December 13 1950

MacTavish!

Wed. 13th Dec. 1950

Dearest Little Mummy,

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 our car, 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 our car & 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.

Cyn’s Plan.

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 our car!

Plan executed.

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 – 

      Love to the Aunties & lots & lots for you 

                             from Cynnie & Cec. Family Chauffeur

December 3 1950

It was a pretty soft green colour!

3rd Dec. 1950.

Dearest Mummy,

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

        Cynnie

(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.) 

       Love

             Cec