This letter from my grandmother reminds me of how different my ‘60s’ attitude was, compared to that of my grandmother and even my mother. It was the flower children era! I was at university, free to study what I wanted (unlike my mother at my age), free to wear jeans every day to class if I wanted (and I did, although I believe my high school finally stopped insisting that girls wear skirts after I left), although I also enjoyed dressing up in my mother’s creations. It’s just that the graduation ceremony and dinner/dance after were not as important to me as they were in their eyes, because they had had dances that had been rites of passage for them. By November 1969, I had moved on, and the rituals of high school no longer mattered that much. I had enjoyed the weekend, seeing my friends again, wearing my lovely outfits, going through the graduation ceremony, celebrating with my brother and cousin and friends, but I was focused on my new life and was enjoying it a lot more than high school!
Noyack, St. Vincent
Nov. 29th. 69.
Dearest Lindy, I have just realized that if I don’t hurry & get this letter to you at College, you will be going home for your Xmas vacation; I wonder how long a holiday you’ll have? – much longer than when at school I suppose? – Well! all the excitement of Graduation & the Ball, are all over – & I guess you wish you could have it all over again, or don’t you? I hope you had a really lovely time, your Mum send me the patterns of both your dresses, &, I think they were both beautiful – the mini one for graduation – would be so unusual, no other girl would have anything like it – being as how it came all the way from India! Then I liked your choice of the laminated blue material for the evening frock, exceedingly much! & my Lindy must’ve looked very beautiful!- I only wish I could have had a peep at her! Please take lots of pictures for me to see both you, & Charlie – as I hear, he was looking very smart in his new suit, with waist-coat, and all! I hope you both had a grand time & that Bruce was a good dancer – did you ‘Samba’ & ‘Jump-up’ and do all the strange, silly dances they do these days? Say what you like, a waltz takes a lot of beating! I am sure you were all a bit worried about your dad’s operation, & having to be in hospital, &, I was so thankful to hear it was safely over & he was home again. I wonder if your Saki cat missed you? When I was away, my little Sally cat had 4 kittens but Auntie M. gave them all away before I returned – about which I was sorry – however, she has just produced another 4 kits!! I am thinking of selling them at the Bazaar! The only trouble is, they will hardly have had their eyes open 2 weeks, poor wee things, but I do think a basketful of kittens would be quite an attraction don’t you? While I was away M’s dog ‘Andy’ was quite sick – in fact, Moo thought he was dying – however at the sight of me, he recovered! He is a good watchdog, but he barks at every sight & sound & nearly drives me silly – but we don’t like to stop him in case of thieves around. Our church bazaar comes off on 6th – so we only have a week left & I am getting real nervous, as it’s the first time I’ve really had a stall on my own, but Auntie M. & Mrs. Glenn will help me – I sent you off home a small Xmas parcel, nothing much just a remembrance & Cyn will get you something with the cheque I’m sending her. It’s late so I’ll say good night. God bless – much love, yours aye – Grannie.
[Written sideways on the first page:] Your nice letter came at last & I enjoyed it v. much.
November turned out to be a very busy month for the Costains- Cec had surgery, both children had Commencement, and Cyn had to manage it all. Her October letter to Carol had told about tests Cec was having in hospital the first week of November, and the planning and buying of new clothes for the children, but it is not until a month later that she gives all the details. [Next post: November 18, 1969] But, in keeping with the unspoken rules of writing-letters-to-mothers, she never shares the fears that the adults must have had, however relieved they all were after the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Cec has been in hospital, Linda has come home for Reading Week, shopped, and been fitted for her new dresses, Cec then had a thyroid operation and spent another couple of weeks recovering- with excitement of the graduation ceremony and dance, combined with the visit of his nephew Bruce to accompany Linda, to entertain him. His friends and colleagues sent cards with messages of concern, as did his daughter (who had seen him the weekend before his operation that Tuesday, and was going home the next weekend for her graduation .)
Dear Daddy, Sat. even. Bruce hasn’t phoned yet, so I don’t know when he’s coming. I got my essay done in time (the very nick of time) and have been resting. But Sat. evening is impossible to sleep on, so I’m enjoying myself watching a group of very happy people just went through the hall singing “Jingle Bells” and pressed me to join them, but I was laughing too hard- and I’m a good little girl. I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, hope you are home & can do the same. Love to all. Linda Card Page: For Daddy Get Well Soon… I Sure Miss You. I’m glad I’m coming back on Friday, I’m going to have fun. I hope you’ll be well enough to enjoy it. Love Linda
Thank you for your letter from St.V. which arrived this morning. I hope that by now you have found all your things that you packed away before you left and that you are all settled again. From what you say it doesn’t sound as if you got my AM letter to Long Beach before you left so I thought I had better get busy writing again or you will feel neglected. Our mails seem to be very poor just now – I mailed a letter to Lindy last Thurs. morning and by Tues. when she wrote again it still hadn’t arrived, so goodness knows how long it took mail to reach New York. Did you get a letter from Lindy before you left? I had sent her the picture of Donna and Alan to see and she sent it onto you, but from what you say you don’t seem to have heard from her. Perhaps by now Monie will have sent them on to you.
We are having a Smorgasbord Supper at the church this evening with a magician for the children afterwards! I cooked 8 lbs. of peameal bacon yesterday and we will have it sliced cold with cold turkey and then there will be scalloped potatoes and casseroles and salads, rolls etc. and dessert and coffee. I have just put a big upside down cake in the oven for my dessert contribution – I have made it with rings of pineapple and cherries in the middle of the rings, so it should look pretty. Marjorie is picking me up at 1 o’clock and we are going down to the church to get things ready and set tables etc. This evening I will help serve but not wash up! We had the magician last year, so I am not all that interested in seeing him again, so Cec and I might just eat and then come home. Charlie is busy at school – they are having a Basketball Tournament, and he is helping organize it and officiate etc. so he may not even come and eat – he is to phone me later on and let me know, but if he comes he will just eat and run.
I had a letter from Lindy this morning when I got yours, and poor child, for the first time she was fed up. Some bright sparks had decided to wreck her room as a joke and had not only stripped her bed but hidden an essay she was working on and various other jolly little things, so she was mad and quite upset about it. Very juvenile behaviour and of course Lindy never has had to deal with this practical joke business before, but living with a bunch of girls this sort of silly thing always comes up, and she will just have to learn to live with it. She had recovered by the time she finished her letter – I think that she was more upset because her two particular friends were away for the weekend and she didn’t have anyone to grumble to, but anyway she will have lots of friends this weekend because I think I told you that Janet and Joanne are driving down to see her tonight. They called in last night, all excited, to collect what they call a CARE parcel – goodies!
I spent yesterday morning baking and Mme Gemuse asked me if I was going to have guests and was very amused when I said no, they were all for Linda! I included a tiny pumpkin out of the garden so she can make a baby jack-o’-lantern for Halloween – it is only about the size of a rubber ball, so it will be a miniature! The girls also took down her winter coat and boots as it has suddenly got bitterly cold. We have had lovely weather and no frost at all – the nasturtiums and morning glories were still blooming and the poplar and weeping willow trees all green, and then on Wed. morning it was down to 20 and snow on the ground! Shocking! It was so cold that the snow didn’t melt on the grass and bushes, but is still sneaking around, the horrid thing! Tomorrow will be a bit milder they say which is a good thing as Cec is still busy in the garden clearing up and I had better try and tidy the flower beds.
I have been trying to remember when I last wrote you – not very long ago, but anyway if I repeat please excuse! We have been quite gay with dinner with Jim and Lee before the Little Theatre last week, and then on Friday morning Phyl suddenly phoned and said that there was a guest from Washington and he had brought his wife and they were planning to meet her and take her to lunch downtown. We went to the restaurant at the Arts Centre – we went there for coffee one day, looking out on the canal – and there were 5 of us, Phyl, Nan Ramsey, a Magda Jones and me and the lady, Mary Lide. Her husband is a friend of Cec’s and he had stayed with them quite often in Washington, so I was pleased to meet her. She is very nice – English and is a writer. She has had one book published called ‘The Bait’ but I can’t remember her maiden name under which she writes. We had a nice lunch and then met again in the evening for a dinner meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists which was very nice. We also went out to dinner on Monday to Marjorie and Dick’s and Charlie was quite disgusted at so many dinner outings and leaving him alone! Mr. Graham was at Marjorie’s and we had a very nice dinner and then played bridge. I think that we only played once last winter, so I was well out of practice, and of course Marjorie is very chatty! Dick was playing and she was watching and I made a bid and Cec replied, and just then Marjorie said something to me and I never noticed that he had jumped my bid! I just bid 3 no trump and of course ended by making a grand slam and Cec was very disapproving!
It’s now Tuesday – what with the Smorgasbord and the weekend, I got nothing more written. The Sm. was a big success – we planned for about 100 to 110 people and must have had 140 to 150. The only thing we ran short of was desserts and I think that was because a lot of little boys rushed up early and got seconds and thirds! It really is not such fun when there is a crowd – more of a scramble and not at all peaceful and relaxed and Cec thinks the quality of the cooking has gone down, as he got a bit of a casserole that was absolutely tasteless! But there’s not much we can do about it. We don’t really try to make money out of this – we only charge 1.50 per adult, 1.00 for teenagers, .50 for school children and under school-age free, with a maximum of 5.00 per family, but we made 100 dollars anyway.
I had to do my grocery shopping on Sat. morning because now that Cec’s technician with whom he used to drive, has left he just drives by himself and I have to drive him in and collect him when I want the car. It is quite a chore and I am beginning to see why wives like a second car in the family!
Janet and Joanne both called me on Sunday evening and told me that they had had a wonderful time down with Lindy and then L. called later and she seemed to have really enjoyed having them so that is nice. They apparently had a party in L’s room on the Sat. evening which was a big success and Lindy even had some boys there so that was quite something! The Gloucester High School Graduation Ceremony is on Nov. 21st and there will be the actual thing on the Friday evening at the school and then on the Sat. evening instead of a dance at the school the School Council has got together and hired a room and a band at the new Skyline Hotel for a dinner dance – cost 12 dollars a couple! (handwritten not typed: I have said that we will pay for the tickets!) Charlie and the other boys nearly fainted but comparing it to other years when the dance at school cost 5 dollars a couple and usually the boy took the girl out to dinner before, and then often they had a big party downtown in some restaurant after the dance which must have cost quite a bit, actually it isn’t so bad! It is to be Formal! This means long dresses for the girls but suits for the boys – not dinner jackets as it would be in England, thank goodness! Charlie needed a new Sunday jacket and I had asked him if he wanted a jacket or a suit and he had said, “Oh a jacket and slacks,” but when this dance came up he said to me that he thought maybe he should get a suit. We toured the shops right left and centre and it was so hard. Of course he doesn’t want a suit such as an older man would have – he wanted something a little Mod, without being Way Out, but it was very difficult to find. Some of the jackets he looked very nice in, but they were definitely noticeable – double breasted with high lapels and waists etc. – rather Regency style, but although he looked nice in them he felt a bit odd, and I could agree with him. Then tweed suits were very hot, and dark ones were very dull etc. In the end we found exactly what he wanted and we are both delighted – not only is it just what he wanted but it was a summer suit on sale and it was half price – 40 dollars! It is a young man’s outfit, and what they call a coordinated suit now. This means that the jacket and waist coat (yes, a waistcoat, very stylish!) are in a very fine glen check and the trousers are in a matching plain material. It is a rather greyish green colour (Charlie wanted green) and the trousers are very slim fitting. The jacket is single breasted and has three buttons and the waistcoat of buttons up higher than the jacket, so that it shows a little bit above. Charlie was a bit taken aback with the waistcoat to begin with but it looks so nice and altogether I think he looks very elegant in it – tall and slim. He wears a pale yellow shirt with it and a browny- greeny shaded tie and even Linda when she came home thoroughly approved!
Of course, Lindy was another problem. Neither she nor any of her friends had any hope of any of the boys in their class asking them to the dance, and it seemed such a pity to me that she should miss this big occasion at the end of her school career. So in the summer I suggested to her that we invite Bruce up for the Graduation weekend and that he should take her to the dance. At first she was quite horrified that Bruce [her first cousin, a year older than she] would be forced into taking her, but I said that he has always enjoyed coming out to visit us and he has no steady girlfriend so it wouldn’t be any harm in asking him, so she said all right I could perhaps mention it to Merle and see what she thought. Well, Merle thought Bruce would like to come, but she sounded him out and he was delighted, so wasn’t that nice? Lindy is going down to Brantford this weekend to see them and will get things organized I expect, as her Commencement invitation just came last week and I forwarded it on to her. When she was home at Thanksgiving we talked about clothes and of course she will have to have a long dress over which she was very excited! We have the beautiful pale blue and silver sari to make her an evening dress someday, but we both agreed that we would save it for another occasion and buy material for this one. What I did suggest though, was that I should make her a short dress out of the rest of my green and gold sari for the actual graduation ceremony. The Principal wants the girls to wear short dresses as this doesn’t make it awkward for girls who can’t afford long dresses, so I have quite a bit of the green sari left and a long piece which was a kind of stole on my dress and so we got a pattern for quite a plain little sleeveless dress with a little stand up collar, and I have been piecing and fitting and I think I can get it out all right. The sari has a pretty green and blue pattern at the end, and then a narrow gold edge along the sides, and I think I can get the pattern all around the hem and then a little of the gold on the collar. We will have to choose material and a pattern for a long dress when she is home next week, so you can see I am going to be busy! Isn’t it fortunate that I can sew – think how much money I would be spending on my daughter’s finery if I couldn’t! I meant to tell you that Charlie asked his friend Chrystal to the dance, but her father wouldn’t let her go, so he has asked a girl in his class at school called Maureen MacQuarrie – she lives over at Blackburn Hamlet and is one of the ‘crowd’ which has been going around together for most of the year so that is rather nice. She is a little dark-haired girl and has been in Charlie’s class since about Gr. 2 and I know her mother as she is a worker for the United Church, so I hope they all have a good time.
I wished that I had been able to buy the material for Lindy’s dress last week, but you know I wouldn’t dare without her approval! Ruth Lockwood and I spent the day in Montreal on Tuesday and had a lovely time. We decided to go down by train, so we made an early start and got a taxi for 7:10 am and caught the 7:40 train which got us in about 9:30. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had coffee when we arrived and looked at all the fascinating specialty shops in the Place Ville Marie and then went to the big stores. Ruth was looking for a slip cover for her sofa, so at each store we separated for half an hour and I bought thrilling things like socks for Cec and Charlie and a green shirt for Charlie and a scarf for me to match my fall coat (kind of pale turquoisey-green, difficult to match but I got one). I tried to get a hat to match my winter coat, the pale blue one with the greyish fur collar, but mink fur hats are all the rage or else knitted wool berets, and neither was what I wanted! I got some pretty material to make me a winter dress, sort of mauvy colour with little pink roses on – sounds odd, but I’ll send you a piece when I cut it out – oh and I also got a pair of black shoes. Poor Ruth had no luck with her slip cover, and I was getting worried that she would have nothing to show for her trip, but in the end I persuaded her into a dress shop and she ended by buying 2 very nice dresses – they are Crimplene and she likes that and they were reduced in a sale so that was nice. We had lunch at one of the big stores and then we had a snack before we caught the train at 5 o’clock and Cec met us at the station, so we felt we had a very successful day and enjoyed it very much.
I must stop soon and write a note to Lindy and then get on with cutting out the green sari dress – I was so glad when I suggested the idea to Lindy that she was thrilled with it – I thought that maybe she wouldn’t want a kind of “made over” again, after I made the blue one last year out of Marguerite’s dress, but one thing she may criticize Mother about some things but she is wonderfully appreciative of my dressmaking efforts. She tells me all the girls in College think she is so lucky to have such lovely clothes and a mother who makes them for her, and one of her friends was going home to her Graduation last weekend and she was so taken with Lindy’s last year’s blue the Lindy lent it to her to graduate in too! I hope that the green is as successful.
I don’t think that I have had time to tell you that poor Cec has to go into Hospital next week. If you remember all summer he was bothered with an irritated throat after he had a throat infection last winter, but when I mentioned the Dr. of course he put it off. Anyway when he was in Australia he got a very bad infection with a high temp. etc. and went to a Dr there and got something, but it was still there a bit when he came home so we made an appointment straight away with Dr. K. for a check up. Apparently Dr. K. thinks the throat is all part of a type of allergy which contributes to the sinus trouble Cec has and his nose is blocked inside a bit. His father has had the same trouble all his life and has had his nose scraped and so on and Carman and Merle have bad sinus trouble too. Also Cec has an enlarged thyroid gland, so Dr. K. had him go for a swab at the Labs. and he is to go into the hospital next week for 3 days for tests. After the tests the Drs. will decide what to do- if they operate then he will be in for 1 week or 10 days, but we won’t know until they make up their minds. Apparently they can make a picture of the inside of the throat with sort of measurements and see how enlarged the gland is etc. He is also supposed to cut down on his cigarettes, but so far I don’t think he is doing very well – maybe if his throat is sore afterwards he’ll have to stop and that will be a step in the right direction. Poor Cec, he has never been in hospital so this will be an experience for him, and I was teasing him and saying that he had planned to be like his Dad who has never been in hospital at all. However, I am very relieved that he is getting something done about it and that Dr. K. Is looking after him – I hate this business of not knowing and not bothering about going to the Dr.
I must stop now and get on. My love to Auntie Muriel and to Peggy and her family. Hello to Doris and Luenda and June.
With lots of love to you from us all, Cyn.
[Several handwritten postscripts!] P.S. What did Auntie Moo think of your dresses? I didn’t much like the colours in the one you got with Milly – a jersey with green & dark red etc. & I thought Auntie Moo wouldn’t like it either!
P.P.S. Cec came home from Australia via Japan & Vancouver.
[At the beginning of the letter] Charlie has begun taking the Driver Training Course at school – has got his Learner’s Licence & will take his test at Christmas.
As an addendum, here is a letter from Linda at university (missing the first page) written at the beginning of November, after the weekend she spent visiting her Auntie Merle and Uncle Dix and cousin Bruce in Brantford. … I’m just watching the antics of a couple of squirrels in a tree far away, but I can see their silhouettes clearly the darling jumpy things. I’m sorry I didn’t get anything written at the Moors but I had a fabulous weekend & I loved it & them & I want to go back soon! On Friday night [Hallowe’en] we kept answering the doorbell & then the kids [Bruce’s small nieces, Debbie and Cyndie] walked in & fooled me – Trick or Treat Brucie – and marched past us before I knew what was coming off. Then they stayed a bit & then Merle remembered that it was graduation at B.C.I. & so we went & I felt awfully out of place among the formals, but Bruce showed me around the high school & it was quite fun. The next morning we went into Hamilton because Bruce had to move to another room so I helped him & then he showed me around Mac [McMaster university, Bruce was in second year.] & it was raining. Then we came back & did nothing & worked. The Lornes came to dinner & it was funny especially Cyndie & her food. After they left me & Bruce went on working, but Sophocles bored me & his math prob. wouldn’t come out so we gave up & made popcorn & watched T.V. Well, on Sunday I went to a Baptist church, and although we missed the first bit, it was very interesting, and a change. In the afternoon we went over to Lorne’s & Liz & Cyndie went to Glenhurst, but Lorne made me & Debbie tea, and he & Bruce played the piano. After dinner, Uncle Dix & Bruce drove me into Toronto and put me on the bus & went, Bruce was being dropped off in Hamilton on the way back. Bruce had his Mac jacket on & the girl I sat with thought he was my boyfriend & told me all about Homecoming weekend (which she had gone to with her boyfriend). She chatted on for a bit & then tried to sleep, but I had my light on & there was a baby which cried all the time, so she didn’t succeed. Then I shared a taxi with another girl & got here, was greeted exuberantly, fell into bed & slept till noon today. I’m phoning you tonight & will be home soon Love Linda Must tell you about the psych exp.
After a leap of a month, during which Cyn was back working as a substitute at the Nursery School, she catches up in November with her mother’s letters and the events in the Costain family. In St. Vincent, Carol is planning her visit to Ottawa next spring, and she and her sister Muriel seem to have suffered a burglary, something that happened again and again over the years. In Ottawa, Cyn fills in the details of past events- Linda’s birthday presents, Charlie’s fundraising walk- and then goes on to present activities, and alludes to the preparations for Christmas. There will be little to mention about that, however, because there are no more letters until March and April 1969, and then a gap until August.
49 Cedar Road, Ottawa 9, Ontario.
22nd Nov. 1968
Dearest Mummy, Thank you so much for your last letter and the cheque for 30 dollars for Christmas. I was going down town shopping yesterday so I went to the Bank and cashed the cheque and had your book made up, and you have 677.34, which of course is in Canadian dollars, so you can change that into W.I. dollars and you must have well over a thousand W.I. Surely that is enough for you your fare and stay here, so you should not have to worry about money. Cec and I laughed and laughed about you hiding your money in the tea cosy so that it wouldn’t be stolen and then forgetting all about it! It was a nice surprise to find it I am sure, but I hope that the police find poor Auntie Muriel’s silver too. Please thank A. Muriel for her letter to me. While I was in town I went to a handicraft shop where I had ordered a lamp shade months ago. I don’t know if I told you that I gave one to Cec last Christmas, which we both liked very much – it is off-white translucent stuff with real maple leaves and ferns etc. embedded in it, and when the lamp is lit it looks lovely. The one I gave Cec is big, for one of the standard lamps, and we liked it so much that we decided to get a small one for our wall lamp as the shade for that is quite brown now with age and the heat of the lamp! [and because Cec smoked.] However, the one I ordered wasn’t there but they gave me the choice of two others which I brought home and tried and have decided to keep one, so I suddenly thought that this would be a nice Christmas present from you to Cec and me, so that is where 10 dollars of your money has gone! Thank you very much – we both think that it is lovely. I also had always meant to write to you about Linda and her birthday money which you sent her – she wrote to you, but I didn’t think it was one of her better efforts in letter writing. For heaven sake don’t tell her I said that though! I told her what you said in your letter about buying some book of prayers or something of that type, but she had no idea of anything she would like. We finally managed to go down town one day to the Canterbury Book Shop but couldn’t see anything she wanted in the religious line, and it seemed to me that it was pointless to buy a book she was never going to look at, so I let her buy one or two paperback books of Elizabeth Goudge etc. which she wanted [‘The Dean’s Watch’- totally ‘in the religious line’ in my opinion, still love it] and she was very keen to get this song book, so she spent the rest of the money on that and a pair of ‘pantie Hose’ in a kind of mesh which are fashionable just now. The song book is a very nice one and she does a lot of playing out of it and singing too, so she is using it and enjoying it. I don’t think that you need to worry too much about her religion – there aren’t too many 17 year old girls who go to church every Sunday without fail, teach Sunday School and sing in the choir and go to choir practice every week. She has also been going to classes for Sunday School Teachers, so she is fully occupied, and likes doing it.
You have kept asking for news of the Miles for Millions Walk, but I never could tell you much until last month we finally got the enclosed little paper and our receipts for income tax purposes. I know you will be interested to see that St. Vincent got some of the money but amused I expect, that it was for Family Planning! But wasn’t that a fantastic amount of money from one city? Over four hundred thousand dollars. I have been teaching at the Nursery School for over 3 weeks and finally finished on Tuesday. I must say that I felt delighted when it was over, although I really enjoy it while I am there and it was fun getting to know the children, but I seem to have so much to do at home and it all gets behind hand when I am working. Of course I had Christmas parcels to do too and there is sewing I want to get busy with and of course the job of Treasurer and Registrar for the Nursery School takes a lot of time. It is really a big business now and we have over 1000 dollars in the bank, so I really have to work over the accounts. I was busy with them this morning and I am 3 cents out with the bank, which is very annoying! I have decided that I shall have to get Cec to check my figures on an adding machine at work and see where I have lost the pennies!
I don’t know if I told you that Linda is learning to drive. The age for getting a license is 16 here, but Cec would not let her do anything last year, but this year they have a Driver Training Course at the High School, run by the Safety Council of Ontario, and she is taking this. It is an excellent course, and the statistics show that young people who have taken it are involved in a big percentage less accidents than those who haven’t, so we felt it was a very good thing for her to take. It cost $68, so it isn’t exactly cheap, but for that she has 12 weeks instruction – 2 hours a week classroom instruction and twice a week driving, so when that is over she should be able to pass her Drivers Test. It involves US in a lot of driving right now, as we have to drive her down to the high school at 7 o’clock on Mon. evenings, and back at 9, for her classroom work, and then down again on Wed. for her driving lessons and back again, and on Sat. at 8 o’clock in the morning for more driving lessons and back again! I know that 8 am is nothing for you early birds, but it is usually the only morning we get to just wake up when we want to, and now I have to get up at 7 as usual and get Lindy up etc. Very trying! However, I am glad that she is learning this way, as I don’t think that she has much natural aptitude, and I think that Cec would have gone grey rapidly if he had had to do it all! Of course she has had no experience, and it took her an age to learn about to ride a bicycle too! [In my defence, I would like to say that Cec was not a good teacher about anything- I got help with my maths and science problems from my brother a year behind me in school, because Cec was just so amazed that child of his could be so obtuse about things that were so clear to him- and, that the bicycle problem came from living on a major highway so not given one until I was older than most kids.]
The BIG event of this month was on the 1st Nov. when Lindy had her Graduation at the High School. With having 5 years of High School here, but some students only taking 4, it means that ones like Linda graduate from both Grade 12 and Grade 13 – the former is Junior Matriculation and the next one, next year it will be her Senior Matriculation. So this wasn’t the Real Big Graduation, but still it was quite an event and there was a lot of excitement about it. The actual Graduation ceremonies were on the Friday evening at the High School and there was a dance on the Sat. evening, but it was a queer thing, neither Lindy nor any of her pals were invited to the dance, and I don’t think many of the boys in her class went either – if they did they took little girls in Grade 9! I thought it was a pity and I know Linda would have liked to go, but when none of the girls were going it really didn’t worry her and she was excited about the graduation and enjoyed it.
Of course she had to have a new dress, but she wears party type dresses so little that I couldn’t see spending 30 dollars or so on something she would probably wear only two or three times. On the invitation dress was ‘Informal’ but most of the girls wanted something a bit special, so I took out one of the dresses Margs sent me by Monie last year – I think I told you at the time. They were both party dresses with big full skirts, and one was a very pretty cornflower blue chiffon, so I unpicked the skirt which was yards wide and asked Lindy how she would like a dress of that. She was all enthused – she really is a pet – a lot of girls would have turned up their noses at a homemade dress out of passed on material, but she was just as pleased as if it were from the most exclusive shop! We chose a pretty pattern – very simple straight style, with a cowl neck line and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and we got lining and lined the whole thing except the cowl and the sleeves, so it really looked very dainty and pretty and the colour suited her beautifully. I am enclosing a piece of material and a picture of the pattern so that you will get some idea I have what it is like, and Joanne’s Uncle took some pictures of them so that later on I will send you one.
The graduation was great fun from our point of view – Cec said it was a long time since he had been to such a fashion show. Some of the girls looked so nice and others so odd, and the last year’s Grade 13, who were going on to a party of their own afterwards were mostly attired in elaborate long evening dresses. One of them was a real shocker – the whole auditorium nearly collapsed – this tall good-looking girl swept onto the stage in evening dress with a V neck down to the waist in front and extremely bare bosomed, and then lo and behold when she walked across the stage and we saw her back it was bare down to her tail bone! Cec’s only regret is that he was gazing at her so hard he forgot to look at the Principal and see how he was looking! If we had seen her in the Château Laurier we would have been stunned, but at a High School Graduation it was really something. Her parents were sitting not far from us – very respectable members of our church, but I don’t know what they thought of it! I must stop now as I have to get dinner and L. and C.will be home soon. I have some stamps off your letters to send and some seeds but I think I will wait till after the Christmas rush. Lots of love from us all to you and A. Muriel, Hello to Doris and June and Luenda. Much love, Cyn.
Dearest Mummy, Do you mind a letter typed in red? I knew the typewriter needed a new ribbon but Charlie has had it up in his room for weeks and now I find the black part of the ribbon looks as if the moths had been at it, it is so full of holes! Thank you so much for your letter started on my birthday and for your Easter card. We have just had the most glorious Easter weekend we have ever had in Canada. As you know it is usually still so cold here and even if the snow has melted, the ground is still frozen and we don’t expect spring until about the middle of May, but this year it rained a lot in March and the snow melted and this weekend it was beautiful, with temperatures in the 70s and the grass turning green, and green shoots coming up everywhere. I had washed the porch last week and cleaned the windows, so we got out the garden chairs and were even sitting out under the big tree, although it has no leaves on it yet of course! When we went to Church on Easter Sunday we didn’t need coats (didn’t get a chance to wear my new one) and for once all the flowery Easter hats looked appropriate! Lindy was very industrious and did quite a lot of gardening and cleared most of the flowerbeds, and Cec even got some of the vegetable garden plowed, which was extraordinary as it is usually too wet for weeks after it has thawed. Charlie had quite a cold, but it didn’t stop him from playing baseball, football, horseshoes and going swimming every minute he could! It is still heavenly weather now and I am sitting typing on the porch, but of course we are all back at work again. Lindy is disgusted as it poured with rain during the week they had for Spring Holiday in March, and she says if we had had the holidays in the old way we’d have had all this nice weather! However, I really felt I needed that rest in March, and now we had a lovely weekend, and everyone feels more cheerful when the weather is nice. One thing, as soon as the weather became nice I got my hay fever again, and was sneezing and using Kleenex by the boat load, so yesterday morning I decided I would have to take a pill which I did. Lindy said, “But Mummy, you’ll fall asleep at Nursery School, but actually if I keep on my feet and I’m busy I don’t get sleepy, so I was fine all morning, and in the afternoon I had the car, and went all over town buying things for the nursery school – cookies and paste and goodness knows what – and then home, got dinner ready, washed up and then sat down to look at the paper, and bonk! – I was asleep. So uncomfortable too – I woke up after a while and took my glasses off, and said to Cec “I hate doing this – you should wake me up” and bonk! – I was asleep again. I struggled up at 11 o’clock and went to bed and slept all night without turning a hair. You wouldn’t think that one pill in the morning could do that to me, would you? But it does – I don’t feel a bit sleepy or dopey, and even when I sit down to read I don’t feel tired, but with no warning, I’m asleep! I took another one this morning, so I will have to try and keep busy tonight and not sit down! Do you remember Edna Renaud? She must have been to some of my coffee parties sometime when you were here. She is English, blonde and not very tall – was married during the war I think. Anyway, she walked up from her house with her dog this afternoon and had a cup of tea with me. She belongs to a group which is trying to get a Children’s Hospital in Ottawa, and they have various things every now and then to raise money. This year they are getting their friends to do the work for them! They ask their friends to have a coffee party or tea party and collect one dollar from each guest for the hospital, and in a weak moment I said I wouldn’t mind having one. She has brought me special paper napkins etc.- called a ‘Hostess Kit’, so I will have to get busy and have it sometime I suppose. [It was built by the time I was teaching in the 70s- I substituted there when unemployed.]
Mrs. Barltrop is having her Golden Wedding this summer – June, I think – and I have promised to ice and decorate her cake for her, and also some of us are going to help Eve with the refreshments for the Open House she is having for her Mother and Father. Mrs. B has been in bed for nearly 2 months with her legs – she has very bad varicose veins and has had a few operations, and apparently if they break out they don’t heal properly unless she keeps them up all the time, so this is what had happened. However, Marjorie had a lunch the week before last with Mrs. B. and Eve and Ruth Lockwood and me, and this was the first time she had been out. She still has to rest a lot but is doing fine. She and Mr. B. had been going to England as a G.W. trip this summer, and the Dr. says she can still go but must take it quietly and rest each day, but her MOTHER of 95 has just fallen and broken her leg and is in hospital, so she is in a turmoil about this. Lindy and Charlie were astounded to hear that Mrs. Barltrop had a mother! [Added in handwriting] Later: Phone call from Eve & she is flying to England tomorrow as her G’mother is very ill & Mrs. B can’t go. Do you remember someone else – Hilary Mackey who has the house behind us where Flora Wansbrough used to live? She is a widow, English and a bit peculiar we think! Anyway, since the Fall she has had a sister living with her from England, – she is older than Mrs. Mackey and is called Miss Titcum! She comes to our church and to the WA and of course we all kept getting her name muddled up and at home I called her little Mrs. Tittlemouse, so that we hardly dared call her anything, but it turns out that she is a retired Domestic Science Teacher, and when I told her that I was one once she became very pally and said that I was to call her Doris, which I find very difficult, as none of us like her very much. She is one of these English people who finds everything in England so much better than over here, and she has a kind of superior expression all the time as if there was a rather disagreeable smell! When she smiles she looks as if it was hurting her, and one of the Canadian girls said that she was the kind of Englishwoman who should have stayed at home! Poor thing – I am sure that she is lonely as Hilary is out at work all day, but she is really very hard to get along with. She reminds me of Mrs. Rothwell in that she is soppy about animals you know! She takes Hilary’s dog and another little one for walks every day and I usually meet her when I’m coming home from school across the fields. I met Becky Rothwell the other day, by the way, but I couldn’t remember the name of the lady whom you had met so I couldn’t ask her. Mrs. R. is in this home for elderly people, and Becky says is well, but doesn’t take much interest in things or people now. Do you remember Grace? Mrs. R.’s sister Mrs. Ward? She is older than Mrs. R. and is well over 90 but is just as spry as can be apparently. I was amused at you and A. Muriel drinking my health on my birthday [April 3] in Tia Maria – we didn’t have some actually on my birthday, but at the weekend we went out to dinner and when we came home we had a glass of Tia Maria too. If you remember Cec had bursitis just then, so we didn’t go out to dinner on my birthday – I just hate making my own birthday cake, but it looked as if I wouldn’t get one if I didn’t make it myself, so I roasted a chicken and made a four layer cake with chocolate icing! By the weekend Cec had been to Dr. K. and was feeling better, but on the Friday it was Exhibition Night at the High School, and both Lindy and Charlie were involved so we had to go to that. Lindy’s class was putting on a play ‘Pyramis and Thisbe’ all in Latin, and Lindy was Wardrobe Mistress and we had been busy making Greek costumes etc. for weeks past, and also she was in a group of girls who did Israeli dances in the gym. Charlie was Quiz Master in a Math. quiz and helping in one of the Labs, so we had to go around and see them doing their stuff. The Latin play was screamingly funny – Lindy had told us it was, because although it is a tragedy on the lines of Romeo and Juliet, the male lead ranted and roared so much that everyone laughed, and the villain of the piece, a lion, was taken by Janek and Fredi, and they were a great success in a lion’s head and a yellow blanket! And you probably don’t hear much about Canadian politics in the WI, but this was the weekend of the Liberal Convention to choose a new Liberal leader to take the place of Prime Minister Pearson who is retiring. Actually, at the same time the assassination of Martin Luther King happened in the U.S., so everyone was worried about that, but of course everyone in Canada was very interested in the Convention to find out who our new Prime Minister would be. It was fascinating to watch on TV and to hear the various men speak, and on the Sat. they had the final voting, so we couldn’t go out to dinner that night, but had to stay at home and watch with tense excitement. We are all very pro-Trudeau and were very impressed with his speeches and talks on the TV, so we were very excited and delighted when he won. He is very intelligent and most un-politician like, in that he never makes the tub-thumping kind of speeches full of clichés, but is very reasoned and logical. It will be most interesting to find out how he gets on. Anyway, we finally decided to go out to dinner on the Sunday, as the following week was Holy Week, and I felt that if we left it much longer I would never get my dinner out! We went to a place that we had heard served a Sunday Smorgasbord for the family, but it really wasn’t very nice! Linda and Charlie went with us and it was OK, but not a place we’ll ever go to again, so it was nice to have a Tia Maria when we came home! I forgot to tell you what I got for my birthday – Cec gave me a pair of baby doll pyjamas, Charlie a new wallet which I needed badly, Lindy some brush-on eyeshadow (very glamorous) and a pair of darling little pink earrings. Then from Dottie I got hankies and from Nan a smart patent leather handbag in a kind of tan colour. I did thank you for your birthday parcel when it arrived, but I am afraid I must tell you that I was unlucky with the contents! The slip was too small for me – it must have been a very small 34, because I take a 34 slip all the time, but of course in a nylon jersey which stretches more. Anyway, it fits Lindy so I passed it on to her. The dress was pretty, but you know I really look awful in a straight shift dress – just a little square tub! I could get it on, but it was tight on the seat and much too big on the shoulders and bosom, and of course when I sat down it skinned way above my knees like all these tight skirts do. I felt sorry after you had gone to all the trouble of sending it, but I feel it is better to let you know the truth rather than being polite and telling white lies about it, so that you will remember another time that I am a Pear–Shaped Hazell and not a straight up and down one! I wondered if any of my friends were the right size to wear it and thought of Pat Tomlinson, so on Monday Linda and I dropped in to see them and I gave it to her and she was just delighted. I feel that Pat was really a nice person to give it to, as we have always exchanged our daughters clothes – Joanne’s coming to Lindy and Lindy’s to Susan (that time is past now – they are all very much the same size) and Pat works hard and doesn’t have too much for herself. Anyway, after that Lindy and I went to the new Shopping Centre, and I bought myself a pretty new Brunch Coat with some of your money – it is a pink and white striped material, a nice firm cotton and a tiny stripe, and has smocking around the neck and across the top of the pockets, so I am very pleased with it. I still have more than half of your cheque left so I think I will get a cotton dress as I don’t have many just now. I sent a lot of real old ones to you last Fall, and last year I got more things suitable for travelling and not for just the house and garden. I will let you know what I get. I am filled with admiration for you making the Altar Frontal – I know that the other lady did the embroidery, but making it up was a big job and I am sure that it must have looked beautiful when you had it finished and on the altar for Easter. Our church was just packed at Easter – no 5:30 service like A. Muriel, but at 10:30. It is so nice to see some new families and the congregation growing bigger now that there is new building in the district. We were the faithful few for so long, and now to have to put extra chairs in at Easter and have even a few who are new coming every Sunday is a lovely change. Mr. Graham is keeping well and we had a joke with Marjorie. Apparently [Cyn and Linda would have been teaching Sunday School upstairs during the last half of the service, so would have missed the sermon] he preached a sermon a few Sundays ago where he lent over the pulpit very solemnly and said “Now I have a very serious question to ask you. WHAT am I going to wear at Easter?” and then went on to talk about the Easter Parade etc. Anyway, on Easter Sunday here was Marjorie wearing a new hat of white flowers and we said “How did you dare after Fr. Graham’s sermon and she said “Oh the funny thing is that I didn’t hear that sermon. When he was giving it I was at home sitting up in bed making the hat!” I see that you and A. Muriel sent Caroline Bryan money for a wedding present. Jeannie [Cyn’s cousin] sent me an announcement and I meant to send something, but with Jean being away I left it, and now the wedding is on Sat. Perhaps we’ll send a cable and I can send a small present later. I wonder if Alan and Donna will have a big wedding? I think Marga would enjoy it, but probably not Bill! But it is up to the bride’s parents after all. [More Hazell descendants getting married- Caroline in England, Alan in New York.]
To answer the questions in your letter, Lindy was speaking against Ottawa becoming a Federal District in the Debate, but this was just the part she was given – not necessarily her convictions! Charlie got quite a good mark for his Mohamet paper, but was criticized for being too partial to him! He doesn’t like his history teacher at all and doesn’t get very good marks from her, but one thing he will probably have someone quite different next year. You were asking about Phyl Douglas’s mother – yes she is still alive, and Phyl goes to see her often. She is blind and deaf, poor dear, but still her mind is fine. Every now and then she has another heart attack and they think that this time she will go, but so far she has recovered. The Ganders came and had Easter dinner with us and it was nice to see them all again. I was talking to Lee about her sister Johnny – she is not at the Civic Hospital now but in a hospital where more or less incurables are. There doesn’t seem to be anything else that the Drs. can do for her and they can’t tell Lee what will happen or anything. They get her up in a wheelchair each day now but she still can’t help herself much – she can lift her arms a little and turn her head a bit but that is all. Strangely enough Lee says she will do certain things Lee tells her – such as “Put this on the bed Johnny”, but she can’t get her to nod for yes, or shake for no, or even squeeze her hand if she understands. They got her a small radio and she appears to love to listen to music, but she can’t turn it on or off herself, and Lee says that after 4 in the afternoon there is very little care and very few nurses. It is most heartrending and distressing, and poor Lee has become so careworn this winter. You were asking about Graham Smith – we heard that he and his family had left Ottawa and gone to Hamilton where her family lives. Then at Christmas we got a card from them with that postmark, but no address so I hope that he is doing better there, poor fellow. I must stop now as it is 11 o’clock and I have managed to keep awake all evening, by not sitting down on the sofa! But just before I go I must tell you that on Sat. your grandson is setting out to walk 40 miles – or at least so many of the 40 as he can! I will enclose a cutting to tell you about it and I will let you know how the poor footsore boy feels and how he makes out. Cec is giving him 50¢ a mile and I am giving him 25¢ and Lindy 10¢ and he has a few other sponsors, so I hope he makes out all right.
Hello to Doris and Luenda from us all. How is your dear little white pussy? Our Saki is fine and sweet and fit, but did I tell you that our poor little Noli died? [The hamster.] He got sick apparently and couldn’t run on his wheel and then he just slept and slept until he died one night, poor little fellow. Much love from us all to Auntie Muriel and please thank her for me for her birthday card. Lots of love to you from Lindy, Charlie and Cec and Cyn.
This April letter tells Carol about the activities of the Costain family in the spring of 1968, and so combined with the scrapbook, enables me to cover the summer too. Although just mentioned in passing, Cyn gives an idea of the children’s involvement in activities that would later become part of their adult lives. Linda belonged to the Debating Club- even in a school of 2000, limited appeal led to a membership of about 10 students- (not that she grew into a speech-making politician, but I’m fairly sure any teacher can address a crowd at the drop of a hat), and enjoyed helping with amateur plays. Charlie participated in the Miles for Millions fundraiser each year from this point on, which foreshadowed his adult marathons and biking tours. The whole family was interested in the political change in Canada, and the events of 1968 were world-shaking enough to ensure that the Costain teens would keep an eye on current events for the rest of their lives. The scrapbook shows pictures of the Golden Wedding the Women’s Auxiliary of the church were helping to celebrate- but not a photo of the cake that Cyn decorated for it!- and the announcements of a Hazell wedding and a new Costain cousin, Jeff Moor.
The children both were promoted at the end of June, Charlie to Grade 12 and Linda to her final year of high school, Grade 13. Cyn’s year of working at the Nursery School was over, although she would remain an organizer, and available for substitute teaching if needed. And plans were made for a cottage rental for the month of August, with enough room for teen friends or visiting family.
As I have said earlier, Gloucester High School had a pretty diverse population compared to other schools in the area, with students from both rural and suburban backgrounds, both French and English, with some students going out to work after 2 years, others preparing for jobs in their fields after Grade 12, and more, like Linda and Charlie, aiming for university after Grade 13. It had a reputation as one of the most liberal (permissive) schools in the area- it certainly was one of the newest. A few controversial issues made the Ottawa newspapers in 1967, and were also discussed in the school newspaper, which was one of those issues!
The student leaders came from the academic group- they were there for five years- and were mostly English-speaking — and as the school grew, various initiatives developed in this era of student involvement. In the Centennial year a school newspaper called ‘The Courier’ was started by a student, Henry Makow, who had had an syndicated advice column in one of the Ottawa papers when he was younger- advice by a kid about kids- and who used his experience to produce a weekly professional 4-page newspaper that covered school activities and interests, with news, features, sports, editorials, and ads from local businesses, with bylines of the reporters under the headlines. (This, of course, is why I saved a dozen copies of the paper- either featuring the byline ‘Linda Costain’, or a cut-out gap in the page of an article written by me interesting enough to send to Grannie in one of Cyn’s letters!)
The 60s were a time of youth protests- 1968 was coming- and in the previous school year, students had been suspended for having long hair (boys) or short skirts (girls). The front page of the first newspaper has an article on a Grade 11 Physics class conducting an experiment to see how high above the knee the skirts of the girls in the class were- no doubt ammunition for the headline article which explained about the formation of the Dress Court designed to have the student committee create rules about student dress, and then deal with cases brought before them. (The second issue discusses the first cases brought before the court, of 2 boys whose hair was too long… The third reports that the Dress Committee is possibly unconstitutional, the fourth has an editorial about it- possibly the administration supported this court to get out of having to handle the issue!)
But articles cover things of concern such as alcohol, teen marriage, and glue-sniffing, as well as news about student government, car and bus accidents, fashion, and the possibility of driver education.
The back page was devoted to Sports and the generally sad performances of the school sports teams: Headline, October 8, 1966: ‘Dreary Day, Dreary Game’. To be fair, we were a new school, football certainly wasn’t as important in Canadian high schools as in America, but our basketball and volleyball teams did seem to get beaten regularly in the first term as well, although later in the year wins were recorded. Boys soccer, which hardly seemed to exist in Canada then, was more successful for Gloucester: in spite of having to lend the opposing school 2 valuable players since “Rideau had an inadequate number”, Gloucester shut out the other school 3-0 and were rewarded with pizzas made by the Home Ec. class. However, the sports reporters (who all played various games as well as reporting on them) castigated the rest of the school for lack of participation in intramural noon activities- a thing that must have become more difficult when the student population doubled within the next 2 years, and the lunchtime periods had to be staggered.
As the school year went on, other school activities were lauded in the school newspaper- the hosting of a mobile Blood Donor Clinic, the Debate Tourney in a nearby town, the collection of $1000 worth of non-perishable food for the Christmas hampers, the Winter Carnival week at the end of January (toboggan races at noon Tuesday, biggest snowball competition Thursday, sleigh ride Friday evening, and a Polynesian dance Saturday night, presumably to erase the chilly impression the snowy activities made!) The participation of the school team on the quiz show ‘Reach For the Top’ was covered, and the exciting news reported that the Gloucester Township’s Centennial Project of a swimming pool next to the school would be available for classes the following year. The publication of a Theatre Extra! edition in February when the school’s production of ‘A Man For All Seasons’ was adjudicated for the city drama festival shared both praise and critical comments; and various successful fund-raising events were described through the year – car washes, endurance efforts, and a weekend work day in April, when students could be hired for any task in home and garden- a disgusting porridge pot remains in my mind from when my partner and I were sent to a local home to wash dishes, windows, and floors in a spring-cleaning spree.
The school newspaper editorials addressed concerns of the day- which also popped up in the Ottawa newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Journal- the privileges allowed the Grade 13 students- a lounge to relax in, freedom to leave the school grounds, skip classes, miss school days- and possibly to be extended to Honour Students; 2 editorials written by Henry Makow, the child of immigrant parents, on the effect of war, past and present (and the Vietnam War was on the minds of teens in the 60s, even though male Canadians didn’t have the draft hanging over them)- ‘The World We Inherit’ by ‘The World We Hand On: What Youth Can Do’; which were followed by a guest editorial written by a French Grade 12 student about the discrimination between the English-speaking and French-speaking students, who suggested the students start improving the world they lived in right there in G.H.S. (This prejudice in the school between the English and French students is what I remember most clearly about Gloucester. We had marvellous teachers of French, who exposed us to the music of Quebec and the culture of French literature even though our success at speaking the language was not that great; we had classmates with whom we shared our work and culture (swear words included), but the division was palpable.) At least the issues were raised in the newspaper, if not resolved.
Of course one bit of news in the January 13, 1967 issue of ‘The Courier’ was destined to attract attention: students wanted to buy a subscription to the magazine ‘Playboy’ for the school library. That was quickly picked up by the local papers and discussed at the higher levels of the education system, although the decision on whether to allow it seemed to being left to the school principal- and yeah, I don’t remember what happened…
The regular demands of the school year carried on: classes, homework, written exams three times a year, and the marks that resulted. Linda and Charlie and their friends participated in what interested them, bought ice cream sandwiches in the cafeteria to augment their bag lunches, and did well in classes, being promoted in June to Grades 11 and 12.
But the focus of the Centennial year was Expo 67 in Canada, and for the Costains, their trip to England. It would be an exciting summer, now that the school year was over.
dear grannie, Mummy said half an hour ago that she was going to write to you a letter, but I don’t believe her. (i before e except after c) maybe if she hears this going it will stir up her conscience, but I wouldn’t count on it. I am finished school except for one (english) exam. I am making a yellow summer dress for me, but I am feeling dopy so mummy must tell me what to do. Whoops here she comes! by lc. it is now the next day and I doubt if you will ever get your letter. but go on hoping. lc it is now 2 days later. keep hoping.
Monday, 13th June. [Carol’swriting: Got it on 25th.]
Well, Linda kept you posted on my progress – or non-progress, but at last I have begun your letter! Last week I was very disorganized as Cec went to the Canadian Association of Physicists Meeting at Sherbrooke, Quebec, on Wed. afternoon, and Lindy and Charlie had exams last week and we were all at 6es and 7s! Neither of them had to sit all the exams, they got recommended in most things, but Lindy had to write three and decided to write English too, and see if she could improve her mark, and Charlie was recommended in everything, but had some marks in the 60s so decided to take those exams and see if he could improve them. He got recommended in Math. with a mark of 88 but took the exam to see if he could get his mark up to 90, but he doesn’t think that he made it! Some of the exams were in the morning and some in the afternoon and other days they didn’t have to go at all, so with Cec away we slept late in the mornings and everything was in a muddle. Cec came home on Sat. evening, and this morning I was so unaccustomed to the routine that I slept in until 8:20! Linda and Charlie both have an exam tomorrow morning and then they are finished for the summer and are feeling very sorry for the poor little kids at Fairfield who begin exams today and have another 2 weeks of school. I am so sorry that I have been such a long time in writing. Of course when I am determined to write a long letter, I always seem to put it off until I have a longer time, and it gets later and later. Linda has just come down in her bathing suit – it is a glamorous new 2 piece in navy and white and she looks very cute in it. We are having a roasting day today – well over 80 but quite a nice breeze – and last week after a very hot spell that finished off the lilac and tulips in short order it got so cold and when Cec was away we had to put on the furnace it was so cold and rainy a couple of days. I feel virtuous because I went out and gardened all morning, we are having a very bad year for mosquitoes so I haven’t been doing as much as I should, but this morning I covered myself with mosquito dope and went out and fixed up the small bed at the back just along the side of the garage you know. Do you remember Pat gave me some little plants last year that made quite pretty little green bush-like clumps which turned red in the Fall? It is called coxchia but I don’t know how to spell it! Anyway that whole bed was covered with seedlings so that it looked as if it were growing pale green moss. So this morning I transplanted some to the back of the other bed by the patio and wherever I wanted them and then dug all the rest up. I have planted nasturtium seeds along the front and then lots of my geranium slips and up the back some chrysanthemum plants which I had from a pot of chrysanthemums in the house. I have also planted a clematis plant at the back, with some strings to climb up to the garage roof so I am hoping that when next you come I will have a beautiful clematis vine! I planted all my patience plants out in the front last week and I have planted marigolds in the front bed where I had petunias last year. Cec has put cement curbs all along the sides of the driveway, and he has got some flat square cement paving stones and he has made a path from the front path to the door onto the porch, along in front of the garbage cans! The curbs give it a nice finished appearance, and we laugh, because Marjorie Graham keeps remarking about how nice they are and how she wishes they could get some, and she is still talking about the container for the garbage cans, so Cec says Dick must dread driving past our house! Do you remember Charlie’s rose? Well, it looked very dead this spring and we were sure that it was winter killed, so about two weeks ago we dug it up and of course we then found one tiny shoot on it still alive, so had to plant it hastily once more! We thought that we had probably finished it, but it seems to have done it good and it has quite a few shoots now and it’s looking quite healthy. We bought a Centennial Rose, which by the pictures looked very pretty and it is growing well, and I hope that we will have some lovely Centennial roses. Last time that I wrote was just before we had the second of our two big buffet dinners, on Friday 27th May. It went very well – we had June and George Lindsay among others – I felt very guilty as we hadn’t had them for so long, but George has been down in Kingston this year taking some high-powered course and only home for weekends, so it was hard to organize anything. George was on top of his form and telling funny stories and Linda thought he was very funny. He isn’t as terrified of her now that she is no longer a tiny baby! Anyway, after that was over, I thought oh, goody, a quiet week – I’ll get some sewing done, so on Monday I cut out 2 dresses for Linda – the yellow one she is making for herself, but I began the pale blue one, then on the Tuesday I went to the bank and grocery shopping and all the odds and ends I do when I have the car, and then about 4 o’clock, the children were home from school and I had just put all the food away when the phone rang and a man’s voice said hello and who should it be but Alan Jaeger! [Cyn’s first cousin once removed, son of her New York cousin Margs.] I was completely amazed as I had no idea Alan ever thought of coming up here but it turned out that he had a week’s unexpected holiday and he decided to come to see Canada. I discovered all this and that he was on his own and had settled in a Motel on the Montreal Rd. so I invited him for dinner and told him how to get to our house. I can tell you I scuttled around because we had been going to have hamburger and so I dashed to the store again and got a roast of beef and some strawberries and everything was in control when he arrived at 6:15. He was very nice – Both Cec and I thought that he had improved since we met him at Mill and Ford’s camp that time, but he is so like his Father – I can’t see any of Marguerite in him at all- and as Lindy said afterwards not much sense of ha – ha! He stayed till midnight telling us all about his work – of course Cec knows about computers so they could gab about them, and about his adventures in Quebec where he’d been before he came to Ottawa. Cec invited him to the Lab. next morning and showed him around a bit and then took him over to the City Hall for lunch and then he was going on his way. Next day was Wed. and Marjorie had invited Cec and me to come for dessert and coffee after dinner and to play bridge with Mr. Graham (Rector)! We were one over, but we had an uproarious time as Mr. G. seem to thoroughly enjoy himself and although he plays well he isn’t the dead serious type and we had a lot of fun. Thursday I had suggested to Lindy that she invite some of her school friends to dinner as they live quite a distance away some of them and they never see one another once the holidays begin, so she brought 3 friends home with her on the school bus and I gave them tea and cookies and afterwards dinner on the porch. About 8 o’clock we sat out in the car to take them home and one girl lived on a farm way out in the country so that we weren’t home till after 9:30. We had never been to this little village before and I don’t think that I could ever find it again! On Friday one of the Fellows at the Lab. got married. He is an Englishman called Phil Bunker and he married a Hungarian girl called Eva. She left Hungary after the uprising and went to England where she met Phil and when he came over here on his Fellowship they arranged for her to come and she got a job here and they got engaged. With her parents still in Hungary and his in England they got married in a Registry Office but in the evening some friends of theirs whom he had known in Cambridge gave a Reception Party for them and we were all invited. It was very nice – mostly people from the Lab. but the host was a Dr. Earnshaw who had married an English girl when he was in Cambridge and he had a brother married to another English girl, so Cec and I had a lot of fun talking to them and to the Earnshaw parents. We had champagne and a nice wedding cake and although it was very informal it was very nice. Eva had made her dress – it was a very pretty shade of turquoise lace, short and quite plain and straight with a little overblouse to match, and she had made a little handbag and hat in the same material, and she had a spray of roses pinned to her bag. On the Sat. we had 2 young couples and their babies to dinner! Cec has had this young technician for quite a few months and felt quite badly about not having him and his wife out sooner, so we invited them with Harry and Margaret Kroto whom I have spoken of before – he is one of Cec’s fellows this year. The Kroto’s baby is now about 4 months and the Joffrey’s about 8 months but both of them settled down nicely and slept all the time they were here! So that was the end of my quiet week!
The letters resume! They sound exactly the same: thank you for your latest; sorry for not writing sooner; hope your health is good; and include details of garden, house, cooking, school, church, work, and friends. But the three years have made a difference. The Costains have settled into their home, a bigger house on an acre of land, with a vegetable garden and lower lawn, (sometimes used for badminton), a front lawn with flower beds beside a driveway leading to a garage and, in spring and summer, dive-bombing swallows indignant at the paperboy and various guests approaching the front door and disturbing their nesting on the columns holding the roof up. The covered porch leading to the back door also opens to the back yard with a patio (work in progress) around a big shade tree, and an old, climbable apple tree shading the path to the vegetable garden. The back rises to a wild strip covered with long grass and a few bushes, which makes the area private and great for summer parties. Both children are in high school: it is the era of the swinging sixties, with the British influence strong on popular culture: the Beatles, Twiggy, Carnaby Street, and issues like boys’ long hair and girls’ mini-skirts arising. Cec continues to welcome new Fellows to the Lab, travel to conferences, and tend his garden, Cyn works at church activities, sews and organizes the entertaining, and there are new pets- Nicki died, and now there is a new white kitten named Saki, and a hamster called Noli who lives in a cage but comes out when the children insist. May 1966 was a busy time, with planning for the summer and the next year already in hand. Reminders of names: Dot and Ken Scott were first of all the landlords of the Montreal Road house, then friends- Dot taught the children piano, and then they sold the Costains their present house, which had been built by Dot’s father, Mr. Watt, and built themselves a new house a bit further east. The Rector, Mr. Graham, had had health problems I think, and was taking care. Neighbours and church friends in the area came to dinner with older friends from the Costains’ early days in Ottawa, Margie and Cy, and Jim and Lee. And finally, Jeanie Graham was the daughter of Marjorie and Dick Graham, and Sue Tomlinson the younger sister of Linda’s friend Joanne, both 10 or 11, and of the right size for Linda’s out-grown clothes.
Box 330, R.R.1 Ottawa, Ont.
Dearest Mummy, I am really way behind in writing to you this time! As usual, I have ALL SORTS of excuses which I will now tell you about! First of all though, thank you so much for your letter of 8th of May– at least that was when you began it – I don’t have the postmark on the envelope because Ken came in one day and saw your letter lying on the counter and admired the stamps so much that I gave them to him for a friend of his. He and Dot are back from Florida again and have bought themselves one of those ‘permanent’ trailers in a Trailer Park down there, so next winter they will go down for 6 months and have their trailer all ready waiting for them. Dot is giving Charlie his music lessons again, but I can’t say that he is practising much. Can you believe it, the children finish school at the end of next week? At least after that there are exams and it depends on whether they are recommended by their teachers as to whether they will have to sit the exams or not. Linda just sat one last year, so I don’t suppose that they will have to sit many, and then the whole glorious summer is before them!
Well, the main reason that I didn’t get a letter written to you earlier was that we had our Maytime Fete on 14th and so I was very busy with my last minute projects. I never manage to get things done beforehand. I routed out things for the White Elephant stall, made fudge and coconut ice for the Candy stall, made two little dresses with little headscarfs to match for the handicraft store – they were adorable – one size 3 in white with a pink stripe, and one size 4 pink with a little dot on it. When I went into my Sunday School the next day here were 2 of my little girls all dressed up in them – their mothers had bought them at the Bazaar! I also made 12 triangles for teenagers – you know those headscarfs the girls are all wearing, and I found them marvellous for using up all my odd bits of material, and they were all sold. I had a kind of Specialty Food Stall up in the Balcony and did short demonstrations every hour, and for that I made meringues, petit fours, 4 strawberry pies with whipped cream, 2 strawberry meringue cakes, 2 chocolate cakes and 3 white layer cakes. I decorated them there in the demonstrations and sold them and various jams and jellies etc. as well. The Bazaar did very well on the whole, as we cleared 450 dollars which is more than we had made the last time or two, and it wasn’t such a wild rush as [when] we had it from 11 o’clock till 4 and served both lunches and teas. After that on the Sat. of course I lay back and did nothing all day Sunday, after we’d been to Church. On the Mon. however, Cec had a meeting of men in connection with the Physics Education in the High Schools, and Linda and Charlie made themselves scarce as both their science teachers were there! I made little pizzas and Swiss Apple Pie for them, and then I had the WA here the next night and make Strawberry Mousse for them with their coffee. Then on Friday, I had a Buffet Supper for 12, counting Cec and me. I found that with not doing any entertaining at the beginning of the year when we were waiting for our carpet, we were way behind, so I am having another big supper this week and maybe an outdoor party for the Lab. in June, and then we will have done our duty! Last week we had a couple, Bernice and Ken Leigh–Smith he is a Navy friend of Cec’s who has recently come to live in Ottawa, and Marjorie and Dick Graham, Margie and Cy (only he was sick and couldn’t come) Jim and Lee and a young couple from the Lab who were up at the cottage last year you may remember, Chris and Fokker Kreuzberg. We had Shrimp Baguettes and Ham Rolls with our drinks, then I had a cold decorated Salmon Mayonnaise, Chicken Breasts Gourmet, Rice with peas and pimento, sliced cucumbers in sour cream, a jellied Sunshine Salad and hot French bread, and then a Chocolate Soufflé and a Savarin au Rhum for dessert. It all went very nicely, despite the fact that it was a pouring wet night and the birds had built a nest in the fan from the kitchen so the whole house smelt of garlic! This was our long weekend holiday, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and after the coldest wettest most miserable weather for weeks, it was simply gorgeous with temps. up to 80 and everything bursting wildly into bud. Cec was gardening of course, and got his vegetable seeds in and we had our first asparagus from the garden. The children had a good time too and had the hammock out and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Yesterday afternoon Cec took some asparagus over to Mr. Graham, and said that if he found his garden noisy to come over and sit on our porch, so he did, and we gave him orange juice (not many calories ) and he lay back and seemed to enjoy it. He was going to his sister’s for dinner, so left about 4:30 and then after we had dinner we waited till it was dark and had our fireworks. Ours were a very modest assortment as Cec said that he thought L and C were too old for fireworks now, but I didn’t, anyway we would miss them! Of course, Dr. Legault [the dentist across the road] had a tremendous display with every sort of large expensive firework going, and they went on for hours, so we had them and the Dupuy’s [next door] displays to watch as well as ours! The youngest members of our family are doing nicely – Saki is still as sweet and loving as ever, and she is now enjoying going out in the garden – for long enough it was so cold that we didn’t take her out. She is so funny – like Nicki she likes to go out with the children, and if she gets left in the house she cries. It isn’t a miaow yet, it is a little squeaky cry, very pathetic, and Cec says when we all set off for church she begins to cry until he calls her and then she tears over to him when he calls her and purrs and licks him because she is so pleased she isn’t left alone. Noli is getting big and fat and Linda took him to Sunday School last Sunday to show him to her children, and incidentally to mine too. I must say that he is very patient and puts up with Linda shoving him in her blouse and down her bed etc. and very rarely nips her – once in a while he will make a little pool on her, much to her annoyance! I don’t know what you made you think that we bought our kitten – the Ad. in the paper we answered said “Free kittens to good homes” and although I offered the lady with the 17 cats some money for Saki she wouldn’t take it. She is just a plain ordinary white kitty, I don’t know what kind. I must stop now as I have cut out a dress for Linda and feel that I must get it made quickly or school will be over and she will be wearing nothing but shorts and jeans all summer. It is a pretty pale blue linen type material, and I have got her a yellow print which she is going to make into a shift for herself. As usual, hardly anything which she had last year will go near her – in fact I don’t think that any of her dresses fit her – we had a great time passing them on to Sue Tomlinson and Jeannie Graham, but fortunately she didn’t have very many! I have bought her one grey and white striped cotton and she has a couple of summer skirts and blouses and that is it. Charlie too couldn’t wear any of his last year shorts etc. so he has been outfitted too – even I have been buying some clothes although I haven’t grown out of mine, but my excuse is that I am getting them all ready for our trip to England next year! I have bought a reversible raincoat and a nice crease resistant summer dress in shades of blue. Cec laughs at my logic that I am saving money by getting the clothes now! I was out planting marigolds this morning as the forecast was for showers later today, although it is 80 and very hot. The leaves have come out in a rush, but the apple blossom isn’t out yet. I have been snuffling with hay fever all weekend, and have had to resort to my pills so daren’t sit down anywhere for long or I fall asleep! It is not bad when I take them so I hope that the worst is over. Much love from us all, and love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Doris and Luenda. Take care of yourself, lots of love, Cyn.
When school started in September, Linda and Charlie were once more on the same schedule, both catching the bus for high school. Charlie had an additional bit of pressure from his piano lessons, because he was planning on sitting a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the winter.
At the N.R.C. Cec was happy to welcome the Dr. and Mrs. Morino from Japan who had both come to spend a year in the Lab. They were very kind to the children and shared aspects of their culture with us. Cyn kept the charming ‘Thank You’ notes they sent after social events, and pasted the kanji that I assume were their names into the scrapbook. Dear Dr. & Mrs. Costain, Just a short note to thank you for giving us such a nice party. Everything about it was wonderful. Sincerely, Yonezo & Yoshi.
Linda had an Origami book with papers included but had not been able to figure out the tenth piece, the iconic Japanese crane. I remember sitting on a lab stool being coached by Mrs Morino- “now the outside becomes the inside”- as she showed me finally how to achieve the 3D effect that had eluded me. It remained with me, as I whiled away the tedium of Grade 13 Biology 4 years later by folding cranes and penguins and stars under the lab bench.
Also of note to the N.R.C. was when Dr. Steacie, the President of the N.R.C. from 1952 until his death in 1962 who had introduced the Postdoctorate Fellowship program, was honoured by Carleton University that fall when their new Chemistry building was named after him. The Herzbergs and N.R.C. staff were happy with this recognition.
The entries for ‘Presents Sent’ and ‘Received’ and ‘Cards Sent’ for 1965 in Cyn’s ancient Agenda Book are the last lists. The records of Christmas from 1932 to 1965 filled a years’ worth of pages, and the actual 1965 gifts give a picture of the time- Cec got a Harry Belafonte record and fondue forks from the family, Cyn a projector for those slides, and both children got English Annuals from their Grannie this time- which they enjoyed, but now are very much of that time- not PC at all, in fact, offensive in many ways. Linda got more books, of course, including the next hardback in the Little House series she was collecting, and Charlie a Gloucester High School sweater. And with the Christmas cards received, the Costains got the usual adorable photos of their friends’ growing families.
The Moors- now with both older cousins married, reduced to Auntie Merle, Uncle Dix, and Bruce- came up from Brantford for the occasion, and probably Lorne, Liz, and Debbie were also in Ottawa, staying with Liz’s family in Rockcliffe. John and Sharon out west had another reason for staying at home besides Christmas being a clergyman’s busy season- they were expecting their first child in February. There was a lot of planning going on for 1966 that Christmas- the summer would bring celebrations for Granny and Grandpa Costain’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, and the whole family would try to get all four generations together in Ottawa!
The fall of 1964 was fun for Linda- she enjoyed high school: the increased independence, the variety of interesting classes and teachers, the library and cafeteria, and new friends- although the number of students took a while to get used to. Her marks remained good although she attempted without much success to follow her mother’s profession by taking Home Economics as an elective- making a blue flannel shift to wear in Sewing, and producing a sad liquid soup that should have been a chocolate pudding in Foods, which seemed to be more about the costing of the dishes than actually making them. She found learning Latin was more interesting.
In Grade 8, Charlie was once more in the Speech Contest, with his account of the eclipse that the family had witnessed the year before, and this time he was runner-up to the winner. The Eclipse Charles Costain In ancient times, people were terrified when the sun was gradually blotted out and day turned into night. We know now that it is just an eclipse but people used to be frightened when this happened, because they thought that the world was coming to an end. Nowadays instead of being terrified, people are fascinated to watch such an interesting event. We are not taken by surprise because scientists can tell just where and when it is going to happen. The last total eclipse predicted was on July 20, 1963. We were driving back from Quebec City and went off the main road to a farmhouse, and asked the farmer if we could set up our telescope. He said that we could, and we were soon ready for it. In a while, we could see a small black bite out of the sun, and it began getting a bit darker. Slowly the sun was covered and I realized that the birds had all gone back to their nests, and there was a hush that made me shiver. The eclipse was nearly total when suddenly a cloud drifted over the sun, and no matter how hard we looked, we could not see the total eclipse. The farmer and his wife who were inside watching television probably got a better view than we did because there were no clouds at Grandmère where the television cameras were but at least we made an effort to see the real thing. We soon were packing the telescope and getting ready to leave content, but rather disappointed at not seeing it all. The speech went on to a more scientific discussion, and ended with the news of Prime Minister Pearson’s funding of a second telescope to be built in British Columbia in honour of the Queen’s visit, to be the second largest in the world. Since this was where our uncle, Carman Costain, worked, I’m sure it was good news in Penticton.
In December, the Christmas routine began again, with the card list now about 150 strong because of Cec’s travels and scientific contacts, and Cyn’s scrapbook reflects this, with cards from all over- India, Spain, Poland, as well as England. Of course news from friends came too, and a card from the Sutherlands- Dr Sutherland had been knighted in 1960, and this year, 1964, had become the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge- included Kerstin’s wedding announcement with the news that they would be moving to San Diego. (Cyn and Cec realized the days when they babysat the Sutherland girls in Ann Arbor were long ago.) The parcels to friends and relatives were sent off but this year, there is no mention of J.M.G.E. in the list, so Cyn’s father must have died in Newcastle earlier in 1964.
Charlie’s 12th birthday was followed by Christmas, with Auntie Dottie sending the English Annuals we loved, Linda getting clothes and books, Charlie a tabletop hockey game, the cat giving us vinyl, and the adults getting more practical things. The Costains looked forward to 1965 with anticipation.