July 23 1962 Part 2

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

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

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

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

And I did: December 1963 !

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

July 23 1962

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

Portage Lake,

23 July, 1962.

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

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

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

Greenwich Village

July 9 1962

Portage Lake
9th July 1962.

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

Charlie’s Grade 5 report.

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

Linda’s Grade 6 report.

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

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

June 4 1962

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2, Ontario

Dearest Mummy,

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

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

Tuesday, 5th June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots and lots of love from us all –

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.

My First Journey

From Ann Arbor to Ottawa.

My first journey

On Thursday Daddy & Mummy & Grannie & I drove from Ann Arbor to Ottawa in MacTavish. We left late on Thursday evening & arrived there on Sunday morning. I was 5 weeks old & slept in my little car bed most of the way or on Grannie’s knee, & at night we lived in cabins. We stopped in Toronto to see Auntie Lily & Uncle Milton. It was 600 miles altogether and Mummy & Daddy said I was very good all the way.

Except for when I woke them all up pulling my hair.

It is funny to read about car travel almost 70 years ago- seat belts unknown, so the baby travels unrestrained in her car bed or on her grandmother’s knee. And I’m sure Cec was smoking throughout, totally discouraged around babies today- I can remember as a little girl MacTavish’s cigarette lighter which popped out when glowing, and the lovely smell of the newly lit tobacco, before the less pleasant smell of actual smoking took over.

They drove on Highway 2 all the way to Prescott, and Cyn’s markings show them stopping at Chatham, Hamilton, Toronto, Belleville, and Kingston before turning north to Ottawa at Prescott. In those pre-Hwy. 401 days it took much longer than it would now- the road goes through the towns rather than bypassing them- and there were no fast food rest stops then, so trips were more leisurely, with stops in towns for food and fuel. And the proud parents wanted to show off the first girl in the new Costain generation to Cec’s aunt and uncle so there was a social visit too.

The September account book shows details of the tidying up needed before leaving the States- the mundane housekeeping bills to Dairy, Detroit Edison, and the Trojan Laundry mingling with one-of-a-kind expenses such as a sum to the Michigan Department of Revenue, and the rather expensive cost of binding and mailing the thesis. However, there is no October entry dealing with the cost of the journey. Normal life resumes in November when they are settled enough to be getting a salary and paying rent in Ottawa.

My First Letter

In her teens, my grandmother Carol was sent from St Vincent in the West Indies to boarding school in England. As earlier posts have shown, her headmistress, Miss Lefroy, not only ran the school, but found families for Carol to stay with during holidays, met Carol’s brother and brother-in-law, and gradually became her friend. When Carol returned to England as a young mother, she and her 4-year-old daughter Cynthia stayed with Miss Lefroy in London before going north to live in Newcastle. When Cynthia went to boarding school in York as a teen, Miss Lefroy, visiting her headmistress, took the girl out to lunch, and remained involved in her life. Carol and Cynthia stayed with Miss Lefroy in London- on holidays, during the war, in times of crisis. Even though both left England, the exchange of letters continued, and at the beginning of September 1951, the third generation gets her first letter.

September 1951.

Dear little Linda Carol.

We are very glad to hear that you have arrived safely & we hope that you are well & happy & will like being here, & have a very happy useful life, making your Mummy & Daddy & Grannie very happy & proud of you.

Chris & I both send love to your Mummy & Daddy & Grannie- and we hope soon to hear that you are all safely now in Canada – in a very nice comfy home for you all, with flowers & pet animals near to amuse you.

We are not having a bit nice weather here – it is cold & wet, raining & blowing like winter not summer – & we see in the papers that USA has a heatwave, so we hope that you all will like it  we would not.

Very much love to you all four from two loving friends, 

                              Amy Lefroy & Chris Hall

Cynthia dear,

Very hearty congratulations on managing it all so well & happily, & I hope that having your mother with you will make things easier for you especially facing a move soon. 

I wonder if Linda will be tall like her Daddy or petite like her dear little Mama – or midway!!

Love & congratulations from Chris & me & greetings to Cecil. I expect he is a very proud papa! 

                  Yours always 


I’m pretty sure my parents were happy and proud of me at that stage of my life, and I’m sure Miss Lefroy would have been pleased that I followed her example and became a teacher. (Although not a headmistress!)

Leaving Ann Arbor

It is rather nauseating, but “The Book of Baby Mine” entitled all the events as ‘My First _______’ so Cyn wrote all the entries in the voice of baby Linda. These vignettes are interspersed with Family Tree charts; space for lists of Visitors, Gifts, Photos; a Horoscope chart (!); Average Weight Chart; Teeth diagram: Immunization Record; and a Checklist for baby development. At the end are helpful instructions on holding, bathing, feeding the baby and, of course, ads- baby food, furniture, photographers, drugs, shoes, and a Beauty Shop for mom, all specific to Ann Arbor.

My First Home. 

1022 Forest Ave. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Mummy & Daddy haven’t got a picture of my first home. It was just a small apartment & we only lived there 3 weeks after Mummy & I came home from hospital. This little squirrel used to visit us there & her name was Mrs. Molly Coddle. She used to eat peanuts & ginger cookies & took them from Mummy’s & Daddy’s hands. She climbed on Daddy’s knee & sat & ate peanuts there.

This is the charge for Cyn’s 9 day stay in hospital.

The Business of Leaving Ann Arbor.

Along with coping with a new baby, Cec and Cyn had to deal with the difficulties of moving- first to their temporary apartment, then with the trip to Ottawa.  The congratulatory telegrams and baby presents went to the old address-

the hospital bills had to be paid,

Costain account book for August, note largest expense- U. Hospital.

and goodbyes had to be made to friends.  

My First Outing

Went to see the Peters family. I was 2 1/2 weeks old, & Daddy & Mummy took me in the car to see Helen & Jody. They were having their afternoon nap & we waited for them to wake up until it was past my feeding time, but I was a good girl.

The Baby Arrives

When I first read the letters from spring 1951 a decade ago, containing the Costains’ plans to move to Ottawa in the summer, find a house, meet Carol off the plane August 6th, show off Cyn’s size, then find a doctor and hospital to have the baby in, I wondered whether I would ever know what had happened- because I knew that the baby beat the thesis and that I had been born in Ann Arbor!  But the last airform explains: Cec’s experiments were not complete, his professor Gordon advised he stay at the Ann Arbor lab until the end of September, and so Cyn and Cec decided to put off the Ottawa move for two months, finish the thesis, and have the baby in the University of Michigan hospital.  Relieved, they sent a telegram to Carol telling her not to book an air ticket to Ottawa, and followed up with the airmail letter explaining their decision.  And presumably she came to Michigan at the beginning of August, because there are no more letters.  

They had to find a temporary furnished apartment big enough to accommodate Carol and baby (Forest Ave.), and get their goods packed and shipped to Ottawa, while Cec continued working in his lab and writing his thesis until 4 in the morning, and Cyn typed his latest pages during the day.  But it all worked out- the baby was born and called Linda Carol; the thesis was finished, typed, and sent off to Cambridge; and at the age of six weeks, I accompanied my parents and grandmother in MacTavish over the border to Canada on the way to Ottawa.

The story that I was told suggests the journey was not all joy. They stayed overnight in a motel on the way, and in the middle of the night were awakened by SCREAMING from the baby.  Fumbling round in the dark to find out why, they discovered that she had wound her fingers in her shock of dark hair, yelled in pain, pulled harder, and screamed louder for rescue!  Untwining the fingers and settling the baby ensured that all were wide awake- possibly the schedule of 4-hourly feedings was disturbed.  

Eventually they arrived in Ottawa, Cec started his job in Dr. Herzberg’s Pure Physics Division of the National Research Council, the paychecks started, and they eventually settled in a duplex on Acacia Avenue in Ottawa.  Grannie stayed for months and we were all very happy.

The first baby gets the gorgeous baby clothes from friends and relatives; lots of snaps in the scrapbook of baby staring, yawning and sleeping; and a detailed account of their progress in a baby book!  There may not be letters to Carol (known mostly as Mummy, but now entitled Grannie as well) but there is documentation: bills from the hospital, telegrams from England, and stories in Cyn’s handwriting of the baby’s ‘First’s’- My First Outing, Christmas, and lists of presents, shots, teeth, and so on. I’ll include some of these thrilling vignettes from my first year.  However, since the second baby arrived 16 months later, only the first third of the baby book is filled in! Carol returned to the West Indies  before my first birthday, and the letters to Dearest Mummy started up after a year’s gap, in the 2nd trimester of Cyn’s second pregnancy. She might have been too busy for baby books, but not for the letters, so our story continues.

Cec’s Thesis: or, as Harry Kroto, the future Nobel Laureate, once called it- the bible.

July 8 1951

Cec and Cyn’s American work life achievements: a thesis and the baby present..

Sunday. 8th July. 1951

Dearest Mummy,

I know that you will have been having kittens ever since you got our cable, but I do hope that it won’t have upset you and your plans too much, and that you won’t be too worried. We are so sorry to be so upsetting at the last moment, but as I told you in my last letter, Cec has been having a wretched time with his work, and although he has been working so desperately these last months, things were just not coming right. His thesis does not actually have to be in Cambridge until the 30th September, but the writing was the least part of it as he could do that in Ottawa if necessary, – the results from his work were the really worrying part, as those he has to get down here where all his equipment is. So, on Thursday Cec saw Dr. S & had a long talk with him, & Gordon said that he thought Cec would have to take me up to Ottawa & get me settled there with you, & then come back here & finish his experimental work in A.A. Well- we talked about it, & instead I suggested that we stay here until the end of September & ask you to come here instead of Ottawa. In this way, Cec will waste no time, but can carry right on with his work; it will be less expensive; I will have no last minute rushing & travelling; and I will have the baby at the Hospital here, which I would like.

Once we made the decision, we both felt the most terrific sense of relief, because both of us have been worrying & wondering what we could do. Of course, there are snags- Cec will have to ask the National Research Council in Ottawa for leave for 2 months, & as he won’t be getting paid, we will be hard up- also we will have to find another flat here as this one is let, but the advantages are so enormous in our staying that we are both quite light-hearted! I am very happy about having the baby here, & Cec is relieved that I won’t have the long, tiring journey & all the big upheaval. Finding an apt. here on the spot will be less of a job than finding something in Ottawa, & altho’ it is a pity we have to leave 803 Granger, it would have been a squash & a bigger apt will be better. Gunborg dashed down straight away to say we could all come & live with them, but I don’t think we’ll do that!

Cec & I both got your letters yesterday, thank you very much. I’ll answer mine later in the week, & Cec says to tell you that he will see the Bank Manager tomorrow & send you the required letter- it is necessary for U.S. as well as Canada we think. If you concentrate on getting U.S. formalities ready we can complete Canadian ones here before Sept.- hope you don’t have too wild a rush with the change of plan & that you can change the flight O.K. Will send Bank letter tomorrow & write more details later. Don’t worry– we feel fine!! Lots & lots of love- Cyn.