August 10-Part 2

The letter continues with the events of July 10-24 …

Mom and Dad went up to Lea and Wendell’s cottage on the Sunday evening (10th) and on the Mon. I baked the anniversary cake. I made it in my 3 square Christmas tins and used a very nice birthday cake recipe I had. I made the big one at the bottom white and the two smaller ones pink just for fun. On the Tues. I iced them all with a gold coloured icing and put the smaller cakes on foil covered cardboard squares, and made dozens of different sized gold coloured sugar bells, and then finally on the Wed. I put it all together and decorated it and stuck on the bells and then put the whole thing in a big plastic bag and put it in the freezer! In the meanwhile, on the Tues. evening I was in bed and just asleep when the phone rang and here it was Carman – they were at Renfrew about 50 miles away and would arrive in about 1 1/2 hours. What a to do! Of course they had a big tent and the idea was that they would sleep in it, but it was about 12:30 then and the thought of trying to put up a tent and put tired children in it at that hour of the night was a bit much, so I rushed upstairs, and woke Lindy and Charlie. We took Linda’s things into Charlie’s room and made up the sofa for her, then in her room we had two single beds, the sofa and an extra mattress on the floor for the 4 children. Then the family room with the new sofa bed was all ready there as Mom and Dad had left the day before, so I decided that Leona and Carman could just crawl in there. They finally arrived about 2:30 with all the children asleep on a mattress in the back of the station wagon and they were very good, all woke up smiling and we tucked them up in bed and they were very lively for a while. David is 8, Leslie the little girl is 6, Robin is 4 – 5 soon, and the youngest Phillip is 3. They are quite nice little children, but maybe it was because they were all together in one room, but there seemed to be an awful lot of argument and tears and telling tales! Perhaps I’ve just forgotten what little children are like. I certainly had forgotten how early they wake up, and every morning I was awakened at 7 or earlier with bangs, thumps and bumps from above while their parents slept happily through it! Leona is very calm and good tempered with them – perhaps too much so, Carman is the disciplinarian but somehow they didn’t strike me as too happy a family. Carman is very self-centred you know and not at all easy-going and nice mannered as Cec and he is quite horrid to both Leona and the children at times we think. As for being a help while a lot of people were around, he needed a full-time slave of his own all the time – I got used to finding his shoes, sandals, dirty glasses, coffee cups etc. each morning when I went into the sitting room (he never went to bed before 3) but the day I found his dirty socks in the middle of my living room carpet as well, I nearly said what I thought! However!
Mom and Dad were coming back from Lea’s on Thursday afternoon, and Linda and I were to stay home that evening and babysit while the rest of them went to the first Football Game of the season. In the afternoon Leona and I went down to Shoppers City for me to do my grocery shopping for the weekend. You can imagine – I filled cart after cart and ended up with a bill for over 100 dollars! We arrived home with all this – a roasting hot day – to be met with the news that while we were out Russell had called and they would be arriving in about 1 hour! We dashed and got all the food put away – quite a job – and then there they were. Now in this family there is Russell and Errol, and then Terry who is about 3 months younger than Linda (14) – he is a very nice boy – in fact the whole family is really nice, and Terry and Charlie (13) got on like a house on fire and were buddies straight away. Then there is Brian, Brent and Bobby- the latter about 9 and the others in between, and then a little girl Barbara, who is 7 or 8. The little girl is cute, with front teeth missing, and very sweet and affectionate, whereas Leslie is the most self-centred young lady you would ever meet! They all piled in, tired and hot, and they would have been here sooner but Errol got sunstroke in Winnipeg where they stayed a few days with one of her sisters, and had to go to hospital, and was still headachy, and not feeling too good. Just after they arrived, here drove up Wendell with Mom and Dad, so there we were, 19 for dinner! Wendell wouldn’t stay but set off to drive back to the cottage to get Lea, saying he would be back about 8, and the idea was that the Russells would go over and sleep at the Atchison’s 5th Avenue house – they have no rooms let now. I had been going to have chicken for dinner but I couldn’t manage that but fortunately I had bought dozens of frozen meat patties, so I cooked them and had corn and French bread and salad then ice cream cones and grapes, and I think everyone had enough to eat. At least everyone got one helping always as I was last in line over the weekend and I always found something to eat! We hardly got everyone fed when they had to begin going to the Football Game as they already had the tickets, and fortunately, Charlie (who is now a regular paper boy down at the NRC like he used to do for Johnny) was given a ticket by one of the papers, so they were able to take Terry with them. Errol and I cleared up and she is a marvel that girl. I liked her very much and talk about a help – all weekend if there was a job to be done – Errol did it. She didn’t wait for me to begin or to ask, she was just right there working and was the most efficient and practical helper. Leona would help but she would dash off to do something for the children in the middle, or sit talking and forget there were dishes to be done, but Errol would have them finished before anyone noticed if she could. Frankly, Leona is a nitwit, Cec and I decided, but Errol is very nice and we liked Russell too – he is much more like Cec than Carman is and he and Cec got on very well together. He would give Cec a hand with things too, whereas Carman would sit under the tree and read while Cec cut the grass around him, sort of thing. Anyway, that first evening we sat and waited for the Atchisons to come, and Linda and I put the little Carmans to bed and as time went on we decided that the Russells might as well sleep that night in Carman’s tent which he had put up under the old apple tree – where the children used to sling the hammock. Errol was keen to get her children in bed as they were all tired, so eventually they unpacked and put the children to bed in the tent, and still no Atchisons.

Nice for everyone except Russell and Terry! The Grey Cup in November had the same teams but opposite result.

Finally the others came back from the Game, and poor Errol was just about dead on her feet so off she went to bed, and of course then, at about twenty to 12 Lea and family appeared! Well, we finally got to bed about 2 or 2:30 and awake at 7 of course – the little dears! With Mom and Dad back in their own room we put Carman and Leona on the porch to sleep – and of course they heard their children even less! We had 19 sleeping that night and breakfast was from 7:30 till noon! Leona annoyed me madly by rushing to make everyone bacon and eggs as they appeared whereas I reckoned that anyone wanting breakfast after 10:30 could have coffee from the perc. and make themselves some toast and marmalade. I might say that I was having a baking morning and had cleared everyone outside as it was a lovely morning and I made pies and cookies and a cake and could really have done without the bacon and egg activities!
The Russell family were to go over to Lea’s that afternoon and take their luggage to stay, but I said for them to come back to dinner as I was sure that Lea wouldn’t have a meal ready – anyway she is still hobbling around with her back, so I had said why didn’t they all come but Lea said Oh, no, they wouldn’t, but I suggested that they come for coffee and dessert later, and she said they would do that. I had a big 7lb. roast of beef, so we were going to have that with roast potatoes and green beans, then sponge cake with raspberries and ice cream for dessert. I decided that the children could eat on the porch and as my table will hold just 8 adults, which we would be, I set the table in the dining room nicely, and was all organized when at 5 o’clock Lea phoned could they come to dinner after all as they had nothing ready and Errol had persuaded her I wouldn’t mind. Grrrr! This was 4 extra, and believe me, there was no roast beef left for sandwiches next day! Merle, Dix and Bruce were arriving that evening, but we didn’t know when – so Errol said they wouldn’t wait so that she could get the children to bed in good time, and they and the Atchisons left about 9. I had got ready Charlie’s room for Merle and Dix, and Linda and Charlie and Bruce were to sleep out in the tent – they had air mattresses and sleeping bags and it was a lovely big tent. Lindy and I had a good laugh – before they all came, I told Linda that they were probably all too old to sleep together like in the good all days, and she would have to sleep somewhere else, but when it came to the point there just didn’t seem to be any other place, and none of them seemed to think a thing about it, so in they all went together and had some very good bedtime chats! The Moors finally didn’t come till after midnight as Dix had to work that day, so we had another late night. 15 sleeping that night!

The next day was the Golden Wedding! Everyone was supposed to be here at 5 o’clock, so that we could take pictures while it was still nice and sunny, so I suggested that the families all go swimming in the afternoon, so that I would be left a clear field, and that is what they did. They all went to Lea’s and the youngsters went to a nearby beach on the Rideau River with some of the adults, and Merle had a chat with Lea, and Mom and Dad stayed here and had a rest and Cec and I got things ready. I set a buffet table on the dining room table with the Wedding Cake as a centerpiece, and gold candles and it really looked lovely. I had bought a huge 24 lb. turkey at Shoppers City and for an extra 15¢ a lb. they roasted it for me and had it all cooked and piping hot at 5:30. This was a great blessing as it saved having the oven on all that hot day and saved me such a lot of trouble. Besides that I had a big ready cooked ham, and I made a tomato aspic salad, a potato salad, a macaroni salad, a green salad, and a mixed bean salad which I had got Leona to make for me the previous day. Then I had hot rolls carrot sticks, celery and radishes etc. and then the cake with ice cream for dessert. Everyone was back in good time, and I was all ready and beautifully organized, and we all got dressed – Lindy in her blue linen which I had made and which looks very nice, and me in my new shaded blue dress for the first time. Leona had a white linen sheath, and then when the Russells and Atchisons came, Errol had had her hair done and had curled Barbara’s and they had on Mother and Daughter dresses of a very pretty pink and white lace which Errol had made them for her sister’s wedding. They looked so pretty and the dresses were lovely. Bruce and I rushed and got the turkey and put it in the oven while we took pictures outside, and then we went in and Russell and his family gave Mom and Dad a big bunch of carnations and the Atchisons a bottle of ‘Golden Wedding’ Canadian whisky, and Merle and Dix gave them a card with the present of the trip to Prince Edward Island. Cec and I had been shopping at Birks and we got Mom a lovely little gold brooch of a spray of tiny maple leaves made of 3 kinds of gold – yellow, white and red, and for Dad a tiny little tie pin of one small gold maple leaf with a wee diamond dewdrop on it. They seemed very pleased and we thought they would be nice mementoes for them. We then had dinner, with Russ carving the turkey, and Dix the ham, and there was plenty for everyone – we sat some in the dining room and some out under the tree and it was just lovely – the weather couldn’t have been more perfect – not even any mosquitoes! Afterwards Mom and Dad cut the cake, and then Cec produced champagne (we found we could rent glasses from the wine shop for 25¢) and we all drank their healths, the children in coke, and ate cake and ice cream. It really went beautifully, without a hitch, and everything was so pleasant and went so smoothly that I really felt much less tired than the 2 previous evenings.
The next day, Sunday, we invited everyone to come for a Wiener Roast to christen Cec’s new barbecue, so the Russells came after lunch – at least poor things, I don’t think that they got lunch at Lea’s and I rather doubt if they got any breakfast either from what I’ve heard, but anyway they brought Darryl and Patty Lu with them, and they all had a good time, playing badminton and baseball etc. We had planned supper for 6 and of course Lea and Wendell didn’t appear until 7 or after but we didn’t wait for them. We had hot dogs and salads and Potato Chips and afterwards watermelon and the 2 pecan pies I had made. Cec was very pleased because his fire worked beautifully and the hot dogs were lovely. We sat around and chatted and then bade farewell to Russell and his family as next day they went with the Atchisons up to the cottage for 1 day and then on the Tues. Merle and Dix left with Mom and Dad to drive down to Brantford and Russ and family were driving down the same day and spending a day or so with them then heading home again as Russ only had 2 weeks. He has another week’s holiday but he is a great hunter you know and some friend of his had arranged a week’s hunting in the Fall with a plane, so he was keeping time for that. He left us some moose sausage in the freezer, but we haven’t tried it yet!
This left us with just the Carman family, and it was a bit of a mistake, as we were all so tired after the weekend, that I would really have been much happier if they had all gone! However, they did go to Lea’s for 2 nights and then came back on Sat. evening and took Cec and me out to dinner and to another football game. I had actually never seen a football game in Canada, so it was quite fun as it was a lovely evening but although Ottawa won it wasn’t a very good game. I enjoyed the dinner which we had at an Italian Restaurant, and we had yummy pizzas. The Carmans left the next morning and really we all collapsed in a heap! Quite a visitation.

Grandpa and Granny Costain on their Golden Wedding Anniversary, surrounded by grandchildren.


Our next excitement was our own Anniversary, on the Tues. and Cec and I went out to dinner at a German Restaurant and had a very nice dinner and then went on to a movie “Walk Don’t Run” with Cary Grant, which was quite amusing. I forgot to tell you that before the crowd came, we all packed into the car – Mom and Dad and us 4, and went to the Drive-In to see it “Born Free” the film about Elsa. It was really marvellous and we all enjoyed it so much – if you ever get the chance, you should see it.

After all my own excitement, I had to gird my loins and get down to work again, as there was a wedding in our Church on the Sat. afternoon, and the WA were catering to the reception, and I was in charge. It was a young man who lives here in Rothwell Heights and comes to our church, although his parents go to the United, and his bride comes from a small town not far from Ottawa, but apparently her parents didn’t approve of the wedding as they didn’t even come to it, and the young couple paid for everything themselves. We felt so sorry for them as they are very nice -not young and silly and dashing off to get married in haste, but had gone together since High School and she is a teacher and he has just got his BA and is specializing for a year and then going to teach Gym etc. Anyway, it ended in being a very pretty wedding, and we served them a nice cold buffet and it all went very well. The only bridesmaid was a disappointment though – her dress was rather an ugly shade of dark gold – more like a Fall wedding.
All this time Linda and Charlie were toiling away at typing – we did let them have 2 days off while all the family were here, but otherwise they went every morning and seem to have done very well. They are not madly fast yet but seem quite accurate – more than me! – they finished on 4th of this month and apart from having a Czech. Dr Poldus from work to dinner one evening, and Mr. Graham and the wife of a new Fellow of Cec’s who hasn’t come yet another evening, life has been placid and I have been slowly getting the washing and ironing done and tidying and cleaning gradually. Linda and Charlie’s rooms were just shambles after the little Costains left – no other words describe it. They had every toy in every cupboard all over the place, although we told them certain things weren’t to be touched, and some of Charlie’s things will never be the same again! Lindy thinks we were very silly to have the whole house so clean and beautiful before they came, but at least I can remember that I had it looking nice once this summer!
I forgot to tell you a very important piece of Costain news! Charlie has just reminded me that on our wedding anniversary I was standing next to him and suddenly said “You are taller than me!” We immediately dashed and measured, and sure enough he is about half an inch or more taller, so here I am the smallest member of the family! Linda is about half a head taller than I am now and whereas last year she was about the same height as Janet and Joanne was much taller, I now notice that she is as tall as Joanne and that Janet is left behind.
Now to get back to some of your letters. You were talking about the Test Matches in one of them and asking if we were interested, but really we never even hear of them hardly. Last week I heard a BBC news broadcast and they said that the WI were beating England hollow and since then Cec has been talking to a Fellow at the Lab. who is going down to the University in Jamaica or Trinidad – I forget which – to teach for a year, and he has been getting the local papers and is very interested and told Cec how well the WI team are doing. This man, Barry Morrow got his PhD in Cambridge and has a nice English wife, and they have just got a little baby. I expect everyone is now very interested in the Empire Games, about which we do hear something, but mainly how Canada is doing so it is very hard to get a good overall picture. Cec probably knows more as he hears the late night sports review on TV but I don’t watch. We have just been watching the TV news now at 7 o’clock, as a big new bridge being built over the Rideau River partially collapsed this afternoon, killing about 6 men and more than 50 more seriously injured. It seems fantastic that in this day and age such things could happen but earlier this year a new building under construction did the same thing, although fortunately not so serious. You feel that something must be very wrong.
You mentioned earlier that you had heard that Vivian Leigh and Sir John Geilgud were at Young’s Island, and we were interested because Cec met them when he was down in Washington at Easter. He stayed with a scientist friend and his wife and while he was with them they took him to the first night of Sir J.G. and V.L.’s new play, as the young brother of Cec’s friend was in the cast. At the moment, I can’t remember the man’s name or the name of the play, but it was going on to New York after Washington, and it must have been after the New York run that they came to St. V. After the play Cec was taken backstage to meet the cast and was introduced to V.L. and warned that she didn’t enjoy being told that she was remembered in ‘Gone with the Wind’. Cec said that she looked beautiful on the stage, but older and very tired near by – she hadn’t been well during the run, and they were quite anxious about her, because of course she had TB once and so I don’t suppose is very strong. [See post January to May 1966]
You were answering my letter and in it talking about Harry Kroto and his wife up at the cottage, and getting him all confused with one or two others who were there! Harry is a very dark vivacious young man and he is from England and his wife is English too – he has a strange name because his parents were refugees from Germany before the war but he was born and brought up in England. They are leaving NRC at the end of this month after their 2 years and he is going down to the US for a year. We will have a farewell party for them when we come back from Brantford. You were asking about Linda and Charlie’s reports – they arrived about a month ago and were both good without being wildly outstanding, but that is fine with us! We hear that Darryl failed Grade 9 again, which means that he, at 16 is behind Charlie who is 13. He is certainly one mixed up boy, but you couldn’t find a nicer, more polite boy during the time he spent here with all the visitors. Lea is dreadful with him I think, but she always has been and this is the trouble we gather – he is resentful and uses school to get his own back.
While we had our guests we were so pleased because our garden looked very nice. It has been so hot that everything has bloomed and finished in no time at all, but just then we had masses of delphiniums in flower and lots of yellow and gold and orange day lilies and it really looked lovely. Even our centennial rose was blooming madly, but we were disappointed because it turns out to be a multi-flora so the flowers are small, and although they bloom in clusters and make a nice show we prefer the bigger blossoms. It is a lovely orangey-red colour though, so we are glad it is doing well, and even Charlie’s poor little dug-up rose put forth one flower!
Our little Saki is growing into a lovely little cat and is lots prettier now and just as playful and sweet. Linda throws her around like a little bag and the children play with her by the hour and she is so good tempered and will jump at your feet as you go by or pretend to pounce on you, but never a scratch or bite, and always little soft paws without a claw showing. We got some pictures yesterday of her when she was tiny and we all had to laugh as she was so funny and tiny and wispy with a little straggly tail! Now she is really pretty and so white and clean, but still a little cat – an appetite like a baby horse though. The hamster is as fat and cuddly as ever, and his appetite is pretty good too – a bathtub full of pablum twice a day – a doll’s bathtub that is! Also sunflower seeds and peanuts and some lettuce or celery or apple. Ruth Lockwood is going to look after them for us when we are away.
My sewing came to a halt when our visitors came, but as I told you I did finish the pale blue linen for Lindy and she looks very pretty in it as it is just the colour of her eyes. She thinks it is too plain, but I think it is very nice. She finished her yellow shift too and then I made the material you sent me for my birthday with the big navy blue flowers on it into a very nice dress for me with a front opening, which is a nice change from struggling with a back zipper. And I like the pattern and think that I will make another like it but I find the material very crumply – you know, you wear it once and then it has to be ironed again, even if I have starched it. You say that you don’t think I like the materials which you sent me much, actually I do like them, except for the fact that they both have the kind of mauvy-pink colour which I don’t care for too much. I was going to make the pique into a sundress, but I have no time now, and think I’ll keep it till next year. I have worn the dress you brought me from New York last year all summer long. I don’t know what made you think I didn’t like it – I do, but if you remember last year we didn’t have much weather for sundresses, whereas this year I have worn hardly anything else. The one you gave me is lovely as it doesn’t show the dirt much, and when I do wash it it opens out and is so easy to iron!
Thank you so much for the cheque for $18. I told Linda that you had sent her $10 and she is very thrilled. She has been so good this summer, with only 3 dresses really, as nothing from last year would fit her, so her pale blue dress, the yellow dress, a grey and white dress we bought and a couple of summer skirts is all she has had apart from a pair of jeans and a couple of pairs of shorts! Anyway, with her birthday coming and going away too, I thought she could do with something else, and we went shopping and got her a very pretty two-piece. The skirt is a nice soft sage green and the top, which comes over the skirt at the waist is a cream colour with a little half belt in front of the green. It has a plain round neck and is sleeveless and she looks very nice in it. It is made of a laminated jersey – like the mauve coat, you know, but a finer thinner material, so should look nice, both for best and then when she begins school next month. I suggested to Linda that she use your money to get two nice blouses and she is very pleased with the idea. The linen one you saw sounds lovely, but perhaps it is just as well that you didn’t get it as she is so tall and long waisted that we have to be careful that blouses which are slim enough for her are also long enough. The ones she wears for school are the shirt type with good tails that tuck in well, and she thought she would get one with a green print (which she has already seen and had her eye on) and a nice white one. She can wear them with the green skirt. [Note: in 1966, girls were not allowed to wear trousers to school. We didn’t wear uniform, but there were rules!] And I will send you some green string and fertilizer for your violets when I get home from the cheque too, and you didn’t say if you wanted batteries now or not. Let me know.


I must stop, as I have been typing all day off and on, and my fingers are sore! At the moment I can’t think of another thing to tell you but probably I will sooner no sooner seal the letter that I will think of all sorts of interesting things. Anyway, much love from us all and say hello to Doris and Luenda and Mr. Cox and Dowers from us. One evening when everyone was here we had a film show and Merle asked to see our West Indian pictures, and it took us back quite a while! [Since the trip had been a decade earlier!]
Love to Auntie Muriel and Peggy and much love to you from
Cyn.

August 10 1966- Part 1

Box 330, R.R.1,
Ottawa, Ontario

10th Aug.

Dearest Mummy,
It is so long since I wrote you a proper letter that I hardly know where to begin. I am so sorry, but after our visitors left, we all were just exhausted, and seemed to spend the first week either sleeping or sitting, and it was only last week that I finally got the last of the 16 sheets washed and ironed, not to mention the other odds and ends! In addition to that all the garden things are flourishing and I have been picking and freezing – raspberries, green beans, wax beans and peas. The small carrots are ready and the beetroots, so I should get on with those sometime today. The raspberries haven’t been as good as last year as it was very dry for a while when they first began and the berries were just little wizened up things, but then we did get some rain and they improved. Mom Costain when she was here just loved a jar of blackcurrant jam which I had made 2 or 3 years ago, but I am the only one who likes it here so I hadn’t bothered since. However, when I have the currants it seemed a shame not to make some jam for her to take home so Cec picked me the currants on Sunday (sitting peacefully on a garden chair!) and I spent one entire evening topping and tailing the miserable things and then making the jam. I don’t think there is more than 2 lbs. of it – I put it in small plastic jars with lids – but it was more than 2 lbs. amount of work. My fingernails are still stained black. We still have lots of currants on the bushes, but I don’t think I will deprive the birds of them! Leona was crazy about gooseberry jam, and again no one here eats it except me, so we picked a big plastic bag full for her to take with her, and they were still very firm, so she hoped that she would get them home and be able to make some jam. I still have the bag of gooseberries in the freezer from last year!
We have had a simply incredible summer – beautiful sunny weather day after day for 3 months or so. Ever since the children finished school at the beginning of June it has been lovely nearly all the time – we have had occasional thunder showers and one or two cool days, but always the next day has been warm and nice again, and we have even had more pleasant hot days than miserable humid ones. We have had it very hot – over 90 quite a bit, but the nights have been quite pleasant and usually the humid horrid weather just was a day or so, and then nice again. Yesterday turned very hot and humid and was over 90, but there was a thunderstorm about midnight and today is lovely and cool and sunny in the high 70ies. It has been perfect for all those people who have cottages, and would have been so nice for us last year! However, we certainly couldn’t have managed our visitors nearly so well without the gorgeous weather, so I can be thankful. Actually, the hot weather doesn’t make me any more energetic of course, but there haven’t been all that many days when it was an effort to move, although I am beginning to get fed up with trying to think of meals without putting the oven on! I must be needing a holiday to be getting fed up with cooking, and ours begins on Tuesday!
We drive down to Stratford on Tuesday, and stay in a Guest House. That evening we go to see ‘Henry V’ and then next day Cec and I hope to go over to London for a quick visit with Pete and Lu Forsyth while Linda and Charlie stay in Stratford and go to the matinee of the opera ‘Don Giovanni’. This seemed the simplest thing, as really our children and the Forsyth children don’t know each other now and have very little in common, and Charlie was quite heartbroken at the thought of not seeing the opera, which is his favourite. Personally, Mozart’s operas don’t thrill me that much, but he loves them. Then when we come back we go to see ‘Twelfth Night’ that evening and afterwards drive to Brantford. That makes an awfully long day, but we arranged it that way as Merle and Dix thought that they might bring Mom and Dad over to see ‘Twelfth Night’ too, and we would all be going back to Brantford together. While we are in Brantford John and Sharon and their new baby Steven will be there too as they are home for a month, and while they are there there will be a double christening on the Sunday with Lorne and Liz’s new little baby Cynthia. I had thought I might be godmother to my namesake but they are both going to be a little members of the United Church so I don’t suppose they will have godparents.

Stratford was great. We had a wonderful holiday.

Lindy’s birthday is on the next day and we will spend most of the day in Brantford and then go back to Stratford to see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and spend the night before we drive home the next day. We will be away just 8 days, but it will be a nice break, and Cec took quite a lot of time off when we had the visitors etc. so he doesn’t have much time to spare if we plan to take a month in England next year. You will be glad to know that we have saved airfare to England and back, so now all we have to do is save the money we will spend when we are there, and we won’t have to “Go Now – Pay Later”!
I have at least 3 very nice letters of yours to answer, and all sorts of things to thank you for, like the cheque and anniversary card etc. but I think that I will begin by trying to get you up to date with our doings, and then I may find that I have answered some of your questions while doing so.
I think that the last time I wrote you a decent letter was at the end of June just before Mom and Dad came. We had the Sunday School Prizegiving on the 26th and in the afternoon the S.S. races etc. and then the Chicken Barbeque – do you remember last year? It was a very hot day again and the chicken got a bit burned but everything else was fine! The next day Mom and Dad arrived by train during the afternoon both looking very well and exactly the same as they have looked for the last 10 years.

The next evening Lindy and I were invited to a shower for Alayne Staniforth by Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Craven. Alayne is the eldest daughter of Phyllis Staniforth, who you will probably remember is a very close friend of Margaret Savic’s. She and Margaret have always been pillars of the Altar Guild, so this is why the Shower and all of us Church ladies were there. Alayne is the oldest girl – there are 2 others, one training as a nurse, and one, Pamela who is Linda’s age. Alayne is a Hospital Librarian, and her fiancé is a Medical Student and they have been going steady since High School, although Robert moved with his family to Vancouver about 4 years ago. They are to be married on August 20th in our church, and then will live in Vancouver. The Shower was great fun, and Lindy and I made up a Kitchen Basket, with all sorts of little presents in it for our gift and she really got a wonderful lot of useful things and no duplicates. I even managed to make her an apron, and Linda wants one the same, so I will have to hustle on with it! Alayne’s was blue and white stripes but Linda is going in for green this Fall, so I have got a white material with green and gold spots, and a gay green trim, so I hope it will look nice and that she will be pleased.
We had quite a nice visit with Mom and Dad – not doing much, and of course Linda and Charlie began their Typing Lessons on 4th July, and had to be there from 8:30 to 11:30, so this meant an early rising. They left here at 7:45 and got the bus downtown, and it put them off right outside the door of the Business School (next door to the Zenith Shop.)

It introduced us both to typing, and we would bring our (mis)typed efforts home each day for Cyn to giggle over the peculiar sentences that resulted. We may not have enjoyed it but it was useful.

We had Carman’s friends Joy and Jack Locke over one evening to meet Mom and Dad as they knew them from when the Lockes lived in Penticton, and late one night the phone rang and here it was Carman, saying that they had decided after all to make the trip East, and could we cope with them. Of course Cec said yes, and they were to arrive on 13th, driving and camping on the way. In the meanwhile, Mom and Dad had told us that Russ and Errol’s little girl had scarlet fever when they saw them in Saskatoon and didn’t know if she would be well enough or the boys catch it, so we had no idea if they were coming or not.

That week Cec took some days off work and he and Dad began building a big barbeque fireplace in the back garden. Dad had built a big retaining wall at the back of the garden of his new house in B.C. so Cec thought he would have expert advice, but of course the job turned out to be an enormous one and took much longer than they thought as always happens! It is at the back corner of the patio, and if you remember Cec had piled there some cut limestone blocks which Ken had used for a fireplace in the other house and which had been torn out when they remodeled. Cec always said that he would use them to build a fireplace, but of course he had to build it out of concrete blocks first and pour cement for a platform, and then face the whole thing and chimney with the limestone, so it was a very big job, but it really looks beautiful now. It is sort of 3-cornered, with the firebox and chimney in the middle and two wings on either side, which Cec has covered with slate tiles, so that there is a working space on either side. Cec of course wanted to get it done before all our visitors came, as we didn’t think our little hibachi would be much use for all that crowd, but Grandpa went away in the middle of it, so he had a hard time getting it done in time. However, he managed, and we christened it while they were here and Cec was very pleased that he could cook 36 hotdogs at once!


The Letter Continues…

June 13 1966- Part 2

Seated in front: Leslie and David Costain; in chairs L-R, Patty Lu Atchison holding Phillip Costain & Barbara Costain with cousin Robin Costain; in a clump standing L, Terry, Brian, Brent and Bobby Costain, then Leona Costain, Lea Atchison, Merle Moor, Cyn Costain, Linda and Charlie Costain; back row, cut off, Daryl Atchison, Russell Costain, Carman Costain, Errol Costain, Wendell Atchison, Cec Costain, Bruce Moor, Dixon Moor.

Just a note of review of the Costain Family: Mom and Dad Costain had 5 children: Merle, Lea, Cec, Russell and Carman, all married, with a total of 16 grandchildren. Merle, Lea, and Cec live in Ontario- Lea and Cec in Ottawa, and this is where the family plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their parents’ marriage. Mom and Dad, and Carman’s family live in British Columbia so have the farthest to travel, Russell and family live in Saskatchewan (although Cyn says Alberta, which surprised me) and in the end all (except the 2 oldest grandchildren, Merle’s sons John and Lorne and their very young families) managed to make it to Ottawa in July to celebrate.

[Continued from Monday’s letter…]

Tuesday.
Linda and Charlie are off to school for their exams and Cec is away to work, so here I am to finish my letter. I am meeting the children at 12:15 and we are going downtown to get Daddy’s birthday present and Father’s Day present! This year the Columbus Meeting isn’t until Sept. so for once Cec has his birthday at home – we are going to celebrate by having Mr. Graham and the Grahams over for bridge. We thought that we would get him a new card table for Father’s Day as the old one is not very presentable now, but as F’s Day isn’t until Sunday he won’t have it for this occasion.
Saki is rushing madly around at the moment trying to run off some of her high spirits! She just loves going outside now and climbs all the trees and the other day we couldn’t find her anywhere and then looking up the old apple tree we saw her fast asleep up in the branches. She still uses her sandbox inside, and doesn’t seem to think the garden soil is the same thing at all. While Cec was away last week we took her down to the Vet. Dr. Cherry for her distemper shot, and poor little thing she had a horrid time. She was just terrified and gave a great squall when he gave her the injection and then bit the assistant who was holding her and rushed off. Her ears have always been very dirty inside and I had cleaned them a bit with the cotton covered sticks and warm water, but I told the vet and he gave them a great cleaning with cotton wool and got out gobs of black stuff and of course she hated this. He then looked at some of this stuff under his microscope and found she had ear mites and showed me the little things wiggling (Charlie wouldn’t look – Lindy wouldn’t even come into the Vets.) and so he put some stuff in her ears and frightened her some more – so much so, poor little thing that as she was climbing up Charlie and me she had a B.M. and didn’t do our coats any good! However, she soon recovered when we got her back in the car – which she quite likes, and I have been putting in the ear stuff and she doesn’t mind me doing it. She also has some vitamin drops and she loves them and licks them off the dropper with great gusto! Noli is doing fine and is just as fat and gentle as ever. Saki loves to watch him in his cage and if we go out quite often will go and sit up beside the cage for company. Of course if Noli is out on the floor Saki thinks he is a plaything, particularly if he runs, so we keep them apart!
Our plans for the summer are slightly more organized – Mom and Dad are arriving on the 27th of this month, in 2 weeks time. We have got a beautiful new sofa bed for the family room, as we felt they had slept on that old one for so many visits that they deserved a new one for their Golden Wedding! It is a brown sofa when closed, about the same length as the old one, but it opens out so that the head of the bed is the back of the sofa, and so makes a big Queen-size bed. It has a foam mattress and is very comfortable – the children keep begging to open it out so they can lie in luxury and watch television! Just after we had ordered this what should happen but the washing machine should break down! Of course when it broke down last time over 2 years ago the man told us this was giving out and that was breaking down etc. and it had been leaking, so it was expected but of course it would happen just then. Cec said it wasn’t even worth getting a repair man out to look at it and that we should look at new ones, so 2 weeks ago we went out to Simpson-Sears and got a beautiful new one. It is pretty much like the old one but just a few more adjustments – in the old one I could either have the machine full of water or if I wanted a smaller wash I had to stay there and push the button when it was full enough, and then come back and do the same thing for the rinse, but this one has three amounts of water and I can set at any one and it does either a small, medium or large wash. While we were waiting to get it I went back to my old friend the Coinwash, and of course got all behind and in my washing and ironing and seemed to spend all last week catching up. I was in the middle of washing all the curtains etc. too and had got Lindy’s curtains and bedspreads done but now will have to attack the rest. We have got the Indian rug in the family room and it looks very nice and fits the colour scheme beautifully and makes it much cosier I think.
To go back to our visitors this summer – Merle phoned up when Cec was away, and apparently she had got fed up with waiting to hear what Russell and his family were going to do this summer and had phoned them. You know the rumour has been going around that they would come and visit us for Mom and Dad’s Golden Wedding celebration, so at Christmas I wrote and said how pleased we would be to see them etc. – not a word. So we asked Mom when we wrote if she had heard if they were coming, and she had heard they might, and so it went on, and the same with a brother of Dad’s called Uncle Harry, and it was so annoying because none of us here knew what was happening. Well, finally poor Merle couldn’t stand it and phoned them (Russell is with Bell Telephone and we think can probably phone free) and after talking they said yes that they would come leaving Alberta around the 8 or 9 July and camping on the way – they have 4 boys and 1 girl. Then Merle said would they write and let us know but they said they didn’t know where our address was would Merle let us know, so poor Merle had to make another long distance call to us! If I were her I would have been mad! As it is I don’t much appreciate being a hotel where reservations needn’t be made! Merle and Dix and Bruce will arrive on 15 July and the celebration will be on 16th – Uncle Harry isn’t coming we just heard from Mom on Sat. so at last we are beginning to know what is happening! I called Lea to tell her the developments, but she’s is still in as bad a way as ever with her back and expects she will have to have it operated on – she doesn’t know when – so she is out of it as far as any entertaining goes. However she does have plenty of room so I think that Russell and his family can stay with us for a few days and then when Merle etc. come they can go over to stay at Lea’s and come to us to eat – as far as I can see this makes it 14 for meals and nine to stay part of the time and 11 the rest of the time! Linda thinks it would be lovely if all 14 were here and we could put them all up except as far as I can see the sitting room sofa would be the only place for her! I feel with this crowd I just can’t do much preparing – I’ll just have to wait and cope when it comes – I just hope it isn’t one of those Ottawa heat waves! Merle and Dix are taking Mom and Dad a trip to Prince Edward Island so will be only here a weekend I think, and I don’t suppose that Russell and Errol will be here very long as driving to and fro will take 4 days or so each way, so it will be a wild few days! I plan to do one thing beforehand and that is make a 3 tier wedding cake for Mom and Dad. I won’t make a fruit cake, just a white one, but I will make it in 3 square tins and ice it in gold and decorate it and I think it will look nice and be fun. I will freeze the cakes iced, I think and then just decorate it at the end, so it won’t take too long.
Lindy and Charlie think they are having a very Organized summer – at the end of this month they are having tennis lessons for 10 days down at the tennis courts on the Lower Level of Rothwell Heights, then in July they are going for typing lessons at one of the High Schools in town, and Charlie now has a Paper Route – it is not really a route as it is the one he used to help Johnny Lockwood with at the NRC buildings on Montreal Rd. and all he hast to do is go and sit beside a pile of papers in the beautiful new air-conditioned hall! Johnny used to do 2 buildings but found his money was disappearing from the building where he just left the papers alone, so Charlie now does this one and he’s very proud of himself as he makes about 2 dollars a week. Lindy is panting for some babysitting jobs so that she can make money too, but so far she hasn’t done too well. In August we are going down to Brantford and Stratford for a week. We have booked a room in Stratford and will see Twelfth Night, Henry 5, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Lindy and Charlie are going to a matinee of an opera Don Giovanni while Cec and I go to London to see Pete and Lu. Charlie was most distressed at not seeing the opera which he said he wanted to see more than anything, so this was the solution, as really the children don’t have much in common with Pete and Lu’s 2 now, and hardly know them. We will then go to Brantford for a few days, and John and Sharon will be there and their baby christened. Lorne and Liz are expecting another baby this week – Debbie will be 2 1/2 now I think, and poor Liz had taken 2 night classes all winter and was sitting the exams last week!
Now at last having caught up on all my news I will try and answer your letters. I got one last night – thank you so much for it – written on 6th. I am glad that you got my letter with the recipes, I don’t know if they will be much use to you, but I know you and Auntie Moo like to see them anyway. If you can get the chocolate chips I think you would like the Pot au Creme dessert of mine – it is very rich and creamy tasting and very nice for a party – if you put it in small dishes you don’t need much in each one as it is so rich. I hope that you enjoyed the Queen’s Birthday Parade – it is nice that the Admin and his wife have been inviting you to some of the things as I know how much you enjoy them. Lindy was quite disappointed this year as I didn’t bother to sign the book to go to the Governor General’s Garden Party and she had made up her mind that she was old enough to go this year! But I think it is fun once in a while, but not every year. I am glad that you enjoyed the visit of the nice blind men and had a drive out to see Lily Purnett with one of them. I was amused about Mrs. Manton and her son who is going to McGill. As you know the distance between Montreal and Ottawa is counted as nothing here, but I am quite sure that when he is in Montreal at University he will have no desire to come visiting some unknown family in Ottawa. He will have all his own friends and activities and would think it an awful bore.
I am so sorry that I forgot all about the cheque book. I will get one this afternoon and send it to you. I also have a box (small!) all ready to send with the stockings for Auntie Moo and I must get it wrapped and mailed. Your Bank Account number is 8900 I think but I will check and let you know for sure when I send the cheque book. The children say thank you for the letters – perhaps when they are taking their typing lessons you will get some epistles from them. I am so glad that you met Mrs. Bedell – I haven’t heard anymore on the radio lately as I just have it on you know and it depends what I am doing as to whether I hear the talking bits or not, and in the summer I am out and about more. You mentioned in one of your letters having heard from Brenda and I have often wondered what happened about the scare that Arthur might have a spot which was cancerous. I imagine that they found it was all right or you would have said, but I hope everything is OK. I am sorry for them – they seem to have had a pretty hard time, travelling around and never settling for too long in one place, and some of the places pretty dreadful climates too. I am sure she must be longing to get back to England and have a proper home, but of course they must go where Arthur has a job. How is Richard doing in Australia? What part of Australia is Hazell Ann living in, and is Richard anywhere near? I am glad she is going to have a baby and I hope all goes well. I am glad that Jane and Bill are having a nice leave, but sorry that they didn’t come via Canada this time – next time, I hope. It was a big disappointment for John and a blow for all of them after all his hard work. What do they think he will go in for now? You ask about Charlie and his music lessons – well Ken and Dot only came back from Florida last month and are going away at the end of this one so poor Charlie doesn’t get much encouragement! I think I may have told you that the Scotts bought a small house trailer down in Florida and so when they go back in the Fall will have it to live in. It is in a trailer-park and they pay $25 a month and the park people look after it and the garden and keep it all in good shape whether they are there or not. Ken got it for 500 dollars from a man whose wife had left him and was on a drinking binge – trust Ken to get a good bargain! All the others were well over 1000 dollars. Dot is having a little music recital out at Cumberland next week, so Charlie is having to practice and refurbish some of his pieces, but anyway as long as he keeps it up a bit I don’t mind. The clarinet playing at school fell through – it was in the lunchtime you know, and someone didn’t come and then came back and they never seem to get any further than the ones who went regularly got very bored. By the way, you also ask about Lindy in one of your letters, and you will be interested to know that she is now a young woman! No trouble, but it seems very odd to me to have to remember such things at the supermarket again! She still complains over her small bosom but she actually has a little bit of a figure now.
I am horror-stricken – I found an Airmail letter amongst yours, and thought oh, an old one from Jean, and ripped it in two, and then suddenly realized it is from Peter and that you had said something about wanting to keep it, so I will have to return it to you in 2 parts! I think you will still be able to decipher the name of your shares. You really shouldn’t send me letters you want to keep, you know.
Well, it is 10:30 and not a dish washed, as Dottie used to say! I must stop and get something done and I think that I have really caught up with all the news.
Our love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Peggy and her family when you see them. Hello to Doris and to Luenda and Mr. Cox!
Much love from us all – so glad that your blood is behaving itself,

Cyn.

June 13 1966- Part 1

dear grannie,
Mummy said half an hour ago that she was going to write to you a letter, but I don’t believe her. (i before e except after c) maybe if she hears this going it will stir up her conscience, but I wouldn’t count on it. I am finished school except for one (english) exam. I am making a yellow summer dress for me, but I am feeling dopy so mummy must tell me what to do. Whoops here she comes! by lc. it is now the next day and I doubt if you will ever get your letter. but go on hoping. lc it is now 2 days later. keep hoping.

Monday, 13th June. [Carol’s writing: Got it on 25th.]

Dearest Mummy,

Well, Linda kept you posted on my progress – or non-progress, but at last I have begun your letter! Last week I was very disorganized as Cec went to the Canadian Association of Physicists Meeting at Sherbrooke, Quebec, on Wed. afternoon, and Lindy and Charlie had exams last week and we were all at 6es and 7s! Neither of them had to sit all the exams, they got recommended in most things, but Lindy had to write three and decided to write English too, and see if she could improve her mark, and Charlie was recommended in everything, but had some marks in the 60s so decided to take those exams and see if he could improve them. He got recommended in Math. with a mark of 88 but took the exam to see if he could get his mark up to 90, but he doesn’t think that he made it! Some of the exams were in the morning and some in the afternoon and other days they didn’t have to go at all, so with Cec away we slept late in the mornings and everything was in a muddle. Cec came home on Sat. evening, and this morning I was so unaccustomed to the routine that I slept in until 8:20! Linda and Charlie both have an exam tomorrow morning and then they are finished for the summer and are feeling very sorry for the poor little kids at Fairfield who begin exams today and have another 2 weeks of school.
I am so sorry that I have been such a long time in writing. Of course when I am determined to write a long letter, I always seem to put it off until I have a longer time, and it gets later and later. Linda has just come down in her bathing suit – it is a glamorous new 2 piece in navy and white and she looks very cute in it. We are having a roasting day today – well over 80 but quite a nice breeze – and last week after a very hot spell that finished off the lilac and tulips in short order it got so cold and when Cec was away we had to put on the furnace it was so cold and rainy a couple of days. I feel virtuous because I went out and gardened all morning, we are having a very bad year for mosquitoes so I haven’t been doing as much as I should, but this morning I covered myself with mosquito dope and went out and fixed up the small bed at the back just along the side of the garage you know. Do you remember Pat gave me some little plants last year that made quite pretty little green bush-like clumps which turned red in the Fall? It is called coxchia but I don’t know how to spell it! Anyway that whole bed was covered with seedlings so that it looked as if it were growing pale green moss. So this morning I transplanted some to the back of the other bed by the patio and wherever I wanted them and then dug all the rest up. I have planted nasturtium seeds along the front and then lots of my geranium slips and up the back some chrysanthemum plants which I had from a pot of chrysanthemums in the house. I have also planted a clematis plant at the back, with some strings to climb up to the garage roof so I am hoping that when next you come I will have a beautiful clematis vine! I planted all my patience plants out in the front last week and I have planted marigolds in the front bed where I had petunias last year. Cec has put cement curbs all along the sides of the driveway, and he has got some flat square cement paving stones and he has made a path from the front path to the door onto the porch, along in front of the garbage cans! The curbs give it a nice finished appearance, and we laugh, because Marjorie Graham keeps remarking about how nice they are and how she wishes they could get some, and she is still talking about the container for the garbage cans, so Cec says Dick must dread driving past our house!
Do you remember Charlie’s rose? Well, it looked very dead this spring and we were sure that it was winter killed, so about two weeks ago we dug it up and of course we then found one tiny shoot on it still alive, so had to plant it hastily once more! We thought that we had probably finished it, but it seems to have done it good and it has quite a few shoots now and it’s looking quite healthy. We bought a Centennial Rose, which by the pictures looked very pretty and it is growing well, and I hope that we will have some lovely Centennial roses.
Last time that I wrote was just before we had the second of our two big buffet dinners, on Friday 27th May. It went very well – we had June and George Lindsay among others – I felt very guilty as we hadn’t had them for so long, but George has been down in Kingston this year taking some high-powered course and only home for weekends, so it was hard to organize anything. George was on top of his form and telling funny stories and Linda thought he was very funny. He isn’t as terrified of her now that she is no longer a tiny baby! Anyway, after that was over, I thought oh, goody, a quiet week – I’ll get some sewing done, so on Monday I cut out 2 dresses for Linda – the yellow one she is making for herself, but I began the pale blue one, then on the Tuesday I went to the bank and grocery shopping and all the odds and ends I do when I have the car, and then about 4 o’clock, the children were home from school and I had just put all the food away when the phone rang and a man’s voice said hello and who should it be but Alan Jaeger! [Cyn’s first cousin once removed, son of her New York cousin Margs.] I was completely amazed as I had no idea Alan ever thought of coming up here but it turned out that he had a week’s unexpected holiday and he decided to come to see Canada. I discovered all this and that he was on his own and had settled in a Motel on the Montreal Rd. so I invited him for dinner and told him how to get to our house. I can tell you I scuttled around because we had been going to have hamburger and so I dashed to the store again and got a roast of beef and some strawberries and everything was in control when he arrived at 6:15. He was very nice – Both Cec and I thought that he had improved since we met him at Mill and Ford’s camp that time, but he is so like his Father – I can’t see any of Marguerite in him at all- and as Lindy said afterwards not much sense of ha – ha! He stayed till midnight telling us all about his work – of course Cec knows about computers so they could gab about them, and about his adventures in Quebec where he’d been before he came to Ottawa. Cec invited him to the Lab. next morning and showed him around a bit and then took him over to the City Hall for lunch and then he was going on his way. Next day was Wed. and Marjorie had invited Cec and me to come for dessert and coffee after dinner and to play bridge with Mr. Graham (Rector)! We were one over, but we had an uproarious time as Mr. G. seem to thoroughly enjoy himself and although he plays well he isn’t the dead serious type and we had a lot of fun. Thursday I had suggested to Lindy that she invite some of her school friends to dinner as they live quite a distance away some of them and they never see one another once the holidays begin, so she brought 3 friends home with her on the school bus and I gave them tea and cookies and afterwards dinner on the porch. About 8 o’clock we sat out in the car to take them home and one girl lived on a farm way out in the country so that we weren’t home till after 9:30. We had never been to this little village before and I don’t think that I could ever find it again!
On Friday one of the Fellows at the Lab. got married. He is an Englishman called Phil Bunker and he married a Hungarian girl called Eva. She left Hungary after the uprising and went to England where she met Phil and when he came over here on his Fellowship they arranged for her to come and she got a job here and they got engaged. With her parents still in Hungary and his in England they got married in a Registry Office but in the evening some friends of theirs whom he had known in Cambridge gave a Reception Party for them and we were all invited. It was very nice – mostly people from the Lab. but the host was a Dr. Earnshaw who had married an English girl when he was in Cambridge and he had a brother married to another English girl, so Cec and I had a lot of fun talking to them and to the Earnshaw parents. We had champagne and a nice wedding cake and although it was very informal it was very nice. Eva had made her dress – it was a very pretty shade of turquoise lace, short and quite plain and straight with a little overblouse to match, and she had made a little handbag and hat in the same material, and she had a spray of roses pinned to her bag.
On the Sat. we had 2 young couples and their babies to dinner! Cec has had this young technician for quite a few months and felt quite badly about not having him and his wife out sooner, so we invited them with Harry and Margaret Kroto whom I have spoken of before – he is one of Cec’s fellows this year. The Kroto’s baby is now about 4 months and the Joffrey’s about 8 months but both of them settled down nicely and slept all the time they were here! So that was the end of my quiet week!

[The letter continues… but I’m splitting it up.]

May 23 1966

The letters resume! They sound exactly the same: thank you for your latest; sorry for not writing sooner; hope your health is good; and include details of garden, house, cooking, school, church, work, and friends. But the three years have made a difference. The Costains have settled into their home, a bigger house on an acre of land, with a vegetable garden and lower lawn, (sometimes used for badminton), a front lawn with flower beds beside a driveway leading to a garage and, in spring and summer, dive-bombing swallows indignant at the paperboy and various guests approaching the front door and disturbing their nesting on the columns holding the roof up. The covered porch leading to the back door also opens to the back yard with a patio (work in progress) around a big shade tree, and an old, climbable apple tree shading the path to the vegetable garden. The back rises to a wild strip covered with long grass and a few bushes, which makes the area private and great for summer parties.
Both children are in high school: it is the era of the swinging sixties, with the British influence strong on popular culture: the Beatles, Twiggy, Carnaby Street, and issues like boys’ long hair and girls’ mini-skirts arising. Cec continues to welcome new Fellows to the Lab, travel to conferences, and tend his garden, Cyn works at church activities, sews and organizes the entertaining, and there are new pets- Nicki died, and now there is a new white kitten named Saki, and a hamster called Noli who lives in a cage but comes out when the children insist.
May 1966 was a busy time, with planning for the summer and the next year already in hand. Reminders of names: Dot and Ken Scott were first of all the landlords of the Montreal Road house, then friends- Dot taught the children piano, and then they sold the Costains their present house, which had been built by Dot’s father, Mr. Watt, and built themselves a new house a bit further east. The Rector, Mr. Graham, had had health problems I think, and was taking care. Neighbours and church friends in the area came to dinner with older friends from the Costains’ early days in Ottawa, Margie and Cy, and Jim and Lee. And finally, Jeanie Graham was the daughter of Marjorie and Dick Graham, and Sue Tomlinson the younger sister of Linda’s friend Joanne, both 10 or 11, and of the right size for Linda’s out-grown clothes.

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ont.

23rd May.

Dearest Mummy,
I am really way behind in writing to you this time! As usual, I have ALL SORTS of excuses which I will now tell you about! First of all though, thank you so much for your letter of 8th of May– at least that was when you began it – I don’t have the postmark on the envelope because Ken came in one day and saw your letter lying on the counter and admired the stamps so much that I gave them to him for a friend of his. He and Dot are back from Florida again and have bought themselves one of those ‘permanent’ trailers in a Trailer Park down there, so next winter they will go down for 6 months and have their trailer all ready waiting for them. Dot is giving Charlie his music lessons again, but I can’t say that he is practising much. Can you believe it, the children finish school at the end of next week? At least after that there are exams and it depends on whether they are recommended by their teachers as to whether they will have to sit the exams or not. Linda just sat one last year, so I don’t suppose that they will have to sit many, and then the whole glorious summer is before them!

Reports and promotion letters- we passed the exams!

Well, the main reason that I didn’t get a letter written to you earlier was that we had our Maytime Fete on 14th and so I was very busy with my last minute projects. I never manage to get things done beforehand. I routed out things for the White Elephant stall, made fudge and coconut ice for the Candy stall, made two little dresses with little headscarfs to match for the handicraft store – they were adorable – one size 3 in white with a pink stripe, and one size 4 pink with a little dot on it. When I went into my Sunday School the next day here were 2 of my little girls all dressed up in them – their mothers had bought them at the Bazaar! I also made 12 triangles for teenagers – you know those headscarfs the girls are all wearing, and I found them marvellous for using up all my odd bits of material, and they were all sold. I had a kind of Specialty Food Stall up in the Balcony and did short demonstrations every hour, and for that I made meringues, petit fours, 4 strawberry pies with whipped cream, 2 strawberry meringue cakes, 2 chocolate cakes and 3 white layer cakes. I decorated them there in the demonstrations and sold them and various jams and jellies etc. as well. The Bazaar did very well on the whole, as we cleared 450 dollars which is more than we had made the last time or two, and it wasn’t such a wild rush as [when] we had it from 11 o’clock till 4 and served both lunches and teas.
After that on the Sat. of course I lay back and did nothing all day Sunday, after we’d been to Church. On the Mon. however, Cec had a meeting of men in connection with the Physics Education in the High Schools, and Linda and Charlie made themselves scarce as both their science teachers were there! I made little pizzas and Swiss Apple Pie for them, and then I had the WA here the next night and make Strawberry Mousse for them with their coffee. Then on Friday, I had a Buffet Supper for 12, counting Cec and me. I found that with not doing any entertaining at the beginning of the year when we were waiting for our carpet, we were way behind, so I am having another big supper this week and maybe an outdoor party for the Lab. in June, and then we will have done our duty! Last week we had a couple, Bernice and Ken Leigh–Smith he is a Navy friend of Cec’s who has recently come to live in Ottawa, and Marjorie and Dick Graham, Margie and Cy (only he was sick and couldn’t come) Jim and Lee and a young couple from the Lab who were up at the cottage last year you may remember, Chris and Fokker Kreuzberg. We had Shrimp Baguettes and Ham Rolls with our drinks, then I had a cold decorated Salmon Mayonnaise, Chicken Breasts Gourmet, Rice with peas and pimento, sliced cucumbers in sour cream, a jellied Sunshine Salad and hot French bread, and then a Chocolate Soufflé and a Savarin au Rhum for dessert. It all went very nicely, despite the fact that it was a pouring wet night and the birds had built a nest in the fan from the kitchen so the whole house smelt of garlic!
This was our long weekend holiday, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and after the coldest wettest most miserable weather for weeks, it was simply gorgeous with temps. up to 80 and everything bursting wildly into bud. Cec was gardening of course, and got his vegetable seeds in and we had our first asparagus from the garden. The children had a good time too and had the hammock out and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Yesterday afternoon Cec took some asparagus over to Mr. Graham, and said that if he found his garden noisy to come over and sit on our porch, so he did, and we gave him orange juice (not many calories ) and he lay back and seemed to enjoy it. He was going to his sister’s for dinner, so left about 4:30 and then after we had dinner we waited till it was dark and had our fireworks. Ours were a very modest assortment as Cec said that he thought L and C were too old for fireworks now, but I didn’t, anyway we would miss them! Of course, Dr. Legault [the dentist across the road] had a tremendous display with every sort of large expensive firework going, and they went on for hours, so we had them and the Dupuy’s [next door] displays to watch as well as ours!
The youngest members of our family are doing nicely – Saki is still as sweet and loving as ever, and she is now enjoying going out in the garden – for long enough it was so cold that we didn’t take her out. She is so funny – like Nicki she likes to go out with the children, and if she gets left in the house she cries. It isn’t a miaow yet, it is a little squeaky cry, very pathetic, and Cec says when we all set off for church she begins to cry until he calls her and then she tears over to him when he calls her and purrs and licks him because she is so pleased she isn’t left alone. Noli is getting big and fat and Linda took him to Sunday School last Sunday to show him to her children, and incidentally to mine too. I must say that he is very patient and puts up with Linda shoving him in her blouse and down her bed etc. and very rarely nips her – once in a while he will make a little pool on her, much to her annoyance! I don’t know what you made you think that we bought our kitten – the Ad. in the paper we answered said “Free kittens to good homes” and although I offered the lady with the 17 cats some money for Saki she wouldn’t take it. She is just a plain ordinary white kitty, I don’t know what kind.
I must stop now as I have cut out a dress for Linda and feel that I must get it made quickly or school will be over and she will be wearing nothing but shorts and jeans all summer. It is a pretty pale blue linen type material, and I have got her a yellow print which she is going to make into a shift for herself. As usual, hardly anything which she had last year will go near her – in fact I don’t think that any of her dresses fit her – we had a great time passing them on to Sue Tomlinson and Jeannie Graham, but fortunately she didn’t have very many! I have bought her one grey and white striped cotton and she has a couple of summer skirts and blouses and that is it. Charlie too couldn’t wear any of his last year shorts etc. so he has been outfitted too – even I have been buying some clothes although I haven’t grown out of mine, but my excuse is that I am getting them all ready for our trip to England next year! I have bought a reversible raincoat and a nice crease resistant summer dress in shades of blue. Cec laughs at my logic that I am saving money by getting the clothes now!
I was out planting marigolds this morning as the forecast was for showers later today, although it is 80 and very hot. The leaves have come out in a rush, but the apple blossom isn’t out yet. I have been snuffling with hay fever all weekend, and have had to resort to my pills so daren’t sit down anywhere for long or I fall asleep! It is not bad when I take them so I hope that the worst is over.
Much love from us all, and love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Doris and Luenda.
Take care of yourself, lots of love,
Cyn.

December 21 1962

2043 Montreal Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.
21st Dec. 1962.

Dearest Mummy,
What do you think that Cec and I are giving to each other for Christmas? A NEW HOUSE! Of course we have done it all in our usual slow deliberate fashion – thought it over carefully – discussed it for a long time – didn’t do anything in too much of a hurry, and took a whole week over it!
Now, having given you the initial shock I can tell you all about it! First of all it is the house that Dorothy Scott’s father owned – he died in the spring of this year and left his property divided amongst Dorothy and her 2 sisters. They tried to sell the house all summer but had no luck and at last a few weeks ago Mrs. Scott told us that she had taken the house as her share of the estate and that she now had the deed herself, so that is when we began thinking about it. I don’t know if you remember the house – it was next to Ken’s place, but around the corner on the way to Fanni’s – it is a small white house and very neat and pretty from the outside – the type they call a Cape Cod house. Cec and I had always liked the look of it from the outside, and actually I had quite often thought that it was just a sort of place that I would like to have, but when Dot and Ken sold their house and went to live with Mr. Watt we saw the inside and got such a shock! Of course, Mr. Watt was an old man when he built it for himself and his wife and it was as he wanted it, but it seem to be all cut up into little rooms, full of great big old furniture, and it was quite a disappointment. In the summer when it was for sale Cec and I talked about it casually and wondered who would buy it and decided that whoever did it would have to spend quite a bit of money modernizing it and and what they could do to improve it, but all in an academic kind of way!
Anyway, when Cec was away this summer, the Hansons next door in the old house sold it and moved away. Not that I regretted them much as neighbours but all along the highway here is zoned as commercial property and I began to wonder what on earth we would get beside us as the house is worth nothing – no plumbing or water or anything, and the land might be sold for a service station or goodness knows what. Then of course, Myrtle is always a thorn in the flesh, and I felt that she probably wouldn’t be able to stay out here by herself much longer and then something would be done with her house, so with one thing and another I began to feel that maybe we should begin to look around and see what other places in the area were like and prices etc. Cec and I talked it over when he came home, and he thinks that maybe I have been a bit restless since the accident, and perhaps unconsciously that has had something to do with it. Anyway we saw some advertisements of houses being built down by the river in Rothwell Heights, and they seemed quite good value, but neither of us were keen on going so far away from the school and buses etc. Then one Sat. evening we had Ken and Dott up to see Cec’s pictures of his trip and in the course of conversation Dot told us about having the house herself now, and also said that they had tried to sell it for 20,000 dollars in the summer and that she thought that this was too much and that she would be happy if she got 17,500 dollars for it. After they left Cec and I were sitting talking and he suddenly said “You know, instead of buying a house right down by the river, I would rather buy Mr. Watt’s house.” So we began talking about it and wondering and sat up till all hours of the morning discussing it and then went to bed and couldn’t sleep, and next day Cec phoned Dot and asked if we could come down and look at it. We looked over it and Dot gave us the blueprints of the house so we could see if it was possible to alter it into the kind of house we wanted, and we sat up most of that night and most of the nights that week drawing plans and putting stairs up here and pulling walls down there until we were exhausted! The biggest problem was that instead of the stairs going up opposite the front door from front to back as they usually do in that type of house, Mr. Watt had put them in sideways and not only did this take a big piece out of the size of the rooms downstairs but it meant that upstairs there was only one big nice room – the other room had the stairs coming right up into the middle of it and there was a big long passage around the stairs to the other bedroom. Then downstairs there was a little living room with 2 doors in it, and the dining room ran right into the kitchen and had no less than 4 doors in it counting the door to the basement and 2 outside doors. There is quite a big entrance hall, but no coat closet, just a big old hall stand, and actually the closets were very few – none upstairs and then each of the 2 downstairs bedrooms they were long and thin and just hooks – no rod for hangers, and a little thin linen closet so deep that you couldn’t reach.
Well, after all our cogitating and drawing and many trials and errors Cec and I came up with the plan which I have drawn for you, which we think will solve all our problems! We are going to have the stairs reversed – i.e. from the hallway we will have the entrance down to the basement stairs, and we will have the stairs going up into the middle of the upstairs instead of to one end. On the plan I’ve shown by the dotted line where they come now, and how much space we will save when they are put the other way. That leaves two lovely big rooms upstairs – the ceilings slope at the side but they are light and nice and we will have closets built in. There is already a small washroom there with toilet and washbasin and we will have a nice linen closet in there. [I really wish I could see that plan, but it doesn’t exist now. There is a plan of her kitchen in the scrapbook, but the plan of whole house went to St. Vincent.]
Now downstairs we will not only have the stairs reversed but moved along a bit to make the passage smaller and the dining room bigger, and then we will have a wall built between the kitchen and dining room with a sliding door between and the wall between the dining room and living room knocked down giving us a lovely big L-shaped room just about as big as the one we have here. Also – joy of joys – we are going to have a FIREPLACE put in! We will close up the one outside door, just leaving the one into the kitchen, and instead of having the stairs coming down into the dining room we have curved them around to come into the kitchen opposite the back door. The kitchen will be small but at present it hasn’t much in the way of cupboards or counter space – a big old kitchen dresser is there and so on, so we are going to have it all taken out and remodelled into a brand new modern kitchen for me. The refrigerator will be on one side with a nice long counter – low for me to work at! – and on the other side I will have the stove and sink with a window above and cupboards at the side. [Cyn was only 5 foot so if there was no room for a kitchen table, she needed a counter suitable for her own height.] There will be a small partition the height of the stove between it and the back door and I will have a little shelves on it for my spices etc. Now, what else – the two downstairs bedrooms are both nice big rooms, I think I have made the bathroom too big and the end bedroom too small on the plan but you will get the idea. That bedroom will make a nice study–spare room – all ready for grandparents! – and oh! what bliss to have a proper bathroom with a BATH. The front bedroom will be ours and it is about the same size as the one we have here. The only change we will make in it is in the closet. We are going to do away with the skinny linen closet and instead make us a long closet in the bedroom with sliding doors and a closet into the hall also with sliding doors to take coats.
There is an acre of land, all the front nicely landscaped and with all sorts of nice old apple trees, and a big shade tree in the back, and a hillside left wild behind that – not nearly as deep and rough as here though. There is a garage for two cars and a porch and kind of covered veranda round to the back door, and we plan to enlarge this a bit and screen it in so we will have a lovely big screened porch. For all of this we are paying 17,500 dollars, and what do you think – Dot felt that maybe she was asking too much so she is throwing in a beautiful automatic washing machine and a dryer of her father’s as well! Of course all the alterations will cost us $2000, and we have a carpenter who has worked for Ken on his new house in Cumberland all ready to begin in the New Year. Now you will wonder where on earth we are going to get all this money – particularly as we haven’t even mentioned selling this house yet – we are a TWO HOUSE FAMILY! However, we will begin to try to sell this one in the New Year – the alterations will take about 6 weeks, so we don’t expect to move until nearly the end of Feb. and we really don’t own it until Jan. 5th although we were down at the lawyer’s office signing the deed today. Dot will hold our mortgage and we are paying her $1000 now and maybe another 1000 or more when we sell the house – she doesn’t mind if we don’t pay her any more as she looks on it as a source of income and will buy an annuity with it. The money for the alterations we borrow from the Gov. as a Home Improvement Loan from the Housing and Mortgage Corp. and we will pay this back when we sell this house too, so actually though we seem to be running around spending money like mad at the moment, we think we will be fine once we get it all settled.
The children are so funny – at first they were horrified at the thought of moving, and didn’t ever want to leave this house. Then, when they went down and explored the big garden down there and found all sorts of exciting places to play they began to get quite thrilled, and now they’re all ready and set to go! They still can’t imagine themselves living in the house I don’t think and I must say that I am the same – up here when we plan and draw out the rooms etc. I can visualize it all beautifully, but when I go down there and see it and all the rooms full of furniture I can’t believe it is true! We will take some ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures so that you will be able to see what it is all about, but I hope that you will be able to make out most of it from all my elaborate drawings!
This is our big New Year’s Surprise for you, and I haven’t managed to write about anything else, but I was waiting till it was all signed and sealed before breaking the news! I will write about other things in my next, but this letter is really a fat one already, and I really can’t think of anything but House!
We all send big hugs and kisses and all our good wishes for a Very Happy New Year for both you and Auntie Muriel.
With much love from us all – Cyn

Sadly, this is the last letter we have until 1966! I am glad it exists because this was a big change in the Costain household, but I am sorry to only have a few pictures in a scrapbook to cover the new house, the alterations, the move, and the changes in the years that follow. It is the small details of daily life that I think make Cyn’s letters worth reading, but I will cover the missing years briefly and we will join her again in four years.

I am also sorry to be having technical difficulties at the moment that prevent me from being able to publish any pictures at all, which is why the usual documentation and photos are missing. I hope to be able to add them later, but until then there will be a brief pause!

July 23 1962 Part 2

This is the second half of Cyn’s letter to Carol from their Michigan holiday cottage. She has brought all her mother’s letters with her and is catching up on answering her questions. The first thing she seems to be dealing with is a compliment, because Carol seems to be asking her to make a hat to match a wedding outfit- which unfortunately is hard to do when you are isolated in cottage country without a car! Carol, living on an island with limited shopping opportunities, (just like I do now) often has commissions for Cyn to fulfill- mostly batteries for her hearing aids, but sometimes things more difficult to find. However, Cyn discusses friends and relatives they both have been writing about, alludes to unknown people and events, gives her opinions about divorce, and lays out plans for family celebrations- as well as that night’s dinner!


… I just opened your last letter to answer it and Lindy saw the piece of material of your dress and thinks that it is very pretty. I don’t know if I will have much luck with getting flowers or a shape here – with being so far from Ann Arbor I haven’t had a chance to even look at the shops there yet and if I wait till I get home I don’t know if it will be in time for the wedding. I had thought that I might go into Detroit for a day’s shopping and Mary Jo and I had discussed my leaving the children at her house for Jody to look after one day and she and I going for a day, but what with Lindy and Cec not being well, and the difficulty of planning with all her big family, we haven’t said anything more and I think I will content myself with shopping in Ann Arbor when we are in there at the Motel. Cec and I have suddenly remembered that it is our 13th wedding anniversary on Thursday – with being away from home the days are all muddled up – but I think we will just have a nice dinner here at the cottage and then have a dinner out at the weekend when we would be eating in a restaurant anyway. One day when we were in Ann Arbor we had lunch at The Pancake House – they serve all sorts of pancakes and waffles and on the table there is a whole assortment of syrups and fruits to go on them and you can just help yourselves! Anyway, to return to our wedding anniversary, we plan to get ourselves an electric frying pan – everyone who has one says they are a wonderful help, so I thought I would like one and as they cost much less down here it would be nice to get it for our anniversary. Of course thanks to old Diefenbaker and his monetary policy our dollar is at a discount now and we only get 92¢ for each dollar!
You asking your letter about Til and Lois – Til is your age I think and she retired a few years ago, but Lois is much younger and she is Physical Education Supervisor for the city of Toledo now and is doing a wonderful job. You also ask about the trip down and how Charlie got on – he seems to be getting over the car sickness now and I didn’t give him any pills this time. When we went down to Merle’s at Easter he felt queasy once or twice so I gave them to him then, but he gets so dopey and sleepy for such a long time if he takes them and he loses his appetite too, so that the trip is no fun for him. However this time he was O.K. – I think it is just if he is too hot or too tired or too excited that it sets him off. I know perfectly well that Cec would pour scorn on the chain idea and wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. Anyway can you imagine the jangle jangle all the time and how nerve-wracking it would be? Charlie, by the way stays in the water for hours now with no ill effects at all – mind you, the water is shallow and very nice and warm most of the time but isn’t it a change?
You will be getting all excited about the Consecration of your Bishop on Wed. and I hope your tickets for the cathedral have arrived. I certainly think you and A. Muriel should have tickets if anyone does. I am glad that your Plant Sale was a success and that the rain held off at the crucial moment. I hope that it will do the same on Wed. and not wash all the clergy out to sea!
I am glad that the batteries arrived quickly and I hope that Ena’s mother tries it anyway. I hope that the white dress will appear soon and that you will find it useful. I was thinking of suggesting that you wear some red with the white dress, but I can’t say that I think a big red hat like Peggy’s would be your style! I can’t somehow imagine Peggy in it either, particularly if her dress is red too, but red never was a favourite colour of mine anyway. By now I wonder if Peggy has had her baby – I am sure that she will be very glad to have it over and I hope that they get the boy that they are wanting. I have got a box of funny cocktail napkins for her which I will send in a parcel to you sometime. They are cartoons of a little ‘embryo’ baby called Egbert which I thought would be appropriate to Peggy at the moment and would amuse her. A. Muriel will think they are rather disgusting and I will admit that they are very indelicate, but also very funny!


We were very pleased to hear of Hugh and Ginny’s Coming Event and hope that all goes well and that they don’t produce twins too! A pity little Mona has such trouble adding to her family when she is so keen, but they have a lot of time yet.
I am now answering another of your old letters and I find another question about the children’s swimming, so forgive me if I go back to it once more. You ask if the children always went to the Château for swimming lessons, but last year they both went to the YWCA which just has a small swimming pool and it’s over near where we went to that Lab. to have your blood tests etc. done. Those lessons were in classes of about 12 children or so and although they were good in that they taught the children to get used to the water and so on, the lessons at the Château are much better as the man gives them individual lessons and is very good with them. It costs a lot more too, $15 for 10 lessons (I had Lindy and Charlie share 5 lessons each), but it costs $.50 just to go in for a swim or 1 dollar after 4 o’clock for children, so it isn’t really too bad, and as I say the man is very good. The swimming pool is lovely with the most luxurious balcony for us mamas to sit and deck chairs with sun lamps etc. around the pool. I wouldn’t mind having a swim there myself but I was always busy rushing out and putting money in the parking metre and doing the odd bit of shopping. Also I am a Pudding in my bathing suit now!
You asked if I heard from Hugh and Lee Brown this Christmas and yes, we did. They are still in the States – in Washington I think – and the note was mostly about Jim, their son, who is through Harvard now and has gone into the Army also. [They had met Hugh when the Americans were posted to Newcastle during the war.] You were asking about snaps, but I don’t think that I have any more of last summer. We had some at Christmas and when I get home I will see if I can find them and get some prints. Linda and Charlie both have their cameras here, but they don’t take pictures of each other much. Lindy was a page in her Ballet Recital this year and had black tights, a royal blue tunic white blouse and big blue beret-style hat with a yellow feather. We didn’t take a picture, I don’t think but maybe when we get home she would like to dress up one day and we will get some snaps.
You were asking about Lindy’s birthday in your letter but I think that by the time you get this you will probably have done without my help. She isn’t too keen on material – you know it is hard for her to be enthusiastic over something she can’t put on right away, and I am afraid Mamma is not very quick about making it up. She would love a book I know, but it is hard to know what she has read. She has read most of the Children’s Classics by now, but she is very keen on all sorts of girls school stories, or girls annuals or that type of thing. Do you remember my Chalet School stories? She just loves those, so I know would be very happy with something in that line. I don’t know if sometime you would like to send her a little writing case – one of those small ones with a zip around. Not that she writes many letters but she is at the age where something like that appeals I think. I don’t know if sometime you might like to send the children a subscription to an English children’s monthly magazine. Mind you, I don’t know if if there is such a thing, but I thought some of the English people you know might know something about them, and I know the children would enjoy it. Til and Lois send them the Children’s Digest and they get a big kick out of getting it each month.
Thank you for telling me the latest news about my Father. I am glad that he is so much better than the last report and as you say it is a big relief to have kind Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie there to tell you the real truth. When you write please remember me to them – I always meant to write, but I don’t think that I ever did.
You ask about our croton plant – well the poor thing, the Canadian sun just about finished it! Just after we put it out we had a very hot dry spell, and although I tried to water it a bit it just collapsed entirely, and all the leaves fell off! I thought that it was finished but we had some good rain storms during June and just before we left we saw some little sprouts showing, so perhaps by the time we come home it will be all leafy again. Do you remember my patience flowers [Impatiens] which I had in the house and then put out along the wall at the back of the house? They were an orangy-red colour, and then in Greenfield Village in one of the gardens I saw a whole bed of every colour imaginable – my salmon pink, purple, magenta, ordinary pink, white, and even a white with some pink shading. I would have loved to take a few surreptitiously cuttings and put them in my bag and bring them home!
You were asking about our Rector, Mr. Pulker the other day. He is very nice, but he is so different to Mr. Bowen that it is funny. He doesn’t have any of Mr. Bowen’s friendly charm – in fact he is one of those people who is very difficult to get to know – and unlike Mr. Bowen he doesn’t preach much of a sermon, but he does keep it short! Not that Mr. B’s were long, but he was so good that you had to listen to his sermons whereas Mr. P.’s you sometimes have to make yourself listen to his sermon! Also Mr. Bowen was very impractical and couldn’t care less about the business side of the church and also thought women’s organizations were so much waste of time, whereas Mr. Pulker is very practical and businesslike and is most interested and helpful with the Guild. He is much easier to work with for me and has really taken a big interest in the Guild and although he is not one for playing fulsome compliments he says he thinks that the Guild has excellent leadership. [Cyn is President.] The biggest contrast is his wife – she is a little dark woman full of high spirits and very down to earth and talk about tact – she doesn’t know what the word means! She says what she thinks and if she puts her big fat foot in it, it is just too bad! At first we were all rather amazed, but she is very likeable and we all like them both now. They are very hard workers, and have been to all our meetings and Mrs. P. has sung in the Choir and has begun a Children’s Choir. We hear that she is to teach the Singing at Fairfield School this year and we are very pleased as she is very good we think, and Linda who had her in the Junior Choir likes her very much.
In one of your last letters you enclosed a blank check, but you didn’t say anything about what you wanted me to do with it so I will keep it until you write and tell me what you want – don’t forget. [In handwriting at the bottom of the page with an arrow: Is it for your shoes? Must tell me the number etc.]
I don’t think that I have ever remarked on the news you sent me about Bebe’s impending divorce, although Cec and I had a good talk over it. I am very sorry as from what you say he seems a very nice person, but both Cec and I think living so close to Marie and so much in her pocket would be enough to send any man crazy. I can’t help feeling that Bebe was asking for it particularly if he didn’t care about horses and she was so mad over them, but it is a big pity because I can’t see how the little boys will be able to grow up normally with a grandmother like Marie and no Father to counteract. Then there was the news of Hazell Ann and her love-life and I must say that it seems a great pity for the poor girl. Of course I am amazed how her mother and grandmother pass all the poor child’s affairs around to the whole family, while it seems to me that the less said the better, but I suppose that is how it is. I can’t help but think that broken marriages breed more – here is Uncle Fred and Aunt Mil, then Jean and Dick, and now their daughter running into the inverse side of the same trouble. The same thing is happening with Til’s son Bill – his son by his first marriage is in the U.S. Army in Germany – married some little High School girl he had just met, they had a baby and now they are separated. It seems to me that the child of a broken home must unconsciously not feel the same about marriage because the same thing seems to happen to them so often.
I have always meant to mention your dress size, as you said Monie was telling you to get a half size as they were shorter waisted, but I don’t think they will suit you very well as they are made for little fat women! Even I tried on one and as it had a straight skirt the skirt fitted over my fat seat fine, but the shoulders were much too broad and the bosom just sagged! You will have to see how this house dress Monie sent you fits, but I think it is easier for you to get a 12 and alter the waist than to have to begin bothering about shoulders and bosom.
I have just been out to the kitchen and discover to my horror that it is nearly 5 o’clock. It has been dull and rainy and thundery all day and I have just sat and read your letters and typed all day long! My fingers are quite sore so I had better stop and get some dinner ready. I did get some lunch but Charlie washed the breakfast dishes and Lindy the lunch dishes so apart from making the beds I have spent all day writing to you – this is to make up for all the times I should have written and didn’t! It looks as if we are going to have our little wood stove going tonight but that is rather fun and keeps us all occupied! Pete and Mary Jo lent us a small outdoor barbecue so we have cooked quite a lot of our dinners outside and it has been quite fun – we even graduated from hot dogs and hamburgers to chicken and spareribs and Cec says that he is getting used to that burnt charcoal flavour!
Must stop – the children send big hugs and love – love to A. Muriel from us all. Is Doris back from her holiday yet? Hope that she had a nice rest.
Lots of love
from
Cyn.

P. S. Had a letter from Jane the other day telling me of my godson’s confirmation- feel I must do something about it but don’t know what. You asked about Linda – don’t know if she will be confirmed this coming year or not – some Rectors like to confirm them very young & some like to wait until they are in their teens, so I think Lindy could easily wait till she is 12.

And I did: December 1963 !

The holiday ended with the return to Canada and fun for the Costains in Stratford, seeing a Shakespeae Play and G.& S.’s Gondoliers, before visiting their favourite relatives in Brantford. Back home, ordinary life started up again with Linda’s birthday in August, and Cyn’s Guild activities and the school Fall Term. There are no letters to cover this period, but photos of the highlights will have to do.

July 23 1962

I have divided this letter into two because it is so long and deals with quite separate matters- the Costains on their Michigan holiday, and then Cyn answering her mother’s questions of the last few months of letters which she has saved up. (I shall put the pictures of the end of their holiday with the second half, since there are no letters to follow to explain how it went.) But before the letter, here is a quick review of Cyn’s life already covered by letters from the post-war years 1946- 1951, to explain some of the American friends the letter mentions.
Towards the end of the war, Cyn had changed teaching jobs and left her parents’ house in Newcastle where she had been stuck for the war years, and moved south to Cambridge. She enjoyed living independently and in 1946 took on a greater adventure by being part of a teacher exchange between American and British teachers designed to foster greater co-operation in the English-Speaking Union. Cyn was sent to Toledo, Ohio, where she taught high school Home Economics for a year, and also spoke to clubs and meetings, very successfully, about whatever aspects of British life her hosts or hostesses wished to hear! She was lucky enough to find a very happy home that year boarding with two other teachers, Til and Lois, who involved her with their families- Til’s adult son Bill, Lois’ sisters who lived locally- and took her with them on holiday with other relatives so that she saw a bit more of America. Her enjoyment of that year comes through in her letters home to Carol, but she was also happy to return to Cambridge for the following school year, where her mother joined her. They both met Cec who was doing his PhD. there, and Cec and Cyn married in 1949, with the intention of following Cec’s professor, Dr. Gordon Sutherland, to the University of Michigan for a couple of years before settling in Canada. Their stay in Ann Arbor was part of a transitory community- graduate students like Cec finishing and moving on, Cyn’s fellow workers at the University marrying or having babies and stopping work- but they were able to keep in touch with the ones who worked at the university and with Til and Lois, and made friends within academic circles that persisted as careers took off and families grew and grew up, because they met up over the years at conferences or during temporary work arrangements, such as Cec’s months work at the University of Michigan in July 1962. Back when the children were 3 and 4, the Costains had visited the States just as the Sutherlands were moving back to England, and also had stayed with Til and Lois while Cec attended the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, so it is not surprising that their friends thought Linda and Charlie had changed in the 6 years since then!

Portage Lake,
Pinkney
Michigan.

23 July, 1962.

Dearest Mamma,
Here I am sitting on the porch typing away – it is Monday morning and it is quite grey and cloudy and looks as if it is going to be a storm and we can hear thunder rumbling around in the distance. We have had quite a lot of thunderstorms in the last few days but they are not as spectacular as the Ottawa Valley ones and they pass over very quickly, but the weather has been very changeable.
Charlie has been having fun with a boy who lives a few cottages down. They have been getting bait for fishing, looking under stones for ‘crawdads’ and catching little minnows and catfish with a little net. Now he has gone home and some little girls from the next cottage have come over and Linda is sitting on the steps colouring books with them. The neighbours are very nice and friendly – I think I told you we had a nice family with a little 5 year old boy in the cottage next to us. Well, they were here for 2 weeks and were extremely kind and took me shopping into Pinckney etc., then we now have another family with 3 little girls – Kathy 8, Susie 5, and Carol 4, and they have a baby boy, Billy 1. Besides the mother and father there is a Grannie and Grandpa so they have quite a family not to mention all sorts of relatives with lots of children every few days, but they are nice too and have offered to take me shopping etc. The father is a great fisherman and goes out night and day, but he doesn’t have much luck – Cec and Charlie have been out a few times but they don’t do much either – Charlie caught a little one but put it back as it was so small! On the other side the cottage is owned by a man and his family from Ann Arbor, so they were only out for a few hours at a time to begin with but last week they came out for a while and we have had a few chats with them. They only have one boy of 14 and he is always dashing around in one of their two motor boats – the father took us out for a ride in one on Sat. and we went all around the lake and saw parts we didn’t know existed. It was quite blowy and we bounced around and got water splashed on us much to Charlie’s amusement!
The thunder is really on top of us now and it is pouring, so the children have moved in and are colouring happily. It is nice that there is someone to play with as Linda has run out of her stock of books and Charlie is getting bored with Patience! Cec has begun to teach them to play Bridge but as he is in at the University all day we can’t do as we did at Mill and Ford’s camp and play all day. Since I last wrote the time seems to have melted away and we can hardly believe that this is our last week here. We will leave here on Sat. morning but Cec thinks he will need a few more days at the University so we will probably go to a Motel until Tues. morning and then go straight to Stratford as we see ‘The Tempest’ on the Tues. night. On Wed. we see the matinee of ‘The Gondoliers’ and then we will go and spend that night with Merle and a couple of days in Toronto and home on Friday. The Klemans go to a cottage for two weeks.
We had a letter from Gudrun and all goes well at 2043 Montreal Rd. and Nicki seems quite happy and is presenting them with dead mice as usual! Thank you so much for your letters which Gudrun forwarded to me and also for the one which you sent to the Physics Dept. here. I was so sorry to hear about your poor little dog being killed. I know how much you will miss him and how sad you would feel to have him killed so suddenly when he was still so young and enjoying life. I hope that after a while that you will get another puppy for companionship and also as it is so useful for you to have a watchdog. At first though I know you can’t bear the thought of having one for a while. We are surrounded with dogs here and the favourite is a great big Basset Hound called Shorty. His legs are so small that he practically touches the ground but he is as solid as a rock and weighs about as much as I do. To see Charlie trying to move him is quite a sight, but he is very good-natured and doesn’t seem to mind how much he is pushed and shoved!
Not long after I last wrote we had some bad luck. Linda got a sore throat and an ear infection, and so she hasn’t been able to have as much fun in the water as the first week. She had one really bad night of earache and the next day I kept her in bed here on the porch and gave her aspirins etc. and after that she didn’t seem ill although the ear was still aching a little, so we let her get in the water but not put her head under (she wears a cap and protector band of towelling underneath but still her hair gets wet) and that was all right until suddenly last week it began to ache again, so she was out of the water for a couple more days and is so disgusted over it. It seems nearly better now so maybe she could go in for a little today, but it is such a pity as she loves the water so much and had such a wonderful time in it. Just after Linda’s ear ache began poor Cec woke up one morning with an eye infection and all his left eye swollen up. He gets this every so often if you remember and if he doesn’t do something about it, at once it spreads to his other eye, so he went to Pete’s Dr in Ann Arbor and got various drops etc. but it wasn’t until he gave him some antibiotics that it cleared up. Told him he was working too hard and should have a rest. He seems quite all right now, but the weekend before last he was feeling pretty miserable. Charlie and I have kept well and full of high spirits, and it is really lovely to see Charlie so well and happy. He is so good-natured and helpful and sunny and he has such a wonderful time in the water now – you wouldn’t recognize the boy who sees how long he can swim underwater and dives through my legs etc. as the little fellow you used to know!
We have been socializing a little bit as well as swimming around in our lake, and the first time we went out was to Mary and Arthur Dockrill’s for dinner. They have a nice new house in a new suburb of Ann Arbor, but not just a field with a lot of little houses in it but all trees, and winding roads and little hills etc. very pretty. Arthur is a real wizard with his hands you know, and he has fixed up their basement beautifully and they have everything very nice. Their one little girl Jill, is 4, and she is a little pet. She is small and has two little brown pigtails and speaks in a very English way in a funny little high voice. Linda loved her and both the children were fascinated because she had just about every toy going – Charlie said “I think Jill has everything!” We had a nice dinner and a really pleasant time, but we haven’t seen them since as they were going on their holiday at the end of that week. They had a Volkswagen bus like Hugh and Ginny and Arthur had fixed it up like a caravan with bunks etc. and they were going up into the Upper Michigan Peninsula.
Last week our big excitement was that we had a letter from Til saying that they would come up on the Wed. so we were very pleased. They arrived just after lunch – Til and Lois, Lois’ sister Ruth and the granddaughter from Florida, Cathie. Til and Lois and Ruth all look just the same and we had a wonderful time catching up on all the news of people I knew. They said I looked the same too and I said “Fatter though!” but they were kind! They were amazed at how the children had grown, but Cathie who is 11, made them look like little shrimps! She is a really big girl – big bones and then quite chubby too, and I think Til had quite intimidated her by telling her not to be wild and hoydenish as Linda and Charlie were so well behaved! All the Americans think Linda and Charlie are so good! However, after Cathie had got over her alarm she and the children had a good time in the water, and although she is full of bounce and quite exuberant she is not sophisticated and blasé which poor Til and Lois were quite worried about. But poor kid, what a life she leads – the mother is apparently no good and her own parents threw her out when she walked out on Bill, but fortunately the grandparents have Cathie most of the time, and they are nice people, but the little girl is chopped and changed from one to the other. Of course I was very interested to hear what they all thought about Bill’s marriage to Lois and Ruth’s sister Mary, because they all thought so much of Mary and so little of Bill – even Tilda, his mother! – but apparently although they were all shattered to begin with and tried in all ways to talk Mary out of it, she went ahead and married him and they are very happy – in fact, according to Til they are so in love it is rather nauseating! Cec and I roared as this is such a Til-ish remark. Cec came home a bit early from the University so he had a chance to chat too, and they brought all sorts of things to eat, so I had very little to do. They told me in the letter that they would bring corn and a ham, so I had rolls and made a potato salad and bought a coconut cake and had raspberries and cream, but they brought no less than 3 doz. ears of corn and two huge melons as well as the ham and jars of applesauce etc. so we had quite a feast. Til is taking Cathie down to see C’Zelma’s in Kentucky for a while this week so we won’t see them again but it was such fun to get the chance of meeting once more and we had as good a time as ever!

Do you remember when I was in Toledo some of the teachers took me on a trip one day up to Dearborn, near Detroit where we went to a museum which Henry Ford had made, and while we were there we saw him? He was in a wheelchair going around his museum, and he actually died not many months later, but I was always pleased that I had seen such a famous person. Anyway as well as this museum there is a Village – Greenfield Village, in which Ford collected and had set up the homes of all sorts of famous American people as well as all sorts of little shops and crafts which they used to have in the pioneer days. Thomas Edison was one of his best friends, and he has the house he was born in and all the original furniture and then all Edison’s Lab. and also the same for the Wright brothers and Stephen Foster and all sorts of other famous Americans as well as the house he himself was born in. It is all set out like a little old-fashioned village with brick streets and sidewalks and horsedrawn carriages and ducks and geese and peacocks wandering about, and a windmill and a forge with a blacksmith and beautiful old trees and lovely gardens for all the houses. I forgot to say that Mary Jo took us – we went into Ann Arbor with Cec in the morning on Friday and he dropped us off at the Peters’ house and then after a while everyone was collected and we set off in their station wagon. One of their boys was at camp, but there was Mary Jo and me, Linda and Charlie, Jody and Helen each with a girl of the same age, Vinnie and Terry – 10 of us! Mary Jo and the older girls have been before but none of the rest, so it was great fun, and it was a grey dullish day inclined to rain so we weren’t sorry to leave the cottage. We got there around 11, and they give you a map telling you which each house is and suggesting a route, and then in each place they have a girl who tells you some of the history of that particular house and shows you around. We were lucky and got ahead of the main crowd, but actually it is so big that you never feel you are in a mass of people. We had lunch in the Village Inn and we were amused as they said something about old-style American food, and it was cafeteria style and we had things like tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips! There was an old village shop and postoffice, and the children loved the forge where the blacksmith was making horseshoes and rings out of horseshoe nails! We also saw a silk mill with silk worms, a pottery and a glass blowing place, but during this time it had been getting very dark and thundery and suddenly it began to pour and we had to make a rush for the nearest building. This turned out to be a very dreary place with a lot of machinery in it so after staying there about 20 minutes or so while it poured down we decided to try and dash for the next building and of course we all got soaking wet! Eventually they sent around buses to take people back to the main gate, and as it was after 4 and we were all wet we decided to give the museum a miss and go home. We went back to the Peters’ house and Pete and Cec came and we had dinner there and eventually got home around 9 o’clock – we were tired!

Linda got some dry shoes and socks at the Peters that night, but yesterday she did better still. Dr. and Mrs. Hecht from the Physics Dept. live quite near here, in fact he is the one who helped Cec get this cottage and he has been very kind about driving Cec in once in a while to let me have the car. Yesterday they invited us to dinner and came over around 3 to show us the way. They live in a most fascinating house away off in the woods. A man had this as his summer place previously and built up the land around which a little river loops, and then built a bridge, cleared the undergrowth, built the house and made beautiful stone fireplaces inside the cottage and outside for outdoor meals and even dammed the little river to make a swimming pool in one place. The Hechts live there all year round and love it, and have added a furnace and a few improvements, but are thinking they must move into Ann Arbor soon as their little girl Liz, is six and they have the school problem. It wasn’t a good day for us to see it as it was quite dull and thundering and rainy which made it very dark with all the trees around, but it cleared up enough for Ted and Cec to cook our steaks on the outside fireplace although we ate inside – the mosquitoes were wicked. While this was going on Linda and Liz went to the little river where Liz had a small plastic boat and after a little while what should appear but two dripping wet little girls – the boat had tipped up and landed them in the water! They were both giggling and we couldn’t help laughing as they looked so funny but they were well and truly soaked. Fortunately, with a squeeze Linda could get into some of Liz’s clothes, and we had brought her an extra pair of shoes along, so she was all right, but we are making quite a collection of clothes here. I laughed at Lindy afterwards, she said to me with a funny little grin, “My dignity was hurt!” This reminds me of a remark of Charlie’s that amused me – not long after we got here one day we were all sitting on the porch reading except Charlie, and he kept making remarks until finally Cec said “Why don’t you stop chatting and get something to read?” at which Charlie replied “Oh I pride myself on being a brilliant conversationalist you know!” Apparently this is a quotation from one of his comics, but the way he brought it out just made us roar with laughter.
This week I don’t know if we will be doing anything much – I wrote to Mrs. Pasquier in Toledo and told her we were here and asked if she and her husband could come up one day, but they might be away for all I know, or they might not care for such a long drive. We usually have the car one day each week and we go into Dexter to the Coinwash and into Ann Arbor to the Library and any other shopping. The Peters lent us their Library tickets so we have been doing quite well, but Linda of course finishes her 4 books in the first day or so, but she doesn’t get them changed for a week. There is an ironing board here and I brought my old electric iron so I am able to do the ironing as usual – lovely!

Greenwich Village

July 9 1962

Portage Lake
9th July 1962.

Dearest Mummy,
Here we are in the U.S.A. & one week of our holidays gone already! I can hardly believe it as it has just flown by, but it is nice to think we still have 3 or 4 more instead of 1 as it usually is. Of course it isn’t all fun & frivol for poor Cec, but last week was so mixed up with Wed. being 4th July holiday that he didn’t really seem to be working very hard!
Our last week in Ottawa was a bit wild as the children had school till noon on Friday & Cec was working till all hours at the Lab. trying to get something going for Dr. Herzberg & leave all the people in his lab O.K. while he was away. I celebrated by getting a miserable cold & on top of that of course wanted to leave the house spic and span for Gudron, so I sniffled & sneezed & washed floors & waxed & had a gay time! However, all was left bee-oo-tiful & on Friday morning I went to the Coinwash & so got every last thing washed & left them with the beds all made with clean sheets etc. It was quite a job but I’m sure the house is really well spring cleaned this year!

Charlie’s Grade 5 report.

Cec was to come home about 1pm – 1:30 on Friday & we were to set off straight away, but he didn’t make it till about 3:00, so you can imagine how the children were champing at the bit! They both got good reports by the way & passed up into the next Grades, so Linda is now in Grade 7 & Charlie in Grade 6. Charlie was quite relieved as he was a bit worried about his exams but he did very well considering all his absences. I will have to give you the details of the reports when I get home. Linda was 9th out of a class of 31. Don’t you think I’m clever? L.C.

Linda’s Grade 6 report.


However, despite our late start we went about 200 mi. & stayed the night in a motel n. of Toronto & then next day we went on via Sarnia & Port Huron instead of down by Windsor/Detroit & it was much less crowded & v. pretty. We stopped in Stratford & booked seats at the Shakespearean Festival for “The Tempest” one evening on the way home & then a hotel that night & seats at the matinee for “The Gondoliers” the next day, so that will be fun.
We arrived at the cottage v. hot & dirty & tired around 6p.m. on the Sat. & found the family that owns it still here! The estate agent told them we weren’t coming till Sunday or Monday! However, we went to the nearby town & had a meal & then when we came back they were packing up to leave, but we didn’t get a dip that night!
It is quite an ordinary cottage, but has 2 bedrooms, a nice kitchen with electric stove, sink (cold water) 2 refrig’s, bathroom & toilet etc. It is just a step to the lake & there is a little beach & a dock & rowboat – nice big trees for shade & a lovely big screened porch. The drawback- which isn’t so bad – is that the whole lake is lined with cottages side-by-side all the way around – 40’ or 50’ fronts. This close to Detroit these lots were opened up about 1900 & some of the houses & cottages are 40 or 50 years old. Actually, we have a very nice family called Madison from Detroit on one side with a little boy of 5, Danny, & on the other the people only come out for the day on Sundays it seems, so the neighbours are no handicap but at the weekend the lake is wild – sailboat races, speed boats, water skiers, swimmers all in together & we expect a massacre any minute! It is quiet during the week though & the water is lovely – sandy bottom & only up to my waist for about 100’ out & then deepens fairly quickly, but ideal for the children.


We had one very wet rainy day – last Tuesday – after a pouring night, so we went into Ann Arbor with Cec & shopped & the children & I saw a movie in the afternoon “Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation” with James Stewart, which was very amusing. We have a little wood stove to heat the cottage with, & lots of wood so we didn’t suffer! The Wed. holiday Pete & Mary Jo came out with their family – Jody (14) Helen (12) Brooks (10) Vincent (8) & Terry (4)!! They all had a grand time in the water & we cooked hot dogs & had a good time. It was quite exhausting though – next day we all slept in & Cec & I felt glad we didn’t have 5 children!
I phoned Til & Lois one evening & they are going to drive up to see us. Til’s granddaughter Cathie (11) (Bill’s second wife!) is coming from Florida to stay with them for 2 weeks so they will bring her & I am quite curious as they said she was spoiled 5 yrs. ago!
This morning we went into our nearest small town Dexter (8 mi.) & washed at the Coin wash (Cec drove into Ann Arbor with a friend – about 16 mi.) & this afternoon we are going in to pick him up & then go to dinner at Mary & Arthur Dockrill’s – they are an English couple who were here when we were – he was Prof. Sutherland’s technician but you probably won’t remember them. They have a little girl of 4 now called Jill.
Must stop & go to & unroller my hair & get dressed. We have the typewriter (I am to type for Cec) & I have all your letters to answer so I’ll get to it soon!
The children send big hugs and lots of love –
Love to Auntie Muriel & lots for you from
Cyn.

June 4 1962

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2, Ontario

Dearest Mummy,

I have been meaning to sit down at the typewriter and write you a good old screed for ages, but somehow there is always something cropping up that just has to be done. This morning I drove Cec to work as Fanni and Teddy are in Quebec, then I collected my washing and Margaret Savic, and we went over to the Coinwash and did our washing. I washed all the children’s winter jackets and leggings so feel pleased that those can go away for a while, and it is so much cheaper to wash them than to have them all cleaned. Now I have had my lunch and sorted out the clothes, but I decided to leave the ironing and write to you instead. I won’t have all that amount of time as I pick up the children at 3:30 and take them up to the Château for their Swimming lessons. I don’t know if I told you that I was letting Linda go too – she was so keen and although she didn’t need them as much as Charlie she still could do with some and they are both doing very well I think. Linda can swim across the pool doing the crawl on her front and she can do practically the whole length on her back, and Charlie can do the width on his back and over half on his front, so I am very pleased. The Swimming Instructor is very good and has them jumping in at the deep end, and Linda even jumps off the diving board, and they both swim in the deep end as well as the shallow and they are very proud of themselves. Michael is much more tense than either Linda or Charlie and although he tries very hard and splashes a lot he doesn’t really do so well, but he is getting more confidence too. This week he is having exams so he is not going, but he will probably have his next week when Linda and Charlie have their exams. Linda is very disgusted as they are having 2 HOUR long exams this year, and this seems like an eternity to her!

I am hoping that the children will get a lot of practice with their swimming this summer, but we still haven’t got anything definite settled. I have been waiting to know for certain before telling you but I might as well go ahead as we are no further forward! Cec decided earlier this year that he would like to do some work on some special equipment that his friend Peters has at the Physics Department at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Herzberg thought it would be a good thing so Cec wrote to Pete and he wrote back very enthusiastic and it was arranged that Cec would go for the month of July and that Pete would try to rent us a house or cottage fairly near to the University and also to a lake or swimming place for the children. Cec would work most of the time and perhaps take a week off at the end, and it would be nice for all of us, and also perhaps I would get to see Til and Lois as well as some of our Ann Arbor friends. Pete, by the way, is called Wilbur Peters, and he is the one who has a wife Mary Jo and they had two little girls when we were there – now have some boys too. Anyway, we still haven’t heard anything from Pete about a place to stay, but Cec is going down to the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, Ohio, next week and on the way he will spend the night in Ann Arbor and see Pete and find out what is happening. In the meanwhile as I told you, Bengt and Gudron Kleman and their two boys, Bjorn and Johann are coming to Ottawa for the summer, – they were here about 5 or 6 years ago from Sweden on a Fellowship, and we liked them so much, and then last year when Cec was in Europe he stayed with them in Stockholm and they were very kind to him, so we suggested that they live in our house while we are away in July. It would be nice for them to have a place to come to and it would be nice for us to have the house looked after, not forgetting someone to look after Nicotina! Bengt is here now staying at a hotel, and Gudron and the boys arrive at the end of this month so it would fit in very well.

Tuesday, 5th June.

I just got as far as that yesterday when the doorbell rang, and it was a lady asking me if I would take a little package for Mrs. Rothwell as she was out, and it turned out that the lady was Mrs. Dupuis, the wife of the Dr. who is now living in Ken’s old house. I think I mentioned that when I came out of hospital in the Fall she sent a whole dinner over one day, and how overwhelmed I was as I had never even met her, so of course I had to invite her in and we had quite a little chat. Her husband, the Dr. works at the St Louis Marie de Montfort Hospital down the road, and he is from Haiti. She is French-Canadian from Quebec and they have six children! They, of course go to the Catholic school so Linda and Charlie don’t see much of them but there is a boy around their age, Jean, and he has been over a few times. Mrs. Dupuis seem very nice and has quite an amusing sense of humour, so we had quite fun and a few good laughs together. She left just after three and I apologized for not keeping her to tea, but explained about the children’s lessons, and she said she couldn’t stay anyway but I must come down and see her. I had a great old scramble to wash the lunch dishes and be down at the school by 3:30, but I did it!

This always makes us late with dinner, as we pick up Cec around 5:30 and then I have to get dinner when I come home, but I wasn’t very ambitious and we had cold stuffed roast pork and salad and rolls, then for dessert I had some cupcakes and jam tarts, but by the time I get it and clear it away and wash up it is usually quite late. Then I did some ironing, and promised myself that I would get to this this morning. So first thing, I dashed over to Myrtle’s with Mrs. Dupuis’ cake (she wasn’t in till late) and of course had to sit and chat, then trotted back and did housework and was in the middle of vacuuming when in came Myrtle – she had locked herself out! I gave her all the keys I had but none of them fitted, so back she came and phoned Ben and we chatted some more, and finally saw Becky drive up and went out and found her front door has been wide open all the time! She had found the side door shut and had never looked at the front door! Anyway that rather interrupted my morning, and then Mr. Pulker phoned that he would drop up to see me this afternoon about the Guild meeting tonight so I rushed and finished cleaning, hastily defrosted the refrigerator, had a shower and set my hair in rollers, had some lunch, and I am now sitting typing ready to rush and tear out the rollers the minute I hear him coming! Actually I think I had better do it when the clock strikes 2, then I will be on the safe side.

Now before I go any further I must thank you for my lovely birthday parcel or you will think that I am most unappreciative, but we were all so delighted with all the nice things and have really enjoyed it. Both the children and I have had the greatest fun with the cookie press, and although I am not yet an expert with it I am gradually getting better. For my big coffee party for the Guild I tried it out myself and then on Friday I was making cookies for a tea party on Sunday when we were having the Spanish Fellow and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Herranz, and their two little girls Marie Isabella and Lucretia and Dr and Mrs. Shrivastava and their little girl Vinnie. We had a lovely time and made hearts and butterflies and all sorts of things and the children both enjoyed making them and eating them. Actually the tea party was funny as I tried so hard to make all things that the Shrivastavas could eat (Hindus – vegetarian – no eggs even) and made cheese scones and had things like olives and other snacky things and jam tarts and the cookie press cookies made without eggs like shortbread, and in the end when Cec went for them Mrs. Shrivastava was sick and they couldn’t come! However the Herranz came and they are very nice and the two little girls of three and four are very sweet and Linda had a lovely time playing with them.

Playing on the see-saw Cec had made for an earlier birthday- taught us a lot about physics I’m sure!

To go back to the parcel the stockings were most, most welcome. I wouldn’t say that the black seams and heels do much for my fat little legs, but they are very welcome just the same and the more conventional pair was worn right away. The children were very delighted with their CASH and will say thank you when they come home. My buttonholer turned out to be such a disappointment, but I hope that everything will turn out all right. I ordered the one in the catalogue – the only one actually, but of course all the machines are different models to the one I got – you know how they change them all the time over here, and when it arrived and Cec and I tried it it just wouldn’t fit on my machine. I phoned them up about it, and kept trying to get some help from the man in the sewing machine dept. but he was very vague, so I waited until I went over to Simpson Sears one day, and then they said they didn’t make one to fit my machine anymore. However, when I went to the catalogue counter to return it the girl said that if I sent her the serial number of my machine she would write to the Head Office in Toronto and she thought that they would be able to get me one, so I hope that this is what they will do. Such a nuisance as the machine isn’t that all that old, and when you think of the old old Singers and Whites that are still going strong after 20 or 30 years it makes you mad. Never mind, I may yet get my buttonholer! In the meanwhile I am still making them by hand. Last week I decided that I had to make Linda and myself sundresses, as neither of us have much in that line and it was very hot again. It looks as if this summer is going to be a scorcher as already we have had some very hot weather, and it has been so dry all May that people are having well trouble already. I planted some petunias and portulaca plants from the Market last week and the poor things are looking very bedraggled but it is cloudy today and we are hoping for some showers. I got a present of a plant when I came out of hospital in the winter and you will be amused to hear that it was a croton! It looked quite pretty when I got it, but gradually the leaves dropped off until now it looks more like a palm tree with a tuft of leaves on top, so last week I put it out in the garden hoping it would improve but the poor thing is looking more depressed than ever with the drought! However, to return to the sundresses, I cut them both out from some material I got in the sales last summer – it is what they call a tissue gingham, and I thought it was rather pretty – I shall include a little piece so that you can see – the blue is Linda’s and the pink is mine, and I got some blue grosgrain ribbon to match the darker stripe and made a belt and straps of it and got it finished in time for the tea party on Sunday. Linda was delighted and I thought she looked very sweet in it, but when she asked her Daddy he looked a bit doubtful and said “I don’t like the material much – it looks like pillowcase ticking!” so now I know we will always think of them as our pillowcase dresses! Mine of course is not done yet, but maybe this week, if we get more hot weather to spur me on!

It was so roasting last week, and on Sat. from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm we were having the Sunday School picnic over in the big Park, and what should happen but the weather changed on Friday night and it was grey and dull and cold, and we sat and huddled in rugs and froze! The children of course were fine, as they ran races and rushed about and kept warm, but us poor Mamas and spectators had a most comfortless time! Cec went into work, and when he came home about 4 he brought Bengt Kleman to dinner. I had planned to have cold roast pork if it was hot but instead I had a good old hot stuffed roast of pork and it was very welcome with the furnace going and the wind blowing! Bengt stayed till nearly midnight and it was nice to have him, but what with my cold morning in the open air, I was just about asleep.

I had planned to answer all your letters, but this has ambled on at such a rate and Mr. Pulker will probably arrive before long, so I think that maybe I should end and begin another letter-answering one another day. I don’t remember if I yet thanked you for the 2 A.M.s which did arrive together, but what do you think the ridiculous P.O. at Ottawa did with your previous letter. Redirected it out to Penticton under the impression that it was Mrs. H.H. Costain instead of me, so of course Leona sent it back, but what a roundabout route. They sent quite a few things out and in the end I had to phone the P.O. and complain.

Will stop for now then- love to Auntie Muriel and Peggy when you see her- hello from all of us to Doris,

Lots and lots of love from us all –
Cyn.