The Costain grandparents had spent the winter in the East, where the grandchildren were all older than Carman and Leona’s toddlers, and so, after the successful family gathering in Ottawa at Cec and Cyn’s for Christmas, it was happening again at Easter at Merle’s in Brantford, where Granny and Grandpa Costain were now staying. Merle and Dix’s two older boys were away at university, but Linda and Charlie enjoyed visiting their cousin Bruce. Cyn and Cec were also intending to visit friends in southern Ontario while they were there. We have no letters telling about the Easter trip, but it was immortalized in the scrapbook!
Dearest Mummy, It is real Good Friday weather – lovely and sunny and warm & reminds me of some of the days at Bellingham & Warkworth. I have just been to Church and have finished writing 20 letters to various Rector’s wives etc. enclosing complimentary tickets for our Bazaar! My arm is wearing out but it must be used to hard work after all the painting! Our painting is more or less finished – in the sitting room I mean. I have to put a 2nd coat of enamel on the window frames but that will have to wait. I was so lucky & got the name of a lady in Cardinal Hts. very close by, Mrs. Proulx, who wanted to do a little work each week so I got in touch with her & she came and cleaned for me yesterday & did a very good job. She was most thorough & worked & got all the paint off the sitting room floor & it looks so nice. Cec has scrubbed all the bamboo curtains & put them up & everything looks lovely & clean. Mrs. Proulx is going to come for a morning every week, so I feel very happy & relieved as cleaning is not my favourite thing & I am out so much with the Guild that I felt it was really getting on top of me. We set off early in the morning, will call on Auntie & Uncle in Toronto & onto Brantford. Cec & I have a room in a motel as Merle will be crowded with Mom & Dad too, but I was horrified last week to get a call from Lea & hear that they are going too! Aren’t I mean? But what a crowd for poor Merle – they will sleep in sleeping bags on rubber mattresses but can you imagine such a crowd in the house all day & for every meal? We go to the Douglasses on the Tues. & Forsyths Wed. & home Thurs. We took poor Nicki to the Kennels yesterday and she was so scared. I went to see Eve P. at the Civic with her baby on Mon. & it is a dear little thing. I also visited poor old Myrtle Rothwell who is in for 2 weeks for deep heat treatment for the arthritis in her hip, so I felt I had done a GOOD Deed! We all send love & best wishes for your Happy Easter Birthday – Much love Cyn XXX from L & C.
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.
Thank you for your letter of 3rd which arrived on Tuesday. In it you said not to bother sending the babies & balloons as your Bazaar it was to be 1st Nov., but I had this little packet of babies & as they & a small pkt. of balloons won’t weigh much I thought I would just send them off air mail & it would be a little something. They have other tiny party favours of the same type, so if I find some other cute ones I may send them another time. The other enclosure will startle you! Well, about 10 days ago Cec got an invitation for us to go to dinner with the High Commissioner of India & his wife! Cec had been asked to help with the examination of some Indian students for their Civil Service Commission & in addition to that he has had invitations to go to various Indian universities after his visit to Japan, so the invitation was in connection with all this. Actually the invitation was for the 10th (Tues.) & it was a Guild Meeting but Mr. Pulker (the Rector) said this was what Vice Presidents were for, so June Byrne took the meeting for me!
Anyway, I decided this called for a new dress, (the invitation was “semi – formal”) and I have been pining for a pure silk – they always feel so gorgeous – so I decided to buy some really nice material & make it. Unfortunately last week Linda had a cold & was home from school 3 days and Charlie had a bad stye & was home 2 days so I didn’t get downtown till Thurs. I went to a shop on Sparks St. that has lovely imported materials & looked at the silk prints & they were all so beautiful – then I asked the price $11 – $12 – $17 a yd.! I said meekly I didn’t want to pay so much (I had thought about $5 a yd.) so the girl brought out some between $5 & $10 & then she pulled out this roll and said “Oh here is a bargain – this is reduced from $10 a yd. to $6 a yd. because there is only a short piece left.” It was all shades of green & pinky-red as you can see – rhododendrons I think – very gay & unlike anything I’ve ever had, so I fell for it & got it. I only needed 3 yds so with the material & pattern etc. it came to $20 & everyone tells me that you can’t get an Italian pure silk dress for less than $100!! Of course I had a scramble getting it made – Thanksgiving weekend – but I cut it out & did some Friday – a little bit Saturday – a little bit Monday & finished on Tuesday in time to go to the party! I combined 2 patterns to make the dress – I liked a very pretty draped skirt of one but it had a very naked top with straps so I took another pattern with a simple top & it made up very well & fits nicely – tight across around the seat – I must lose weight!
The dinner was very nice – only Mr. & Mrs. Malhautra and the Head of the Indian Civil Service Commissioner were from India & the rest were scientists & their wives & an External Affairs man & his – 13 in all. We expected vegetarian dinner & no drinks being Hindu but as diplomats apparently they follow the international customs & we had drinks before, wine with dinner & liqueurs afterwards & a most delicious meal served buffet style. All sorts of Indian dishes as well as chicken legs cooked in a sauce & a very nicely flavoured fish casserole etc. & afterwards a sort of pineapple mousse & an Indian dessert called “Gold & Silver”. This was a dish of small brown balls looking like crystallized fruit, with a thin skin of gold & silver stretched right over the top like a skin on hot milk. As you helped yourself you got some of the gold and silver & just ate it! The balls were warm & sweet & had a gingerbread-y texture & Mrs. Malhautra told us they were made from milk boiled & boiled & boiled for hours & hours! Wasn’t that interesting? Altogether it was quite a fascinating experience & I enjoyed it. I want to mail this & go to the Coin Wash so I will stop now & tell you about Thanksgiving & our visit to Jim & Lea’s new cottage on Sunday in my next letter. Also we had houseguests for a night in the middle of my sewing!! Will write soon – hugs from the children – much love from us all Cyn.
As this first letter in three years shows, the Costains’ address has changed. This was not because they had moved- they hadn’t, though it is possible they had bought their half of the duplex (if not, they were thinking of it)- but because the community had grown, become a bit more part of Ottawa, and was no longer on a Rural Route for mail, but had a street address with the post delivered directly to their door. The children’s area for playing had expanded over the 3 years, and now included the hollow down the hill behind the house, and the field beyond that- complete with an old log fence where chokecherry bushes grew, handy for playhouses and mouth-puckering sustenance in season. The letter was written just after they had come home after their visit to New York and to the Moors on their way home. Carol is still there, visiting her nieces and other family members for a month or two. Cyn has written her bread-and-butter letters to their hostesses, and can have fun telling her mother all the details of the rest of their holidays. She and her mother had seen the Niagara Falls on their American trip back in 1939, and she alludes to that fleetingly- 21 years makes a difference!
2043 Montreal Road, Ottawa, Ontario.
Monday, 29th. Aug.
Dearest Mummy, I wrote to Mill and Merle yesterday, so thought that I would have a little type today for a change, and I didn’t think that you would mind. Charlie had the typewriter out to write a poem as he has seen in their magazine ‘Jack and Jill’ that boys and girls send in poems etc. and have them printed, so he is fired with ambition! When it is done I will send you a copy.
Thank you so much for both your letters, and the letter to Lindy and the cards. The last just arrived a few minutes ago, and the children were very pleased with the pictures of the lake. We have been having sweltering weather since we came home – particularly the last day or so, and wouldn’t we have loved to just pop down to the dock for a swim! I only hope that we don’t suddenly get a deluge on Wednesday as that is the day we are having Lindy’s party, and I have decided to make it a Picnic Lunch in the garden. There are to be 8 little girls, and they will come at 12:45 and have hot dogs etc. straight away. If it is really nice I will set up the little grill and table out in the back and we will have it out there – if not I think that I will have it in ‘your room’. After eating we will play games outside – charades, sardines etc. – and then about 3:00 I will bring out the birthday cake and cool drinks and ice cream cones before they go home. They are to come in play-clothes not party dresses, so they will be able to play treasure-hunts etc. up in the field, so I hope that they have fun and that I don’t find it soo wearing. Last year we had a dreadful day – hot, humid and exhausting, and the children got tired of game after game, and really we were all fair wore out. Hope this year the time whizzes by! Charlie is to be my helper! We were so glad to hear in your letter that the Sat. after we left was a nice day for the wedding. We heard that there was a hurricane somewhere off the coast that caused the bad weather on the Friday morning, so we wondered if it would ever get finished by the next day. We got out of the bad weather after about an hour, although it continued raining for quite a while afterwards, but it wasn’t the tremendous downpour. It was dull and drizzly all day really, but very nice for driving as it was cool and we didn’t have to bother with sun in our eyes or anything. It was a long drive but quite nice and uneventful, all along the Thruway, and we stopped every hour or so for drinks and changed over drivers. We got into Buffalo between 5 and 6 and had a bit of trouble finding our way as the Thruway was marked as finished right to Niagara Falls on the map, but we discovered that it wasn’t. However, we eventually found a motel on the U.S. side without too much trouble and got settled before we went out to dinner. After dinner we went to the Falls and saw all around the U.S. side – they have roads and bridges to all the islands above the Falls now, and we took a ride in a funny little train thing which took us around. We were on one of the islands when the lights came on and it was really quite disappointing as the spray was blowing towards us and the lights seem to just disappear into the mist, so it wasn’t a bit like the pictures we’d seen. We realized afterwards that it would have been much better from the Canadian side, but it couldn’t be helped. Next morning of course we did cross over to the Canadian side, and saw the Falls from there, but we didn’t bother with the boat trip or going under the Falls or anything. We arrived in Brantford during the afternoon, after a lovely drive through the Niagara Peninsula – all orchards and vineyards and lovely roadside fruit markets, so of course Cec couldn’t resist this and we arrived at Merle’s laden with peaches, greengages, plums, and gladioliis! They have a lovely big house on a very pleasant, exclusive older residential street, with big old trees lining the road, and a beautiful green terraced garden behind, full of flowers, and behind that more trees and a sort of shrubbery. I had forgotten that their rented house in Brantford was furnished, so they had only had part of their furniture down, and as they had only been in their new house 2 weeks, they hadn’t got their other things from Port Arthur yet. Because of this we were a bit of a squash, but two of the boys slept in sleeping bags on air mattresses on the sleeping porch and we managed fine – particularly Cec and I, as Merle and Dix gave up their bed to us! The first evening we set off after dinner to an Indian pageant! The Six Nations Reservation is very close to Brantford, and Merle and Dixon have lots of Indian boys and girls in their classes, and it was in this Reservation that the pageant was, in what they called the Forest Theater. It was very interesting seeing all the Indians dressed up and some of the dances – it was representing some of the history of the Iroquois Indians – but we didn’t stay till the end – we were tired and the benches were hard, and then to crown it all one of the Indian Chiefs went to see George Washington, and they recited his speech, first in Iroquois and then in English for half an hour and it was still going on when we left! As we went out they had stalls of Indian handwork, so we looked at these, and I thought I would buy a feather for the 3 children – not a big headdress, but single feathers which they had for sale, and when I asked the price I nearly fell in a heap when they said 3 dollars each! Instead we found a few more modestly priced mementos! Next day – Sunday – Merle had planned that we would pack a picnic dinner and go to London which is about 60 or 70 miles away, where they have a lovely park with what are called ‘Storybook Gardens’ for the children. It was quite a long drive, particularly as we were all in one car – Dixon’s obviously! – but it was a lovely park, and we all enjoyed the Gardens. There were animals too, all very tame, and very nicely arranged and set out so it was a lot of fun. Afterwards we had our picnic in a lovely place just by the river, and then the children went for a sail in the Pirate Ship! Monday was Lindy’s birthday and she had a lovely day. Unfortunately Merle hadn’t been able to carry out our original plan, because for one thing ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ finished at the end of July, and she had a very hard time getting any seats at all, it was so booked up. ‘King John’ wasn’t so popular, so there were seats for it but it wasn’t nice for the children, nor ‘Romeo and Juliet’, but eventually she managed to get us three seats for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ on the Tuesday and that was the best she could do. Fortunately the Film Festival was on at the same time and they said that they would go to that while we were at the theatre, and they said that they were sure we could take Charlie in and hold him on our knees, as when they had Bruce there last year, he couldn’t see and so sat on his dad’s knee all the time. Anyway, on Monday we just stayed at home and Lindy enjoyed her presents – the dress fit perfectly and she was in raptures over it so I was pleased! Merle and family gave her a dear little china family of deer, and a pretty cottonknit sweater, and she and Brucie spent most of the afternoon cutting out ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Lindy in charge of the ladies, and Brucie in charge of the gentleman! I took Lindy down town in the morning and bought her a pair of new shoes, which blistered her heel before the day was through! Auntie Merle made her a lovely big chocolate birthday cake with favours in, so we had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the cake enormously– both Linda and Charlie had two huge pieces (3 layers high) and I was amazed! After the children were in bed Merle and Dixon and Cec and I played bridge, and Cec and I had wonderful cards and could do nothing wrong – even bid and made little slams and piled up a colossal score – we felt it was so nice and hospitable of Merle and Dixon to provide us with such good luck!
On the Tuesday I washed and ironed and we had an early dinner and set out for Stratford about 6 as it is quite a long way away – 60 miles or so. We got there in nice time, and as Merle had said they made no difficulty about our taking Charlie in. Merle and Dixon and Bruce were with us and they went to see if there were any turned in seats, but there was a great lineup waiting for those even, so they went off to the Film Festival. Our seats weren’t together, so Lindy and I sat together for the first two acts, then we changed and Charlie and Cec had our seats and she sat on my knee on the other one. Lindy had on her new dress and felt very elegant, and really looked sweet – it is just her style. The play of course was fascinating – I just loved it all and seeing the theatre and stage after hearing and reading so much about it. However, I wondered how much the children would understand, and if they would like it, but I needn’t have worried – they loved every minute of it and have been acting Puck and Titania ever since! It was beautifully staged and the costumes were lovely, so even if they hadn’t understood it all it would have been fun to watch, but they really seemed to love it and Linda has had the book of Shakespeare’s plays out since she got home, reading bits of it over.
We didn’t get home till after 1:00, so we didn’t get such an early start next morning as we had hoped, but we were off by 10:30 and had quite a good day’s drive, although it was very sunny, which made it a bit more trying. We got home about 9 o’clock, and were so glad to see our home again even though we had a lovely holiday. As I told Mill the place is completely dried up, and you never saw such a dreary miserable garden – all the flowers withered, and the grass quite brown and crunchy. The only nice part is the back with the patience all in bloom, and down the hill we do have some tomatoes. The house seemed full of spiders, so I have been spraying around and don’t meet so many livestock now. Not long after we arrived home we were out calling and looking for Nicki, but didn’t see a sign, and then in a little while we heard a little meow, and there she was, so pretty and clean and so happy to see us – full of purrs and rolling over to have her tummy scratched! We were delighted to find her all safe and sound, and she has been eating ‘like sixty’ as Charlie says, ever since. The little black cat is still around, and Jimmy says that he had to keep chasing her away from Nicki’s dish, but I think she must have got the lion’s share, judging by Nicki’s appetite now. Since we got home the children have had a nice time playing with Jimmy, and Cec has been at work and I have been trying to catch up on myself. We were all very tired so slept quite late on Thursday, but even after Cec went to work I didn’t seem to get much done – unpacked, sorted out etc. and that was all. On Friday we drove Cec to work, and then went to Steinberg’s to do our shopping and then to the butcher’s in the afternoon. I vacuumed and dusted, and then on Saturday I did a huge wash – I don’t know how people like Fanni manage to tour Europe with 3 children for weeks on end, because we were away 3 weeks, and I made 2 trips to Laundromats and did odd washings in between, and still when I got home I had a mountain of dirty clothes! Yesterday I went to Church in the morning and saw a few of the girls and saw that they have begun the foundation of the church, but I didn’t go close to examine the progress. Tomorrow I have been invited to a Bathing Party at the house of one of our more affluent residents who has a swimming pool which is to raise money for the church. I don’t think I shall bother to swim – particularly as we have just had a big storm and it is much cooler, but I shall be curious to see the swimming pool etc. The entrance is 1 dollar, and we get refreshments (I am to bake some cookies!) but no children are invited, so I must see what to do with L. and C. School begins a week tomorrow, so this is their last full week – I am always sorry to see them go back, and of course they are moaning, and it is hard to think that the summer is practically over. I must stop now and do some housework and try to get some ironing done – I can see that what with making B’day cakes and cookies etc. and then the party I shall be busy till Thursday, so I had better get Cec some shirts to wear. I am looking forward to hearing all about the wedding when we see you again, and I am so glad that you had the blood test done and hope that it is fine. We enjoyed hearing about the babies and Monie – I had a nice little note from her when I got back. By the way, Cec and I were so tickled on the way home – the children had a lovely new play in the back of the car – acting Ford and Millie! Charlie would be Ford showing pictures, and Linda would be Millie and it was really uproariously funny – mostly because they were so serious! – They were most affectionate to each other, and Millie would say “Did you get enough to eat, hon?” And Ford would answer “Yes darling, that was a lovely dinner.” So you can see what a happy impression Mill and Ford made on them! It will be fun seeing Marie’s home, but I can’t say I really envy you the visit – she is very kind and really hospitable, but I feel that it will be very wearing too! I know that you will love being with Mona Carol and Owen and look forward to hearing all their news when you see them. Lindy and Charlie and Jimmy are all dressed up and acting Titania and Puck and Oberon, so I won’t suggest that they stop to write just now. They send hugs and kisses and thank you for the cards. Lots of love from us all, Cyn.
I remember the birthday party only because of the mishaps! The 8 girls at the party were set to play some sort of Hide and Seek or Sardines in pairs, and so scattered to hide in the sloping field behind our house. It was quite wild and untended, at the end of a hot summer, with a clump of elms, a huge boulder, dry tall weeds, and a length of log fence stretching away up the field, lined with bushes. Of course I was the only one who knew the terrain, and I took Joanne up the fence to hide in the bushes where we played house. Other pairs headed for the trees or boulder which could be climbed or dodged around to hide. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones playing house- Joanne and I came across a pair of snakes, screamed at the top of our lungs, and abandoned all hope of hiding by racing for the house. The other pairs headed for ‘home’ by the most direct route and when my mother enquired of us all, panting, what the emergency was, it was discovered that Pamela’s lovely blonde braids were covered with burrs. I hope the birthday cake made up for the pain removing them must have cost her!
The New Year of 1960 started with the children back to school with no effects from their German Measles bout. Besides school and Sunday School, we were involved in other activities: Charlie was a Cub and Linda a Brownie, and Linda took beginner ballet lessons. As for Cyn and Cec, when entertainers such as Tom Lehrer or Joyce Grenfell toured through Ottawa, they went with enthusiasm but Ottawa had no theatre before the National Arts Centre was built, so shows were held in the auditorium of one of the older high schools.
Easter came along, and Cyn’s birthday, as well as the news that our second cousin, Little Monie who had married the year before and was now Mona Beatty, had had twin girls, Stephanie and Suzanne. As a trip to the States was being contemplated for the summer, I’m sure this was an added inducement.
In May, there was Mother’s Day to celebrate, and both children involved in music- Charlie’s class performing a small operetta “Peter Rabbit” and Linda in the Music Festival choir competition for Grade 4 Chorus. But the great excitement was the arrival of Carol Ewing from St. Vincent- Grannie came to stay! By this time, Cec had ‘finished’ the basement, dividing the cavernous concrete-floored space that we had once driven our tricycles and wagons around in circles into two, creating a recreation room that could double as a spare bedroom now the children had a room each.
Grannie was always interested in the children’s activities and fitted happily into family life. Cec had work travel- the usual Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, and then a longer trip that started with a conference where his brother Carman Costain’s work, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, was opened and continued on to Seattle and San Fransisco, where work mingled with tourism!
As the school year ended, plans were made for the summer. Because we were spending most of the summer in Ottawa but had Grannie as a tourist, Cyn made a Chore Chart, where she and the children could check off duties when completed, and each week as a reward, do a tourist activity in the nation’s capital- a cruise on the Rideau Canal, a visit to the Royal Mint, or see the film of ‘Pollyanna’ with Hayley Mills. (Linda had the book of course.)
And as Carol was always involved with the Church, it must have been a satisfaction to witness the service with the Bishop ‘Breaking the Ground’ to start the building of a Church Hall and Chapel on a lot north of the school playground.
We got a new car in July 1960, which was So Modern compared to the 1946 Chrysler that it remained in my mind that way, and it was quite a shock to see the pictures of it now!
This meant that when Grannie’s visit was over in August, we could take our summer trip, and all drive her to New York to visit her nieces, and admire the next generation. Milly and Ford, the Pembletons, who had visited us in Ottawa a few years earlier, had a summer ‘camp’ that the family was used to visiting so we took Grannie there and met the other sisters and their grown-up children, our second cousins- and maybe even the 2nd cousins once removed, the twins. We went to New York City and were tourists! Then we said goodbye to Grannie and the New York families and drove north.
Back in Canada, we headed for Brantford, where the Moors had gone to teach that school year. We arrived just as they moved from a furnished rental into their house on Lorne Crescent, and had a lovely time with our favourite cousins. Linda had her birthday there and Merle got us tickets for the new Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, for Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which was fabulous. Bruno Gerussi was Oberon, we all enjoyed it, and returned to Stratford often as a summer treat. (Linda got to teach Shakespeare in Nigeria, the Northwest Territories, andBritish Columbia over 30 years, and took her own next generation to Stratford in the summer when possible.)
And when they got home in Ottawa, Cyn had a belated birthday party to organize and a letter to write to Carol in New York- which she kept! All the details to follow…
The winter of 1959 was obviously a good one for snow. Charlie’s Big Birthday present in December 1958 had been a toboggan that we could share to coast down the hill behind our house into and across the hollow. The ride was worth the toil back up. As well as tobogganing, we could build forts- although that sort of snow wasn’t that good for making snowballs to defend them so we played something more peaceful.
As the report card shows, in February Linda’s class finished Grade 2 and started Grade 3, and Charlie moved on in Grade 1.
There were birth announcements and wedding invitations from friends and Fellows, and the spring brought Easter celebrations, Cyn’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. Carman and Leona Costain finished in Cambridge and returned to Canada to show off their son David and move to Penticton, British Columbia, where the astrophysicist Dr. C. H. Costain joined in setting up the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory which opened in 1960.
In the spring, Charlie moved into Grade 2 and was in the Gym Display at school, and Linda advanced in Grade 3. (Note somersault.)
In June, Cec, as a member of the Canadian Association of Physicists, went to a conference in Saskatoon that allowed him to gather with old friends and fellow scientists, and also enjoy seeing his parents and brother Russell, who with Errol now had 5 children.
Cec came home needing to manage his own family, because Cyn had to go into hospital for a hysterectomy. There are Get Well cards, notes, and flowers were sent by friends, as well as a lovely Thank You letter from the Head Nurse of the ward she’d been on. They bought a comfortable chaise for the garden so she could take it easy outside that summer.
In July, Cyn and Cec celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, Linda’s Grade 2/3 teacher got married, and in August Linda turned 8 and was given her own room, with new pink rosebud curtains. Presents arrived from England, and Cyn was sent pictures from her friend Nan, showing Barbara and Sandy in Cheshire.
When the 1959/60 school year started, Charlie’s Grade 2 accelerated class had a new teacher, and Linda’s class was a 3/4 split- half the accelerated bunch who would be in Grade 4 by November, and half Grade 3 beginners. The Principal of Fairfield was Mrs. Tufts (unusual at that time to have a woman in that position) whose daughter was in Linda’s class, and she came in each week to teach us English Grammar. There was also a separate teacher coming in for Music- choral singing- and for French classes.
For Hallowe’en, Cyn made us the best costumes which lived on in the dress-up box for years! We had a book from Cyn’s childhood about Robin Hood and Charlie had a bow with arrows tipped with suckers. Cyn made Linda a green dress that reached her ankles and braided red ribbons into her hair. Charlie had a green tunic and red tights, with a green cap and quiver to sling on his back. A neighbour took a picture of us on our Trick-or-Treating round on Hallowe’en- our pails of loot and Jack-o-Lantern battery lamps just visible.
As Christmas approached, the school was putting on Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”, friends were sending cards featuring their babies, and … the children went down with German Measles.
It wasn’t to be the last time that Christmas plans were scuppered but as I remember, we weren’t that sick this time and Charlie’s birthday and then Christmas was celebrated. Over the holiday, Cyn and Cec had prepared for an Open House party for friends on the 27th, only to have to call it all off, but there would be other opportunities in 1960.
A quick overview of the rest of 1958. School, in spite of an amazing 40 absences in March and April because of our West Indian trip, apparently went well for both of us, and come the summer, both of us successfully advanced to the next year. However, Charlie, with his birthday in December, was the youngest in his Kindergarten class and so the school decided, at the end of his Kindergarten year, that he should go into the non-accelerated class of Grade 1. Our parents spent the summer brain-washing him into accepting the fact that he would not have Linda’s admired teacher, Mrs Rueter, but would have the teacher our babysitter’s boy, Johnny Lockwood, had had. So we went happily off to school in September 1958, and at the end of the first week, Charlie came home in tears- they were going to move him into the accelerated class! The brain-washing had to be reversed, Charlie was integrated into Mrs Rueter’s Grade 1 and everyone was fine with it- except Mrs Lockwood who was miffed!
The church had grown both in adult congregation and Sunday School. Although still housed in the school, there were dreams of building a Hall or a Church, and various organizations had been formed. The Ladies Guild would meet in the fall, and hear a talk on Fancy Cooking by Mrs. Cecil Costain!
On the relatives front, there was news on both sides of the family. Little Mona, of the unsuitable (and unknown) job, was married in May, with her brother’s bride of the year before as one of her attendants, and no doubt wedding presents from Cyn and Carol.
On the Costain side, Carman and Leona Costain in Cambridge not only had a son, David, but also Carman succeeded in bettering his performance in hockey! I’m sure his work, too, was going well.
In the summer, the Moors- Dix, Cec’s eldest sister Merle, and their family- came through Ottawa, and the cousins finally met. John and Lorne were teenagers and Bruce was 8, a year older than Linda. The adults enjoyed their visit, met up with the Atchisons- the other sister Lea and family- and at some point (perhaps this summer, maybe in the next couple of years) the Moors moved from Port Arthur to Brantford in southern Ontario, which was much more possible to visit! We adored the Big Boys and got on beautifully with Bruce (not always true of interactions with Darryl Atchison, also 8, whom we saw 4 or 5 times a year.) The older boys were very kind to the younger cousins and we all enjoyed being a big family.
Cec went to the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus in the summer and in August Linda had her 7th birthday with a slide as the big shared present in the summer. Charlie turned 6 just before Christmas. Both continued to do well in school, in spite of Charlie being in hospital in the fall- since neither of us know why, it can’t have been that serious.
In England, there was more serious news among Cyn’s friends. Amy Stainthorpe, who was wont to make acid comments to Cyn and Carol if letters were delayed, died in Newcastle, and Dr. Stainthorpe- Charlie’s godfather who had given Cyn away at her wedding, with Ruth as her bridesmaid- and his daughter Ruth Haynes would have received sad letters from both Cyn and Carol. Another death in Newcastle left no one to write to: little Stephen Mitchell was left without family when his grandmother Mrs. Scott died. His mother Irene – a dear friend of Cyn and Carol’s- and a year or two later his father, had died when he was a toddler- and his grandmother had been bringing him up, but their friends were horrified to hear that after her death the little boy of 6 had been sent to Australia as an orphan. Cyn, Dottie, and Nan had all moved away from Newcastle by this time, and no doubt heard of this after the event, but all worried about the fate of the boy. I am assuming this happened sometime in 1958 because Cyn’s Christmas parcel list, which had mentioned sending Stephen a ‘Frontier Set’ in December 1957, did not list him for 1958.
Nan’s move from Newcastle to Cheshire was recorded in Cyn’s scrapbook with a change-of-address card, and a picture of Sandy, whom I assume had successfully advanced to Grammar School in their new location.
The year ended with a happy Christmas for the Costains, with Dr. & Mrs. Herzberg and their adult children Agnes and Paul, coming for Christmas dinner.
The date on this post is quite misleading, since many of the photographs are from the spring as well as the summer of 1957, but Cyn recorded in her scrapbook the birth announcements of friends and relatives and pictures of their children, as well as important events in the family. It’s a pity we are missing the July letters describing the making of her new dress and the Garden Party- probably more important than the federal election- but we catch up in August.
And family events…
The Governor General’s Garden Party-quite an Ottawa occasion.
And preparations for the new school year to consider!