February 19 1956

A reminder note about the family members mentioned in the letters of 1956. The previous letter referred to Lee, Wendell and Daryl Atchison. Lena was Cec’s second sister, older than he, and trained as a nurse. When Cyn first met them in 1948, they were living in a manse in small town Ontario, Wendell was the minister, and Lee worked as a nurse. Daryl is now 5, and after some family- and money- troubles, with Wendell being a salesman, he seems to have a new charge: they are now living in Carp, a village near Ottawa, and Lee is expecting a baby.
Cyn’s father had been hospitalized in Newcastle after his separation from Carol a couple of years before Cyn’s marriage, and remains in an institution. Carol and Cyn had lived in Cambridge where Cyn taught, and where Cec met her while getting his PhD. Now his youngest brother, Carman, who seems to be as brilliant as Cec, has also won a scholarship to Cambridge, (although in a slightly different field, radio astronomy) and has married Leona. The 23 year-old newly-weds are experiencing life in England, and had enjoyed a visit from Pete Forsyth, a friend of the Costains from Saskatoon, with whom Carman had worked the summer he lived with Cec and Cyn in Ottawa.

Box 330
R.R.1 Ottawa
19th Feb. 1956
Dearest Mummy,
I am sending you this funny “mixed bag” by sea. Cec promised to send you one of the re-prints of his last paper when they came out, so he brought this home a week or so ago & solemnly presented it to me to send to you! I hope that you are much, much wiser when you have read it through! I am also enclosing the letter of my Father’s which you asked me to return. I had a short note from him a little while ago saying he’d got the first Reader’s Digest & thanking for it. The other thing I’m sending is an article on the Queen’s visit to Cambridge which I found in a New Yorker. It is a very pedestrian account I think – you or I could have made it much more interesting! – but I quite enjoyed reading it & thought you might.

We heard from Peter Forsyth that he had seen Carman & Leona & then on Friday we had a letter from them. They seem to be getting on fine – Leona got her R.N. exam in Nov. & has a job 4 days a week at a Chronic Hospital not far from Chesterton Road. Carman is playing in the Ice Hockey Team & they are both enjoying life. Pete said Carman’s work was going very well & that they were pleased with him.

Note the score. Sigh.

Yesterday was snowing hard. I sat down with the Catalogues & the telephone & had a lovely morning’s shopping! Their spring sale is finished at the end of this month, so I ordered some materials which they had on sale – 2 yds. yellow broadcloth to make jackets for the sundresses I’m going to make of the white & yellow material I got last summer! 3 yds. gingham to make shorts for the children & maybe a little blouse for Linda; 3 yds. yellow orlon/nylon shantung (45 inches wide) to make a best summer dress for me! Aren’t I ambitious?! I also bought a hand embroidered pillowcase for June’s baby; a pair of frilly nylon rubber panties for Connie’s baby; & 2 prs. plastic panties with pictures on for Fanni’s baby. Also a pretty maternity smock for Ruth’s birthday! The latter is a “big” present – partly because Amy sends such generous (& expensive!) presents to the children & partly because I feel sorry for Ruth after Amy’s accounts of their poverty!! The smock is a summer one – sleeveless, of white cotton with a flower pattern, & has a nice little collar & bow & big patch pockets – I thought it might boost her morale!
I have just had a long, long chat with Lu [Forsyth] on the phone! We talked mostly about sewing & all our big plans for our future wardrobes! We were giggling wildly because Lu was talking of “sheaths” & “caftan coats” & all the latest ideas from Paris, and I was holding forth on my summer colour scheme being pale blue & yellow with black accessories & after our dearth of clothes during the last few years we had to be amused at our big ideas! But we are both enthusiastic & even if just 1/2 our plans are realized we should do pretty well!
I must stop now as I have to write to Auntie Muriel & do my accounts! Will write to you by airmail this week anyway, so you will get it long before you get this. Today Linda told me I was the prettiest of all the Sunday School teachers! Wasn’t that nice!
Hugs & kisses from the children & lots of love from us all-
Cyn.

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October 3 1952

3rd Oct. 1952

Dearest Mummy,

Thank you so much for 2 letters- postmarked 24th & 30th- the latter just came today. I’m afraid my last letter must’ve missed you at A. Trixie’s – I was all confused with the days & dates & thought it might catch you, but I was wrong. By the time you get this you’ll be all settled at Noyack again & I am sure that it will feel good to get unpacked and out of suitcases again. I hope that all the new dresses are a success & A. Moo likes them- I am sure that she will be so glad to have you back. Cec & I were most intrigued to know all the details on Jack & Jean from your letter & glad that the mystery is cleared up! I am very happy that they will be getting married at Christmas & hope all will go well. Cec nearly died laughing at your remarks re. Owen being paralyzed “somewhere else”&  we hope that Jacko will eventually prove that he’s not and produce a couple of grand-daughters for A. Trix! I was glad to hear that Marion is recovering, despite the terrible time she has had- how thankful they must be to the Polish Dr. after the callousness & carelessness of the other.

Before I go on to our doings, I have a confession to make- your box of clothes hasn’t gone yet, & that isn’t all – I have also lost or thrown away the list of things you wanted me to get & include in the parcel, so will you send me another list quickly & I will get the things & send it as soon as I can. Now that Lindy is all over & into things my corner of recipe books & writing things in the nook is great fun for her & I’m always finding them strewn around, so my letters get somewhat mixed up!

I don’t think I had room to tell you in my last letter that Pete & Lu Forsyth & little Leslie had arrived in Ottawa. They were staying in a hotel until their apt. was ready on Oct. 1 & Lou was thoroughly enjoying the rest. The polio had been very bad in Saskatoon, so Lu decided to keep Leslie away from children for a week to make sure she wasn’t carrying infection, so Cec & I went down on the Wed. evening & had a drink with them in the hotel. Then last Sunday, when the week was up, they came to tea & brought Leslie. I had invited Jim & Lee & Barry as they are going to be close neighbours in the same apts. but Jim was ill (tummy flu) & they couldn’t come. However Pete & Lu asked if they could bring an old Sask. friend & her son-in-law who was staying in the hotel so we had quite a lot anyway. Leslie was very shy & didn’t play with Linda much but as usual Lindy was full of fun & mischief!

On the Sat. morning I went to town (1st shopping trip since you left!) & bought a lamp & rug for the bed-sit. room & some material. The lamp is cream, the rug a delphinium blue twisted loop (cotton) & the material is a sort of Indian pattern – a tan background with blue on it. Bill’s blanket doesn’t cover the whole bed to the floor, so I have made a pleated frill to cover the box spring part in the coloured material, then put the navy cover over the mattress. I have made a cover for the pillow of the material too, & it looks very nice I think.

 Cec has fixed the desk beautifully & has the ch. of. dr. all sanded down to bare wood & the old nursery chair all taken apart & partly scraped. We have put one one of our ch. of. drs. in, in the meanwhile & the room looks really lovely – fresh & bright & cozy. An English fellow from Oxford at the Lab. for a year came to see it tonight & is coming in sometime- has to give notice at his present digs. He seems quite nice & harmless – just wants breakfasts.

I went to the Dr. on Monday & everything is fine – must watch my weight though – woe is me! Phyl Douglas had a boy (8 1/2 lbs) on 1st Oct. so maybe we will follow suit!! Lindy is sweet & good as ever – the hour (summertime) came on last Sun. so she is waking earlier this week, but is good & plays till I get up. Will tell you more of her in my next. She is wearing Winnie & Denis’ white boots now!! They fit nicely, & looked so huge before! 

                          xxx from Lindy & lots of love from us all- Cyn

As I said in my very first post, it was wondering about the polio scares of the 1950s that started me reading my mother’s letters to my grandmother. This letter contains the first mention of polio that I’ve come across, and it is posted while we are quarantining in the year 2020, hoping for a vaccine…

August 23 1950

Russell, Cyn, Carman, Elida, and Henry Costain. All smiling at Cec taking the picture!

Wed. 23rd Aug. 1950

Dearest Mummy,

Here we are in Saskatoon at last! We’ve been here nearly a week now, & the time has flown although we haven’t really been doing very much, except having a wonderful rest & being very lazy!

I wrote from Windsor, so you should have our news up till then – at least I hope you got the letter all right, as I hadn’t any idea of its weight or the cost, & just stuck on a whole lot of stamps & hoped for the best!

We got up early next morning & got the bus to the airport at 7:30. We were quite annoyed, because we went into the Hotel dining room at 7:15 for a cup of coffee, & they were so slow that it arrived just as we had to leave, but when we were on the plane, we got a cup of coffee & some biscuits, so we didn’t starve! We got to Toronto about 9, & had about an hour to wait there, so we had breakfast in the Airport Cafeteria & it filled in the time nicely. The next plane we got was the big trans-continental four-engine liner, & it was very comfortable, but very noisy. There was only one stop at Winnipeg, & when we came down there, my ears popped so, that I was as deaf as a post, but when we went up again I was O.K, so when we got to Saskatoon I chewed gum furiously & it was much better! We had lunch on the plane which was fun, & arrived in Saskatoon at 3:25 – it was really 5:25 by the time we left Windsor, as we lost 2 hours on the way! Understand?

Mr. & Mrs. Costain & Carman were all waiting for us with a taxi, so we were home quite quickly & I soon got over the qualms at meeting my in-laws, & we get on fine! Gunborg had made us laugh before we left by telling us how nervous she was when Gordon took her to meet her future in-laws, that she had diarrhoea all the time! But you’ll be glad to hear I didn’t follow her example! Mr. & Mrs. Costain are both easy & jolly & very homey, so I don’t have any trouble feeling shy with them, & Carmen is just a slighter, younger edition of Cec, so he is fun, & Cec & he have a good time kidding each other. The other brother, Russell is coming home this weekend, so we will meet him then. Everyone of course is exclaiming about Cec’s size, & I feel quite proud of my accomplishment! Cec gets a great kick out of meeting people & watching recognition slowly dawning on them, & they all say it suits him to be fat!! Of course no one knew me in my slim days, so they just think I’m a natural podge!!

Sutherland is about 3 miles out of Saskatoon & is really in the country. There seems to be a great deal of sky to me, & it is most unusual for me to be able to look & see such a huge lot of land around, as of course it is flat prairie. The city is nice, built along the banks of the river, & I keep feeling surprised that everything is so new, but Cec says the whole province was only opened in 1905, so the city is younger than that. I’ve never been in such a young city before!

When we arrived it was bright & sunny but quite a breeze blowing, which was a nice change from the heat of A. A., but Mrs. Costain was saying that it was the coolest summer she ever remembered, & the previous night they had quite a frost which had nipped quite a lot of her garden. Since then it has been cold & windy, & yesterday the wind got icy & last night there was another bad frost, so Mrs. Costain is very sad about her garden produce. She says it has finished all the corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans & squash, which is such a shame as they have a great big plot, with all the things just ready to ripen. We have already had lovely strawberries, raspberries, peas & green beans from the garden, & Mrs. Costain has been canning peas & beans & rasps & peaches, but she says it is just nothing compared to what they usually have.

The very first night we had gorgeous fried chicken & fresh eggs every day, so we are living in luxury! You will probably have heard that there is a big railway strike on here which began this week, & everyone is very worried because there will be no coal, so that will curtail electricity, & eventually food shortages & so on, but with all the chickens & eggs here, we don’t have to worry! We are very lucky to be travelling by plane & to have all our reservations as we would be stuck otherwise. We went down to the Air Office yesterday to check our reservations & the man there told us they were worth their weight in gold, because of course everyone is rushing to try & get air passages now & they are booked solid for a month ahead.

The first few days we were here we didn’t do much, except sit about & talk, but on Sat. afternoon Cec took me to town & I was tickled to bits because I went shopping at the Hudson Bay Company! It made me feel as if I were in the outposts of the Frozen North, but they have a nice modern shop here, & I bought a yellow cardigan made of nylon! Also a new suspender belt & brassiere!! We went to the pictures to see “Twelve O’clock High” with Gregory Peck, & then had ham & eggs & chips in a restaurant & went home!

On Monday we all went to dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Moor- they are Merle’s husband’s parents & a very nice old couple. We had a lovely dinner, & then Mrs. Moor showed us her garden which was very pretty, but I got eaten by mosquitos! I simply love the gardens here, as they are so lovely & well-kept, with a beautiful show of flowers, whereas in A.A. now there’s not a flower to be seen. In that way it is very like England here, & I enjoy it so much.

Yesterday morning Cec took me up to the university to meet some of his old professors. He, of course, had been up before but he introduced me to Dr. Harrington, the head of the Physics Dept. & two other Profs & I met Pete there & some other fellows. I also saw the Betatron which is a great big thing they have there & with which they are experimenting with in the treatment of cancer & meeting with some success.

In the afternoon we went downtown again, & Cec went to the Bank etc. & then we shopped for him & got 6 shirts, 6 prs. pants, 8 prs. socks & 2 ties! We were to go to Pete & Lu’s for dinner, but we were so exhausted soon after 4 by all our shopping, that we phoned Lu & went out there early! Their little girl, Leslie, is 10 months now, & is the sweetest little thing – red-gold hair, lovely pink cheeks, & big, slightly slanting blue eyes like her Daddy! She can stand & walk holding onto things, & has 2 teeth & says Dada, & Mama & Baby! We loved her & she was cute, but a little doubtful of Cec!

Leslie Forsyth.

We had a grand evening with them, with lots of reminiscing & with drinks before dinner we got quite hilarious & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! We are all going in a party to the Naval Barracks on Sat. evening, & expect to have fun – Cec was always telling me about the parties they used to have there! I have to let out my grey & yellow taffeta!!

Do you remember Cec talking about his lovely collie dog, Laddie? Well, he is just beautiful – so big yet as gentle & playful as anything, and of course just loves Carman, although he is devoted to the whole family. Carman has joined the Air Force Reserve this summer, so is away for classes etc. at the Airport each day except Sat & Sun. Mr. Costain is home though, as he is taking his holiday from the Hatchery which he manages, & is working amongst his chickens & garden all day.

Now for your letters – the first one was your last from Bequia & you were telling us about the hilarious party on your last evening & we thoroughly enjoyed it! Especially the bit about Uncle Fred emptying the flower vase of Bren etc. to get you a quiet audience for your song! I’m glad you kept up your reputation as a great singer – you’d probably have done even better though if you’d had 4 sherries! We were so glad that you had such fun though, & thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about your adventures, & the crazy ongoings!

We were pleased that you had a nice time on our wedding anniversary too, & had a nice sea bathe & drank our health! It seems an age ago now, as so much has happened lately. I was interested to hear about Alec going to N. Zealand & feel sorry for Peg that she can’t go too- I would be mad if I were her! But it’s a grand thing for him to be able to go. I’ll be interested to hear how Arthur’s job hunting goes & if they are going to stay out there. I wonder if Bren would really like to settle in England after such a luxurious life in St.V. – it sounds so wonderful, especially when you have children, but of course there are drawbacks.

I was amused to hear about Patsy’s diet sheet, & glad that it is having some effect- I’ll have to follow her example when I get back, but I don’t think my consumption of alcohohol can affect my weight much! I am sorry I didn’t get the typed copies of the paper you sent, done before I left home, but we had such a scramble, & I didn’t think you would want them in a hurry, so I will do them & send them off when I get home. I took the colour films to be printed, but they take quite a while, so I will have to send them when we get back as well – I look forward to seeing them. I had a letter from Dottie after her op. & she seems very cheerful & was going home next day, so I hope she will be all right. Poor Dottie – it sounded horrid & such a surprise too to find she had something like that. She said Pete had been better lately so that’s one good thing.

Was so glad to hear Auntie Mil’s house is so nice – I am longing to know if Jean has a son! I expect you will have written to tell me, but although Gunborg is forwarding letters, none have come yet. My love to Auntie Moo & the girls – with lots & lots for you 

    from

          Cyn.

[Cec’s hadwriting] 

Dear Mom,

Sorry to report Cyn went out like a light last night, tut-tut, I had to wake her to bring her home Lu was out as well & Pete & I had to do the dishes. Too much I guess, 

Love Cec.                        [Cyn:] Gross exaggeration! [Cec:]  oh yeah!