Dearest Mummy, I am sorry that I have been so long in writing but as you can imagine it has been a busy time. Cec is now safely home again having been operated on a week ago today and had the right side of his thyroid gland removed. I told you he was going in for tests & that week he really had a going over & was fine except they found he had what they called “nodules” on his thyroid, so they or rather “he” – a thyroid specialist & a surgeon, Dr. Dover, said he would operate on Tues. This was Friday when this was decided so Cec was allowed home from 2- 8 on Sat. & 10- 8 on Sun. which was nice. It was a kind of wild week as Lindy came home on Tues. evening. It was what is called “Reading Week” & they are allowed to “Read” at home, so she had spent the weekend with the Moors in Brantford & then gone back to Trent for a tutorial, & then come on home. Of course we had to choose a pattern for her evening dress & then material & then gold sandals, & each thing involved trips to town & touring the shops & great agonizing & wailing from Lindy, so it was very exhausting! In addition, the visiting hours at the Hospital were from 2 to 9 p.m. so I went in for an hour or so every afternoon & then dashed home, got dinner ready, ate, washed up & then went back to the hospital for another hour or so. It turned out to be the dreariest grey rainy weather, so that was kind of hard too, but at least it isn’t too cold yet. Lindy had also lost one of her contact lenses (popped out unawares in the dining hall with lots of people around) but they are insured fortunately so she had to go to the Eye Dr. & be fitted again etc. Then she had to see all her friends (Joanne & all her family except Mum & Dad had mumps) & I sewed violently so that she could try on the dresses before she left. I finished the green one out of the sari except for the hem
(she decided it was a little too mini – I have to take the tacking out & let it down!) & I cut out & sewed up the evening dress enough for her to try on. I was delighted as it fitted beautifully. In the end Lindy chose a pretty material (I’ll send a piece) which is laminated (i.e. a thin foam lining) which does away with lining, slips etc. [The foam layer disintegrated into dust over the years, unlike cotton or woollen cloth!]
It is lovely to sew & holds its shape beautifully, so I am very happy with it. The only trouble was that the green dress has gold in the edging so L. got a gold purse and & sandals & evening dress mat. has a silver thread in it, so I have got a very pretty edging embroidered with gold beads & pearls which I will put around the neck & sort of tie the gold & silver together.
To go back, Lindy left on Sun. at 5:30 & then I took Cec back to the hospital in the evening, & Charlie & I sat back & caught our breaths! When the op. was done on Tues. the Dr. found that the right side of the thyroid was very hard & calcified, so he sent it for a section to be done. He was so nice, he told Cec when it came back he jumped for joy, as it wasn’t malignant but very inflamed & infected, so he removed the whole right side. Apparently it is called Hashimoto’s Disease & the thyroid infects & rejects itself – very peculiar. Anyway he was pretty dopey that evening of course, with all sorts of drips etc. but the next day he looked better & by the Thurs. he was up & about & looking much more like himself. The Dr. had said he would probably be able to come home on Fri. or Sat. but I could hardly believe it when Cec called on Fri. morning & said “Come & get me”. He is sleeping & eating well now, & the incision is healing well. Cec says he’s had his throat cut! & it is a long scar across the bottom of his neck. It is sore & stiff of course & his voice gravelly but he is really v. well, but of course jittery & nervy & restless & yet tired – which anyone is after surgery, but improving each day. Thank you so much for both your letters – will answer them properly soon. Thank you also for the $5 – will get the panti hose & socks & know L. will be thrilled. Will take pictures & send them. So glad A. Moo had a nice birthday & the card arrived in time. I am enclosing some Supper recipes for you – the 1st one is nice with cold meat & all are inexpensive! Much love from us all Cyn. Love to A. Moo.
November turned out to be a very busy month for the Costains- Cec had surgery, both children had Commencement, and Cyn had to manage it all. Her October letter to Carol had told about tests Cec was having in hospital the first week of November, and the planning and buying of new clothes for the children, but it is not until a month later that she gives all the details. [Next post: November 18, 1969] But, in keeping with the unspoken rules of writing-letters-to-mothers, she never shares the fears that the adults must have had, however relieved they all were after the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Cec has been in hospital, Linda has come home for Reading Week, shopped, and been fitted for her new dresses, Cec then had a thyroid operation and spent another couple of weeks recovering- with excitement of the graduation ceremony and dance, combined with the visit of his nephew Bruce to accompany Linda, to entertain him. His friends and colleagues sent cards with messages of concern, as did his daughter (who had seen him the weekend before his operation that Tuesday, and was going home the next weekend for her graduation .)
Dear Daddy, Sat. even. Bruce hasn’t phoned yet, so I don’t know when he’s coming. I got my essay done in time (the very nick of time) and have been resting. But Sat. evening is impossible to sleep on, so I’m enjoying myself watching a group of very happy people just went through the hall singing “Jingle Bells” and pressed me to join them, but I was laughing too hard- and I’m a good little girl. I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, hope you are home & can do the same. Love to all. Linda Card Page: For Daddy Get Well Soon… I Sure Miss You. I’m glad I’m coming back on Friday, I’m going to have fun. I hope you’ll be well enough to enjoy it. Love Linda
Thank you for your letter from St.V. which arrived this morning. I hope that by now you have found all your things that you packed away before you left and that you are all settled again. From what you say it doesn’t sound as if you got my AM letter to Long Beach before you left so I thought I had better get busy writing again or you will feel neglected. Our mails seem to be very poor just now – I mailed a letter to Lindy last Thurs. morning and by Tues. when she wrote again it still hadn’t arrived, so goodness knows how long it took mail to reach New York. Did you get a letter from Lindy before you left? I had sent her the picture of Donna and Alan to see and she sent it onto you, but from what you say you don’t seem to have heard from her. Perhaps by now Monie will have sent them on to you.
We are having a Smorgasbord Supper at the church this evening with a magician for the children afterwards! I cooked 8 lbs. of peameal bacon yesterday and we will have it sliced cold with cold turkey and then there will be scalloped potatoes and casseroles and salads, rolls etc. and dessert and coffee. I have just put a big upside down cake in the oven for my dessert contribution – I have made it with rings of pineapple and cherries in the middle of the rings, so it should look pretty. Marjorie is picking me up at 1 o’clock and we are going down to the church to get things ready and set tables etc. This evening I will help serve but not wash up! We had the magician last year, so I am not all that interested in seeing him again, so Cec and I might just eat and then come home. Charlie is busy at school – they are having a Basketball Tournament, and he is helping organize it and officiate etc. so he may not even come and eat – he is to phone me later on and let me know, but if he comes he will just eat and run.
I had a letter from Lindy this morning when I got yours, and poor child, for the first time she was fed up. Some bright sparks had decided to wreck her room as a joke and had not only stripped her bed but hidden an essay she was working on and various other jolly little things, so she was mad and quite upset about it. Very juvenile behaviour and of course Lindy never has had to deal with this practical joke business before, but living with a bunch of girls this sort of silly thing always comes up, and she will just have to learn to live with it. She had recovered by the time she finished her letter – I think that she was more upset because her two particular friends were away for the weekend and she didn’t have anyone to grumble to, but anyway she will have lots of friends this weekend because I think I told you that Janet and Joanne are driving down to see her tonight. They called in last night, all excited, to collect what they call a CARE parcel – goodies!
I spent yesterday morning baking and Mme Gemuse asked me if I was going to have guests and was very amused when I said no, they were all for Linda! I included a tiny pumpkin out of the garden so she can make a baby jack-o’-lantern for Halloween – it is only about the size of a rubber ball, so it will be a miniature! The girls also took down her winter coat and boots as it has suddenly got bitterly cold. We have had lovely weather and no frost at all – the nasturtiums and morning glories were still blooming and the poplar and weeping willow trees all green, and then on Wed. morning it was down to 20 and snow on the ground! Shocking! It was so cold that the snow didn’t melt on the grass and bushes, but is still sneaking around, the horrid thing! Tomorrow will be a bit milder they say which is a good thing as Cec is still busy in the garden clearing up and I had better try and tidy the flower beds.
I have been trying to remember when I last wrote you – not very long ago, but anyway if I repeat please excuse! We have been quite gay with dinner with Jim and Lee before the Little Theatre last week, and then on Friday morning Phyl suddenly phoned and said that there was a guest from Washington and he had brought his wife and they were planning to meet her and take her to lunch downtown. We went to the restaurant at the Arts Centre – we went there for coffee one day, looking out on the canal – and there were 5 of us, Phyl, Nan Ramsey, a Magda Jones and me and the lady, Mary Lide. Her husband is a friend of Cec’s and he had stayed with them quite often in Washington, so I was pleased to meet her. She is very nice – English and is a writer. She has had one book published called ‘The Bait’ but I can’t remember her maiden name under which she writes. We had a nice lunch and then met again in the evening for a dinner meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists which was very nice. We also went out to dinner on Monday to Marjorie and Dick’s and Charlie was quite disgusted at so many dinner outings and leaving him alone! Mr. Graham was at Marjorie’s and we had a very nice dinner and then played bridge. I think that we only played once last winter, so I was well out of practice, and of course Marjorie is very chatty! Dick was playing and she was watching and I made a bid and Cec replied, and just then Marjorie said something to me and I never noticed that he had jumped my bid! I just bid 3 no trump and of course ended by making a grand slam and Cec was very disapproving!
It’s now Tuesday – what with the Smorgasbord and the weekend, I got nothing more written. The Sm. was a big success – we planned for about 100 to 110 people and must have had 140 to 150. The only thing we ran short of was desserts and I think that was because a lot of little boys rushed up early and got seconds and thirds! It really is not such fun when there is a crowd – more of a scramble and not at all peaceful and relaxed and Cec thinks the quality of the cooking has gone down, as he got a bit of a casserole that was absolutely tasteless! But there’s not much we can do about it. We don’t really try to make money out of this – we only charge 1.50 per adult, 1.00 for teenagers, .50 for school children and under school-age free, with a maximum of 5.00 per family, but we made 100 dollars anyway.
I had to do my grocery shopping on Sat. morning because now that Cec’s technician with whom he used to drive, has left he just drives by himself and I have to drive him in and collect him when I want the car. It is quite a chore and I am beginning to see why wives like a second car in the family!
Janet and Joanne both called me on Sunday evening and told me that they had had a wonderful time down with Lindy and then L. called later and she seemed to have really enjoyed having them so that is nice. They apparently had a party in L’s room on the Sat. evening which was a big success and Lindy even had some boys there so that was quite something! The Gloucester High School Graduation Ceremony is on Nov. 21st and there will be the actual thing on the Friday evening at the school and then on the Sat. evening instead of a dance at the school the School Council has got together and hired a room and a band at the new Skyline Hotel for a dinner dance – cost 12 dollars a couple! (handwritten not typed: I have said that we will pay for the tickets!) Charlie and the other boys nearly fainted but comparing it to other years when the dance at school cost 5 dollars a couple and usually the boy took the girl out to dinner before, and then often they had a big party downtown in some restaurant after the dance which must have cost quite a bit, actually it isn’t so bad! It is to be Formal! This means long dresses for the girls but suits for the boys – not dinner jackets as it would be in England, thank goodness! Charlie needed a new Sunday jacket and I had asked him if he wanted a jacket or a suit and he had said, “Oh a jacket and slacks,” but when this dance came up he said to me that he thought maybe he should get a suit. We toured the shops right left and centre and it was so hard. Of course he doesn’t want a suit such as an older man would have – he wanted something a little Mod, without being Way Out, but it was very difficult to find. Some of the jackets he looked very nice in, but they were definitely noticeable – double breasted with high lapels and waists etc. – rather Regency style, but although he looked nice in them he felt a bit odd, and I could agree with him. Then tweed suits were very hot, and dark ones were very dull etc. In the end we found exactly what he wanted and we are both delighted – not only is it just what he wanted but it was a summer suit on sale and it was half price – 40 dollars! It is a young man’s outfit, and what they call a coordinated suit now. This means that the jacket and waist coat (yes, a waistcoat, very stylish!) are in a very fine glen check and the trousers are in a matching plain material. It is a rather greyish green colour (Charlie wanted green) and the trousers are very slim fitting. The jacket is single breasted and has three buttons and the waistcoat of buttons up higher than the jacket, so that it shows a little bit above. Charlie was a bit taken aback with the waistcoat to begin with but it looks so nice and altogether I think he looks very elegant in it – tall and slim. He wears a pale yellow shirt with it and a browny- greeny shaded tie and even Linda when she came home thoroughly approved!
Of course, Lindy was another problem. Neither she nor any of her friends had any hope of any of the boys in their class asking them to the dance, and it seemed such a pity to me that she should miss this big occasion at the end of her school career. So in the summer I suggested to her that we invite Bruce up for the Graduation weekend and that he should take her to the dance. At first she was quite horrified that Bruce [her first cousin, a year older than she] would be forced into taking her, but I said that he has always enjoyed coming out to visit us and he has no steady girlfriend so it wouldn’t be any harm in asking him, so she said all right I could perhaps mention it to Merle and see what she thought. Well, Merle thought Bruce would like to come, but she sounded him out and he was delighted, so wasn’t that nice? Lindy is going down to Brantford this weekend to see them and will get things organized I expect, as her Commencement invitation just came last week and I forwarded it on to her. When she was home at Thanksgiving we talked about clothes and of course she will have to have a long dress over which she was very excited! We have the beautiful pale blue and silver sari to make her an evening dress someday, but we both agreed that we would save it for another occasion and buy material for this one. What I did suggest though, was that I should make her a short dress out of the rest of my green and gold sari for the actual graduation ceremony. The Principal wants the girls to wear short dresses as this doesn’t make it awkward for girls who can’t afford long dresses, so I have quite a bit of the green sari left and a long piece which was a kind of stole on my dress and so we got a pattern for quite a plain little sleeveless dress with a little stand up collar, and I have been piecing and fitting and I think I can get it out all right. The sari has a pretty green and blue pattern at the end, and then a narrow gold edge along the sides, and I think I can get the pattern all around the hem and then a little of the gold on the collar. We will have to choose material and a pattern for a long dress when she is home next week, so you can see I am going to be busy! Isn’t it fortunate that I can sew – think how much money I would be spending on my daughter’s finery if I couldn’t! I meant to tell you that Charlie asked his friend Chrystal to the dance, but her father wouldn’t let her go, so he has asked a girl in his class at school called Maureen MacQuarrie – she lives over at Blackburn Hamlet and is one of the ‘crowd’ which has been going around together for most of the year so that is rather nice. She is a little dark-haired girl and has been in Charlie’s class since about Gr. 2 and I know her mother as she is a worker for the United Church, so I hope they all have a good time.
I wished that I had been able to buy the material for Lindy’s dress last week, but you know I wouldn’t dare without her approval! Ruth Lockwood and I spent the day in Montreal on Tuesday and had a lovely time. We decided to go down by train, so we made an early start and got a taxi for 7:10 am and caught the 7:40 train which got us in about 9:30. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had coffee when we arrived and looked at all the fascinating specialty shops in the Place Ville Marie and then went to the big stores. Ruth was looking for a slip cover for her sofa, so at each store we separated for half an hour and I bought thrilling things like socks for Cec and Charlie and a green shirt for Charlie and a scarf for me to match my fall coat (kind of pale turquoisey-green, difficult to match but I got one). I tried to get a hat to match my winter coat, the pale blue one with the greyish fur collar, but mink fur hats are all the rage or else knitted wool berets, and neither was what I wanted! I got some pretty material to make me a winter dress, sort of mauvy colour with little pink roses on – sounds odd, but I’ll send you a piece when I cut it out – oh and I also got a pair of black shoes. Poor Ruth had no luck with her slip cover, and I was getting worried that she would have nothing to show for her trip, but in the end I persuaded her into a dress shop and she ended by buying 2 very nice dresses – they are Crimplene and she likes that and they were reduced in a sale so that was nice. We had lunch at one of the big stores and then we had a snack before we caught the train at 5 o’clock and Cec met us at the station, so we felt we had a very successful day and enjoyed it very much.
I must stop soon and write a note to Lindy and then get on with cutting out the green sari dress – I was so glad when I suggested the idea to Lindy that she was thrilled with it – I thought that maybe she wouldn’t want a kind of “made over” again, after I made the blue one last year out of Marguerite’s dress, but one thing she may criticize Mother about some things but she is wonderfully appreciative of my dressmaking efforts. She tells me all the girls in College think she is so lucky to have such lovely clothes and a mother who makes them for her, and one of her friends was going home to her Graduation last weekend and she was so taken with Lindy’s last year’s blue the Lindy lent it to her to graduate in too! I hope that the green is as successful.
I don’t think that I have had time to tell you that poor Cec has to go into Hospital next week. If you remember all summer he was bothered with an irritated throat after he had a throat infection last winter, but when I mentioned the Dr. of course he put it off. Anyway when he was in Australia he got a very bad infection with a high temp. etc. and went to a Dr there and got something, but it was still there a bit when he came home so we made an appointment straight away with Dr. K. for a check up. Apparently Dr. K. thinks the throat is all part of a type of allergy which contributes to the sinus trouble Cec has and his nose is blocked inside a bit. His father has had the same trouble all his life and has had his nose scraped and so on and Carman and Merle have bad sinus trouble too. Also Cec has an enlarged thyroid gland, so Dr. K. had him go for a swab at the Labs. and he is to go into the hospital next week for 3 days for tests. After the tests the Drs. will decide what to do- if they operate then he will be in for 1 week or 10 days, but we won’t know until they make up their minds. Apparently they can make a picture of the inside of the throat with sort of measurements and see how enlarged the gland is etc. He is also supposed to cut down on his cigarettes, but so far I don’t think he is doing very well – maybe if his throat is sore afterwards he’ll have to stop and that will be a step in the right direction. Poor Cec, he has never been in hospital so this will be an experience for him, and I was teasing him and saying that he had planned to be like his Dad who has never been in hospital at all. However, I am very relieved that he is getting something done about it and that Dr. K. Is looking after him – I hate this business of not knowing and not bothering about going to the Dr.
I must stop now and get on. My love to Auntie Muriel and to Peggy and her family. Hello to Doris and Luenda and June.
With lots of love to you from us all, Cyn.
[Several handwritten postscripts!] P.S. What did Auntie Moo think of your dresses? I didn’t much like the colours in the one you got with Milly – a jersey with green & dark red etc. & I thought Auntie Moo wouldn’t like it either!
P.P.S. Cec came home from Australia via Japan & Vancouver.
[At the beginning of the letter] Charlie has begun taking the Driver Training Course at school – has got his Learner’s Licence & will take his test at Christmas.
As an addendum, here is a letter from Linda at university (missing the first page) written at the beginning of November, after the weekend she spent visiting her Auntie Merle and Uncle Dix and cousin Bruce in Brantford. … I’m just watching the antics of a couple of squirrels in a tree far away, but I can see their silhouettes clearly the darling jumpy things. I’m sorry I didn’t get anything written at the Moors but I had a fabulous weekend & I loved it & them & I want to go back soon! On Friday night [Hallowe’en] we kept answering the doorbell & then the kids [Bruce’s small nieces, Debbie and Cyndie] walked in & fooled me – Trick or Treat Brucie – and marched past us before I knew what was coming off. Then they stayed a bit & then Merle remembered that it was graduation at B.C.I. & so we went & I felt awfully out of place among the formals, but Bruce showed me around the high school & it was quite fun. The next morning we went into Hamilton because Bruce had to move to another room so I helped him & then he showed me around Mac [McMaster university, Bruce was in second year.] & it was raining. Then we came back & did nothing & worked. The Lornes came to dinner & it was funny especially Cyndie & her food. After they left me & Bruce went on working, but Sophocles bored me & his math prob. wouldn’t come out so we gave up & made popcorn & watched T.V. Well, on Sunday I went to a Baptist church, and although we missed the first bit, it was very interesting, and a change. In the afternoon we went over to Lorne’s & Liz & Cyndie went to Glenhurst, but Lorne made me & Debbie tea, and he & Bruce played the piano. After dinner, Uncle Dix & Bruce drove me into Toronto and put me on the bus & went, Bruce was being dropped off in Hamilton on the way back. Bruce had his Mac jacket on & the girl I sat with thought he was my boyfriend & told me all about Homecoming weekend (which she had gone to with her boyfriend). She chatted on for a bit & then tried to sleep, but I had my light on & there was a baby which cried all the time, so she didn’t succeed. Then I shared a taxi with another girl & got here, was greeted exuberantly, fell into bed & slept till noon today. I’m phoning you tonight & will be home soon Love Linda Must tell you about the psych exp.
This letter is the final one in the two month Linda-goes-to-university diversion, after which the letters go back to Cyn writing to her mother Carol instead of her daughter. (I’m sure she did go on writing to me, and that Grannie did too, but the first two months were the only bunch of letters I preserved, although a few from Cyn over the university years have survived.) At this point, Carol’s visits to relatives in Ottawa and New York are coming to an end, and she is going home to St.Vincent where she lives with her sister (Auntie Muriel). Cyn’s letters will continue the saga of Linda at Trent- most events long since forgotten by me- as well as her daily life and news, although when Carol got them is another matter, the cousin in New York having to send on her post to the West Indies…
Traill, Trent Wed. Oct 8.
Dear Grannie, This is the shortest of notes, just to tell you I’m doing fine and loving it here. I have lots of friends, and like all my classes. Tomorrow I’m going home though because it’s Thanksgiving this Monday in Canada, and I’ve managed to get no lectures on Friday this week so I’m leaving after my last lecture at 6 on the 7:15 PM for Ottawa. I haven’t really been home- sick – to cry my eyes out every night I mean – but I’ve missed everybody. And letters mean a lot to me so I’m very glad for yours. Mummy sent Alan and Donna’s picture to me & I think he looks a scream. Donna’s outfit is darling. A lot of the boys & professors here have beards, moustaches & long hair. Charlie is going to look scalped when I get home, after living with these types.
I’m looking forward especially to seeing Daddy, because I haven’t seen him since August. Also, there are lots of kittens living around here – although we’re not allowed 4 footed animals in residence – and we smuggle them into visit us, so I’ve been missing Saki too. You’ll be glad to get home and see your friends – both 2 & 4 legged – again. Say hello to June for me. I have Auntie Muriel’s book trough here with my favourite paper backs in for relaxation- everything from Jane Eyre to Elizabeth Gouge. And your teapot, (that is, my teapot that you gave me) decorates my bookcase – my table & shelves and walls are all cream coloured so I need a bit of colour.
I am taking English – all Shakespeare; History – Canadian only, darn it; Greek & Latin Literature in translation; Ancient History; and Psychology. I have about 12 hours a week in class – lectures or tutorials. We have these gowns – dark green, which doesn’t match anything, and they are an awful nuisance. We can wear whatever we want, so I can put on my slacks on cold days. It is very beautiful here now, with all the leaves turning – a perfect Thanksgiving weekend. A couple of West Indian girls are thrilled, and really looking forward to the snow – though I know they’ll get tired of it.
Well, it’s getting late and I’ll be in a bus for a long time tomorrow evening, so I think I’ll get to bed. Thanks so much for writing, if we don’t get at least one letter a day, we get awfully depressed (because everyone else seems to get mail when we don’t) so please keep it up. My love to everybody & have a good trip home. Bon Voyage. Love Linda
49 Cedar Rd., Ottawa 9. Ont. October 4, 1969 11:30 P.M.
Dear Lindy, Hi! (What a great opening). Sorry I haven’t written you more often, but I have been quite busy. Each teacher seems to think we have no other homework to do except their own. My football team (& Alan’s) plays Blackburn Hamlet tomorrow. If we can’t beat them, we are hopeless. In my first letter, I outlined the busy Saturday I had when the Argos were playing the Roughriders here (remember?). Well, this day it was the exact opposite- it was great! And you might have guessed, it centres around another football game. I haven’t got anything else in particular to tell you about, so I might as well bore you with today’s events.
Hamilton played the Roughriders here today. I asked Chrystal to the game & she said she’d love to come. After football practice in the morning, I had a quick lunch & set off by bus at 11:45. I arrived at about 1 p.m. (game begins at 2). Chrystal wasn’t ready yet so I met her grandmother (from Victoria) and talked with Lee & Mr. Morris. Lee is in grade 9 & she isn’t finding it too hard. Mr. Morris is being paid by the Navy to take a 2-year course at Carleton & he is finding it quite hard. He said he is taking a course in statistics (probability etc.). & was getting a bit lost. I told him our Math B teacher had just succeeded in losing most of our class (but not ME) in combinations and permutations. Then Chrystal appeared and we walked from her house down to Lansdowne Park (her idea). It was a good game & we both enjoyed it (Ottawa won 28 – 20). Then we walked back to her house (her idea again, I didn’t mind) & Mrs. Morris invited me to stay for dinner. I said I’d like to & phoned Mummy & she said it was O.K. with her & so I stayed. Then I found out it was Mr. Morris’s birthday. Well, Chrystal went upstairs to get changed & I went & sat in the living room & Mr. Morris came in & said “Did you say that you hadn’t taken combinations and permutations yet?” & I said no, we’d just finished them. (I hope you’re still with me.) He then said “Maybe you can help me. It’s 9 years since I took the stuff & I have forgotten some of it & I am stuck.” Lee said “Och Daddy, you can’t! “& he said sure I can & we pulled up chairs and went about solving this problem in his book that he didn’t understand. Chrystal came down & seemed rather surprised but didn’t seem to mind. We were interrupted by dinner & it was nice (roast lamb) & everyone was nice & relaxed. After dinner we picked up where we had left off & in a little while I had given him a crash course in comb. &. perm., but it was fun because he had once known it & it was sort of a review after a 9- year holiday for him. (If you don’t get this letter before you come home I’ll be really peeved). However he seemed much happier after we finished & said he understood & that he thought that he was back on the track & would be OK now. Then Mr. Morris & Mrs. Morris & Mrs. Morris senior (Chrystal’s grandmother) were going to Connaught Raceway in Hull & were going to be late. Chrystal and & Lee weren’t invited. Mr. Morris said that he could drop me within a few blocks of my house on their way or I could stay for a while with Chrystal & Lee & go home by bus. Guess what I said. I figured that my home wasn’t really on the way to Hull [very true] so I said that I’d stay. After a great run-around, they left, but not before Mr. Morris had said to Chrystal & Lee “Charlie is your guest & I don’t want you two to start arguing”. (It’s midnight now). Before I left, they had had at least 3 arguments, & I found it quite entertaining. After watching the Beverly Hillbillies (I do hope you can read this) I said I’d better go (it was about 7:30). We went outside & talked for a while. BEFORE going on, I’d better fill you in on a little background. The grade 13’s have rented a part of the Skyline Hotel for a commencement dance (I haven’t found out yet if last year’s students are invited) on November 22 (it’s semi formal for boys, formal for girls). So much for background. I asked her if she’d like to go & she said gee, she’d love to, but she didn’t know if her dad would let her. So I’m hoping. Then I came home & watched Julius Caesar on T.V. So it was a good day. Other astonishing facts which I found interesting & you probably won’t. 1. Russ Jackson set a new record today for the number of touchdown passes thrown in a career. 2. Crystal’s grandmother (from Victoria) calls her (Chrystal) Diane (2nd name) because she thinks Chrystal is a far too ‘commercial’ name (you know, in Victoria there is Crystal Everything – Crystal fountains, gardens etc. & WE stayed in the Crystal Palace Hotel.). (She (Chrystal) hates it, Diane, I mean.) 3. I got charged the adult fare on the bus because I had been issued the wrong coloured students card & I was mad & had a minor (very minor) row with the bus driver. (This was before I got to Chrystal’s place.) So it was a good day, all in all. You might have guessed I wrote you this letter because I wasn’t tired & didn’t feel like going to sleep. Well it’s 12:40 am & now I do. I have to do the 8:30 service tomorrow, so I had better go. See you soon, Love Charlie P.S. Have added in red after reading it over. Hope it is legible, don’t tell me if it isn’t. Hope it doesn’t bore you too much – it was fun writing it. C2.
I thought that I had lots of time to shorten my new bedroom curtains and then write to you, but it has taken me ages to shorten one so I have stopped and will write a short letter to mail this afternoon and then write more and mail tomorrow. I don’t know if letters I mail on Thurs. will get to you before the weekend, so you must let me know.
I am enclosing the pictures which came yesterday and you can send on the ones for A. Merle and U. Dix and then send the others back to us. Your little groundhog came out very well and the wedding pictures aren’t bad, but the ones taken at the Whitwell’s are a disappointment. I sent the film to that Mail Photo Place where I got them 2 dollars cheaper or something – anyway Daddy says that I got a cheap printing job too, but Charlie and I think that it was pretty poor light under the trees that day and that is why they are so sad. Anyway, here they are. Daddy brought back one roll developed and 3 more to do, but we haven’t had a picture show yet.
Already it seems quite proper and natural to have Daddy back. And boy! – lots more dishes to wash! You can imagine how Charlie and I have been doing lately! It seems incredible that you will have been gone 2 weeks tomorrow. It seems years in some ways and hardly any in others. I went to tea with Mrs. Craven yesterday afternoon – she had Marjorie, Betty, Ruth L. and Mrs. Martin, Mrs. James and Mrs. McNally all to meet Mrs. Craven Sr. so we had a really good talky time. Mrs. C. and Betty D. and I all compared notes about our Girls of course and we all seem to think that you were doing all right. Mrs. C says they will be leaving on Sat. a.m. to go down to Peterborough, so I will take her a box of cookies for you on Friday and she says that she would be glad to deliver it. Maybe they would like to see your room too – you said something about Jean’s not being very nice – have you seen it yet? I think that I will pack up Grannie’s tea pot and put it in the parcel as you have so many guests and the little brown one is so tiny, and I won’t forget to put in the teabags – girls at Traill likeTetley’s Tea! Lipton’s is just the same!
I met Marie Tweedle in Shoppers C. on Monday afternoon and had a great long chat with her – couldn’t get away! Heard all about dear David and how he just LOVES Teacher’s College and it was just his cup of tea. They were doing Gr. 1 Arithmetic or something – ‘You are having a party and you have 5 little friends. How many boys and girls are at your party?’ ‘Yes, that’s right –6 children. Now, how many paper cups will we need’ and they put out paper cups and then plates and napkins and sit down and have a party. Marie says ‘Arithmetic is not his strong point, so I told him he’d better watch that the problems don’t get too difficult!’ Anyway, who else do you think is going to Teacher’s College? Nancy Douglas. She had a wonderful time in Europe, and got back and started right in and is apparently in the same ‘shift’. as David –, so I told Phil to ask her if she knew him! I met Sandy Cooper in S.C. also on Sat. and asked how he was doing and he has changed from Algonquin to Carleton, so I don’t know how Joey will be doing for a ride. Dr. Savic drives Michael every morning because Margaret says it takes an hour and a half – dear Michael! Sandy said that he found the course at Algonquin wasn’t what he wanted and something about having to get an 80% average to carry on at Carleton, but I didn’t quite take it in. I have phoned Pat and got no answer and then Edna Renaud told me she has already gone back to work, so I have no news of Joanne to tell you. Have you heard from her or Janet yet? I guess that was a letter from Sandra which I forwarded to you yesterday. Your brother is going to write and tell you all about a glorious Gloucester football game – I shall tell you that 2 girls came in a car last night and asked if Charlie was in, but unfortunately he was still out at the football practice. When I described them to him he decided they must be Maureen and Lois – they were cute anyway so I don’t think he should discourage them! There is a dance this Friday – GAA etc. and Charlie is now on the BAA as the Officials Rep. so he is going to have to help decorate the gym and is actually going – STAG!
I must stop or I won’t get this mailed today, but I’ll continue and answer your letters and tell you what Daddy brought home. We all love your letters – very interesting and amusing. I must say life in Residence has changed since Daddy L.L. days – bring your own booze parties weren’t known then! By the way, thinking of Daddy L.L. and some of the funny illustrations playing basketball in bloomers, do you have to take any athletics? And if so, what? Also, did you ever meet your Amiga and what is she like? Much love from us all, Mummy
[handwritten] P.S. It is raining – very Nobel of me to go out and mail this. Love.
The references to other letters that I was sent were spot on- all my friends were very kind about sending me the news, at least in the month of September- I have no other letters from this school year, but obviously valued the connection and hung on to the first month’s correspondence, although they have no place in this collection. When it comes to Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, I’m sure Cyn did not expect any similarities between an American girl’s college before WW1 and Traill, but if I had been expected to take part in any athletic activity, she certainly would have heard my outrage! The nicest thing about Trent was that they did not insist on any courses- no demand for a science to make me well rounded or anything- and I was allowed, after warnings that the essay load would be heavy, to take the 2 English and 2 History courses I wanted (as well as a basic Psychology course which I thought I might need as a future teacher and which resulted in the only D I ever got) so in the next 3 years I focussed on my double major to the exclusion of every other subject and enjoyed all my courses!
From this point on, the letters preserved are sporadic, with 2 to 6 month gaps. The scrapbooks, however, provide a record of events in the family, and I will use them to link up the letters.
After the success of their trip to the UK, the Costains settled back into normal life in Ottawa. Cec returned to work, the teenagers returned to school, and Cyn prepared for and entered working life again, even if only temporarily, at the new Nursery School. Cec travelled for conferences and Cyn audited classes, and Linda and Charlie, now senior students in high school, became involved in various extra-curricular activities that suited them.
In November, the Centennial project that Cec had been involved with, the Science Museum, had its official opening. It was an exciting place, with interactive exhibits designed to appeal to the public, especially children. One exhibit that has lasted over 50 years is the Crazy Kitchen, tilted to confuse the senses and alter perceptions. (Fifteen years after this opening, Linda’s future stepsons enjoyed the kitchen and then climbed all over the trains in their outside exhibit. In this century, during the pandemic, the museum took advantage of the closing to update, refurbish, upgrade and expand- Cec would have approved.)
At Christmas, there were adult parties at home, then the Costains went down to Brantford to spend the holiday with their favourite relatives, the Moors, who now had adorable grandchildren as a draw. Cyn’s scrapbook shows the international greetings that came at Christmas, new photos of friends’ children and grandchildren, and includes a card from the old days from Uncle Harry Costain out in Calgary.
In the New Year, Cyn’s scrapbook celebrates a teen party, then the fact that as a Nursery School teacher she gets Valentines!
A booklet shows Gloucester High School’s summary of growth since its opening in 1963. The Centennial project of an adjoining community swimming pool would be available for the next school year, Linda’s Grade 13. The education system in Ontario meant that students in the 5 year Arts and Science Academic Program, preparing for University, stayed for a 5th year while all those completing 4 years, Grade 12, graduated. (The commencement ceremony for both 4 and 5 year graduates was held the following November, so in the middle of Grade 13, the students still at school celebrated with those out in the world- and looked forward to a second celebration the following year when they would return from their universities to party and get their Grade 13 diploma.)
As I have said earlier, Gloucester High School had a pretty diverse population compared to other schools in the area, with students from both rural and suburban backgrounds, both French and English, with some students going out to work after 2 years, others preparing for jobs in their fields after Grade 12, and more, like Linda and Charlie, aiming for university after Grade 13. It had a reputation as one of the most liberal (permissive) schools in the area- it certainly was one of the newest. A few controversial issues made the Ottawa newspapers in 1967, and were also discussed in the school newspaper, which was one of those issues!
The student leaders came from the academic group- they were there for five years- and were mostly English-speaking — and as the school grew, various initiatives developed in this era of student involvement. In the Centennial year a school newspaper called ‘The Courier’ was started by a student, Henry Makow, who had had an syndicated advice column in one of the Ottawa papers when he was younger- advice by a kid about kids- and who used his experience to produce a weekly professional 4-page newspaper that covered school activities and interests, with news, features, sports, editorials, and ads from local businesses, with bylines of the reporters under the headlines. (This, of course, is why I saved a dozen copies of the paper- either featuring the byline ‘Linda Costain’, or a cut-out gap in the page of an article written by me interesting enough to send to Grannie in one of Cyn’s letters!)
The 60s were a time of youth protests- 1968 was coming- and in the previous school year, students had been suspended for having long hair (boys) or short skirts (girls). The front page of the first newspaper has an article on a Grade 11 Physics class conducting an experiment to see how high above the knee the skirts of the girls in the class were- no doubt ammunition for the headline article which explained about the formation of the Dress Court designed to have the student committee create rules about student dress, and then deal with cases brought before them. (The second issue discusses the first cases brought before the court, of 2 boys whose hair was too long… The third reports that the Dress Committee is possibly unconstitutional, the fourth has an editorial about it- possibly the administration supported this court to get out of having to handle the issue!)
But articles cover things of concern such as alcohol, teen marriage, and glue-sniffing, as well as news about student government, car and bus accidents, fashion, and the possibility of driver education.
The back page was devoted to Sports and the generally sad performances of the school sports teams: Headline, October 8, 1966: ‘Dreary Day, Dreary Game’. To be fair, we were a new school, football certainly wasn’t as important in Canadian high schools as in America, but our basketball and volleyball teams did seem to get beaten regularly in the first term as well, although later in the year wins were recorded. Boys soccer, which hardly seemed to exist in Canada then, was more successful for Gloucester: in spite of having to lend the opposing school 2 valuable players since “Rideau had an inadequate number”, Gloucester shut out the other school 3-0 and were rewarded with pizzas made by the Home Ec. class. However, the sports reporters (who all played various games as well as reporting on them) castigated the rest of the school for lack of participation in intramural noon activities- a thing that must have become more difficult when the student population doubled within the next 2 years, and the lunchtime periods had to be staggered.
As the school year went on, other school activities were lauded in the school newspaper- the hosting of a mobile Blood Donor Clinic, the Debate Tourney in a nearby town, the collection of $1000 worth of non-perishable food for the Christmas hampers, the Winter Carnival week at the end of January (toboggan races at noon Tuesday, biggest snowball competition Thursday, sleigh ride Friday evening, and a Polynesian dance Saturday night, presumably to erase the chilly impression the snowy activities made!) The participation of the school team on the quiz show ‘Reach For the Top’ was covered, and the exciting news reported that the Gloucester Township’s Centennial Project of a swimming pool next to the school would be available for classes the following year. The publication of a Theatre Extra! edition in February when the school’s production of ‘A Man For All Seasons’ was adjudicated for the city drama festival shared both praise and critical comments; and various successful fund-raising events were described through the year – car washes, endurance efforts, and a weekend work day in April, when students could be hired for any task in home and garden- a disgusting porridge pot remains in my mind from when my partner and I were sent to a local home to wash dishes, windows, and floors in a spring-cleaning spree.
The school newspaper editorials addressed concerns of the day- which also popped up in the Ottawa newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Journal- the privileges allowed the Grade 13 students- a lounge to relax in, freedom to leave the school grounds, skip classes, miss school days- and possibly to be extended to Honour Students; 2 editorials written by Henry Makow, the child of immigrant parents, on the effect of war, past and present (and the Vietnam War was on the minds of teens in the 60s, even though male Canadians didn’t have the draft hanging over them)- ‘The World We Inherit’ by ‘The World We Hand On: What Youth Can Do’; which were followed by a guest editorial written by a French Grade 12 student about the discrimination between the English-speaking and French-speaking students, who suggested the students start improving the world they lived in right there in G.H.S. (This prejudice in the school between the English and French students is what I remember most clearly about Gloucester. We had marvellous teachers of French, who exposed us to the music of Quebec and the culture of French literature even though our success at speaking the language was not that great; we had classmates with whom we shared our work and culture (swear words included), but the division was palpable.) At least the issues were raised in the newspaper, if not resolved.
Of course one bit of news in the January 13, 1967 issue of ‘The Courier’ was destined to attract attention: students wanted to buy a subscription to the magazine ‘Playboy’ for the school library. That was quickly picked up by the local papers and discussed at the higher levels of the education system, although the decision on whether to allow it seemed to being left to the school principal- and yeah, I don’t remember what happened…
The regular demands of the school year carried on: classes, homework, written exams three times a year, and the marks that resulted. Linda and Charlie and their friends participated in what interested them, bought ice cream sandwiches in the cafeteria to augment their bag lunches, and did well in classes, being promoted in June to Grades 11 and 12.
But the focus of the Centennial year was Expo 67 in Canada, and for the Costains, their trip to England. It would be an exciting summer, now that the school year was over.
November is not a great month for camping but it appears that Charlie’s Cub Group (the younger division of Boy Scouts) had a cookout one weekend.
Cec preferred indoor activities, and went bowling with his colleagues from the Lab.
The Costains no doubt sent best wishes and congratulations to Santiago Polo on the occasion of his wedding, and probably some of his friends from the Lab in Ottawa attended.
However, for the Costains, the main event in November seems to have been preparing for the Public Speaking Contest at the school. Both children incorporated some personal connection into their speech based on the gifts Cec had brought home from his trip, but most of the speech was informative and factual. Cyn typed their efforts but at this level, there was less input from her. The speeches were given in class, then the best competed within the school. Linda made a case for reading being her favourite hobby, and ended her speech on ‘Hobbies’ with this paragraph. “Most boys and girls have at least one hobby. I collect postcards, small china figures and dolls of all nations, and I learn a great deal every day through my favourite hobby, reading. One of these might lead to my life work and anyway I will get a great deal of pleasure from them.” This speech went no farther (probably to her relief), but Charlie was once again one of the 7 contestants in the Intermediate Level with his telescope speech.
After touching on the history of telescopes with Galileo and Newton, he went on to explain that Newtonian telescopes like his were based on mirrors, and gave details about the biggest in the world at Mount Palomar, then returned to his personal experience. “It is rather unfortunate that at first when I got my telescope, it turned cloudy. Instead of looking at the sky, I have had to look at other things. I can see the Uplands Airport radar tower about 5 miles away and I can watch it turning around with an occasional flash as a plane comes down. I can also see birds in perfect detail on the telephone line if they would only stay in one place. The magnification of the telescope is 126 so if a bird is 126 feet away, it appears to be only 1 foot away from your eye. I have also been looking at the sun, and for this I put a special sun glass in the lens.” He goes on to describe and explain sun spots, then his observations of Jupiter and Saturn once there was a clear night. He finished with “I don’t know much about astronomy yet but it is very exciting to look and to learn.”
This time, Charlie won the Intermediate Contest, and got a letter of appreciation from the Fairfield School District Association, as well as a page of the scrapbook devoted to it. The typed copy probably was sent to Carol in the West Indies, but the rough copy survives.
As a teacher (my life work?), the adult Linda found looking at the children’s work at the Grade 6 and 7 level an indication of future direction. I believe Linda’s ‘Hobby’ topic had met some opposition when she stated that her hobby was reading books. Her speech carefully defines the different sorts of hobbies- Collecting, Crafts, Activities- and in the latter category, which she explains as doing things for relaxation, she lumps all sports (which she was not at all interested in) with bird-watching, gardening, and, in her case, reading. It was an argument which she made sure to win, presaging her interest in debating in high school and her future success in essay writing and exams at all levels- not to mention the collecting of a library of over five thousand books.
Charlie’s speech shows his interest in science, and illustrates clearly the technical points as well as personal observations made with his telescope. And I believe at this point, the Costains started to plan their 1963 summer holiday, when there would be a total eclipse of the sun, best seen from the province of Quebec with a telescope …
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…