The rest of 1966 carried on as usual, but the atmosphere in Canada was one of simmering anticipation- the next year would be one hundred years since Canada’s Confederation as a country separate from England, and the whole country- townships, villages, towns, cities, provinces and the federal government- were preparing Centennial projects to commemorate the occasion. There was a catchy song in both official languages playing all over- “Ca-Na-Da, (one little, two little, three Canadians) notre pays! Ca-na-da- (now we are 20 million) we love thee…” – or something like that. And to make sure that Canada was on the map, the latest world’s fair, called Expo 67, would be taking place in Montreal. Building was happening everywhere!
The Costains would be going to Expo, since Ottawa was near enough for a day trip, and were involved in various local events, but their project for the centenary was different. After celebrating Canada’s birthday, they were going as a family to England: the first time in 18 years that Cyn would be back, and able to see the friends that she had written to all those years. So work and school life continued with an added edge of planning, saving, and expectation.
When school started in September, Linda and Charlie were once more on the same schedule, both catching the bus for high school. Charlie had an additional bit of pressure from his piano lessons, because he was planning on sitting a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the winter.
At the N.R.C. Cec was happy to welcome the Dr. and Mrs. Morino from Japan who had both come to spend a year in the Lab. They were very kind to the children and shared aspects of their culture with us. Cyn kept the charming ‘Thank You’ notes they sent after social events, and pasted the kanji that I assume were their names into the scrapbook. Dear Dr. & Mrs. Costain, Just a short note to thank you for giving us such a nice party. Everything about it was wonderful. Sincerely, Yonezo & Yoshi.
Linda had an Origami book with papers included but had not been able to figure out the tenth piece, the iconic Japanese crane. I remember sitting on a lab stool being coached by Mrs Morino- “now the outside becomes the inside”- as she showed me finally how to achieve the 3D effect that had eluded me. It remained with me, as I whiled away the tedium of Grade 13 Biology 4 years later by folding cranes and penguins and stars under the lab bench.
Also of note to the N.R.C. was when Dr. Steacie, the President of the N.R.C. from 1952 until his death in 1962 who had introduced the Postdoctorate Fellowship program, was honoured by Carleton University that fall when their new Chemistry building was named after him. The Herzbergs and N.R.C. staff were happy with this recognition.
The entries for ‘Presents Sent’ and ‘Received’ and ‘Cards Sent’ for 1965 in Cyn’s ancient Agenda Book are the last lists. The records of Christmas from 1932 to 1965 filled a years’ worth of pages, and the actual 1965 gifts give a picture of the time- Cec got a Harry Belafonte record and fondue forks from the family, Cyn a projector for those slides, and both children got English Annuals from their Grannie this time- which they enjoyed, but now are very much of that time- not PC at all, in fact, offensive in many ways. Linda got more books, of course, including the next hardback in the Little House series she was collecting, and Charlie a Gloucester High School sweater. And with the Christmas cards received, the Costains got the usual adorable photos of their friends’ growing families.
The Moors- now with both older cousins married, reduced to Auntie Merle, Uncle Dix, and Bruce- came up from Brantford for the occasion, and probably Lorne, Liz, and Debbie were also in Ottawa, staying with Liz’s family in Rockcliffe. John and Sharon out west had another reason for staying at home besides Christmas being a clergyman’s busy season- they were expecting their first child in February. There was a lot of planning going on for 1966 that Christmas- the summer would bring celebrations for Granny and Grandpa Costain’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, and the whole family would try to get all four generations together in Ottawa!
The fall of 1964 was fun for Linda- she enjoyed high school: the increased independence, the variety of interesting classes and teachers, the library and cafeteria, and new friends- although the number of students took a while to get used to. Her marks remained good although she attempted without much success to follow her mother’s profession by taking Home Economics as an elective- making a blue flannel shift to wear in Sewing, and producing a sad liquid soup that should have been a chocolate pudding in Foods, which seemed to be more about the costing of the dishes than actually making them. She found learning Latin was more interesting.
In Grade 8, Charlie was once more in the Speech Contest, with his account of the eclipse that the family had witnessed the year before, and this time he was runner-up to the winner. The Eclipse Charles Costain In ancient times, people were terrified when the sun was gradually blotted out and day turned into night. We know now that it is just an eclipse but people used to be frightened when this happened, because they thought that the world was coming to an end. Nowadays instead of being terrified, people are fascinated to watch such an interesting event. We are not taken by surprise because scientists can tell just where and when it is going to happen. The last total eclipse predicted was on July 20, 1963. We were driving back from Quebec City and went off the main road to a farmhouse, and asked the farmer if we could set up our telescope. He said that we could, and we were soon ready for it. In a while, we could see a small black bite out of the sun, and it began getting a bit darker. Slowly the sun was covered and I realized that the birds had all gone back to their nests, and there was a hush that made me shiver. The eclipse was nearly total when suddenly a cloud drifted over the sun, and no matter how hard we looked, we could not see the total eclipse. The farmer and his wife who were inside watching television probably got a better view than we did because there were no clouds at Grandmère where the television cameras were but at least we made an effort to see the real thing. We soon were packing the telescope and getting ready to leave content, but rather disappointed at not seeing it all. The speech went on to a more scientific discussion, and ended with the news of Prime Minister Pearson’s funding of a second telescope to be built in British Columbia in honour of the Queen’s visit, to be the second largest in the world. Since this was where our uncle, Carman Costain, worked, I’m sure it was good news in Penticton.
In December, the Christmas routine began again, with the card list now about 150 strong because of Cec’s travels and scientific contacts, and Cyn’s scrapbook reflects this, with cards from all over- India, Spain, Poland, as well as England. Of course news from friends came too, and a card from the Sutherlands- Dr Sutherland had been knighted in 1960, and this year, 1964, had become the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge- included Kerstin’s wedding announcement with the news that they would be moving to San Diego. (Cyn and Cec realized the days when they babysat the Sutherland girls in Ann Arbor were long ago.) The parcels to friends and relatives were sent off but this year, there is no mention of J.M.G.E. in the list, so Cyn’s father must have died in Newcastle earlier in 1964.
Charlie’s 12th birthday was followed by Christmas, with Auntie Dottie sending the English Annuals we loved, Linda getting clothes and books, Charlie a tabletop hockey game, the cat giving us vinyl, and the adults getting more practical things. The Costains looked forward to 1965 with anticipation.
December was always a time of preparation for Cyn. She sent out Christmas cards with names from Cec’s travels added, and lovely unusual cards arrived in return, along with the customary pictures of the children of their friends, some quite grown- the adorable flower girl from their wedding with two children of her own!
Cyn also had to get her Christmas parcels for friends and family overseas off as early as possible, and she needed to get ready for Charlie’s birthday and the Costain Christmas as well. Presents this year had been made easier by Cec’s travel- her ‘Presents Sent List’ shows that Cec’s sisters and mother all got ‘Japanese silk material’, with sisters-in-law Errol and Leona an ‘Indian Scarf’, while the men of the family got ivory trinkets, and nephew Bruce a ‘Toledo knife’.
Cec’s bowling sessions with the Lab. led to a Christmas present of his own bowling shoes from Charlie (size 12 shoes may have been hard to rent) and prompted the activity for Charlie’s birthday party: he and his friends went bowling with Cec, followed by a celebration afterwards.
December also had local invitations, a funeral, and the birth of a Pembleton baby- Cyn’s cousin in New York very happy about becoming a grandmother.
And while all this usual Christmas activity was going on, with baking and wrapping and decorating part of the family life, Cec and Cyn were planning a real change- renovating and then moving to their new house. Excitement for all in the New Year!
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.
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.
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 hotstrong 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
I am sorry that I didn’t get a letter off last week, but now that I am back to normal there is so much to catch up with and I am so behind with everything concerned with Christmas. Of course I had no presents or cards or anything, and also I am very short of winter clothes and needed a hat and dress badly, so last week Linda had a dental appointment on Thurs. and so I decided that I would get Cec to take me downtown too, and I would shop and then come home in the bus. Of course you know what happened! I had both children home from school and we had to cancel the dentist as well as everything else! Linda had a bit of a cough at the weekend, but not bad, so she went to school on Mon. but Tues. it seemed worse so I thought if I kept her in bed a day or so it might clear it up, but by the Thurs. morning instead of being better she suddenly had a temperature of nearly 102 after not having had more than 99 the previous evening, so then Charlie decided he felt sick and throwy-up, so I kept him at home too. Actually, that afternoon he was to go to Dr. Kastner to have the dressing changed on his toe, so I called the nurse and told her about Linda and she said to bundle her up and have the car warm and bring her in too. We decided that we might as well all go to Dr. K. now as the children are getting big for the Paediatric Centre – Linda wasn’t too pleased but I think is resigned now! Cec came home and drove us over, and after a while I went in with the two children and Cec was most amused because in his (Dr. K.’s) usual whirlwind style he looked at Charlie’s toe (healing quite well, but still sore), got the nurse to put a dressing on it; looked at Linda’s ears and throat gave me a million instructions and two prescriptions for her; and then proceeded to give me a lightning quiz and give me a prescription for a tonic and bucker-upper – and we were all out and on our way home in about three minutes! Charlie’s toe continues to do well, but he still finds a shoe painful although I think he will be able to wear one soon as it doesn’t look red and inflamed now and the new nail seems to be doing all right. Linda took her medicine and the cold cleared up over the weekend. Dr. K. said that she could go to school this week, but no gym or going out at recess, so I gave both of them their lunches at school, so that she wouldn’t have to walk up in the cold, and Charlie has been taking his since his toe was so sore so that he wouldn’t have to walk. This has given me a lovely free week, and I have at last managed to get downtown and go to the coinwash and this morning I made my Christmas cake and it is in the oven now and smelling delectable! I made my Christmas pudding last week, so at least we will have some Christmas fare – I still haven’t made mincemeat, but I shall try to get it done next week, because I am so used to your grape mincemeat now that the bought kind tastes very strong and solid. Oh, I meant to tell you that Dr. K. said that I was doing fine, but that after a thing like this one’s haemoglobin goes down, so this would make me tired and so he gave me some mineral and vitamin pills, and I take one a day. How about yours? Blood, I mean? After your fall and the shock perhaps the same thing happened to you so I think you should get it checked and maybe you could use some pills too!
Poor Mama – you still haven’t heard all the ins and outs of this accident of mine! As you can imagine so many people have asked about it here and talked about it and everything that we feel everyone must be sick of it, but with having to write it to you I never did tell the full tale. Well, it happened on the 21st Oct. at 8:30 in the morning. Of course usually I would never be out in the car at that time on a Saturday morning, but this week the Cubs were to go downtown to a show and they all had to be at the school at 8:30 so Charlie got all dressed in his camp uniform and off we went. I left him at the school and then placidly drove back home again, having left Linda in her dressing gown and Cec asleep in bed as he had been working late the night before, and then as I drove up opposite our driveway and began to turn, with no cars in sight, I saw a small newspaper boy on a bicycle ambling along just opposite our house. I slowed down to let him past and then glanced along the highway again before turning across the road. I saw a truck coming from the Montreal direction just appearing over the hill, but thought “Oh, I have time to get off the road”, so drove quickly across and onto the gravel shoulder of the road opposite our driveway when suddenly the truck (what is called here a panel truck – we’d call it a van) drove smack into the passenger side of my car. Of course I just felt the terrific crash, and the doors on my side of the car burst open and I was thrown out onto the gravel. I wasn’t unconscious but the blow which broke my ribs had knocked all my breath out and I was wheezing and whooping trying to get it back. I was lying on the ground partly under our car and the man ran over and began helping me out and then I heard Emil’s voice, and I was so thankful as I could hear them sending someone for an ambulance and I was trying to say that I lived right here but had no breath to do so. Emil then said that I lived here and the two of them carried me in – I remember it all but I couldn’t open my eyes, and Emil says I kept saying “I’m all right “, and I did manage to say that Cec was still asleep. Poor little Lindy got such a shock as she saw them carry me in all gravelly and grubby, and Emil told her to go and wake Cec and he poor fellow woke up and found a house full of strange people and me were lying there and he didn’t know what had happened. I was on the sofa, and a lady who lives behind Emil’s and is a nurse and heard the crash dashed over and she bathed my face and put a cold cloth on my head etc. and then Cec phoned Dr. K. and he said to have the ambulance take me to the Civic Hospital. The ambulance came then, and Mary Orr who was passing and saw the commotion came and got Linda dressed and took her home with her, and they put me on a stretcher and took me off just as the police arrived. I was taken into the Emergency and undressed and then taken along and x-rayed and then all taped up with wide adhesive tape and by this time it was getting on for noon, and I was very sore as you can imagine, so I asked if I couldn’t have at least an aspirin or something, so at last I got a pain pill. There was no bed free so I lay there in the Emergency Ward with various companions such as a small boy who had fallen off his bicycle and a young fellow who had broken his collarbone playing football! Cec came in and stayed with me a while and as nothing was going on I told him to go home and see how the children were as Mary Orr was going to collect Charlie and take him to her home too after the show was over. After a little while I was taken up to the proper ward and got into a nice room in the new wing of the hospital. It was semi-private with two beds and I got the bed next to the window which was nice. Once in there I was looked after very well – I got a hypo needle to take away the pain, and Dr. K came in very soon and said he was sorry he was delayed, and said I was to have pain pills every three hours and sleeping pills at night etc. One of the shots they gave me I had a reaction against and threw up, but I dozed and slept and felt all right when Cec came in to see me in the evening. My companion in the other bed was a girl of about 13 or 14 who came in after I did having been thrown from a horse. She had a very black eye and various bruises, but she went home the next morning and then on the Sun. afternoon I got another lady, a Miss Gibson – a little older than me and a member of a large family of brothers and sisters nearly all living in Ottawa. She was very nice and we got on very well together. She had had a cancerous tumour removed 7 years ago and now had a small lump on her neck to be removed, so she wasn’t feeling ill and the first day or so she just had tests and x-rays, then the operation was small enough so that she didn’t feel poorly for more than a day or so. However when the lump was examined they said it wasn’t malignant but that she should have some treatment, and also she had been having gall bladder trouble and the doctors decided that she should have that removed while she was in the hospital, so she had that operation the very day I left hospital. Poor girl, I felt sorry for her, because with this cancer threat hanging over her it must be very worrying. I phoned her sister one day and she told me that she was very weak after the gall bladder operation but was getting on although still in hospital. Well, I think that seems to be the saga of my accident – as I told you everyone was terribly kind – I got more than 15 gifts of flowers and plants – all sorts of beautiful roses and pots of chrysanthemums and things and various boxes of candy and chocolate, and gifts of toilet water and talcum and soap, and fruit and cookies, and then of course Cec and the children were inundated with food and invitations and so was I when I came home – you can’t believe how kind people were. I got between 30 and 40 cards from all sorts of people – not counting the ones from friends and relations like Mill and Monie – also Christmas cards and notes from Peggy and Marie and Auntie Mill. Oh, I thought you would be amused to hear how well I was looked after by the clergy when I was in Hospital. Someone phoned Mr. Pulker just after the accident and he came right up and saw Cec and asked if there was anything he could do, then he came to see me twice in Hospital. As well the Anglican Hospital Chaplain came in to see me, and then Wendell, who was in seeing one of his parishioners came in one afternoon. Next, who should come but Mr. Cook – the United Church clergyman from here – you met his wife at Mrs. Rothwell’s, remember? I thought it was so nice of him to come and we had a nice chat about his baby who is a great big strong fellow of 7 or 8 months now. Last but not least, Miss Gibson is a Presbyterian, and one day when she was down for an X-ray her minister came in to see her, and when I explained where she was he sat down beside me and had a little visit, and then another day he came in to see Miss G. again and gave us both a little service. All that was missing was for the priest to drop in, but I never saw him!
I forgot to tell you that the man who bumped into me had no insurance on his truck. Our insurance man went to see the police and their report, and they had down that the crash took place about 10 or 12 feet off the highway and that the man must’ve frozen at the wheel. There were no skid marks or brake marks so he must not even have put on his brakes but just have driven right off the road into me. Apparently there is a fund that one can get damages from if the party to blame is uninsured, but one has to bring a court case first to apportion the blame and assess the damage, and they say court cases can go any which way depending on how the judge is feeling, which is not very encouraging. Our insurance company is interested in recovering some of their money if they can, so they are continuing to investigate and if they decide to take it into court then we would go along with them. We would hope to get my hospital expenses and perhaps the $120 which Cec had to pay to rent a car, but of course we wouldn’t get the difference we had to pay between the money we got from the insurance company and the cost of the new car. Our poor little Rosie was demolished. The right side was all smashed in and apparently the whole frame was twisted so that it couldn’t be repaired. I was so fond of that little car, and we all feel sad about it, but the new one is very nice too. It is also an Envoy but the 1962 model which is a little wider and longer – it is a pretty blue with a lighter blue side streak and top, and blue leather seats and carpet inside. Lindy said we should call this one Bluebird and I don’t know if you remember Mrs. Bird in our guild? Well, her daughter is called Bonnie, so now the car is called Bonnie too! On Sunday Cec took me down Rothwell Heights and I practised with the new car and then this week for the first time Cec went to work with Teddy and I had the car, so on Tuesday I drove downtown at 10 a.m. and didn’t come home till 3 p.m. I don’t feel nervous but just a bit suspicious of all the other drivers! Then yesterday I went to the Coin Wash and Shopping Centre and so I am getting quite used to it.
This week has been hectic – on Mon. evening Cec and I went to the Film Society – mostly because we haven’t been this year yet and we hadn’t been out for so long, and it turned out to be some very depressing films about Africa and the conditions under which the coloured people live there – not at all enjoyable, and both Cec and I got so sore and stiff from sitting! Then on Tues. evening I went down to the church for an Advisory Board Meeting. This is the Board which does all the church business and as Pres. of the Guild I now am a member – just me and Mrs. Pierce of the Altar Guild and all the rest men! It is really very interesting and Mr. Pulker is very businesslike and practical which is certainly a big change from Mr. Bowen! Wed. evening was a Guild Executive meeting in the house of one of the members and then last night we went with Margaret and Peter Savic to the Little Theatre to see a play called “The Pleasure of his Company’. We have tickets for a series of plays this winter – about 4 or 5 I think, and this one was quite good, but it was a pity everything came in one week. Tonight Cec has gone out to dinner and to a Stag Party with the men from work and I must say that I am delighted to stay at home! As you can see, I am really back in the routine again, but I do get tired still and my back aches, but usually I get into bed early in the evening and read and have my cup of tea! I had better go and get some dinner or my children will starve – Daddy out so we will have a very picnic meal!
Dear Gannie, I am fascinated by this RED ink. Charlie has just said that he loves you and I say the same. We are having exams in school now at least my class is. A minute ago Charlie said that he was having 10 exams next week and you should see his school – bag! I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and aHAPPY NEW YEAR! Love LINDY P.S. Charlie has just gone downstairs to weigh his school-bag! I run to make you a CHRISTMAS card. Good – bye! L. C.
Dear Grannie. As Lindy has said, I have lots of homework and my schoolbag weighs a lot, 9 lbs. 16 oz. to be exact. I am going to send you a copy of ‘Stoopid’ it may be the rough copy but I don’t think you’d mind. Mummy says it’s time to go to bed so I have to stop. HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a MERRY NEW YEAR. LOVE CHARLEY
Me again! Talking of Christmas – two weeks this weekend – horrors! – your parcel has come, and here I am just packing yours. I know that you will be amused at the house dress that I have sent you – Lindy says that it isn’t a “Grannie dress” so I said “Oh, well, don’t you think that it is a Grannie-in-the-West-Indies dress?” So she said “Yes, but not a dress for Grannies here!” So you will see that it isn’t a dull old womanish dress! Actually it is a sun-dress and I got it on sale, so it should be very good value! I tried it on, so I hope that it fits you O.K. Auntie Muriel’s present says on the outside ‘For Men’, but I don’t see why ladies shouldn’t find it handy too! [Curiosity led me to looking up Cyn’s Christmas present list to discover what this could be- Soap on a Rope!] I’m afraid that all my parcels and cards are going to be very late but nothing can be done about it.
You were asking about the Guild in one of your letters and of course we have had all sorts of functions this fall, but I haven’t been taking too much of an active part. While I was in the hospital we had the Rummage Sale, and if I had to miss any of the things I was happy that it was that one, as I can’t say I can rouse much interest in rummage! Then just after I came home there was an Exec. Meeting, but I got June to take that as I wasn’t going, but the next week we had a Guild Meeting and I went to that as usual. That week there was such a tragic thing happened – one of the young men belonging to the Church suddenly dropped dead at work one morning. He was only 34 and his wife is 32, and is left with 3 young children – the oldest 11 and the youngest 4. We were all so shocked and the poor girl, Hilda Cooper, was stunned. The funeral was held at the Church on the Sat. afternoon, and there were relatives coming from all over the country, so we in the Guild organized things and sent in a hot meal on the Friday evening, and then on the Sat. two of the ladies went over in the afternoon and had tea and coffee and sandwiches and cookies ready when everyone came back from the cemetery – a miserable cold wet afternoon too. We sent in a buffet supper for about 15 or so that evening so that she wouldn’t even have to think of food. The next Sat. we had our Skate and Ski Exchange and it did very well. We made just over $50, which doesn’t sound much, but the church just takes 25% of the sale price, so that means we sold $200 worth of secondhand skates and skis. Then last Sat. we had our Coffee Party and it was a big success – we made about $200, but for something which is mostly fun this is pretty good. Mary Orr and some of the girls who are taking millinery classes made some cute little hats – mostly just veiling and flowers etc. and I bought one with brown flowers on to go with my winter coat. I was so pleased as I hadn’t had a chance to go down town and get a new winter hat at all. Then last week when I was in town I looked for a dress but had no luck till I was at the Coinwash and went to my old standby Reitman’s and got a pretty woollen dress with 3/4 sleeves – it is a nice gay green colour – quite a change for me – and has a pleated skirt. I thought it would look nice and Christmasy with my gold belt and gold jewellery.
I don’t think that I have told you of all the excitement about Christmas. Cec’s Mother and Father wrote and said they thought they might come down East this winter, so we wrote and said this was lovely and for them to come for Christmas. They said they would, so we thought it would be fun to have a real Costain family party, so we called up Lea and she said that they could come on Christmas Day, then we wrote to Merle and her family and persuaded them to come up for Christmas too. We had her reply last week and they are going to come – they will arrive on the Sat. before Christmas and then be here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then leave on Boxing Day. We had said in our letter that if they had already asked Uncle and Auntie [Milton and Lily Costain in Toronto] to spend Christmas with them to bring them along, and Merle says that she phoned them and not to be surprised if they come! This means that we would have 17 for Christmas Dinner! Merle suggest that she and Dixon and Auntie and Uncle, if they come, sleep down at the motel and I think that is what we will do. Then Mom and Dad can have downstairs to themselves, we will put all the Moor boys in Charlie’s room and Charlie can sleep on the chaise in Linda’s room. In that way we will have the sitting room clear, and this will make it easier. Won’t it be fun though? The only thing we don’t know is when Mom and Dad are coming – by the way, Carmen and Leona just had another little son – 2 boys and a girl now. It is now Sunday and Cec has spent such a noble weekend – he has washed the ceiling and walls of the kitchen for me – it looks a different place as you may remember after you did one wall! We want to decorate all through in the New Year, but in the meanwhile this is a huge improvement. Charlie in his little note mentions that he is going to send you his rough copy of ‘Stoopid’. This is his speech which I very briefly told you about in one of my earlier letters. In the Public Schools each year they have Public Speaking Contests – Senior Grades 7 and 8, then Junior Grades 4, 5, and 6. Well, before my accident Charlie said he had to write a speech and there were various headings he could choose from – one was “A Faithful Friend”, so after lots of discussion he decided to write on this one telling about the little monkey Stoopid which Cec knew when he was on the aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Part of it is made up and part is true, but he wrote it all out quite well, and much to my surprise when I was in the hospital Cec told me that Charlie had been chosen one of 10 in his class to learn his speech and give it. Well, you know his memory! I never thought he would be able to do it, but Cec told him how to make short notes and then go in his room and say it over and over, and much to our surprise in a day or so he could reel the whole thing off, and time himself – nearly 5 minutes! Then at school they had various eliminations and he was chosen each time until he and a little girl were chosen out of his class to speak in the contest against 4 other boys and girls from the other grades. One of these was Janek Blachut who was chosen from Lindy’s class – poor Lindy was quite disgusted at first, as they did not get their speeches begun so soon, so consequently she hadn’t hers written before I went into hospital. She was going to write on “An Exciting Adventure” and tell about you as a small girl in the hurricane going down into the cellar and the little child with the cotton wool for brains! Well, what with me not being there to consult and all the upset of the accident and going out to people’s houses and one thing and another, she was late getting it finished and didn’t have time to learn it properly, so she wasn’t chosen from her class. However, when she got over her disappointment she was quite proud of Charlie! They had the finals in the evening and parents could go and listen and there were 3 judges from outside. There were 6 children speaking in the younger group and 6 in the older, and they began with the young ones. They drew lots for turns and each one went up onto the platform and made his speech – without notes. Janek was the only one who forgot, but he made a good recovery and managed to finish up well. Charlie was 3rd or 4th and we could tell he was very nervous – very serious you know and looking so small up there! But he did very well, and said it all nicely – it was a funny speech you know, and he had told us how all the children laughed when he said it, but he was too scared to make much of the jokes that night! Cec and I thought the little girl called Christine out of Charlie’s class was the best – she spoke about ‘Upper Canada Village’- the pioneer village which has just been opened down by the St. Lawrence Seaway. After they had finished the judges went out and then when they came back they reviewed each child’s speech and made suggestions and corrections and it was so interesting, and they were very nice because they found something good to say about each one, and were most encouraging. When the man was going over Charlie’s he talked for a while, and then was going to say something about speaking louder and he suddenly stopped and said ‘You are 10, aren’t you?” and Charlie said “No, I’m 8” whereupon the man looked so surprised and laughed and said “Oh well, perhaps we can’t expect a little fellow to speak much louder!” In the end of the Junior Group the little girl Christine was first and Janek was second, and I think Charlie was quite relieved as they had to go to another school another night and do it again against other winners, and he had had quite enough! But we were very proud of him. Especially as it was something we hadn’t even thought he could do, and he did it so well – imagine standing up and giving a speech to a whole hall full of people at that age! You asked in your last letter – for which thank you so much – if Sheena’s baby has come yet. It isn’t due until the end of this month so perhaps she will have Christmas at home. She is expecting her mother this week, so she is very excited. One nice thing about my accident it has healed old rifts as it were – Margie heard about it from Sheena about two weeks ago and called me up and we had a nice long chat and are friends again with many protestations that we must get together soon! But I am glad as I like Margie and Cy so much – Cy seems to be quite well again now, but apart from that Margie didn’t say anything about his illness. In answer to some of your questions Lindy hasn’t got any bands on her teeth yet – she had to get some more fillings done before they were put on, and Dr. Braden has just got some little ‘spacers’ in between some of her teeth at the back. The first bands she will get will be on her back teeth so they won’t be noticeable for a while. Linda doesn’t mind Dr. B. as he does no hurting work like fillings etc. and also he is a nice looking young fellow rather like Hugh Pembleton. Charlie’s eczema has been pretty good lately – he just had the two short treatments when I mentioned them earlier, but they cleared it up very well, and only this week I noticed he is beginning to scratch again a bit, but just as he always has you know – not the big infected sores he had a while ago. Dr. Jackson said to come back if it got bad again, but so far it is all right. Well, here I am nearly at the end of the paper, so I must stop. Please give my love to Auntie Muriel and all the other kind people who enquired about me, and thank them. I will try to write with my Christmas cards but goodness knows when they will arrive. I do hope that you have a happy Christmas and enjoy a nice Christmas dinner. You can think of me with my 24 lb. turkey, and be glad I have my nice new big oven to put it in! I meant to tell you we have had chickens as low in price as 19¢ a lb. – doesn’t that make you and Auntie Moo jealous? We have had chicken all week long – yum! –
Lots of love and happy Christmas from Cyn. [in hand writing] Did your glasses come yet?
This Christmas entry focuses on the presents that Cyn and her friends exchanged and certainly emphasizes what privileged and lucky children my brother and I were, with such a variety of gifts sent to us from so many people. But I want to point out that this practice forged connections, and by this age, Charlie and Linda were involved in some aspects of the gift selection, wrapping, parcels making, and, as Cyn’s letter just before measles confined them all to the house says, she and Charlie were successfully mailing the packages a week before the Post Office’s overseas deadline. Because of their religion, the Russell Costains in Saskatoon did not celebrate Christmas, and presents were not exchanged, so growing up we did not have the same connection as we did to our other cousins- whom we may not have met but were asked to consider when asked what our little cousins in B.C. would like for Christmas. It wasn’t until we were teens that we met all our cousins, and our parents’ friends in England, but we had had years of sending parcels and receiving exciting and different presents that provided an introductory link. But our connection to those Saskatchewan cousins was never strong, which I’ve always regretted. (And Cyn may have acceded to the present ban, but she had included them among her 90 Christmas cards in 1956, and had enclosed the photo of the children that she sent to all the family as a Christmas gift!)
Carol was always interested in Church news and would have been very pleased to get this background information on Cyn’s minister whom she had met on both her Ottawa visits.