August 12 1949

Le Grand Hotel


le 12th Aug. 1949.

Dearest Mummy,

Since we got down here we have been as lazy as can be & have done nothing except sleep, eat, drink & totter down to the beach to bathe!  We have a ground-floor room in an annex of the hotel, which is quite comfortable, but it is warmer than the weather we’re used to!

It is gloriously sunny, but we burn so easily that we are trying to keep out of it as much as possible & sit under umbrellas on the beach etc. The sea is lovely & we bathe twice usually & Cec ducks me regularly & says that as we sweat so much, swallowing salt water is good for me! We bought me a snappy white satin bathing suit with a strapless top. After various adventures in the water with the top practically around my waist, I have decided that it must be for glamorous sunbathing only!

The journey from Paris to Avignon took 10 hours & was very hot & dirty, so we were very glad to stay there for 2 nights & recover. Then we travelled down here on Sunday, which took 5 hours & was nice as we arrived about 4 o’clock & felt fine. We don’t eat in the hotel, except breakfast, so have fun choosing a different place each day – Cec laughs because whatever I order turns out to be the hugest helping of anyone in the restaurant & I have a struggle to eat it – but usually manage!

We leave here on 16th & travel overnight & have decided to stay a day or so in Paris. We expect to be in London on the night of the 19th & will ring you, but know no times yet. I wonder if you would write Mrs. Thompson, Mummy & ask her to get milk & bread for us on Saturday 20th- we hope to get back in time for me to go shopping otherwise. 

[In Cec’s handwriting:] The suit is actually transparent when wet, I’m surprised at her – but not much. 


        Cyn & Cec

August 5 1949

There were friends who could not come to the wedding, and who had sent wedding presents and telegrams of good wishes. This letter from Irene Mitchell in Newcastle is one of these, and she refers to others who wanted to hear all about it.  Cyn’s oldest childhood friend, Nancy, and her husband Dick were about to have their first baby.  Irene, who had married Bill three years before while Cyn was in America, had not been well, and was taking it easy after being on holiday with her husband.  So Dottie went home to Newcastle after helping Carol with the wedding clean-up, and gave all the wedding details to their friends!

5 Harriot Drive,

 Killingworth Station,

5th August. 49.

Dearest Aunt Carol,

I have wanted to write to you for several days because you have been so much in my mind but as Bill has had a week’s holiday, we have been away each day and I have never had a second, however, he is painting the house today so as I dusted the office the urge to write could not be denied so here I go…

You will be feeling sad without dear Cyn I am so sorry and would love to pop in so that we could have a good old chat about her and the wedding, which, Dottie and Mary say, was absolutely marvellous. They say Cyn looked the prettiest bride they have ever seen and as for you, well you would get a swollen head if I told you all- and your hat would never fit! I have ordered a full set of photos and if there are any you think I should like, please get them and I shall settle with you.

Cec looks a dear from his photo’s in fact they look a perfect couple. The girls say that Ruth and the little bridesmaid were very sweet and that Ruth has become a most charming young lady. I made Dottie start at the very beginning and tell me every detail, I think I have a very good mind picture of what happened on the GREAT DAY – I know what you all ate and what you wore and the best of all, I know that Happiness was as bright as the sunshine.

Thank you for writing me such a sweet letter Aunt Carol about me being unable to come it helped a great deal and I want you to know that Bill and I will really be THRILLED if you find you can come and stay with us. You are welcome anytime, you need only phone or wire and we shall be down at the station to welcome you with open arms. I do not know what your future plans are, but I know you are staying in England as long as Cyn stays and I shall never be the same if I do not see you all again before you leave, so there!

Mam and Dad have just returned from holiday and Mam looks much better so I hope the good work continues. Bill took a week off as he was a bit fed up. He has had to train a new representative who seems to have been rather heavy going. We have been away each day and I am feeling much better but I think I must have caught a chill sitting on the deck chairs at the Beach as I feel rather queer today. I shall not do much work and will soon be fit again. 

I have not seen or heard anything from Nan lately but Her baby is not born yet, she really is radiant about the Babe and she has not made any grumbles even though the hot weather must’ve been a great strain. We all wish the baby would come and Nan be fine.

Mary & Bill are coming for supper next Saturday, I like them both very much. Mary does not alter and looks just as nice as ever. Barbara & Grace were at Dottie’s Bee on Tuesday Bar looks awfully thin and Grace was tired but as she has two-year-old twins one cannot really wonder at it. 

Well Darling I really think I must make the bed now but I feel so much happier having talked to you. Cyn will be fine don’t you worry and don’t forget you are welcome here whenever you want to come   it really would be fun for us to have you. 

        Much love 


15 words exactly!

August 1 1949

As Carol said, Cec and Cyn rushed off on their honeymoon, presumably because they didn’t want to miss their train, but didn’t get farther than London for a few days. They went to a Skating Show, perhaps the first of many they would see throughout the years! 

Cyn says in her letter that crossing the Channel was fine and they enjoy Paris.  They plan to go south, Avignon, Le Corniche D’Or, Cannes- some of the same places that Cec had been the summer before on his bicycling trip, but with a lot more luxury.  But nowhere does Cyn give her mother an address, although Cec had carefully booked in advance.

Hotel Messina 

Rue Trouchet 



Dearest Mummy,

We sent you a P. C. from the top of the Eiffel Tower today, but I am drying my hair while to Cec snoozes so I thought I’d tell you our doings. I hope that you haven’t had the horridest time getting everything fixed & that you are all packed up & ready to go to Miss Lefroy’s now. We can hardly believe that it is Bank Holiday today & that we haven’t been married a week yet. Tomorrow, for our anniversary, we are going to a night club!

We had a nice time in London, & a very pleasant crossing. The French train was hot, but as we crossed Newhaven– Dieppe it was a longer sea & shorter rail journey. Our Paris hotel is cute. We have a nice room & bathroom & the chambermaid looks on us as being a great joke & speaks very simple French at us! The weather has been wonderful, but rather too hot at times for sightseeing. We seem to have walked miles, but we are getting a bit better on the Metro, so have saved our feet a bit today.

The hotel is just by the Madeleine, so we have seen that & have walked down the Rue de la Paix & the Champs Élysées. We went & saw Notre Dame & the Louvre & the Jardin des Tuileries & the Arc de Triomphe & today went up the Tower & then to Les Invalides. Our first morning we window shopped & went through the Galleries Lafayette & gazed at all the lovely things. My husband bought me a darling little evening bag & I was pleased!

We are having a wonderful time eating & drinking! We have breakfast brought to our room in the hotel- tea & rolls. Then we have a huge lunch about 12, then we either have tea or lemonade in a café, or we buy gorgeous cakes & eat them in our room & finally have a huge dinner with wine in the evening. It’s wonderful! We have weighed ourselves & are going to do it again on the way home!

I will stop now as I want to try & get some more of my thank-yous written – still trying!

Cec and I think married life is nice– we like it!

With lots & lots of love 





P.S. Love to Miss Lefroy & Miss Hall.

P.P.S. You have a wonderful daughter, Mum.


Cyn’s menus!

Halfway through Carol’s unsent letter, she started responding to this letter from Cyn, which was posted the day after the British Bank Holiday, on Tuesday August 2, 1949. There were machines at railway stations, and perhaps on the Metro, where you could put in a coin, stand on the machine, and get a printout of your weight.  Cyn and Cec did this, at the beginning and end of their honeymoon, and Cyn carefully saved the evidence and pasted it into her scrapbook.  Both of them definitely gained weight!  

River Cruise.

I remember meeting my father in Paris at Eastertime when I was 22: he had a conference there, and I was spending a year at a university in England. I agreed with my mother, the hotel was cute- open elevators with doors you had to shut, such as I had seen in movies- I did some sight seeing and went to the Paris Opera, but what I most clearly remember and enjoyed, was the food!  I ate Sole Meuniere in every restaurant, and his French colleagues were happy I appreciated it, even though I preferred tea to coffee.  I did not, however, get to any night clubs with bare-breasted ladies or can-can dancers- Cec had done that with better company…

August 8 1949

After the wedding comes the honeymoon, where the bride and groom are off together, and life goes on for those left behind.  This letter is written by the mother of the bride to Cyn and Cec on their honeymoon, but was never sent since Carol had no address for the travelling pair.  She gives details of the aftermath of the celebration, but what she is most concerned with is packing.  Cyn and Cec are on their summer holiday and then they have one more term of school in Cambridge.  Their address will stay the same, but they are moving to the top flat in the building, and Carol is packing up and moving out of the flat downstairs that she and Cyn shared.  She will have a holiday in London with Miss Lefroy, her friend and former headmistress, and then stay in England until the new year, when changes are due for all of them.

In Cec’s letter to Cyn in March, he mentioned the dinner in honour of his professor, Dr. Gordon Sutherland, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.  Cec’s studies in physics in Cambridge with Dr. Sutherland had led to his specializing in spectroscopy, but Dr Sutherland had accepted a professorship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  So Cec was going to continue his PhD with Dr Sutherland there, moving with Cyn to the U.S.A. in 1950, which meant Cyn would teach only until Christmas.  Carol, on the other hand, planned to go home to St Vincent, and live with her unmarried sister Muriel, so her packing involved sending the heavy remnants of her thirty years in England off by ship to the West Indies, and putting the rest of her goods into suitcases for the remaining months in England.

40 Elsworthy Rd.

Hampstead NW3, 

Monday, August 8th 49.

My darlings Cyn & Cec!

    We managed things very badly you dashed away & never gave me any address to write to- & I have your letter from London & your card & letter from Paris- & yet I can’t thank you for them, as I don’t know the name of your Cannes hotel.  I am hoping I may yet hear it, & get this to you before you leave – not that I suppose that you’ll miss a letter from me much, at this blissful time! I didn’t come to AGL’s until Friday 6th & I never intended to, as I knew I wouldn’t get through before then– but I also knew that if you thought I was staying alone there so long, you would make a fuss – so I just was vague!! It wasn’t a day too long, as I was busy up to the last. It wasn’t all work & no play though- as you will hear – Dotty was a wonderful help, & we laboured hard on the Wednesday getting all the china & glass etc. up – so much so that Dotty had to lie down & rest in the afternoon & in the evening- who should appear but Mr. Cooper and Edgar- I had completely forgotten they were coming on the Wed. so in my surprise I embraced them both warmly – much to Chris’s surprise & embarrassment I am sure!  We sat & chatted & then Bob & Lee came in to see your presents, I saw them earlier & told them to come. Dotty & I decided to leave out your presents in the sitting room for a day or 2 in case your friends came along. So I took Edgar & Chris up to see them too. Bob & Lee had just gone- when Edward appeared with the proofs of the wedding pictures – wasn’t he quick? They are all very good- some better than others– so much so I had such a job choosing one to send to your people Cec- in the end I picked one of just the two of you alone, although I thought some of you in the groups were better. Edward brought more than a dozen different proofs even one of you in the church– I think you will be pleased with them– he did a finished picture & brought it along Sat early- & I wrote a note to Mrs. Costain (senior!) & sent it off by air at once– so I do hope she got it in good time- I didn’t know what to do about ordering anymore, so I told Edward I w’d wait till you returned.

Thursday. Dotty & I worked away again, but she went to town shopping in the a.m. first, then we had lunch & lugged pots & pans etc. etc up When Joan came in she suggested the Pictures- & Dotty said yes she w’d treat us to dinner first. So we went to the Corner House & had a very good meal. I was certainly leading the High Life- as I forgot to tell you I had dinner at the University Arms with Charlie & Amy on the night of the wedding. We went to see “Passport to Pimlico” really very funny – & we enjoyed it – Then of course Dotty went next day early- & I went to town to the Bank & to pay numerous bills etc – & back home to do a bit more shifting & to begin my packing which was a big job but Connie came in so I got little done!

I did a little more on Sat a.m., but not much as Chris was calling for me at 12 to go to the ‘Garden House’ for lunch with him & onto the Senate House to see Edgar receive his doctorate-more High Life! It was a lovely day – so Chris & I sat in the Garden & chatted (poor fellow he has had a sad & trying time with Katie) had lunch, & then walked up to the Senate House– & I found the whole ceremony most interesting. Chris wanted me to come & have tea, but I had to get back- as I had Mrs. T. coming to clean the downstairs flat that afternoon. Sunday I packed & packed & on Tuesday I had to go out & buy a large suitcase & even so I couldn’t get everything in – & I expect you will curse & swear when you find a few odd things of mine lying about! By this time I was sleeping up in your flat, yes I went up there while Dotty was still there. Joan expected the couple in on Monday but they didn’t come until Tuesday, & then only left a few things & went off for a weeks hols- Joan gave me a hand on the Monday, & we shifted the old washstand, & I got up to the loft & packed away numerous pictures & books etc. that couldn’t be used. All your groceries etc. I just had to pack in a big box- Gwen & Jerome came before I left, & I showed them how there was just no where to put groceries – & Gwen is going to see what she can get. I think she will still be there on your return so that’s a good job. To return to my doings Chris & Edgar came in on the Monday evening & I gave them tea etc. – They left Camb: on Tuesday. That evening Pam phoned up that they w’d come thro’ Wednesday p.m. to see me, & later Joan A. came & asked me to supper on Wed.  I said I would if Pam & George weren’t too late. I did a big wash one of those days, & was busy ironing up to the last! It was lovely seeing Pam again, just the same dear old Pam, & what do you think? When George saw you had gotten new fuel for the gas fires, he insisted that they should pay the bill which had just come in for 11/6- as a matter of fact in the end it was Pam who really paid it!! They were charmed with the flat & all your lovely presents – and so was Gwen who came on the Thurs. The two were most awfully decent to me, had me into lunch on the Friday before I left & we had goose! Then they drove me down to the station & Jerome came too, & they gave me quite a send off! I hated leaving Cambridge, I have grown so fond of the place – however that’s life – I sent my trunk in advance but I still had 4 suitcases, a hat box & a poke, but Jerome was most good-natured over them- & then I got a taxi this end. As usual I got a nice warm welcome from AGL & Chris-  and on Sat. Bebe phoned me up & Miss Lefroy said to ask her to tea on Sunday & I invited her friend too- who turned out to be a very nice little person. Bebe has improved in looks and has a fine figure. AGL said we were to have tea alone in the dr-room– but later I took her in to meet them– & they were charmed with her & seemed to enjoy their afternoon. Then I went to tea with them this afternoon at The Piccadilly Hotel where they’re staying. Then tomorrow I am meeting them at 10:30 a.m. and taking them a trip up the river. They have seen a great deal in the short time they have been here– Poor dears– they crossed the Channel on 2 August: & they had the most terrible crossing. The papers next day said it was the roughest crossing of the year– & they had to cut it out & send it home– as they knew no one in the U.S.A. would believe them when they told them how bad it was. I hope you to have better luck. Unfortunately you & Bebe are following one another round- & will just miss seeing one another by a week or so– they were in Paris & Cannes & now this week they go for a day to Cambridge- then on Sat: they leave for Scotland, return down the West Coast, & sail from S’hampton on 24th Aug-

Wed. Here I am again- No further word from you from the South of France so it looks as if this letter will never be posted. I had hoped you would send me a card from there with the name of your hotel – but no such luck. I wonder when you’ll be arriving back, I would love to be at Victoria to meet you- but there again I am all in the dark.

I went up the River with the girls yesterday, a trip I have often longed to take, it was a glorious day- & we went as far as Richmond- it was beautiful out there, & we had lunch at The Castle Restaurant right overlooking the river- & then we went up the hill & had a grand view– both of the river & park. We all enjoyed it & got back at about 7 p.m.

Today I did some washing & then AGL took me to the Horticultural Show– the most gorgeous show of Gladiolas & dear little Rockeries- & rock plants – I got AGL a sweet wee rock garden in a plant pot – & we had tea at the Army and Navy Stores. When we got home we did quite a bit of gardening, so my dogs are killing me & I am glad to be in bed! I wonder is it very hot with you & are you getting lots of sea-bathing? When I was recounting my doings while still at Cambridge– I forgot to tell you Joan & Ray had me to supper, and gave me the most luscious meal of real ham and green peas and new pots: & Peaches and cream- finishing off with large beakers of coffee. I really did well with meals after you left didn’t I? And now I am doing very well here too – so I’ll soon have to be getting weighed too! I wonder will you to really put on any weight on your honeymoon!? I doubt it – too much sightseeing & love-making does not tend to fatten one!! in spite of the extra food eaten!!

I also forgot to tell you how, after the wedding & you 2 had rushed off in a huge hurry– we all got back to the house– but very soon after AGL & Chris had to leave, then Mary & Dorothy & Jessie and Zinnia, but Stainthorpes & Bella & les girls (Dotty, Mary, Joan & Ruth) were still there– then les boys arrived full of champagne & apologies that there was no champagne left! but they got the cake there intact- They were naturally all very happy- & Charlie Barnes made love to me in the most blatant way!! but of course I liked it!! We then left les boys & girls to amuse themselves – & from all I gathered Al spent most of the evening in the bath-room recovering from the champagne-! Serves him right not even leaving a bottle for you – what?

Carol’s letter ends there at the very bottom of the 4th page with no room for a signature, which doesn’t matter since she had resigned herself, not without protests, to the fact that she was not going to be able to post it.  I’m sure Cyn enjoyed it when she read it, even if it was forty years later.  

Explanations of people in the letter:  AGL is Miss Lefroy, who had attended the wedding with her partner Miss Hull, and then returned to Hampstead, where Carol would go for a visit after clearing up and packing.  Dotty, one of Cyn’s closest friends, was helping Carol, as were other friends (les girls) clear up; Cec’s friends (les boys) were available for the heavy lifting; and Carol’s friends from Newcastle were popping in as well, looking at the wedding presents, and taking her out for meals!  Once Carol gets to London, her niece Bebe from New York (in her mid 20s I think) calls her up and Carol contributes to Bebe’s whirlwind tour of Europe with a river tour up the Thames.

Love Letters

When I began this blog posting the letters of a daughter to a mother, I suggested that nothing very harrowing or emotional would be revealed in them, because no daughter wants to upset her mother living far away in time and distance, unable to console, comfort or rejoice in the moment.  An event may be described, it is certainly personal, but it is in the past, and has been survived, and the telling of it is reassuring in to both writer and reader.  When I got t0 Cec’s war letters home, I realized this was true of sons as well, especially of events the Admiralty frowned upon sharing. I discovered, however, that other letters crept in, and occasionally were of the moment and emotional.  Carol’s letter to her husband as she was on the point of leaving him, was harrowing.  And love letters are intensely personal and emotional.  They are intended to be read by only one person and I feel a little guilty about sharing them with the world, but they are part of the story. These two notes, treasured by her, were found in one of the slots of Cyn’s writing case.

Cyn and Cec got engaged at the beginning of March 1949, and planned and booked their wedding for July 26th, 1949, at 2:30.  The March letter suggests the wedding invitations had already been sent out, and Cec’s friends in England were responding to them.

11 Park St.


March 23, 1949

My Darling, 

Here I am back home, with no chance to see you. I got a telegram yesterday to tell me to come back for a dinner in honour of Dr. Sutherland on his F.R.S. So I came back, went to the dinner at K.P at 7:30 & then onto Sutherlands till 12:30. It was great fun at times, but my cold had just reached its climax (I hope) & I didn’t feel much like celebrating. I was hoping I would be able to slip away early & come & see you, sweetheart, but I didn’t get the opportunity.

I hope you didn’t have the same germs as I did, Cyn, the little —— were at work inside my nose with pickaxes.  Also, I missed the licensing hours & couldn’t get any medicine. However, I am on the mend now & should be OK by Friday.

I’ll miss most of today – Wed. in Baldock, but it’s not much loss since they are having a big official “visitors day” & will be overrun by boffins.

I had a letter from Cliff asking us to stay with them for a day or so.  He says “It will mean of course, your sleeping on the floor (unless it is two single beds in the back bedroom!) but I know you won’t mind this, will you?” I’m not sure which it is he thinks I won’t mind!!

I miss you, Cyn darling.  It’s awful spending a week away from you. But it’s only 17 weeks yesterday! Then I won’t have to leave you again.

I also heard from Al Bryce. He said when he saw the writing on the envelope he said to himself “There goes Cec!”.  He said I seemed to have that “subdued self satisfied look” about me a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t think my self-satisfied look was quite so obvious, darling. Al is sailing on July 26, darling mine, so I think it would be nice for us to get over for a visit at Easter.

Must catch my train to Baldock, lover, so I’ll say goodbye till Friday. 

    I love you,


This crumpled note with mystery columns of addition on it was obviously written by Cec on the morning of his wedding day, and refers to the tradition that the groom mustn’t see the bride until they meet at the altar.

My Darling, 

I’m not allowed to see you until 2:30 today, but I don’t think there is any custom which stops me from writing you a letter to tell you how much I love you.

What a sweetie.

November 24 1948

11 Park Street


Nov 24, 1948

Dear Folks, 

it’s past time I got busy with a pen, I’ve been busy trying to get some definite progress to report to my supervisor when he returns from the States at the end of the month. As a matter fact, with the shipping strike I don’t know when he will be back.

Your parcel arrived in good shape, Mom, & the honey, which is all I’ve sampled yet, is really good. Is it your own? As for sending parcels from S’toon or Toronto, it doesn’t matter to me. Simpson’s will let Auntie make her own selections which means I don’t get a lot of the stuff in the “standard” parcel which is no use to me. If Eatons will do the same or have more suitable selections OK. You will have to decide.  I’m in a slightly better position this year since my landlady can prepare things.

Cliff Smart & his wife are both fine these days. Cliff seems to be quite recovered. They are expecting a baby about Christmas, so I wonder if you could send me something nice in the baby present line.

We’ve just had two days of foul pea soup fog, but it’s clear today. You couldn’t see a hundred yards night or day and times it was down to 10 yards. It’s nice to see the sun again.

My research is going ahead slow but steady. The tubes I’m making look like a cross between some plumbing & radio tubes. They are something new & are working better than expected. Apart from my research Admiralty has several uses, I believe. I started the work while on reserve training & I am still going to Baldock three – four times a week. Have you heard from Pete & Lu lately – I haven’t for ages. Al Hagan said they had stopped some of the work at the Univ.

I don’t know yet where I’ll be spending Christmas, I’ve been invited to take the Chapman’s in Oxford, and also by Cyn & her mother in Cambridge. I may do both. 

The Canada Club is doing fairly well, but it’s still too much work to suit me. I’ve got an open meeting arranged for next Friday, I’ve got to go to London this Friday to meet our guest speaker.

My Christmas cards may be a bit late this year. I’m having another snap of John’s made up & they are slow. 

I’ll close now & write again when I send the card in a day or so 



P.S. Hope Carman has recovered

September 21 1948

11 Park St. 


Sept 21, 1948

Dear Folks, 

I haven’t written since my holiday in France (or have I), at any rate it’s been quite a while.

We had a lovely week at Cannes before I returned. You should get Al’s letter from Mrs. Bryce – he writes a book on all his trips! I came back to be best man for Bob Stewart Aug 28 – the Canadian who broke his leg & married his nurse. Then I moved to my present digs – I have a sitting room, larger than in college & a nice bedroom. My landlady gives me breakfast & Sunday lunch. She is very nice & we get along fine. She also has a little kitten which makes it seem more like home.

I’ve been going to Baldock the past month, catching an 8.25 train & returning about 7 PM. It’s a hard day but interesting & I don’t do anything, apart from going out, in the evenings, which makes a big difference.  I’m on full navy pay for the month, at an Admiralty research station, which will help the finances.

I went up to London with the girlfriend on Saturday to see the show “Oklahoma”. It was grand, as you can gather from the record & also very funny in places. I wore my uniform for the first time in a year – it felt sort of good to “dress up” again.

I haven’t had any snaps printed yet, as I ran short of money. In fact, I had to ask Saskatoon to cable me some. I’ll be OK at the end of the month when I get my scholarship and navy pay.

I’ve asked Auntie to start sending parcels again, and would like Dad to send her $50 for that purpose.  I think it’s the best way since she can get them sent by a firm. But if you are making up a parcel, butter, sugar, jam, lard, dried eggs, tinned meat are the most useful. Cereals etc. aren’t rationed here now.

Well, I must to bed, since I get a call at 7:30 (& another at 10 to 8 often) so goodbye for now.



Of course, ‘the girlfriend’ had seen “Oklahoma” in New York in 1946, and had loved it, so I’m sure she enjoyed Saturday’s outing too!

August 1948

Dear Cyn,

      Sore but going strong. Al Bryce met me in Paris, I cycled thru Paris to Cité University he took my bag, got in an express tube & had to walk back 10 miles. Toulouse to Carracasone Mon., to the Med at Sète, & today on to Montpellier. No Gorge de Tarn thank God.

            Love Cec

Dear Cyn,

    Still plowing on, eating too much & getting more used to my steed. In Nîmes at present, Marseilles tomorrow nite. Bye for now 

    Love Cec

1. Dear Cyn,

    Here we are in the “Rome of France”. They sure have some amazing Roman buildings around. Actually I’m writing this at the end of the road & will make it a continued story. I’ve got some more snaps of this place. We went on from here to Marseille. 

    Love Cec

2. Dear Cyn,

    and as you can see hit the coast. I thought the road would be level, but my God we’ve had two days of hill climbing, pedalling & walking up for an hour, then shooting down, coasting for twenty minutes down wonderful roads out up to 50 mph. Maybe it’s worth the climb.

    Love Cec

3. Dear Cyn,

    About this point riding is getting dangerous because it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road, Ou la la. The camping & eating are the best part though. Our mainstay for evening meal is just you. Recipe 1 1/4 lbs tinned beef, t3 lbs potatoes, 1 lbs carrots, 1 onion, 2 tomatoes- for 4 people. Then we have tomatoes, cheese, bread, and tonite fresh figs, watermelon & peaches & coffee. Hungry? 


4. Dear Cyn,

    The last days ride was along La Corniche D’Or, red rock cliffs approaching Cannes and was marvellous. We are camped on a river bank, 200 yds from the ocean beach about 3 miles out of Cannes proper. It is lovely here, p Full moon & lovely beach. Only one thing missing. Wish you were here. 

    Love Cec

19-8-48.    Nice

Dear Cyn,

    By bus to Nice today with Brian Smith, then to Monte Carlo for a quick gander this afternoon. Maybe I lose my shirt. We are returning to our camp at Cannes this p.m. Cannes is much better beach.

    I expect I will be back in Cambridge for a couple of days on the 25th. If you are around will see you but don’t miss your holiday. 

    Bye for now      

    Love Cec

Dear Cyn, 

    This is just to send you some stamps since we found Monaco has a separate stamp issue. Quite a place this. Built for mountain goats on a 45° slope. All hotels & shops, but well laid out, lovely gardens, rock garden cliffs etc. Haven’t been in here yet. Don’t know if we need bow ties. Full moon tonight, wasted. 

    Love Cec

March 1 1948

Even before he met Cyn, it is clear that Cec was enjoying the Cambridge experience. He was involved in the Canada Club, he had broken his collar bone playing softball, he was working hard at his own research and was, as a Navy Reservist, combining his research with their projects. And he appreciated food parcels from North America just as much as the Ewings did!

I 13 New Court

Saint John’s Coll 

March 1

Dear Folks, 

Your parcel arrived yesterday, Mom, thanks a lot, I was beginning to run short of butter so it will be really handy. 

Sorry to be so long writing, I have been too busy to do anything, but I don’t know what I’ve been doing. The Canada Club has been taking a lot of time, getting out notices etc. & trying to balance their books. We are having Lord Tweedsmuir down this Friday – John Buchan’s son – for a club dinner & open meeting afterwards. That finishes this term and I hope to get some work done. My research is going a lot slower than I counted on, but I am making some progress. What happened to Cy? I guess I’ll have to write Pete and Lu and get the low down. I sent Cy a Xmas Card but hadn’t heard from him. I hope they are all better.

Our spell of cold weather – we had one inch of snow for two days a couple of weeks ago – seems to be over. The lawns are covered with yellow & purple crocuses now, and the daffodils just beginning to bloom. It’s a nice country, but I could never live here. I feel I know them fairly well, but they are a strange people. I don’t know what it is, very egotistical but with a definite dry rot, or apathy. Too many wars, I guess. They have genius, yet they will put up with the most appalling conditions and inefficiency, and apparently not notice it. Far too much tradition for one thing.

Those chocolates are sure good, I’m eating them now. Did I tell you I won’t be home after all, the ship is leaving a month too soon, darn it. I could use the trip. I’ll probably join Al Bryce and some others on a bicycle tour of France. My shattered legs! 

Bye for now



Later, 1948.

This letter contains one of those mysteries where both the sender and recipient know what has happened so there is no need to discuss it, and we can only guess.

37 De Freville Ave.



Dearest Little Mummy,

Thank you for your telegram & letter. I was so disappointed that you couldn’t come on Friday after all, but I quite understand that of course it was much more sensible to stay up there once you are there, rather than make another journey.

You have been having a horrible and wildly busy time – I am only sorry that I couldn’t be with you to help you, but I knew that all your friends would be sweet & kind, & I hope that Uncle John and Mary were of some help. I suppose they went back on Thursday as planned though, so you will have had all these days to get through without them, but I hope that the worst business was over by then, & that Maud and Chris would help you.

As I will be seeing you so soon, I won’t write anything about all the arrangements and what you have had to do, as we will be able to talk at all over when you get back. But I know you were having a wretched worrying time, dear, and I do hope you will try not to worry too much, because you have done all that could be done, over many years, and I think that it will all turn out for the best eventually.

I had a note from Joe on Friday saying he was coming & he arrived yesterday evening. At the moment he is very busy in the conservatory & has done all sorts of things- mended one broken shelf- lifted some others to make them straight- screwed up a loose bracket & it looks to me now as if he were going to mend the door! However, you better not tell Winnie all this, as apparently you mentioned the fact of his doing odd jobs before, & she must’ve been remarking on it to him! Probably, you better not tell her he’s here at all! By the way, it is Winnie’s birthday on Tuesday & I am sending a card.

Last night Joan had a little party, with two Poles, a fat girl Anne, Pam & George, & Joe & me. We all got quite matey & though Joe didn’t want to go, I think he really enjoyed it once he was there. Anne Chapman came in this morning (brought me 6 eggs & Joe brought 8- come home quick & help eat them!!!!) & Pam invited us all up for coffee at 12.0, so we had another little gathering. After all this we were not a bit hungrey, so we skipped lunch & are having a light tea & dinner this evening! I don’t know how Joe’s digestion will stand it- mine feels most odd!!

I must stop now, honey & catch the post. Take care of yourself now, & come home safe and sound on Wednesday. Pam and Joan & the butcher & the cats all keep asking when you’re coming & you’ll get a very warm welcome from all of them as well as from your loving daughter! We will be able to have a lovely lazy time during the holidays after Friday.

Joe sends his love, & I send lots & lots from me-


          Cyn P.T.O.

Love to Mrs. Johnny & Bella & Maud & Winnie & all the others.

Clues: It is later in the year of 1948 or even possibly 1949, because Cyn’s address is that of the flat she shared with her mother, so it would be at least spring of 1948, because they are obviously living there together. However, something has happened in Newcastle, because that is where Carol is, dealing with something upsetting. I assume this was the catastrophic medical incident that resulted in the husband she had left, Gordon, being hospitalized- but I don’t know what that was. I think that the ‘Uncle John and Mary’ mentioned were Ewings, probably Gordon’s older brother, and Maud and Winnie were friends of long-standing. The ‘Joe’ visiting Cyn in Cambridge is a Sheedy, also longtime Newcastle neighbours of the Ewings, possibly a younger brother of her childhood friends, and obviously handy to have around the house! From the list of things he’s fixing, it sounds as if they haven’t lived there very long. Maybe when Carol gets back, she and Cyn will be planning a house-warming party…