1960

The New Year of 1960 started with the children back to school with no effects from their German Measles bout. Besides school and Sunday School, we were involved in other activities: Charlie was a Cub and Linda a Brownie, and Linda took beginner ballet lessons. As for Cyn and Cec, when entertainers such as Tom Lehrer or Joyce Grenfell toured through Ottawa, they went with enthusiasm but Ottawa had no theatre before the National Arts Centre was built, so shows were held in the auditorium of one of the older high schools.


Easter came along, and Cyn’s birthday, as well as the news that our second cousin, Little Monie who had married the year before and was now Mona Beatty, had had twin girls, Stephanie and Suzanne. As a trip to the States was being contemplated for the summer, I’m sure this was an added inducement.



In May, there was Mother’s Day to celebrate, and both children involved in music- Charlie’s class performing a small operetta “Peter Rabbit” and Linda in the Music Festival choir competition for Grade 4 Chorus. But the great excitement was the arrival of Carol Ewing from St. Vincent- Grannie came to stay! By this time, Cec had ‘finished’ the basement, dividing the cavernous concrete-floored space that we had once driven our tricycles and wagons around in circles into two, creating a recreation room that could double as a spare bedroom now the children had a room each.



Grannie was always interested in the children’s activities and fitted happily into family life. Cec had work travel- the usual Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, and then a longer trip that started with a conference where his brother Carman Costain’s work, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, was opened and continued on to Seattle and San Fransisco, where work mingled with tourism!

As the school year ended, plans were made for the summer. Because we were spending most of the summer in Ottawa but had Grannie as a tourist, Cyn made a Chore Chart, where she and the children could check off duties when completed, and each week as a reward, do a tourist activity in the nation’s capital- a cruise on the Rideau Canal, a visit to the Royal Mint, or see the film of ‘Pollyanna’ with Hayley Mills. (Linda had the book of course.)

And as Carol was always involved with the Church, it must have been a satisfaction to witness the service with the Bishop ‘Breaking the Ground’ to start the building of a Church Hall and Chapel on a lot north of the school playground.

We got a new car in July 1960, which was So Modern compared to the 1946 Chrysler that it remained in my mind that way, and it was quite a shock to see the pictures of it now!

This meant that when Grannie’s visit was over in August, we could take our summer trip, and all drive her to New York to visit her nieces, and admire the next generation. Milly and Ford, the Pembletons, who had visited us in Ottawa a few years earlier, had a summer ‘camp’ that the family was used to visiting so we took Grannie there and met the other sisters and their grown-up children, our second cousins- and maybe even the 2nd cousins once removed, the twins. We went to New York City and were tourists! Then we said goodbye to Grannie and the New York families and drove north.

Back in Canada, we headed for Brantford, where the Moors had gone to teach that school year. We arrived just as they moved from a furnished rental into their house on Lorne Crescent, and had a lovely time with our favourite cousins. Linda had her birthday there and Merle got us tickets for the new Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, for Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which was fabulous. Bruno Gerussi was Oberon, we all enjoyed it, and returned to Stratford often as a summer treat. (Linda got to teach Shakespeare in Nigeria, the Northwest Territories, andBritish Columbia over 30 years, and took her own next generation to Stratford in the summer when possible.)



And when they got home in Ottawa, Cyn had a belated birthday party to organize and a letter to write to Carol in New York- which she kept! All the details to follow…

1959

The winter of 1959 was obviously a good one for snow. Charlie’s Big Birthday present in December 1958 had been a toboggan that we could share to coast down the hill behind our house into and across the hollow. The ride was worth the toil back up. As well as tobogganing, we could build forts- although that sort of snow wasn’t that good for making snowballs to defend them so we played something more peaceful.

As the report card shows, in February Linda’s class finished Grade 2 and started Grade 3, and Charlie moved on in Grade 1.

There were birth announcements and wedding invitations from friends and Fellows, and the spring brought Easter celebrations, Cyn’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. Carman and Leona Costain finished in Cambridge and returned to Canada to show off their son David and move to Penticton, British Columbia, where the astrophysicist Dr. C. H. Costain joined in setting up the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory which opened in 1960.

C

In the spring, Charlie moved into Grade 2 and was in the Gym Display at school, and Linda advanced in Grade 3. (Note somersault.)

In June, Cec, as a member of the Canadian Association of Physicists, went to a conference in Saskatoon that allowed him to gather with old friends and fellow scientists, and also enjoy seeing his parents and brother Russell, who with Errol now had 5 children.

Cec came home needing to manage his own family, because Cyn had to go into hospital for a hysterectomy. There are Get Well cards, notes, and flowers were sent by friends, as well as a lovely Thank You letter from the Head Nurse of the ward she’d been on. They bought a comfortable chaise for the garden so she could take it easy outside that summer.

In July, Cyn and Cec celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, Linda’s Grade 2/3 teacher got married, and in August Linda turned 8 and was given her own room, with new pink rosebud curtains. Presents arrived from England, and Cyn was sent pictures from her friend Nan, showing Barbara and Sandy in Cheshire.

When the 1959/60 school year started, Charlie’s Grade 2 accelerated class had a new teacher, and Linda’s class was a 3/4 split- half the accelerated bunch who would be in Grade 4 by November, and half Grade 3 beginners. The Principal of Fairfield was Mrs. Tufts (unusual at that time to have a woman in that position) whose daughter was in Linda’s class, and she came in each week to teach us English Grammar. There was also a separate teacher coming in for Music- choral singing- and for French classes.

For Hallowe’en, Cyn made us the best costumes which lived on in the dress-up box for years! We had a book from Cyn’s childhood about Robin Hood and Charlie had a bow with arrows tipped with suckers. Cyn made Linda a green dress that reached her ankles and braided red ribbons into her hair. Charlie had a green tunic and red tights, with a green cap and quiver to sling on his back. A neighbour took a picture of us on our Trick-or-Treating round on Hallowe’en- our pails of loot and Jack-o-Lantern battery lamps just visible.

As Christmas approached, the school was putting on Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”, friends were sending cards featuring their babies, and … the children went down with German Measles.

It wasn’t to be the last time that Christmas plans were scuppered but as I remember, we weren’t that sick this time and Charlie’s birthday and then Christmas was celebrated. Over the holiday, Cyn and Cec had prepared for an Open House party for friends on the 27th, only to have to call it all off, but there would be other opportunities in 1960.

The Rest of 1958

Physics Division, N.R.C. 1958. Cec back far L., Hin Lu, Boris Stoicheff and Dr Herzberg front R.

A quick overview of the rest of 1958.
School, in spite of an amazing 40 absences in March and April because of our West Indian trip, apparently went well for both of us, and come the summer, both of us successfully advanced to the next year.
However, Charlie, with his birthday in December, was the youngest in his Kindergarten class and so the school decided, at the end of his Kindergarten year, that he should go into the non-accelerated class of Grade 1. Our parents spent the summer brain-washing him into accepting the fact that he would not have Linda’s admired teacher, Mrs Rueter, but would have the teacher our babysitter’s boy, Johnny Lockwood, had had. So we went happily off to school in September 1958, and at the end of the first week, Charlie came home in tears- they were going to move him into the accelerated class! The brain-washing had to be reversed, Charlie was integrated into Mrs Rueter’s Grade 1 and everyone was fine with it- except Mrs Lockwood who was miffed!

The church had grown both in adult congregation and Sunday School. Although still housed in the school, there were dreams of building a Hall or a Church, and various organizations had been formed. The Ladies Guild would meet in the fall, and hear a talk on Fancy Cooking by Mrs. Cecil Costain!

On the relatives front, there was news on both sides of the family. Little Mona, of the unsuitable (and unknown) job, was married in May, with her brother’s bride of the year before as one of her attendants, and no doubt wedding presents from Cyn and Carol.

On the Costain side, Carman and Leona Costain in Cambridge not only had a son, David, but also Carman succeeded in bettering his performance in hockey! I’m sure his work, too, was going well.

In the summer, the Moors- Dix, Cec’s eldest sister Merle, and their family- came through Ottawa, and the cousins finally met. John and Lorne were teenagers and Bruce was 8, a year older than Linda. The adults enjoyed their visit, met up with the Atchisons- the other sister Lea and family- and at some point (perhaps this summer, maybe in the next couple of years) the Moors moved from Port Arthur to Brantford in southern Ontario, which was much more possible to visit! We adored the Big Boys and got on beautifully with Bruce (not always true of interactions with Darryl Atchison, also 8, whom we saw 4 or 5 times a year.) The older boys were very kind to the younger cousins and we all enjoyed being a big family.

6 Cousins! Patty Lu sitting on John, Linda, Darryl, Charlie, and Bruce.

Cec went to the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus in the summer and in August Linda had her 7th birthday with a slide as the big shared present in the summer. Charlie turned 6 just before Christmas. Both continued to do well in school, in spite of Charlie being in hospital in the fall- since neither of us know why, it can’t have been that serious.

In England, there was more serious news among Cyn’s friends. Amy Stainthorpe, who was wont to make acid comments to Cyn and Carol if letters were delayed, died in Newcastle, and Dr. Stainthorpe- Charlie’s godfather who had given Cyn away at her wedding, with Ruth as her bridesmaid- and his daughter Ruth Haynes would have received sad letters from both Cyn and Carol.
Another death in Newcastle left no one to write to: little Stephen Mitchell was left without family when his grandmother Mrs. Scott died. His mother Irene – a dear friend of Cyn and Carol’s- and a year or two later his father, had died when he was a toddler- and his grandmother had been bringing him up, but their friends were horrified to hear that after her death the little boy of 6 had been sent to Australia as an orphan. Cyn, Dottie, and Nan had all moved away from Newcastle by this time, and no doubt heard of this after the event, but all worried about the fate of the boy. I am assuming this happened sometime in 1958 because Cyn’s Christmas parcel list, which had mentioned sending Stephen a ‘Frontier Set’ in December 1957, did not list him for 1958.

Nan’s move from Newcastle to Cheshire was recorded in Cyn’s scrapbook with a change-of-address card, and a picture of Sandy, whom I assume had successfully advanced to Grammar School in their new location.

The year ended with a happy Christmas for the Costains, with Dr. & Mrs. Herzberg and their adult children Agnes and Paul, coming for Christmas dinner.

1958 Trip to St. Vincent

In the spring of 1957 Cyn had told her mother about their finances and a plan they had for saving- but by Christmas, Cyn and Cec decided obviously decided to spurge and to fulfill a long-time promise to her mother Carol by visiting St Vincent for 7 weeks over Easter! I am so sad I have no letters that explain their decision, but some of it must have been based on the children’s schooling and age. I also miss details about the preparation, because I have memories of the clothes my mother made for me for Easter! But there is a copy of a speech my mother must have made to a women’s group after their trip- a thing she was good at after her experiences with American clubs during her exchange year teaching after the war- so I will be able to post Cyn’s St. Vincent experience.

Travelling with children involves a lot of preparation. After the explanations about visiting Grannie in St. Vincent where it would be warm- snowsuit weather in Ottawa of course- Charlie and I asked our teachers for school work for March. I distinctly remember us driving across Ottawa to buy my school books! By the time we got through the traffic home, Linda in the back seat had finally been able to read to the end of her ‘Dick and Jane’ reader- a thing we were not allowed to do in class! (There wasn’t much plot development.) My mother took the other reader and saved it for the actual trip…


Charlie’s teacher answered with a note to Cyn explaining that when Charlie came back, she would have moved and there would be a new teacher, which might be upsetting. As it turned out, however, his second Kindergarten teacher was a lovely woman, Mrs. Verna Steele, who lived in our neighbourhood and was always fond of Charlie.
The New York cousins, who had visited Moo and Carol for a winter holiday in previous years, sent Bon Voyage cards; the itinerary had to be arranged so that as many West Indian Hazells as possible could be visited, the tickets bought, hotels booked, and cat boarded.

What do I remember of the trip? Charlie and I were flying in airplanes for the first time, and we landed in Trinidad for a few days first, staying at the hotel owned by a Hazell cousin, but the only thing I remember is the final leg to St. Vincent in a Grummond Goose which landed on the sea with a splash that sparkled through the windows of the little plane as it motored up to the landing ramp!

The Goose!
Linda helping with the wash.

We stayed with Grannie and Auntie Moo in their house in Kingstown and then in a rented bungalow out by the sea, close to where the seaplane landed so we could watch it. As children do, we accepted their servants Doris and Luenda, Hilda and Amelia, but now can’t think they had 4, so maybe one pair worked in the bungalow. Mr. Cox drove us around, and local relatives connected with Cyn, some of whom she hadn’t seen since before the war. We visited, Cyn met their spouses and showed off her husband and children.

Cyn, Grannie and cousins!

When we napped or went to bed in the evening, white mosquito netting was draped over the bed and tucked in, so that we had to be extracted on waking, and sometimes a little lizard would be sitting on the netting a foot above my eyes when I woke up. (They were very fast though, so I never got to pet one.) There were beautiful flowers in Grannie’s garden, and chickens running around, and one day I decided I wanted to see the cook make dinner- from the beheading of the chicken to the final product. Apparently I did witness the execution and then, having put two and two together, was not willing to eat her, but what my brother remembers is that the chicken was tough and didn’t taste nice!

Cyn went shopping!

Out at Villa the fresh fish was wonderful and appreciated by the whole family, and we loved the tiny bananas. The coconuts were an entertainment although I didn’t like eating them- a man climbed up the tree with his cutlass and knocked them down to the ground, then cut them open expertly so we could drink the coconut water and scoop out the soft jelly-like coconut. The sea was warm and I loved swimming- although there was a feeling of betrayal at my only swimming lesson when my father took his hands away from supporting my tummy and I sank instead of floating, coming up with burning eyes, tears and salty coughing- and Charlie became more used to the water and no longer played by himself in the sand while others paddled.

One beach we visited had black sand from the lava which looked wonderfully muddy when plastered on, and I remember intriguing rock pools with tiny fish and plants trapped in them by the receding tide. One day our parents got up very early in the morning and went to climb the volcano, La Soufrière, with Hazell cousins, and once we went out in a glass-bottomed boat so we could see the coral and the fish our father had been telling us about when snorkelling. We collected tiny shells and I acquired three dolls for my collection- Hilda and Amelia in brightly coloured prints, head-ties, and earrings, and Mr. Cox with overalls and his cutlass in hand.


Easter was a festival in St. Vincent. Of course all the ladies, Black and white, wore beautiful hats (and still did in the 90s), and I had new Best Clothes for the occasion. My mother had made me a white dress with frills for sleeves out of a stiffish material, and it had a turquoise pinafore of the same kind of material over it, that could be a sundress on its own. I had a choice of two hats- crescent moon-shaped hat forms covered to match my dress- one white, one turquoise. And no one took a picture! Cyn’s work was appreciated at the time, but not immortalized- we ate the beautifully decorated cakes, wore and then outgrew the clothes- without her art being recorded- such a pity, I now feel.
We ended our visit in St. Vincent and said good-bye, knowing that Grannie would come and stay with us in a few years, and took the Goose to Barbados where we stayed before climbing on a Trans Canada plane home, arriving back to a chilly Ottawa spring. There were apparently no repercussions from missing so much school, and ordinary life resumed.

Not very much to declare. Suspect that Cec’s had rum.

July 1957

The date on this post is quite misleading, since many of the photographs are from the spring as well as the summer of 1957, but Cyn recorded in her scrapbook the birth announcements of friends and relatives and pictures of their children, as well as important events in the family. It’s a pity we are missing the July letters describing the making of her new dress and the Garden Party- probably more important than the federal election- but we catch up in August.

Baby Boomers!

“We think she’ll be a sweet little girl & at this point only wish she would.”
Note the numbers on the blocks- Bobby was the 4th son in this Costain family.
Summer in England- this is Christopher [Linda’s age]’s little sister.

And family events…

More cousins- soon to move closer and get to know us.

The Governor General’s Garden Party-quite an Ottawa occasion.

The Governor General’s Garden Party- Cyn made a new dress with her black and white material, and wore her new pink hat!
And the newly elected Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, was there too.
Cec’s June birthday on Father’s Day.

And preparations for the new school year to consider!

December 1956

This Christmas entry focuses on the presents that Cyn and her friends exchanged and certainly emphasizes what privileged and lucky children my brother and I were, with such a variety of gifts sent to us from so many people. But I want to point out that this practice forged connections, and by this age, Charlie and Linda were involved in some aspects of the gift selection, wrapping, parcels making, and, as Cyn’s letter just before measles confined them all to the house says, she and Charlie were successfully mailing the packages a week before the Post Office’s overseas deadline.
Because of their religion, the Russell Costains in Saskatoon did not celebrate Christmas, and presents were not exchanged, so growing up we did not have the same connection as we did to our other cousins- whom we may not have met but were asked to consider when asked what our little cousins in B.C. would like for Christmas. It wasn’t until we were teens that we met all our cousins, and our parents’ friends in England, but we had had years of sending parcels and receiving exciting and different presents that provided an introductory link. But our connection to those Saskatchewan cousins was never strong, which I’ve always regretted. (And Cyn may have acceded to the present ban, but she had included them among her 90 Christmas cards in 1956, and had enclosed the photo of the children that she sent to all the family as a Christmas gift!)

Carol was always interested in Church news and would have been very pleased to get this background information on Cyn’s minister whom she had met on both her Ottawa visits.

July 29 1956

Except for the clipping about Dr. Forsyth’s work which came from the scrapbook, these items go mostly with the last letter- Visual Aids to keep Carol in touch with changes in Ottawa!

Sunday 29th July

Dearest Mummy,
Here are a few odds & ends to amoose you. We have just been down to see Ken’s garden – it is really lovely – it has been so cool & plenty of rain this year that everything is green & bushy & growing beautifully. We ate raspberries & blackberries & came home laden with wax beans, new potatoes, pink rhubarb, new carrots, carnations & a rose! It has been cold today- was 64° in the house this morning but we resisted the temptation to put the furnace on! The only 3 hot days this year were when we were on our trip – such a change from last year, isn’t it? We had such a nice relaxed lazy day today though – I have just loafed around & thoroughly enjoyed it. Cec is working in the study now & the children are in bed.

I have a book I am thinking of sending you “Tender Victory” by Taylor Caldwell – we got it from our Book Club & both thought it was very good & that you would enjoy it. It is about an Anglican clergyman in the U.S. – fiction. My little bit of paper is full, so I’ll say Night – Night –
Lots of love
Cyn.

Pete Forsyth- Friend and Colleague of Cec’s from the Saskatoon days.

In the last letter, Cyn told her mother about their spending spree on furnishings and the paddlng pool.

AS Cyn’s comment says, these are their new living room curtains, only not in this ghastly colour, but in natural ‘matchstick bamboo’.

This article refers to the visit Carol made to Ottawa 5 years before when Linda was a baby and they were all living in an Eastview apartment. Cyn has written on the top of this cutting “Do you remember poor Giselle?” who was obviously then a neighbour as her parents’ address is Ethel Street which Carol would remember.

June 11 1956

Everyone says we have 2 beautiful children!

At Til & Lois’
Monday 11th June.

Dearest Mummy,
Does it look familiar to have a letter from Toledo? We have been here since Thursday & are having a lovely time. We left Ottawa in such cold weather a week ago & it poured with rain on the Sunday & then again on the Monday morning & now it has changed & we are having a real heat wave. We have had 3 scorchers & poor Cec drove down to Columbus yesterday & will be sweltering there as it is very hot & humid. Til & Lois have an air conditioner no less so we are in luxury!

The trip has really been very successful – the children didn’t really care much for the long drives the first 2 days, but we took it easily & had quite a few breaks & they slept once in a while, so it wasn’t too bad. Charlie definitely is carsick & the morning we left home it was a very near thing after a bit of bumpy road, but we stopped in time & as soon as he was out in the fresh air for a little while he was o.k. & after that we took care to keep him in the front & as soon as he had a “funny feeling” we stopped! We saw Les & Joyce Haywood on the first afternoon & had tea there, then we drove onto Toronto & found a Motel & had dinner. Next morning we went to see Aunt Lillie & Uncle Milton & had an early lunch there & then were on our way. It was pouring with rain so we ended by stopping quite early for dinner & finding a motel as we were all tired. The children had a room all to themselves with no communicating door – they were thrilled at their own bathroom & everything, but I was groaning at the thought of tripping out in the rain in my nightie if they yelled in the night, but the little angels never squeaked!

Gunborg Sutherland, my godmother.

We got to Ann Arbor just after lunch the next day & everything was fine except the dog. Lindy was terrified of him as he barked so it was awkward but they tried to keep him outside. Gunborg looked very tired & rather abstracted with all the packing & moving etc. looming over her, but she & Gordon were very nice & we really liked the girls this time.

All dressed up visiting the Sutherlands.

They were very sweet & nice with the children to & seemed much more friendly & outgoing than they were a couple of years ago. Cec spent a day up at the Lab. & we saw Mrs. Kaufman (owner of the apartment we were in) & Mary Jo & Pete & their 4 children. Gordon & Gunborg had some of the Dept. in on the Wed. evening. Cec knew the men but I didn’t know many of them except Mary & Arthur Dockerill.

Anne drew them while we watched!

We drove down to Toledo on Thursday & got rooms at a motel practically next-door to them. Til’s mother (aged 91) is with them & they only have 2 bedrooms, but when Cec left for Columbus on Sunday they insisted we move in here & they have fixed up the children in beds in the study & me in Lois’s bed while she is on the sofa. They have a dog too, a little black spaniel called Penny & unfortunately she is rather barky too. The first day Lindy was just about hysterical she was so scared, but she is getting over it quite nicely. Til & Lois didn’t finish school till Friday, so we spent a lazy day, then on Saturday we went down town & shopped & then dropped in to see the Pasquiers who are flying to France tomorrow.
Tomorrow we are all going to the zoo so I had better go to bed & get my strength – it’s to be 95° tomorrow!

XXX & lots of love from us all. Cyn.

With Til.

May 17 to June 3 1956

Immediately after finishing her last Air Form, Cyn started this letter to her mother, and then finished it 2 1/2 weeks later, in the middle of their road trip to Michigan for their holiday. But the complaints about the weather are completely in agreement with Mrs. Edmunds’ letters which have interrupted the Costain accounts! Events in the last 2 hectic weeks of May included Mother’s Day, with a card and a visit from Lila, when Linda got to wear her new yellow-and-white outfit just completed by her clever Mama.

Box 330. R.R.1
17th May. 1956

Dearest Mummy,
I just finished an A.L. to you but discover it isn’t very late yet, so I thought I would begin this now & it would encourage me to get on with it & get it done in good time to mail next week!
I told you that I’d give you more details of Jim & Lee’s house in this – actually their street & front entrance is not finished yet, so we came from another street & entered by the back so I feel a bit turned around, but I’ll try to draw you a vague plan! It is grey brick with black roof & has a nice lot with quite a few trees which will be lovely – they get the front landscaped for them, but have to do the back themselves. Lee’s sister Johnny (the nurse who lives in California now) is on holiday & staying with them for a month or so, which is very nice & a big help to Lee. She was away in Montreal when we were there, but we hope to see her when she gets back. Dougie is a big boy running around now, but still not talking – Charlie is quite taken with him! He is about 10 times as tough as Charlie as Barry treats him rough & knocks him about & he takes it all! Can you imagine my little plum blossom?!

I like the plan very much & it is all nicely arranged & finished, but the sitting room is small which is our only criticism. Of course with the dining room added on it makes it seem larger, but even so it isn’t very big.
On Sat. the Swiss Fellow, Kurt Dressler (the one who made the funny remark about enjoying himself much more than he thought he would!) is getting married. His bride has come from Switzerland & we all thought they would get married very quietly, but he has invited all the Spectroscopy Dept. & is having a reception in the Church Hall, so it is very exciting. The Church is over on the Drive way not far from Jim & Lee & when the latter offered to keep the children we accepted with delight as we had asked Mrs. Martin to come but they were most unenthusiastic! (Linda said she would play outside & Mrs. Martin must never come out!) Mrs. M. was quite pleased to get out of it as she is very busy, so we are all happy now! While we were over at Jim & Lee’s last Sat. we went to Simpson’s Sears new store & I got a new hat – white with a brim – flat – & a veil – quite pretty – & also a wedding present – a set of square plastic kitchen canisters – flour etc. (red & white) – you know. Of course with the weather I have quite a problem what to wear! So I have 3 outfits lined up
1) Beautiful warm sunny day. New greeny- yellow dress I made – new hat- white shoes gloves etc.
2) Mild but dull day. Harrod’s tussore dress (just washed & ironed it) new hat – white gloves – black shoes.
3) Cold lousy horrid day! Grey suit – new blouse I got for my birthday – new hat – white gloves – black shoes. Will let you know which one it turns out to be!

MacTavish [their ’46 Chrysler] is away this week getting his face lifted before we go back to his home town! Cec is having the engine overhauled before our trip & also having all the bumps fixed & having him painted (the same colour) so we are very excited to see him looking pretty & shiny again. Til & Lois will probably be utterly amazed to see we are still driving him, but we thought at least we could take him down looking his best.
There was such a terrible accident not far from here on Tuesday night. A jet plane crashed from 33,000 ft. down onto a Grey Nuns Convent used as a Rest Home. It is between here & Orleans, but not on the road we used to drive but on a side road off to the river. It happened at about 10:15 & of course the plane exploded & the building was immediately engulfed in flames. I went out to the kitchen at about 10:30 & glancing out of the window saw this huge blazing fire, but Cec & I couldn’t think where or what it was. It is so difficult to tell distances at night & it looked so big. It wasn’t till about 15 mins. later that all the fire engines began tearing past & the RCAF fire equipment & so on – there were all sorts of reports on the radio but at last they told what had happened. At first they reported as many as 50 killed, but next morning they announced 15 killed all together, including a priest & the 2 pilots. Seventeen of the nuns were saved, but seeing the terrible devastation of the building it is incredible that anyone got out at all. The dreadful thing is that there are fields all around the convent for miles.

A Long, Long Time Later
June 3. On Our Trip.

Road Trip!

Dearest Mummy – Didn’t I get lost off with this letter? The last 2 weeks before we left were so hectic that I just didn’t seem to have a minute even to finish it, so finally I brought it along with me & I am writing this in a Motel in Chatham (half way between Toronto & Windsor.) I got your nice long letter just before I left & hope you won’t worry when you don’t hear from me for a little while but expect you will know I was busy getting ready for the trip.
It has been such cold rainy weather that we are all wearing sweaters & coats & although I have our bags full of summer dresses I don’t know whether we’ll ever wear them! It rained all day today & I can hear the cars swishing by on the highway outside. We set out at 9 a.m. yesterday morning – a gray cool day – & drove to Peterborough (about 200 miles) to see the Haywoods who live there now. The children slept part of the way, but after they woke the road was quite bumpy for a bit & although I had Charlie in the front he said he felt funny & suddenly turned pale green & began to cry! We stopped & got out hastily & it did the trick – he had a little walk in the fresh air & a cookie & we went on in about 10 mins. time & he has been fine since, although of course we handle him with care!

We had lunch on the way & got to the Haywoods about 3:15 & had tea & a chat & stayed about 1 1/2 hrs. They like it there very much & all look well & happy. We then drove on to Toronto & got to a Motel not far from A. Lillie & U. Milton’s at about 7:30. We had dinner then & settled down for the night – rather a restless one! We had a big room with 2 double beds & one end as a sitting room, but of course the children were excited at all the strangeness. We tried to get them asleep & let us sit & read on the sofa, but of course they weren’t used to the light, so in the end we went to bed too, but I was up a dozen times I’m sure! They kicked each other & Charlie scratched his legs & Linda kicked him etc. etc.!!! This morning after breakfast we went to Auntie & Uncle’s & stayed & had an early lunch but both children were very tired & subdued! We set off again at noon & this time retraced our famous drive of Linda’s babyhood, but I can’t say I recalled any of the places!

We stopped here quite early – about 5:30 – as it was so rainy & miserable – & this time we have 2 adjoining rooms, which I hope will be better. We had dinner & put the children to bed & as this is a bigger bed we put pillows down the middle & they seem to be sound asleep now. I only hope they don’t call in the middle of the night or I have to dash out of one door & in at the other in the rain in my nightie!! We have only about 100 miles to do tomorrow so will get to Ann Arbour in the afternoon & will stay there till Thursday when we go to Toledo.


I spent the last week or so making Linda & me the dresses out of the material I got last year that you asked about. It is white with a little yellow dot & I have made us yellow jackets to go with them. Everyone thinks they look nice & I think so too, but this weather! It was cold for the wedding I told you about of course & I wore my grey (remodelled) suit, which I’m wearing now with a sweater & pleased to have it on!
I must stop now & go to bed – hoping it will be a quiet night! I’ll write again on the trip & tell you how we are doing.
Lots & lots of love from us all – Cyn.

MacTavish’s Travel Papers

April 9 2021

Today I think the post has to address the current events of April 9 2021, because the lives of both Carol and Cyn were touched by them in the 20th century, and they would care about what happened in this one.

Ash cloud from the volcanic eruption on St. Vincent- CNN


First, La Soufrière, the volcano in St Vincent, erupted today, as it did in 1902 when Carol was a child, and again in 1979 when I was teaching in Nigeria, and getting world news far away from my family, Carol then living with Cyn and Cec in Ottawa. Thankfully, the world has better systems in place now, scientists- and earthquakes- warned of the increased volcanic activity, and St. Vincent’s emergency plan was put into action by the Prime Minister so people in possible danger were warned and are being evacuated now. But it is a time of uncertainty in pandemic times, and we are concerned about the people of St.Vincent.


Secondly, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died today. When Cyn stood in the London crowd in 1947, with her radio broadcasting the royal wedding service to her friends and the people around her, I’m sure they all wished the royal couple a long and happy marriage, but I doubt they visualized it lasting 73 years. Both Carol and Cynthia, confirmed royalists, would want us to acknowledge Prince Philip’s constant service to the UK and Commonwealth and support for the Queen, and join in expressing sympathy for his family and the people who knew him.

The Queen and Prince Philip in Ottawa, the year of my birth.