As I read these letters from 1969, I am surprised at the amount of work that Cyn does, with her children 16 and 17 and perfectly capable of doing much more for themselves. In the last letter, she told Carol she was exhausted after a full day of activities, and had to make dinner for the children before going out to a banquet with Cec. Why not tell the kids to feed themselves? But then I remember that Cyn’s kitchen was HER kitchen- I did learn from her, but more by osmosis rather than direct instruction, and not by working with her collaboratively. Certainly I had friends who got the family dinner on for their working mothers, a thing I would not have been able to do then. After this last year at home, I went away to university and lived in residence being fed in my college- it wasn’t until my fourth year at Trent that I moved out and had to cook for myself, and then my mother gave me a collection of recipes scaled down for one person so that I could make stock, soup, meatloaf, hamburgers, and gingerbread!
However, in this letter we learn that Cyn accompanied Cec to his meeting at Penn State, leaving the kids to manage for themselves for a few days, so obviously she didn’t mind them cooking for themselves if she wasn’t around! A word about amenities- the area outside the Ottawa city limits where the Costains lived was growing amazingly during the years the children went to high school, with new housing developments, apartment buildings, schools, and 6 lane highways connecting them all, being built on the fields that Cyn had driven past in the 50s to buy her meat in the village of Orleans- where there were now shopping centres, and more housing developments- and their high school also grew every year- a second floor, a new wing, a tower, and more and more students until other high schools went up in the new communities. However, it would be years before the Costains’ suburb was offered the sewer and water services that a city enjoys. Each house had a well for water, and relied on a septic tank- which had to be unearthed every few years and pumped out, thus destroying lawns or gardens. Cec had designed the patio in the back yard with removable concrete tiles to mitigate the destruction, but I’m sure Cyn was sorry that this would be happening the spring her mother was visiting.
And as the letter shows, plans for Carol’s visit to Canada and then New York were being made, in spite of airline strikes…
49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.
27th April, 1969
I am so sorry that I was late for your birthday. I had the card and little necklace all ready, but it was too early to send, then last week I made a great long list of all the things I wanted to do before you came (I know I won’t get half of them done!) and I got so busy that I forgot all about the date and was horrified to discover that it was actually the DAY! I hope that you had a nice time, and from what you said in your letter to Linda and Charlie it sounded as if you would. They both say thank you for the letter and I say thank you for two to me also. I haven’t really written since we got home from Penn State, but we had a nice trip home all in one day, and were back in time for dinner. Linda and Charlie had everything spic and span and they had managed beautifully – haven’t even had one fight they told me!
We had a good Easter weekend, with some good sunny days and we had the Ganders all to dinner on Easter Sunday. The weather was lovely for a day or so and I got quite enthusiastic about the garden and did some clearing up, but since then it has been a bit chilly and I don’t like to go out in it! It is quite early yet for us, but we have some tulips and daffodils in bud. Unfortunately we are going to have to have a new septic tank and drainage tile, so this will make a mess in the back garden, so there is not too much point in being ambitious until it is over. We had hoped that this would be over before you came, but at the rate it is taking the men to get started, you might be here for all the excitement and get to CHRISTEN the new septic tank! Cec is very busy taking out the the old hedge between us and the Cyr’s – it grew a mile a minute and he got fed up with cutting it so he is taking it out and we are going to get some pretty flowering shrubs in its place. I have ordered some seeds for the garden and you can help me start them in the porch and we will see if we can have a Blaze of Glory. I am most anxious to hear how A. Moo’s geraniums and fairy rose seeds get on but I don’t suppose there has been time for much to happen yet. Mr. Graham brought me a purple gloxinia which he had grown from a leaf last week, and it is looking very exotic and colourful at the moment and I only hope that I can keep it like that till you come.
You were asking in your letter what you could bring us from St. Vincent and we are delighted at the prospect! I know that Cec would love some rum – he likes the nice dark W.I. rum and always remembers your ‘refined cane juice’ parcel with great pleasure! Linda and I would very much appreciate some Liberty material and as for table mats, the ones you brought me last time are still as good as ever. I use them every single day, so if they have some in new bright colours I wouldn’t say no to a change, but I still like the plain ones very much and wouldn’t like embroidery or anything of that type. For Charlie I had the idea that you might bring him some swimming trunks if you were stuck for an idea. I am enclosing a picture of the kind he wears and he takes a MENS with a 30 inch waist – you can probably get Jantzen or some make like that but remember Charlie is quite conservative and wouldn’t like anything too gay!
I was most interested to hear about your expensive two piece and hope that you are happy with it when the dressmaker is finished, also that ‘my’ long sleeved dress will be useful. Remember Monie’s comments and don’t go filling up your suitcase with TOWELS or your hostesses will be insulted! Also I was going to say, things like hairspray and shampoo etc. are so cheap here there is no point in you’re bringing them, so don’t forget – look at everything and think “Will I really need it? “!! We will be able to get you some more shoes from Eaton’s catalogue while you are here and I wouldn’t worry about much in the hat line as you will want to get a new one, and apart from Church no one wears them and not even in Church half the time.
You were all excited about Cec’s book as you called it – well, if you recall, I said a chapter in a book – it is a sort of science reference book, and each chapter is on a different field, so Cec wrote the one on Microwave Spectroscopy, but as for A. Muriel’s suggestion about him making his fortune, just think how many people are eagerly awaiting for a book on such a thrilling topic! We were laughing about the royalties which he would get – as much as 5¢ perhaps!
Last week Marjorie Graham and I had a day out. The IODE (a female organization) was having a Historical Trip to Kingston and Jo Cardinal phoned me up and asked if I would like to buy a ticket and go. It was 12.50 for the bus, lunch and tea, so I asked Marjorie and we thought it would be quite fun and a nice days outing. Cec drove us down town on Wednesday morning to get the bus at 8:45, and unfortunately it was the wettest morning you ever saw! However, the forecast said ‘clearing’ so we set out – three buses full of women – and arrived in Kingston about 11am. The Kingston Historical Society provided guides to take us around and our guide took us first (in the bus of course, as it was still raining) to the Royal Military College, and after showing us around the grounds we all got out and saw their Museum. The College is on a peninsula right out into the St. Lawrence, so would have been a glorious sight on a fine day, but it was very interesting anyway. We then went to a new hotel and had a very nice lunch, with a talk on Kingston afterwards and some coloured slides of some of the old houses, etc. We then went in the bus to one of these old houses which has been restored and refurnished in the right period and Sir John A. Macdonald once lived there and it was very nice and most interesting although the poor man had a most unhappy time there, as his baby son died and his wife was in the last stages of consumption and died not long after they left. Fortunately there was a happy ending as he married again some years later and was very happy!
After that we went a tour of the city in the bus and the guide pointed out various sights and took us to another small museum, and then we went a drive right along the river to Gananoque – pouring all the time of course, but still! We went to an Inn there and had a most delicious tea, and then left and were back home in Ottawa at 8:30, where Dick met us and drove us home. Of course Marjorie and I talked all day long and caught up on all sorts of gossip!
Mr. Graham (Rector) is off on his holidays today – a month in England, the Channel Islands and France. He hasn’t been looking too well lately, so I hope that he will have a good time and return rested and refreshed. It is the 30th anniversary of his ordination this summer, so instead of waiting and giving him a present on the actual day, they made a collection and decided to give him a cheque to help towards his holiday. Last Sunday they had a surprise Coffee Party after Church and the wardens presented him with a cheque for 300 dollars and the ACW gave him a small light weekend case (he wanted one he could carry himself) and a cheque for 50 dollars to buy himself a memento of the occasion when he was in Europe. He was very surprised and delighted and on the actual day, when you are here they plan to have a cake and a sort of party.
As you know I am sure, we are having an Air Canada strike, but Mr. G. is going on a charter flight, and I hope that it is all over and finished long before you come.
I nearly forgot to tell you about the Miles for Millions Walk last week – it already seems a long time ago. Of course your noble grandson walked to the 40 miles again – in fact they said that it was actually 43 this year but they counted it as 40. They began at the Parliament Buildings at 8am and Charlie and his friends were finished at 7:30pm. They only stopped twice the whole time, and otherwise tramped along steadily. They finished in the first 400, but a Mr. Frank Cook (husband of plump blonde girl in our WA) ran all the way and finished at about 1:30pm! He is a long distance skier and quite an athlete, but he is 47, so it was considered quite something. Altogether there were about 50,000 started the walk and about 4000 finished I think, so that was very good, but people weren’t so generous at giving money to the walkers this year. Charlie was very happy with his Generous Family and delighted that you supported him, so I will give him the 6 dollars to send in for you.
I must stop now as it is time for a cup of tea. It is raining again and I must say it eases my conscience that I can’t go out and garden. Will write again with Final Arrangements!
Much love from us all
Love to A. Muriel. Thank her for her letter.