It is the premise of this blog that in the twentieth century LETTERS kept a wide-flung family together. Cynthia and the women of the family on the Hazell side did write letters and keep in touch with the day-to-day events of their lives, probably because they had done this in previous generations- the colonial outposts of the empire looked to England and the family was wealthy enough to have the leisure to write at length, and visit, even in different countries. I’m not sure that this was true for farmer families in North America, who moved across the continent in the hopes of a better life for their children, and who lived in a different economic bracket. Elida Eakin was born in Nebraska but must have moved in the 1890s or 1900s, because she and her immediate family lived in Ponoka, Alberta, in Canada, where her first 3 children were born. Her husband, Henry Costain, moved from Prince Edward Island where he had grown up, to the West before World War 1, and married and lived in Ponoka before moving his family to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 1920s. Elida kept in touch with her immediate family in Ponoka, Henry with his, but the familiarity with the more extended members of his Costain family in P.E.I. was lost- something that wouldn’t have happened if he had continued living there and had bumped into distant cousins as one does in a small community.
I’m sure Elida wrote to and occasionally visited her sisters; my Auntie Merle did the same with her cousins but they were not as close as the Hazells were. The Costain children knew their aunts and uncles who visited occasionally, but not the P.E.I Costains. The families were as large, but it was a different culture; a busier, more hard-working lifestyle; and letters were probably infrequent and concerned with the major events of life, rather than minutia. Also keeping in touch seems to have been the business of the women of the family rather than the men- certainly Cec’s letters indicate this- I doubt he ever wrote much to his aunt or cousins. Both Cyn’s parents were the youngest of 12 children, but on her father’s Ewing side, she seems to have been in touch with only 3 or 4, and a couple of cousins. (There’s a distant Ewing cousin in Australia who visited Cyn and went to Ireland, and sorted out that genealogy- I assume some of Gordon’s generation, or earlier ones, moved to America and Australia- and she gave him the ‘Antique cup and saucer’ listed in her Wedding Present List as coming from Uncle Jim.) When you look at the wedding presents on Cyn’s list, there were gifts from aunts, uncles, and cousins- 9 Hazells, 6 Ewings, 2 Costains, and the 1 Eakin aunt.
So I know very little about the Eakin side of my father’s family, having only met one of his cousins, Evelyn Abbott. This rough sketch is all I know of my grandmother’s family- any corrections welcome!
In the Epic Cyn keeps referring to, she is replying to two months worth of letters from her mother, and since she’s writing it over a 10 day period, some of the events she mentions overlap with her other letters. Carol had left England after 30 years, having separated from her husband now hospitalized with dementia, and gone home to St. Vincent to live with her sister Muriel (Auntie Moo). She had visited other sisters and their children and grandchildren living in the West Indies first, and now is writing to Cyn and Cec, mentioning cousins in the extended Hazell family that Cyn has never heard of, and again referring to the family martial upsets and divorces with ones she is closer to. Carol’s brother Fred is the owner of the family business, Hazells, and hosts a holiday on the island of Bequia which she enjoyed immensely. His 4 daughters, Jean, Brenda, Peggy and Patsy, are frequently mentioned as well.
As their first Wedding Anniversary approached, Cyn and Cec were still getting wedding presents. Hugh Brown, who the Ewings had known during the war when the American Army was stationed in Newcastle, had been great friends with Cyn, had introduced her to his family during her exchange year in Toledo, and now sends her a belated gift they are thrilled with. Although Hugh had left the army when Cyn had last seen him in 1947, it now seems, perhaps because of the Korean War, that he is once more a high-ranking officer. The missing wedding present sent by Cyn’s cousin Brenda from Burma shows up eventually, because it is listed, last, in Cyn’s Wedding 1949 notebook!
Saturday. 22nd July.
Dearest Little Mummy,
Here I am beginning right away with my Epic! I have just been inquiring of Cec how much paper he has as I only have 3 sheets & he says how much am I going to write, but I say, oh hundreds as I have hundreds of letters to answer! I have left the dirty dinner dishes in the kitchen & abandoned my ironing & I’m just going on writing till I don’t have another thing to say!
I am beginning now with your letter written on 14th May- ‘way back! You were saying you had just been in St. V. 4 weeks – does it seem ages & ages ago now? You are writing in it of getting “I Capture the Castle” from A. Ettie & how much you enjoyed it. After your recommendation I got it out of the library & both Cec & I loved it & thought it was a gorgeous book, although I don’t think the end was as good as the beginning. It is Dodie Smith’s first book & I remember reading criticisms of it in the Eng. papers, as she is a well-known playwright – do you recall seeing “Autumn Crocus” long, long ago at the Jesmond Playhouse? That was by her & was very well known- it was about a middle-aged school teacher who went for a holiday to Austria & fell in love with the hotel keeper. He was big & handsome & jolly & friendly to everyone, & she didn’t realize that the big, fat cook was his wife, & that he was just nice to all his guests, & she had quite a heartbreak, poor girl! Before I began work, I read quite a bit & one book I meant to tell you about was called “Marmee, the Mother of Little Women”& was a biography of Louisa Alcott’s mother. I was very interested, particularly that L.A.’s father was one of the first great educationalists in this country, but was very idealistic & impractical & for years had no money, as his school in Boston was closed because he accepted a coloured girl as a pupil. It was the Mother who went out to work & kept the home together, & the 4 girls seem to have been very like Little Women except that the real Amy seemed nicer, & was really quite a famous U.S. artist eventually, married a French man (much younger than herself!) & lived in Paris! As I told you, Dottie sent us a Book Club sub. for my birthday & we have had 3 books by now, 2 of which we like immensely. The first one was called “The Kon-Tiki Expedition” & I thought it sounded awful, but it turned out to be a grand adventure story although it is all quite true. It is about 6 Norwegians & Swedes who sail across the Pacific from Peru to the S. Sea Islands on a log raft to prove that the original inhabitants of the islands came from Peru. It is most exciting & very well told. The book we didn’t like much was Rose Macauley’s “The World my Wilderness”, but this month we got “A Town like Alice” by Nevil Shute, which is lovely & if you can get it I am sure you would enjoy it. It is about Malaya a bit, but mostly Australia, & is so interesting & nice. It made us think of Frank of course – he will be in Sidney by now of course, & we mean to write & send him those snaps. I also thought of Mary & Michael Egan & I do hope they’re happy out there – I wrote to Mary & sent her a cable to the ship, & had an A.M. from her from Port Said yesterday. She said she was v. miserable about leaving England & doesn’t even know if they have a home in Perth yet, but she seems quite cheerful now.
To go back to your letter, I loved hearing all about the 2 church “Fairs” you went to- the first one rather low with a loud band & jigging locals, & the other very refined!! Cec wants you to make a family tree with all the relatives on! I told him it would be practically a life’s work, but we do get confused over all the cousins mostly – at least Cec is confused over everyone, & when it comes to your cousins I am confused too! I also keep forgetting the names of Jean & Bren & Peggy’s children- it’s a good thing Patsy hasn’t any to confuse me more!!
I enjoy hearing about all the servants you have to wait on you, & love hearing of having a boy to carry this & one to carry that etc. Doris & Clarice (despite varicose veins!) sound nice & I laughed over the spider in the shower, but shuddered as well! I don’t at all like the sound of the beetles & lizards – we had quite a lot of Maybugs – hard backed flying beetles – earlier & they used to bonk- bonk– against the screens at night, but thank goodness we have screens!
You asked whether we had duty to pay on bringing any of our stuff in (the 8 boxes) but we didn’t although we were doubtful as some of it wasn’t a year old which it is supposed to be. You were saying that you laughed over Mrs. A’s warty teapot – well– some weeks later I invited Mrs. Kaufman up for a glass of sherry & to see the flat as she hadn’t been in since we came. She admired everything – in fact in the bedroom she looked around & said “Well, this looks just the same” then in a depressed voice “but nicer than when we had it”!! I showed her the china & glass cupboard etc. as she kept asking about my “English china” & blow me down, but the only thing she admired was Mrs. A.’s warty teapot!!! She is a funny woman. Her 2 daughters & their husbands came up to see the flat one day & the 2 husbands were much taken with your photograph & admired it.
I was very interested to hear all the domestic details about A. Mil & U. Fred & Joan & Jack. I am sorry about the latter, & feel that A. Trix may have something to do with it as you say. Also about poor Basil Hutchinson & his matrimonial troubles – he does seem to have had a hard time.
I was awfully sorry to know that old cheque had caused so much bother. I hope Kirby finally got it straightened out. I am inclined to think that it would be a good idea to let him look after your Income Tax etc. As you say, it was bad enough before when we were both in England, but now it is so difficult that I think it would be worth letting him take most of the return, to get rid of the worry.
You ask in your letter if I have ever heard from Hugh & got the promised W.P. Well, a while ago I had a short note from him asking if this was our correct address, as he had written to the University & got the letter returned. So I wrote after a while & last week a HUGE parcel arrived, & Cec & I were so excited & rended it open & what do you think it was? A beautiful Sunbeam Mixmaster! We were absolutely & completely overwhelmed, & of course think it is wonderful. We straight away washed it & used it to make waffles & squeezed orange juice on the juicer attachment & had a lovely time. Wasn’t it sweet of him? I wrote & thanked him, but haven’t had a reply – I was wondering if by any chance he would be sent out to Korea.
If you were writing about our budget & food bills etc. – well, since the Korean War the prices have been going up & yesterday at the store steak was $1.10 a lb, & pork chops had gone from about 70¢ to 95¢. Coffee is going up to 87¢ a lb so it doesn’t look too good – I am horrified when I think of my meat bill for the week is $5.00 or more ( i.e. 25/— 30/-) & I used to think Claude & I were being devils if his bill was 7/6 a week! You will be glad to hear that our milk bill is down to $6.00 now, as we have cut out cream for the summer, as I don’t use it in my coffee, & Cec uses the top of the milk, so that I won’t get so fat!! I am trying not to eat so much!
The Sutherlands are wondering about building a house after all now, as building costs are very high. Gunborg has a legacy in Sweden which she is getting over next month & they were going to use that, I presume, but now they think if they can find a decent house they might buy & just keep the “lot” which they can always sell later if they want. The trouble is that they need a bigger house than the usual type (Dr. S. needs a study & the girls are getting big all to share 1 room) so they haven’t had much luck yet.
I am now on to your letter of 23rd May telling about the new Air Service etc. By the way, the accountant at work, called Arnold, (or Arn usually!) is a keen stamp collector, so your St. V. stamps are going to him at present & he is very pleased. He buys all the new US issues too & has sheets of them. It is such a funny office – everyone calls everyone by their Christian names – the office manager is Don, & Miriam’s boss is Dick & so on. I said it was very “matey” & they all laughed like anything as it was a new expression for them. But I like it & am pleased that I am still there. Don asked me a week ago whether I would be in A. A. long, & when I told him he was quite pleased that I’d be here so long. Then on Monday he told me I was to work in the Field Office for a while (Boss is called Charlie) & the job will probably last 6 months, so if they are willing to let me have my holiday it looks as if I may stay. We plan to go to Sask. on 15th Aug. & fly from Windsor, Canada (just across the river from Detroit) as we can pay our fares in Canadian dollars then. Flying isn’t much more than train, especially as we would have food, berths etc. on train, & as we won’t have so very long, it will save us nearly 6 days travelling. We will stay at Cec’s home, then go to Regina to stay with his older sister Merle, & then fly to Ottawa & Montreal where Cec has business before coming back to A.A. In Montreal we will see his younger sister Lee & Wendy & their new little son. We will probably be away about three weeks, but I thought I would stop work on the 12th & take a month so I’d have a few days either end to wash clothes & clean etc.
The new office I’m in, the Field Office, is the one that looks after all the interviewers all over the U.S. who do the “Gallup Poll” type of interviewing for the Surveys the Institute do. The interviews are more thorough & scientific than the Gallup ones, but the idea is the same, & this week we have been getting ready to send out a huge no. of questionnaires (2000) to the interviewers for an interview on Atomic Energy. It is quite intriguing, but my part has been very minor – I spent 2 or 3 days stamping each questionnaire & numbering them etc.! The Office Messenger called Tim & the Stockroom man called John, helped me – the former has his B.A. & the latter his M.A.- Tim and I have long discussions on modern literature!
I am now onto your letter of May 30 and it is Sunday. This morning we slept & slept & slept until 12 o’clock- it was lovely! Cec’s pills of course, make him sleep, & I have felt tired this week, so we both enjoyed the long lie in! We got up & showered & washed our hairs, then had a breakfast – fresh orange juice, bacon & eggs (two eggs for Cec) toast & coffee! We get such fun out of the juicer on Hugh’s mixer – usually we use the frozen orange juice, which is just as cheap if not more so than having fresh oranges. The frozen is in little tins about 4” x 1 1/2” & you keep it in the freezing part of the fridge till you need it- then you put it in a jug & add three little cans full of water (makes over a pint) and it is just like fresh orange – not a bit like that baby’s stuff in England. Since breakfast (!) I washed up all the dishes, made the bed & changed the sheets & did the laundry up ready to go on Tues. In the meanwhile Cec had a baseball game on the radio- Detroit v. the New York Yankees & it has been very exciting! Cec loves listening & I am beginning to know what is going on, & to know the players’ names. We support Detroit who are top of the whole League at the moment, with Yankees only 1/2 a game behind. They just won this afternoon so are now 1 1/2 games ahead!! We have it all arranged with the S’s to go into Detroit for the day on 1st Aug. We have to go to the Airline Office & get our cards fixed for going into Canada, & then in the evening we are going to the big stadium to see Detroit play against the Yankees again. They don’t play just one match against each other, but lots during the season, but because they are so close to each other in the League it is very exciting! Is everyone in the West Indies very interested in the WI test matches? I know they are being played & that is about all. Do you remember last year how excited Cec & I were at the May Week Boat Races, because St. John’s boats were doing so well,? I wrote & asked Connie & Len to let us know about them this year & they sent us papers etc. & Lady Margaret (St. John’s) was head of the river this year! They made a bump every single day & The Times said they were the best crew on the river for years & everyone was expecting them to do great things at Henley. All the other Lady Margaret boats did wonderfully too, so it must have been fun. Remember you & Jessie F. watching!!
I am so glad the parcel of the dress arrived safely eventually, & that you liked it although you had to alter it. I knew it would be too long, but I couldn’t quite remember what size I used to get you & thought too big was better than too small. Cec & I were quite sorry you were going to rip up the apron as we thought it was so cute!! You ask whether I can still get into my going away dress, & that is O.K., but I think I’ll have to let out the waist of my yellow & grey taffeta – remember my white jersey “bitchy” dress with bright colours in? I had it cleaned, so what with that & my avoirdupois I bulge back & forth & can’t wear it!! Lots of girls at work, however, tell me they gained weight during their first year of marriage, then lost it, so I hope I’ll do the same! And not go on & on like Nan!
I was interested to hear of Pat Galloway’s baby being 3 weeks premature- h’m! Also of Margs & Monie trying & not succeeding! They must take after the Simmons & not the Hazells – remember Jean saying that the Hazells were so prolific- a man just had to look at them & they were pregnant!!! As you say about Bill & Owen, it must depend on the man & the way they look!!!!!
Cec just interrupted me there by saying he was hungry in a plaintive voice, so I stopped & made him a huge peanut butter, sausage & lettuce sandwich & a glass of milk so that should hold him for a while. I had a little snack too!! I must go & get dinner soon – we are having fried chicken, peas, potatoes, sliced tomatoes, then cantaloup melon. Come and have dinner with us?
I have been meaning to ask you whether Arthur got the job in Trinidad or what he is going to do? Just about the time Bren was coming to St. V. we heard on the Canadian radio that a Lady boat had gone aground somewhere, & we wondered if Bren was on it, but you didn’t say anything I don’t suppose she was, or perhaps she flew as you said she may do.
In this letter you say something about us coming to the pictures again, & I’d written it was a long time since we’ve been & you were amazed as you thought we’d just been to see “Cinderella”. We laughed, as it was 6 weeks previously that we saw “Cinderella”, so we weren’t being such constant picture-goers after all! Have you been to the St. V. picture house yet? I bet it will be an experience! Your cocktail party sounds as if it were a great success, & I was tickled at everyone’s interest in the 2 new married couples – did you pin Romeo & Juliet on their backs or were you tactful?!
I am now onto your letter of June 6, so I am progressing! We have had dinner, & I have washed up & ironed a dress for tomorrow! I intended to do all the ironing today, but it is so hot that when I do anything at all I get hot & sweaty all over, so I have left it! That is one disadvantage of having an upstairs flat – although ours isn’t so bad as some– but it gets hot during the day & then when it is lovely & cool outside in the evening it is hotter than ever in our flat & doesn’t cool off ‘till nearly morning. The fan is a great help, but when we have it on in the sitting room & I am working in the kitchen it is a bit of a nuisance to move around.
I was glad to hear that you got £6.10 for the stamp album & are giving it to the Church Fund. Rosemary’s father offered quite a fair price after all then, didn’t he? You also are writing about sending Joan Cox a cable in this letter, & it reminds me that I have never written to her since she was married. I sent her nylons by A.M. for the wedding & she replied a day or so before, but as I haven’t yet sent her anything else yet, I have been delaying writing till I did. Money is such a problem!! I had just packed Dottie’s & Sandy’s birthday presents – Dottie a waist petticoat- white silk (rayon) with a frill round the bottom & Sandy a little pair of blue cotton pants with straps & a little red, white & blue cotton shirt – what is the date of his birthday anyway? And while we are on the subject of birthdays, what is the date of my little godson’s birthday? Have you heard anything from Jane & Bill from England? I expect they will be coming home soon now. Anyway, to go back to Joan’s wedding, I asked Anne & Connie if they had seen it or heard about it to let me know, but I haven’t heard from them yet.
Did I tell you that Connie & Len are probably coming to Ottawa in October for a year? Lennard hopes to finish his Ph.D. then & thought of going to Ottawa or the U.S. but Dr. S. advised Ottawa- we heard this from Dr. S. & haven’t heard definitely from them. Poor Cec is still struggling along with no equipment yet, but it is beginning to trickle in. However he has been working on another thing this past month or so which he says will be of use to him, so he is doing something, but it is terribly annoying for him.
I was interested to hear of Ian Hazell’s wedding, & what had happened to him. Which reminds me, that all these months I have meant to write to Rangin in Canada & have never done it, & now I wonder if she is still there or has gone back to Norway. I was also interested to hear about Alastair Fraser in Jamaica & this new thing he has discovered there- it all sounds very clever.
I loved hearing about my “Mrs. Costain” rosebush, & hope that you are taking good care of her! I am now onto your June 13th letter, & you were saying how much it was raining, but by your last letter that seems to be over & you seem to be having lovely weather. I was glad that during the rainy days you had fun doing your snapshot albums & wish I could see your “bridal book”. The two days Cec was away I did a little more on our Scrapbook but I am way behind now, & will have to try and get a good “do” at it someday. I had thought of taking it to Canada for Cec’s Mummy to see, but if we are flying it will probably weigh a ton!
You remember the pictures of Bremas you sent me? Well Gunborg goes to a class in Sculpture, & they have just got a new teacher who sculpts animals beautifully, so Gunborg is going to do Bremas & his mother! She has done a sweet little clay model of the mother lying on her back & little baby bear climbing over her tummy, & will do a bigger one next! I think it will be cute. A week or so ago, Gunborg gave me a present of a lovely Swedish cookery book. She has one, & when I was helping her with that tea long ago, I admired it, & she wrote to Sweden & got her sister to send one for me. It is all in English & has the most beautiful coloured illustrations – I am so thrilled with it.
You made me laugh in one of your letters because you said Gunborg always seem to be tired according to me. Well very often she is, as she can’t stand the hot, clammy weather any more than I can, & keeping the whole house & cooking, ironing etc. for 5 people is no joke, but she has just got a coloured girl who comes in twice a week, so she has a bit more leisure. However, meeting her she isn’t a bit a tired dreary person – she is vivacious & talkative & a lot of fun. Dr. S is Scottish & therefore more reserved, but has a great sense of humour – we are always tickled because Gunborg will sometimes make teasing remarks to him & (when we are alone) put her head on his shoulder etc. & he laughs & looks embarrassed! She told me that she knew him for a year & saw him nearly every day (she was living with a married cousin in Cambridge) & he took her out & to shows in London etc. & never even held her hand all that time! She says she was terribly in love with him & she thought it was dreadful! They are both darlings, but Cec and I think Dr. S. would be most shattered sometimes if he knew the things Gunborg told me!!
I haven’t heard anything from Til & Lois since they went down south, but think they may be home before we leave. Last time we were there Til gave me 2 plants- an ivy & another traily plant a bit like a Virginia creeper leaf. They are on my kitchen windowsill & I am so pleased as they have some nice new leaves since they have lived with me. I also have an apple seed, & an orange seed, & a maple seed in 3 tiny pots but they don’t seem to be doing very well! Also a sweet potato in water & it is sprouting lots of green leaves!
I am onto your 21st June letter now, written with your pretty pink & silver pen! Isn’t that lovely? You certainly do well with pens from gentlemen as you say & it was nice of P.W.V. to give you such a pretty one. How is his “liaison” going or don’t you hear of such indiscretions in polite society?! Perhaps now that you were there to show him a good example he will return to the straight & narrow path! I liked hearing about Peggy and Jean’s houses & also Peter’s “farm” with all the little piglets! You don’t mention Peter much– how do you think he is getting on here – does he like it & is he looking any better? I do hope Jeanie produces a boy this time – give her my love & tell her I’m crossing my fingers for her! I think your little chickies & kitten sound sweet. I was tickled to bits about the little wee thing flying to his Auntie Cyn – which reminds me that Lee’s cat had kittens too, & one of them was Cec’s birthday present, so we have 2 kitties “in absentia”!
I wonder if Doris has got her clock back from the burglar- poor Doris, what a fright she must have had.
Bren’s little Tessa sounds sweet, & the sunshades she brought you from Burma very glamourous. Do you remember she wrote me from Burma that she was sending us a W. present & it never came- – I wonder whatever happened about that. I would like to have Chris’ letter about Bidsy’s wedding – it must’ve been some splash. I had a letter from Amy last week with a card for our Anniversary & she told a little about June Kirk’s wedding but not much. Amy’s letter was very nice, but not much news. I also had a nice letter & very pretty card from Auntie Moo, & she is saying how glad she is that you are having such a lovely time at Bequia as you have such a dull life with her!! Dull – it sounds uproarious to Cec & me!!
You were saying about whether I ever hear from my father now – I haven’t heard a word since I came over here, but I write nearly every week, & have just sent off another parcel of sugar lumps & mints etc.
I liked hearing about your new dress – it sounds nice, & with such a good, cheap dressmaker it is hardly worth while your bothering to make things yourself. Over here the dresses are so cheap ready-made that it isn’t worthwhile having them made. The girls at the office are all very smartly turned out with pretty clean cotton dresses every day, so I am kept busy washing & ironing the few I have! I got another one last week for 3 dollars- it is very thin muslin-y cotton – grey with a white pattern & tiny red spots & red buttons down the front, & has a square neck. It is getting to the end of the summer season now, & I am thinking I might try to get a summer suit in the sales as I will need something for travelling & I only have four cotton dresses & the blue cotton skirt & blouses. So far I have had 2 cheques, & get another tomorrow, but as Cec isn’t teaching during the summer term he doesn’t get paid of course, so besides my pay we only have the regular allowance from Canada, & as we will pay our rent while we are away & want to leave some money in the bank, we still aren’t rolling in dollars! With me at work, we spend a bit more too- prices going up as well – & also bus fares & sometimes lunches when we don’t take sandwiches. Ordinarily, we take sandwiches, & have such fun – we eat them on the Campus, i.e. trees & grass around which the College buildings are built – & we have made friends with the sweet little squirrels! One particularly, with a lovely bushy tail, we call Blossom, & although he is shy, he will now take things from our hands. We have discovered they all love cherries! They hold them in both hands & gobble away till the fruit is all eaten & then crack the kernel & eat the nut! For fun one day, we gave Blossom a plum, & he could hardly carry it, but he staggered away with it & sat at the bottom of the tree & ate it & then asked for more!
Did I tell you that Mrs. Pasquier was going to Europe this summer? Mr. P. wasn’t going, but she was going with a v. rich friend who was paying for the whole trip – they were going to England- Denmark- Paris & I don’t know where else. I didn’t see her before she left, but had a long letter from the Q. Mary, & then last week a card (Bridge of Sighs) from her in Cambridge! She had gone for a day & met Anne & were sitting together on the Backs writing to me – wasn’t that lovely? I am so glad she went there even for so short a time- she thought it was beautiful.
This is your 4th July letter, so I am really getting up to date now. I was amused that your writing about how “the old order changeth” & how everyone in St.V. black & white have cars now, while you & Aunt Moo walk – it’s the same here too. As I told you there are quite a few coloured girls at work – & I get on quite all right with them. Lois is one who is working half time & getting her degree as well – she is middling colour & says her mother was from Bombay so must be 1/2 Indian. Eva is another & she is quite black, but very thin & sharpfeatured – she is picked up in a huge new shiny black Buick every day but I stand & wait for the bus!
Thank you for the offer to make me thing is, Mummy, but at the moment I am O.K. I am growing out of cami-knick’s etc., but panties are so cheap here (50¢) that in a way it doesn’t seem worthwhile making them, & as you say my fat podge size makes it difficult to know the right size!
I laughed at your letter when you are remarking at the snaps I sent- the oil cloth on the kitchen table is a necessity as it is painted a dark ugly brown & we got the oil cloth at once to disguise it – sometimes I put a tablecloth on! The high heels I’m wearing that you remark on, are my wedding white shoes & I put them on specially for the photo! Usually I wear my old “sloppy Joe’s”! You ask about my size in getting dresses now, & I get a 10 or 11 instead of 9, so it isn’t too bad- 9 is too tight over my boosum! The 10 & 11 I shorten but that is all. The grey one with lace that you asked about- the lace is kind of imitation crocheted lace, if you know what I mean!
I heard from Dottie about poor Pete’s glands, but hope they are o.k. now. I was interested to hear about Joan in Aberdeen – I must try to find out from Dottie what the trouble is. Amy & Ruth & Charlie seem to be doing themselves proud over holidays this year don’t they? I hope Dottie & Bar have a good time together, & that Bar is feeling better.
Your next letter of 9th July, was posted from Bequia, & Cec and I have both enjoyed your letters about your holiday there so much. It all sounded such fun – a beautiful lazy free life with all luxuries, mod. cons. servants etc.! – just suit us – no pioneering – just the lap of luxury!! Next best thing to being there with you was reading about all the good times you had, and we truly did enjoy hearing all about your doings. Your island outfit – i.e. sand shoes, gay skirt & big hat sound very sensible & I hope that there is a snap of you in your get up, so that we can see! The bathing must be heavenly, and I love to hear about you getting really sunburnt – one thing in your letter really did make us laugh though, & that was when you were describing the black sand, but clear sea, & ended up “Get me?”!! Tuts! We chuckled over Patsy’s flirtation & your threatening to spank her, then ending up by being sympathetic to her! Sounds as if she should be sent back to hubby, leaky house or not! How did the crocheting get on? Not very fast I’m sure, with all the fun & writing great nice long letters to your children! But never mind, I’d much rather have letters about lots of fun than a luncheon set! There were 3 different sized mats- 1.) 9 3/4 ins. across 2.) 6 1/2 ins 3.) 5 1/4 ins.- that of course, is after they were pressed out, & the measurements are a bit approx. as the edge has points!
I was most tickled at Bren & Patsy deciding they came from humble origins, after all this time! I am glad Tessa got better & so Bren was able to come after all, and that you all were such a jolly party. It is a pity that Uncle Fred isn’t carefree & jolly all the time, but he seem to have been a wonderful host, & Cec & I loved hearing about all the food & picnics & everything! We were sorry about your sore behind, but couldn’t help laughing too! The plan of the house & the bay gave us a good idea of the place, & I am always interested in what the houses are like.
You asked me in that letter (15th July) to send Irene’s snaps for you to see, but although she told me she was sending them too, they haven’t arrived yet.
And now for your very last letter of 23rd July- I am actually catching up!! In it you were writing of our 1st year of marriage & saying it was the most difficult, but if so, we’re not a bit worried! We’re not anyway, but we’re still the same as in our “courtin’ days”, & we haven’t been cross with each other or had a squabble yet! The only thing we moan about is our rolls of fat, & as we both have them we don’t mind so much! It’s a good job we weren’t with you in Bequia or we’d have put on lbs. more with all the gorgeous lobsters & things! One of my jobs at the moment at the office, is to make out file cards, forms etc. for new interviewers who are being hired for us all over the States for the Surveys which are beginning now. I feel most interested in them, because amongst other information they have to tell me their age, height, weight, colour of hair, eyes & complexion, & I typed out an identity card for them & send it back with a nice letter of welcome from the chief! It makes it so much more interesting to know that Miss Lavinia Derryberry has brown eyes & blonde hair & is 27, & Mr. John Miles Jr. is 34, married & has green eyes, fair hair & a ruddy complexion!! Anyway I was telling Cec that lots of the men were 6 feet. & over, but none of them weighed as much as him! (206 pounds now!) But I had to add that all the women were taller than me, and lots of them weighed much less!! He was very gallant and snorted “Bean poles!”
You were asking about Mary Jo & Pete & their new house – it is on Granger Ave. too, but higher up as it is quite a long Ave. They moved in last week- we haven’t been since, but while they were still in the throes of cleaning etc. we took them ice cream cones one afternoon! They are both v. nice – they both come from Baltimore & speak in a v. strange way. Mary Jo still comes for me on Fri. night to shop, so I am all set.
You were also asking about the S’s house & since I began this letter they have bought one. It isn’t very far from here, but we haven’t seen it yet, and they don’t get possession till Sept. It is 20 years old, has 4 good size bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sitting room & big porch, dining room, study & kitchen & downstairs lav. so it has everything they need, so they felt they should take it although it needs re-decorating inside & out & gutters mended etc. It cost $25,000 which seems a lot, but a lot of the houses they looked at were over $30,000 & to build would be even more. The Petersons house was about 1/2 that I think but they did a tremendous a lot of work on it themselves. Before I forget, Gunborg is pronounced Goon-bore!! (Approx!)
I was interested to hear that Margs & Bill may yet come out in the Autumn, but hope A. Ettie gets there safely anyway. I too, hope Monie & Owen have a wonderful time in Eng. & that Monie isn’t disappointed.
My “little blonde”, Miriam, is getting married on 27th Aug. Her parents have come around & everything is fixed for the wedding & she is so excited now & counting the days!
I was interested to hear that you thought my letters were being opened – not that I think anyone but you would get much fun out of them. I’ll be more careful, but the thought of ME sending DOLLAR BILLS!!! I laughed & laughed- dollar bills – as if I could. The Sutherlands thought it was ever so funny too!!
Any news of Jean’s babe yet? Our two new nephews are called Bruce Costain (Merle’s baby) and Stewart Daryl (Lee’s.) The latter is to be known as Daryl which we don’t much like, & Lee made us laugh by saying in her letter “I don’t think Wendell (her husband) cares for the name”!
I laughed over you were telling Bren & Patsy about my “hungrey boy” & that reminds me that one night it was very very hot & Cec & I were lying on the bed sweltering, and Cec felt & said “Have you got the sheet over you? “& I said “Yes, I’m keeping my bloody liver warm” & we both shrieked & roared with laughter! Did you ever tell A. Moo about that? I tried to tell Gunborg one evening & laughed so much I don’t think she really knows what it’s all about!
I hope A. Moo’s hearing aids are back & that she is well – my love to her & to the girl. I am enclosing the rubber bands, but can’t get greaseproof paper- it’s all waxed here. The nearest thing is a little sandwich bags or there is some marvellous aluminum foil paper which is lovely – shall I send you some of that?
It is now 2nd Aug. & and I have at last finished this effort. We went to Detroit yesterday & had a lovely time, but I’ll tell you all about that in my next A.M.
Just a recap of the American Hazells here, since Cyn is describing her Christmas with them. Her mother’s older sister, Aunt Ettie, lived in New York and had three daughters, Millie, Marguerite and Mona. Cyn had met them as adults when she and her mother visited New York in 1939, and briefly visited when she arrived in America in August 1946, but she didn’t know their husbands well, or their children. Aunt Moo (Muriel) was visiting her sister from St Vincent, and Cyn briefly visited their brother, Uncle Artie and his wife Aunt Phine, in Central Valley, N.Y. between Christmas and New Year. Mention is also made of younger Hazell cousins Bebe, Pat, and Brenda.
4229 Berwick Ave.,
Toledo 12 Ohio
Sunday 9th February 1947
At long last I have managed to begin a letter to you – I am most ashamed of myself for taking such weeks and months over it, but I know that you realize what a whirl I am in most of the time and I really am sorry. Of course the longer I leave it, the more and more stupendous a job it looks and the less courage I have to begin, but here I am to tell you about Christmas now! Isn’t it awful- in February! I don’t really mean to try and give you a detailed account now, but I’ll tell you all the special bits and answer all your letters that I have- it will probably take days!
To go back to Christmas at Aunt Ettie’s- I arrived on the Monday morning, and as far as I can remember, we didn’t do anything that day except sit around and talk. We had lunch at A. Ettie’s, in her breakfast nook in the kitchen & it was very cosy. Her house is on exactly the same plan as Monies’, & in some ways I think it is nicer than Marg’s because Marg’s kitchen is absolutely minute! None of them do at all well for me as the cupboards are way high up! But Marg’s kitchen particularly seems so cramped & is usually untidy & lots of dishes to wash up, but Monies’ & A.Ettie’s with having the breakfast nook seems roomier. A.Ettie and A. Moo both looked the same as they did in 1939.- I don’t notice any change in them at all. They were asking me if I noticed A. Moo’s deafness any worse, but I couldn’t remember that it was. She is much worse than you, even with her aid I think – even when she has it on you have to speak right at her, but I don’t wonder that she gets tired and confused when the whole crowd is there- I did & I’m not deaf! There’s always so much going on & so many people that you hardly get a chance to sit & be peaceful! And as soon as we’d all get sorted out to our own houses & be sitting reading quietly, Margs would say “Now I wonder if Mother & A. Moo wouldn’t like to come over for supper” & off she’d go to buzz them (Bill has fixed up a little private telephone between the 2 houses, as A. Ettie has no real phone) & her Mother would protest & say no they wouldn’t come, they were both reading & Margs could never understand it! She thought they’d be lonely! Then of course in the morning it would be the other way round- there would be some plan of all going to A. Ettie’s for something & the girls would be doing this, that & the other & not dressed until A. Ettie would be about tearing her hair! What a crowd!
One of those days before Christmas A. Moo & Monie & I went shopping in Garden City for some last minute purchases. One of mine was a bottle of rum! I knew that they would all be having drinks on various occasions, & I didn’t want to be drinking their drinks all the time, so I got the rum & gave it to the family, & we all had drinks from it. I also treated A. Moo & Monie to a soda, & we had quite a nice time.
That first evening I was there I gave the girls their wedding presents- at last- and they seemed very pleased with them. Allan apparently likes hats, so he was quite pleased with his fair isle beret too, but insisted on putting it on himself & cramming it on his head. (It was his birthday on 1st Feb. and I sent him a card & a book.) Little Mona was very taken with her tiny “ballerina” doll & kept me busy bending her into different positions, & I don’t know whether Hugh really liked “Black Beauty” or not, but everyone else told him how lovely it was!
All the houses looked very prettily decorated & both A. Ettie and Margs had lovely Christmas trees, which were up & decorated when I arrived. On Christmas Eve, Bill sat down & wrapped up all the presents & put tags on while Margs flapped around & made a cake & finally went to Church with us! Allan hung up stockings for us all, & Bill really did all the work of parcelling etc. & even wrapped some of his own presents! Monie & A. Moo & I drove down to the local store for something & of course I got myself entangled with a drunk ex-soldier, much to their amusement! He had been in the 1st Division & in England & when he discovered I was English, he wanted to kiss me – and did! – because everyone in England had been so swell to him! He then presented me with two very old, dry, prickly holly wreaths & with difficulty I got away without making a date!
On Christmas Eve Margs & I & A. Moo & A. Ettie went to Midnight Service – Monie stayed at home because Owen was coming. It was very nice but very long, because I think we left home at about 10.45 & didn’t get back till 1.30- Bill nearly sent out a search party for us. We had been invited to some friends of Margs & Bill’s nearby for an “egg nog” party, & Margs said we‘d go but with one thing another we never did & I was quite sorry because I have never had egg nog & the pictures in the adverts in the magazine look so tempting!
Allan was quite good on Christmas morning & didn’t wake up till nearly 7, so we weren’t awakened at the crack of dawn. He was very sweet opening his presents – not wild with excitement at all, but very intent! The family present-giving was to be at A. Ettie’s so, apart from one or two little things in our stockings we didn’t open anything but Allan had most of his. Then we had breakfast, & tried to clear away the mess, & I had kept asking Bill when the King’s broadcast was, & he would turn the radio on vaguely, & then Allan would want something & he would turn it off, & so it went until I missed it all together. I was really so disappointed I could have wept, & in a way it made me feel quite sad all day. I know that it was silly to feel so, but I had spoken of it so much, & I knew you would all be listening & I was looking forward to it as being my special Christmas piece from home – they were all very kind of course, but all busy with their own affairs, & I couldn’t help feeling a little bit homesick & left out. However, I survived! Of course it was hours before the whole family was organized at A. Ettie’s, but eventually the presents were opened & we had the dinner which was very good. The only other thing we did, I think, was to go to Margs’ neighbours’ that evening & we were given a hot Swedish punch to drink, called Glogg! Which amused me!
After Christmas I did nothing much until the Friday when I went into New York to meet Gwen, but I think I told you pretty much everything we did. We talked our heads off of course & Gwen was very grateful to me because I provided her with a young man!! You will wonder how on earth I did that, as Gwen is in Kansas City, but it is really quite simple! Remember Mary the nurse, in Cambridge? I wrote to her, & had a reply telling me that she was coming over here to marry her American boy friend Tony in January, & giving me Tony’s address in Kansas City! I wrote to him – mentioned Gwen- & Tony & his best friend called on Gwen & have since given her a good time! Aren’t I a little blessing to my friends! Since Christmas, there is a sequel though, as Mary has written to me to tell me that she’s not coming to the U.S. after all! At the last moment she got cold feet, & she has met an English boy, so there it is! Gwen said Tony was very vague & had no plans where they were to live or anything, so probably it has all turned out for the best!
When I got back to Margs that evening, Mill & Ford & the kids had arrived down & Margs was having her cocktail party that evening. She had quite a crowd of her neighbours – all rather “solid citizens”! A Jewish couple, & a fat old couple, & another man, whose wife had to stay at home to look after the kids, & then the family. It was quite nice without being riotous & I chatted to Ford. Bill’s idea at any party is to get a drink & another man & go in a corner and talk – no one could call him gay! But I got to like Bill quite well, although his lack of humour puts me off – you hardly ever see him laugh (never!)– but he was very kind to me really. On the Sat. after Margs’ cocktail party, Bill & Margs took me to another given by some old friends of theirs, & they kept telling me what fun they were etc. & it turned out to be the dullest party going! Lots of dull stodgy people, the host & hostess completely occupied with food & drink, no music or dancing & just nothing to do except eat or drink! Margs & Bill got quite high- out of boredom! – and I sat & ate solidly all the loveliest “snakes” until I was full & bloated! But I hadn’t seen such gorgeous things for years!
On Sunday we had another big dinner at A. Ettie’s- roast beef- & on Monday morning Ford was driving up to C.V, leaving Mill and the kids behind & coming back on Tuesday for New Year’s Eve. I wanted to see U. Artie, & he had written “sort of” asking me, then we telephoned him & told him I was coming up with Ford, & all the time, he never really said I must stay! Of course we knew he probably meant it, but with A. Phine you can’t be sure! So Ford said if I went & they didn’t take it for granted I was staying he would just call in the evening & take me to Cora’s, but everything went off fine- A. Phine had the bed fixed & all! Uncle Artie of course was sweet to me, and so was A. Phine really –I took their Christmas presents with me- cigars for him & hankies for her & they seem very pleased. U. Artie had a taxi come for him in the afternoon & I went down to C.V. with him to the Bank & P.O. etc. He asked me how much my fare to and from New York was and I told him $40- it was actually a bit more in the end but that seemed a lot to ask for as it was- & he gave me a cheque. It was so sweet of him & I thanked him very much, & felt that he was really being very generous to me – then, what do you think. He got a money draft to send to Pat- her monthly allowance – and how much do you think it was? $100! I nearly had a fit! He was supposed to send her an allowance until she got a job, & then she had one and still got the money- & more than a lot of well-trained people in England to get too. And still she’s not content- do you wonder those girls make me mad at times! Margs has just written to me & in her letter she says Pat has now given up her job & is taking this hairdressing course, & also that Bren & her baby are due in England soon! I heard all about Bebe from A. Phine of course, & from the way she talked I guessed that her engagement wouldn’t last long, & now I hear that it’s over. But from what I gathered Bebe was much more thrilled with being engaged than with Paul, so it seems as if this is the best thing.
Uncle Artie seemed as well as could be expected & he & A. Phine didn’t fight while I was there, but only scrapped occasionally! As I told you, Ethel had an awful cold & so wasn’t very happy, but she seems to fit in very well, & has really settled down. Margs was telling me such a scandal about Ethel figuring in a divorce suit, & she doesn’t have a home of her own so maybe she is glad to have such a comfortable place. Although I shouldn’t think it’s at all easy because U. Artie is quite deaf now, & his sight is poor too, & with A. Phine’s sight as it is, it is very difficult. I enjoyed the two days I spent there, & it was a nice rest but I was quite glad it wasn’t a long stay because we really don’t have much in common to talk about, but they were both very nice to me.
Ford came to lunch next day, then we left & collected Cora, & drove down to Long Beach. I think I told you I thought Cora looked just the same- but talk- golly! That evening was New Year’s Eve & I think I told you most of our adventures then. When we got into the city & were walking up Broadway, we went into Jack Dempsey’s Bar for a drink, & I was pleased to see it, as it’s a place you often hear about. After that we went to Times Sq. & home again. Now, I think I shall indulge myself in some catty remarks! As you know, I like Margs & Monie & Mill immensely – Mill not so much perhaps, as I don’t get a chance to get to know her so well as I do the others – but I have come to the conclusion that they are sloppy! Don’t breathe a word to a soul! Maybe it is after living with Til & Lois, who are always immaculate & as tidy in their persons as if they were always on show – I know I don’t reach their level at all. But Margs & Monie get up in the morning, & slop around for hours in a dressing gown & pyjamas without doing their hair hardly, & then when they get dressed, they are usually garbed in a pair of old slacks & jersey or shirt! Mind you when they go out or go to town they dress up & look very smart indeed, but I suppose I have enough of Papa in me, to criticize! Millie, I think is even worse- not herself so much, although I don’t think she cares how she looks, she just dresses ordinarily – but I was really shocked in some ways with the kids Hugh and Monie – they don’t even looked clean half of the time! I know they were maybe wearing old clothes to play around in, but they were really old & dirty-looking- Monie in slacks of course – I’ve never seen her in a skirt! But Mill just doesn’t ever seem to bother, or to insist that they should dress up or look nice – probably nice for the kids, but again – I criticized! (Margs keeps Allan a beautifully!) A. Moo always looked so elegant & lady-like in the midst of all the throng – neat white hair, & she changed into pretty dresses if they were having a family party too, but not many of the others bothered, although I think Margs & Monie did occasionally. Now- having got all that off my chest!
On New Year’s Day we had another family dinner, & then the Pembletons set out for home, & we didn’t seem to be quite so overwhelmed! I forgot to tell you that Owen left on Monday, but after I left, Margs wrote that he was back again. On Thursday, Margs & I had a heavy date with Bill & Hugh in New York! In bed that morning, I got so worried- Bill was charging around getting ready for work, & shouting at Margs (sound asleep in bed!) & I was afraid he would get so mad he wouldn’t take us out! When I told Margs later she was most amused, & of course he did! Margs & I went into New York in the afternoon & I wanted a new hat, & so she decided to get one too – & so we had great fun. We thought the hats we got were lovely at the time, but next day we had our doubts & I have never worn mine since! They were both black and mine is like this: –
I don’t think I can attempt to draw Margs! We went to Bill’s office & met him there – he has just been made an associate member of the firm by the way, & is very pleased- & then we got a taxi to the Waldorf, where we went to a lounge called Peacock Alley, & Hugh joined us there. We had a drink & Margs began to feel gay & insisted she wanted to rhumba! So we went to another place for dinner called the Havana Madrid, where we ate & danced & saw a floor show in the South American style! After being there a while we went to the New Yorker, where we had another drink, & danced & that was where we watched the ice show. Quite an evening! Hugh left us at the station & Margs & Bill fell asleep in the train & I had to wake them up when we got there!! They both liked Hugh very much, & he liked them too.
Next day was the day I was leaving & Margs etc. were to take me to the airport, & she invited Hugh to come to the house in the afternoon, as he said he would come and see me off too. Then, first Hugh rang up next day to say he couldn’t come as he had some unexpected work, but would go straight to the airport, & then of course the darned Flight was canceled! Eventually after much rearranging of plans Margs & Monie saw me off at Long Beach, & Hugh met me at Penn Station & took me to Grand Central. Both of us expected that I could get a train as easily as anything but were we wrong! All the airlines were out of use, so everyone had rushed for the trains & the place was seething, with queues at all the windows. After waiting & waiting & finding everything booked up, Hugh finally called the Military Authorities! He said he had a British Government Official going to Toledo, & no reservation – could they help, & at once I had a bedroom at my disposal! Wasn’t that something! Actually I was quite alarmed in case anyone investigated who this official was, but it wasn’t so untrue, because all the girls who got their passports & visas in London got them free & stamped “Government Official”, so only us poor provincials missed that & I don’t see why I shouldn’t pretend I have it too! I left N. Y. that night & got to Toledo next day & had a lovely comfortable journey – very different to the one going, which I hated!
Till & Bill met me in Toledo & I thought there was something strange but it wasn’t until Lois came from the airport later in the day that I realized there had been some sort of quarrel, & the atmosphere was very strained. I heard about it later from both Til & Lois – I think I told you want a haphazard happy-go-lucky fellow Bill is- well, Lois can’t stand the way he just drifts from one thing to another, & imposes on Til, & of course she is just the opposite, – very steady & would give Til just anything she has. Actually, she has given Til the beautiful new Buick, & is saving now to buy herself another one. Anyway – she is also, to a certain extent jealous of Bill, because I think his best point is that he is very fond of his Mother, but also, when Til and Bill are together they kind of shut other people out- you know? I felt it & it hurts Lois badly, but of course it’s natural that Til should see no wrong in Bill. However Bill had been there all the time I was away & finally there had been a big bust up, & Bill & Lois weren’t speaking to one another & Til was being very bright & hard & the atmosphere was just stretched on wires. Bill left that same week for Florida & was away 2 1/2 weeks & all the time it was the same strain. Lois & Til both told me their sides of the story, & I could sympathize with them both, & I love them both, so I just hated to see them that way. You know me when I’m in a house full of emotional strain- me noives were shattered as usual! & I felt quite miserable & depressed. However- Bill returned one Wed.- just for one night- & Lois went out & stayed at a hotel – so that finally brought things to a head. Bill left & has gone to Florida where he has a job now (his wife has just got a divorce, by the way) & the next night Til & Lois had a real do – I went up to my room, but I could hear them talking & talking, & at last they got everything settled & since then they have been fine. I was so relieved! Lois was all set to leave & go & live somewhere else & I just couldn’t imagine it happening, & of course now they are just back where they used to be & it is lovely! I do enjoy being with them both so much, & I enjoy staying in the house in the evening or going out with them to the pictures more than anything else. Til is the liveliest of course – she is full of fun, & we enjoy having tea in the afternoon & gossiping about things. Lois is much quieter, but she laughs with & at Til & me, & we all enjoy it. When I came at first they hardly ever ate dinner in the house, but went to a restaurant every day, & now we cook at home much more than we go out. Til & I go out shopping, & come home & cook, & it hardly takes us more than 3/4 – 1 hr & sometimes much less & we talk & cook & serve up dinners that we think are wonderful! The only complaint I have about Til’s cooking is that she & Lois like their meat very well done, & I think they overcook it! Til’s favourite dessert is Floating Island , so we agree beautifully over that! I can’t decide if I’m getting fatter or not – I weigh 108 pounds now, which is 10 pounds more than I used to be, but I think I put on most of that in Cambridge.
Since the Christmas holidays I don’t think there has been very much of vital interest to tell you, apart from the things I told you each week. Do you remember my Saturday night date with Norman Walker, the young man I met in Chicago? Well, this time too, I was bored stiff, & I think he feels exactly the same way about me! We had the silliest evening really – full of frustrations! He was supposed to be coming to take me to dinner at 8 o’clock, but it was more like 8.30 when he appeared as he lost his way! Then we drove downtown & he didn’t know anywhere to eat, so I mentioned two places I’d been to, & we set out to look for one & couldn’t find it. After a search we found the other & then couldn’t get a place to park the car! At last he found a parking lot – just a square of mud & melting ice, & he drove onto it & sort of over the edge onto the pavement to let me out onto a dry place- then, the car wouldn’t move back or forward- its wheels just spun on the ice, & it was sticking 1/2 over the pavement! Finally some fellows came along & helped push & got it back & we staggered off to have dinner – me just fainting with hunger by this time! We finished dinner at 10:30, & then went to the pictures- & had to stand in a queue inside, & when we did get in, we sat right at the front at one side & it was all peculiar. I got home at 1:30 a.m. & I’m not surprised I haven’t heard from the young man again!!
Another escapade I haven’t told you about was my proposed weekend at Niagara – with a young man no less! Just about the time I was feeling kind of fed up, I had a letter from the man English teacher, Roland Purdy, saying that he was going up to Niagara, Buffalo etc. for a weekend – how about coming & seeing the sights with him. So me- thinking, gosh anything to get away from this grind of hard work – wrote an enthusiastic acceptance! Finally after all arrangements were made I began to come to my senses & think what an idiot I was! 1.) Because we were to stay at the General Brock (the big hotel we had lunch at) & you know how expensive that was- and that + rail fare mounted up to quite a lot & I began to think I couldn’t afford it 2.) I had to go & make a speech in Fremont, Ohio, on the Friday which meant I wouldn’t leave here till Sat. morning & get to Niagara Sat. afternoon & have to leave to come back on Sun. afternoon 3.) I could hardly remember what Roland was like, & I didn’t want to get entangled with him anyway!!! However – my nice little guardian angels saw what a pickle I was in, & that turned out to be the very time we had the ice storm & the schools were closed & I sent a telegram saying the weather was too bad for me to come, with a clear conscience! Since then Roland has written & asked me to meet him in Pittsburgh (last weekend), but I wrote back & said I was booked up- quite true!
Do you remember my promising Anne’s Tadek to do what I could about seeing if he could come over here? Well last week I went downtown and saw a (Polish) Judge Grzezinski- Lois’s brother-in-law, Ernie, arranged it for me – but there is not very hopeful news. He says that someone here would have to put up a bond for Tadek & promise him a job & he didn’t offer any suggestions as to who would or how that could be accomplished. He also said that he didn’t know whether Tadek would be released to come. Anyway I wrote & told Anne & sent the judge’s name & address, so if Tadek wants to, he can maybe write himself.
Apart from that, I have done nothing else except my usual round of social engagements! I told you about going to my friend Mrs. Pasquier’s on Sat. night – what I didn’t mention was that I got home at 3 a.m.!! I went at 8:30, & we had drinks & talked & didn’t begin supper till 12.30, & then everyone sat & talked some more. They are very nice – I like both Mrs. & Mr. P. The young man who lectures at the University (in English) reminds me of Noel Coward & was a bit elegant! Otherwise pleasant!
Tonight, just as I was sitting writing, a young married, Marjorie Whiting, that I met at a place I talked, arrived to ask me to dinner tomorrow night, but I had to refuse, as it is Til’s Friends of Music Concert & Lois & I are going. I was quite sorry though because she is nice & friendly & new in Toledo & she said her husband had invited a friend to come, so it sounded as if it might be fun! However she lives nearby, so I expect I’ll see her again – she has two little girls.
Oh – I nearly forgot to tell you of another amusing incident. One of the boys who used to be in my cookery class, Bill Volk, left at the end of the semester. He lives just up the street & knows Lois & Til & Bill Burns & is a nice, friendly sort of fellow, (about 18) & was always quite matey with me, & gave me a lift home in his car one day when Lois wasn’t there. I know all about his sister & her divorce & all sorts of things! Anyway, one evening last week, Bill rang me up & I was in alone – he talked & chatted & asked me what I was doing & if I was by myself & I was just knew he was pining to ask me out or or come along & see me! In fact, he did suggest coming along & teaching me to play gin rummy, but I said Til & Lois were coming in soon & we left it at that. I told Til & Lois that I could just imagine their faces if they’d walked in & found me & Bill sitting there! He pops into school occasionally & has a chat, but he hasn’t phoned me since! I have no boys in my Foods classes now – they have either left or are taking something else, but I still have all the dear boys in my home room!
Now, at last I think I’ve told you ALL my gossip up to date! But I have a great pile of your letters here, that I want to answer a little bit. Thank you for them all, so much, Mummy. I know I don’t answer them as I should, but you know that I just love getting them & hearing all the news & the things you do & how you’re getting on, & thank you very very much for every single one. Thank you also for the lovely Valentine you sent me – I thought it was beautiful & I loved it. I got one from Cambridge next day, which I’m sure is from Anne.
I have been so worried about you all lately with this dreadful weather & the crisis you have been having. I am glad that you don’t have to depend on coal, but it was bad enough as it was & I hear on the radio that you are still having awful cold weather, but I do hope it will go soon. Some people here have been driving me nearly crazy by saying “My, you must be glad not to be in England now” or “You chose the right time to come over here” or even just glooming over the “awful news from England” until I could slay them, but I have one or 2 champions who protect me! – the main offenders are 1 or 2 teachers at school, & the others all tell me to take no notice or tell them to leave me alone! It is dreadful though, that this terrible bad weather should come on top of all the other things people in England have to put up with- it’s time you all got something nice instead of lousy things.
Now, at long last, I can get down to a gossip with you over Nan’s engagement! Well – I am really very pleased about it – I’m sorry I don’t know Dick better, but both you & Dottie seem to like him more & more & I think he & Nan are very well-suited to one another. I go so much by yours & Dottie’s opinion- & nearly always you coincide! One thing I must tell you – as a Deep Dark Secret – Dottie told me not to breathe a word! – but she doesn’t like Nan’s ring, & says it looks so small on her hand – but I had to tell you because you said practically the same thing! However, I suppose Nan just feels that she’d rather have something small but good, & of course prices are awful now. I had a nice long letter from her & she seemed very pleased with my cable & letter & present of stockings – & I sent a card too, but I don’t think that had got there yet. She seems to have a nice lot of things & she is certainly taking all the household things etc. very seriously & getting down to everything! Nan told me that they wanted to get married at the beginning of Aug. & asked me to be a bridesmaid most particularly so I shall try to make it if I can, although I just wish it could be a week or so later, but of course I know they want the wedding at the beginning of Dick’s holidays. The only reason that I would miss it would be if the trip to Jamaica came off, as it would be too good to miss, but I’ve written to Monie & told her that unless she can know for sure soon I’ll have to let it go. I must book my passage home now anyway, I had a letter from Washington telling me as it is going to be very crowded so I’ll have to know soon. I don’t finish school until nearly the end of June, so I won’t have much time for sightseeing which I’m very sorry about, but I suppose it can’t be helped – & maybe I won’t have any money left anyway! I must ask Nan what she wants me to bring her for a wedding present – I shall have fun buying your wedding outfit & Nan says for me to get something in blue & a viely- flowery headdress or hat – so I’ll see.
I don’t think Nan & Dick will ever be the sort of “matey” couple that Irene & Bill are – but then Nan is so different from Irene too- but somehow Irene & Bill just suit one another so well. I like to hear Irene’s housekeeping struggles (e.g.1/4 lb. potatoes!) & I love hearing about her settling down as a young married!
Thank you for telling me all Anne’s news – I had a letter from her too, telling pretty much the same thing. I am really sorry for poor old Miss Stoll & that old pig of a Howlett– she wrote to DeV. & said she hoped Mr. Nauts was being kinder to me than Miss H. was to her, & I felt quite badly because everyone here is so very kind. But Mrs. Brand (one of the teachers- a friend of Miss S’s) says that she likes Anne so much & the other teachers too & says everyone is very kind- but she is nearly collapsing with the cold! The fellow Jessie got jilted by for Blanche is called Bob, & she was going around with him when I left Cambridge, but I never liked him – a conceited stuffed owl! – so I don’t think she’s missing much! I had a letter from Lillian today (I wrote to her) & she says her mother is much better, & she tells me as a great secret (don’t you tell Anne!) that she has applied for, & think she has got- a job near home as a P.T. Organizer! I am so glad for her sake as she is very pleased. I thought I’d send her a parcel of a few food things for her Mother – one of the things Lillian asked for from the U.S. was a tin of tuna fish & one of salted peanuts, so I’ll include those! She has sent me a pound for black woollen dancing tights!! Everyone seems very pleased with my Christmas presents – Irene & Dottie both, & Anne & Jessie F. & Pam Hapgood. I never hear hear a word from Jessie Hall of course. I sent Lillian a pancake make up, but she didn’t mention it – perhaps in the excitement of the job! I do hope that Dottie’s birthday & Nan’s Xmas parcels turn up – but I am most relieved at Irene’s wedding parcel, as that was the most expensive. I forgot to tell Irene, so do tell her if you remember, but I got her wedding cake box all right! And on the outside was carefully written “Cake Removed”!! Wasn’t that funny! I was most intrigued, by the way, at all the Whist Drive Prizes you are collecting right & left! You must be getting an Expoit! I thought it was nice to give the breadknife to Alan & Mary Bain too- she must be a nice girl.
I am sure that in all the awful cold weather, Irene & Bill must be thrilled with their Warming Pad! I have one in bed too & it is lovely. By the way – I’ve often meant to ask – did Ruth ever get her present from me? The compact I sent for Xmas I mean.
I was sorry to hear of all Alma’s & A. Maggie’s troubles – I must write, but I don’t know about sending a parcel as you said Mummy, because any place over here has such lots of food I think. I might send her a nice tin of biscuits or something, but the little things I would send to England wouldn’t be any treat here. While I remember, will you please give my love to Bella & Mrs. Johnny & thank them for their letters. I won’t write to them but I’ll send P.C.s again. I am glad Maude got the food parcel & that the ladies liked the things. My love to old Winnie too- I owe her a letter still- I was most amused at her looking at the Xmas cards – I never got even a card from Joe, the skunk! By the way – everyone who writes A.M. to me now just puts 1/- on the letter except you! Has it been reduced?
I was sorry to hear about all Jane & Bill’s bad luck – they have been having a bad time, but I do hope that things will go well from now on for them.
I was amused at your comments about all my newspaper pictures! I think the “upswept” one is quite good, but Anne wrote that all the staff disliked it & thought I had changed & looked sophisticated, but when they saw the Red X they liked that & said it looked just like me!
I love the story you told me about Katie & Mrs. Paice saying I would make Frank a nice wife! I don’t think Mrs. P. has seen me since I was a sweet shy young thing in my teens, but even then I think I’d have bossed Frank around, so goodness knows what I’d do now!
I don’t think I ever told you how much I loved hearing about Irene’s wedding. I was pining for your letter to come & it told me all the things I wanted to know, then Dottie wrote all about it too so I got a wonderful “overall” picture. Irene sent me 2 snaps which were nice of her & gave me a very good idea of her outfit.
As you will have guessed by this last haphazard page or so, I have been reading through all your letters & commenting & it has taken me hours! I think after all I am going to have to send this by sea as it will be so heavy, but I hope it won’t take too long. Now that I have got this screed done I will write to Amy & get that off my chest! I don’t think I have ever said thank you for your idea of my buying something for Christmas & you paying for it- I think it is lovely, but that you sent me plenty, with a lovely cami-knicks & the cute little dog. Anyway I don’t want you to get the silly hat I got in New York! I had thought I might get a new grey-ish suit (to match my coat) in the spring, & now I have thought I might get it in time for the Atlantic City Conference if I see anything I like, as my blue corduroy can practically get up & make a speech by itself, it’s heard me make so many! I thought I could wear the suit with the blouses & hats I have now & at Easter I would get perhaps a pink felt hat, as they have some pretty ones, & a pink blouse. I am kind of scared to spend much on clothes although I’d love to get some new things, as I don’t know how my money will do, but at the moment I don’t seem to have much to wear at all apart from the blue suit, so I think I’ll have to get something. By the summer, I hope to know better how much I’ll have left to “frivol” with & be able to get some things then.
I must stop now as it is midnight & I’m in bed – love to any of the girls if you see them, & to Maude too & please thank her for her letter.
Up earlyish – had a bath & to breakfast- all very amusing. Marie & Sam there too. After breakfast one of the boys – Jack – arrived & took us over to Mill & Ford’s. Arranged things & home again.
Ford came over with Margs & Hugh & Mum & Peg & I got in & we went a ride – very lovely. The country & mountains are glorious. So many trees everywhere & lakes too – the trees amaze me– they’re all over the place. To West Point Military Academy first- a marvellous institution – everything beautifully arranged & set out – then up to Bear Mountain Inn.
A lovely place – all logs. Sat down for a drink & in arrived Aunt Phine & the rest. I had Planter’s Punch- very strong, made me feel quite pleased.
Took snaps – one of the policeman. Ate doughnuts-quite different to our – all icing on! Home through Tuxedo Park – where the millionaires live! Very lovely.
Margs, Mum, Ford & I dashed off for a bathe at the pool – lovely & warm. Rushed home & changed. Had drinks & then supper- ate a lot! All sang & played games – everyone very merry.
They went eventually & Margs, Bibi, Lois, Peg, Mona & I off to Community Pool to Bathe in the nude. Much giggling & we got in- lovely feeling- suddenly the light went on. We nearly had a fit! Pegs threw our bathing suits in, but before we had time to do anything 2 men arrived – said it was time to lock up. A great scramble to dress & so home. Awfully funny!
Hugh woke me up – the sweetest little boy. Up gradually & to breakfast one at a time. Played with Hugh, then Ford took me to Central Valley in the car to Uncle Artie’s. Saw Peg again – she quite happy, & Aunt Phine & Bibi & her friend Lois. Back to Highland Mills & Uncle Artie arrived.
The whole lot of us went out to lunch to the White Cat – a nice restaurant & had lunch on the veranda. Drank mint julep!
Home afterwards & then some of us drove into Newburg to the pictures to see Robert Donat in “Goodbye Mr. Chips”. A marvellous film – acting – setting – atmosphere & all. I cried like anything & so did the rest – even Bill!
Home & everyone to supper at Mill’s – a buffet supper & you eat a bit of everything – great fun! Afterward 3 boys came in- young- about Peg’s age- very young & dumb. Most unsophisticated & home town compared to a boy like Bobby. They went out after a while- had great talks with Ford. Over to Aunt Phine’s to sleep eventually.
Hot again – got a foul cold – felt awful. Wrote letters- had lunch & then to the shops. Got cheques changed. Nothing much. Home & packed for the weekend. Monie home & had supper. Set out in the car- me & A. Ettie with Mona driving – terribly hot. Drove right through the World Fair – over a bridge – thro’ Harlem & over a ferry. Drove for ages with tons of traffic- awful holdups at places – took us ages. Up to Central Valley & Highland Mills about 11:0. The rest arrived before us in Bill’s car. Met Milly & Ford & peeped at Hugh. Ate ice cream & then the 9 of us found Places to sleep – Mum & I on camp beds in the sitting room & Monie on the couch. Very nice too.
In 1939, Europe was preparing for war in different ways. Germany had been moving for years. England had young men in military training, Bobby Sheedy being one of them. And ordinary citizens, with uncertainty ahead of them, prepared for the last summer of fun before the war.
Cynthia, her mother, and a young cousin, Peggy, were going to visit their family in New York and see the World’s Fair in the summer holidays. Other family members were coming from St Vincent, there were new family members to meet because the Hazell descendants were marrying and a new generation had started. So the Ewings made preparations, Cynthia getting a passport, her father booking them tickets on the R.M.S Mauretania to New York and the Queen Mary home again, and after the school year ended, packing began. Cynthia bought a sturdy blank book to be her travel diary.
Carol maintained her friendship with her former headmistress and teacher. The Ewings had a dog and obviously Miss Lefroy and Miss Hull did too!
Of course it was not always summer. In chillier times, the Ewings wore furs.
Sometime in the 30s, Carol’s mother, Marion Hazell, whose draft will has already been posted, died in St Vincent, and her sister sent her photos of the gravesite. Two crosses now, for both her parents.
Before I follow Cynthia as she grows up in the 1930s, there are a few Hazell documents that pertain more to her mother Carol. Her family in St Vincent sent her newspaper clippings about her father’s memorial in the Botanical Gardens in St. Vincent, and the death of her sister Blanche. Her mother sent money from the family business.
Also, I have added to the blog post ‘Waiting in War’ a letter sent to me by my second cousin in St Vincent, that tells of the details of how Carol’s brother Willie was killed in 1918 in the trenches. I am very grateful for this new information, and anyone interested can look back for this letter and transcript.
This is the draft of a will of my great-grandmother Marion Hazell. I enjoy the feminist touches, when she leaves money clearly to the women of the family first, and I also appreciate the silver bonbon dishes and vase which have been handed down to me.