Immediately after finishing her last Air Form, Cyn started this letter to her mother, and then finished it 2 1/2 weeks later, in the middle of their road trip to Michigan for their holiday. But the complaints about the weather are completely in agreement with Mrs. Edmunds’ letters which have interrupted the Costain accounts! Events in the last 2 hectic weeks of May included Mother’s Day, with a card and a visit from Lila, when Linda got to wear her new yellow-and-white outfit just completed by her clever Mama.
Box 330. R.R.1 17th May. 1956
Dearest Mummy, I just finished an A.L. to you but discover it isn’t very late yet, so I thought I would begin this now & it would encourage me to get on with it & get it done in good time to mail next week! I told you that I’d give you more details of Jim & Lee’s house in this – actually their street & front entrance is not finished yet, so we came from another street & entered by the back so I feel a bit turned around, but I’ll try to draw you a vague plan! It is grey brick with black roof & has a nice lot with quite a few trees which will be lovely – they get the front landscaped for them, but have to do the back themselves. Lee’s sister Johnny (the nurse who lives in California now) is on holiday & staying with them for a month or so, which is very nice & a big help to Lee. She was away in Montreal when we were there, but we hope to see her when she gets back. Dougie is a big boy running around now, but still not talking – Charlie is quite taken with him! He is about 10 times as tough as Charlie as Barry treats him rough & knocks him about & he takes it all! Can you imagine my little plum blossom?!
I like the plan very much & it is all nicely arranged & finished, but the sitting room is small which is our only criticism. Of course with the dining room added on it makes it seem larger, but even so it isn’t very big. On Sat. the Swiss Fellow, Kurt Dressler (the one who made the funny remark about enjoying himself much more than he thought he would!) is getting married. His bride has come from Switzerland & we all thought they would get married very quietly, but he has invited all the Spectroscopy Dept. & is having a reception in the Church Hall, so it is very exciting. The Church is over on the Drive way not far from Jim & Lee & when the latter offered to keep the children we accepted with delight as we had asked Mrs. Martin to come but they were most unenthusiastic! (Linda said she would play outside & Mrs. Martin must never come out!) Mrs. M. was quite pleased to get out of it as she is very busy, so we are all happy now! While we were over at Jim & Lee’s last Sat. we went to Simpson’s Sears new store & I got a new hat – white with a brim – flat – & a veil – quite pretty – & also a wedding present – a set of square plastic kitchen canisters – flour etc. (red & white) – you know. Of course with the weather I have quite a problem what to wear! So I have 3 outfits lined up 1) Beautiful warm sunny day. New greeny- yellow dress I made – new hat- white shoes gloves etc. 2) Mild but dull day. Harrod’s tussore dress (just washed & ironed it) new hat – white gloves – black shoes. 3) Cold lousy horrid day! Grey suit – new blouse I got for my birthday – new hat – white gloves – black shoes. Will let you know which one it turns out to be!
MacTavish [their ’46 Chrysler] is away this week getting his face lifted before we go back to his home town! Cec is having the engine overhauled before our trip & also having all the bumps fixed & having him painted (the same colour) so we are very excited to see him looking pretty & shiny again. Til & Lois will probably be utterly amazed to see we are still driving him, but we thought at least we could take him down looking his best. There was such a terrible accident not far from here on Tuesday night. A jet plane crashed from 33,000 ft. down onto a Grey Nuns Convent used as a Rest Home. It is between here & Orleans, but not on the road we used to drive but on a side road off to the river. It happened at about 10:15 & of course the plane exploded & the building was immediately engulfed in flames. I went out to the kitchen at about 10:30 & glancing out of the window saw this huge blazing fire, but Cec & I couldn’t think where or what it was. It is so difficult to tell distances at night & it looked so big. It wasn’t till about 15 mins. later that all the fire engines began tearing past & the RCAF fire equipment & so on – there were all sorts of reports on the radio but at last they told what had happened. At first they reported as many as 50 killed, but next morning they announced 15 killed all together, including a priest & the 2 pilots. Seventeen of the nuns were saved, but seeing the terrible devastation of the building it is incredible that anyone got out at all. The dreadful thing is that there are fields all around the convent for miles.
A Long, Long Time Later June 3. On Our Trip.
Dearest Mummy – Didn’t I get lost off with this letter? The last 2 weeks before we left were so hectic that I just didn’t seem to have a minute even to finish it, so finally I brought it along with me & I am writing this in a Motel in Chatham (half way between Toronto & Windsor.) I got your nice long letter just before I left & hope you won’t worry when you don’t hear from me for a little while but expect you will know I was busy getting ready for the trip. It has been such cold rainy weather that we are all wearing sweaters & coats & although I have our bags full of summer dresses I don’t know whether we’ll ever wear them! It rained all day today & I can hear the cars swishing by on the highway outside. We set out at 9 a.m. yesterday morning – a gray cool day – & drove to Peterborough (about 200 miles) to see the Haywoods who live there now. The children slept part of the way, but after they woke the road was quite bumpy for a bit & although I had Charlie in the front he said he felt funny & suddenly turned pale green & began to cry! We stopped & got out hastily & it did the trick – he had a little walk in the fresh air & a cookie & we went on in about 10 mins. time & he has been fine since, although of course we handle him with care!
We had lunch on the way & got to the Haywoods about 3:15 & had tea & a chat & stayed about 1 1/2 hrs. They like it there very much & all look well & happy. We then drove on to Toronto & got to a Motel not far from A. Lillie & U. Milton’s at about 7:30. We had dinner then & settled down for the night – rather a restless one! We had a big room with 2 double beds & one end as a sitting room, but of course the children were excited at all the strangeness. We tried to get them asleep & let us sit & read on the sofa, but of course they weren’t used to the light, so in the end we went to bed too, but I was up a dozen times I’m sure! They kicked each other & Charlie scratched his legs & Linda kicked him etc. etc.!!! This morning after breakfast we went to Auntie & Uncle’s & stayed & had an early lunch but both children were very tired & subdued! We set off again at noon & this time retraced our famous drive of Linda’s babyhood, but I can’t say I recalled any of the places!
We stopped here quite early – about 5:30 – as it was so rainy & miserable – & this time we have 2 adjoining rooms, which I hope will be better. We had dinner & put the children to bed & as this is a bigger bed we put pillows down the middle & they seem to be sound asleep now. I only hope they don’t call in the middle of the night or I have to dash out of one door & in at the other in the rain in my nightie!! We have only about 100 miles to do tomorrow so will get to Ann Arbour in the afternoon & will stay there till Thursday when we go to Toledo.
I spent the last week or so making Linda & me the dresses out of the material I got last year that you asked about. It is white with a little yellow dot & I have made us yellow jackets to go with them. Everyone thinks they look nice & I think so too, but thisweather! It was cold for the wedding I told you about of course & I wore my grey (remodelled) suit, which I’m wearing now with a sweater & pleased to have it on! I must stop now & go to bed – hoping it will be a quiet night! I’ll write again on the trip & tell you how we are doing. Lots & lots of love from us all – Cyn.
I am beginning the Herculean task of going through a whole mass of your old letters & trying to answer them! I am in the middle of a letter to you, but forgot it at work, so I thought that I would have fun to myself & catch up on these- something which I’ve been meaning to do for ages! Cec is up at the Lab. & I have just had my evening cup of tea, so here I go!
In one of your letters from the bungalow you were telling of Pip’s “family” & Cec & I were most amused at the story of his love life, & how he now takes no notice of his wife & children. [I’m assuming we are reading about a cock and hen here.] He is obviously a rake & not at all suited for domestic life, so it is just as well he doesn’t live too close or his poor wife would get disillusioned! Your drawing of Pip before & after plucking made us laugh too – some slight resemblance to the Costains before & after haircuts!! At the moment my hair is quite long & needs cutting, but the last time I had it cut, when the Boveys were here – the girl did it so badly it was straggly for weeks, so I’m kind of shy about getting it done again!
You were saying you had finished Bebe’s tablecloth, & I am sure that it must look lovely. I am sorry I won’t see it, but I know that Bebe will think it is beautiful & it will be quite unique among her presents. I still thought that Cec & I would send her something, but I haven’t managed it yet. We still haven’t sold our electric waffle iron yet, so are still saving Millie’s $5 – we thought if we sold the former we could put all the money together & get a toaster! If you recall, the Atkinsons promised us a toaster, but it has never materialized, & we have gradually begun to lose touch! I owed Mrs. A. a letter for ages, but it is her birthday on Sat. so I am sending a card & have written a note telling of my “condition”!!
I am glad that you were able to alter the pale blue dress from your Christmas parcel & make it fit & look nice. I thought the colour was pretty & would suit you, & I hope it will wash well. I must get cracking & shorten my preggy clothes because I will really have to begin wearing them soon. I am popping out more each day & in the evenings I feel so much fatter than in the mornings!!
You were mentioning hearing from Miss Lefroy & Chris in some of your letters, & about AGL’s sister having flu. Miss Lefroy didn’t catch it. Flu seems to be quite prevalent in some places over here, but so far most of A.A. seems quite healthy. Our supervisor (Survey Research Centre) in New York was writing to tell us how many of the interviewers there were ill with flu, & what a bad bug it was, because the people who caught it once were finding that it recurred 2 or 3 times & they were ill in bed more than once.
I was interested to hear that Arthur was busy in England trying for jobs, & wonder how the Sierra Leone one turned out. You said no more about it, so it must have flopped & probably just as well as the climate isn’t good as you say. I finally wrote to Bren a week or so ago, but she will probably tell you anyway!
There were 2 things you said you would send me & so far have forgotten- you will have to push all the odds & ends in an envelope like I do & just send them off! The first was the cutting about Bebe’s wedding, & the second was Father O’Brien’s letter about my Father. I am glad that you finally heard from Fr. O’B. & hope that he will write again sometime. Certainly from the two letters I’ve had, my Father seems much more contented & placid than I’ve heard him be for a long time. Very muddly sentence, but you know what I mean! I will write to him this weekend for his birthday & will try to get a parcel off.
Do you remember writing to tell me about waking up early one morning & watching the boy milk the cows? Cec & I roared with laughter over his washing the cow, then milking into the same pail! The whole scene sounds most idyllic even if not hygienic, & we think it is lovely! Did I tell you I drink skim milk, so it’s not to get too fat!? I don’t like it much & call it my Scum Milk!! In the same letter you gave me a great scolding about my grammar, gran’ma!! But I don’t care – you can’t expect me to think too hard when I’m busy hoarding gossip & news for you!! To skip back to milk- you were asking what a Milk Shake was – well it is milk (a little) & ice cream (a lot) & a flavouring (i.e. choc syrup) all mixed around violently in an electric mixer till it is all frothy & bubbly – yummy! I haven’t had one for quite a long time, but may get one as my Saturday treat this weekend! We will treat you to a Huge one just as soon as you get to Ottawa & I bet you like it! Cec & I keep thinking of all the things you will like & that it will be fun for us to do when you arrive & we have quite a list already! Don’t get alarmed, we are not planning wild excitement with me just about to produce (!), but little ordinary things like shopping in a super-market will be fun when you are there. I was most interested to hear of all the excitement about Alastair Fraser & his new bride, and I am so sorry that you missed seeing them. Perhaps by now you will have done so & can tell me all the details!
In your last letter you were telling Aunt Ettie going to Barbados- I hope that she had a nice flight & enjoyed her trip. Cec & I were intrigued at hearing about Jean & Peter & the others flying over the Soufrière [St. Vincent’s volcano] & getting such a good view. It was a grand idea for Peter, as I don’t suppose he’d ever get a chance to see much of it otherwise. I remember Margs telling of a crowd of them climbing up one time, and wondered if people still did that, or if it is too busy bubbling now.
Cec and I laughed about all the twins you keep hearing about in the Hazell family now that we have brought the subject up, & Cec is most amused to find that there are some proper as well as improper twins in the family!! By the time you get this letter Auntie Trix will be with you & I hope that the nightie material was all settled & that I wasn’t too late in telling you all about everything. I hope that you all have fun with A. Trix – she will certainly stir you all up & make you bustle anyway!!
Talking of the twins, Cec & I are most curious to know what girl’s name you have chosen! We have chosen one too, but won’t tell you yet! As for a boy’s name – we are stuck! Everything I like, Cec thinks it’s awful, & vice versa! We can’t even think of any nice matching twin names, but I suppose we’ll manage in the end!
I don’t know if I told you that a little while ago we were having such nice bright springy weather- well this week has just turned around & been horrid again. We had rain, sleet & snow, & we are all so disgusted. It is slushy & muddy & of course everyone thinks it is much nastier after the foretaste of spring. Above our window at work there are pigeons nesting & on the sunny days they just sat there & cooed & sounded so contented- now we never hear a cheep out of them!
In one letter you were asking if I had ever heard anything from Hugh, but I never have since we got the MixMaster. I wrote then, & sent a card at Christmas, but we didn’t even get a card, so I wonder if he is overseas or not. He hasn’t been attached to a battalion recently & was doing work on guided missiles, so maybe he is still in the US. Did I ever tell you about Til’s son Bill (in the army now for sometime) being sent to Panama? They have to do so much overseas service if they’re in the regular army & this was his – isn’t he lucky? His wife joined him & they had a baby (girl) out there & they were to stay for a year or more,, but in Til’s last letter of a week ago, they are back again & going to Texas, I think. It was Lois’ birthday last month & I sent her 2 little silk neck ties which are fashionable here & Cec sent her a lovely new adjustable spanner, as the 2 of them have such fun fixing things when we are there!
I have just come across the little bit of cloth like your housecoat from A. Moo, & I don’t remember if I ever told you how pretty I think it is. The colour is such a nice becoming shade of pink & with the white pattern looks lovely & cool & fresh. Cec & I were talking about what I wanted for my birthday the other day & decided that I really needed a cotton housecoat or dressing gown, so Cec is going to give me that. I only have the pink silk one Til & Lois gave me to match that nightie & it doesn’t meet, so isn’t very respectable, & certainly won’t nearly meet this summer! Also I will need a dressing gown in hospital, so might as well have one all summer.
We had a letter from Jim & Lee Gander the other day – remember them? They are in New York now, & Jim is taking his Ph.D. at Columbia. His mother is staying with them & helps look after the baby (over a year old now) while she has a very interesting job at the Univ. Library. We haven’t written to tell Joan & Ray our news, but must do so soon & enquire how they are getting on. They will have the baby here as they will be in the U.S. at least till late summer, if not for another year. Ray’s mother was coming over to visit, but I don’t know if she will be here for the baby’s birthday or not till later.
Do you know, I haven’t heard a word from Anne since the news of the baby? And I have written to her 3 times! I don’t know if she is offended because I didn’t thrill enough over the baby, or if she is just engrossed in it or what, but my last letter was telling our baby news, so I’m just going to sit back & wait.
I have always meant to answer your request re. your little Parisian purse & have always forgotten. You do just what you like with it, honey – I don’t want it to give to anyone, & you give it away or keep it as you choose.
March 23rd. 1951
It is now a week later, & also Good Friday, as you’ll see, but I sent off a big fat envelope last weekend, so I am continuing this at my leisure! I have been bad about writing this week, & apart from an air letter to my Father for his birthday, haven’t written to anyone. I haven’t really done anything else either, so I can’t give you a list of my achievements! I got letters from Amy & birthday card, & Anne- at long last & very thrilled about our twins – but as usual making me mad because she never said one word of thanks for 3 letters I’ve written her, nor answered anything I’d said! She is back at work again (on 1st March) & her mother is looking after the baby, who is doing fine – she mentioned she hadn’t written to you! I also got Easter & birthday cards from Nan & Mrs. Allan, & an Easter card from Tom & Doris Allan & the boys, but apart from that, it doesn’t seem at all like Easter. The weather is still cold with patches of dirty snow lying about & we were at work all today & go on Monday as usual, so there is nothing to make us feel Easter-y – except that last night Cec & I were out shopping at the Food Market & Cec bought me a gorgeous, huge pot of daffodils, which look so beautiful and like spring and Easter all rolled into one! It has a dozen or more great big flowers & more buds coming and after not having seen a flower for so long, it is the most heavenly surprise to both of us whenever we see it! Haven’t I a nice husband?
I am going on with answering some of the questions in your older letters now – I have 2 nice new ones to thank you for – 1 A.M. mailed on 12th March- & 1 by the Lady Nelson mailed on 22nd Feb- but I won’t answer them yet, because if this letter doesn’t show any signs of getting finished soon, I’ll write an Air Letter & answer them! One thing – in the sea letter you sent me two of the things I asked for- Bebe’s wedding cutting & Father O’Brien’s letter – thank you so much- & also for Pam’s funny letters! Cec & I haven’t done the game yet, but I’ll let you know how we get on!
In one letter you were asking about how much the Auto Bridge games cost- they are only $1.00 & if Pegs would really like one we would be very pleased to send it- a small return for the loan of the wedding veil! We can also get you & A. Ettie some refills if you still have fun with it, but I know the novelty wears off a bit, & we haven’t looked at ours for ages!!
You were writing of books you had read- amongst other “The World My Wilderness” by Rose Macauley. We got that in our Book Club (from Dottie) but didn’t like it much, but another one we got called “A Town Like Alice” by Nevil Shute we liked very much. You also said you’d read one of Lloyd Douglas’ – did you know that he just died recently? He used to be a minister at one of the churches in Ann Arbor, but was out in California for many years. I don’t read a very great deal now! We get the “Saturday Evening Post” every week, & “The Reader’s Digest”, & our Book Club book, & once in a while I go to the Library or buy a $.25 murder, but I am busy a lot of the time! (can’t think what I do!)
I have been laughing to myself again over your confusion at my thinking all the beautiful crocheting of my Christmas present was your work! I didn’t really consider anything else, because you had said that you & A. Moo were crocheting presents etc. & of course I know that you could have done it. I am just as pleased that you didn’t toil your little fingers to the bone over such fine work, & whoever did make them they are lovely! I’m saving them till I have a nice table, as I told you, & it is such fun to think that you will be at their christening in Ottawa- something we didn’t realize at the time, did we? I am reading away at all your letters & enjoying them over again before I burn them – it always seems such a shame, but the box I keep them in is BULGING! I have just been admiring your drawing of the Christmas decorations once more & thinking how nice the room must have looked. The Christmas cards on the staircase were a grand idea – we stuck ours onto red ribbon with scotch tape this year, & hung them in scallops to the picture rail & they looked very nice too, & lots of people admired them- saved so much dusting too!
I have always been so ashamed of myself because you asked in one letter ‘way back, if I would send you a pen, & as I had already sent your Christmas parcel, I left it for the time being, & then poor Mummy had to buy one for herself. I am so sorry, & will do better over any other commissions you have for me – I must get organized over your birthday parcel – I know what I want to get, but haven’t shopped yet! It is 11:30 p.m. & Cec will spank me if he comes back from the Lab. & finds me not in bed, so I must say night night! Will write more tomorrow!
Happy Easter! I hope that you have had a nice Easter – we have had a nice quiet day, without doing much. I went to Church at 11 o’clock & then we had a breakfast cum lunch (my 2nd breakfast!) It has been a nice sunny day, but still very cold, and a day or so ago there was quite a gale, & the remains of the wind are still icy. We had ham for dinner, so are both sitting feeling stuffed & I am afraid that when I go to the Clinic tomorrow I’ll have gained about a ton!
In one of your letters a while ago, you were asking about the Survey Research Center, & who, what & why they interviewed! Well, their main employer is the government, & what happens is that some gov’t department (or any big business or firm for that matter) wants to know what people are thinking about a certain thing – for instance one of the surveys was “Public Thinking on Atomic Energy” another on “Life Insurance”, another on “Housing” etc. – then they get together with the S.R.C. & decide how many interviews they want taken, and how much it will cost, & so on. Eventually one dept. of the Center makes out a questionnaire incorporating all the things they want information about. In the meanwhile, the Sampling Section (where Dawn & Millie work) get huge maps etc. of all the cities & towns & country places where we interview all over the U.S. (called the sample points), & from the maps they pick out streets etc. The interviewers then go to these areas & first of all “list” all the houses & dwelling units in these areas & send these lists back to the office, & from them are chosen the exact houses & places where the interviewers must go to take the interview. It is called “picking a random sample” & is all done very carefully – if the interviewer can’t get an interview at that exact address for any reason (illness, refusal etc.) he writes back & tells us, but isn’t allowed to substitute another house. When he asks the questions in the interview he writes down verbatim what the respondent says, & afterwards adds what is known as a “thumbnail sketch” i.e. a short description of the person, the circumstances etc. When the interviews are sent back to the office they are carefully numbered & checked then sent to the Coding Section, where coders read them & kind of give marks to each answer & finally from these marks or codes, the analysis & report is made out (mostly long tables of statistics!) & sent it off to whoever wants it! Now you should know all about surveys!!
You asked about Edie one time – I think I told you I got a letter from her in Los Angeles, & she just loves it there. She is not a bit of a career girl type- she is little & quiet & we all think would make a grand wife for someone, but so far has had no luck. I’ll send you her letter sometime, because it is quite fun.
In one letter just after we got MacTavish you were calculating how much we paid for him & said $850.00 was about £177 but Cec says you must have been calculating by the W.I. dollar. At the present rate of exchange £1 is $2.20, so that makes McT. worth over £300, & he is such a good & beautiful automobily he is well worth it! I was wicked last week! On our way back to work in MacT. in the afternoon I picked up a whole bunch of girls from the office & gave them all lifts, & when we got there, I parked the car & we all climbed out & buzzed into work. That was at 1 o’clock, & at 3 o’clock I was downstairs & one of the men who had just arrived said to me, “Did you leave the engine of your car running?” “Oh no” says I “I’m sure I didn’t” & dashed to look, & sure enough here was poor MacT. still put-putting away! I rushed out & turned it off of course & everyone laughed at me for wasting gas, but the agony came at 5:30 when Jean & I went to go home- MacT. wouldn’t start! The heater had been on as well as the engine & had run down the battery, so we were stuck! Jean phoned her husband Al, & he came & picked us up & we went & got Cec, & then came back & pushed MacT. out of the parking lot with the other car. There’s a hill outside & MacT. started on that, & so Cec drove to the gas station & the man charged the battery for us & I paid out of my pocket money! Cec is so nice – he just laughed at me & wasn’t cross a bit!
I have been wondering if Peter is better now & back at work, or if his leg is still bothering him – also what happened to the poor clergyman who had polio – if he is still in St.V. or has finally got back to England. There is a magazine article by a man who has to live in an iron lung after having polio, & I was amazed at some of the things he tells. Apparently, although he is paralyzed, he still can feel things & the discomfort of a wrinkle in the sheet under him, or his hand placed in an uncomfortable position, can be agonizing. It is amazing how the poor man can stand so much.
How have your “pore feet” been lately? As the weather has been cooler, they probably have been better, but I hope that they are easier altogether. I’ll get you some more felt-stuff if you want it.
How is my Mrs. Costain rose getting on? I hope that she is putting forth as her namesake is- I expect it to produce twin blossoms!
We read in the paper last night that the Cambridge & Oxford boat race was a fiasco yesterday, as the Oxford boat sank after 3 minutes! Did you read about it? It must have been terrible weather as they stopped the Cambridge crew from finishing, so it may be rowed over.
I have gone through all your old letters way back to Bequia, so had better stop now! I got another lovely letter from yesterday, posted on 19th, but I will answer it & the one before in my next, & will get this mailed tomorrow. I go to the Clinic tomorrow, so I will write soon again to let you know what the Dr says.
Night- night- my love to the Aunties, and lots & lots for you
P.S. you said on your last letter did I save the stamps for Peter – some I do, & some for Milly & some for the mailman!
[Cec’s handwriting] Dear Mom
In a letter from home Mother tells me I have twin cousins – which I had forgotten, & also my grandmother had twin cousins– so we still have hopes, in spite of the Hazell’s false symptoms. Cyn is being a good girl – when I make her behave, at least. It’s a wee bit difficult to get her to bed by 10:30 – It’s now 11:45.
This is going to be a whale of a letter to wish you a happy, happy Christmas, so put your feet up, undo your corsets, loosen your belt & sit back! Cec is going to wash the dishes for me, the honey, so that I can sit & write & write & write all evening!
When I got home from work today there was a nice letter waiting from you (posted 5th Dec.) & Aunt Ettie’s with your page enclosed came yesterday, so I got a lovely spread-out mail even if it came in the wrong order! Thank you very, very much for them Mummy, & also for your great fat 50¢ letter (mailed 28th Nov.) which I got last week- I love getting them all & hearing of your doings & all the news & gossip. It is 10 days since I wrote you the air letter about ourcar, but we have really been buzzing! We have been having driving lessons & seeing about licenses & insurance etc. etc. & have been kept busy, but today Cec went & took his driving test & got his license, so we think he is a clever boy! I haven’t taken mine yet – mainly because they don’t give them on Sat. & I work other days, but I have an appointment for Monday & will take an hour off work.
I haven’t told you much news apart from the car for about two weeks, so will go right back to the weekend of 25th Nov. when we had that terrible bad weather. I was so glad you told me how Margs & Mil & their families fared, as Cec & I were wondering, & we worried about Bill when we heard of the terrible Long Island R.R. crash. They must have had a bad time of it, with all the flooding in the basements, etc. But I am glad that it was no worse & that they didn’t have any really bad damage. We had a regular snow blizzard here, & as it was the weekend & we didn’t have to go out, we rather enjoyed ourselves & stayed in & were cosy at home! The great of the event of the weekend in Ann Arbor, was that Michigan (University) were playing their great football rivals, Ohio, down in Columbus, Ohio, & despite the fact that it was snowing & no one could see a thing, they still played & Michigan won! We listened to the game on the radio & got ever so excited (I still don’t understand it!) especially as it was the last game of the season & when Michigan won, it meant they were the Champions! The winners of this League go to California for New Year’s Day & play a big match against the winners out there in a big stadium called “The Rosebowl” & it is a great honour, so all of Michigan was very pleased! The funny thing was that Columbus got completely snowed up so lots of people who went to the game got stuck there for days!
At the beginning of that week I finally got my last parcels packed & off, & then next weekend we sent all our Christmas cards to England etc. A few, we kept to put letters in, so of course they straggled on & we are finally having to A.M. them! Mrs. Allen’s birthday card was one, & Cec’s friends Cliff & Gwengar, & we still haven’t sent Frank’s to Australia! I already have cards from Dottie, Mrs. Johnny, Mrs. Allen, Auntie Trix, Bar & Geraldine, & Nan & Dick (their’s is a lovely colour photo of Moira Shearer as Cinderella in the ballet.) Dottie wrote & told us that she was sending us another Book Soc. subscription which is lovely, & Bar sent us a very nice little book on Chester with lovely photos, & a pretty hankie for me. I can still hardly believe Christmas is so close & that Connie & Leonard are coming a week on Friday! I have a list as long as my arm of things to do – make Christmas cake & pudding – clean the whole flat – finish shopping etc. etc. & don’t know when I’ll begin!! Oh well, if it doesn’t all get done, Connie will have to turn to & help me! By the way – we continue to get annoyed at Connie & Leonard’s letters – they are nothing but grumble, grumble all the time! They have a flat now but it’s not ideal, & living is so expensive – much more so than the U.S. from what they can see – after all even stamps there are 4¢ compared to our 3¢, & Connie has her old symptoms of depression etc. etc. etc.! However, we are trying to be tolerant & hope that at Christmas they will feel better & more cheerful – if not, by the end of the week we will be telling them a thing or three!! But I don’t think they have told us that even one thing is nice since they got there – can you imagine!
To go back to my activities, on the Wed. (29) evening Cec & I were inveigled into going to a Committee Meeting for the Physics Dept. Xmas Party! The real members of the committee were Gordon & Gunborg – Cec’s pal Pete and his wife Mary Jo (who used to drive me shopping) & another young Prof. Hassen and his wife (the ones who had the funny modern 1/2 finished house – went to tea there in the spring.) We were sort of wished in by the Pete’s & Gordon & Gunborg, but it was a very pleasant meeting at the Pete’s, with drinks & eats etc. & we planned games & carol singing & a skit etc. The party is for faculty & graduate students, & half the entertaining is done by each, so we could shelve 1/2 of the responsibility on the students! Cec & I managed to get out without too much to do – my job is to type a stencil of carols & get about 200 copies run off, so I spent last night typing & Cec got the stencil run off today. I made one funny mistake- on my typewriter at work, the comma key is two commas above each other- a comma in ordinary writing & an apostrophe in Shift- on the portable it is a question mark above a comma, – a comma in ordinary writing and a question mark in capitals, so for one carol title I have “GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN? REJOICE”!!
The next weekend – i.e. last weekend- we bought the car! We began, you know, by seeing an ad. in the paper for an English Ford, 1949, for $495, & we thought, well golly – we could pay for that straight away! And a year old we thought it should be O.K, so on our way downtown to buy groceries, we stopped at the car dealers & asked about it. The man made an appointment to take us to see it next afternoon, as it was at their place outside town, so away we went next day & lost heart the moment we saw it! It was the most hideous mud colour to begin with- all scraped & battered along one side – no mat or carpet inside, just boards – no dashboard, just yawning holes, & to complete it all, it wouldn’t start!! So we abandoned it quickly & looked around & finally saw our pretty MacTavish – that is what we have christened the car, as it is a “Highlander Club Coupe” (with its tartan lining!) The “coupe” means that it has what is called a 1/2 back seat. i.e. it hasn’t much leg room compared to “sedans” & will only hold 2 in the back, but as it holds 3 on the front seat anyway, & is positively huge, we are glad it’s no bigger! We joined the A.A.A. (Auto Assoc. of America) & got all our insurance etc., through them & they give us all sorts of additional help, like free towing if the car won’t start & other things.
Gunborg & Gordon were giving a party for Gordon’s “group” of research students & wives that evening, so Cec & I went up early about 6 o’clock & helped them get ready. They were properly impressed with ourcar & so was everyone all evening long! There were about 30 there, & Gunborg served Mulled Wine (hot & spiced- nice!) to begin with, & then we watched some of Gordon’s movies. After that we played games & then had supper – a kind of Swedish smorgasbord with hot meatballs, & beet & herring salad & potato salad & green salad & stuffed celery etc. with trifle afterwards. Anne & Kirstin were out at a school party, so little Mary was allowed to stay up & open the door for the visitors & she was sweet- she has a new red corduroy velvet pinafore skirt with a little white blouse & she looks like a little Christmas! She stayed up & up & I eventually put her to bed about 11:30 after supper- very sleepy, but having a wonderful time!
We didn’t do much next day except send off our cards, so had a quiet day, & on Monday we saw about insurance etc. & on Tuesday we got the car. Neither of us could get licenses till we had a test, so we arranged to have 2 driving lessons each with a man from the Driving School to refresh our knowledge. My first lesson was straight after work on Tues. & this man came for me in his car & we drove around A.A. for an hour & I got on all right. (He looked just like Sherlock Holmes – pipe & all!) In the meanwhile Cec had asked his pal, Al, to drive the car home for us, & he stayed for dinner as his reward! After that, Al took us a drive in our limousine, & drove to his digs, where we left him & I drove us home – I was fine – except that we got ourselves lost twice, driving about 2 miles from one part of A.A. to another!! We even got onto little narrow country lanes & did we feel silly!! Cec had his 2 driving lessons during the next few days, but I had my next one on Sat. morning & the man told us to practice a little with our car before we took our test. So in the afternoon we drove around & I got groceries, & then we took our laundry up to Gunborg’s as she had told us to, as she wanted to see MacTavish. She was out shopping but I did my washing & Cec & Gordon washed their cars! They finally set out in MacTavish to collect Gunborg- & were our faces red – they stopped at a shop for Gunborg to get something & MacT. wouldn’t start & had to be pushed! We had to have him at the garage since then & they have fixed his battery so we hope he will be good now!
I forgot to tell you that we had Al to dinner again on Friday and afterwards we had another drive around & then all went to the pictures. It seemed ages since we were there last- we saw “The Next Voice You Hear”, which was quite unknown to us, but turned out to be very good. It was supposed to be that God suddenly spoke on the radio at 8:30 one evening & was heard all over the world in every language. You never hear the voice, but see what it does to an ordinary little American family- man, wife going to have a baby, & a boy about 12- & how they feel & what they do etc. It lasts for 7 days (Cec laughs at my description- you know what I mean!) & we thought the whole thing was very well done.
On Sunday Cec felt a bad cold coming on, so he stayed in bed till the afternoon. We had been invited to an “Open House” by Edie & the girl she lives with, Anne (!!) So I set off alone as we didn’t think Cec should go out, especially as it was snowing. There were all the Survey Research people there, so I knew everyone & had quite a nice time- got kissed under the mistletoe by my boss Charlie too! They had a piece very cunningly hung over the middle of the sofa, so each newcomer was caught unawares! There were hundreds & hundreds of Christmas cookies to eat- A. Ettie will tell you about all the different kinds with different German names- & they had a fruit punch, which wasn’t 1/2 so innocent as it tasted. I got home about 7, & Cec was most amused because he gave me the key to get something from the car & although I made 3 trips to the car & back for advice (giggling all the time) I never got the car open at all! The key just wouldn’t go in!
Next day Cec’s cold had become a cough, but I felt a bit funny although I went to work. My eyes were burney & boiled feeling you know, so at noon Cec sent me home & I tumbled into bed & slept all afternoon & most of the evening too. It seem to do the trick because I was O.K. yesterday & today, but Cec still has a cough – must have been some kind of germ we got.
This week at work we have been in a furore, as we had an Open Day today with invitations to all the University to come & see us. Each dept. had to have a display & after a meeting Sylvia & I were handed the job – a most thankless one! I planned it out, & apart from 2 posters we got done for us, we did the whole thing ourselves & after toiling all week got it up & ready for 1:30 today. Yesterday we were just about frantic as we were chopped & changed from place to place & no one would co-operate & the 2 posters weren’t ready, but finally we got it done & everyone said it was very good – I’ll enclose an illustration sometime! The Open Day was quite a success – Cec came & we looked about & then had free cake & coffee & enjoyed ourselves! He met all the people at work that I tell him about & I got the chance to show him off! We drove home in ourcar!
I had intended to begin & answer all your letters, but Cec tells me it is bedtime, so I’ll close & mail this & then continue in my next! Now I am up to date I’ll plunge right into your letters next time.
You know that your little family here will be thinking of you such a lot at Christmas time, honey-bun, & wishing that we could all be together, but we hope that you have a very, very happy Christmas with your sisters and that you won’t be sad missing us, but get busy planning to spend next Christmas with us. I’ll write again really soon & answer all that lovely pile of letters here, so you will be getting another letter before Christmas I hope – But anyway – we both send all our love and all our good wishes for a merry Christmas –
What do you think? Your two kids have a CAR! An automobile! A horseless carriage! And a Chrysler, no less! It is a pale bilious green and has a red tartan lining – isn’t that elegant??? We are so excited with ourselves, and half scared too, and we don’t really get it till tomorrow, but then we will show the town!
We had planned that by Dec. 1st we would have saved enough to begin looking at cars, & on Fri. evening we looked at the ads in the paper (which we’ve been doing for months!) & amongst other cars saw an English Ford advertised at $495, & it was a 1949 car. We thought that sounded very good, & although we had intended to get a bigger car (mainly for Cec’s comfort) we thought if it was like my Austin used to be, we could pay for it all at once & it would do us fine. We were going into town to shop for our groceries anyway, so we called at the Motor Dealers & the salesman said that it was out at their “Lot” but made an appointment to take us on Sat. afternoon which he did. And there we saw the poor, sad, little old English Ford! It was mud-coloured to begin with & had been badly scraped & bashed along one side. Inside there was no dashboard & all the seat covers were wearing through & to crown at all it wouldn’t start!! So we said we’d like to see something else! This company is the biggest car dealer in A.A. & the man showed us about 6 other cars, amongst them this 1946 Chrysler. It was by far the nicest, & he said would we like to go a run in it, & we agreed so he took us a little drive & let me drive it too!
It is beautiful! It has a radio & heater & the gears change all by themselves – you don’t even have to do anything except step on the accelerator! We liked it, but when he said it was $995 we said that it was more than we wanted to pay, and he said perhaps we could arrange something. Anyway, we looked a bit more & liked it very much, then he took us back to town & showed us the car’s papers (it had had only one previous owner) & then said that we could have it for $850, so we jumped for joy & said “goody goody gum drops”!
We are paying $450 now & will pay the rest monthly & probably finishing paying in Feb., & not only did the kind man let us have it for $850, but he arranged that that included the tax & license & everything, & he is having it into the garage tomorrow & going to give it a thorough going over & change oil etc. & put in antifreeze & so on. Also for the first month we have a guarantee so that if anything goes wrong, they will fix it for us! Isn’t it clever & wonderful & exciting!!!! Of course neither of us have driving licenses!! We are going to get Learners Licenses tomorrow & then after a bit of practice we take driving tests – in the meanwhile we have to have someone with us!! We were at a party at the Sutherland’s last night & everyone was teasing us about owning a Chrysler!
Will write again this week about something else besides the car!! Thank you heaps & heaps for your letter of Nov. 21st- will answer it too.
With lots & lots of love from
(alias the Chrysler kid!)
[Cec’s Handwriting:] Dear Mum,
Cyn hasn’t done badly seeing she looked at it twice for about 10 minutes. We don’t “haggle” very well & were surprised when he said $850. (We’d have paid more but don’t tell him so.)