This is basically a collection of pictures and notes, illustrating the back-and-forth between Cyn and her mother, Carol.
Pictures from Carol: These are very sturdy, matt, and have her comments on the back. The big one was posted earlier, when the pictures were mentioned in a letter. (Nov 1 1950) It is stuck in the scrapbook, so anything written on the back is unavailable.
Then there is the collection of oddments Cyn mentioned in her letter of November 7th, on three different types and sizes of paper, that she sent by sea, but referring to events she had already mentioned to her mother. (Just in case anyone else needs educating, Cyn was used to having fun from childhood on November 5th, when the English celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, with fireworks and bonfires that burn a stuffed effigy, ‘the Guy’.) She never mentions Hallowe’en on Oct. 31, which I would have thought would have been an equivalent event in Ann Arbor.
This isn’t a letter- it is just a collection of funny things to amoose you!
I thought that you would like to know a bit how Til & Lois’s & the Sutherland’s houses look, and you know what fun I get out of drawing plans! They are both lovely houses in their own ways, but Til and Lois’ is in such a beautiful place it is hard to describe it. The prices – wow!- S’s is $25,000 & T & L $23,000 – millionaires needed!
The other funny little things are the place cards & menu I am going to make for dinner on Sat. night! We are having my pal Edie from work & Cec’s Canadian pal Al MacNamara from the Physics Dept. (he is from Sask – very shy – he came to dinner once before) to dinner & to play bridge. I have decided to make it a Guy Fawkes dinner, & altho’ Cec says they won’t know who he is, I’ll educate them! The place card is supposed to be a rocket exploding, & the menu is a gibbet done on my typewriter! I’m going to try and make a tiny “guy” for a centrepiece – wish you were here to help me!
Dinner will be a bit fattening I fear, but we have been wanting an excuse to get a duck!!
Lots & lots of love from
This is to give you some idea of what Til & Lois’ house (1 year old) looks like. It is only one story- no attics or cellar – & is made of wood & painted pale yellow outside. The living room is lovely with two huge windows- the front & back- it is panelled in pine & has a natural carpet & oyster-y curtains. The bookshelves are built in & have a green patterned paper at the back & the new furniture is to be in greens & reds. The kitchen is lovely too with the same reddish pine used for counters & cupboards above & the walls are a beige glass tile & so are the bathroom walls. The kitchen curtains are blue check, the bathroom curtains, mat, shower curtain etc. are grey & yellow, & the linoleum yellow. The bedrooms are nice too, but I’m blessed if I can remember the colours! The little study is sweet, with a green carpet, & they are going to get new curtains. The outside is beautiful of course – all the orchard in front, & at the back the most wonderful view of the river– wooded banks- & it forks just opposite them & goes around a big island. Their bank is still full of bushes and scrub, & has to be all cleared, but afterwards I have persuaded Lois to plant daffodils there, & I think it will be heavenly.
This now, is a plan of the Sutherland’s new house. As you can see, it is much bigger, older & more formal. It is white painted wood outside with green tiles, has big basement, & attics. The sitting room is a lovely big room which they need as they entertain so much – the study is the Doc’s & is painted grey (Gunborg did it). The whole kitchen has been remodelled & is elegant! The walls are a pretty soft yellow-the cupboards around the walls are natural wood, well the tops of the counters are a soft pinky red formica (hard linoleum-y stuff) & inside the cupboards are red painted to match. It sounds a bit odd, but it looks very nice indeed. Upstairs there are 4 bedrooms – the girls have one each- & a bathroom- then the main bedroom (over the front 1/2 of the sitting room) has a little bathroom with shower only, of its own. All the bedrooms have little balconies (on study roof, porch etc.) – very romantic! Apart from the kitchen which they had done, Gunborg is doing all decorating herself – study, downstairs cloakroom, 2 bathrooms etc. & some is old & needs plastering cracks etc.- a big job.
P.S. Little Mary was writing a letter to her Auntie in England the other day & told her they had a chipmunk in the garden – then wrote “He is a doorable”!! Sweet.
I took this letter to Til and Lois’ at the weekend to write & tell you what their new house was like, and then we were so busy all the time I never got done.
Now I am at work as you can see & I am rushing this off so that you won’t scold me too much about being late in writing! With being away for the weekend I have been all behind hand with the housework & have been puttering around the last two evenings, & tonight Gunborg & I are going to see Charles Laughton give a One Man Show! He reads bits out of books & does acts etc. & is supposed to be very good.
Well – about our weekend! I took a half-day on Friday, so had a chance to pack & tidy a bit before meeting Cec for the 3:45 bus. We arrived in Toledo at about 6, & Lois was there to meet us in her tiny car & drove us 22 miles out along the river to their new house. It was dark of course, but it is a lovely drive all along the river in the country. Their lot is 200 ft. x 800 ft., so is big, as you can imagine and is right by the river – they even have a little dock! Between the house & the road is an orchard (14 apple trees) & between the house & the river is lawn then bushes etc. on a fairly steep river bank. The house is new (1 year old) & very sweet & small – I’ll tell you more about it in a longer letter- & Til had a great fire to welcome us & it was lovely. We were thrilled with it & so are they, & it was a heavenly warm sunny weekend- has been up to 80° then & since & today (Nov!) is the same. We spent all weekend helping in the garden & having such fun- also Mr. & Mrs. Pasquier came on Sat. & Lois’s relatives on Sunday. We ended by not getting home till 1 a.m. on Sunday & were we tired!!
We got your pictures which Mr. Verrell took & think they are lovely pictures, but that they don’t do you justice! The big one is the nicest we think, but he has taken it from below a bit, so you look as if you had a double chin- you haven’t I’m sure! You have a pretty dress on & shoes which I’ve never seen- I am quite surprised to realize that you have dresses I don’t know about!!
Tell Auntie Ettie I had a card from Mona in Wales- nice! My love to her & Auntie Moo. Must stop now & will write more tomorrow.
In the Epic Cyn keeps referring to, she is replying to two months worth of letters from her mother, and since she’s writing it over a 10 day period, some of the events she mentions overlap with her other letters. Carol had left England after 30 years, having separated from her husband now hospitalized with dementia, and gone home to St. Vincent to live with her sister Muriel (Auntie Moo). She had visited other sisters and their children and grandchildren living in the West Indies first, and now is writing to Cyn and Cec, mentioning cousins in the extended Hazell family that Cyn has never heard of, and again referring to the family martial upsets and divorces with ones she is closer to. Carol’s brother Fred is the owner of the family business, Hazells, and hosts a holiday on the island of Bequia which she enjoyed immensely. His 4 daughters, Jean, Brenda, Peggy and Patsy, are frequently mentioned as well.
As their first Wedding Anniversary approached, Cyn and Cec were still getting wedding presents. Hugh Brown, who the Ewings had known during the war when the American Army was stationed in Newcastle, had been great friends with Cyn, had introduced her to his family during her exchange year in Toledo, and now sends her a belated gift they are thrilled with. Although Hugh had left the army when Cyn had last seen him in 1947, it now seems, perhaps because of the Korean War, that he is once more a high-ranking officer. The missing wedding present sent by Cyn’s cousin Brenda from Burma shows up eventually, because it is listed, last, in Cyn’s Wedding 1949 notebook!
Saturday. 22nd July.
Dearest Little Mummy,
Here I am beginning right away with my Epic! I have just been inquiring of Cec how much paper he has as I only have 3 sheets & he says how much am I going to write, but I say, oh hundreds as I have hundreds of letters to answer! I have left the dirty dinner dishes in the kitchen & abandoned my ironing & I’m just going on writing till I don’t have another thing to say!
I am beginning now with your letter written on 14th May- ‘way back! You were saying you had just been in St. V. 4 weeks – does it seem ages & ages ago now? You are writing in it of getting “I Capture the Castle” from A. Ettie & how much you enjoyed it. After your recommendation I got it out of the library & both Cec & I loved it & thought it was a gorgeous book, although I don’t think the end was as good as the beginning. It is Dodie Smith’s first book & I remember reading criticisms of it in the Eng. papers, as she is a well-known playwright – do you recall seeing “Autumn Crocus” long, long ago at the Jesmond Playhouse? That was by her & was very well known- it was about a middle-aged school teacher who went for a holiday to Austria & fell in love with the hotel keeper. He was big & handsome & jolly & friendly to everyone, & she didn’t realize that the big, fat cook was his wife, & that he was just nice to all his guests, & she had quite a heartbreak, poor girl! Before I began work, I read quite a bit & one book I meant to tell you about was called “Marmee, the Mother of Little Women”& was a biography of Louisa Alcott’s mother. I was very interested, particularly that L.A.’s father was one of the first great educationalists in this country, but was very idealistic & impractical & for years had no money, as his school in Boston was closed because he accepted a coloured girl as a pupil. It was the Mother who went out to work & kept the home together, & the 4 girls seem to have been very like Little Women except that the real Amy seemed nicer, & was really quite a famous U.S. artist eventually, married a French man (much younger than herself!) & lived in Paris! As I told you, Dottie sent us a Book Club sub. for my birthday & we have had 3 books by now, 2 of which we like immensely. The first one was called “The Kon-Tiki Expedition” & I thought it sounded awful, but it turned out to be a grand adventure story although it is all quite true. It is about 6 Norwegians & Swedes who sail across the Pacific from Peru to the S. Sea Islands on a log raft to prove that the original inhabitants of the islands came from Peru. It is most exciting & very well told. The book we didn’t like much was Rose Macauley’s “The World my Wilderness”, but this month we got “A Town like Alice” by Nevil Shute, which is lovely & if you can get it I am sure you would enjoy it. It is about Malaya a bit, but mostly Australia, & is so interesting & nice. It made us think of Frank of course – he will be in Sidney by now of course, & we mean to write & send him those snaps. I also thought of Mary & Michael Egan & I do hope they’re happy out there – I wrote to Mary & sent her a cable to the ship, & had an A.M. from her from Port Said yesterday. She said she was v. miserable about leaving England & doesn’t even know if they have a home in Perth yet, but she seems quite cheerful now.
To go back to your letter, I loved hearing all about the 2 church “Fairs” you went to- the first one rather low with a loud band & jigging locals, & the other very refined!! Cec wants you to make a family tree with all the relatives on! I told him it would be practically a life’s work, but we do get confused over all the cousins mostly – at least Cec is confused over everyone, & when it comes to your cousins I am confused too! I also keep forgetting the names of Jean & Bren & Peggy’s children- it’s a good thing Patsy hasn’t any to confuse me more!!
I enjoy hearing about all the servants you have to wait on you, & love hearing of having a boy to carry this & one to carry that etc. Doris & Clarice (despite varicose veins!) sound nice & I laughed over the spider in the shower, but shuddered as well! I don’t at all like the sound of the beetles & lizards – we had quite a lot of Maybugs – hard backed flying beetles – earlier & they used to bonk- bonk– against the screens at night, but thank goodness we have screens!
You asked whether we had duty to pay on bringing any of our stuff in (the 8 boxes) but we didn’t although we were doubtful as some of it wasn’t a year old which it is supposed to be. You were saying that you laughed over Mrs. A’s warty teapot – well– some weeks later I invited Mrs. Kaufman up for a glass of sherry & to see the flat as she hadn’t been in since we came. She admired everything – in fact in the bedroom she looked around & said “Well, this looks just the same” then in a depressed voice “but nicer than when we had it”!! I showed her the china & glass cupboard etc. as she kept asking about my “English china” & blow me down, but the only thing she admired was Mrs. A.’s warty teapot!!! She is a funny woman. Her 2 daughters & their husbands came up to see the flat one day & the 2 husbands were much taken with your photograph & admired it.
I was very interested to hear all the domestic details about A. Mil & U. Fred & Joan & Jack. I am sorry about the latter, & feel that A. Trix may have something to do with it as you say. Also about poor Basil Hutchinson & his matrimonial troubles – he does seem to have had a hard time.
I was awfully sorry to know that old cheque had caused so much bother. I hope Kirby finally got it straightened out. I am inclined to think that it would be a good idea to let him look after your Income Tax etc. As you say, it was bad enough before when we were both in England, but now it is so difficult that I think it would be worth letting him take most of the return, to get rid of the worry.
You ask in your letter if I have ever heard from Hugh & got the promised W.P. Well, a while ago I had a short note from him asking if this was our correct address, as he had written to the University & got the letter returned. So I wrote after a while & last week a HUGE parcel arrived, & Cec & I were so excited & rended it open & what do you think it was? A beautiful Sunbeam Mixmaster! We were absolutely & completely overwhelmed, & of course think it is wonderful. We straight away washed it & used it to make waffles & squeezed orange juice on the juicer attachment & had a lovely time. Wasn’t it sweet of him? I wrote & thanked him, but haven’t had a reply – I was wondering if by any chance he would be sent out to Korea.
If you were writing about our budget & food bills etc. – well, since the Korean War the prices have been going up & yesterday at the store steak was $1.10 a lb, & pork chops had gone from about 70¢ to 95¢. Coffee is going up to 87¢ a lb so it doesn’t look too good – I am horrified when I think of my meat bill for the week is $5.00 or more ( i.e. 25/— 30/-) & I used to think Claude & I were being devils if his bill was 7/6 a week! You will be glad to hear that our milk bill is down to $6.00 now, as we have cut out cream for the summer, as I don’t use it in my coffee, & Cec uses the top of the milk, so that I won’t get so fat!! I am trying not to eat so much!
The Sutherlands are wondering about building a house after all now, as building costs are very high. Gunborg has a legacy in Sweden which she is getting over next month & they were going to use that, I presume, but now they think if they can find a decent house they might buy & just keep the “lot” which they can always sell later if they want. The trouble is that they need a bigger house than the usual type (Dr. S. needs a study & the girls are getting big all to share 1 room) so they haven’t had much luck yet.
I am now on to your letter of 23rd May telling about the new Air Service etc. By the way, the accountant at work, called Arnold, (or Arn usually!) is a keen stamp collector, so your St. V. stamps are going to him at present & he is very pleased. He buys all the new US issues too & has sheets of them. It is such a funny office – everyone calls everyone by their Christian names – the office manager is Don, & Miriam’s boss is Dick & so on. I said it was very “matey” & they all laughed like anything as it was a new expression for them. But I like it & am pleased that I am still there. Don asked me a week ago whether I would be in A. A. long, & when I told him he was quite pleased that I’d be here so long. Then on Monday he told me I was to work in the Field Office for a while (Boss is called Charlie) & the job will probably last 6 months, so if they are willing to let me have my holiday it looks as if I may stay. We plan to go to Sask. on 15th Aug. & fly from Windsor, Canada (just across the river from Detroit) as we can pay our fares in Canadian dollars then. Flying isn’t much more than train, especially as we would have food, berths etc. on train, & as we won’t have so very long, it will save us nearly 6 days travelling. We will stay at Cec’s home, then go to Regina to stay with his older sister Merle, & then fly to Ottawa & Montreal where Cec has business before coming back to A.A. In Montreal we will see his younger sister Lee & Wendy & their new little son. We will probably be away about three weeks, but I thought I would stop work on the 12th & take a month so I’d have a few days either end to wash clothes & clean etc.
The new office I’m in, the Field Office, is the one that looks after all the interviewers all over the U.S. who do the “Gallup Poll” type of interviewing for the Surveys the Institute do. The interviews are more thorough & scientific than the Gallup ones, but the idea is the same, & this week we have been getting ready to send out a huge no. of questionnaires (2000) to the interviewers for an interview on Atomic Energy. It is quite intriguing, but my part has been very minor – I spent 2 or 3 days stamping each questionnaire & numbering them etc.! The Office Messenger called Tim & the Stockroom man called John, helped me – the former has his B.A. & the latter his M.A.- Tim and I have long discussions on modern literature!
I am now onto your letter of May 30 and it is Sunday. This morning we slept & slept & slept until 12 o’clock- it was lovely! Cec’s pills of course, make him sleep, & I have felt tired this week, so we both enjoyed the long lie in! We got up & showered & washed our hairs, then had a breakfast – fresh orange juice, bacon & eggs (two eggs for Cec) toast & coffee! We get such fun out of the juicer on Hugh’s mixer – usually we use the frozen orange juice, which is just as cheap if not more so than having fresh oranges. The frozen is in little tins about 4” x 1 1/2” & you keep it in the freezing part of the fridge till you need it- then you put it in a jug & add three little cans full of water (makes over a pint) and it is just like fresh orange – not a bit like that baby’s stuff in England. Since breakfast (!) I washed up all the dishes, made the bed & changed the sheets & did the laundry up ready to go on Tues. In the meanwhile Cec had a baseball game on the radio- Detroit v. the New York Yankees & it has been very exciting! Cec loves listening & I am beginning to know what is going on, & to know the players’ names. We support Detroit who are top of the whole League at the moment, with Yankees only 1/2 a game behind. They just won this afternoon so are now 1 1/2 games ahead!! We have it all arranged with the S’s to go into Detroit for the day on 1st Aug. We have to go to the Airline Office & get our cards fixed for going into Canada, & then in the evening we are going to the big stadium to see Detroit play against the Yankees again. They don’t play just one match against each other, but lots during the season, but because they are so close to each other in the League it is very exciting! Is everyone in the West Indies very interested in the WI test matches? I know they are being played & that is about all. Do you remember last year how excited Cec & I were at the May Week Boat Races, because St. John’s boats were doing so well,? I wrote & asked Connie & Len to let us know about them this year & they sent us papers etc. & Lady Margaret (St. John’s) was head of the river this year! They made a bump every single day & The Times said they were the best crew on the river for years & everyone was expecting them to do great things at Henley. All the other Lady Margaret boats did wonderfully too, so it must have been fun. Remember you & Jessie F. watching!!
I am so glad the parcel of the dress arrived safely eventually, & that you liked it although you had to alter it. I knew it would be too long, but I couldn’t quite remember what size I used to get you & thought too big was better than too small. Cec & I were quite sorry you were going to rip up the apron as we thought it was so cute!! You ask whether I can still get into my going away dress, & that is O.K., but I think I’ll have to let out the waist of my yellow & grey taffeta – remember my white jersey “bitchy” dress with bright colours in? I had it cleaned, so what with that & my avoirdupois I bulge back & forth & can’t wear it!! Lots of girls at work, however, tell me they gained weight during their first year of marriage, then lost it, so I hope I’ll do the same! And not go on & on like Nan!
I was interested to hear of Pat Galloway’s baby being 3 weeks premature- h’m! Also of Margs & Monie trying & not succeeding! They must take after the Simmons & not the Hazells – remember Jean saying that the Hazells were so prolific- a man just had to look at them & they were pregnant!!! As you say about Bill & Owen, it must depend on the man & the way they look!!!!!
Cec just interrupted me there by saying he was hungry in a plaintive voice, so I stopped & made him a huge peanut butter, sausage & lettuce sandwich & a glass of milk so that should hold him for a while. I had a little snack too!! I must go & get dinner soon – we are having fried chicken, peas, potatoes, sliced tomatoes, then cantaloup melon. Come and have dinner with us?
I have been meaning to ask you whether Arthur got the job in Trinidad or what he is going to do? Just about the time Bren was coming to St. V. we heard on the Canadian radio that a Lady boat had gone aground somewhere, & we wondered if Bren was on it, but you didn’t say anything I don’t suppose she was, or perhaps she flew as you said she may do.
In this letter you say something about us coming to the pictures again, & I’d written it was a long time since we’ve been & you were amazed as you thought we’d just been to see “Cinderella”. We laughed, as it was 6 weeks previously that we saw “Cinderella”, so we weren’t being such constant picture-goers after all! Have you been to the St. V. picture house yet? I bet it will be an experience! Your cocktail party sounds as if it were a great success, & I was tickled at everyone’s interest in the 2 new married couples – did you pin Romeo & Juliet on their backs or were you tactful?!
I am now onto your letter of June 6, so I am progressing! We have had dinner, & I have washed up & ironed a dress for tomorrow! I intended to do all the ironing today, but it is so hot that when I do anything at all I get hot & sweaty all over, so I have left it! That is one disadvantage of having an upstairs flat – although ours isn’t so bad as some– but it gets hot during the day & then when it is lovely & cool outside in the evening it is hotter than ever in our flat & doesn’t cool off ‘till nearly morning. The fan is a great help, but when we have it on in the sitting room & I am working in the kitchen it is a bit of a nuisance to move around.
I was glad to hear that you got £6.10 for the stamp album & are giving it to the Church Fund. Rosemary’s father offered quite a fair price after all then, didn’t he? You also are writing about sending Joan Cox a cable in this letter, & it reminds me that I have never written to her since she was married. I sent her nylons by A.M. for the wedding & she replied a day or so before, but as I haven’t yet sent her anything else yet, I have been delaying writing till I did. Money is such a problem!! I had just packed Dottie’s & Sandy’s birthday presents – Dottie a waist petticoat- white silk (rayon) with a frill round the bottom & Sandy a little pair of blue cotton pants with straps & a little red, white & blue cotton shirt – what is the date of his birthday anyway? And while we are on the subject of birthdays, what is the date of my little godson’s birthday? Have you heard anything from Jane & Bill from England? I expect they will be coming home soon now. Anyway, to go back to Joan’s wedding, I asked Anne & Connie if they had seen it or heard about it to let me know, but I haven’t heard from them yet.
Did I tell you that Connie & Len are probably coming to Ottawa in October for a year? Lennard hopes to finish his Ph.D. then & thought of going to Ottawa or the U.S. but Dr. S. advised Ottawa- we heard this from Dr. S. & haven’t heard definitely from them. Poor Cec is still struggling along with no equipment yet, but it is beginning to trickle in. However he has been working on another thing this past month or so which he says will be of use to him, so he is doing something, but it is terribly annoying for him.
I was interested to hear of Ian Hazell’s wedding, & what had happened to him. Which reminds me, that all these months I have meant to write to Rangin in Canada & have never done it, & now I wonder if she is still there or has gone back to Norway. I was also interested to hear about Alastair Fraser in Jamaica & this new thing he has discovered there- it all sounds very clever.
I loved hearing about my “Mrs. Costain” rosebush, & hope that you are taking good care of her! I am now onto your June 13th letter, & you were saying how much it was raining, but by your last letter that seems to be over & you seem to be having lovely weather. I was glad that during the rainy days you had fun doing your snapshot albums & wish I could see your “bridal book”. The two days Cec was away I did a little more on our Scrapbook but I am way behind now, & will have to try and get a good “do” at it someday. I had thought of taking it to Canada for Cec’s Mummy to see, but if we are flying it will probably weigh a ton!
You remember the pictures of Bremas you sent me? Well Gunborg goes to a class in Sculpture, & they have just got a new teacher who sculpts animals beautifully, so Gunborg is going to do Bremas & his mother! She has done a sweet little clay model of the mother lying on her back & little baby bear climbing over her tummy, & will do a bigger one next! I think it will be cute. A week or so ago, Gunborg gave me a present of a lovely Swedish cookery book. She has one, & when I was helping her with that tea long ago, I admired it, & she wrote to Sweden & got her sister to send one for me. It is all in English & has the most beautiful coloured illustrations – I am so thrilled with it.
You made me laugh in one of your letters because you said Gunborg always seem to be tired according to me. Well very often she is, as she can’t stand the hot, clammy weather any more than I can, & keeping the whole house & cooking, ironing etc. for 5 people is no joke, but she has just got a coloured girl who comes in twice a week, so she has a bit more leisure. However, meeting her she isn’t a bit a tired dreary person – she is vivacious & talkative & a lot of fun. Dr. S is Scottish & therefore more reserved, but has a great sense of humour – we are always tickled because Gunborg will sometimes make teasing remarks to him & (when we are alone) put her head on his shoulder etc. & he laughs & looks embarrassed! She told me that she knew him for a year & saw him nearly every day (she was living with a married cousin in Cambridge) & he took her out & to shows in London etc. & never even held her hand all that time! She says she was terribly in love with him & she thought it was dreadful! They are both darlings, but Cec and I think Dr. S. would be most shattered sometimes if he knew the things Gunborg told me!!
I haven’t heard anything from Til & Lois since they went down south, but think they may be home before we leave. Last time we were there Til gave me 2 plants- an ivy & another traily plant a bit like a Virginia creeper leaf. They are on my kitchen windowsill & I am so pleased as they have some nice new leaves since they have lived with me. I also have an apple seed, & an orange seed, & a maple seed in 3 tiny pots but they don’t seem to be doing very well! Also a sweet potato in water & it is sprouting lots of green leaves!
I am onto your 21st June letter now, written with your pretty pink & silver pen! Isn’t that lovely? You certainly do well with pens from gentlemen as you say & it was nice of P.W.V. to give you such a pretty one. How is his “liaison” going or don’t you hear of such indiscretions in polite society?! Perhaps now that you were there to show him a good example he will return to the straight & narrow path! I liked hearing about Peggy and Jean’s houses & also Peter’s “farm” with all the little piglets! You don’t mention Peter much– how do you think he is getting on here – does he like it & is he looking any better? I do hope Jeanie produces a boy this time – give her my love & tell her I’m crossing my fingers for her! I think your little chickies & kitten sound sweet. I was tickled to bits about the little wee thing flying to his Auntie Cyn – which reminds me that Lee’s cat had kittens too, & one of them was Cec’s birthday present, so we have 2 kitties “in absentia”!
I wonder if Doris has got her clock back from the burglar- poor Doris, what a fright she must have had.
Bren’s little Tessa sounds sweet, & the sunshades she brought you from Burma very glamourous. Do you remember she wrote me from Burma that she was sending us a W. present & it never came- – I wonder whatever happened about that. I would like to have Chris’ letter about Bidsy’s wedding – it must’ve been some splash. I had a letter from Amy last week with a card for our Anniversary & she told a little about June Kirk’s wedding but not much. Amy’s letter was very nice, but not much news. I also had a nice letter & very pretty card from Auntie Moo, & she is saying how glad she is that you are having such a lovely time at Bequia as you have such a dull life with her!! Dull – it sounds uproarious to Cec & me!!
You were saying about whether I ever hear from my father now – I haven’t heard a word since I came over here, but I write nearly every week, & have just sent off another parcel of sugar lumps & mints etc.
I liked hearing about your new dress – it sounds nice, & with such a good, cheap dressmaker it is hardly worth while your bothering to make things yourself. Over here the dresses are so cheap ready-made that it isn’t worthwhile having them made. The girls at the office are all very smartly turned out with pretty clean cotton dresses every day, so I am kept busy washing & ironing the few I have! I got another one last week for 3 dollars- it is very thin muslin-y cotton – grey with a white pattern & tiny red spots & red buttons down the front, & has a square neck. It is getting to the end of the summer season now, & I am thinking I might try to get a summer suit in the sales as I will need something for travelling & I only have four cotton dresses & the blue cotton skirt & blouses. So far I have had 2 cheques, & get another tomorrow, but as Cec isn’t teaching during the summer term he doesn’t get paid of course, so besides my pay we only have the regular allowance from Canada, & as we will pay our rent while we are away & want to leave some money in the bank, we still aren’t rolling in dollars! With me at work, we spend a bit more too- prices going up as well – & also bus fares & sometimes lunches when we don’t take sandwiches. Ordinarily, we take sandwiches, & have such fun – we eat them on the Campus, i.e. trees & grass around which the College buildings are built – & we have made friends with the sweet little squirrels! One particularly, with a lovely bushy tail, we call Blossom, & although he is shy, he will now take things from our hands. We have discovered they all love cherries! They hold them in both hands & gobble away till the fruit is all eaten & then crack the kernel & eat the nut! For fun one day, we gave Blossom a plum, & he could hardly carry it, but he staggered away with it & sat at the bottom of the tree & ate it & then asked for more!
Did I tell you that Mrs. Pasquier was going to Europe this summer? Mr. P. wasn’t going, but she was going with a v. rich friend who was paying for the whole trip – they were going to England- Denmark- Paris & I don’t know where else. I didn’t see her before she left, but had a long letter from the Q. Mary, & then last week a card (Bridge of Sighs) from her in Cambridge! She had gone for a day & met Anne & were sitting together on the Backs writing to me – wasn’t that lovely? I am so glad she went there even for so short a time- she thought it was beautiful.
This is your 4th July letter, so I am really getting up to date now. I was amused that your writing about how “the old order changeth” & how everyone in St.V. black & white have cars now, while you & Aunt Moo walk – it’s the same here too. As I told you there are quite a few coloured girls at work – & I get on quite all right with them. Lois is one who is working half time & getting her degree as well – she is middling colour & says her mother was from Bombay so must be 1/2 Indian. Eva is another & she is quite black, but very thin & sharpfeatured – she is picked up in a huge new shiny black Buick every day but I stand & wait for the bus!
Thank you for the offer to make me thing is, Mummy, but at the moment I am O.K. I am growing out of cami-knick’s etc., but panties are so cheap here (50¢) that in a way it doesn’t seem worthwhile making them, & as you say my fat podge size makes it difficult to know the right size!
I laughed at your letter when you are remarking at the snaps I sent- the oil cloth on the kitchen table is a necessity as it is painted a dark ugly brown & we got the oil cloth at once to disguise it – sometimes I put a tablecloth on! The high heels I’m wearing that you remark on, are my wedding white shoes & I put them on specially for the photo! Usually I wear my old “sloppy Joe’s”! You ask about my size in getting dresses now, & I get a 10 or 11 instead of 9, so it isn’t too bad- 9 is too tight over my boosum! The 10 & 11 I shorten but that is all. The grey one with lace that you asked about- the lace is kind of imitation crocheted lace, if you know what I mean!
I heard from Dottie about poor Pete’s glands, but hope they are o.k. now. I was interested to hear about Joan in Aberdeen – I must try to find out from Dottie what the trouble is. Amy & Ruth & Charlie seem to be doing themselves proud over holidays this year don’t they? I hope Dottie & Bar have a good time together, & that Bar is feeling better.
Your next letter of 9th July, was posted from Bequia, & Cec and I have both enjoyed your letters about your holiday there so much. It all sounded such fun – a beautiful lazy free life with all luxuries, mod. cons. servants etc.! – just suit us – no pioneering – just the lap of luxury!! Next best thing to being there with you was reading about all the good times you had, and we truly did enjoy hearing all about your doings. Your island outfit – i.e. sand shoes, gay skirt & big hat sound very sensible & I hope that there is a snap of you in your get up, so that we can see! The bathing must be heavenly, and I love to hear about you getting really sunburnt – one thing in your letter really did make us laugh though, & that was when you were describing the black sand, but clear sea, & ended up “Get me?”!! Tuts! We chuckled over Patsy’s flirtation & your threatening to spank her, then ending up by being sympathetic to her! Sounds as if she should be sent back to hubby, leaky house or not! How did the crocheting get on? Not very fast I’m sure, with all the fun & writing great nice long letters to your children! But never mind, I’d much rather have letters about lots of fun than a luncheon set! There were 3 different sized mats- 1.) 9 3/4 ins. across 2.) 6 1/2 ins 3.) 5 1/4 ins.- that of course, is after they were pressed out, & the measurements are a bit approx. as the edge has points!
I was most tickled at Bren & Patsy deciding they came from humble origins, after all this time! I am glad Tessa got better & so Bren was able to come after all, and that you all were such a jolly party. It is a pity that Uncle Fred isn’t carefree & jolly all the time, but he seem to have been a wonderful host, & Cec & I loved hearing about all the food & picnics & everything! We were sorry about your sore behind, but couldn’t help laughing too! The plan of the house & the bay gave us a good idea of the place, & I am always interested in what the houses are like.
You asked me in that letter (15th July) to send Irene’s snaps for you to see, but although she told me she was sending them too, they haven’t arrived yet.
And now for your very last letter of 23rd July- I am actually catching up!! In it you were writing of our 1st year of marriage & saying it was the most difficult, but if so, we’re not a bit worried! We’re not anyway, but we’re still the same as in our “courtin’ days”, & we haven’t been cross with each other or had a squabble yet! The only thing we moan about is our rolls of fat, & as we both have them we don’t mind so much! It’s a good job we weren’t with you in Bequia or we’d have put on lbs. more with all the gorgeous lobsters & things! One of my jobs at the moment at the office, is to make out file cards, forms etc. for new interviewers who are being hired for us all over the States for the Surveys which are beginning now. I feel most interested in them, because amongst other information they have to tell me their age, height, weight, colour of hair, eyes & complexion, & I typed out an identity card for them & send it back with a nice letter of welcome from the chief! It makes it so much more interesting to know that Miss Lavinia Derryberry has brown eyes & blonde hair & is 27, & Mr. John Miles Jr. is 34, married & has green eyes, fair hair & a ruddy complexion!! Anyway I was telling Cec that lots of the men were 6 feet. & over, but none of them weighed as much as him! (206 pounds now!) But I had to add that all the women were taller than me, and lots of them weighed much less!! He was very gallant and snorted “Bean poles!”
You were asking about Mary Jo & Pete & their new house – it is on Granger Ave. too, but higher up as it is quite a long Ave. They moved in last week- we haven’t been since, but while they were still in the throes of cleaning etc. we took them ice cream cones one afternoon! They are both v. nice – they both come from Baltimore & speak in a v. strange way. Mary Jo still comes for me on Fri. night to shop, so I am all set.
You were also asking about the S’s house & since I began this letter they have bought one. It isn’t very far from here, but we haven’t seen it yet, and they don’t get possession till Sept. It is 20 years old, has 4 good size bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sitting room & big porch, dining room, study & kitchen & downstairs lav. so it has everything they need, so they felt they should take it although it needs re-decorating inside & out & gutters mended etc. It cost $25,000 which seems a lot, but a lot of the houses they looked at were over $30,000 & to build would be even more. The Petersons house was about 1/2 that I think but they did a tremendous a lot of work on it themselves. Before I forget, Gunborg is pronounced Goon-bore!! (Approx!)
I was interested to hear that Margs & Bill may yet come out in the Autumn, but hope A. Ettie gets there safely anyway. I too, hope Monie & Owen have a wonderful time in Eng. & that Monie isn’t disappointed.
My “little blonde”, Miriam, is getting married on 27th Aug. Her parents have come around & everything is fixed for the wedding & she is so excited now & counting the days!
I was interested to hear that you thought my letters were being opened – not that I think anyone but you would get much fun out of them. I’ll be more careful, but the thought of ME sending DOLLAR BILLS!!! I laughed & laughed- dollar bills – as if I could. The Sutherlands thought it was ever so funny too!!
Any news of Jean’s babe yet? Our two new nephews are called Bruce Costain (Merle’s baby) and Stewart Daryl (Lee’s.) The latter is to be known as Daryl which we don’t much like, & Lee made us laugh by saying in her letter “I don’t think Wendell (her husband) cares for the name”!
I laughed over you were telling Bren & Patsy about my “hungrey boy” & that reminds me that one night it was very very hot & Cec & I were lying on the bed sweltering, and Cec felt & said “Have you got the sheet over you? “& I said “Yes, I’m keeping my bloody liver warm” & we both shrieked & roared with laughter! Did you ever tell A. Moo about that? I tried to tell Gunborg one evening & laughed so much I don’t think she really knows what it’s all about!
I hope A. Moo’s hearing aids are back & that she is well – my love to her & to the girl. I am enclosing the rubber bands, but can’t get greaseproof paper- it’s all waxed here. The nearest thing is a little sandwich bags or there is some marvellous aluminum foil paper which is lovely – shall I send you some of that?
It is now 2nd Aug. & and I have at last finished this effort. We went to Detroit yesterday & had a lovely time, but I’ll tell you all about that in my next A.M.
This is to wish you very many happy returns of the day, and to send you our love and best wishes for a very happy day. Auntie Muriel will probably have quite a celebration for you, and both Cec and I will be thinking of you, and wishing we were with you. I sent our card sometime ago, and yesterday we sent part of our birthday present by A. M. so I hope they both, and this letter too, arrive in time. The letters to & from Trinidad were so nice and quick, but I expect it will take longer to St.V.
I wonder if you are in St.V. by now. You said you were probably leaving by the Lady Boat on the 15th but I have no idea how long it will take to reach St.V. or even if it goes direct or calls at other islands. I am sure that you will be longing to reach home and get settled down after all these weeks because no matter how pleasant it is to visit, it is nice to reach your destination and relax. I know that I was so relieved when our travelling was over for a while, and I am sure you will be too. Also I know you will be longing to see Auntie Muriel & St.V. again, & it will be fun to see Uncle Fred & family & hear all the gossip! And although you don’t say so, I can imagine that you would be quite glad to get away from Auntie Trix, who is such a wearing person. You seemed to enjoy Janie & Bill’s so much and they & their family must be sweet, but Auntie T. is a different cup of tea, & you will feel much more comfy with Auntie Moo.
Thank you so much for your last letter written on Good Friday. I was most interested to hear about Patsy & quite tickled to hear of her holding forth & about the tough time she has had! I don’t mean that she didn’t, but I do mean that like her sisters I bet she could make a good story out of it!! Cec and I have just been deciding that we did things the wrong way round- looking at ads in the paper we see rings etc. are so much more reasonable than in England, so Cec said we should have waited & got engaged over here, then reading a mag. article on having a baby, it is so expensive, we decided we should have had the baby in England!! Not that we’re thinking of having one just yet- we definitely couldn’t afford it!
We have had a very quiet week since I last wrote. The Univ. had a week’s holiday, so Cec had no classes, but he went to work most days & has been working at home like a beaver. He is disappointed because equipment & things he needs and has ordered are so slow in coming- the dept. is short of money & are quibbling about expenses – so he can’t get started on his experimental work, and has to carry on with theory. On Tuesday evening we had in a fellow called Al MacNamara who comes from Saskatoon & was at College there with Cec. He is taking his Ph.D. here & is a very quiet shy lad – but ate hugely! Talking of that, reminds me – you say you weigh 130 – well, I think my last weight was 128!! Isn’t it awful? This sedentary life is spreading me! On Thurs. Mrs. S. & I went to tea with Joan Simpson & saw her small son who is very cute, & on Sat. Cec & I went to see “The Third Man” again. It was good but not so thrilling as when we 3saw it in London – we had fun that evening, didn’t we?
I am going to write a long gossip soon – & will send a birthday parcel too when we get some money! Would a cotton morning dress be a good idea, or would you like something else. Let me know if there is any little thing you could do with. Love to A. Muriel & lots & lots for you –
Before I follow Cynthia as she grows up in the 1930s, there are a few Hazell documents that pertain more to her mother Carol. Her family in St Vincent sent her newspaper clippings about her father’s memorial in the Botanical Gardens in St. Vincent, and the death of her sister Blanche. Her mother sent money from the family business.
Also, I have added to the blog post ‘Waiting in War’ a letter sent to me by my second cousin in St Vincent, that tells of the details of how Carol’s brother Willie was killed in 1918 in the trenches. I am very grateful for this new information, and anyone interested can look back for this letter and transcript.
My mother’s story ‘Waiting’ is fictional, and ignores an event that would have changed family life as much as the First World War changed the world in the twentieth century. My great-grandfather, John Gregg Windsor Hazell, died in March 1915, and this would have affected the business as well as family life. But Cynthia continued to include him as a character, as the focus moves from St. Vincent to England at the end of the story.
by Cynthia Costain
The sun was just rising as Carol slowly turned and left the dock. The ship had completely disappeared towards the dark misty horizon and the clouds were flushed with pink. The cool morning breeze was already becoming warmer with the promise of a hot day. She walked towards the town but instead of taking the turning to ‘Windsor’ she turned aside feeling she needed to be alone for a while. Leaving the little shacks behind, she climbed higher and coming to a low stone parapet edging the sharp drop to the water she stopped. With a guilty glance around she perched on the wall with her feet dangling into space.
“Not the action of a respectable married woman!” she thought. “But although I am married and have a child, I am only 23 years old and I am going back to my old home to live with with my parents. I’m becoming a daughter again with my Mother and Father and sisters because Gordon has gone to England. Thank Goodness Ettie is there with her girls, we’ll be in the same position with both our husbands away, but it will be very strange; like being a girl again. No house or servants to look after, no need to worry about meals or cooks and Mary Sam to look after the baby.” She couldn’t help smiling at the thought – no responsibilities! “Of course I’ll miss Gordon but he’ll soon find a job in England and buy a house so that we can join him.”
There was no doubt that the last year or so had been difficult. Gordon became discontented and restless in Kingstown. He thought Dr. Durrant was old fashioned and incompetent but he was the senior doctor, and his boss. Then again, Gordon didn’t really get on with her parents and resisted being automatically taken over by the Hazell family. Moving to Georgetown had seemed such a good idea – further away but not too far. It had been such fun at first; a nice house in the small town up the Windward Coast and Gordon had been pleased to be on his own in a new district. For a while all went well but it was small with not many estates nearby, so not many friends. Before long Gordon was bored and the friends he had thought so delightful at first became dull. Before the year was finished he was applying for another move.
When the posting to Carriacou came he was pleased, but Carol had dreaded leaving St. Vincent. Yes, she knew Carriacou was not very far away, just one of the Grenadine Islands near Grenada but she would know no one and would have to live in a different house and find new servants, leaving all her family behind. It was a long two days in a sailing vessel with the baby and all their furniture and trunks and when they arrived the house was old and not even very clean because it had been standing empty, and the garden was a jungle. Even Gordon’s pleasure at a new place and new people soon faded and Carol felt miserable. Of course she had tried not to show it but the servants were slow and tended to be rude to such a young mistress. Baby Cynthia missed Mary Sam who had stayed in St. Vincent, and was fretful and difficult.
The decision to go back to England came as a relief. Gordon explained that he would have to go first until he had a job and could get a home for them and Carol realized that this was only sensible.
“You can stay at Windsor with Cynthia when I go,” Gordon said. She had hesitated and he went on, “They’ve already taken in your sister Ethel and her girls while Simmonds is in New York so they can’t refuse to take you.”
Carol felt reluctant but she wrote to her parents when Gordon wrote to England. She need not have worried – her Mother wrote kindly that of course she and Cynthia could live at home while Gordon was away. Many more letters were written and plans were made until finally it was arranged. Dad got a passage for Gordon on a ship with a cargo for London; their furniture was sold, then back they sailed to St. Vincent and home to Windsor. Everyone remarked how the baby had grown and how thin Carol was.
“I seem to have done all this before,” Carol thought. Now all the packing and moving and rushing was over. Carol sat and gazed at the sea and felt all her worries and tension melting away. Scrambling off the wall she began hurrying down the road in the bright morning sunshine, and then up the steep hill to her old home. Mary Sam, back with her again, was strolling down the drive with the little girl in her arms.
“Daddy gone?” said Cynthia.
The house was certainly full; two unmarried sisters, Blanche and Muriel, besides Mother and Dad and Aunt Min then Ettie with her three girls, Milly (11), Marguerite (8) and Mona (5), and now Carol and Cynthia. Fred and Mil lived in town with their baby Jean while Bee and John Otway with their boy Jack were not far away. Carol looked forward to joining the family but Mother had suggested that she and Cynthia and Mary Sam could have the small cottage in the garden as their own, as it would be quieter for the baby and Carol was delighted.
They soon settled down to a happy routine. Every morning they went up to the big house for breakfast and Cynthia waved “the big girls” off to school. Afterwards there were jobs to do. Mary Sam would sweep the cottage while Carol made the beds, then go up to the house again to help. Carol would do the flowers or dust the furniture while Mary Sam did the baby’s washing while Cynthia would play happily.
One of her favourite playmates was Great Aunt Min, or Miss Wilhelmina Maria Laborde. She was Mother’s sister who had come to live with her after her marriage. She had not approved of the bridegroom, as he was in Trade and their father had been an Anglican Archdeacon! However, as an unmarried sister, she was grateful for a home, but continued to call her brother-in-law “Mr. Hazell” all her life. She had a very special place in the family and was much beloved by all the children and grandchildren.
Aunt Min would sit quietly sewing or reading while the little girl played at her feet and told her long complicated stories. One place she loved to play was underneath one of the big high mahogany beds where the surrounding starched white valance made a secret playhouse. Hidden there she would play contentedly, if she could find some of the lovely books or paper dolls which were sent to her cousins by their father in the States. She was not supposed to play with them as she was “too little” and would tear them and spoil them. Still she would go looking and bring some of the lovely fragile paper dolls into her hiding place. All would go well until she heard the girls’ voices as they came from school and then panic-stricken she would call, “Aunt Min! Aunt Min! The girls are coming! Help me! Help me!”
Poor little Aunt Min would come running, and crawl under the bed on hands and knees to help gather up the treasures and help return them to their rightful places. Of course the big girls found out many times and Milly would be cross and Marga would scold but there were not many playthings and the paper dolls were too tempting to resist.
The days passed pleasantly for Carol. She enjoyed the company of her sisters and joined in all the family activities. They worked at the Cathedral and every Saturday cut flowers in the garden and took them down to “do” the flowers for the Sunday Services. In the afternoons they would rest or sit on the verandah sewing or making lace and talking while Cynthia slept. Afterwards Mary Sam would take her for a walk and later other friends and family with their children would drop in for tea. Mother was getting old but still very much in charge of everyone and everything. She was a severe-looking old lady and did not take kindly to many of her sons and daughters-in-law, but she was very kind to Carol and Cynthia. Sometimes she would take the little girl onto the verandah at night and show her the stars. She taught her “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.
Many of Carol’s evenings were spent in the little cottage writing long letters to Gordon. He was a regular correspondent and anxious to hear all her news and how his little daughter was growing. Besides the letters, he sent Cynthia postcards of children and beautiful actresses, so that she looked forward to the mail as much as her mother did.
Gordon had retired from the Colonial Service and had been medically unfit for the Forces because of his childhood illnesses and emphysema. He was applying for jobs and had contacted old friends from his Edinburgh days. One of them had been hopeful that he could find something for Gordon in the area, which was promising.
Months went by pleasantly to be suddenly shattered with the tragic news that Willie had been killed in France. He had always written so cheerfully and had said that he was the lucky one, that they had come to believe that he would be all right. Carol wept over the picture he had sent her of him in his uniform with a loving message on the back to her and her little girl. Dear kind Willie – it should have been Fred as the youngest son to go to England when the War began, but he was married and had a family and Willie had said, “I’ll go!” Only two Hazell sons left.
Glad news came from Gordon that he had got a job in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Carol was happy and began to plan what she would take with her to England. Already it was nearly a year since he had left and she couldn’t help being anxious. Looking at a map of England, Newcastle seemed a long way from London and the places she had known during her school days and she had hoped to be near her dear Miss Lefroy but she was sure that it would be lovely. Now Gordon’s letters were full of plans. He was saving his money and living in lodgings but he liked the job and he was making friends. He was looking for a house but in 1918 that was not easy and the months went by until at last the War was over! St. Vincent joined in the general rejoicing and gradually young men began to trickle back to the island.
Still Carol waited and hoped but the post-war shipping was in confusion and although Gordon had sent money for a passage to England for her and Cynthia, Dad had not been able to arrange anything. Finally he suggested that he could get a berth on a ship going to New York where she could stay with her brother Arthur, and he would have a better chance of finding her a place on a ship going to England. Gordon agreed, so Carol found that after two years she would soon be with her husband again. Cynthia was now four years old and remembered nothing of her Father, having only looked at his picture and the post cards he sent her. How would they all get on together?
With excitement and misgiving, Carol packed for the last time and said her goodbyes. This time she knew in her heart that she would never see her parents again and probably not many of her family, but she tried to be brave and cheerful for Cynthia’s sake.
The last day arrived and she parted from her Mother with tears but tried to laugh and joke with the sisters and friends who had come to see her off. She stood at the rail of the ship waving while Cynthia kept saying, “Bye bye” and lifted her up to see the last glorious sight of the sunshine glowing on the green and gold island. Would she ever see St. Vincent again? Perhaps when I am an old lady and Cynthia is grown up, she thought, but that was something she could hardly imagine.
This letter, while addressed to my grandfather Ewing, ended up in the care of the Hazells in St Vincent. I am very grateful for their generosity in sharing it with me here.
I believe this transcript is mostly accurate, but any corrections are welcome.
May 11, 1918
Dear Mr. Ewing
I very much regret to inform you that your brother-in-law, Cpl. W Hazell, & incidentally my Pal, has been killed buy a shell last Sat: about midnight as near as I can tell you. We were in a trench on the banks of Bethune Canal crossed-out word, and as the Germans were shelling, we, that is the 12th Northl’d Fusiliers and the people we were relieving, were bunched up together, & an order was passed up, to extend out a little, & Willie passed it on, & moved in accordance, and jammed with several, were in a very shallow part of the line, and a shell burst right amongst them, killing two & severely wounding others, of whom one or two died later.
I don’t know his mother’s address, but he often spoke of you, but I forget the no of your house, but I reckon your name will suffice to find you all right, anyway I thought it best to inform you, so that you can cable his folk, for the War Office message will be some time yet in informing you of his death, and my writing will put their minds somewhat easier, I hope.
Well Sir, he suffered no pain, for he died instantly, for which I am very glad, and if there ever lived a good & brave comrade it was W. Hazell, for he was one of the True Blue, for he was cool & his coolness helped others to stand the awful strain.
He was in command of my section (the Lewis gun) until he was promoted Cpl, then he was on another one, and I took his place being made L/Cpl to do so.
Carol stood on the verandah looking down the narrow dusty road which led to the town, hoping for the sight of the maid coming back from market. If she didn’t come soon dinner would be late and her husband would be cross. He’d had a long ride this morning to the Leper Asylum and he would be hot and tired when he arrived home, not inclined to be tolerant of her poor housekeeping.
Being married to the “young Doctor” with a house of her own in town and a new baby was really quite fun but it was difficult to remember all the things that had to be done. The servants were new and had to be told everything; what to cook for dinner, how much to buy, how long it would take to cook, and how did she know? Thank goodness that Mary Sam was a good nurse and when the baby cried took care to carry her out of earshot when the master was at home. Perhaps if Cook got ready a cold rum punch to serve before dinner it would help.
Her neighbour came out into her garden and Carol waved.
“Isn’t it hot?” she called. “There isn’t a breath of air.”
“Yes, and so still,” said her friend. “I don’t know what has got into this dog today. He keeps following me around and whining- go on Robbie – lie down and behave yourself.”
They strolled to meet each other at the low fence to continue their conversation and at that moment there was a terrible loud thunderous noise like a hundred great trucks roaring down the hillside, rushing past them and down to the sea. The earth heaved and Carol staggered and would have fallen if she hadn’t clung to the fence. Mabel Sprott stood trembling on the other side, her eyes wide with horror. Suddenly she turned and ran back to the house shouting “Wake up, Carol! Get the baby and servants out!”
Carol turned and ran across the garden calling to the maids while she stumbled up the steps and into the baby’s room. Cynthia was awake in her crib and began to cry as soon as she saw her mother, while Carol picked her up and dashed outside. The servants came crying and panic-stricken as another shudder shook the house and one of the tall palm trees by the gate wavered and fell. Cries and shouts came from all around as people scrambled to safety. A man called out, “Don’t stand under the trees!” As they huddled in the garden another voice screamed, “Fire!” and towards the town they saw flame and smoke coming from behind one house.
“Cook, did you light the coal pot?” asked Carol. “Yes’m, I had it all ready for master’s dinner.”
“Then run and see if it’s fallen over. Call the gardener to bring water from the cistern and make sure that every cinder is put out.”
Confused cries and shouts continued, but from the road Carol heard the sound of sobbing and through the gate came running the maid Francey. They called to her and Carol said, “Come on Francey, we’re all here and you are safely back.”
But her market basket still clutched in one hand she broke into more sobs and panted out, “Missus, Missus, I hurried – I really hurried – never stopped to talk to nobody – but there was a great noise and the houses were falling down and the mountain was falling down and I fell down and cried! But I got up and ran down the road and then in front of me the road cracked right across! I like to die! But I just give one big jump over in case the devil come out and ran all the way back!”
The cook patted her and consoled her until she calmed down and Carol said “You were a brave girl, Francey.”
Nothing more seemed to be happening so gradually they ventured back to the house. It seemed that no great harm had been done as far as Carol could see: pictures fallen and broken; vases of flowers spilt and one cupboard overturned; and cooking bowls broken. As they found later many houses had much more damage with walls cracked, or ceilings and roofs fallen. Stores in town had their big windows shattered, and many people had been cut with broken glass and hurt with falling debris and trees. In this catastrophe the natives’ little palm-roofed houses survived better than some of the bigger stone buildings and there were not many serious casualties or fires.
The Doctor was very late for dinner that day. He had been riding along the road to town and his horse had become very restive and unmanageable, so he had dismounted and was trying to calm the nervous animal when the earthquake occurred. His impression as he looked along the road in front of him was that it was undulating and rippling like water. As he led the horse back home he found rocks and earth still tumbling down the mountainside, trees across the road in places, and water pipes fractured, with water was gushing into pools everywhere. As he came in sight of the harbour he was just in time to see a towering tidal wave sweep across the bay and into the town carrying boats, cargoes and bodies up onto the land.
The aftershocks were not severe but St. Vincent had suffered another natural disaster.
Transcriptions of the newspaper clippings above, June 1914:
The marriage of Dr. J.M.G. Ewing, a Government District Medical Officer, to the youngest daughter of the Hon’ble J.G.W Hazell of this island, which was solemnized at St George’s Cathedral yesterday, caused a flutter of delightful excitement among their immediate relatives and friends who constitute the leading social circle in the colony. The wedding party was comparatively small, but a large and fashionable gathering in the sacred edifice witnessed the entry of the happy young couple into the joys of married life; and this afforded ample testimony of the goodwill entertained among various sections of the community, towards Mr. J.G.W. Hazell and his family.
The Bride, charmingly attired in a lovely robe of white bijou satin and carrying a bouquet of chicken daisies and tube roses, was escorted by her father, and had, as her bridesmaids, the Misses Mildred Hazell, Joyce Hutchinson, and Millicent Simmons who wore very pretty dresses of mauve silk crepe de chine. The mother, Mrs. Hazell, wore an elegant black silk dress and bonnet, and the other ladies who were guests were equally representative of fashion’s artistic features.
The bridegroom, also a centre of attraction and the happy recipient of sincere congratulations, was accompanied by Mr. F Birkinshaw who filled the favoured office of bestman.
After the service, which was fully choral, the party drove off to Windsor House where the reception was held, and subsequently went away to Grand Sable for the Honeymoon, carrying with them many greetings and good wishes, which we heartily echo, for their future happiness.
St George’s Cathedral was today the scene of a fashionable wedding, the contracting parties being Dr. J.M.G. Ewing, the popular medical officer of No. 1 District and Miss Enid Carol youngest daughter of the Hon’ble J.G.W. Hazell and Mrs. Hazel of Windsor. The Sacred Edifice was tastefully decorated for the occasion, and long before the wedding party arrived, the church was filled with the friends and well wishers of the bride and bridegroom. Punctually at the hour fixed for the ceremony the Bride who looked charming in a dress of white satin Charmeuse trimmed with Lace and Orange Blossoms, arrived leaning on the arm of her Father. She was attended by Miss Millie Hazell (cousin of the bride) Miss Joyce Hutchinson, and Miss Millie Simmons (nieces of the bride) tastefully dressed in mauve crepe de chine trimmed with Lace and Orange Blossoms each carrying a bouquet of white lilies. The Service was fully Choral, Appropriate Hymns being rendered, The Nuptial knot being tied by the Venerable Archdeacon Turpin. Mr. F. Birkinshaw performed the duties of Groomsman. The party consisting of members of the Bride’s family, Mr. P. Verrol, the Archdeacon Turpin, and Rev. Dr. McPhail, after the function, drove to Windsor and was entertained at a recherché luncheon by Mrs, Hazell, The presents were costly and numerous, Dr. and Mrs. Ewing left later in the afternoon for Grand Sable House, the Country seat of the Hazell. We wish the happy pair long life and prosperity.
Carol stood at the ship’s rail peering into the dimness of early dawn. The Captain had told her that they would be arriving in St. Vincent in the morning and she wanted to be ready for the first sight of the island. All the goodbyes were behind her; Miss Lefroy and the other teachers back in England were already fading into the memory of another life. Before her was the homecoming she had looked forward to for nearly three years.
“Well, Miss Carol, you are up early,” said the First Officer’s hearty voice. “You’re going to have to wait another hour or so to see that island of yours. We’ll not be arriving until about ten o’clock.”
“I’m longing to see it,” said Carol.
“Well, you still have time to go down and have some breakfast. I’ll call you when the sun comes up and you can watch for the volcano on the horizon.”
Carol felt that she couldn’t eat a bite, but as she sipped her tea and found hot toast and a boiled egg very acceptable she thought how nice it was to be treated as a grown-up.
She had thoroughly enjoyed the ocean voyage with a friendly group of passengers and ship’s officers, and found herself involved in musical evenings and small impromptu dances. She was no more the shy little schoolgirl, but a young lady holding her own in society.
The sky brightened and Carol watched faint outline of the island appear on the horizon, then grow more distinct until suddenly it was daylight and in no time the ship was sailing into the sunlit arms of Kingstown harbour. There was the familiar little town (was it smaller than she remembered?) and the green surrounding mountains, and yes, she could see the red roofs of Windsor halfway up the hillside. She was excited and scared and happy all at once and afterwards could never remember the morning clearly. Dad and Willie and Fred on the jetty; the carriage waiting to drive her home with old Leo grinning as he helped her in with her smaller bags. People in the crowd calling out, “Hello, here you are home again!” and “Nice to see you back, Carol” “Welcome home!” until at last they were up the steep hill, into the driveway, with Mother and the girls waiting on the verandah.
All that first day was laughing, crying confusion. Everyone remarking on how much she had grown, how they liked her dress and her hairstyle; Willie teasing her that she was even pretty now; and the servants giggling at her English accent. She was hugging brothers and sisters: some who had grown older, some who had grown fatter, others who were handsome, and some who looked thin and tired, but Mother was just the same. Later came the married sisters with their families. First was Georgina with the girls growing up and even Basil, the baby, a sturdy boy firmly held by father Carden who had visited her at school and had so kindly taken her to the theatre. Ethel was there with her three girls, Mona still a baby, and Trixie with her husband John and handsome little Jack, all living nearby and welcoming Carol home. As she lay in bed that night, tired out but too excited to sleep she thought, “They all still call me Monks but I’m no longer the baby, I’m a real person and everyone treats me as if I’m new and interesting!”
It was a happy carefree time. After all her trunks were unpacked and her new clothes admired by her sisters, the presents distributed to everyone with squeals of joy from the little nieces and nephews, she soon fell into the easygoing pleasant routine of home, with few duties and plenty of leisure time.
After the structured hours of school the casual social life of the young people delighted Carol. She was a lively good-natured girl with dark hair and big brown eyes and before long she was a popular member of a congenial group of young people with Doris and Fred, as well as other local families. They went riding and visited Willie on the estate where he was manager; took picnics to the beach for bathing; enjoyed sailing parties up Leeward to see the waterfalls at Baleine or to Bequia to spend a weekend with friends. There were small dances at home; or dinners where married sisters enjoyed playing hostess and introducing their young sister just home from England. Visitors from the various ships were entertained and visits from British warships always produced a spate of parties and dances. Some times the officers would give a dance on board ship with fairy lights decorating the rigging and under the huge tropical moon nothing could be more romantic! To one of these Carol wore her most beautiful white satin balldress embroidered with pearl beads, only to find the heat of her partners’ hands melted the beads and quite ruined the dress. It was a big joke in the family that all Carol’s partners stuck to her!
One day at lunch Fred said, “I met the new young doctor today. He’s from England and is working with Dr. Durrant. He’s called Gordon Ewing.”
“What is he like?” asked Blanche.
“Oh, quite a little fellow- not much to look at, but very pleasant. I suggested he might drop in one evening but he said hewould call first.”
Call he did, with the required number of engraved calling cards, and before long he became a much sought after member of the island society. He was charming and polite, very neat and immaculate in dress, with blue eves in a fair-complexioned face. He was older than the young group to which Carol belonged but he enjoyed joining in some of their outings although his work was demanding. Before long it became obvious that he was one of her admirers.
“Do you like him, Monks?” asked Doris one night as they were going to bed.
“Y-e-s,” said Carol. “He’s so different from the men here. He’s been to America and India and all sorts of other countries when he was ship’s doctor on the Cunard and P&O liners and he can talk about so many interesting things.”
“Well of course he’s quite a bit older than you are. Twelve years, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t seem stuffy like some older men. Anyway I like blue eyes,’ Carol giggled, “and his head is such a nice shape!”
Some months later the engagement was announced in the weekly newspaper and before long there was another engagement: Fred had asked a pretty blonde Barbadian, Mildred Ince, to marry him and there was a combined party for both couples. They enjoyed the greater freedom that engagement brought, and in the evening would stroll out into the garden and sing the songs Carol had brought home with her. Mother and Dad were not too happy- Dad felt that though Gordon had a good profession and could certainly support a wife, he seemed to move from one job to another and might not stay long in St. Vincent. Mother considered both Fred and Carol too young and she did not care for either Gordon or Mildred, but this was not unusual, she disliked all her sons and daughters-in-law!
During this time the family had a sudden and tragic blow. Doris came to breakfast one morning complaining that she was getting a stye on her eye. By evening it was larger and inflamed, but she said that she would bathe it with boracic and it would be better. However in the morning her eye was closed and the whole side of her face was swollen, so Dr. Durrant was called. Before penicillin there was not much could be done to cure an infection, and in the tropics it was said that there was not much illness, but a lot of death. In a few days pretty young Doris was dead. John Louis had died some years before of pneumonia while in the USA but this death was at home in the heart of the family.
Two years after Carol returned from school she was married to Gordon in June 1914 at the Cathedral in Kingstown. It was a happy family wedding with two young nieces, Marion and Milly, in pale lavender dresses carrying bouquets of mauve lilies and wearing big hats that looked rather like wedding cakes. The bride was in ivory satin and a veil with a wreath of orange blossom in her hair. Both hats, bouquets and the bridesmaids’ dresses were made at home but Carol’s dress was ordered from the States. The reception was at Windsor, and the bride was careful to send wedding photographs and cuttings from the newspapers to her new mother-in-law and relatives in Northern Ireland. They had received an invitation months earlier, but of course could not accept, so no member of Gordon’s family was present.
A wedding in 1914! No one could imagine how their world would change in the next few years.
The year was 1902; Queen Victoria was dead, and the people in St. Vincent now had a King instead of a Queen. The Hazell children were growing up, and 8-year old Carol went to school with Miss Matthews in town. One afternoon she and Fred crept through the garden to the stable yard. A market woman had given them each a mango and they leant over a wall and enjoyed the luscious fruit, dripping juice onto the garden below. They knew what would happen if they were caught: those mangoes are green – look at the mess you have made of your clothes – you’ll get a stomach ache! It wasn’t easy being the youngest of a large family and they did love mangoes!
“We’d better go and wash,” said Carol, looking at her brother’s sticky grime-streaked face. “How did you get so dirty?”
“Your’s is just as bad,” he replied. “It’s because it’s so dusty. Look, you can’t see the sun at all- the sky looks like dirty milk.”
They looked over the garden and down the hill to the harbour and town, but the dust seemed to get into their eyes and everything was hazy. They adjourned to the pump in the stable yard. Cleaner but damper, Carol went to join her older sisters and her Mother on the verandah. She was learning to sew and as much as she enjoyed being with “the big girls” and hearing the grown up chat and gossip, the long seams of the pillowcase she was making were very boring, and she couldn’t help pricking her finger and getting her thread dirty. Her sisters were doing beautiful embroidery and crochet, but it would be a long time before she could attempt such things. This time, however, they were all getting up and putting away their work as she arrived, shaking dust from their long skirts.
“Come on Carol,” said Ettie “We’re going inside. It’s too dusty to work out here today. Look at the dust on my blouse, and yet it isn’t very windy.”
“It’s not wind – the dust just seems to be drifting down,” said Muriel. “I wonder where it’s coming from.”
They were to wonder more as the dust grew thicker and the sky darkened. Next morning there was no sign of sunrise and it was like a queer twilight. The gritty dust was everywhere, in the house, in the air you breathed, and floating on the morning cup of tea. The servants were very quiet, with none of the usual talk and laughter, and the children felt scared because everything was so strange.
Dad and the men and boys set off for town, but Mother told Carol she could stay at home this morning. She couldn’t even feel pleased at the unexpected holiday, especially as Trixie told her to dust all the dining room furniture- What was the point? It got dusty again as she did it. She stopped to look out at the sky and suddenly saw her brother Willie tearing up the driveway, with Fred, red-faced and puffing, not far behind.
Leaning out of the window she called “What are you doing? Didn’t you go to school?”
“There’s been a big eruption in Martinique!” yelled Willie.
“School’s closed!” shouted Fred, and as they tumbled up the steps, there was the clatter of horses’ hoofs and Dad came riding up from town and into the stable yard. Carol could hear Mother’s voice in the kitchen and the sound of Dad marching in. He was sweating and the dust stuck in the lines of his face, making him look like a stranger.
“Jack, what is the matter?” asked Mother. He sank into a chair and tried to wipe the dust and sweat from his face.
“Mount Pelee has erupted on Martinique- a really big blow! They say the town of St. Pierre has been destroyed and perhaps everyone killed.”
“How terrible,” said Mother. “The poor people in Martinique.”
“The shock must have been devastating for the whole island,” said Dad, and as he spoke they suddenly felt a reverberation like a ripple go through the floor and heard in the distance a series of dull thuds. They stayed frozen for a moment, each with the same thought: “What about the Soufriere?”
“I’m going back to town,” said Dad. “See if I can get any news from up country.”
Mother looked pale, but she said, “Come and eat your soup, Jack. You don’t know how long you will be, and the servants would like to get the meal over with.”
No one ate with much appetite as even Carol knew that the Soufriere was their volcano at the northern end of St. Vincent, and that if one volcano erupted it was quite possible for another to do the same. The Soufriere had been dormant for nearly a hundred years and it was right at the other end of the island. But St. Vincent is only 18 miles long.
The young ones crept away and gathered under the porch and the boys tried to scare the girls with horror stories of what they imagined was happening in Martinique. Of course, nothing like that would ever happen in St. Vincent! The adults were not so hopeful. They admitted to each other that a friend from an estate up there had said that the water in the crater had risen and had begun to steam, and John Louis had met George Fraser in town one day who had told him that the earth tremors had been frequent on the Leeward coast, some quite violent, but still! It couldn’t happen here.
The island is so mountainous, and the roads were narrow and twisting, so communication was poor. While the people in Kingstown talked of the terrible news from Martinique, and the estate owners on the Windward Coast took no notice of the small tremors and could not see the mountains for the heavy clouds of dust, the people on the Leeward side of the island felt the earthquakes becoming more violent and the rumblings from the volcano more frightening and they realised that like Mount Pelee, the Soufriere was erupting. Many of the Caribs and others from the villages at the base of the mountain fled to the sea and the coastal villages of Wallabou and Chateaubelair prepared to leave.
Next day, the 7th of May, continued dark and gloomy with the dust from Mount Pelee still falling over the town. The men had gone to town but the children were at home, bored and cross. Suddenly just as it neared midday there was a terrible explosion and a huge black volcanic cloud rose in the north and spread across the sky. Everyone dashed outside to see, but there were great crashing noises and loud rumbles and explosions, so hastily the children were called in and the men servants began to put up the shutters as clouds of ashes with big stones and lumps of solidified lava poured down over the whole island. The family huddled downstairs while through the cracks in the shutters they could see constant vivid flashes of lightning and great roars of thunder. Carol clutched Ettie’s hand and tried to be brave; she wouldn’t let Willie and Fred see her cry. All the servants were huddled in with them and some of the maids were crying. Mother looked pale but Mother would never be frightened. They could hear rocks and big boulders crashing on the roof and Mother just began to say, “I think we should all go down into the cellar,” when the back door blew open and Dad and the other men burst in. They had been on their way home when they heard the first huge eruption so had struggled on, battered with stones and covered with ash but nothing more serious. Dad herded them all downstairs until the bangs and crashes became less frequent. The air in the cellar got so full of dust and smoke and the pungent smell of sulphur, that Dad finally told everyone to go upstairs, but try to keep everything closed as much as possible. Black darkness covered the town while the roar of the volcano continued. Rocks, ash, and cinders fell to be mixed with rain into a glutinous mud. Not a living thing ventured out into the maelstrom.
Eventually the storm lessened and there were fewer falls of rocks. People crept outside and tried to see how much damage had been done. The family began to clear the dust and ash from the veranda while the men rode down to the harbour on horseback through the muddy littered streets. The young people began to shovel mud from the paths and the sky gradually became a little clearer. Down at the harbour Father and the other men saw through the dusk a small boat sailing from the Leeward and entering the harbour. It was crowded with survivors from Chateaubelair with stories of the terrible destruction which had taken place.
No telephones were working and there was no news from the Windward side of the island so next day when the light was better, Father and some of the men decided to sail up north and see what had happened there. Willie and Fred went down to the harbour to see them set sail, but it was still too dusty and grey for Carol to see them from the verandah. They were away all day and just as there was a faint rim of sunset on the horizon for the first time in a week, they slipped back into the harbour. The family waited quietly at home as one of the boys rode down with a horse for Father, and at last they came wearily up the hill. Carol took one look at Father and knew that something dreadful had happened. His face was tear-stained and dirty and he looked like a very old man. Mother said quietly, “Come Jack, have a bath, and after you’ve had a drink and something to eat you can tell us what happened. We know it is bad news.”
After a silent supper Dad stretched out tiredly in his chair and told them. “We sailed up past Georgetown,” he said, ” and the sky was a bit clearer but we couldn’t see any people or anything going on so when we came to that little jetty at Orange Hill we decided to anchor and walk up to the Fraser’s house. Everything was quiet- not a sound of a goat or a bird or a cow, and no one in the fields that we could see. At the house I saw someone sitting on a chair and then another person on the steps. We ran up, but we need not have hurried. George and Flora – both quite dead. We went into the house – nobody there, but down in the cellar – my God! It was packed with the servants and the people from the estate and their families. All dead from gas. You could smell it still and we were glad to get out in the air again. We thought that George and Flora must have found the cellar very crowded and come upstairs to have a breath of air just as the gas rolled down the mountain. There were rocks and stones and lumps of lava everywhere but from what I could see the gas has killed every man, woman and child for miles around as well as animals. Some of the horses had been penned in the fields with the cattle and it looked as if they had been struck by lightning. I never saw more horrible sights.”
A Mr. MacDonald who had been at Richmond Vale close to the volcano was one of the people who had watched and recorded the whole terrible event from 7:30 p. m. on May 6th to 6:00 p. m. on May 7th when he had to retreat to Chateaubelair. He wrote a vivid account of the whole destruction during that time. In Martinique molten lava was the killer. In St. Vincent the eruption was quite as violent if not more so as the explosion blew the whole top of the old volcano away and made another new crater. The gas ejected from the crater and the force of the falling rocks and lava made a “vast graveyard where 2000 bodies are buried under hills of ash and rock”. The fertile valleys and Carib villages were gone.
The young Hazells were very subdued for a while, but it wasn’t too long before Fred and Willie were arguing about how many people would have been killed in Kingstown if the Soufriere had been as close as Mount Pellee had been to St. Pierre.
“There were 40,000 killed in Martinique,” said Willie. “I bet there would have been 50,000 here!”
“More!” shouted Carol. “Fifty thousand and two counting you two horrid things!”
(Quotation: Governor’s Report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies)