In Sydney I received a letter from Professor Morino suggesting a long itinerary for my trip to Japan. Part of it was to go from Fukuoka (University of Kyushu) my first stop to Beppu by train. Hirota- who was in Ottawa last summer and at the big party in our garden – was to come with me and yesterday he showed me all around Beppu. It has hundreds of hot springs & geysers – the whole side of the mountain has rising jets of steam.
Today I am on a large liner, going to Takamatsu. We started at 8:10 am, and I land at 5:30. The tickets – first class deluxe, were a present from Professor Morino. I am writing this letter in my private cabin. Professor Morino is meeting me and we go by boat and car to Kurashiki. He has my next ten days planned – and I suspect – paid for. He told Hirota that he can never repay our kindness when he & his wife were in Ottawa 5 years ago – and he had the operation in Ann Arbor. But the hospitality is almost embarrassing.
My trip to the Great Barrier Reef was a bit disappointing because the weather was too rough to land on the reef. We had one short trip with a glass bottomed boat. The coral was 3-10 ft down, and it was like looking in a continuously changing aquarium early millions of fish of all sizes & colours swimming in & out of the coral branches. Wish we’d seen more & been able to snorkel.
I hope you are finding your new life exciting & not too lonely. I expect they will keep you busy. I know I’m busy, but often wish I was home.
Now I have to go back a bit chronologically, and interrupt the flow of Cyn’s letters to her mother, because I discovered that, like my grandmother Carol, I am a packrat. I may not have kept ALL of the letters Cyn wrote me, but I discovered, while looking for pictures of my university buildings, a stash of letters from that first month of Trent, when I had begged for lots of letters from home. Both Cec, while travelling, and Cyn had responded and so I have nine loving communications sent to 18-year-old Linda to add before Carol gets an overview of the Costains’ life in October ’69.
Cec mailed these in August from Hawaii on the 18th, and then from Australia and marked them HOLD so they waited for Linda in her mail slot at Traill for her to arrive on September 11th.
Dear Linda., This reminds me of your picture in St Vincent. I didn’t see much but flowers here, at four in the morning 1/2 hr stop. Love Daddy
Dear Linda, They are just as cute as the picture. It’s too bad they can’t live on Puss n’ Boots [cat food], I’d bring one home. Hope these find you in college. Lots of luck, Love Daddy
And a month or so later there arrived a large box in the Porter’s Lodge from Australia containing a surprise present sent by Cec who had arrived home weeks before. It was a lovely soft huggable stuffie of a koala bear just like the postcard! An instant hit in residence.
The fall of 1969 was a very exciting- not to say nerve-wracking- time for me: I was leaving home to live in residence at Trent University and most of my friends were staying in Ottawa and either going to Carleton University or the University of Ottawa and living at home, although some were working or going to other big universities. Trent was a new university, modelled on the Oxbridge system, with 4 colleges- 2 within the small city of Peterborough, and 2 on the campus several miles away, where the Library, lecture halls, science labs, and athletic buildings were built on both sides of the Otonabee River. (Rowing was a featured sport, in spite of the Canadian winter and the school calendar. Linda was not interested.) It had a smaller student population than the high school I had just left, and Catherine Parr Traill College was in town, a hybrid of original buildings with a long three-story addition containing 2 floors of single rooms for students, with a Porter’s Lodge with student mailboxes, offices, several apartments for professors, and a student lounge on the bottom floor. The dining hall was in a remodelled house opposite, and gowns were expected to be worn for formal dinner. (And classes. This lasted until the first snow.) Buses ran on a schedule and most classes- lectures, seminars, and tutorials- were held out at the main campus. My parents had insisted that we should both go away to university, and the previous spring I had gone with my father to Queen’s in Kingston, a large university where Cec had a meeting, and Peterborough to look at Trent, an undergraduate university, still growing- and we had decided on it. My Uncle Carman had assured me that I would enjoy university, but I was not that convinced. I am happy to report, however, that they were right. Within a week I had acquaintances, within a month I had close friends, I loved my courses, and was able to develop my own interests. As a contrast, I felt my friends who went to Carleton scuttled around in the tunnels among hordes of other students, attending large lectures in huge auditoriums, and greeting only the few people they knew (but hadn’t particular liked) from high school. I know, I’m biased. And I was very fortunate. But this is about Cyn’s perspective.
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ont.
I am ashamed to have been so long in writing but what with one thing AND another the time has been flying by. I am doubly ashamed as I must apologize for opening Patsy’s letter to you and also reading it! I have been getting air letters from Cec and when it arrived I just opened it without thinking and then when I looked inside and saw that it was for you and not me I wondered if she had got the exercise book we sent, so I read it to see! One good thing came of it as I see they are interested in Canadian Universities for Paul, and I have a book of Linda’s telling all about all the Universities in Ontario – their size, cost, courses etc. so I will send it to Patsy so she can get some idea of what it involves and if it would be what he wants. Thank you so much for now 3 letters – the first one crossed with mine and the last one arrived today. By now you will have received the pictures I sent, so at least you knew that we were thinking of you. I might as well begin and answer all the questions in your last letter, as I was going to tell you all about Lindy and her College anyway. As you would gather from the note with the pictures Lindy went last Thursday and until Sunday only 1st Year Students were there with the Profs. etc. and they had Seminars and arranged their Courses and had things like picnics and dances and hootenanys to get to know each other. On Sunday the other students arrived and term actually began on Monday. Charlie and I drove her down – he has been back at school since 2nd Sept. but it is a long way to Peterborough (180 miles) and I didn’t fancy the long lonely drive back alone, so he skipped school for one day and came with us. Mme Gemuse was here that day, so we left her to clean the house and set out around 9 o’clock – Linda drove for the first part to take her mind off leaving Ottawa (!) and then we stopped for coffee and I drove the rest of the way. We arrived in Peterborough just before 1 o’clock and had lunch (Lindy wasn’t very hungry!) and then we drove to her College. They had it all very well arranged – a 2nd year student met her and took her to her room, and then took her over to the place to register and then showed her where to go to meet her tutor and arrange her courses. Then she popped back to us with a paper with about 6 or 8 places she had to go to do various things – each place she got the paper initialed. So I said we had better go and open her bank account first and she could get some money, which we did, as she had to buy a gown (16 dollars) and put a deposit on her room key (7 dollars). On the way back to her College she suddenly said, “Oh, the Health Service is on this Street” and this was one of the places on her paper, so we found it and she dashed in and in a little while came out with a shot in each arm! We then went and got her key and then she took us up to her room. The college is not one of the university buildings and is in the older part of Peterborough but Wallis Hall is a new part and Lindy has a lovely room to herself. It has a divan bed and built in wardrobe, chest of drawers, bookshelves and desk, in a pretty walnut. It has a wall to wall carpet and lights that go on as you open closet doors and her own telephone! We carried up all her bags – not too bad, her suitcase, a flight bag, two cardboard boxes with books and dishes etc. and two coats on hangers. She took A. Muriel’s little bookshelf with her and her favourite books to keep her company. She didn’t stay to unpack as she was worried about all the places she had to go to still, so 2 of these were out at the new campus on the river, so we decided that we would drive her out there, and Charlie and I would get a look at it and then we would leave her to get the university bus back as we wanted to leave around four. I’m glad we saw it as the new part is quite fantastic very elegant built along the river with crosswalks and a bridge over the river from one building to another – tell Monie it reminded us of Expo! We left Linda there, and I must say that I was very pleased with her. From the moment she actually arrived she seemed to get over her stage fright and was very capable and efficient – as Charlie and I sat and waited for her at the various places, there were hundreds of students, male and female milling around, of course, and all of the girls there were some who were pretty and slim and nicely dressed, and others who just didn’t have it! Fat or dowdy or plain or something, poor things, and Charlie and I agreed that Lindy was very much one of the first group! She didn’t seem a bit shy – all keyed up I expect – and talked to girls she met and seemed very self-possessed, so long may it continue. One thing that we all giggled about – Lindy took some things from home to decorate her room, all the gold and orange colours she has here, and what colour should her college room be but reds and purples! Charlie and I set out and stopped once for a hamburger and a piece of pie on the way home. It poured with rain part of the way to Peterborough but cleared up at lunchtime and was lovely the rest of the day which was nice. We were very fortunate in our eating places too and had nice meals – even the little place that Charlie and I stopped at on the way home was run by a family and the lady cooked very good hamburgers and had made the delicious pie. We got home soon after 8 o’clock and I felt pretty tired as I always have to kind of stretch my neck to see when I’m driving and on a long trip it is wearisome, but it made all the difference having Charlie with me. He is going to go down to the Licensing Bureau on Friday and get his 120 day Learner’s License and then he will take the driving course at the high school this fall. After we got home we had a cup of tea and toast and as we were both tired we went to bed at 10 o’clock! I don’t think we had been in bed so early for months! Then at 10:45 the phone rang and here was Lindy to see if we got home safely! One of the other girls had said she was phoning home after 10 (cheap rates) so Linda phoned too which was nice and she had got all her paper signed and taken it back to the Registrar who was amazed that she had got it done so soon, so she was very contented. She’d had dinner with some girls and met her neighbours and in her letter since, she says she has got to know nearly all the girls on her floor and that everyone is very kind and helpful. She says she is feeling more at home but is looking forward to classes beginning so that she knows what she is doing. Her address is: – Wallis Hall, Catherine Parr Traill College, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Isn’t that ‘Catherine Parr Traill’ a mouthful? [She was an early settler in the area (1830s) and an author and naturalist– one of Canada’s first women writers.] I have been writing just Traill College on the small envelopes as I noticed that some of the university letters abbreviated it. It has been very strange with just Charlie and me at home, but we have both been so busy that we haven’t had time to mope. I have been teaching Nursery School every morning since 8th. (I got someone to take my place the Thurs. I was away) and of course Charlie has been at school. In the evenings he goes and coaches a football team of younger boys from 6:30 till 8:00 and on Sat. mornings. Last weekend I moved into the family room and Charlie began painting our bedroom, and got most of it finished but some of the woodwork is still to do so it is still in a mess. Little Mrs. Martin’s husband has at last got so helpless that he has been taken to the Civic Hospital, and she was telling me how long it took her to go there- 1 1/2-2 hrs each way- and back on the bus to see him, so I have been driving her 2 or 3 times a week. Sometimes I just go and pick her up and bring her home as she finds the buses going are more convenient and she doesn’t have to wait so long. She herself has to have an operation this fall, and she can’t turn him or lift him so it looks as if he will be in hospital for good now. Before Linda went away we had a lot to do of course. As you can imagine she nearly drove me crazy as there was nothing organized about her and while I would want her to make lists of things to buy and clothes she needed and things to do and sort out her old clothes and tidy her drawers etc. she would be off visiting her friends or reading or something. Finally I realized that the more I fussed the less she did and the more agitated I became, so I just relaxed and decided if things didn’t get bought or done this was her lookout, and after that it was better. All the essentials got done – check up with Dr. Kastner (who said that she was as healthy as a pony!) – visit to the dentist – check with her Eye Dr etc. – haircut and so on. She only bought one new outfit – or at least I bought it for her – green slacks with a green and white tweed tunic to go over them, which could be worn alone as a jumper, and a white turtleneck sweater to go with it. She is the funniest girl – she spent all her money when she was away on books and presents for her friends, so she had very little dress allowance left, but she got her August money and sold some of her last year’s textbooks and so had $20 or so but instead of going out and buying a dress or a blouse she bought stamps and writing paper and all sorts of little odds and ends and the money just vanished! However she’s on her own now. She was highly delighted with the suede jacket we gave her for her birthday, so I was much relieved! By the way, she was very pleased because when she looked in her mail slot in college here were 2 postcards from her Daddy waiting for her, so that was a nice surprise. I got a letter from Cec today after a long silence and he will be back on Monday we hope. He was writing from Japan and said what wonderful hosts his 2 Japanese friends were – wouldn’t let him pay for anything and went out of their way to show him everything and take him everywhere. He was on one of the southern islands – Fukuoka, and just leaving for Tokyo where his last meeting was. While he was there he was going with another NRC man who was to be in Japan with his wife, on an expedition up Mount Fuji, so I hope the weather was good and he enjoyed it. He was a bit disappointed with his holiday trip up to the Great Barrier Reef I think. The weather wasn’t all that good and the sea very rough, which he didn’t mind, but the water was too high to actually go on the reef, so they went in glass bottomed boats a bit. Also he got a throat infections and had quite a temp. one night so he probably was not feeling too well, but he went to a Dr. when he returned and says he is OK now. Saw the Egans in Sydney. I forgot to tell you when I was telling you about the week before Lindy went away but we did quite a bit of painting at the N.S. Marjorie and I and 2 others painted a lot of the furniture inside, and then Charlie and a friend put up a new fence around the playground and we painted some of the outdoor things. You remember Mr. Hutchinson was making us a big storage cupboard and slide – well he just finished it and Charlie went the next day to begin painting it and found some boys or someone had come and pulled the doors right off the hinges. Well, that was bad enough, but he fixed it again and began and undercoated the whole thing. The next afternoon Mr. Graham phoned to tell me that he’d just had a call that there was a fire at the Church, and it was the big old storage box with all the children’s toys set on fire and burned to the ground. I was so thankful it wasn’t Mr. Hutchinson’s new one but when we went down we found the smouldering remains of the old one – all the sleds toboggans, wagons, a little car, wheelbarrow and all sorts of smaller trucks and cars all gone. The new box had the doors pulled off again and they had thrown sand all over Charlie’s wet paint. It just made us sick to think of kids doing such malicious damage. Of course we had the police and we have let the insurance people know and given them a list of the toys we lost but so far we haven’t heard anything. This made quite a bit of extra work too, but we got it tidied up before the school opened and Charlie got one coat on the new slide anyway after he sanded it off. I was delighted to hear of the parcel you were sending me – it sounds very nice and I am looking forward to having some new pretty mats and cloths for the table. I must see if I can get the table refinished and then they will look their best. I bought some new curtains at Shoppers City for our bedroom as the old ones had got wet and shrunk – the walls are a very pale blue, so the curtains are a sheer material and shades of pale blues and greens with a pale blue lining, and I think they are very pretty. I thought that in the small room light curtains might be better and make the room look bigger. Otherwise I haven’t made any purchases lately. I am so glad that you like Donna’s parents and how nice that you will meet her after all. It is lovely that Alan and she are getting home just when you are there and I hope you will all have a lovely time. I expect Margs is excited and I do hope that she and Bill are feeling better and that they will keep well now. We have been having some very hot miserable weather since we got back from our holidays but now it has become quite changeable – very cold one day, then rain and hot and now tonight it is to go down to 40. Poor Cec is going to have a FIT when he sees his garden! I began to weed it a few times, but in an hour I have just managed to clear about 1 square foot, so I haven’t got very far! You asked about how we fitted in Granny and Grandpa Costain’s house in Penticton – well, it has 2 bedrooms, and Grandpa had just finished a room in their basement, all panelled walls and tiled floor, which was ready for Cec and me. It was very comfortable and cool and Lindy had a bed in the spare room cum sewing room, and Charlie slept on a sofa bed in the living room, so we managed fine. I quite liked Carman and Leona’s house, but it is a bungalow and of course I like ours best! It is on a corner and has a very small garden – just as well as Carman hates gardening! I have been wearing the long-sleeved greyish dress quite a lot and have found it very useful. It is cosy without being too hot and a couple of days on holiday it was just what I needed. I must stop now as I should write to Lindy tonight. Yesterday I went to the market and bought fruit and vegetables and last night I made peach chutney, then this afternoon I had a lady to tea who is taking over my job as Social Convener for the Scientists Wives, so I gave her all my notes on last year and told her what I could, so I haven’t written to her since the weekend and she begged for lots of letters to begin with anyway! Our love to Marga and Bill and Monie and Owen. A purr from Saki and love from Charlie and Cyn.
This letter was sent to New York, where Carol was visiting her nieces on Long Island. She sent Cyn a cutting from the church bulletin there, which featured a welcome to her:
‘BILL and MARGUERITE JAEGER spending their vacation in Maine. Welcome to MRS. CAROL EWING, the aunt of MONA B. and MARGUERITE J. She is on the Altar Guild of ST. GEORGE’S CATHEDRAL in Saint Vincent, a beautiful and tropical island in the West Indies, a strong hold of our Anglican faith. FATHER MARLIN will take the two Sunday services this week at the J.F.K. Airport Protestant Chapel at 12:15 and 4 pm.’
In August, with Grannie Ewing visiting her nieces in New York on her way home, the Costains took their last family trip together, flying out west to meet family members- Uncle Harry Costain in Calgary, Granny and Grandpa Costain in Penticton, along with the whole Carman Costain family- and see the Rockies, the Okanagan, and Vancouver as they drove. At the end of their stay in Vancouver, Cec had flown off for a lengthy working trip to Australia and Cyn and Linda and Charlie had taken the train across Canada home to Ottawa. It was a three-day trip and the children did not enjoy it. Charlie was bored, and Linda not only ran out of reading matter, but found that inserting her new contact lenses in a moving train was nerve-wracking and challenging. Cyn enjoyed the rest, and wrote to her mother the week after they returned.
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ontario.
24th August, 1969
Dearest Mummy, Here we have been home for over a week and this is the first time I have managed to write to you – or even to Penticton to say thank you for having us. First of all, we stepped out of the air conditioned train into typical hot humid Ottawa weather last week, and it was just breathless for 3 or 4 days, then on Monday we had most violent storms with pouring rain and the temp. went down to 45 one night! It was nice and cool for a couple of days and now it is back up in the 80s today, and I don’t feel at all ambitious! The weather wasn’t the only surprise we got when we arrived in Ottawa – when we got home Merle phoned from Brantford to say that they were coming to Ottawa that weekend to a wedding, but if we couldn’t put them up they would go to a motel. Of course we said for them to come, so next day (Friday) we rushed around and bought some food and they arrived for dinner with little Debbie. Lorne and Liz were also invited to the wedding but couldn’t get away till later, so Merle and Dix brought Debbie and they would bring Cyndie when they came and stay with the Whitwills – Liz’s family. Charlie was back in your room, so we made up his bed in the family room for Debbie and Merle and Dix had the big pull-out sofa bed, so it worked out fine. The wedding was on the Sat. afternoon, and in the morning Lorne came for Debbie, and then they all went off to the wedding – I felt quite sorry for them all dressed up, as it was about 90 and so still and sticky, and the reception wasn’t even in some air-conditioned hotel, but in the garden of the bride’s family. Merle was exhausted when she came home! While they were away I had another phone call and this was Carman! He was at the airport, and although I knew he was coming to Ottawa sometime to a meeting I hadn’t bothered to even ask the date, as he said that he had a room booked at the Château Laurier, as he didn’t know when we would be back. However, it turned out that he had been another meeting in the US and when he phoned the Château the booking was from the Sunday not the Saturday so he came along too and we had a full house that night! It was nice that Merle and Dix and Carman got a chance to chat and as it was another hot night Charlie quite enjoyed sleeping on the porch! Next day we all went to the Whitwills to lunch, and then Merle and Dix set off home as Dix had to be at work next day. Carman had dinner with us and then I drove him downtown to his hotel, and then my goodness, when I got back didn’t the house feel strange and empty with no Cec! Before that we had really hardly had time to notice! We had two postcards from Cec on Friday – one from Hawaii where he spent an hour (4–5am.) and another from Sydney, so we know that he has arrived safely. I was so glad as he tells me that Frank Mercer (his Australian friend from Cambridge) came to meet him at the airport because Cec had written to Frank and had no reply and I know he would have been disappointed not to see him. I don’t know if he was staying with the Mercers but it would make a big difference having a friend to show him the sights.
I feel that I should go back now and tell you what we did at the end of our holiday. I wrote from Penticton when we were staying with Granny and Granpa Costain, and then we moved over and spend 3 or 4 days with Leona and Carman. Their house is about 2 miles from Granpa’s and fortunately it is quite big as we were a big family! Penticton is quite a nice small town – very much a resort town with 2 big lakes for swimming etc. and lots of motels and tourists. It is in a valley with hills all around and they were absolutely burnt brown, but in the valley where they irrigate it was all green and lovely. It is in the middle of a famous fruit growing area, but unfortunately they had a very severe winter and all the fruit trees were harmed and there was very little fruit this summer – no peaches or apricots or cherries, but the apples were all right. Leona took her children for swimming lessons at one of the lakes every day, so Linda and Charlie got quite a lot of swimming, but unfortunately Linda got a bad cold, and so had to keep out of the water the last few days.
We left Penticton on the Thursday (7th.) and drove to Vancouver where Cec had booked a downtown motor hotel for us. It was very convenient and the first evening we walked down the street and found a very nice German restaurant where we had a marvellous dinner, so we thought we were very lucky. We were so fortunate in the weather in Vancouver – it was sunny and lovely all the time, although there was a haze over the mountains around the city, but apparently this is quite typical. I was quite taken with the weather in Penticton too – it was very hot and sunny during the day, but if you sat in the shade it feels lovely with a little breeze, and as soon as the sun went down in the evening it got really cool and you needed a sweater. I may tell you that I never once had my pretty white spotted raincoat out of the case, so weren’t we fortunate? After dinner that first evening in Vancouver, Cec phoned a few people and I phoned Olwen Wright. Do you remember her? She was at College with Dottie and me and eventually married a boy in the Army called Noel. Anyway they now live in Vancouver, so I called and we had a chat and arranged for us to go out that evening for a drink. They live in a very pretty house with a stream running through the garden, but it was nearly dark when we arrived so we didn’t see much. I don’t know if I would have known them, as Olwen is now blonde and Noel is plumper, but we had quite fun catching up on news. Olwen has 3 children all older than mine – the oldest girl is married then a boy of 19 going to University and a girl a bit older than Linda still going to school. We didn’t see them as one sister was visiting the other and the boy has a job. Owen was telling me that she had had cancer, which I didn’t know, but she had had an operation and it had been OK for a few years now. She didn’t say where it was – anyway she was having a check up that weekend so was booked up with the Drs etc. and we didn’t see them again. It must be over 25 years since I saw her, so it really was interesting – they have bought land in Antigua and Dominica I think when they were there on a holiday a few years ago and are talking of moving there when their family is off their hands. On the Friday we went up to the University of British Columbia where Cec had various people to see. It is a beautiful campus with lovely lawns and gardens and fountains in amongst the buildings. One of the Professors took us to lunch at the Faculty Club and then we went and sat for a while in a Japanese Garden while Cec saw some other people. Afterwards we went to a lovely park on an island in the harbour called Stanley Park where they have a Zoo and also a big aquarium where they have a big outdoor pool with a dolphin and a whale who give a show every few hours. It was fascinating, and the whale had the most amiable looking grin on his face and looked as if he were thoroughly enjoying it all! That evening we went out to dinner to a ship anchored in the harbour which has a famous Seafood Buffet. They have a great big buffet table with over 58 different kinds of fish and various salads and things as well as all sorts of hot dishes on a hot table, and you can go back and back and eat as much as you want! Our only complaint was that our capacity wasn’t big enough as we would have liked to try even more, but what we did have was delicious. It was a lovely setting looking out of the water at the lights in the city and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Next day we went across to Vancouver Island. I hadn’t realized that it was such a trip or that the island was so big, but the ferry took us about 4 hours. We arrived at Nanaimo and went north to a National Park where there are some wonderful old Douglas Fir trees some 800 years old and absolutely immense. We then had to drive back south through Nanaimo again and down to Victoria which is at the southern tip of the island.
It is a very pretty city with lovely gardens and lovely hanging baskets on all the lamp posts. We only had that evening to look around a little and then next morning we went to the Buchart Gardens which are very well known and absolutely beautiful. I sent you a folder of pictures of it and although the colours weren’t very good you would get some idea of how lovely it was. We had lunch there, and then went and took a different ferry back to Vancouver. That evening we went to dinner in Chinatown and had the best Chinese dinner I have ever had. Even Linda tried the Chinese food and enjoyed it and Cec was amazed when we got the bill that it came to less than 2 dollars each! We had been sent there by a friend of Cec’s in Vancouver and it was definitely a place for Chinese to eat and not a tourist trap, so we did very well and enjoyed it very much.
Next morning, Monday 11th, we got up early and all went with Cec to the airport and saw him off on the plane to San Francisco at 8am. We had handed over the car the previous night, so we took the bus back to the motel and had a rest and packed and then took a taxi to the station and left our bags. The train wasn’t till 7:30pm so we had lunch and shopped and went and sat in Stanley Park, then had something else to eat before we went back to the station. We had three berths and I thought the trip was quite fun but Linda and Charlie were bored stiff! Charlie couldn’t read because of the motion, so he played patience, and of course we had two dome cars and could go and look at the scenery, but as Linda says, the scenery in Canada goes on for so long! Linda and I enjoyed the meals and I definitely felt stuffed, but Charlie wasn’t very hungry so they were very glad when the 3 days and 3 nights were over! As for me it was a nice interlude before picking up the daily cares at home, and I enjoyed it!
We found our pussycat very well and plump as usual and Beulah had looked after everything beautifully. We have loads of lovely tomatoes and corn, but of course the veg. garden is covered in weeds and although I have worked at it on and off I haven’t begun to make an impression yet. You’ll be glad to hear that the seeds you planted – the phlox – have come up and I have a few sweet peas and some morning glories. The nasturtiums are doing well and the sweet little groundhog hasn’t touched anything but is getting bigger and fatter on apples dropping off the trees. He sits up and eats them and throws the cores away just like any other person and doesn’t seem to have touched the garden. From all you told me you must have had a lovely time with Mill and Ford and I enjoyed getting your two letters and hearing all about what you were doing. I am glad that you bought a hat and another dress or two and it sounds as if Ford had taken you to some very nice places. You will be going down to Long Beach this weekend and I hope that Monie and Owen had a nice weekend at Camp and that Marga’s leg is better. I know you will be sorry to leave Mill and Ford but you will enjoy being with the Banners and Jaegers too. Please give them all our love. Of course I have been hopping with the Nursery School all this past week – all the parents are phoning, and I am buying supplies and Charlie is painting some of the outdoor equipment and Marjorie and I have been repainting some of the indoor furniture, so we have been busy. Linda’s birthday was on Friday too and Cec and I gave her a suede jacket and a dressing gown and slippers while Charlie gave her a nice little alarm clock. She got various things from her friends but will probably be writing to tell you all about it. We asked Carman to dinner to make it more of an occasion and he really hit the spot by arriving with long stemmed red roses in a big florist box for her! And I must stop now and get to bed. Charlie has gone to the Exhibition (big annual Agricultural Fair + Grandstand Show + Midway) with some of his friends so I don’t know when he will be home. I don’t envy him in the dusty paths amongst the crowds on this hot night! Much love to the Banners and Jaegers from us all and lots for you too from Cyn.
This letter may have arrived after Carol had gone on to Long Beach, or even back home in St.Vincent, because written on the bottom of the letter is a note from one of the nieces:
Carol dear – Your letter arrived. So glad to hear from you. Come back soon again. I wish I was in nice, warm green St. Vincent! Love M.
As I read these letters from 1969, I am surprised at the amount of work that Cyn does, with her children 16 and 17 and perfectly capable of doing much more for themselves. In the last letter, she told Carol she was exhausted after a full day of activities, and had to make dinner for the children before going out to a banquet with Cec. Why not tell the kids to feed themselves? But then I remember that Cyn’s kitchen was HER kitchen- I did learn from her, but more by osmosis rather than direct instruction, and not by working with her collaboratively. Certainly I had friends who got the family dinner on for their working mothers, a thing I would not have been able to do then. After this last year at home, I went away to university and lived in residence being fed in my college- it wasn’t until my fourth year at Trent that I moved out and had to cook for myself, and then my mother gave me a collection of recipes scaled down for one person so that I could make stock, soup, meatloaf, hamburgers, and gingerbread! However, in this letter we learn that Cyn accompanied Cec to his meeting at Penn State, leaving the kids to manage for themselves for a few days, so obviously she didn’t mind them cooking for themselves if she wasn’t around! A word about amenities- the area outside the Ottawa city limits where the Costains lived was growing amazingly during the years the children went to high school, with new housing developments, apartment buildings, schools, and 6 lane highways connecting them all, being built on the fields that Cyn had driven past in the 50s to buy her meat in the village of Orleans- where there were now shopping centres, and more housing developments- and their high school also grew every year- a second floor, a new wing, a tower, and more and more students until other high schools went up in the new communities. However, it would be years before the Costains’ suburb was offered the sewer and water services that a city enjoys. Each house had a well for water, and relied on a septic tank- which had to be unearthed every few years and pumped out, thus destroying lawns or gardens. Cec had designed the patio in the back yard with removable concrete tiles to mitigate the destruction, but I’m sure Cyn was sorry that this would be happening the spring her mother was visiting. And as the letter shows, plans for Carol’s visit to Canada and then New York were being made, in spite of airline strikes…
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ont.
27th April, 1969
Dearest Mummy, I am so sorry that I was late for your birthday. I had the card and little necklace all ready, but it was too early to send, then last week I made a great long list of all the things I wanted to do before you came (I know I won’t get half of them done!) and I got so busy that I forgot all about the date and was horrified to discover that it was actually the DAY! I hope that you had a nice time, and from what you said in your letter to Linda and Charlie it sounded as if you would. They both say thank you for the letter and I say thank you for two to me also. I haven’t really written since we got home from Penn State, but we had a nice trip home all in one day, and were back in time for dinner. Linda and Charlie had everything spic and span and they had managed beautifully – haven’t even had one fight they told me!
We had a good Easter weekend, with some good sunny days and we had the Ganders all to dinner on Easter Sunday. The weather was lovely for a day or so and I got quite enthusiastic about the garden and did some clearing up, but since then it has been a bit chilly and I don’t like to go out in it! It is quite early yet for us, but we have some tulips and daffodils in bud. Unfortunately we are going to have to have a new septic tank and drainage tile, so this will make a mess in the back garden, so there is not too much point in being ambitious until it is over. We had hoped that this would be over before you came, but at the rate it is taking the men to get started, you might be here for all the excitement and get to CHRISTEN the new septic tank! Cec is very busy taking out the the old hedge between us and the Cyr’s – it grew a mile a minute and he got fed up with cutting it so he is taking it out and we are going to get some pretty flowering shrubs in its place. I have ordered some seeds for the garden and you can help me start them in the porch and we will see if we can have a Blaze of Glory. I am most anxious to hear how A. Moo’s geraniums and fairy rose seeds get on but I don’t suppose there has been time for much to happen yet. Mr. Graham brought me a purple gloxinia which he had grown from a leaf last week, and it is looking very exotic and colourful at the moment and I only hope that I can keep it like that till you come.
You were asking in your letter what you could bring us from St. Vincent and we are delighted at the prospect! I know that Cec would love some rum – he likes the nice dark W.I. rum and always remembers your ‘refined cane juice’ parcel with great pleasure! Linda and I would very much appreciate some Liberty material and as for table mats, the ones you brought me last time are still as good as ever. I use them every single day, so if they have some in new bright colours I wouldn’t say no to a change, but I still like the plain ones very much and wouldn’t like embroidery or anything of that type. For Charlie I had the idea that you might bring him some swimming trunks if you were stuck for an idea. I am enclosing a picture of the kind he wears and he takes a MENS with a 30 inch waist – you can probably get Jantzen or some make like that but remember Charlie is quite conservative and wouldn’t like anything too gay!
I was most interested to hear about your expensive two piece and hope that you are happy with it when the dressmaker is finished, also that ‘my’ long sleeved dress will be useful. Remember Monie’s comments and don’t go filling up your suitcase with TOWELS or your hostesses will be insulted! Also I was going to say, things like hairspray and shampoo etc. are so cheap here there is no point in you’re bringing them, so don’t forget – look at everything and think “Will I really need it? “!! We will be able to get you some more shoes from Eaton’s catalogue while you are here and I wouldn’t worry about much in the hat line as you will want to get a new one, and apart from Church no one wears them and not even in Church half the time.
You were all excited about Cec’s book as you called it – well, if you recall, I said a chapter in a book – it is a sort of science reference book, and each chapter is on a different field, so Cec wrote the one on Microwave Spectroscopy, but as for A. Muriel’s suggestion about him making his fortune, just think how many people are eagerly awaiting for a book on such a thrilling topic! We were laughing about the royalties which he would get – as much as 5¢ perhaps!
Last week Marjorie Graham and I had a day out. The IODE (a female organization) was having a Historical Trip to Kingston and Jo Cardinal phoned me up and asked if I would like to buy a ticket and go. It was 12.50 for the bus, lunch and tea, so I asked Marjorie and we thought it would be quite fun and a nice days outing. Cec drove us down town on Wednesday morning to get the bus at 8:45, and unfortunately it was the wettest morning you ever saw! However, the forecast said ‘clearing’ so we set out – three buses full of women – and arrived in Kingston about 11am. The Kingston Historical Society provided guides to take us around and our guide took us first (in the bus of course, as it was still raining) to the Royal Military College, and after showing us around the grounds we all got out and saw their Museum. The College is on a peninsula right out into the St. Lawrence, so would have been a glorious sight on a fine day, but it was very interesting anyway. We then went to a new hotel and had a very nice lunch, with a talk on Kingston afterwards and some coloured slides of some of the old houses, etc. We then went in the bus to one of these old houses which has been restored and refurnished in the right period and Sir John A. Macdonald once lived there and it was very nice and most interesting although the poor man had a most unhappy time there, as his baby son died and his wife was in the last stages of consumption and died not long after they left. Fortunately there was a happy ending as he married again some years later and was very happy!
After that we went a tour of the city in the bus and the guide pointed out various sights and took us to another small museum, and then we went a drive right along the river to Gananoque – pouring all the time of course, but still! We went to an Inn there and had a most delicious tea, and then left and were back home in Ottawa at 8:30, where Dick met us and drove us home. Of course Marjorie and I talked all day long and caught up on all sorts of gossip!
Mr. Graham (Rector) is off on his holidays today – a month in England, the Channel Islands and France. He hasn’t been looking too well lately, so I hope that he will have a good time and return rested and refreshed. It is the 30th anniversary of his ordination this summer, so instead of waiting and giving him a present on the actual day, they made a collection and decided to give him a cheque to help towards his holiday. Last Sunday they had a surprise Coffee Party after Church and the wardens presented him with a cheque for 300 dollars and the ACW gave him a small light weekend case (he wanted one he could carry himself) and a cheque for 50 dollars to buy himself a memento of the occasion when he was in Europe. He was very surprised and delighted and on the actual day, when you are here they plan to have a cake and a sort of party.
As you know I am sure, we are having an Air Canada strike, but Mr. G. is going on a charter flight, and I hope that it is all over and finished long before you come.
I nearly forgot to tell you about the Miles for Millions Walk last week – it already seems a long time ago. Of course your noble grandson walked to the 40 miles again – in fact they said that it was actually 43 this year but they counted it as 40. They began at the Parliament Buildings at 8am and Charlie and his friends were finished at 7:30pm. They only stopped twice the whole time, and otherwise tramped along steadily. They finished in the first 400, but a Mr. Frank Cook (husband of plump blonde girl in our WA) ran all the way and finished at about 1:30pm! He is a long distance skier and quite an athlete, but he is 47, so it was considered quite something. Altogether there were about 50,000 started the walk and about 4000 finished I think, so that was very good, but people weren’t so generous at giving money to the walkers this year. Charlie was very happy with his Generous Family and delighted that you supported him, so I will give him the 6 dollars to send in for you.
I must stop now as it is time for a cup of tea. It is raining again and I must say it eases my conscience that I can’t go out and garden. Will write again with Final Arrangements! Much love from us all Cyn
Dearest Mummy, I had planned that I would write to you today, after I did the ironing, and then the postman brought your letter to Lindy and me, enclosing the Carnival pictures. Lindy will be delighted to see them, and I think that they are gorgeous – I would love to see them in colour. Thank you so much for your letter – in fact 2 letters, because I got a nice big fat one last week. I am sorry that I didn’t write last week, but I knew that Lindy had and I had a busy time as Cec has been working at home, doing some writing as he finds that there are so many interruptions in his office he can’t get on. Also, Charlie was home for 3 days with – we presume – some type of flu. He said on Sunday morning that his ribs were aching, but as he had been skating and then swimming on Friday evening I just thought he was stiff! Then after Church he just lay down on his bed and fell asleep and when he woke up he was all flushed and had a temperature. He went to bed but didn’t seem to feel sick and he ate well, and then next morning his temperature was gone and he said that he felt fine and he was going to school. When he came home he looked OK and said he felt all right, and then after dinner he began to get that look again, and lo! he had a temp of 102. So this time I put him to bed and kept him there till Thursday, and all he had was the temperature in the evening, and he slept quite a bit, but otherwise felt fine and ate only a little bit less than usual! None of the rest of us have had it, but the week previous Lindy and I had colds, but they only lasted a few days. Anyway, with having both men home last week, I was busy making lunches and elevenses etc. and didn’t get much else done, besides the usual! Before I forget, I am enclosing the Iron-on Mending stuff you wanted for the dress the puppy tore. I think that it should be all right, and if you have none of the same material to use as a patch on the wrong side, you could use any kind of thin material, I think. I hope it works well. Also, thank you for the cheque – I will get the Zenith man to send the batteries and cord next week, and I’ll get the sockettes when I go shopping. Tell Patsy that I will get the book and send it to England for her – energetic her! Cec and I have BOTH gone on a diet as we were both ashamed of ourselves – he was a Big Fat Tub, and I was a Little Fat Tub! We began a week ago on Monday and we have both lost 5 pounds – it is much nicer for me to have company on my diet, and when both of us are doing it, I can plan meals much better. The kids aren’t doing so well in cakes and cookies etc. but a little rest from those won’t do any harm. Maybe by the time you come I won’t be so podgy. The week before last I had a really gay time – on the Monday there was a Scientist’s Wives meeting and I was looking after the refreshments as usual, but it was a Geography Professor from Ottawa University telling about a visit he made to east Africa with colour pictures, and he was very interesting. The next night we went down and played bridge with Marjorie and Dick and Mr. Graham, and then on the Wed. night we went to the Canadian Association of Physicists Banquet. Linda and Charlie had holiday that day as there was a Teacher’s Meeting, so I took Charlie shopping in the morning (more new pants – he grows out of a pair a month I’m sure!)
Then in the afternoon we went to the movies to see Barbra Streisand in ‘Funny Girl’, the story of Fanny Brice. It was very good and nice songs and music, but my cold was all snuffly, and by the time I dashed home and got dinner for L and C and showered and changed and dashed to the Banquet I was exhausted! We had another invitation on the Friday to the apartment of Cec’s German Post Doctorate Fellow, Gisber and his wife, Helga. They are a very nice young couple with a little boy of 2, and have been in the U.S. for 2 or 3 years, so they are completely fluent. Linda babysits for them as they don’t live too far away, and they invited Cec and me to come and share a very nice bottle of German wine with them and we had a nice evening, drinking wine and looking at some of their pictures. So Nice!! Last week and again this week, I have been teaching at the Nursery School – once for Gertrude who wasn’t well, and once Mrs. Bennett had to stay home as her little boy was sick. It is fun to go and see the children every now and then, and I get big hugs and welcomes from them. We have been having a wild time interviewing teachers for jobs at the Nursery School in the Fall. We are going to open full-time, both morning and afternoon so we advertised for 3 new teachers and had about 60 replies! That would be fine but of all of those, only 2 had any Nursery School training and obviously most of them had no idea what a Nursery School was – jobs must be very scarce because we had both men and women with all sorts of degrees and experience applying, and I suppose they just write to everything. We had 2 afternoons interviewing people, and have now got ourselves organized for the Fall which is a relief. Mrs. Kunce, who was our Director last year – a nice girl of about 36, is very ill with thyroid trouble. She has had hospital treatment, but will have to have an operation, and they say she is so thin and looks dreadful, poor girl. A few weeks ago we had a party at the Church, a Square Dance etc. and we invited the people of the United Church to come, and there was a couple there whom I had been meaning to tell you about ever since I met them before Christmas. I don’t think I told you, but if you have heard all this before, please excuse me! They are called Hutchinson, and lived in Montreal and have now retired here, so they are in their 60s I imagine. He comes originally from Barbados and has a brother who is still there, Cyril Hutchinson, who used to be friends with our Hutchinson cousins, I believe. His parents died when he was a little boy in Canada, and I think Aunts in the West Indies brought him up, and he has cousins in St. Vincent, the Nantons! I said, “Oh, yes, Ruby lives next door to my Mother and Aunt”, but he didn’t seem to be sure of Ruby, but mention Estralita, whom I have vaguely heard you talk about I think. Anyway, isn’t that interesting? They went on a West Indian cruise around Christmas time, but not as far south this time – apparently, they did one to Barbados etc. a little while ago. They are a nice couple and we are only sorry that they have gone to the United Church, and not to us, especially as he is a wonderful carpenter I believe and is making them all sorts of things! When you come, I must have them over to meet you, and you can get all the relatives straightened out! I am glad that you have sent to get your visa and passport all ready – I think that the middle of May will be fine, and don’t worry about the flight – we will be in Montreal to meet you and you won’t have to change or anything. A Friday would be quite all right with us, but I just wondered if it might be less crowded in the middle of the week, but when you go for your ticket they would be able to tell you. We could come and get you any day, so book your flight for the most convenient time for you. I was just thinking of the weather in May and hoping that it would be nice, and that reminds me of you commiserating with us about the great snow storms – actually we have been having beautiful weather! Bright and sunny and quite mild for this time, and we have been wonderfully fortunate this winter as we have missed about three huge snow storms, all of which hit Montreal and they have been digging out while we have had just enough to please the skiers and not enough to bother the rest of us! We were horrified to hear of Hugh and Ginny and the little girls being stranded in Kennedy Airport – we read all about it of course, but never imagined anyone we knew would be there. I laughed and said to Cec, St. V. may not have a daily newspaper, but you and A. Muriel get all the inside stories in your letters, when you told me about that and Monica at Sir G.W. University in Montreal. Everyone was mad about the latter – students, they call them – in their late 20s and 30s, and some of them not even at the University. As for the charges of discrimination against the coloured students who said this professor wasn’t marking them fairly, the papers were sent to an outside examiner to be marked after this allegation, and they were just the same. Nobody in Montreal feels very lenient towards them now, thats certain. I must stop now and get the dinner on – a nice low-calorie meal! Yesterday I was down in the market, and thought ‘Poor Cec, he should have a treat to encourage him in his diet,’ so I bought him a lobster! They are very low in calories and he loves them, but I always consider them too expensive in the ordinary way. I got it ready boiled and split, so had no work, and I was quite happy to have something else, as I really like lobster hot in a cream sauce or some really fattening way like that! I had a luncheon party last Friday, with the ‘old crowd’ – Eve, Mrs. Barltrop, Marjorie, Ruth, Charmian and Gertrude. I had a shrimp casserole and a pilaf, and various salads, and then I made a Milanaise Soufflé and put it in my darling little individual soufflé dishes that Cec gave me for Christmas. Do you remember Milanaise Soufflé? It was one of my High Class Cookery recipes from Cookery College – a cold lemon soufflé, and everyone enjoyed it. Much love to Auntie Muriel and Peggy and Patsy if she is still there and lots of love from all of us to you. from Cynthia
After a leap of a month, during which Cyn was back working as a substitute at the Nursery School, she catches up in November with her mother’s letters and the events in the Costain family. In St. Vincent, Carol is planning her visit to Ottawa next spring, and she and her sister Muriel seem to have suffered a burglary, something that happened again and again over the years. In Ottawa, Cyn fills in the details of past events- Linda’s birthday presents, Charlie’s fundraising walk- and then goes on to present activities, and alludes to the preparations for Christmas. There will be little to mention about that, however, because there are no more letters until March and April 1969, and then a gap until August.
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ontario.
22nd Nov. 1968
Dearest Mummy, Thank you so much for your last letter and the cheque for 30 dollars for Christmas. I was going down town shopping yesterday so I went to the Bank and cashed the cheque and had your book made up, and you have 677.34, which of course is in Canadian dollars, so you can change that into W.I. dollars and you must have well over a thousand W.I. Surely that is enough for you your fare and stay here, so you should not have to worry about money. Cec and I laughed and laughed about you hiding your money in the tea cosy so that it wouldn’t be stolen and then forgetting all about it! It was a nice surprise to find it I am sure, but I hope that the police find poor Auntie Muriel’s silver too. Please thank A. Muriel for her letter to me. While I was in town I went to a handicraft shop where I had ordered a lamp shade months ago. I don’t know if I told you that I gave one to Cec last Christmas, which we both liked very much – it is off-white translucent stuff with real maple leaves and ferns etc. embedded in it, and when the lamp is lit it looks lovely. The one I gave Cec is big, for one of the standard lamps, and we liked it so much that we decided to get a small one for our wall lamp as the shade for that is quite brown now with age and the heat of the lamp! [and because Cec smoked.] However, the one I ordered wasn’t there but they gave me the choice of two others which I brought home and tried and have decided to keep one, so I suddenly thought that this would be a nice Christmas present from you to Cec and me, so that is where 10 dollars of your money has gone! Thank you very much – we both think that it is lovely. I also had always meant to write to you about Linda and her birthday money which you sent her – she wrote to you, but I didn’t think it was one of her better efforts in letter writing. For heaven sake don’t tell her I said that though! I told her what you said in your letter about buying some book of prayers or something of that type, but she had no idea of anything she would like. We finally managed to go down town one day to the Canterbury Book Shop but couldn’t see anything she wanted in the religious line, and it seemed to me that it was pointless to buy a book she was never going to look at, so I let her buy one or two paperback books of Elizabeth Goudge etc. which she wanted [‘The Dean’s Watch’- totally ‘in the religious line’ in my opinion, still love it] and she was very keen to get this song book, so she spent the rest of the money on that and a pair of ‘pantie Hose’ in a kind of mesh which are fashionable just now. The song book is a very nice one and she does a lot of playing out of it and singing too, so she is using it and enjoying it. I don’t think that you need to worry too much about her religion – there aren’t too many 17 year old girls who go to church every Sunday without fail, teach Sunday School and sing in the choir and go to choir practice every week. She has also been going to classes for Sunday School Teachers, so she is fully occupied, and likes doing it.
You have kept asking for news of the Miles for Millions Walk, but I never could tell you much until last month we finally got the enclosed little paper and our receipts for income tax purposes. I know you will be interested to see that St. Vincent got some of the money but amused I expect, that it was for Family Planning! But wasn’t that a fantastic amount of money from one city? Over four hundred thousand dollars. I have been teaching at the Nursery School for over 3 weeks and finally finished on Tuesday. I must say that I felt delighted when it was over, although I really enjoy it while I am there and it was fun getting to know the children, but I seem to have so much to do at home and it all gets behind hand when I am working. Of course I had Christmas parcels to do too and there is sewing I want to get busy with and of course the job of Treasurer and Registrar for the Nursery School takes a lot of time. It is really a big business now and we have over 1000 dollars in the bank, so I really have to work over the accounts. I was busy with them this morning and I am 3 cents out with the bank, which is very annoying! I have decided that I shall have to get Cec to check my figures on an adding machine at work and see where I have lost the pennies!
I don’t know if I told you that Linda is learning to drive. The age for getting a license is 16 here, but Cec would not let her do anything last year, but this year they have a Driver Training Course at the High School, run by the Safety Council of Ontario, and she is taking this. It is an excellent course, and the statistics show that young people who have taken it are involved in a big percentage less accidents than those who haven’t, so we felt it was a very good thing for her to take. It cost $68, so it isn’t exactly cheap, but for that she has 12 weeks instruction – 2 hours a week classroom instruction and twice a week driving, so when that is over she should be able to pass her Drivers Test. It involves US in a lot of driving right now, as we have to drive her down to the high school at 7 o’clock on Mon. evenings, and back at 9, for her classroom work, and then down again on Wed. for her driving lessons and back again, and on Sat. at 8 o’clock in the morning for more driving lessons and back again! I know that 8 am is nothing for you early birds, but it is usually the only morning we get to just wake up when we want to, and now I have to get up at 7 as usual and get Lindy up etc. Very trying! However, I am glad that she is learning this way, as I don’t think that she has much natural aptitude, and I think that Cec would have gone grey rapidly if he had had to do it all! Of course she has had no experience, and it took her an age to learn about to ride a bicycle too! [In my defence, I would like to say that Cec was not a good teacher about anything- I got help with my maths and science problems from my brother a year behind me in school, because Cec was just so amazed that child of his could be so obtuse about things that were so clear to him- and, that the bicycle problem came from living on a major highway so not given one until I was older than most kids.]
The BIG event of this month was on the 1st Nov. when Lindy had her Graduation at the High School. With having 5 years of High School here, but some students only taking 4, it means that ones like Linda graduate from both Grade 12 and Grade 13 – the former is Junior Matriculation and the next one, next year it will be her Senior Matriculation. So this wasn’t the Real Big Graduation, but still it was quite an event and there was a lot of excitement about it. The actual Graduation ceremonies were on the Friday evening at the High School and there was a dance on the Sat. evening, but it was a queer thing, neither Lindy nor any of her pals were invited to the dance, and I don’t think many of the boys in her class went either – if they did they took little girls in Grade 9! I thought it was a pity and I know Linda would have liked to go, but when none of the girls were going it really didn’t worry her and she was excited about the graduation and enjoyed it.
Of course she had to have a new dress, but she wears party type dresses so little that I couldn’t see spending 30 dollars or so on something she would probably wear only two or three times. On the invitation dress was ‘Informal’ but most of the girls wanted something a bit special, so I took out one of the dresses Margs sent me by Monie last year – I think I told you at the time. They were both party dresses with big full skirts, and one was a very pretty cornflower blue chiffon, so I unpicked the skirt which was yards wide and asked Lindy how she would like a dress of that. She was all enthused – she really is a pet – a lot of girls would have turned up their noses at a homemade dress out of passed on material, but she was just as pleased as if it were from the most exclusive shop! We chose a pretty pattern – very simple straight style, with a cowl neck line and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and we got lining and lined the whole thing except the cowl and the sleeves, so it really looked very dainty and pretty and the colour suited her beautifully. I am enclosing a piece of material and a picture of the pattern so that you will get some idea I have what it is like, and Joanne’s Uncle took some pictures of them so that later on I will send you one.
The graduation was great fun from our point of view – Cec said it was a long time since he had been to such a fashion show. Some of the girls looked so nice and others so odd, and the last year’s Grade 13, who were going on to a party of their own afterwards were mostly attired in elaborate long evening dresses. One of them was a real shocker – the whole auditorium nearly collapsed – this tall good-looking girl swept onto the stage in evening dress with a V neck down to the waist in front and extremely bare bosomed, and then lo and behold when she walked across the stage and we saw her back it was bare down to her tail bone! Cec’s only regret is that he was gazing at her so hard he forgot to look at the Principal and see how he was looking! If we had seen her in the Château Laurier we would have been stunned, but at a High School Graduation it was really something. Her parents were sitting not far from us – very respectable members of our church, but I don’t know what they thought of it! I must stop now as I have to get dinner and L. and C.will be home soon. I have some stamps off your letters to send and some seeds but I think I will wait till after the Christmas rush. Lots of love from us all to you and A. Muriel, Hello to Doris and June and Luenda. Much love, Cyn.
Dearest Mummy, Last night we put the clocks back, so it is really the beginning of winter. It must seem a long time ago since you were putting clocks back and forward and trying to remember when you get an extra hour’s sleep or lost one, but this time we got the extra hour which is nice. It will mean that it is very dark in the evening now, but in a way I prefer that to dark mornings, and we have been getting up in the dark for quite a few weeks now, so that won’t be so bad. I will appreciate it even more as I am going to teach at the Nursery School for 3 weeks starting tomorrow, and I would feel even less like trailing out at 8:30am if it were still dark. Joan Greenwell, who is taking my place has to do 3 weeks Practice Teaching at another Nursery sSchool, so I had promised to take her place while she was away. This is new, as when I took the Course at the University last year they did their Practice Teaching later on, but it is really a good idea as some of them haven’t got jobs and barely know what a Nursery School is like. I can’t say that I am looking forward to a daily job again, but at least it won’t be for long! I shall get paid my usual princely salary so I will have a little Mad Money for Christmas! I haven’t written for about 2 weeks I think, and I have letters to thank you for – one was after you got my last long affair and you will think that wore me out! Actually we had a week of absolutely beautiful weather – 60° some days with lovely hot sun and cool nights, so I tried to go on with my gardening and tidy up the flower beds a bit. Then I seemed to be going out quite a bit and this last week I have had laryngitis! I had it about this time last year if you remember, and it is the queerest thing because I never remember having this type of thing much before. I began with a kind of a cold, but not in my head as I usually do, but just a real stuffed up nose. When I used nose drops I was fine and didn’t feel anything, then gradually it seemed to tighten up in my chest and last Tuesday my voice began to disappear, although I had no sore throat, and by the evening I could just whisper. It has lasted all week, and I got Pat to take my Sunday School this morning, but actually for the first time for days I can talk a bit although I am still croaky, and I now have a cough. All very peculiar, and it was the funniest thing, when the phone rang and I answered in a whisper, everyone whispered back at me! I think that when I last wrote Carman was still with us – he stayed till the morning of Friday, 11th and so we were on our own for Thanksgiving weekend. He took us out to dinner one night to the Italian restaurant for dinner, which was nice and another evening we went out with Cec’s new P.D. fellow and his wife and his brother and his wife to the ‘Pub’ at the new big Hotel. The brother is another scientist – German – and the wife American. We didn’t have anyone with us for Thanksgiving dinner this year as Cec had a visitor coming to give a Seminar at the Lab and he was arriving early Mon. evening, so we thought if we had a party for him that would be enough for one weekend. We didn’t have many people – about a dozen, I think, and it was quite nice – chatty in a scientific way! That week Ruth Lockwood and I had a day out on the Thursday. Ruth had been babysitting for a family for weeks while the parents were in Europe, so she was ready for a break, and we decided to go and get our Gold Bond Stamps changed – do you remember all the stamps we get from the Grocery Store and stick into books and then exchange for presents? Well, now we have to go to a place on the other side of Ottawa and get our present, so it is quite an expedition. I had been saving for ages and finally decided to get an electric hairdryer. Everyone seems to have one and I must say that they are very convenient – Lindy and I have been using it like fury since I got it and she can dry her hair in about 20 minutes and half an hour is plenty for me, so we are appreciating it, even if it isn’t of much benefit to the boys! Ruth got a paper dispenser for her kitchen and then we went down town and shopped and then Ruth treated me to lunch, so we had a very nice time. That evening Cec and I were invited out to a buffet dinner at the Johns, so altogether I had a very frivolous day! I had another lunch out last week – we have this big new Hotel in Ottawa called the Skyline, and in two of its restaurants you can get lunch for $1.25, and they also have a shopping plaza of boutiques under the hotel, so Phyl Douglas and Marion (Hin Lew’s wife) and I decided to see what it was like. The restaurant is called “Diamond Lil’s” and it is all Naughty Nineties with a curvy female singer in the evening but at noon, they serve a businessman’s lunch – roast beef, salads, bread, roast potatoes, gravy and coffee with apple pie extra, and it was very nice and we enjoyed it. It is a very Klondike Saloon type of interior with sawdust on the floor and quite a crowd, but it was fun and we had a good old gossip. Afterwards we went down to the boutiques and they were very nice but of course expensive. There was a dress shop and Marion was so happy to be shopping without 3 little boys round that she asked if we would mind if she shopped for a dress, and she tried on quite a lot – she looked wonderful in everything of course as she is slim as a wand and ended in getting a pretty red dress – she wanted another, but saw nothing else that she particularly liked. I told Cec he didn’t know how lucky he was as the dress she bought was 45 dollars and she didn’t even look at the price and was all set to buy another like it! Linda was horrified, so I am bringing her up in the right way!
That was the day my voice disappeared, but fortunately it didn’t go completely until the evening! Our Church Supper was on Friday and we had a very good turnout and a lovely buffet supper, but I couldn’t talk to a soul – just whisper when absolutely necessary! Afterwards we had a Magician for the children and adults and he was lovely – we all thoroughly enjoyed him! He even brought a white bunny out of a hat at the end! We have all been enjoying the Olympic games on the TV these last 2 weeks. This is the sort of thing which cancels out all my grumbles at TV, and every evening we had one or two hours from Mexico with both live and taped pictures of the games and it was really grand. Canada didn’t do too well – 1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze, but this was 20th out of over 100 countries, so that doesn’t sound too bad as really Canada goes in more for the Winter Olympics. The US as usual did a big sweep and took hundreds of metals, but in one or two places little countries like Jamaica popped up and took a gold, and made it very exciting. Also we saw the latest US space flight with the 3 men and it is always a thrill. Of course we have the usual array of football hockey baseball etc. all of which mean a great deal to Charlie and Cec! You will be glad to hear that Ottawa’s football team is doing well this year – it makes a big difference in Charlie’s spirits, you know! You were mentioning in your letter that you were worried about changing planes on your flight up here, and perhaps you would come straight to Montreal, and actually Cec and I have been talking about it and thinking the very same thing. It would be quite easy to get on the plane at Barbados and come right up here and we would meet you with the car in Montreal and you would have no changes at all, and the same when you go back or to New York. I think that it might be best for you to come in May as you did last time – the weather is not too cold then and it is very pretty in the spring and then stay with us for May, June and July and then if you were going to New York it might be nice for you to go down there in August. You would have the sea at Monie’s and probably go to camp at Mill’s. Cec goes to Australia in August and there is some talk of us going out to the West Coast with him on the first leg of his journey. Carman is always inviting us to visit them and the children and I have never been, so it might be a good opportunity, but of course we don’t know what L. and C. will be doing next summer so it is all very vague and might never come off.
I must fly as Lindy and I have to rush and buy her a pair of shoes and get her hair cut and I am picking her up at school at 3:30. Will write again soon and answer your letters properly, Lots of love from us all, Cyn.
On the day that Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, I am posting a letter that refers to my mothers’ invitation to one of the 2 Czechoslovakian scientists who were friends of the Costains and were affected by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968- when Vladimir Putin and I were 15 years old. I wonder what his memories are of that year?
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ontario.
4th October, 1968.
Dearest Mummy, Such a nice feeling today – there’s nothing that I absolutely HAVE to do! It’s amazing how few days there are like that, but although we have Carman staying with us, he is going to be out to dinner; and I have a dress for myself which I am sewing, but there is no great hurry; and I have a basket of ironing but there is nothing unusual about that; and I don’t have the car so I can’t go anywhere; so I am going to write to you and then maybe get on with my dress. The dress (I will send you a little bit to see) is a dark cotton – brown and blue shades – which I thought would be nice for this time of year. I should have had it at the beginning of this week as we had such hot weather – 80 and over – but today is to be a high of 50 and may be frost tonight. However I am making it with long sleeves so I will still be able to wear it for a while. We have really been having lovely weather, all September was sunny and warm and everything was still green until a few days ago, and they have just begun to turn and some leaves are dropping now. I haven’t heard much about hurricanes this year so I hope that you are having fairly decent weather and that you have had no more earthquakes. It must be very scary but one thing I should think that Noyack is like a rock it is so solidly built, but I hope that nothing ever happens to prove it. I don’t think that I have ever thanked you for your letter of 20th Sept. – I phoned Mr. Schuett about the batteries and he sent them so I hope that you will have already received them when you get this letter. I am sorry that I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, but last week Charlie came home from school on Monday looking pale and wan and said he felt awful – he hadn’t eaten his lunch and he just went up and lay on his bed and fell asleep. Later I woke him and he had a temp. of over 100, so I packed him into bed with aspirins, and then Lindy said that she had a cold and sore throat, and in the morning they were both in bed! It seemed to be the same infection but took them in different ways – Lindy’s in her throat and a bit in her ears and Charlie the temp. and then later throat and cold. I kept them in bed 2 days, and then on Thurs. Madame Gemusse, my cleaning lady was coming, and they both hate to be at home when she is cleaning around, so they both insisted they were better and went off to school! They have been coughy and coldy since, but it seems to be clearing up slowly, and then of course this Mon. I got it – only a bad cold, but fortunately although it was miserable for a couple of days it seems fine now and Cec just got a very slight touch, so we are all OK once more! One thing, when the children are sick now they don’t need looking after, and I just more or less go on as usual! One day that they were in bed I was very noble and went down to the Church and helped clean the kitchen. During the summer the men of the Church painted the outside, all that white stucco, you remember? It was quite a job, and they used the kitchen to store the paint and wash the brushes and as general junk room, so it got in an awful mess, and we decided that when they got the stuff out we would have to have a general clean. A lot of the women had helped clean and paint furniture in the Nursery School during the summer, but I was away when they did that, so I felt that I was in duty bound to help clean the kitchen. Four of us did it and it took us the whole morning – cleaning ovens stoves walls sinks counters and floor, and it looked very nice when we were done. However, I’m very glad that I have Mme. G. at home to do my cleaning for me! She comes every other Thursday and is here from 7:45 am till 4 pm and she only takes a little while for lunch and really works hard, so I am very pleased. I pay her $10 for the day, which is the going rate now, but she works for her money whereas you hear of others who don’t come till 9 and leave at 2:30, so I am very satisfied with her. I can’t say that my French is improving much, but at least I have to talk French to her so I am getting some practice and I am surprised at remembering as much as I do. She can bring up the odd English word if we are stuck, and we have great giggles over it! I am thoroughly enjoying being at home all day after my N.S. job last year. I was saying that everyone should take a job for a while, it is so lovely when you stop! The Registrar and Treasurer job is really a lot of work but of course I can do that when I feel like it and I don’t have to rush out every morning. Last week, Mrs. Greenwell, the lady who took my place, had to go and observe another school, so I went and took her place for one morning, so that was quite fun just doing it once in a while, and if anyone was sick I would go and step in for them. I get paid for that, but of course the other is my social work for the church and I don’t get paid for it. You said that you were surprised when you heard that I wasn’t teaching this year – perhaps I forgot to tell you earlier, but when I said I would teach right at the beginning I said “For One Year” until the school got on its feet and could afford to pay the regular salaries. It’s worked out fine, and we are even considering opening 2 afternoons a week as we have so many enquiries still. Marjorie is the Chairman of our Nursery School Committee which does the business side, so we will have to have a meeting and decide about the afternoons when she comes back from England. She has been over for 3 weeks seeing her Mother, who doesn’t want to travel now, so Marjorie left Jeannie and her husband to look after themselves. Her Mother has this embolism in her leg so can’t get out much, and doesn’t even go out much anymore, but otherwise she seems to be well. We had Dick Graham and Jeannie to dinner this week, and I think Marjorie will be back next week, so I’m sure that they will be glad to see her. I hope that you are planning your trip to Canada for next year – you know your grandchildren are so grown up already, you had better come and see them before they spread their wings and leave home! You know there is not much chance of us all coming to St. V. together again, as the fares for all 4 of us really cost so much, but I think Linda particularly would love to come for a holiday on her own sometime and of course they are both very keen on getting summer jobs now so it means we won’t be having family holidays together much more. When they are both in University Cec and I will be much freer and perhaps be able to come down on our own sometime. Until then, you must just come up and see us! Next summer, I had thought that I might get a trip to Europe with Cec to a meeting, but there is no word of the meeting yet, and in the meanwhile Cec has had an invitation to give a paper at a big meeting in Australia – Sydney. The Gov. is being very mean about money just now and cutting down on all sides, but Dr. H. says Cec hasn’t been away much lately and that he thinks he should go, so that is very nice. Cec first suggested that we might see if we could afford for me to go with him, but the fare for me return is 1500 dollars, let alone living and spending there etc., so I said it would be wonderful, but really I would rather go 3 shorter trips with him to Europe or the U.S. than spend such a huge amount at once and then be hard up. Also of course, Linda will be beginning University then and for the first time we will have to pay directly for her education, instead of just in our taxes, so that this is a few thousand dollars a year extra. Anyway, as far as we know, Cec will be off to Australia in August next year but otherwise no plans. Charlie and Linda both want to get summer jobs, so I don’t know what they will be doing. This year it was very hard for students to get jobs – did I tell you that Bruce was working in the tobacco fields? The picking is very hard work but very well paid, but he was loading racks in the drying sheds, not quite such high pay but it didn’t kill him. I must say that I admire these youngsters who do these jobs to get money to help with University fees etc. and I think it is very good for them and helps to make them very responsible and mature. I wonder if Patrick and some of the fellows like him would deign to work like that – but of course as you say, the Hughes are wealthy! I can’t help being amazed that law in St.V. should be so lucrative though! I hadn’t heard that Patsy was coming out for a visit, and very intrigued with Peggy’s opinions on Tony and his quelling effect on Patsy. I didn’t think that Patsy could be quelled and I have no recollection of Tony or what he is like at all. I suppose that it is not unusual for sisters to dislike each other’s husbands, but probably Patsy feels the same way about Alex – you must tell me what you think of Tony and Patsy when you see them. Probably it would be more fun for the girls on their own, because as I recall Alex isn’t exactly convivial with visitors, and if Tony isn’t either it will be a pity. I hope that Rosemary got back to England for her swimming and did well in the competitions. Do you think that her time in England has improved her? You said that before she went she was quite a little madam and so bossy and wanted her own way, but if you only saw her a few times, I don’t suppose you could really tell. I must say that girls of 16 and onwards are a pain at times! At the beginning of the summer I thought I couldn’t possibly stand Linda for another year before she went to University! You remember what girls are like with their mothers! Nothing I said or did was right, and anything that went wrong was my fault, and no matter what I said I got back a smart answer! G-r-r-r! As you can imagine I didn’t take kindly to it, but thank goodness, it has improved immensely now and she is quite a normal human being once more and even acknowledges that I am too! It must have been just a stage! Charlie is still the same good-natured fellow he always was, but in the summer even he got mad at his sister sometimes! I don’t think that I ever told you about my day in Quyon with Lee and her friends – that is the place that has cheap materials. Well, I was to be at Lee’s at 9am and then we collected 3 more females, so there were 5 of us all together. It was the most beautiful fall day – sunny and just a little chill, but very nice and bright. All the other ladies were very nice, but they were all from Lee’s neighbourhood and knew each other well so I was a bit odd man out, but that didn’t matter. We arrived in Quyon soon after 10, to find nothing open – there are 2 shops, the original one belong into the old woman, and another belonging to her daughter, and apparently they just open when they feel like it. So we hung around, and there were 2 or 3 other carloads of people waiting too, and then we went and had a cup of coffee in a pokey little place, and finally about 11:30 the daughter opened her shop. It was just a little old house with 2 rooms but it had shelves around and tables all stacked with folded bits of materials. It was quite well arranged with cottons in one place, wools another etc. and loads of stuff all on top of each other, but you could tell from the moment you went in that the place was damp – it had that musty smell, and all the material smelled musty too but apparently she is getting a new shop down the street and I hope that is dryer poor woman! All the pieces were marked with the size and price and we poked around and looked and I got the cotton for my dress which I am sending you to see and a piece of dark red wool material to make Linda a winter dress and a piece of lining material to match as it is a bit itchy. Well after about an hour in there I was well and truly finished, but the others were still busy looking and putting back and changing their minds! However, we then heard the other shop was open, so some of us went there – WELL! This had been a shop with a shop window, but it hadn’t been cleaned for generations I’d say, and inside there was material stacked on waist high benches and underneath, practically up to the ceiling! There was a little wee passageway down the middle and if the old woman was standing in it, no one could get by! She was a sight – fat and pendulous, with a cigarette drooping from her mouth, and nagging at her old husband all the time, and after a while she heaved herself up onto a great mound of the materials and sat there like a horrid old hen on a nest! The whole place just gave me the willies – it was so messy and crummy, and you had to heave bits of material out from all these piles and poke around, and you felt that it must all be absolutely filthy, as I’m sure it could never be cleaned. I don’t know how much stuff was there, and some of it was probably good, but who was ever to find out? I wouldn’t have had the patience or inclination to stay long in there, but the others all rushed in with enthusiasm, so I looked around and in the end got another dress length of dark red material – not a wool, some synthetic material, but with a cosy feel, and then I saw a piece of cotton in a navy and pink pattern, so I got it for Mme. Gemusse who was busy cleaning my house for me while I was gadding! Why I got all this dark red material was that Nan sent Lindy a pretty small dark red handbag for her birthday, and she had nothing that she could use it with, so I thought a dress to match would be nice for school in the winter. I wasn’t sure of the exact shade and in the end the wool is the better match, and the other which is more a cherry red I shall use myself. Now that my hair is getting greyer I find that I don’t look good in some colours that used to suit me – a plain brown or beige just don’t go with my hair, but I think a dark red should be OK and of course blues and greens are still fine. I need a winter coat this year, and I have no idea what colour to get. Anyway, to go back to our expedition, I finally could stand it no longer, so one of the other ladies and I went and got in the car, and about 2 o’clock the others appeared. There was no decent restaurant where we could get lunch, so we bought buns and cheese and cookies etc. at the grocery store and had a sort of picnic in the car, and even after that Lee and one of the others had to make another trip to the daughter’s shop, so that finally I got back about 3:30. It was quite fun, and obviously the other girls looked on it as a sort of day’s outing, but I think another time I wouldn’t want to spend so long there – the old woman’s shop is really kind of horrid! I was telling some of my friends about the expedition and one of them told me of a new remnant shop which had opened at Orleans near where I used to go to the butcher, remember? It hadn’t been opened long, but she had got some nice material, so yesterday afternoon, Ruth Lockwood and I, in the pouring rain – thunder too! – set out and went to see what it was like. What a contrast! Nice clean neat little shop and a very pleasant woman – of course I don’t suppose there was one tenth of the material, but at least you could see what there was! I got something to put in your Christmas parcel for you and Auntie Muriel, which I think is pretty – in a way I feel it is like sending coals to Newcastle to send materials to you, but at least none of your friends will have bought the same material! Also if you now have a good dressmaker it does away with having to alter the ready-made dresses. By the way, I have all sorts of old patterns – would you like me to put them in a parcel sometime? Or aren’t they much use? Last Friday the United Church had a Hat Show in our Church – it was a sort of joint effort, except that they arranged the hat business and we helped with the refreshments. It only cost .50¢ so it wasn’t expensive and there were about 8 or 10 girls and women from each church who modelled the hats. The woman who had the hat shop gave a commentary, and the girls walked around the room with the hats on and then put them on tables which were right down the middle of the room with mirrors on. There were hundreds of hats – felts, velours, velvets, feathers, material, even what they called winter straws, rain hats, fur hats and what have you. When the show was over the hats were for sale, and you could go and try them on and look at them all, which was great fun! There were some very pretty feather hats there in lovely colours, but I don’t know what my coat is going to be like so it was silly to think of getting one – anyway they were all so big on my head, they wobbled when I moved! Casey only had which really fitted and looked best on me was of course the most expensive hat there! It was a fur hat of black mink – only mink tails, which are the cheapest part but the hat was 26 dollars, and I wasn’t really tempted! It was a nice evening though and all your old cronies were there, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. James, all asking for you. Piano tuner here – Lindy is taking piano cum singing lessons this year with an English lady, Mrs. Cass-Beggs!
What do you think? The mailman just brought your letter of 28th Sept. so thank you very much. The new mail delivery does not make much difference to us – our mailbox was very convenient, but some of the people lower down in Rothwell Heights didn’t have boxes at their driveways, but hundreds of them all together at a crossroads and that must have been very hard in bad weather. You had a bad time with the Bishop’s jubilee and the flowers and brasses must have looked lovely, but what a pity that it was such a dreadful morning. However, at least it cleared up for the reception and I’m glad the stormy weather passed by. Our Harvest Thanksgiving is this Sunday so I will have to see what we have left in the garden for it – we still have lots of carrots and beetroot and some squash, and lots of lovely little fat pumpkins! They look so nice and chubby and are so easy to grow that I think they are very rewarding! Our actual Thanksgiving is the next weekend, and there is a holiday on the Monday, but I think we will have our Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday and I will have our Czechoslovakian friends to dinner. (By the way only two Polduses – a young couple – early 30s – Joe and Eva!) Carman arrived last night and is staying till next week sometime as there is a Radio Astronomy Meeting in Ottawa, but it looks as if we won’t see much of him as there are meetings on Sat. and on Sun they all go up north to Algonquin Park where there is a big R – A set up. Mr. Trudeau, although we still like him very much, is being extremely mean to scientists – he’s on a big economy kick, and he has cancelled a big new telescope that was being built out in B.C. and another big project at Chalk River, the Canadian Atomic Energy place, so this is very sad for science in Canada. Now I have to mention your bright idea about the three week trip to the W.I. but no matter how cheap it is, for the four of us it will be nearly $1000. And with Cec going to Australia we just can’t consider it. As I say, later on perhaps Linda will come, or Cec and I but definitely is out for all of us next summer – sorry! Much cheaper for you to come to us! It is indeed amazing to think that it is a year since Uncle Fred took ill, but I also think it is amazing how he has persevered and managed to improve to the extent he has. I would think it would be dreadfully easy just to give in and do nothing and be a vegetable, but would need a lot of effort and hard work to go on trying with the caliper and trying to talk etc. Ena is certainly looking after him well now, but he looked after her well too. You don’t seem to have been reading very NICE books lately! I am reading a nonfiction called “Effie in Venice”– letters by Ruskin’s wife to her parents – he was peculiar and afterwards the marriage was annulled and later she married the artist Millais! Such on-goings! Must stop – lots of love from us all- Cyn.
Well, the children have been back at school for a week now and things are beginning to get back into the old routine! With being on holiday nearly right up till school time we seemed to be very disorganized, and Linda in Grade 13 had to buy all her textbooks herself – the school provides them in all other grades now – so this was another scramble around. And of course, she had nothing to WEAR! It has been hot and humid, and she hadn’t much in the way of cotton dresses and her wool skirts etc. were too warm so this was another panic! Every one of us needed a haircut in the worst way – Cec and Charlie with curls all over and Lindy and me all shaggy, so we had to hasten to be respectable once more! I shudder to think what chaos we will be in this time next year getting Linda off to University!
The Nursery School started on Monday – at least Monday and yesterday they had Open House for the mothers and children and I went down to help with coffee for the mothers and give assistance where needed. The Nursery School is absolutely full now and we even have a waiting list, so we may open part time in the afternoon if we get enough children. I don’t know if I told you that we had a great upset not long after the school closed – our Director, Mrs. Kunce, sent in her resignation. She had a new job at a new Day Nursery over in the West End – of course a Day Nursery is a much bigger responsibility as it opens before 8 in the morning and the children are there all day until six or seven, and have meals too. She is getting a lot more money, but golly, she must be working like a fiend. I don’t know when she will see her own children. We were very sorry to see her go as we all liked her, but we felt she should have given us a bit more notice, as jobs are usually advertised and taken in Feb. and March, but we were very lucky and managed to persuade a neighbour in Rothwell Heights, Mabel Bennett, to take the job. She had taken all her training at the University with Mrs. Kunce, but had never taken a regular job as she has a family of 3 and didn’t particularly want to work, and we suggested she try it for a year anyway. By next year Gertrude Pierce will have finished enough of the training so that she can be Director, but at the moment we felt it was a bit too much for her, so she is going on with her night classes this winter and is second-in-command, as it were. Mabel is very nice – I have known her a bit for years, but she goes to the United Church, so I never knew her well, but she is lively and a lot of fun, so I think that she will be very good. We have got an Englishwoman, Mrs. Greenwell, taking my place. She and her family were new in the church this time last year, and they all work hard for the church. Her daughter, Laura is quite a friend of Linda and Charlie’s although she is a bit younger, and she has a boy of about 11. Mrs. Greenwell has done a lot of Brownie and Guide work, and has looked after children for mothers who are working, so we think that she will be pretty good. I am now the Registrar and Treasurer, which is keeping me busy. While I was on holiday other people looked after the registration, and the auditors were looking at the finances, so they were all landed back on me and I have been working hard to get everything straightened out before the school began. To complicate matters, the Post Office decided to give us door-to-door delivery instead of the Rural Route mailman, so all our addresses have changed and of course all our Nursery School forms giving people my address to send their fees, have to be changed – grrrr! What with that and the fact that all the other organizations feel that they have to begin the year with violent energy, I seem to have been going to meetings every other day since I arrived home. The WA, which is now to be called the ACW – Anglican Church Women – have a meeting tonight, and I was at a Scientist Wives executive meeting on Monday. I am now the Social Convener of that, but I have co-opted Fanni to help me, so I think we will have quite a good time. I hate to see the summer end, but I must admit that it is kind of nice to be back at home and have everyone but me back at work! Doesn’t that sound mean and horrid? But each year I think, oh, the summer – lovely lazy time – nothing to do but rest and enjoy yourself – and then I find that I seem to be busy all the time, and in some ways it is more work than the usual routine! It certainly seemed to be so this summer and although it was a beautiful place and a lovely cottage I can’t say that I came home feeling very rested. In fact I feel that I have relaxed and slept better since I came home than I did the whole month that I was away. It was partly having so many people around and partly Cec not being well I think, and also the fact that usually when we are at a cottage everyone helps with the work, but when there were so many of us although everyone did help, I still had to be the boss! You know I did all the cooking, which I chose and don’t mind at all, but I planned what we would eat and had to go shopping for it – and for all those people there was a lot of shopping – and then if the kids forgot it was their turn to wash up or anything, it was me to go and see they did it, and then washing and ironing too as well as the usual beds and sweeping and dusting etc. so there was plenty to do. You asked what about bed linen – they were all single beds in the cottage, so I took sheets etc. for us for and Granny and Grandpa, and then one extra lot for Joanne who was there the first weekend. I asked Merle to bring their own, and then I just took out them off the beds and washed and dried them each week and put them on again. I had to leave linen in the house for the Butchers coming to stay, so I could not take any more extras, but fortunately the weather was good and even when Granny and Grandpa left one morning and Charlie’s and Linda’s friends arrived that afternoon I was able to have the sheets washed and the beds ready! Merle told her sons to bring bed linen when they came, so fortunately I didn’t have to worry about them – just provide the beds. You asked if Sharon was any more helpful and how John was – well really I cannot say I enjoyed their visit much. Sharon is quite calm and competent with the children and so on and she had them to look after, but I don’t think she ever lifted a finger to help or even offered to do so. The children are sweet but Stephen would have very little to do with anyone except his parents so you couldn’t get to know him much. I was amazed about the baby – he is a dear little fellow – all smiles, and really very good, but Sharon would feed him and then leave him in his little plastic reclining baby-chair-bed thing that they have now, until he began to get fretty. Then she would put him in his carriage in the sitting room and rock him for a little till he fell asleep. There she would leave him in the middle of everyone in the living room, sunny and lovely outside, but no, here he was in amongst the cigarette smoke and chatter, and of course in about 10 or 15 minutes he would begin to stir around. She wouldn’t even wait till he woke up properly or cried, but she would have him up, out of the carriage and in his chair again and wide awake. He spent so long in this chair that of course he got bored and so he would fret and then you would pick him up – of course Linda and I didn’t mind this! – but it seemed to me the weirdest way of treating a baby. Sharon said “Oh, this is how he always is – he only cat naps!” However, one afternoon she was sleeping and Linda and I put him in his carriage and took him a walk up the lane until he fell asleep and then left him outside under a tree and he slept for an hour or more, and John said “He loves to be outside! Strange people! John did not impress me much this time – he seems to be getting more selfish and so irritable and grumbly! Bad hay fever & asthma is some excuse! Of course he considered the cottage as he does his parents’ home, so he didn’t have on his company manners I suppose, but when I would make lunch with soup, cold meat, cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers for sandwiches and then peaches, and cookies and tea afterwards and he would grumble at having nothing decent for lunch, I got mad. I told him that if he knew of a better hotel he could always move! When Linda grumbles at a meal now I just say “You’re just like your cousin John” and she is greatly offended! Liz and Lorne’s visit was a complete pleasure – the contrast is very marked and it is a pity, but one can’t help but compare. Tomorrow I am going with Lee Gander and some of her friends to a small village about 50 miles away where there is a little shop which sells materials at bargain prices I have heard of this place for a few years but never knew exactly where it was, but Lee said she had gone and next time she was going she would take me, so I am looking forward to the trip. It used to be in a little house with every room crammed from floor to ceiling with bolts of material, I heard, but now they have got a shop, which is better though still packed tight, so I am looking forward to seeing if I can get some nice material. Before I do any sewing for myself I must lose some weight – I always gain in the summer when I make lunch at home for the children and we have sandwiches and I bake more cookies and desserts etc. so all my clothes are tight now and I must really get busy with a diet. Both Lindy and Charlie have quite filled out this summer- Lindy (about 5’6″) weighs 120 pounds and Charlie (about 5 foot 8 1/2 inches) I think is even over 120 a little bit. Lindy is quite horrified, but actually she is just nice but no longer like a little girl. To go back to the Ganders, Barry did very well in his Grade 13 last year and is beginning at Carleton University here in Ottawa this Fall. He went out with some friends to BC this summer and picked fruit to make some money, as it was very hard to get jobs here in Ottawa. Five boys drove out in a station wagon and took a tent and camped on the way, but from what Lee said, any money they earned seemed to be spent very freely as Barry had to phone for more on the way home! He hasn’t been very well since he came back and Lee was worried but he was to go for some tests to the doctor so I hope that they found out what it was and can do something about it. Dougie begins high school this month, so he is not so small anymore, but Cathie is still in Grade School. I was asking Lee about her sister Johnny, and there seems to be no change and no hope – in fact if anything she seems to have retrogressed since I talked to Lee at the beginning of the summer. Then, she could take a comb and put it on the bed if Lee told her to, but now she can’t even move her arms herself, and she doesn’t seem to hear or take anything in. Lee says that she is really in a coma all the time, and she seems to have given up any hope that there will ever be a change. Poor Lee, she has gone through such a dreadful time and for months she went to see Johnny twice a day and hoped against hope, but now it’s as if she feels it doesn’t make any difference to Johnny whether she goes or not and through the summer she has been up at the cottage, and just gone in a few times. She says there is a good nurse and she is well cared for and this is really all she can do. On Friday I am having Mr. Graham and Marjorie and Dick to dinner and then to show us their pictures of their summer travel. Marjorie and Dick went to Prince Edward Island this summer and along the coast of the Maritimes, and Mr. Graham went to Europe – Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy – so he will have some lovely pictures. Very fortunately, he was home before the trouble in Czechoslovakia, but we had arranged for him to meet friends of ours Joe and Eva Poldus, who have been over here – Joe is a physicist – and we are all concerned about them. Another of our friends, Joe Pleva, is now here in Canada, and has been here all summer – he is a professor in Prague, and his wife and son and daughter are still there. We heard that his daughter of 18 had reached West Germany, but Joe had said right at the beginning that if the Russians went in he could never go back, so we don’t know what he is going to do. Mr. Graham gave me a beautiful present from Florence – a lovely oblong tray with turquoise and gold colours, so I was very delighted. The Butchers gave me a set of 4 table mats and napkins – very fascinating – hand blocked or whatever they call it – and of all sorts of different cats, but I do wish that they could have managed 6 or 8 instead of 4 – I never have just 4 people to a meal! Sam Butcher also gave Cec a book on glass blowing which was nice, but I couldn’t help it be a bit amused – Cec’s friend from work, Franz Alberti lent us his boat, so as a thank you Cec bought him a beautiful little radio costing about 60 dollars. I said that I thought this was a bit much, but Cec said “Well if we’d had to rent a boat it would have cost us 100 dollars or so” and I said “Well, we lent the Butchers a house and if they’d had to rent it it.would have cost them much more than 100 dollars!” But still! I was a bit fed up with the house when I came back – Sally had this useless babysitter girl with her and between them I felt they could have left the place more as they found it, but one job they did do over and above the call of duty, was to wash the kitchen walls and ceiling! They were dirty as we plan to paint this Fall, and were leaving it to do then, but they must like washing walls more than wiping spots off floors and ovens! I must stop now as I seem to have spent all day on this letter with millions of interruptions. The phone has rung about 10 times, one of them Ruth Lockwood who sends her love to you. The other calls were Nursery School or WA or something, and then I spent quite a little while watching a bad little groundhog sitting on a box beside our garage! He has been having a ball in our garden eating tomatoes and corn – along with his friends the birds and squirrels – and Cec has put mothballs in his hole and hoped that Saki would chase him away, but he was just happily sitting up there in the rain as if he owned the place! Must stop now, but will write next week and answer some of your questions. Love to Auntie Muriel, hello to Doris and Luenda. Much love from us all Cyn.