I’ll have to begin again! But I’m waiting till I come back to Toledo. I went to the bank on Wed. & paid my passage & took out all my money- some in Traveller’s cheques. I have about $200- $300 left so I should be all right. It’s a good job I have nice relatives & friends to go to tho’ & don’t have to pay hotel bills!
I was very amused at your adventures with the Derby & the blue horse – I don’t think your dreams are very prophetic somehow! Maybe when I get back to Cambridge I will go & visit Mary & Bill & see one of the big races is one day – it would be fun, but I’m just no good at betting or gambling – I’m always sure I’ll lose & I do!
I forgot to tell you that on Wed. after visiting the bank I went & bought a pair of white shoes, a pink & black cotton dress & a black straw hat! So that should end my shopping spree – I certainly seem to have been having one lately!
We are quite crowded at 4229 Berwick this weekend- Til, Lois & me & Bill & Grandma. Grandma is in my room, I am in Lois’, Lois is with Til in hers, & Bill is on the sofa in Lois’ study! Grandma thinks I am nice! She is nice too I think! Grandma made us laugh though, because she says I’ve made a different girl of Lois – she is so much brighter since I came! Til says that it’s because usually her relatives overwhelm Lois & this time she has my support! Lois & Bill are getting on fine this time though & I am so pleased- it is such a shame she has to work at the airport – it doesn’t seem right to be going away & leaving her behind. Til is driving of course & maybe I will help her a little- I drove Lois’ beautiful convertible last week & felt very proud of myself!
Did I tell you that I went to Church last Sunday? I read that the King said it was to be a National Day of Prayer in England, so I thought I would do my little bit too & I got up early & went to Early Service. You don’t mention anything about it so perhaps I got the wrong day, but anyway the intention was right!
Bill is flying back to Florida on Mon. or Tues. & Lois is staying here alone. She will come in the train to Conn. about the 20th July & will drive Til & me back again. I haven’t heard anything from Margs or any of them, but I am sure it will be all right. I’m not bothering to give you C’Zelma’s address because I’ll be only there a week & I expect you will write straight to Curly St. Well, I think that I have covered all the available space in my little letter – my love to the ladies at the Bee & all my friends, – and a kiss for you like the little bunnies!
My school days in America are over! It hardly seems possible that it can have gone so quickly, but while in some ways I’m pleased the teaching is finished, in others I’m sorry because I have grown fond of the students and like most of the teachers very much, so I was very sorry to say goodbye to them.
On Monday and Tuesday we had exams, and of course they turned out to be the two hottest days we’ve had, so everyone just sweltered. The students didn’t come to school after those days, so on Tuesday I said goodbye to them over the broadcasting system in the morning, and during the day I had a constant stream popping in to say goodbye & promise to write to me! I think I told you about getting a very pretty pin from one of my classes, and another one gave me a lovely white corsage on Monday, and a third one gave me a string of pink beads and a hankie. I also had a bottle of cologne from one little girl and a hankie from another, so I was quite overwhelmed.
On Tuesday I went home with Mary Bargman after school and had dinner with her & one of Marie Stoll’s friends’ Olive, who is going to meet her when she arrives in New York, and maybe will arrange for me to meet her. By the way, I had a letter from Anne this week saying that she will meet me in Southampton when I arrive – isn’t that nice of her?
The rest of the week we had for marking exams, clearing up, making upgrade cards etc. and so I had a busy time leaving everything Beautiful for Miss Stoll! I left her a little Union Jack hanging up in her room to remember me by! On Wed. the staff had a luncheon in my honour at school, and it was a lovely luncheon, but I was so overcome that I couldn’t eat a thing! Mr. Nauts made a speech and they gave me two beautiful presents – they had planned to give me a scent spray from the DeVilbiss Company in Toledo (it’s the founder that the school’s named after) because of the association, but when they went there the Co. wouldn’t sell them one, but insisted on giving them the best one they had for me! It is a kind of gold, crackle glass & very fascinating – and so after that they went and bought me a very pretty silver & diamanté brooch, so I did very well. I made a little speech & thanked everyone & told them I was sorry to go & ended up by using all the English expressions they’d teased me about & making them laugh- & afterwards so many people said I’d made them weep they were so sorry I was going. Mr. Nauts also said in his speech that anytime I wanted to come back & teach at DeV. they would be delighted to have me. Wasn’t it sweet of them?
On Thursday I didn’t do anything much, but on Friday I went to the Graduation of the Senior Class. The Auditorium isn’t big enough for all the students & their parents, so it is held in a neighbouring cinema. There were about 600 students graduating- the girls in white dresses & shoes, & all of them looking very pretty and sweet. It was a nice bright day, & after all the parents, teachers etc. were in, they filed in & sat down. Then we all sang the Nat. Anthem & a clergyman began with a prayer, & then there was more music, & a man gave a marvellous speech, then there were announcements of special awards & then the diplomas given to the students. It was very nice & I was very pleased to have seen it. Afterwards I went to a luncheon given by the Home Ec teachers of the City for me & they gave me a lovely silk nightie so everyone was more than kind to me.
On Friday evening Till’s mother came from her sister’s in Munro & is staying until Monday when Til & she & I drive to Connecticut. We will arrive on Tuesday & I’ll be there a week before going to Long Island for about a month. The weather has been awful today- cold as can be & yesterday evening we had a terrific rain storm which flooded the streets- we drove with the water up to the lights of the car! It went down quickly though.
I am writing this in school during exams. The end of term seems so strange here because we don’t have one good “breaking up”, but everyone just drifts away. The school doesn’t finish officially until Friday, but today & tomorrow the students have exams (only 4 or 5 each, because they only take that number of subjects each year) then they just don’t come anymore. The rest of the week the staff marks exam papers and puts grades (marks) on report cards which are posted to the students and on Friday the seniors who are leaving & have passed come to their “graduation exercises” and get their diplomas. It all seems very peculiar to me – we don’t have a mass meeting & bid the students a happy holiday at all!
Summer seems to have come to Toledo at last, but still in no very pleasant way, because it has suddenly become hot and humid with terrific thunderstorms and very heavy rain showers. The sun shines in between, but it is so wet that it makes everything steamy and there are terrible floods in parts of the country, and tornadoes too. I hope that your nice weather has been continuing and that it is nice and warm and sunny for you – certainly you deserve it after the awful winter. With the floods & so on here, Til is wondering if it is going to be all right driving to her sister’s in Connecticut, but it is a week yet, so things may improve by then. She is leaving a week today (16th) and I am going with her, and will stay with her at her sister’s for about a week before going to Long Island. I am not going to pack up my trunks etc. & take them to New York now, because there is really no room for them at any of the cousins, & it is awkward taking them across N. York & on the L. Island Railway etc. so I am leaving most of my stuff here, & then returning to Toledo with Til in the car at the beginning of Aug. & will pack & send my luggage to the Q. Elizabeth from here & then probably leave here just a few days before I sail.
I had tried to keep myself free of engagements in June, but last week I still managed to have one or two engagements. On Wed. I went into town with 2 of the teachers from here & had tea & on Thursday I went to a meeting of the Daughters of the British Empire! It was held at Vida McCartney’s house – do you remember – she is a British bride I met when I first came to Toledo- and Mrs. Atkinson & Ruby & the baby as well as a lot of other people were there. We had tea, & then I was invited to stay to supper with 8 others & it was very hot & I practically fell asleep before the evening was over!
On Friday evening, the school had a Banquet for the Seniors who are leaving & afterwards the Junior Senior Farewell Dance. As I have a Junior Homeroom & teach some Seniors I was invited & went with Mr. and Mrs. Pasquier. It was very elegant all in evening dress & the girls looked very sweet- I, of course was a “chaperone” & didn’t dance a step, & my black dress nearly killed me, it is so tight now! On Sat. I was supposed to go boating on the lake & a picnic & it poured so I didn’t go. Yesterday we had Lois’ 2 sisters, Ruth & Mary, & Frances Kaya to dinner (roast beef & Y. pudding!) so it was quite a busy day!
I hope that you are both keeping well and taking care of yourselves –
With lots of love from Cynthia
P.S. Thank you for your letter, Mummy – am writing.
At long last I am managing to begin the gossipy letter but I have been promising you. I intended to begin last night but I thought I would read through your letters I had to answer before I started and it took me so long that I didn’t get any farther! Now today I have another one to thank you for- a lovely long one posted on 1st June, so it has been very rapid, and I lay on the bed and read it and enjoyed it immensely – particularly your visit to Irene & her sitting out in the garden-to-be with the builders!
I have decided that the only way to get organized over the gossip and answering your letters is to begin with the oldest letter I have & comment on it, and it will remind me of all the things I meant to tell you – the oldest one was dated the 13th April, so you can see that I am going way back!
In it you were just commenting on getting a p.c. from me sent on the plane the time I was in Atlantic City & that seems such ages ago. I think I sent you another p.c. of the aeroplane when I was coming back from Washington- I sent Pete Burton one I know- maybe you have got it by now. You will probably have heard of all the dreadful plane accidents there were over here last week – the one at La Guardia was a United Airlines plane & it is the 1st one they have had for years & years- they had a special safety certificate, because they had been accident free for so long.
You were also mentioning my Easter trip & it really was not so expensive as you would imagine – of course I paid my share of petrol etc. as well as hotels, food & so on, but there was no cost for the car, & so compared to travelling in any other way it was terribly cheap. I spent $110 I think, which included an odd drink in New Orleans & the pralines & everything, so I didn’t think it was bad. On the trip with the Atkinsons to Canada I paid my own expenses, but not petrol, & it was cheaper because we didn’t stay at such smart hotels or eat at such good places, & it was all right, but I was glad we had splurged in New Orleans!
You were writing about Nan’s wedding present & I think I told you in my A.M. last week that I had got it and sent it off. She sent me a list 1. Tablecloth 2. Bedspread 3. Rug or blanket 4. China, so I thought I would get her a candlewick B. spread like yours, & Til & I went down to one of the big shops & they were having a Linen Sale! I got a lovely cream bedspread & then I suddenly saw these beautiful blankets, so I got her a blue (double size) blanket too, & I think they are both lovely. They were reduced & together came to $22, & I thought that was very reasonable- at home I expect you would hardly get one blanket for that. The electric blankets, by the way, cost around $35, so that was too much, but I think for you to get them a warming pad would be lovely, or Nan says that they are very hard up for table cloths – they have mats etc. but very few cloths. After your remarks re. china & Nan’s too, I was inspired to go and look at some & I fell for some very pretty sets of pastel (pottery ware, I suppose.) Over here they don’t sell in 1/2 dozs. & dozs but in 4, 8, etc., but I got 6 of everything & thought that I might keep 4 & give Nan 2, so that she would have them for herself & Dick anyway. They are really sweet I think- one set is pale blue, one pale pink, one yellow & one green & I got a pink & a blue for Nan. I have just finished weaving Nan’s mat & Til is cutting the threads for me (very complicated – I’ll show you when I have the mat!) & it looks adorable. It is green at the back & the top is peachy – pink & white. I have enough yarn to make another one & Til & Lois made a lovely green & yellow & black one for me – they are awfully pretty & washable too – awfully easy to make as well, but unfortunately you have to have a frame so we can’t make them when I get home. By the way when I was in Canada I got 2 hot water bottles & a thermos flask, so I think I’m a good girl! I don’t think I will get the curtain net though Mummy, because as far as I can see all cotton stuff is very expensive- none under about 75¢ & that not nice, but I’ll look at net & decide later.
I was very tickled at your telling me about Irene’s remarks re. the pearls! By the time she gets my account of how I spent her money she will know that I didn’t get them at Woolworths! I sent her a string for Mrs. Scott you know & a pair of earrings, & a twisted pearl necklace for herself – actually they are not so expensive in the shops, but on top of the price there is a high tax for jewelry, so I am inclined to get fooled & think they are much cheaper than they really are!
You were writing about the Sheedys in your letter & Denis’ “borrowed” car, & I wonder if you have ever found out from Winnie whose it is! Denis wrote to me for my birthday & told me all about it & it is Neville’s, but what arrangements they have made about how long the lend is I don’t know! Who do you think I had a letter from yesterday? Joe, the horror! After all these months! He said he thought he’d better get a letter off before I came home & I should think so too – I was just thinking what a meanie he was! He said something about going to N/C for Whit. so maybe you saw him. By the way, you were asking if we were on Daylight Saving Time here, & we are not in this part of America, but some parts are, so it’s very confusing! Washington time is an hour different to us & so is Indiana, but all the trains planes etc. stay on Standard Time, so when you’re travelling it is all most difficult & I can never tell whether train times are going to be the same or faster or slower! I was greatly tickled at your cattiness over Maud’s past cracks at school teachers!! I bet you that she will still think all other school teachers (me!) have a very easy life! I agree with you that Nan will probably find a great difference when she is married, not having her own money & having to be careful, but I expect that she will get used to it soon.
I was just horrified to read in your letter how much Bella had paid for the little ballet dancer brooch she sent me for my birthday. As you guessed I don’t like it much & can’t imagine ever wearing it, & I never thought it cost anything like that. I was an awfully long time writing & thanking her & Mrs. Johnny but I finally did get notes written off this week, but I sent them by sea. I got letters from Amy & Mary Nutley this week & I must write to both- Amy thanking me for mags. & Mary sending Mary Johnson’s address in Connecticut. I hadn’t realized at all that I still hadn’t told you about my plans for the summer, until you told me about hearing them from Mary. Well, this is how it is. Til’s Mother arrived from Alabama on Monday, stayed the night & then Til took her to stay with her old sister up in Michigan. After we finish school Grandma comes back here & on the following Monday (16th) Til & Grandma set out to drive to Connecticut to spend the summer with C’Zelma, Til’s sister, & I am invited to go too. C’Z is a cellist & lives with another woman musician Em., & last year C’Z had a very serious operation for a brain tumour & is still weak & has a partially paralyzed face I believe, but is much better now. I thought that when I was in Connecticut I would visit Mary J. who lives not far away. I intend staying about 10 days with Til & her family then I thought I might try to get a weekend in Boston to see a little bit of New England, then I will go & spend the whole of July with Margs, Uncle Artie etc. as they see fit! At the beginning of Aug. Til is driving back to Toledo so I am going with her (Grandma too) (no train fares for me you see- isn’t it nice of Til?) I will then get all my trucks packed & sent off to the ship & it will save me the worry of carting trunks around all summer, & after that I’ll come back to New York & sail on 16th Aug. I have just bought some new luggage too- as I was sure I’d never get it all in my old! I have to get new locks for my old trunk anyway as they are both broken. But my new things I got at a Surplus Army Goods Store! An Army foot locker – black with a steel top & locks & an aeroplane case- biggish – they were cheap (compared to the luggage at shops) & seem good. I can see you wondering how I am going to get through the summer after all these purchases, but I tell everyone I am going to live on charity! Actually I’ll only have one train fare to N. York & when I’m staying with people I won’t have many expenses- I hope! This weekend I am going to pay my passage & pay Lois for Nan’s present & my luggage (charged to her account!) & get the rest of my money in travellers cheques & just see how much I have left!
I forgot to tell you that Til’s son Bill arrived here on Tuesday, so we are having all Til’s family one after the other! He has a pilot’s job down in Florida you know (instructing also) & had to fly an aircraft up here, so also took his holidays & is staying about a week or so. Lois works out of the airport & they keep very much out of one another’s way. I think it is a little bit of a shame that he should come just now, because poor Lois is going to be left alone here all summer & now we’re not having a chance to make the most of our time together, before we go. 11:30 p.m. so I am going to sleep now – night night – love from Cyn.
To continue! I am so glad that you had such a nice birthday, Mummy, and that all the things from me arrived at the right time. I know it’s a long time ago now, but still! The flowers from all your friends sound lovely & it was nice that the fun of presents etc. was spread over two days, so that the thrill was prolonged! I am very glad that you liked the photo – I thought the colouring was good too. I am looking forward so much to seeing yours – you told me about going to get it taken & getting the proofs in a little while, but you never mentioned what they were like when you did see them & I am most intrigued!
I think Mr. Wood could be trusted to have you looking your prettiest! I am glad that the blouse fitted that I sent for your birthday too. I have a red & white one just the same & I have used it a lot, but find that the back jumps out ! By the way- talking of my photo has reminded me of something else. A few months back, Hugh mentioned in one of his letters that he had seen a picture with a girl in it who reminded him so much of me- her voice and ways as well as looks. It was Teresa Wright in “The Imperfect Lady”, so when it was in Toledo last week Til & I dashed off to see it. It is about England in the 1900s & was fairly good, but the girl certainly was like me in some ways – I could see a likeness in her face, & Til said her voice was like mine, & in one place particularly where she had her hair down & was looking in a mirror, I nearly had a fit, because just at that moment she looked so like me that it was as if I was looking at myself! It was quite an odd sensation! Afterwards Til amused me immensely, because in the film the girl was too, too ladylike & Til said yes, she was just like me, but I was more of a hoyden!!
I sent off my coupon book to Nan this week, so hope it will be all right – I don’t see why not – I’m sure they can’t do anything about it because if they hadn’t wanted them used, they could have cut them out when I left. I seem to have been getting an awful lot of new clothes lately. It is just Fatal for me to go down town if I don’t want to spend money, & when I was buying the things for the girls I kept seeing things for me too!!
I told you about my gaudy jersey dress & as well as that I got a pink felt hat and pink suede gloves, which I wear with my blue corduroy suit or my navy 2 piece dress (I cover the red belt up) & with some of my other dresses, so it is very useful. The hat is one of the biggest I’ve ever had, but it’s kind of turned up, so people say it makes me look tall! I’ll attempt to draw it, but I have no idea whether I will succeed!!
Doesn’t it look funny! But it is really quite nice & becoming, & is the sort of hat that you can wear with your hair looking a mess & still it looks all right!
Before I went to Washington I finally managed to get a raincoat, & I am just delighted with it. I have been trying & trying, & either they were much too big or an ugly colour or something. Then suddenly I saw this one – it is called a Cravenette & is the kind of raincoat that looks like material, & it is a lovely shade of pale blue, so I am wearing it as a summer coat & no one is any the wiser! The only coat I have for summer is my camel-ly one & it is too hot, as well as being a bit worn! My raincoat is very plain – only big full sleeves- at tie belt and one big blue button. I like it very much.
I have also got myself two cotton summer dresses, which are pretty – one is pale gray trimmed with white piqué, and the other is turquoise blue with white buttons, and I have also got a new suit! You know that I have been trying to get a suit since the spring & haven’t seen a thing I liked – or if I liked it, it was much too expensive. Then one day about 2 weeks ago Til & I were ambling through town looking in shop windows, & she said “Look, that’s a pretty suit” & I said “Yes, isn’t it!” & before I knew what, I was in the shop trying it on & it fit me & I bought it! It is grey & is a very fine material – I think it must be a mixture of wool & cotton- & it has a tiny tiny little stripe lllll- like this – so fine you can’t see it unless you’re close. The thing that kills me – & will slay you & Irene too I know! – is that it has a bustle effect, & my suit & my seat together are a riot!! Til roars & says it looks cute! The skirt is straight & plain and the jacket is what they call a cutaway, & they are very fashionable here- you can hardly get a suit with a straight jacket.
These look very peculiar, but you will get some slight idea of what it’s like. I look definitely “hotsy” in it! I wear it with my pink, or with white (from last summer) & I was most embarrassed because when I wore it to school one day this week ( I was going out speaking) all the staff paid me compliments & of course all the kids too- the favourite comment was “Oh Miss Ewing I do like your suit. Boy! Do you look smooth!” I think that is the end of my clothing purchases, so now I don’t think I have anything else left to get for myself, except maybe a pair of shoes. I do hope that you like your dress & that it fits. It isn’t very ultra or fancy, but it is a pretty colour & I thought it would suit you & that you would like it. I do hope you can wear the funny little hat – I think if you wear the pinky-red & white dress, white hat & gloves & brown shoes & bag it should look nice. I got the brown bag before I got the dress, or I would’ve got you a white one, but the brown will be more useful anyway. The hat can be worn back or forwards, brim up or down, so it is very adaptable!!
You mentioned my small boyfriend Rowly in one of your letters & although he still comes every Wed. with his sister, I have been doing the dirty on him & going out, so I haven’t seen him much! He has really been getting a little pest the last few times I’ve seen him & just won’t leave me alone a minute- Rowlys certainly do seem to fall for me, but I certainly do tire of them quickly, don’t I!!!
I haven’t heard another word from Joan Greenwood about the flat, but I suppose that once she knew I would share, she thought there was no more urgency about it! I must make arrangements with the bank to pay her my share of the rent though, after the other girl goes, so that I definitely have my claim staked! I hope my account can stand it!! Anne said she told Jessie F. about my sharing with Joan & she didn’t seem very pleased, but goodness she is sharing with Joan Watkins now & didn’t mention anything about my joining them, so why should I worry!
There is quite a lot of talk among Marie Stoll’s friends here of how she & I must meet in New York, as she will be back before I leave, but so far nothing definite has been done. I am curious of course, but not pining! I asked Dr. Smith in Washington about the “youth & inexperience” of the British teachers & he said that it really wasn’t so that there had been complaints. Only one Ed. Authority had said they’d like an older person & I am pretty certain it wasn’t Pam’s – I think she is quite good despite her naïvety(??) naiveness (??) (!!) and as she is “out in the sticks” at Fostoria anyway, they wouldn’t want a very sophisticated person there!
You were asking about Lois & Til’s cars – neither of them keep them in the garage as it is pretty old & too small for the cars! They sit out on the side path, & nearly everyone around does the same with their’s. Like you, everyone is always asking at school how Lois can afford to buy two such gorgeous cars, but of course Lois saves all her money earned at the airport, & had been saving it for quite a long time to buy a car.
They also had the Chrysler to turn in as part exchange, & Lois hardly spends any money on anything else, as she does nothing but go to school & to the airport most of the time & buys very, very few clothes. Also Til has been saving her (private) teaching money too, & they combined. By the way – you were right & Maud wrong – it is Lo-is not Loy!
Do you remember the dinner that Lois & Til & I went to with Mildred when we got back from our trip? You said that it sounded as if we had a good time after all, & it was so funny because we did! We were all just dreading going, because we had had plenty of her as it was, then she had annoyed Lois immensely by trying to give her & Til some money as a thank you for taking her, & then finally we had talked over her peculiarities and mannerisms & expressions so much that we were sure we would giggle when exposed to them again! However, we sent out in a very sober mood, and picked up Mildred & drove to this special place she was going to take us to, only to find that she hadn’t booked a table & we couldn’t get in! So then we went to another place in town – famished with hunger – & Lois bought us all a drink before dinner to loosen the atmosphere as it were! And then Til got going! The mere sight of a drink makes her merry sometimes & she pretended to get quite high & began getting very pally with Mildred! There was one place in Mobile called Constantine’s that we ate at & Mildred thought it was wonderful & everywhere else we went she kept harping on Constantine’s till we were sick of it. So Til every time she took a drink turned to Mildred and said “Mildred (slight lisp!) here’s to Constantine’s- good ole Constantine’s!” & Mildred would drink & Lois & I would nearly have hysterics! Til was so obviously being crazy that we could laugh without being (too) rude & she just brought up everything she could think of & Mildred just thought she was being so pally & Lois & I nearly died- I eventually got quite gay too & joined in & we had a wonderful time! We think that afterwards when Mildred was sane & sensible she realized we were making fun of her, but she hasn’t cooled off towards her- only towards Lois & me! She is friendly with me again now though – probably because I’m going soon!
Did I tell you that I am going to give poor Mary Stuart a disappointment? Because when I got her letter telling me that she had a share in the money and to get her stockings, I had already spent it all & sent away most of the parcels! I am just writing to her to tell her the sad news. It was nice of her to send a present to Nan’s shower & all the presents sounded lovely & everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. All the girls told me what fun it was- Nan, Pam and Dottie & also watch marvellous eats you had! I’m glad Florence Schmidt came & added some excitement-I can just imagine how spectacular she must have looked arriving with her great parcel! Dottie said she was slightly overdressed in her opinion, & I think lots of the American women are-they go in for brooches & pearls & earrings & clips & bracelets & rings, until the effect is overwhelming!
I don’t think I ever told you of another tragedy that happened a little while ago- it wasn’t very cheerful so I thought I wouldn’t tell it for Pop to read, not that I suppose it would matter, but in some moods these things make him gloomier. One of my students, a girl called Evelyn Snyder was killed in another motor accident. She was a little dark girl, very chatty and friendly & after school she worked in the grocery near by that Til & I go to. One morning at school, she asked me to buy a ticket for a dancing display given by the dancing school she went to & she was telling how she went after work in the evening. That evening she was being driven home from the dancing school by an older lady & gentleman & a doctor drove right through a red light at a crossing & smashed up both cars, & killed Evelyn. Everyone was so shocked because it was practically identical with Mrs. Whaley’s death and Evelyn was a nice little kid- she was a senior, 17 years old, but small in build.
I think I told you all the places I visited in my Washington trip, – I just had a wonderful time altogether – the hotel was such fun, the weather was perfect, & the place is marvellous. I took my corduroy suit & navy 2 piece & new blue raincoat with my new pink hat & gloves & everyone was most complimentary! I had 3 invitations by strange men to dinner- one a policeman who showed me Pres. Truman! But I turned them down. Dr. Smith was just as nice as ever, & I quite enjoyed the chance meeting with Rowland- it was so silly! I had to invent all sorts of excuses why I hadn’t written & told him I was coming! Joan Burbidge, the girl at the British Embassy I had met in N.Y. at the beginning & liked & we had a nice dinner together & a gossip! Also the Ohio Representative, Mr. Ramsey & his wife were very nice about showing me around-altogether everyone was terribly kind & helpful, & all sorts of strangers pointed out sights to me, & showed me where to go.
I don’t think I have ever said thank you yet, for cleaning out my drawers etc.! I give you full permission to throw away my holy vests & pants! By the way, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed in Lois & Til’s cast off’s – there were aren’t very many & Til didn’t have hardly any & Lois’ will be too small for you. Most of the things I sent in the parcel (2nd hand) I want you to keep for me! Except the shoes of course. You needn’t worry about your weight but golly, mine! I am up to 108 lbs or 110 lbs & last night we had Frances Kaya (5ft 2ins) Lois (5ft 4ins) Ruth (5 ft) & Mary (Lois’ sister) (5ft 6ins) & doyouknow I weighed more than any of them!! Just wait till I get my good old bicycle & pedal some of my fat off! N.B. Don’t you dare throw away my snow boots – I love them & can’t afford to buy anymore! I am so glad that the other parcel of food & the one of pralines arrived safely. I had a praline down there & thought they were lovely too. I think the parcels have been doing much better recently & I only hope that all of the ones I’ve just sent off will arrive safely after all the buying & packing etc. It was quite a job!
I think your idea of not going away this summer, but of coming down south in the autumn & visiting me & everyone else at once is a good one. I certainly don’t think there’s any point in coming to London or anything to meet me – I’ll have all my luggage & I’ll just get on a train & come home & won’t waste any time! But it will be fun if you come down to Cambridge & stay in the flat with Joan & me & see my new abode.
I loved hearing all about Irene & her home & her adventures – she is a hoot! I can just imagine her thoroughly enjoying herself in her own home with her own husband. I sent Mr. Coplin a bunch of mags. by the way, & I hope the poor man is getting better. I was very honoured to hear that Irene had my picture up – I think she gets practically as much kick out of telling people about me being in America, as I get from being here!! I was tickled about the competition between Nan & Irene & Irene championing Bill’s woodwork – I bet she daren’t say a word to Nan! I can imagine Nan being a little bit touchy like Maud if any aspersions were cast on Dick or his efforts! Very natural of course!
I was greatly amused at your meeting old Pinky & her inquiring tenderly for me! It is nice of Mrs. Rainer & Prue to ask – give her my love when you see them – also my old Postie and Mr. Wilkinson!
You were mentioning my trip to Lorraine with the Atkinsons & the gathering of the Tyneside clan! Was I bored! And the thing that shattered me was that the old lady & gent used such a bad language I nearly died! Swearing every 2nd word! The trip to Canada with the Atkinsons was very nice, but of course nothing like the fun of going anywhere with Lois & Til. The Atkinsons are sweet & very kind to me, but they’re not “my type” & a little goes quite a way. In the car Mrs. is a great “pointer-outer” – you know “Look at that Cynthia, – and this- and that house over there – and the river!” till I was about dizzy & she isn’t content until I exclaim & say how marvellous each thing is about 10 times! Also they had friends again in Owen Sound whom we visited all one evening & I was tired to death & bored too! However they are nice & enjoy showing me off I think! They didn’t mind at all about the Banquet- they were bored too that time, & it was Howell’s doing leaving early, because he’d had no sleep the night before, so they couldn’t blame me! Howell’s & his brother-in-law have opened this fruit stand & on top of their ordinary jobs, they keep it open day and night & are just about killing themselves- idiotic I think! The Atkinsons tell me Howell still has nerve trouble from the war & that with this business it’s getting worse instead of better, but wouldn’t you think he’d have more sense & get himself some peace & quiet instead of doing 2 jobs & getting no sleep. He has gone down to Tennessee for a week to visit his people, so I don’t suppose I’ll see him again & it really doesn’t worry me a bit!
I don’t think I have anything more spectacular to tell you at all! The lunch for Mr. Bowsher etc. passed off very well, & last night for Frances etc. coming here for dinner we gave them roast beef & Yorkshire pudding & they were most amused! This week is full of farewells – all the kids at school asking for my address, & one class gave me a great corsage of white flowers & another a very pretty gold & blue brooch. On Wednesday the Faculty are having a lunch in my honour & on Friday the Home Ec teachers of the city – I’m not looking forward to either – I’ll be so embarrassed!
I have decided I can’t afford to send this letter by A.M. but I hope it will reach you soon.
The latest arrangements are that for my holidays I leave here with Til on 16th June & will only stay until about 24th in Conn. & then go to Long Island, because Til wants to come back sooner now, & I said I wanted to stay a month all together with the cousins. But I’ll write A.M.s to let you know what goes on. Lois will be here all the time & will forward letters if necessary.
Take care of yourself and be a good girl. My love to Maud & Bella & Winnie & Mrs. Johnny
I heard over the radio this weekend that England had just had its hottest week for years, and I am so glad to know that you are having some decent weather, and that you won’t be finding it so chilly. You certainly aren’t getting the nice weather from this side of the Atlantic this time, as it is apparently the coldest wettest spring for years here! It rained on 20 days out of the 31 in May & poured so hard on the 1st & 2nd June that we have already had 1/2 the normal month’s rainfall! It is pretty serious for the crops as the fields are all flooded & the farmers can’t get anything planted, but I hope it will be better from now on, because today has been sunny and it looks as if it might be nice tomorrow too.
Last weekend we had a holiday, because Friday was Memorial Day, which is a public holiday. Mr. & Mrs. Atkinson had spoken to me for a long time about their taking me a motor trip over this weekend so it was arranged that we would go to Canada. They called for me at 5 A.M. on Friday morning & we drove up to Detroit and then on up north along Lake Saint Clair to a town called Sarnia where we crossed into Canada. The frontier is on a beautiful bridge over the St. Clair River just where it runs into Lake Huron, and it is really lovely. After that we drove on north through Southern Ontario, along Lake Huron – pretty country, but rough roads and very poor stony soil. I sat in the back as Mrs. A. gets car sick, and they had conveniently put a pillow there, so I slept for 2 hours over the worst roads! We arrived in a place Owen Sound at about 3.30 p.m. (over 300 miles) and stayed the night there at a little hotel. Mr. & Mrs. A. had friends & took me visiting in the evening but what with one thing & another I was 1/2 asleep. It was fair & sunny most of the day, but a very cold wind, and on Saturday it was nice again, but still not warm. That day we drove to Toronto (120 miles) & arrived about 3 o’clock, & stayed there sightseeing & shopping. I saw Lake Ontario of course, & now having seen Lake Michigan at Chicago, I have seen all but one of the Great Lakes. Sunday we drove home, via Windsor & Detroit & it poured with rain the whole day, until we arrived in Toledo in the evening. Altogether it was a very nice trip though, & I was so pleased to see even that little bit of Canada.
Last week, before I went away, I spoke at St. Mark’s Church one evening & had a nice time there. Yesterday I spoke at a huge women’s luncheon, which I didn’t enjoy much – they gave me one hankie as renumeration!! Today we had the last of our luncheons at school, & we invited Mr. Bowsher (Director of Education); his assistant; the Mayor; Mr. Nauts; Mr. Brown; & the President of the Board couldn’t come, so we had one of the other men teachers. It was a great success & they seem to enjoy it immensely, & the Mayor even offered to help the girls wash up!! We had patriotic decorations in red, white & blue & a stars & stripes & union jack!
As usual, I never seem to have room to write all I have to say on one of these little things, but I’ll have to stop. I hope that you are both well & still having nice weather.
I am so intrigued with my nice new little letters! I got some this week, so I thought that I would write one to you now, because I will probably be late with my weekend letter, and I still haven’t managed to get that long newsy letter written to you yet. I just seem to have been so busy that I haven’t had a minute to get down to it – as usual I have been out and about 5 nights out of every week at least, and then I have also been shortening some new summer dresses I got, and lengthening my last year’s dresses, which now seem very short. In addition to that I have been having such a time packing & sending off the girl’s parcels – and I’m still not finished! I sent off I think it was 7 parcels on Saturday – cost me $8.00! One for Irene, three for Nan, two for Marjorie (Laing) one for you, and a little packet for Connie Fairlamb. I still have one for Dottie, one for Pam, one other for you, and one for my pal Ivy in Cambridge! Irene’s has her clothes + 2nd hand clothes, one of Nan’s is the same, another is food and the third is her wedding present – I have sent her a cream candlewick bed cover & a blue double bed blanket. They are both lovely & I was very pleased because I got them at a sale & so they were reduced a bit, but I haven’t paid for them yet! Both Marjorie’s parcels are food, & the parcel I sent to you is food too, & the packet for Connie has a little sun suit for the baby. Dottie’s & Pam’s are all packed, but not sent yet- I had such a time with Pam’s shoes- when I came to pack them I found they had given me 2 right shoes, & I couldn’t remember the shop I had bought them at! However after much toiling from shop to shop I found the place & got a left shoe to match. I am sending Ivy a pair of white sandals I promised her before I left, & she has been very sweet about writing to me, without many replies! I am most sorry about Mary Stuart, but I can’t send her anything, because by the time I got her letter I had spent all (& more!) of the money, so I am just going to have to write & tell her so. The parcel I am sending you this week has in some 2nd hand things of Lois’ which I would like you to keep for me – I think they are too small for you. The shoes are for you & also a dress I bought you which I hope you will like- and a hat to match! I can see you giggling at the hat, but I think you will look cute in it! If the blouse & old jacket of Lois’ are any good to you- you use them. I am so glad that you got the other food parcel & pralines & enjoyed them. I got a praline for myself & tasted it & thought it was nice too. I will really try to get that letter written soon! I am leaving at 5 a.m. tomorrow with the Atkinsons – it is a holiday for Memorial Day & we are driving to Toronto for the weekend.
I was so glad to hear that you had been having some nice summer weather – I do hope that it will last and that you will have it really warm to compensate for the fuel ban. I can just imagine how cold it gets in the evenings of even the hottest days so you must be careful and not catch cold.
The weather here is still being most peculiar and changeable- two days last week it suddenly got quite roasting hot – so much so that everyone wilted and was quite unprepared for it – then since it has been dull and cold and poured with rain most of yesterday. Today was fairly fine, but a cold blustery wind, I don’t think English weather is so bad in comparison after all!
Last week I had a fairly busy week- luncheons at school during the day and quite a few social events in the evenings! On Monday I went to Toledo University (my 1st visit) and spoke to the Mother’s Club there. I was quite pleased because I just went, and spoke and came away before their business meeting which was a great saving of time for me – usually they make me sit & wait through all their Minutes & Treasurer’s Reports etc. & it takes hours. They also sent me $5 afterwards too! Miss Marie Stoll’s sister was one of the mothers there, and from meeting her I can just imagine what Miss Stoll must be like.
On Wednesday the Senior Girls (all leaving school this summer) gave a tea at school for their Mothers, and I was invited with some of the other teachers. It was really a huge affair as there about 300 girls in the Senior Class & nearly all of them seemed to be there with their Mothers- and such Glamour! The girls were all lashed up in their best, so that I hardly recognized them. All the ladies (me too!) were presented with rose buttonholes as we arrived and there was a programme of music & one or two little speeches & then tea & gossip! I like all the senior girls I have very much, & it was nice meeting their mothers & seeing what they were like.
On Thursday I was invited to dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Dorman Richardson. They are a very nice couple I met in the winter at some Y.W.C.A. function. I have spoken at 1 or 2 things Mrs. Richardson has been at, and Mr. Richardson was president of the Men’s Club I spoke at before Christmas. Francis Kaya was there too & Mrs.?? ( a lady who used to teach at DeV. & now married to a Dutchman!) so we had a very nice evening.
On Friday I had a most hectic day. There had been some telephoning about my talking to the Toledo Garden Forum, but I didn’t realize it had been definitely arranged until I got in from the Richardsons on Thurs. night & found a note saying they would pick me up at 10:30 a.m. at school. I nearly had a fit as I had 2 classes making bread, & 4 girls giving a luncheon to some of the teachers! However I went to school- ignored my study class 1st hour, & helped the luncheon girls instead. 2nd hour I showed the girls how to knead & shape their bread & put it to rise, then left them to do it, & rushed off to speak at 10:30! The Garden Forum is made up of representatives of all the garden clubs in Toledo, & they were quite nice, but at 12:30 they all disbanded to go home for lunch & I was delivered back at school at 1 o’clock too late to get any for myself! Then I had to begin baking my bread! That wasn’t the end, because in the evening the Home Ec Club was having their annual Banquet, so I had to go to that and was I glad when that day was over!
The weekend, as I said, was cold & rainy, but on Sat. Til & I went down town & shopped & had lunch, and in the evening I went with Mr. & Mrs. Atkinson & Howell to a banquet affair. It was very crowded though & Howell & I were rather bored, so we left early & I was home in bed before 10.30!
On Sunday I got up & went to Early Service, & then it was very dull & rainy & I spent the time doing odd jobs. By late afternoon it had cleared up so Lois & Til & I went a drive & had dinner in a nice little hotel, & came home and went to bed early. I will stop now before I use another sheet as there is no more news. Thank you for your letter, Mummy, take care of yourselves.