July 23 1962

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

Portage Lake,
Pinkney
Michigan.

23 July, 1962.

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

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

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

Greenwich Village

July 9 1962

Portage Lake
9th July 1962.

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

Charlie’s Grade 5 report.

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

Linda’s Grade 6 report.


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


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

June 4 1962

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2, Ontario

Dearest Mummy,

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

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

Tuesday, 5th June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots and lots of love from us all –
Cyn.

April 13 1962 Part 2

Dearest Mama,
Just a short note to answer some of your questions. You asked about my ribs etc. – they are fine now & I don’t feel any effects at all. When I am tired I get a bit of an ache in my back where the worst ones were & it is a little flat there, but it isn’t much & a rest puts it right again. As you can tell by all the wall-washing & painting etc. I am not incapacitated at all!
You asked me about taking Charlie with his toe to the Hospital – yes, it was the one on Montreal Rd. – St. Louis-Marie de Montfort! It was just the Outpatient Department we went to, & we quite saw Life! – a father with 2 little children who had swallowed aspirins & had their stomachs pumped out! It seemed all right but all French of course & none of the Drs. seem to send anything serious there – the Civic has all the equipment & facilities I suppose.
What do you think? Eve Proudfoot has a DAUGHTER! Born on the 11th, over 8 lbs. & called Laura Jane! You can imagine Mrs. Barltrop [the grandmother] – she is just popping!! She took us quite by surprise as Dr. Smith had said the end of the month but everyone is very pleased for her and Jim. Mr. & Mrs. B. have moved to a house in town, as they really needed the room I suppose. [The Proudfoots had 2 sons quite a bit older] There seems to be quite a spate of “second-thought” babies – when is Peggy’s due? Poor Pat Tomlinson is having another in August – Jamie is just 1 yr. now & she has so much trouble with varicose veins that I am really sorry for her.
We have heard no more from our Insurance man & actually I feel I’d like to forget the whole thing now. We got about $150 rebate on our Income Tax & Ontario Medical Insurance as our Medical Expenses were so high last year – all my accident & Charlie’s business & Linda’s teeth – it was very welcome! L’s teeth are coming along fine- she has what she calls “metal work” all around her lower front teeth now, pulling them into shape & filling up the 2 spaces [I had had 4 teeth removed to make room] & she seems to get used to it quite quickly. Must stop now & get some work done.
Hugs from the children – it is marbles & skipping season now! Love to Auntie Muriel – hello to Doris –
With lots of love from
Cyn.

I’m not sure why Cyn wrote the answers to her mother’s questions as a separate letter, but as she did, I published them that way. All of the questions are following up things Cyn had written about earlier that year or even the year before, and her mother would remember the friends Cyn wrote about from her stay in 1960.

April 13 1962

2043 Montreal Rd
Ottawa 2

Friday the 13th. [April 1962]

Dearest Mummy,
Here am I just sending your Easter & birthday cards & your Easter card arrived yesterday with the enclosed note. Thank you so much. I have had the cards for ages but didn’t want to send them too soon, then this week we have been so busy with our PAINTING & the house is in such a turmoil! We got on very well last weekend – Cec got all the ceilings washed twice & I washed the walls & then we began painting & got 2 coats on the part of the room near the bedrooms & it looks very nice. This is the colour – quite harmless! I have been doing the doors & windows, woodwork etc. in the enamel, but we found that we just had about 1/8 the can of paint left for the rest of the walls, so ordered more, & wouldn’t you know it? They are out of it & we have to wait! So here we are, sitting in the chaos! However, Cec has taken down & washed the bamboo curtains & we have got the material to recover the dining room chairs, so we can get on with something. The material is a browny linen tweed, & we plan to get or make a new slip cover for the sofa & get new curtains eventually, so we should look elegant! Cec has moved the big bookcase over in front of the bedroom doors as a room divider & we will make the part with the big windows the sitting room – will draw you a plan when we are all done.
We have another change to make too – Cec was shutting the garage door on Wed. & it fell down! So we have ordered a new one & a new storm/screen door for the front door -the latter was old & cracked & need a new screening. I am glad to get rid of the old garage door to as it was so heavy & this new one should be easier to manage.
This has been a busy week, what with the painting at home & all sorts of things outside. I have been making Linda’s costume for the Ballet Recital – she is to be a page & wears long black tights, a white long sleeved blouse & a short royal blue coat–affair with a flared skirt & a big blue beret – it is the coat & hat I’ve been making & what a pest as we had to adapt a dress pattern & they gave us very little material. However, it is nearly done. The Dress Rehearsal is on Sat. & the recital is Sat. 28th, so we will just be back home in time.


On Mon. evening Cec & I went to the last of our Film Society & saw a colour film of the U.S. taken by a Frenchman. It was very amusing, as he was tickled by all sorts of funny things – a Convention for Twins; a Strip Tease School; etc. & he was allowed in prisons, universities & so on, & as he was an artist he got some lovely pictures, so we enjoyed it very much.
On Tues. evening there was a Concert at the School & both Lindy & Charlie were singing with their classes. The singing is always very nice & while we thoroughly enjoyed hearing it, it was also fun to see & hear the funny little Grade 1’s etc. Fanni had to go, as her sons wanted her to, but neither Babusch or Daniel were allowed to sing – they just had to stand with the others & open & shut their mouths!!
On Wed. morning we had a great project for the Bazaar. About 10 – 12 of us went to 9:30 a.m. Service & then met in the kitchen & had a Sewing Bee for the Children’s Wear Stall. We made gathered cotton skirts & shorts for all sizes & “pop tops” – sleeveless short blouses, you know.

I cut out & 5 of us had sewing machines, & the rest cut out or did hand sewing & we got on quite well & took what wasn’t finished home with us. I have made 3 hats for our hat stall – “La Boutique”!! They are just little flower & veiling things – one white with bright flowers – one black veiling with pink flowers & one black veiling with a gold & bright coloured brocade ring on top!

My own hats are quite a success – I made one of pinky–mauvy–purpley flowers which matches my spring coat & is quite pretty, & adapted Linda’s straw bonnet with brown ribbon & yellow flowers to go with “your” silk material & made myself a white mohair hat. The latter was a “shape”, so – & I steamed it & shaped it, but I’m not too happy with it – might change it yet! It has been fun though and I learnt quite a bit.


Last night was our night at the Little Theatre & they had on a play “Send Me No Flowers” which was funny & well done. We went with the Savics & went to the French Buffet first & had dinner as my birthday treat, so it was a lovely evening. I am feeling much more cheerful now that the spring is coming although today it is cold & sleeting!! However, Charlie’s toe is nearly better & the sun shines sometimes!
Lots of love from us all, Happy Easter to you and Auntie Muriel-
Cyn.

March 2 1962

This letter mentions in passing an event that must have loomed large in February 1962- Cyn’s Cookery Demonstration that the Ladies Guild of the Church used as a fundraiser. I am so sorry that the letter giving Carol details of her plans and preparations is missing, because it was quite an undertaking. Nowadays, television/Youtube has made us familiar with the cook demonstrating the preparation, combining of ingredients, setting up of the dish to be cooked, all the while chatting about what they were doing and why, but in the 60s this sort of entertainment combined with education was rare. Cyn was a professional, and would have preferred to do this sort of thing after her training instead of teaching, and these demonstrations were a successful illustration of how good she would have been at it.
Cyn had to decide on what her audience would be interested in watching and later making, and give them an interesting variety too. She needed some sort of theme, and would have chosen something fairly easy to do, probably for the purpose of home entertaining, but not that well known to her audience. (For example, choux pastry is not that hard to make, but turning the baked product into a swan creates a platter worthy of a fancy tea or company dessert.) After the menu planning- probably appetizer, entrée, and dessert- came the preparation- and this is where my memory comes in- Cyn was pretty hard to live with those weeks before the actual event. My mother was not one of those people who allowed her children to cook along side of her, teaching and giving them tasks to ‘help’! No, she wanted her kitchen to herself as she practised her menu and worked out the timing and the sequencing of events in the demonstration. Her recipes had to be typed up for publication and given to other Guild members to reproduce for the audience to take home with them. The Church Hall had to be set up for it too- there was a kitchen off to one side where the helpers would bake/roast/finish what Cyn had just demonstrated, but there was no platform, so one had to be set up, and electricity provided there so she could use her MixMaster to beat ingredients or a hot plate so she could cook in her demonstration- making choux pastry, or sauces- with chairs in front for the audience.
Then she had to co-ordinate her helpers ‘backstage’- the other women in the Guild who would take her prepared product off to the oven and provide the previously-baked-and-cooled duplicate- so the cream could be whipped, the choux bun could be filled, and the swan neck could be attached to demonstrate the finished product! When all the recipes had been shown in their various stages, the spectators were invited to admire the finished presentation, taste the results, and praise the demonstrator- who took a few days to recover. This Cookery Demonstration became an annual event, but I’m sure the behind-the-scenes ballet was tense this first year they all tried it!

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2 Ont.

2nd March.

Dearest Mummy,
Sorry that I haven’t written – I have been busy with poor Charlie’s NOSE! He is so unlucky, poor fellow, and seems to have something in his metabolism that makes it hard for him to get rid of things.
Anyway – I wrote last before the Cookery Dem. – which went off very well, by the way, and his nose bled off and on all week. I took him to Dr. K. & he gave us nose drops & I was to put vaseline etc. but although the bleeding wasn’t heavy, he still had it now & then. On the Friday Mom & Dad Costain came back from Carp & spent the weekend here & left again by train on Mon. morning to go to Merle’s at Brantford. Charlie’s nose had been much better over the weekend & didn’t bleed at all on the Sun. so Mon. I sent him to school & went down with Cec to see Mom & Dad off at 10 a.m. I was hardly back in the house before the School Nurse phoned that Charlie was bleeding again!
I got him home & called Dr. K. & he made arrangements for me to take Charlie to Dr. McKercher the Ear, Throat & Nose Specialist (did L.’s tonsils) to get it cauterized so we spent all afternoon in his office, but finally got it done. Dr. McK. said to keep him home the next day & send him to school Wed. & it was the Scout & Cub Father & Son Banquet on the Tues. evening, so Charlie seemed fine & he & Cec went & had a nice time then he hardly got to bed & he sneezed – out came the packing & it began to bleed! I took him to Dr. McK. again on Wed. & he cauterized it once more, Thurs. I took him to Dr. Kastner for a blood check to make sure his blood was not low & Friday I took Linda to the orthodontist! What a week in Dr’s offices!
Over the weekend the wretched nose bled each bedtime & on Mon. it just began all day worse than ever so on Tues. Dr. McK. said to take him into hospital & there the poor little fellow is! He isn’t feeling ill at all but they have just packed his nose & kept him in bed & Dr. McK. is going to take out the packing today & if it is all right he can come home this afternoon or tomorrow. He is very good of course, but wants to come home – he doesn’t like the food in the hospital!
So I have been going over to see him every afternoon (he’s in the Civic of course [far side of town]) & then again in the evening, so the days have been rushed, and the weather has been terrible all this 2 weeks. More snow than the whole rest of the winter & each day I had a lot of driving to do there would be a blizzard! It is cold & sunny today (below zero) but more snow tomorrow!
I enjoyed hearing about all the visitors & thank you for your letters. Will write a better letter next time, but must have lunch now & get ready to go to the Hospital. Charlie is writing you a letter there!
Lots of love for you & A. Moo & all the cousins from us all –
Cyn.

February 2 1962

Up to this point, the letters in 1960 and 1961 have been well preserved so that reading them in sequence connects the events in the Costain’s lives and makes them easy to follow. Unfortunately, 1962 has gaps, so that what starts out to be only one letter a month preserved with others obviously missing- leading to a ‘Huh?’ moment when some unknown event is referred to – is then followed by two April letters, a June one, two in July and one final one in December! After that, there are no letters until 1966, when both children are in high school and life is different- or perhaps not, you can decide. I will try to fill in some of the holes from my memory and the scrapbooks, and be glad that some of the events are recorded – having been spoiled by the wealth of detail lately!

2043 Montreal Road,
Ottawa 2, Ontario.

2nd Feb. 1962.

Dearest Mummy,
Thank you so much for your last letter. I am glad that you had got mine, but sorry that the belated Christmas parcel still hasn’t come – it will be a Valentine parcel instead! At least, I don’t think that there is anything in it to spoil!
My goodness – what a surprise! The Pems and Mona and family coming too! I can imagine that you will be in a real whirl. In a way it seems a pity to have them all at once rather than spreading them out and being able to enjoy them a few at a time, but in another way it is nice that all the preparation for one lot of visitors will do for the other contingent too! I wonder how you are getting on with your search for a house for the new arrivals. Cec thinks that once Uncle Fred has it in hand that the matter is as good as done, but as you say, there aren’t that many houses to choose from, but I hope he will get something so that you are not all worried to bits. I can just imagine the chaos in Highland Mills with getting Granny, Mamma and twins all outfitted for their holiday! I wonder how Margs is feeling now that she will be the only one left behind? If their weather has been anything like ours for the last week I should think she will be ready to jump in anyone’s pocket – we have had a solid week with the temperature never above -5°, and last night it was 27° below zero. They say warmer tomorrow – probably a lovely warm zero!
Mom and Dad Costain left us a week ago and went to Lea’s for a few weeks. It was so strange because Lea and family had had colds etc. so Mom and Dad had waited until they were over so that they wouldn’t catch them, and they just left here in time because the moment they left we got sick! They left on the Thurs. afternoon, and on Fri. morning I woke up with a real doozy of a cold, and Charlie began being sick! He was throwing up all day, and then when that was over he seem to feel much better and had no temp. to speak of, then on Sat. and Sun. he convalesced and didn’t eat much, but my cold was really going and I felt pretty awful. Then in the middle of Sunday night Linda began vomiting and she had the bug! I kept them both home on Monday and Linda got better quite quickly and my cold was much better, but as they both looked quite peaky I kept them home on Tuesday and what should happen but that I should suddenly get it and begin to be sick too! It was so sudden and violent that I just went to bed and lay there and dozed, and the children were so good – they got their own lunch and then Charlie washed the dishes and Linda got the dinner ready (hot dogs!) so Cec came home to things well organized! By next day my tummy really felt all right, just I felt a bit weak and weary, so the children went off to school and Cec stayed home in the morning and then took Linda to the orthodontist for me in the afternoon. We had good news there because Dr. Braden says that her teeth are moving into place very well and much more quickly than he had expected, so perhaps it won’t take the whole 2 years after all. We are all feeling back to normal now, except for Cec who caught a bit of my cold, but I am so glad that Mom and Dad were well out of the way of all our germs!
Just before Mom and Dad went to Lea’s Dad finished the headboard for our bed and he and Cec put it into place. It looks beautiful, and is just so luxurious as I pull out one thing for a back rest, and pull down another for a bedside table, and arrange all my odds and ends in my bedside cupboards! I have really made use of it in the week since Dad has left as I have spent quite a lot of time in bed! I long to start painting and decorating and new curtains and things but this miserable cold weather doesn’t encourage me a bit! Dad and Mom will be back here for a bit I gather, before they go down to Merle’s and I rather think that they will return here again before going West, but there is nothing definite, so we will just wait and see how things go.
With having them here we seem to have done very little in the social line this year. We were invited to the Savics on Friday Night and I was so much looking forward to an evening out, then of course I felt so awful with the cold that I couldn’t go. Cec was going to stay at home with me and then Peter called and said why didn’t he come anyway and as I was in bed and so were the children and he was sitting all by himself with no company, he was very pleased to go, and had a nice time. Since then poor Margaret and Peter have got Eddie in the hospital once more – his ulcer began bleeding internally again and he had to be rushed in. It looks as if he will have to have an operation and have part of his stomach removed, and it is such a shame for a young boy, but he has been on a strict diet, he’s been taking pills regularly and still it happens so there seems nothing else to do.
You will be amused to hear that Cec and I went and played badminton one night! They are trying to begin a Badminton Club in connection with the Church – they can’t actually play in the Church Hall as it isn’t big enough and not light enough, but they play in the school gym. I think it is a good idea, not necessarily for us, but for the young people more, so to make it go Cec and I signed up and took advantage of our built-in babysitters and went down one night. We were pretty hopeless of course, but it was quite fun, and to our amazement we weren’t crippled next day!
Please congratulate Peggy on her news for me! I really think that it is very nice as she seems really so fond of children and she can get so much help that it isn’t the tie for her that it is for someone here. Did I tell you that Eve Proudfoot is having a baby next month? At one meeting in the Fall she said to me “Did you know that I was getting a little girl in March?” and I looked at her blankly and said “No – where from?” and then she said “The usual place” and we both roared with laughter, because the way she put it I thought she must be adopting one. Sheena Kalra finally had her baby on Monday, a little girl. She has been expecting it since Christmas, and her mother flew from Scotland before Christmas to be with Sheena when the baby came, so every time I phoned Sheena would answer and I would say “What, are you still here?” and she would giggle. At last I called last week and her Mother was due to go home on Sat. and still no baby, so I don’t know whether she had postponed her return flight and was still there on Monday or not. There was a bit in the paper this week about a baby born here weighing 16 lbs.- better not tell Peggy!
Thank you so much for the diary too and the children’s letters. They arrived this week too. Charlie wants me to tell you that his school bag weighed 9 lbs. 8 oz., not 9 lbs. 16 oz. and that it was a slip of the typewriter and not that he doesn’t know how many oz. are in a lb! The children were very interested in your new dog and I hope that he will be a good watchdog for you.
I am enclosing two pictures for you that Cec took this summer. When he was having lunch with Miss Lefroy in London he took two pictures and this is one of them. We meant to have the prints done in time for Christmas, but things were so confused this year that we have just had them done now, and we knew that you would like one of your dear A.G.L. The other picture is quite good too, but Miss Lefroy is not looking at the camera, and we thought this one was better. The other is Linda in her Chinese Girl’s costume from the Operetta. We are a bit disappointed in the print as it is very wishy-washy looking, and the transparency is lovely and bright with Lindy’s jacket a pretty daffodil yellow, but they say that this is the best that they can do.

A better picture than the one she sent Carol!

The cutting out of the newspaper is of our first big wedding at St. Christopher’s, and June Bell, the bride, has taught Sunday School and being a member of the Church since we began. It is an awful picture of her – she is really a pretty girl – but I sent this one to let you see all the funny little children! It was a very pretty winter wedding – the two older girls had red velvet dresses with white fur headbands and white fur muffs with red carnations and holly sprays on, then the older boy had a white shirt with black velvet trousers and he carried the ring on a red velvet cushion. The two little pages were in white frilled shirts and red velvet trousers and the tiny flower girl was in a long red velvet dress, but otherwise like the big girls. The Guild of course did the catering for the reception – they have a big house down in Rothwell Heights and they had 100 people, and everything very elegant – two barmen and all sorts of drinks and champagne for the Toast. Eve Proudfoot made the 3 tier cake, but I didn’t want to ice it, so they got one of the confectioner firms to do it, and it looked very nice, but when we came to cut it and hand it round it was like cutting plaster! Six of us went at about 1:30, and began getting things ready and then the wedding was at 2:00 so we had time to get organized while everyone was away. We served small open faced canapes; hot curried crab canapes; cheese butterflies; chicken patties; mushroom patties (both hot); and hot cocktail sausages. For the children we served ordinary small sandwiches and a chip dip with potato chips and cookies, and then after the Toast and we cut and served the wedding cake, we had hot coffee for those who wanted it. We also made sandwiches and cookies for a trousseau tea she had before Christmas, and for this and the reception and the wedding cake we charged just over 130 dollars. I think this was quite reasonable, don’t you? And Mrs. Bell was just delighted – she said she could never thank us enough for all we done, and seemed to be more than pleased with everything, and she is one who doesn’t mince words if she doesn’t like a thing! All of this was on the Thurs. after Christmas, so you can see we really had a busy time of it. We also catered for a hot luncheon for the teachers at school on the last day of school – the very Friday before Christmas, so what with my large Christmas household of 15, things were really hopping!

You asked in your letter if Uncle Milton and Aunt Lillie came up for Christmas, and this was really the one disappointment we had. Apparently when Merle phoned them up and suggested them coming up, after we wrote and suggested it to Merle they were very pleased with the idea and Uncle was full of it, so we wrote them and told them how much we’d like them to come and it was all arranged. Then Uncle began getting cold feet – he was feeling so tired – it was such a bad time of the year – they were so busy at work etc. until finally he decided not to come. Poor Aunt Lillie was so disappointed and wrote us such a pathetic letter that we all felt so sorry for her and very sad that they didn’t come, but he is apparently nervy and this happens all the time. Merle had asked them to Brantford for the New Year weekend when they got back, but from what she says in her last letter they didn’t even go there.
We didn’t have our usual Open House at New Year – I really didn’t feel up to it with the big Christmas and all the Guild work on top of the ribs, and with the latter I had a real excuse to give it a miss. Normally I enjoy it, but it was just too much this year. Dad doesn’t use a hearing aid yet although he is still talking about it, and Cec says he will take him down to Zenith one day. He is fine when you talk to him directly, but has trouble in a big crowd as you always used to find. Myrtle is the same as ever, but has a sore hip – arthritis I gather. You probably will get her Christmas card at Valentine time along with our parcel!
I finally finished all my thank you letters today, so I feel very relieved, although I was as slow pokey as usual. However, this year my Christmas parcels were so late that at least I got most of my thank yous written before I received theirs! This is Friday and the children are full of shenanigans! They have done an hour’s homework and piano practice and are now romping like puppies! Tomorrow we have ballet, grocery shopping and library, and I feel that I should go to the hospital to see Sheena so it looks like a busy day.
I must stop now as I don’t want to go onto another sheet of paper – love to Auntie Muriel from all of us, and hello to Doris. Take care of yourself and don’t exhaust yourself polishing up the whole island for the Visitors!
Lots and lots of love from us all
Cyn.

January 18 1962

This letter consists of two sheets, each headed by a brief typed Thank You note by Linda and Charlie, with the sheets filled on both sides by Cyn’s actual news! Then she also included the Christmas Present List so Carol could see what everyone gave the family. I was interested to see the books the children got- we loved being sent the English Annuals (they were so different from anything North American, although we had lots of books and a box full of comic books – Disney and Archie, plus those ‘educational’ short versions of classic novels-) but the annuals were a lovely mixture of cartoons, short stories, non-fiction, puzzles, and articles on crafts or pictorials of famous places or buildings. As well, I was collecting as many L. M. Alcott’s books as I could, and Grannie had sent me an abridged ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ for Charlie’s birthday (foreshadowing? I wrote my dissertation on Bunyan twelve years later), while Charlie’s British Grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Cripwell, was carrying on the cross-cultural work (she introduced me to the Narnia books) by reading a “William” book to his class.

Dear GRANNIE,
Thank you heaps for the SWEETEST CUTEST little twin babies that there ever was. They looked so funny when they peeped out at me on Christmas morning. Nobody was as thrilled as me but I was not as thrilled as Mummy when we opened the silk and braid clips. They look like little green slugs. My hair is not thick enough to hold one braid, two of them do quite nicely, in one clip.
Love
Linda

Thursday 18th. [Cyn’s note is handwritten, the children’s are typed.]

Dearest Mama,
Just a note on these short but sweet thank you letters! We have been having a flu session- men only, so far, but we keep our fingers crossed. Charlie had a “throw up” at the beginning of last week then got better & went back to school on Thurs. In the meanwhile Cec got an upset tummy with diarrhoea and felt so miserable on Friday that he stayed at home, felt better on Sat. & then worse again Sun. & Mon. Charlie got the same thing again. Cec is back at work although not quite recovered, but I have had Charlie home all week & he was trotting to the bathroom so much day & night that yesterday I called Dr. K. and Charlie is so tickled at his prescription – a soft diet with a cup of hot strong tea every hour! Also he takes four 222 tablets a day (codeine in them) & so he thinks this is lovely! Linda thinks she should take the tea too to prevent her getting it!

Mom & Dad plan to go out to Carp on Sat. – that is if Cec & Charlie are recovered. Lea has a big turkey she has been saving since Christmas so we are all to go out to dinner & leave Granny & Grandpa there. They will stay about 2 weeks & then return to us. The bed head is nearly finished & looks beautiful – Cec & Dad are to bring it upstairs tonight, so we will see how it fits in!

[Typed upside down at the bottom of the page in red:]

P.S Hugs and Kisses. L.

2043 Montreal Road,
Ottawa 2, Ontario.

7 January, 1962.

Dear Grannie,
Thank you for the racing car, the T-shirt, and the pencils like arrows; for Christmas, I use the pencils a lot. I enjoy the game “Geography Lotto” that you gave me for my birthday.
We had a wonderful Christmas, with Auntie Merle, Lorne, JOHN, Bruce, Uncle Dixon, Granny & Grandpa COSTAIN. I had a lot of people to play the hockey game with. We made a toboggan slide and had a lot of fun.
Daddy has just put a microphone on the radio, and we are having fun talking through it. Mommy is screaming at me so now I have to stop.
LOVE Charlie

[Cyn’s handwriting continues.]
It is very cold this week – below zero most days & was so windy that it made it worse, but today is much calmer though still cold. I went to the Coinwash yesterday & the day before to Emil’s new Beauty Salon over at the Shopping Centre. Did I tell you that he had moved his salon? It is a new shopping centre to the south of the city – about 10-15 mins. drive away – & he has a much bigger more elegant place with 2 or 3 assistants, & Mrs. Arndt goes as receptionist. It isn’t nearly so convenient of course, but it isn’t too far & he & I agree on my hair now! Mom & I went over to S-Sears just after New Year & I got a Car Coat on sale at Fairweather’s – a store there. It is a dark brown “Heeksuede” – i.e. looks just like suede, but isn’t really, & has a thick quilted lining & is very nice & just what I’ve wanted for the last few winters for the car. Of course I then had no skirt to wear with it, so the day I got my hair done I went to S-Sears again & on sale once more, got a thick sort of blanket-cloth skirt – gold or orange & brown sort of plaid with inverted pleats & an orangey – gold sweater to match. Of course I look like a tub, but it is warm & gay!! Mom C. had lost 15 lbs. before she came here & needs to put on weight so you know what this does to me! She has put on 2 lbs so far – me???!!
Time for Charlie’s next cup of tea – must fly! Lots of love from us all.
Cyn.

January 9 1962

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2, Ontario.

9th. Jan. 1962.

Dearest Mummy,
Happy New Year! I am ashamed to say that this is the first time that I have written 1962! I am also so sorry to have been such a long time in writing to you – both to thank you for our lovely parcel and to tell you about our Christmas, but somehow each time one thing was over, something else turned up and I seem to have been on the go all the time. I haven’t even been to the Library for about a month, so you can see that I really didn’t have spare time – when I relaxed I slept!
However, despite all the busy time, it was great fun, the only thing being that the time went so quickly! We didn’t have time to really savour it all, and before we turned around Christmas was over, the Moors had left and the children were back at school again. They went back on the 3rd Jan. so they didn’t have very long, especially as they didn’t finish school until the Friday before Christmas. They were both quite irritable and tired out the last week or so, and then on the last day of school Linda woke up and said she didn’t feel like going to school. I said “Oh, don’t you want to go today, you’ll have such fun” and she said “I want to go, but I don’t feel like it” and sure enough before very long she was sick, and had one or two goes during the day. She didn’t have a temperature, and by the next day (Saturday) she was up on the sofa and feeling not too bad and able to be up and around by the time the Moors arrived in the evening. Sunday she was O.K. except for not much appetite but in the evening Charlie began to feel ‘off’ and although he never was actually sick, he felt queasy all Christmas Day and neither of them had much appreciation of the Christmas Fare! Charlie was remembering last year when he had a Christmas dinner of broth and crackers – he doesn’t have much luck with the turkey does he? It seem to be a type of 24 hour flu, but it passed quickly and by the time they went back to school they were both feeling fine and so full of fun, and this past weekend they had a wonderful time playing in the snow and tobogganing, and then yesterday Charlie felt sicky again, and here he is back in bed today and throwing up! I hope that it is the same thing and will soon be over, and that Linda doesn’t get it, because it does leave them washed out and the winter is just beginning!
And now to thank you for your lovely parcel! It certainly lived up to the reputation Charlie told you of last Christmas, and we all enjoyed it so much. Both Linda and Charlie were delighted with the birthday gifts, and Charlie is very intrigued with his game and Linda likes “Pilgrim’s Progress” very much. I must read this version because I remember disliking the whole book immensely as a child! Linda was just delighted with her twin babies! I had warned her that we weren’t giving her a doll this year, as she plays with them so seldom now, and she was quite sad at the thought, then here arrived the little babies from you and a pretty little English doll from Gunborg, and I think she was more thrilled and excited over getting them that if we had given her the biggest and most expensive creation going! She had a great bath day one day and tried on all the new dresses from Auntie Muriel and thoroughly enjoyed herself. The silk is lovely and I am going to have a lovely time getting a nice pattern and making it for her. She has set her heart on a smocked dress – I think that she is a bit too old for smocking now, but apparently it is still the fashion amongst her school mates, and she is always talking about it. I have no notion of trying that myself, but had vaguely thought that if I got a pattern and material and sent it out to you, you could get someone to make it for me – kind Mrs. Young is not there to do the smocking for me this time but I am sure that you will know someone who will do it beautifully. I think that I will make the silk up myself in a plainer style, as it has such a pretty pattern and really needs no other ornament, and that I will get another material for the smocking with perhaps a small pattern or plain like the blue one with the white smocking that Mrs. Young did for me, and if I send it out to you fairly soon then perhaps you could get it done for Easter- it is late this year. The only reason I am rushing over it is that I feel if she doesn’t get it soon she will be too grown-up for it! The silk you sent now I feel won’t date or get too young for her at all, if I make it in a simple style, but the other is definitely not a teen age style! [Linda is 10 at this point.]
The little braid clips for her hair are so cute too, and she has them on. I got her to admit one day that it may be nice to have shorter hair in the summer, but I don’t know if I will really be able to get her to have it cut! I got her a black velvet hairband with pearls across the top, no less, and so she had a wonderful time doing the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with flowing locks all the Christmas holidays!
Charlie enjoyed all his presents too. He and Bruce had great fun with the racing car and were zooming it around all day, and he was very taken with his arrow pencils and got them all ready to take to school the first day. Mummy was very pleased to see that T-shirt and come summer it will be so nice for him to have a new one to wear. I had decided to get the children some new clothes for Christmas as they had not add anything new in the ‘best’ line for some time, and then I thought I would give them at Charlie’s birthday so that if they needed any alterations or anything I could get it done in time for Christmas. For Charlie I got a tweed sports jacket! He needed something for going to Church and dress up, as the little blue blazer he inherited from Bruce is too small now, and it was between a suit, another navy blue blazer or a sports jacket, and we thought the latter was the most sensible. He looks nice in the navy blue but with Nicki in the house [white cat hairs] it seemed a difficult choice and I didn’t feel like investing in a whole suit now that he is growing so fast, so it had to be the jacket, and I got a very nice one in a blue-y gray tweed and he looks very smart. A bit swamped as it is rather big for him at the moment, but I hope it will do him for a good long time. Linda wanted a velvet dress for Sunday, and I looked at quite a few, but such odd colours – purple or a dull sage green or old gold, and of course red, but the last one she had from Leslie Forsythe was red so I wanted a change. In the end I got a pinafore type in a lovely sapphire blue with white lace around the waist, and I got a very pretty white nylon blouse with a collar edged with a frill and long bishops sleeves also edged with a frill at the wrist, and she looks very elegant and is delighted with herself. Her Auntie Merle and her big boy cousins told her that she was a picture on Christmas Day, so she had an extra Christmas present!

Uncle Wendell and John Moor on Christmas Day.

I got her a new snow jacket to wear to school earlier, with the leggings she had last winter. It is a bright turquoise blue with a lambswool edging around the hood, but she had nothing to wear on Sunday except the blue Spring coat, which is not really at all warm. I hate to pay a lot of money for a Sunday coat which she doesn’t wear out, so I thought that I might be able to make her a coat out of the one you wore last winter. The colour is quite suitable for a child and it wasn’t too worn, so I got a pattern and of course didn’t get any further with it. However, Granny Costain came to my rescue, and ripped it up and then I took it to the Coin wash and it washed very well, and now she has cut it out and is making it for me. I have got a windproof material for the lining, and I am trying to get some gray velvet to make a little stitched velvet collar, and I think that it will look very pretty. Grandpa Costain is into a project too – he and Cec have begun to make the headboard for our bed! Do you remember us talking about it? It is a regular piece of furniture, with cupboards behind and doors which come out to form backrests, and bedside tables on either side. It will be lovely when it is done, and she says that he only hopes that there is room for us in the room to when we get it on the bed! I hope that in the spring we will re-decorate the bedroom and I will get new curtains and bedcover because the old ones are going in holes all over, so we will be very elegant! Anyway, you see that we are keeping our guests busy!

Western Costain Cousin!

I seem to have digressed from the subject of Christmas presents, but while I thought of pieces of news I thought I might as well put them in. Cec wants to thank you so much for his presents too. He was very amused with his ‘Genius at work’ notice and hung it on the front of his shirt, and we will have to put it up in his study when he gets one. He likes his new tie and was very impressed with the new shell you sent him. He was showing it to everyone, and likes it so much – we really have quite a collection of “West Indiana’ now and it is so interesting to have and to show to people. We both like to the St. Vincent map Air Mail that you said to Cec and plan to put it either in our scrapbook or up with our other maps in ‘your’ room.
Last but not least – thank you so much for all my lovely presents. When we opened your parcel and Cec kept handing out package after package for me the Moors were astonished and kept saying ‘How many more?” I love them all – the pink shirt blouse is so pretty and I think that I will have to get a nice new skirt to wear it with. I am quite out of spare skirts now, and I really need one to wear around the house, but which is nice enough to wear for coffee etc. too. I have already worn the pretty little white sweater with the skirt from my pinky suit, and had it much admired. It is very cute and is quite new here as yet, so you are ahead of the fashion for me. I was really delighted with both the blouse and sweater and you know how much I like to get things to wear. The little earrings are so pretty and you couldn’t have chosen better as I had written on my request list “gold and pearl necklace’ as they are all the fashion now – gold chains with pearls interspersed, and Linda gave me a very nice one, and here are your earrings to match perfectly. I wear a gold belt with my bright green wool dress, so they all go beautifully, and on Christmas day I was just like a Christmas tree! Merle had on a pretty red suit dress, so together we looked very seasonal! Last of all the fascinating wash-cloth sponge which Linda is longing for me to try! So far I have kept it for something special, but I can see that neither of us is going to hold out for long. It was a really lovely parcel, and we all enjoyed it so much. The burney sugar cake from May and Nora was a lovely surprise, and I will be writing to them in a little while. Tell Auntie Muriel too that I will be writing soon, but in the meanwhile that I am enjoying her talcum powder and that over New Year weekend we all had a great fun doing Charlie’s jigsaw puzzle! I did want to tell you though that I thought you did wonderfully with all the presents – they were all cute and unusual nice little things for everyone which we all had fun with. I also want to thank you for your cards and all your nice letters. I am sorry that I won’t have time to answer them today, but I was so glad that you and Auntie Muriel had a nice Christmas dinner at Uncle Fred’s and that you had a happy day.
I wanted to tell you that I got Mr. Olmsted’s bill the other day for your glasses, $9.25, including the cost of Airmail to you, so I took your cheque and made it out for $11.25, got the money and paid him and then bought the enclosed cord for your earphone. I couldn’t remember how much they were, but I did recall that last time I underestimated, so this time I got the extra $2.00 to be sure, and found out that it was $1.75! I had parked the car in the parking building and it was 25¢ so I told Mrs. Costain that you had treated us to our parking that day! It was a bitterly cold day too, last week, but we had quite successful shopping. The material shop where I got my pure Italian silk was having a sale of woolens, so we went and got Mrs. Costain a very pretty soft wool material to make a dressmaker type suit. It is a nice soft shade of dark turquoise and we got a pattern, and when she has finished Linda’s coat she will have to start on this. I had got Cec a warm blue shirt for Christmas and when he came to try it on the sleeves were much too short, so I took it back and got him another – red this time, so he not only is warm, but he looks warm too!
I must stop now as I am getting to the end of the paper, and I don’t want to get onto another sheet as I am sending the cord. Charlie has written you a letter though and I have our list of presents to send so we will write again soon and I will tell you all are doing over the festive season! I feel I am just beginning to get back to normal now, as last week after the holidays I had a huge washing – 8 machines full at the Coinwash!
Lots of love from us all and big hugs ,
Cyn.

December 17 1961

17t Dec. 1961

Dearest Mummy,
Did your ears burn or anything this morning? I ask because we were all thinking of you in church when the Rector dedicated your “Fair Linen” which was on the altar and said it was “a gift from the mother of one of our members Mrs. C. Ewing who lives in St. Vincent West Indies”. The children were very pleased that he did it when they were in church and it looked awfully nice.
Your package arrived yesterday morning just as Lindy and I were getting ready to set off to Ballet, so I opened it to take a peek and then took it straight away and left it at Mrs. Cravens’. Mrs. Pierce who is now Pres. of the Altar Guild, phoned to say how delighted they were to have a new altar cloth for Christmas & that Mr. Pulker was going to dedicate it today & she also said that the heavier linen hung beautifully, so you needn’t worry about that.


Mom and Dad Costain arrived on Friday at 5:15 and are both looking very well. We had planned to have Charlie’s birthday party that day so had to hastily change it to the Thurs. Cec took Charlie and 4 of his friends to a movie “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye & they loved it.

White Christmas

Then they came home to dinner – roast chicken with hot rolls, relishes, potato crisps etc. – then cake & ice cream. They were wildly excited & poor Cec was exhausted! Charlie’s real day is Tuesday of course – your parcels came & I am saving them. We have a little steam engine for him that really works!!! Also I have a new tweed jacket for him & a blue velvet dress for Lindy!
Must stop & send my last Ottawa Christmas cards.
Love to all from us all,
Cyn.