December 6 1961

Back in May [May 17 1961] Cyn, in a long letter to her mother, referred to her Will and her shares, since they had been discussing which Bank should act as Carol’s executor. The last letter [November 23 1961] was Cec’s long-delayed information about her finances. (This letter from Carol Ewing- ‘Dearest Mummy’ to Cyn, Mum to Cec, Grannie to me and Charlie- only exists because she sent it on an Air Form with a map of St. Vincent that I later used for a school project, which Cyn kept in the scrapbook.) Carol’s answer to Cec about the investments he made for her gives a sample of the typing which Cyn is always encouraging her to do, as well as an idea of her personality, brief though it is.

Noyack
Murray Rd.
St. Vincent.

Dec: 6th 61.

Dear Cec,
Thanks for your note, I am just recovering from shock!! but this is to send you good wishes from St.V: as you will see by inside I thought it would interest you and amuse you too. It is a scheme to raise funds for our Red Cross, I think it was Mrs. Giles’ idea, but whether she did the drawing I do not know, the only fault I have to find about it is that they have not shown all the mountains in the centre of the island, but the products are very good aren’t they?
Thanks so much for getting the Bonds for me, if I had remembered sooner I w’d have told you to leave them over for the present, however it’s done, and I’ll have to come and pick them up in 1970! ha ha!!
When I wrote my will they asked me for a list of my investments, so I wrote to Martin’s and got them, then I added the number of the bonds, they wanted to know the name of my Canadian Bank, I told them Toronto G-T-Corp: he then said he would have to contact them about the Bonds, but I told him they were not at my Bank that you had them. So probably they will contact you, such a fuss!! Anyway, beware!!
I am so thankful to know Cyn is improving slowly but surly I hope, you must have had a bad time of it, if only I had been there this year instead of last, I w’d have been there to help, too sad & bad. I am glad you like the new car and I hope it goes on well, & the debt will soon get cleared.
Sorry this is written so badly but I have a man painting the wires at my windows, and he is making such a mess of the glass, that I am swearing and having to stop every minute to tell him off, and I am full of splashes too!!
Very much love to you all and “have a happy”
Yours Mum.

1958 Climbing the Volcano

La Soufrière, St. Vincent’s volcano, erupted April 9th 2021 as it had twice in my grandmother’s lifetime, and now twice in mine. The island suffered a devastating physical, psychological, and economic blow, because of the evacuations, the air quality, the volcanic destruction, and the blow to whatever remained of the tourist trade during the pandemic. But St. Vincent is resilient. Five years after the devastating eruption in 1902, the volcano was deemed inactive and life went on. By the 1950s, locals knew it as a green mountain with a lake in the middle, although they were aware of the tragic past. Cyn explains her interest in the volcano, and regarded the climb as the pinnacle (!) of her holiday in her birthplace. We hope for healing for all St.Vincentians and hope this glimpse of the past isn’t upsetting.

We Climbed the Volcano
by
Cynthia Costain

When I was young I remember boasting proudly to my friends “My mother has been through a hurricane, a volcanic eruption and an earthquake.” I don’t recall whether they were greatly impressed as none of these phenomena were familiar to schoolgirls in the north of England, but my mother’s recollections of these events were vivid and thrilling to me. I loved to hear of her running out of the house with the earth shaking under her feet, and of the crowds in the dark hurricane cellar of my grandfather’s big house listening to the crash as the wind blew in the shutters and windows above, but most of all I liked the story of the eruption of the Soufrière with the darkness coming over the sun and the dust sifting down over everything.
Perhaps this was why when I visited St. Vincent with my husband and family last year, I was determined to climb the volcano. I had never been back to the island after leaving it at four years of age, but I had heard so many tales that it all seemed quite familiar. I knew that it was possible to climb the volcano and I had even heard of people who swam in the lake which had formed in the crater. However, it was very pleasant lazing and swimming and enjoying the lovely island, and whenever I mentioned the Soufrière no one was very enthusiastic. My mother was frankly scornful of my chances of reaching the top, as my exercise is usually limited to a stroll to the local store or getting in and out of the car. When my uncle began to talk of getting horses for the initial stages of the climb I was quite horrified as I had never been on a horse in my life. Fortunately, also vacationing in the island was a cousin of mine, Jack, and his wife, Joan and Jack having grown up on the island had climbed the volcano many times and volunteered to take my husband and me with himself and Joan.
We made all our plans for an early start, and chose the day with due consideration for the banana boat. This is very necessary in island life, as the days the boats are in the harbour all private cars stay off the roads while the banana trucks pour in from the estates in a reckless stream. The boats are only in for a limited time and the more loads of bananas that can be brought in, the more money for everyone. As Mr. Harry Belafonte says “Come Mr. Tallyman, tally me bananas” while along the winding, twisting, mountainous roads the trucks run a bi-weekly Grand Prix with their carefully packed green cargoes.
On the morning of our expedition we got up at 4 o’clock to drive to the other end of the island and make our ascent while it was still cool. Jack and Joan arrived from the adjoining small island where they were staying, and we set off in a canvas topped jeep, leaving my mother to look after the children. The drive in the early morning was beautiful, and we saw the sunrise over the Caribbean and make the water sparkle and gleam. Already the little villages along the way were stirring, and women were walking along the road towards town and the market with their vegetables and other produce on their heads. They bowed gravely to us, without upsetting the balance of their loads, and continued quietly along, while we followed the narrow road up the windward coast of the island. Being volcanic, the island is extremely mountainous and there are only three main roads, one which goes up the windward coast, one up the leeward coast, and a shorter one partly up a central valley – all these beginning at the main town of Kingstown, and none of them meeting. The coastline is very sharply indented, and in places the hills come down to the sea, so the roads turn and bend, climb and dip, follow ledges along the hillside and all along the way give one the most spectacular views of sugar-cane, coconut palms, arrowroot, sea- island cotton, nutmeg and mango trees all growing in small precipitous, terraced fields. After driving about an hour and a half we passed through a slightly larger village, Georgetown, and came to the Dry River. This is a ‘river’ composed entirely of rocks, stones and lava which has poured down from the volcano at various times. During the rainy season there is some water in it, but we were able to drive across with only a few bumps, and we came to the beginning of the biggest coconut estate in the island. The trees grow in the soft gray lava dust, which seems to deaden all sounds, and makes this whole part seem rather sinister and eerie. The dust sifts through the air continually, and as we drove through the rows and rows of palms along the dusty track, with no signs of people or houses, it felt as if we were far away from the rest of the world. As we drove we climbed higher, and I was relieved to hear that the jeep would take us up to the foothills and we would not have horses, as they could not take us much further.
At last we came to a high field, where the track became a path along a stony ridge, so we left the jeep and set out. Almost immediately the path became very steep, as we climbed on up into the range of hills, and then we crossed a narrow ridge, just wide enough for one person to walk, and below on either side we could look down on sugar-cane growing on slopes so steep that the men would not need to bend to cut the cane but would find the roots at the level of their shoulders.
I had always imagined the Soufrière as being like volcanos I had seen in pictures – Parícutin and Vesuvius – but to my surprise it was quite different. It is one of many mountains, and unless you are far away on the Leeward side of the island, it is very hard to see. The morning we set out to climb it, the whole range was covered with thick cloud, and as we climbed we were surrounded with mist, and began to think of all the pessimists who had warned us of the many people who climb the Soufriere and don’t see anything because of the cloud. All the early part of the climb was up the foothills, gradually working our way towards the main mountain itself and after about an hour we came to a river bed which marked the beginning of the real climb. The river was dry now, as the island was having a very dry season, but Jack told us tales of coming down the mountain and picnicking and swimming after the long hot climb.
After a short rest, we set off again, along a small path, always mounting between walls of tropical trees and creepers. The vegetation was luxuriant, with lovely begonias growing waist high and flowered vines trailing from the trees. On the way down Joan found an orchid, which she dug up and carefully took home for my Aunt’s garden, as it was quite a rare variety. I also found some beautiful little flowers and took them home too, but my aunt kindly told me that they were a common weed which no gardener would allow in his garden.
I have been writing calmly and cooly about the vegetation along the way, but believe me, there was nothing cool or calm about me at the time. Never in all my life had I been so hot. The air was humid and still, with the clinging mist all around and over us. A mixture of sweat and vapour drops continually dripped from every lank strand of hair, and I had long ago given up mopping my face. My husband and Jack were just the same, but Joan, born and raised in Trinidad, wandered happily along with no obvious discomfort, and looked as if the temperature was as pleasant as one could wish. I was quite pleased with my progress though, and found after the first 20 minutes, during which I thought I would either die quietly by the path or have apoplexy, that I could keep up with the others with very little trouble, and although I was always glad for the few minutes rest we took every now and then, I didn’t have to call a halt at any time. The climb is actually not hard, and anyone normally active can climb it if they persevere.
As we got higher the trees, which had been tall and completely hiding all the light so that we were climbing through a green dim tunnel, gradually became shorter, and slowly we found that all the vegetation was getting less and less tropical and becoming more of the hardy brush type. Even this, as we got higher, thinned out, so that there were only low shrubs growing knee-high along the path. As we got out onto the shale and cinders it was more troublesome, as one tended to slide back at every step, but it was never dangerous. We were thankful to have Jack as guide because the path which was at first clearly marked, gradually grew fainter, and in places disappeared. Even Jack found it difficult to trace at times, particularly as it was 25 years since he had last climbed the volcano, and during that time, he found the whole appearance of parts of the mountain had changed as the vegetation had grown. The volcano last erupted in 1902 and even in the 1930s when Jack was last climbing it, the whole area was arid with very few signs of growth, but by now this has completely changed on the lower slopes, and even halfway up there is a low shrub like growth.
We climbed on slowly through these low bushes, but still because of the cloud we could not see the summit, and it was not until we came to the dry cinders and sliding gritty dust that we knew we were beginning to get close to the top. The ground in places was deeply eroded, with great fissures, and the ascent was very steep. The cinders were of a dark red colour in places with a kind of lichen growing on the rocks, so that the whole visible landscape was dreary and depressing with the shreds of clouds drifting by, a very slight acrid sulphur smell in the air, and a dank chill wind blowing through our damp clothes. Suddenly walking along a ledge of cinders we topped a rise, and in front of us was no more path to climb but deep down below us – the crater! We had reached the top.

It was an incredible sight to stand in that burnt up wasteland, and look down – down into that still green lake with low bushes growing around with everything so quiet and peaceful and try to imagine what it had been like to cause the destruction around. The crater is a mile across and the lake 1500 feet down, the water in the lake having gradually seeped in during the years. There is a path down inside the crater on the opposite side, but the slope is very sheer, and when one gets down the water is said to be very cold.
As we could still see little because of the mist, we decided to rest and have our second breakfast, with the hope that the sun would break through, and we huddled down behind some rocks, thankful for the sweaters which had seem so superfluous earlier. By this time it was after 10 o’clock and we had been climbing since seven, so the hard boiled eggs and rum punch had an added flavour at that altitude. Just as we finished it began to get brighter and as we dashed quickly to try to take some pictures, the sun broke through the clouds and in a few minutes the whole landscape was clear and we were standing in brilliant tropical sunshine.

The Otways with Cyn.

It was a beautiful sight with the crater below us, and all around the mountains and valleys of the island with far on either side the glorious blue sea. The Soufrière is only 4100 feet high, but because it rises so steeply from the sea coast the elevation seems more, and the view of the surrounding country is spectacular. Beyond the crater on the far side is the ‘old crater’, which is even higher still, but it is difficult to reach, and during the last eruption it was entirely filled in with the debris from the first immense explosion. This eruption in 1902 was unusual in that the volcano literally ‘blew its top’, and the whole top was hurled off in a terrific explosion of rocks and cinders. It was accompanied by the deadly gas, which crept for miles around, and was the cause of the high number of deaths. The Soufrière is in a sparsely populated part of the island, but standing there I could see down to the small coves and bays on the leeward coast, and it was in one of these that the entire population of a small Carib village was wiped out, killing nearly all the last remaining Caribs in the island. Over on the windward side we could just see some of the estates, and it was on one of these that my grandfather’s friend, Mr. Fraser and his wife, were found sitting quietly on the verandah when rescuers came from Kingstown, killed by the gas from the volcano.


We wanted to get down the mountain before the sun became too hot, so at 11 o’clock we began the downward trek which seem to go so much more quickly than the upward climb. We were back to the jeep by 1 o’clock, finding a patient donkey beside it being loaded with sugar cane from the fields nearby. His master gave us each a piece of cane which I had always imagined quite soft and succulent, but I could not find much refreshment in the hard pithy dryness. We drove back through the coconut groves, and hot, damp and dirty as we were, we became even dirtier as the lava dust blew through the open jeep and settled blackly into every crease. The owner of the estate and his wife had very kindly invited us to have lunch at their estate house, although they were away, and we were very glad of this before setting out on our drive home. After an excited welcome by 13 dogs headed by 2 enormous Great Danes we were ushered into beautiful modern bathrooms with showers, and afterwards on the tiled verandah had the most delicious meal.
It was a tired, but satisfied, and – yes – rather smug group which returned home that afternoon, and proudly told our children and friends ‘Well, we did climb the volcano!’
For those of you who are interested in exotic and out-of-the-way places, and would like to visit St. Vincent, it is one of the Windward Islands in the West Indies. It can be reached by air from either Barbados or Trinidad – when we went there was no airfield on the island as the island is so mountainous, so we flew in an amphibian ‘Goose’ which lands on the sea. The Goose only takes 6 passengers, so the island never had many visitors, but since then an airfield has been made on one of the level valleys, and a regular air service is being started with a larger plane which will carry 25 passengers. There is a good hotel in Kingstown, and two delightful guest houses or inns in the country near the sea and the airport. The people are courteous and friendly, the prices are low and all authorities agree that St. Vincent is one of the loveliest islands in the Caribbean.

And a final note from Linda in the 21st century. I am so grateful to my brother for having unearthed the slides my father took of our holiday. Of course I remembered that they took slides in our childhood- and showed them boringly in the dark- but I had forgotten the mechanics of it. Obviously for the St. Vincent visit, they started off with a black-and-white film in the camera, and then switched to a film for slides. That is why the scrapbook has clear pictures without colour, but the slides were used for their adventure and the colour, though perhaps faded a bit, is better preserved than colour snaps are. However moments immortalized in slides tended to disappear into the dark that one needed to see them by. Anyone can look at photos again and again, although sticking them in an album does make it easier. Slides needed a projector, a screen, an audience, preparation- and Cec loved technology and so enjoyed this- but how much better is it now, when phones give us instant access and gorgeous colour? (And witness testimony when operated by an intelligent woman?)

My brother remembers different things about our trip, of course, including the fact that we had not been warned of our parents’ defection and were baffled by their disappearance when we got up that morning. We were placated by new toys: a plastic sink with a pump that pumped real water into the sink- Charlie liked technology too- and Linda got red plastic beads that popped together to make crowns, necklaces, or bracelets.
Cyn’s speech is a period piece, showing an agricultural St. Vincent so soon to be changed by the economic forces of the second half of the 20th century, the tourist trade, and the political drive for independence in colonial states around the world. It was her birthplace too, and she and Cec loved visiting it and my grandmother, once we were off their hands. She wrote a sadder piece in her old age, about the changes she had noticed over the years, which I will publish once the letters are finished. Meanwhile, back to 1958…

In the Botanical Gardens?

1958 Trip to St. Vincent

In the spring of 1957 Cyn had told her mother about their finances and a plan they had for saving- but by Christmas, Cyn and Cec decided obviously decided to spurge and to fulfill a long-time promise to her mother Carol by visiting St Vincent for 7 weeks over Easter! I am so sad I have no letters that explain their decision, but some of it must have been based on the children’s schooling and age. I also miss details about the preparation, because I have memories of the clothes my mother made for me for Easter! But there is a copy of a speech my mother must have made to a women’s group after their trip- a thing she was good at after her experiences with American clubs during her exchange year teaching after the war- so I will be able to post Cyn’s St. Vincent experience.

Travelling with children involves a lot of preparation. After the explanations about visiting Grannie in St. Vincent where it would be warm- snowsuit weather in Ottawa of course- Charlie and I asked our teachers for school work for March. I distinctly remember us driving across Ottawa to buy my school books! By the time we got through the traffic home, Linda in the back seat had finally been able to read to the end of her ‘Dick and Jane’ reader- a thing we were not allowed to do in class! (There wasn’t much plot development.) My mother took the other reader and saved it for the actual trip…


Charlie’s teacher answered with a note to Cyn explaining that when Charlie came back, she would have moved and there would be a new teacher, which might be upsetting. As it turned out, however, his second Kindergarten teacher was a lovely woman, Mrs. Verna Steele, who lived in our neighbourhood and was always fond of Charlie.
The New York cousins, who had visited Moo and Carol for a winter holiday in previous years, sent Bon Voyage cards; the itinerary had to be arranged so that as many West Indian Hazells as possible could be visited, the tickets bought, hotels booked, and cat boarded.

What do I remember of the trip? Charlie and I were flying in airplanes for the first time, and we landed in Trinidad for a few days first, staying at the hotel owned by a Hazell cousin, but the only thing I remember is the final leg to St. Vincent in a Grummond Goose which landed on the sea with a splash that sparkled through the windows of the little plane as it motored up to the landing ramp!

The Goose!
Linda helping with the wash.

We stayed with Grannie and Auntie Moo in their house in Kingstown and then in a rented bungalow out by the sea, close to where the seaplane landed so we could watch it. As children do, we accepted their servants Doris and Luenda, Hilda and Amelia, but now can’t think they had 4, so maybe one pair worked in the bungalow. Mr. Cox drove us around, and local relatives connected with Cyn, some of whom she hadn’t seen since before the war. We visited, Cyn met their spouses and showed off her husband and children.

Cyn, Grannie and cousins!

When we napped or went to bed in the evening, white mosquito netting was draped over the bed and tucked in, so that we had to be extracted on waking, and sometimes a little lizard would be sitting on the netting a foot above my eyes when I woke up. (They were very fast though, so I never got to pet one.) There were beautiful flowers in Grannie’s garden, and chickens running around, and one day I decided I wanted to see the cook make dinner- from the beheading of the chicken to the final product. Apparently I did witness the execution and then, having put two and two together, was not willing to eat her, but what my brother remembers is that the chicken was tough and didn’t taste nice!

Cyn went shopping!

Out at Villa the fresh fish was wonderful and appreciated by the whole family, and we loved the tiny bananas. The coconuts were an entertainment although I didn’t like eating them- a man climbed up the tree with his cutlass and knocked them down to the ground, then cut them open expertly so we could drink the coconut water and scoop out the soft jelly-like coconut. The sea was warm and I loved swimming- although there was a feeling of betrayal at my only swimming lesson when my father took his hands away from supporting my tummy and I sank instead of floating, coming up with burning eyes, tears and salty coughing- and Charlie became more used to the water and no longer played by himself in the sand while others paddled.

One beach we visited had black sand from the lava which looked wonderfully muddy when plastered on, and I remember intriguing rock pools with tiny fish and plants trapped in them by the receding tide. One day our parents got up very early in the morning and went to climb the volcano, La Soufrière, with Hazell cousins, and once we went out in a glass-bottomed boat so we could see the coral and the fish our father had been telling us about when snorkelling. We collected tiny shells and I acquired three dolls for my collection- Hilda and Amelia in brightly coloured prints, head-ties, and earrings, and Mr. Cox with overalls and his cutlass in hand.


Easter was a festival in St. Vincent. Of course all the ladies, Black and white, wore beautiful hats (and still did in the 90s), and I had new Best Clothes for the occasion. My mother had made me a white dress with frills for sleeves out of a stiffish material, and it had a turquoise pinafore of the same kind of material over it, that could be a sundress on its own. I had a choice of two hats- crescent moon-shaped hat forms covered to match my dress- one white, one turquoise. And no one took a picture! Cyn’s work was appreciated at the time, but not immortalized- we ate the beautifully decorated cakes, wore and then outgrew the clothes- without her art being recorded- such a pity, I now feel.
We ended our visit in St. Vincent and said good-bye, knowing that Grannie would come and stay with us in a few years, and took the Goose to Barbados where we stayed before climbing on a Trans Canada plane home, arriving back to a chilly Ottawa spring. There were apparently no repercussions from missing so much school, and ordinary life resumed.

Not very much to declare. Suspect that Cec’s had rum.

June 4 1956

This is the third letter from Carol’s friend, who has lent her beach-side cottage to Carol so she can take her visiting sister for a local holiday to Villa which they knew from childhood, while Mrs Edmunds helps Lewis seek treatment in Toronto.

4/6/56 [but postmarked June 7th.]

My dear Carol,
Many thanks for your second letter of the 30th received the day before yesterday. It was so nice to hear you say how settled you feel already in Villa & that you & Trix are going to be happy there – it’s lovely for you having Fred’s car which will solve all the transport problems for you won’t it?
Thank you for being so kind to my Prince, & I’m sure he’ll be much happier now that you are there to fuss him – pussy too. At the moment Lewis plans on returning the first week in July – I’m sorry to say he’s not as well as he was on arrival & is somewhat depressed about himself – of course Carol quite between ourselves I don’t think there is anything the Doctors can do for him now – Glynn told me that a long time ago but saw how keen Lewis was on this trip to Canada & how much faith he had in this blood specialist here & hoped for a miracle, so said the best thing to do was to let him come. The Dr told me the same thing the last time I saw him & said he would give Lewis some treatment for the weakness of his legs, (which is getting worse!) but we didn’t tell Lewis this naturally, & I don’t want him to lose hope. I shall be very thankful to get Lewis safely home again – the responsibility weighs somewhat heavily at times, especially with the bad news of Glynn. After being without news since I left Villa I had a letter yesterday written from Hospital where he had had an internal operation 2 days ago! Another letter this morning saying he was still in Hospital & in pain but was hoping to be out in a few days time. I knew he was far from well when he went home & I only hope he will soon recover now & return to his old self.
I do hope you are making use of the radio and the piano? It’s sweet of you to bother to weed Carol, but please don’t work too hard – you’re supposed to be on holiday you know. You don’t mention your little dog so I presume you left her behind – what a pity – Prince would love to have her I know.
We’ve had all the seasons since we arrived here, weather unknown in Toronto for hundreds of years! June 1 & 2nd were bitterly cold, then some miserable wet days & now today we’re back to Summer again – I hope it stays now.
I’m still hoping to see Niagara Falls but I am dubious about taking Lewis – yet it would be too disappointing to miss seeing one of the world’s wonders.
With very kindest regards from Lewis to you both & with my love,
Affectionately,
Dorée.

And here the story ends. If Cyn mentions Dorée Edmunds or Lewis in any future letters, we may find out some more details about their health- or Prince- but without Carol’s letters there is no closure. The only hint we get in Cyn’s summer letters is an offhand comment about the cook leaving- apparently Dorée’s ‘staff’ will be one short on her return!

June 2 1956

This is the second of three letters written to Carol (Dearest Mummy) in St. Vincent by a friend who is in Canada for medical appointments, and has lent her beach-side house to Carol so she and her sister can leave Kingstown and enjoy a local holiday.

June 2nd 1956

My dear Carol,
I was simply delighted to get your letter yesterday afternoon and to know that you and Trixie were going out to Villa on Monday. It was sweet of you to be so concerned about Prince on my behalf as I am so glad to hear that he was all right. It’s only natural he would be fretting but I know he will be so much happier when he has your company & affection- he loves a fuss!
You will have had my letter from Barbados long ago & will no doubt have already heard of our safe arrival here? Our flight was smooth all the way with lovely weather, but very tiring & we were both glad to reach journeys end. Lewis stood the trip very well on the whole but is quite certain that he could never have attempted it alone, or be able to go about Toronto on his own, & I am thankful I was able to accompany him.
The Medical matters are progressing well- the eye specialist advises quite definitely against an operation which relieves my mind greatly & re-assures Lewis that there is nothing more to be done but to accept the verdict, & to make the best of things as they are.
The Dr. is giving Lewis a course of treatment for the weakness in his limbs which will take about 4 weeks.
I’ve had a sinus x-ray & I am now awaiting the results – will let you know.
The weather was cold on arrival, warmed up for a day or two & then yesterday the 1st of June was a freezing day! It’s somewhat better this morning so I hope summer is on the way at last!
Toronto is a lovely city & the shops full of temptation – the prices are very high as you know so it’s no use wanting too many things!
We were so glad to know that your brother is now out of the hospital & do so hope that his recovery will soon be complete – it’s been worrying time for you all. Yes, we knew about poor Mrs. Hetherington & I’m so sorry for her & the Doctor – it’s going to be a long time before she’s well again I fear & she’ll need all her courage & patience to sustain her – & there’s so little one can do to help.
Well dear I am thinking so much about you & hoping that all is going well & that you are quite happy & comfortable at Villa & that you found all in order. Please don’t hesitate to ask me about anything that may not be as you wish it to be.
With my love to you & my kindest regards to your sister & a huge hug for my Prince please.
Affectionately yours,
Dorée.

May 23 1956

This letter to Carol is from her friend Dorée Edmunds, who is lending her St. Vincent cottage on the beach to Carol and her sister so they can get out of town and have a relaxing time, swim, and dog-sit!

The Crane Hotel
Barbados

23.5.56.

My dear Carol,
I was so sorry we didn’t meet again before I left & I tried to phone you on Sunday but just couldn’t get through.
Well, here we are on the first stage of our journey & so far, so good. The Hotel is most comfortable & the food is excellent.
I simply hated leaving Prince on Monday & have been wondering so much how he is getting on. Oscar promised to sleep in the house which I hope he did, & both he & Christine promised faithfully to give Prince as much attention & petting as possible. I shall be so glad when you reach the house & I know Prince will be delighted to see you. Do please write soon to
The Windsor Arms Hotel
Thomas Street, off Bloor Street
Toronto. Canada.
and give me just all the news!
I’m thinking so much about you & hoping you will spend a happy time at Villa & have no regrets. I do hope your little doggie will be with you too – I’m sure Prince will welcome her & be sweet to her. I tried to remember everything before I left, but if there is anything I failed to do or tell you please don’t hesitate to ask me will you? Don’t forget to use the tomatoes grapes & cabbages, also paw-paws, & the carrots need thinning out too, and do cut the flowers won’t you?
How sad for Mrs. Hetherington – I do hope she will get on as well as possible & not get too despondent, but it’s a long weary business, & there’s so little anyone can do to help.
Lewis is looking fairly well & I hope will not find the long flight too trying tomorrow, the plane leaves at 10 a.m. I shall be so thankful when we reach our destination – I’ll write you again from Toronto.
With my love to you & kindest regards to Mrs. Otway [Auntie Trix] & I do hope you both enjoy Villa. A big hug for Prince for me please & regards to the staff.
Yours affectionately
Dorée.

The hotel had its own Air Letter forms!

April 9 2021

Today I think the post has to address the current events of April 9 2021, because the lives of both Carol and Cyn were touched by them in the 20th century, and they would care about what happened in this one.

Ash cloud from the volcanic eruption on St. Vincent- CNN


First, La Soufrière, the volcano in St Vincent, erupted today, as it did in 1902 when Carol was a child, and again in 1979 when I was teaching in Nigeria, and getting world news far away from my family, Carol then living with Cyn and Cec in Ottawa. Thankfully, the world has better systems in place now, scientists- and earthquakes- warned of the increased volcanic activity, and St. Vincent’s emergency plan was put into action by the Prime Minister so people in possible danger were warned and are being evacuated now. But it is a time of uncertainty in pandemic times, and we are concerned about the people of St.Vincent.


Secondly, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died today. When Cyn stood in the London crowd in 1947, with her radio broadcasting the royal wedding service to her friends and the people around her, I’m sure they all wished the royal couple a long and happy marriage, but I doubt they visualized it lasting 73 years. Both Carol and Cynthia, confirmed royalists, would want us to acknowledge Prince Philip’s constant service to the UK and Commonwealth and support for the Queen, and join in expressing sympathy for his family and the people who knew him.

The Queen and Prince Philip in Ottawa, the year of my birth.

February 1955

The big event in my grandmother Carol’s life in February 1955 was the Royal Visit. Princess Margaret, sister of the young queen, was to make an official visit to St. Vincent, and the public would be allowed to ‘meet’ her at a Garden Party. Carol and her sister received invitations to this, and instructions on how to dress and behave (!), attended, I hope enjoyed themselves, and sent the ephemera to Cyn (probably because there was a 3 year old Linda interested in princesses.)

Possibly a new hat would not be considered an unnecessary expense by the Hazell sisters!
I wish I could have read Carol’s letter to Cyn that accompanied these instructions. The final paragraph suggests a backstory!

Princess Margaret must have liked St Vincent, because later she made a home on the island of Mustique, the Hazell’s holiday island that Carol’s brother Fred would sell in 1958!