Cyn’s photographs are more successful in black & white than colour- sadly the colour of the marvellous azaleas have faded in yellowed snaps. But the friends she writes of and the gorgeous cars show up quite clearly! Of course in the days of rolls of film, pictures remained in the camera until the roll was finished, so her photos of her trip at Easter were not developed until July 1947, and include some of her visit to her New York relatives then. The black & white snaps start in September 1946 at Lois’ airport, show winter coat weather, and finish with the Easter trip. Also included are Easter Sunday snaps of her New York relatives- I’m assuming it was the same Easter!
28th March 1947.
We have travelled about 220 miles since we left Toledo at 3:15 p.m. & it’s now 11 o’clock & we are safely in a nice little hotel in this small town. It was a nice morning, but by the time we left school it was raining, and after about half an hour we ran into an awful sleet storm! However it cleared up after a while and we arrived in Fort Wayne at about 6 o’clock & had dinner at a restaurant called the English Terrace! There was nothing very English about it but we had a nice dinner & I felt much livelier after it, because I’d missed my tea & was consequently very dopey all the time! After we left Fort Wayne it was dark, but very clear & moonlight & we drove on till we got here, stopping only in one little town, Newcastle, for me to send you a P.C!! The country from Toledo to Fort Wayne would’ve been lovely, along the river Maumee, but it was snowing and raining so it didn’t look very thrilling. The river was all brown & swollen with ice on the banks and there was still a lot of snow about & no signs of spring except the twigs of the weeping willows were turning yellow, but not even the grass looked green yet.
Til & Lois are sharing a room here & Mildred & me. We have twin beds & a shower, la- pomme & basin all in a corner of a room & a curtain around! Mildred is very nice and terribly agreeable- she teaches Maths & Science at school & is about Lois’ age. Mrs. Pasquier (you remember, my friend at DeV.) gave me an Easter present before I left- all prettily wrapped & with ribbons around, and & inside were three tablets of Morny soap- each one wrapped & tied up differently – wasn’t that sweet of her. You asked what the prize was I got at the luncheon a little while ago – it was a pretty little linen guest towel, woven by the hostess & I am only won it because I sat at the right place at the table!! Night, night – lots of love.
29th March 1947.
Tonight we are in Alabama and since this morning we have travelled through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee & and Alabama- about 440 miles today, and nearly 700 from Toledo.
We got up at the crack of dawn this morning- Toledo time is one hour ahead of this time, so I thought I was getting up at 7, & it was really 6.0! The others had spent an awful night because the hotel was noisy & the rooms terribly hot, but of course your daughter slept soundly through it all! We had breakfast & set out about 7.30 & Lois drove all morning till we got to a place Elizabethtown, Kentucky where we had lunch. We were most surprised to find that all through Kentucky & Tennessee the fields & hills still had snow on them, & looked not much further ahead than Toledo, but in the southern part of Tennessee the snow vanished & we have seen lots of daffodils in gardens which looked lovely. The grass began to show greener too, although no leaves on the trees – the famous Kentucky “blue grass” doesn’t come till the summer apparently & Lois says it’s just as green as anything! It was a most heavenly day for driving- sunny & clear as can be, with a breeze, and everything looked just lovely. The country was all very pretty, especially Tennessee with wooded hills and mountains – I didn’t see any mountaineers (like in Hugh’s funny stories!) but I did see some of their shacks & I don’t know how they hold up!
The lunch we had at Elizabethtown wasn’t much good, but the success of the party was when we all went to the Ladies Room & I got locked in the lavatory! I couldn’t get out & the others were laughing & laughing, so I climbed up & peeked over the top at them, at which they all had such hysterics they couldn’t do a thing to help me! Finally Til managed to open the door for me, but Lois & Mildred could only prop up the walls & giggle! I know that this will remind Nan of the song about the “3 old ladies locked in the laboratory” but they were there from Monday to Saturday! In the afternoon Til drove & I sat in the back & slept for an hour! It was quite hot in the car & it’s beautifully comfortable & easy to sleep. Lois drives sometimes at 70 m.p.h. & the car is so big & smooth that you don’t realize it’s doing more than 40. We stopped at Nashville Tennessee & had a chocolate soda for my “tea” & I sent you a P.C. Then we drove on to this town where we had dinner at one hotel which didn’t have room for us to stay & as the dinner wasn’t very good we weren’t sorry. This is a funny old place & we have two rooms with a connecting bath & a most peculiar sitting room & we climb 3 enormous steps from it into our bedroom which is in a kind of annex! Must stop as I’m sleepy again- Night night- Cyn.
Well here we are – 1010 miles away from Toledo! Isn’t that a long way? If we could drive over the Atlantic I’d be a 1/3 of the way home! We got up at 6 o’clock & had breakfast at 7, & were on our way about 8 o’clock & just drove like mad all day. We only had one big town to go through, Birmingham, & we had a coke there, at about 10.30 & then went on & there were no more towns till we got to Mobile. We had lunch at a “joint”! A hamburger & a glass of milk & once again I slept during the afternoon! All this morning we drove through hills with pine trees & woods over them, & as we got further south we saw the grass is getting greener & some of the trees had leaves. All the soil in Kentucky, Tennessee & Alabama is red- sometimes yellow or rust, but mostly bright or dark red, & it looks very amazing against the various greens. In the southern states too we passed masses of little shacks where blacks and poor whites live- junky Til calls them – some just tumbling down at one end. And then right next door you’ll get the smartest little modern house, & it looks so queer. Once or twice we passed beautiful big stock farms with marvellous modern barns etc. & white railings around all the fields etc. but mostly there are no hedges or fences at all. We arrived in Mobile at about 3.30, & had reservations at this lovely old hotel “The Battle House” where Til used to play in a little orchestra when she was about 17 years old! We have very nice connecting rooms & we got washed & brushed up & had tea & went for a drive around the town. Mobile is famous for its azaleas & this is just the right time of the year so we drove along what they call the Azalea Trail & it was really incredible it was so beautiful. Streets are lined with huge bushes of every colour- gardens of houses just masses of blooms- parks full. I never saw anything like it. Tomorrow we are driving out to see a famous Azalea Gardens near by & I hope it’s a sunny day because today was dull. After dinner we just lay on our bed & read magazines & everyone is in bed now so I’d better stop. Lots of love, Cyn.
Today has been another dull day, but still we have had a nice time. Mildred and I slept until about 9.0 and woke to find Lois waiting patiently for us, as Til had left about 7.30 to drive to her Mother’s which is 30 miles from Mobile. We got up & had breakfast & then went a meander around the town & looked at some of the shops & ended up by going down to the docks by the river at & watching the ships & some people fishing for cat fish! There really isn’t much difference between the north & the south just to look at – I suppose I expected all sorts of exotic things, but the towns look pretty much the same, & although there are more coloured people, with it being cold-ish weather, they’re all wrapped up & look just like the ones in Toledo! Of course, I just love to hear all the people down here talk – some of them I can’t understand at all, but I’m getting a little bit used to it now.
Til brought her mother to Mobile for lunch & she is a very spry old lady for 81. I somehow had imagined her an “old” old lady, but she is not a bit- more of the type of the old Bull, although she doesn’t look like her at all- white haired, with rather a hawk face & a twinkle in her eye & quite an uproarious laugh! We had lunch here at the Battle House, which wasn’t very good, then we drove out to the Azalea Gardens about 22 miles away & they were really lovely. Unfortunately the sun wasn’t really shining, but I took some pictures & I hope they’re nice. It was a great long walk around the gardens – they have a lake and lawns & a little waterfall, well as various walks, so Til & Grandma took shortcuts while we walked for “10,000 miles” Lois said! The azaleas were lovely & there were also great trees of camellias of every shade – white, pink, red & dark crimson & they were just beautiful. Lots of the trees have Spanish moss hanging on which looks most extraordinary & one of the black gardeners showed me how it grew & told me that they cooked it & the outside fleshy part came off, leaving a strong hair that was used for stuffing mattresses, furniture etc.
After that we took Grandma home & saw her little house & the nut grove. There are pecan nuts & tunge nuts & the latter are used for making paint & varnish. Then we came back here & went out for dinner & then to the pictures & we went to the nearest place which had a picture of Gary Cooper’s called “The Wedding Night”. It turned out to be as old as the hills & must have been made in about 1928! We giggled like anything it was so Passionate & the clothes were so funny!
Now I must stop and go to bed- night-night- Cyn
New Orleans 3rd April 1947.
Hello Mummy honey. This is my birthday & I know you’ll be thinking of me – isn’t it awful how old I get! Til & Lois don’t remember it’s my birthday, and I’m not going to tell them till this evening so that they won’t feel that they have to do anything about it. I’m writing this just before we leave New Orleans, so I have to go back and tell you what we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday morning we got up fairly early and had breakfast and left Mobile. It was dull & began to rain on the way, and we went driving on the road to New Orleans and had quite fun singing all the songs about rain that we could think of. We got to Biloxi and then from there on it was a lovely drive along the Gulf of Mexico, with some beautiful hotels & houses facing the sea, but it was just pouring most of the time. We got to New Orleans quite early in the afternoon, & it looked lovely even driving through the rain. The streets going into the city are wide and with trees and palms & flowering shrubs & it really was beautiful. Canal Street is the main street- very big & wide, & it leads right down to the Mississippi. On one side is the old French Quarter, the Vieux Carrée & on the other the newer part & the crossing streets have different names on each side. Our hotel, the Monteleone, is in the French part, one of the old narrow streets called Royal Street but it was big and modern & very nice & we had two lovely rooms with twin beds- & connecting doors.
We unpacked a bit & Til telephoned her ex-daughter-in-law’s home. Tony (the girl) wasn’t in, but she spoke to her Mother & Mrs. Breedy said Tony was at work & the children at nursery school, but that it would be all right for Til to come out & see them that evening. Til was very excited & thrilled, but later on Tony rang up & made all sorts of objections & so forth & was anything but friendly & said she couldn’t come that evening. However, after much palaver it was eventually arranged next morning that she go out that evening so she did see them after all.
We went out that first afternoon & looked around some stores, & I sent you a box of a special kind of candy they make down here called “Pralines” & I hope you like them. They are in a sort of little cake & I think there should be quite a few of them in the box, & I thought if there were, perhaps you could give Dottie one or two for Peter, & maybe send Anne one or two- but not if there aren’t a lot- you make a pig of yourself! We went into have a soda at teatime & it had been dull, but more or less fair when we went in, but it was now pelting down, & we tried to run from doorway to doorway on the way to the hotel, but we arrived soaking & drenched with me looking like a drowned rat!
That evening we went to one of the famous restaurants in New Orleans called Armand’s & had a lovely dinner. All the time I was there (down south!) I tried to eat as many strange & different things as I could- hot biscuits, hominy grits, crayfish bisque, shrimp gumbo, oysters Rockefeller, & all sorts of fishy things! After dinner we went back to the hotel & found out that there was a tour of the Night Life of the city! So we took it – about 3 big buses with a guide & we set out at 9 o’clock & came back at 1:30 a.m. We went to a nightclub first, then 2 gambling houses, then 2 more night clubs & ended up having coffee (milk for me) & doughnuts in the old French Market. Actually it wasn’t 1/4 as exciting as it sounds & we were all disappointed! The first night club wasn’t bad- we just sat & listened to the band. The gambling places were really dull – I expected plush & gilt like a regular casino, but these were just wooden halls with roulette boards etc. I put 50 cents in a slot machine & that was my gambling! I got a silver dollar (exchanged, not won!) & am keeping it for good luck though! I got quite matey with our guide, who had been a soldier in England, & he entertained me & gave me a Coca-Cola while he had a beer! The 2 other night clubs were awful – not so bad in appearance, but the floor shows were all strip-tease efforts, which were pretty boring after we’ve seen the first 1/2 doz. girls take their clothes off! The doughnuts at the end, were the nicest part & we were all quite glad to get back to the hotel & go to sleep.
On Wednesday morning we woke up to find the sun shining & it was a glorious day. We decided that the only way to see the city at all properly in the short time we had was to take these tours, so we took one in the morning & one in the afternoon, & they were both lovely- a great improvement on the night life! The one in the morning was especially nice & interesting. It was around the old part of the city, & we saw the Cathedral & the Museum & the old streets & houses & heard the stories about them all. In the afternoon we went on a boat & had a tour of the river! It was fun – a big excursion boat, & the tour lasted from 2.30- 5.0 o’clock but actually it was pretty much like any other river with docks etc. I saw United Fruit Docks where Owen’s ship docks but I had no idea even of the name of his boat. In the evening we went out to one of the suburbs to see Til’s grandchildren. Tony was quite cordial & invited us all in & the little boys (aged 3 & 4) were sweet. Til had brought them Easter eggs & they were tickled to bits & excited. Mr. & Mrs. Breedy were there & they were very friendly too & the whole thing passed off quite successfully, except that Til was a bit upset after she left. We went to one of the other big hotels, the Roosevelt & had a drink they’re famous for called Ramos Gin Fizz which is lovely! I made friends with a man who came & sat at our table & talked to us & had also been in England during the war, & he wanted to buy us all another drink, but we were good & left! Til and I were the naughty ones & talked to the strange man, while Lois sat & grinned & Mildred sat! We went & had dinner at another French restaurant La Louisianne & it was nice too.
My birthday morning we got up earlyish & got the car done up for our trip home & walked around & looked at the shops. We left New Orleans at about 11 o’clock and drove up through Louisiana by the Mississippi along the River Trail, but actually we couldn’t see the river at all because it has big bluffs or Levees built up at the sides and we didn’t catch a glimpse of it for miles. On each side of the road was water though with trees & underbush growing alongside & in it, & in amongst that is what they call the Bayous. We got to Baton Rouge (the capital of Louisiana) in time for lunch which we had at a place which wasn’t very good. Baton Rouge was quite a nice little town, with the most beautiful big modern Capitol building, built by Huey Long & in which he was shot & killed. After that we drove along through more open country, which in the old days had been all big plantations. A lot of these old plantation houses have been restored now & are open to the public for a fee, so we went to two for me to see. The first was called “Greenwood” near a little town called St. Francisville. We had to drive miles off the main road to get to it, following signs all the way like a treasure hunt, & when we got there at last, it looked really lovely from the outside, but was very disappointing inside. It had no formal driveway but just parkland & a wild (rather muddy!) lake, but across the water it looked wonderful – a square white colonial house with a veranda all round & great tall white pillars. Nearby, you saw the paint was peeling off & the plaster from the verandah roof fallen down, & inside 3 of the downstairs rooms were furnished with some nice antiques but we were shown around by a very garrulous old man & there wasn’t much to see. The other big house, farther along the road, was really done in style. It was called Afton Villa, & at the gateway there was an old man in a top hat & breeches, who welcomed us. Then we drove up the driveway which was quite one of the most amazing things – it was big & wide & long- lined with trees which had Spanish moss dripping right down over the archway. Through the trees you could see the woods & parkland with azaleas & camellias growing & you can’t imagine how wonderful it looked. The house outside wasn’t very pretty because it was a copy of a French château & was a bit muddly & ornate looking and a dull gray colour, but inside it was lovely. The first owner had built a little 4- roomed house for his bride, then she died & he married again & his 2nd wife wanted a big house, but he wouldn’t do away with the 1st little one, so built the 2nd all around it & you can still see the way it is. A lady showed us round & was very interesting & the whole place was delightful & had just been newly done up & looked lovely. We saw the hall & Gothic staircase & stained glass windows – the sun parlour, the dining room & parlour from the first little house, the drawing room & a tiny powder closet, a beautiful spiral staircase, a bedroom with a dear little cradle, & the sweetest small ballroom. I just loved every minute of it & bought a recipe book of Southern Creole recipes! We spent that night in Natchez (in Mississippi) which is also famous for its beautiful Colonial (Ante-Bellum, they call them) houses, but after the two we’d seen we didn’t have much ambition to see any more! We got rooms in a house that night, as the hotel was full (it’s now Saturday 5th April) and we had dinner in a place called The Carriage House Tea Rooms. It is a restaurant in what used to be the carriage house at a big old place, Stanton Hall, & was very nice & looked pretty & was served by coloured girls. I told the others at dinner that it was my birthday, so they were all determined that we should have a drink to celebrate! So after dinner we went out to find one, but unfortunately it was a “dry” county! However after enquiring, they told us about a place down a side street, so we went & it looked just like a lowdown bar, but Til & I stuck our heads in & asked if 4 nice ladies could have a drink & they all said “sure, come on in”- so we did! There were no chairs or anything, just a bar with a rail for your feet but they (the men) were as sweet as can be to us. The men made room, & the barman gave us highballs & when we looked for a place to sit, he escorted us way around the back to a very moth eaten little booth where we sat & drank in seclusion! After a while in came a tall good looking young man in Army shirt & trousers who had been in the bar, & excused himself & begged our pardon in a very delightful Southern accent & asked if he could talk to us & buy us a drink! We declined the drink, but down he sat & the poor lad was just so tight he could hardly focus his eyes on us, or talk properly but he begged our pardon so nicely & told us that he promised he wouldn’t get out of line with us ladies, that we forgave him! His name was Willie Wood (he was 32!) & he had been in England in the Army too & said he just loved England, which made me love him. He had been in a Parachute Division, poor boy & was wounded in 1945 & has been in hospital ever since. He is still in hospital in Arkansas, but was home for a leave, & when Til told him he shouldn’t drink he said “oh yes Ma’am – it helps me” & he was so pathetic we all could have wept for him. He kept asking us to stay in Natchez longer & told us he would show us the houses & take us to the Country Club & told the others that I was the one he was interested in! However we finally bade them all farewell & left!
Last night Til was sick & felt awful all next day when we drove up through Mississippi to Memphis. It was very dull flat country, so we just drove on & on & spent the night at Brownsville, Tennessee in a Tourist Cabin, & that night Mildred too was terribly sick. They had both eaten a chicken salad at Baton Rouge which tasted queer, so they decided that must have given them food poisoning, & they certainly felt badly. Lois & I got up early this morning & got Mildred some stuff in a drugstore & she felt better & Til has been much better today, but it sort of damped our tour. We drove through Tennessee & Kentucky today & tonight we are at a little hotel in Carrollton, Kentucky, & tomorrow we’ll drive home thro’ Cincinnati & Dayton, both in Ohio. The last 3 days have been really hot & a bit uncomfortable for driving thro’ bare open country, but today as we went thro’ Louisville there was the most colossal storm with thunder & lightning & torrents of rain like a deluge & it rained till we arrived here- about 2 hours. It is cool now & of course tomorrow will probably be probably cold in Ohio. The hotel is nice here & I am in a bed in Lois & Til’s room & Mildred is in a connecting room by herself as she got absolutely no sleep last night. We had a very nice dinner & were lying here undressed & reading mags. when we heard such a noise up the street. Mildred was asleep, but Lois & Til & I rolled up pyjamas & put on coats & went to see what it was & it was the Holy Rollers! The man in the hotel told us to go in the Hall, so we did, and sat at the back & I nearly had a fit- white people, not black, screaming & yelling & lying on the floor & jumping about screaming. We only stayed a few minutes, but long enough for us – we were horrified. Night- night- Love from Cyn.
Sunday 6th April.
Here I am back again in nice old 4229 Berwick Ave! Even though the trip was lovely & I enjoyed it all it’s nice to be back again, although of course the thought of school tomorrow doesn’t appeal to me at all! We drove 2590 miles in 9 days- wasn’t that incredible? And 2 of the days (1 in Mobile & 1 in N. Orleans) we used the car very little, so most of that mileage was done in 7 days- Lois drove all the whole time except for about 150 miles Til drove one day, but Lois is a grand driver & she seems to take it all in her stride.
We got up this morning at about 6 o’clock & got packed etc. There was no “Episcopal” Church in the little town, so the others had breakfast & I had a cup of tea & we set out about 7.30, with the idea of finding me a Church as we went along so that I could go to Early Service. Unfortunately all the little towns only had Baptist or Methodist churches, & then we crossed the state line between Kentucky & Ohio & we went back on Eastern Time & jumped an hour ahead so when we got to Cincinnati where there was an Episcopal church it was 9.0, instead of 8.0 & no service! So I had to wait & go at 11.0 at Dayton & nothing to eat! The drive from Carrollton to Cincinnati was lovely, all along the Ohio River (we sang “Beautiful Ohio” & I thought of Mr. Byrnes!) with pretty rolling wooded hills, & it was a lovely sunny morning, although very windy. None of the trees are out up here yet, so it doesn’t look as pretty as the south did, but soon it will be lovely. I forgot to tell you that I was quite sorry in the south because of course it was the wrong season for me to see cotton or tobacco or sugar cane growing, so I didn’t see any of those things. I saw some dried up remains of cotton fields, but on the whole I had expected the country to be much more cultivated than it was. Of course I only saw along the highways, but there was so much land just brush and rough woodland, & I had always imagined it would be all plantations etc. but I suppose I’m thinking of pre-Civil War days! Going back to trees being green down there, there was one tree I’ve never seen before which was so pretty – the Judas tree. It grows wild in the woods, but is also in towns & gardens – it is about the size of a rowan tree, but not so sturdy & at this time of the year has no leaves but is absolutely covered with pinky- mauve flowers like tiny sweet peas. It looks lovely amongst all the other green trees & seems to flower before the fruit blossoms come out – there is some story about it being the tree Judas hung himself on, & now its branches are so thin they can’t bear any weight, but I don’t quite know the whole tale.
Cincinnati is one of the biggest towns in Ohio, but we just wooshed through, so we didn’t see much. Dayton is smaller, but looked a very nice town. We found me a Church & in I went for the 11 o’clock service, looking slightly dishevelled as it was so windy, & very plain in my camel coat & a little cap, to find myself in a packed, very fashionable elegant Church. They make a great fuss over “Easter bonnets” apparently & giving flowers, & all the ladies had on the most incredible new hats full of flowers & veils & ribbons, & were all wearing colossal corsages of roses & gardenias & what have you! However, I didn’t mind & enjoyed seeing it all & the church & service were lovely. They had all the altar decorated from top to bottom with white lilies & huge sprays of white flowers and I felt right at home because on the “programme” it said that 2 Easters ago the RAF in training at Wright Field paraded to the Church, and up by the altar was the RAF flag. The vicar preached a very nice sermon & said that the theme was taken from an article written by William Temple, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, so I felt pleased again. I stayed for communion & there were so many people it took a longish time & I wasn’t out till 12.30 to find the others patiently waiting for me. Then we went & had lunch & I was hungry!
We drove right up through Ohio & stopped only once for a milk shake, when I nearly had hysterics laughing at Til! She had an ice cream soda, & in some peculiar fashioned poked her spoon in & the soda sprouted out of the top of her straw all over her sleeve, so I began to laugh & laugh & every time I’d try to stop, she would say something funny, till I was just weeping & giggling! That was our last spree!
We arrived home at about 5.30 & found stacks & stacks of letters & cards waiting for me & it was lovely, but I shall tell you all about those in another letter- this is just about the trip. And what do you think Lois & Til & I have done ever since we got home? Sat and discussed Mildred! I haven’t mentioned it before, but she was an absolute bore from beginning to end & nearly drove us all crazy! Lois just knew her sort of casually for years, & she more or less invited herself on the trip originally, but we had no idea that she was like this. Things wrong with her were: –
- She kept saying she loved doing this & doing that & when it came to the thing looked bored as anything.
- Could talk only about A. Food (about which she raved all the time) B. Her appearance C. Her intestines! I heard more about how many times she went to the la-pomme etc. than I knew about myself. I was revolted!
- She sulked all the time she was in New Orleans & made no effort to be pleased with anything.
- She was jealous of Til & Lois being friendly with me, & didn’t like me much I’m sure although she goes around telling everyone I’m “darling”!
- When we ordered food in a restaurant, she always wanted to taste what we had & liked ours better than her own!
- She was quite tactless sometimes & when we went out to dinner at the places in N.O. was just like a wet blanket.
- She always had tea & kept telling the waiters she wanted it hot, & then made a fuss & got pettish when she got it.
- She was a “fusser” & insisted on keeping “account books” of every 1d. we spent & pestered us for hours over 5 cents she couldn’t place!
- She couldn’t bear it when we all bothered around Til when she wasn’t well, & we’re sure worked herself up into a state just to get in the limelight we’re sure! She was never actually sick, – just groaned & moaned & trotted to the la-pomme one night & had “cramps” she said- yet next day she was all bright & cheerful & ate huge meals!
- The last straw – she got her curse & told us all about it & strewed Kotex all over our rooms & the back of the car, to be ready for all emergencies!
So now you know all about it! Actually – it’s really all true, & she was a positive blight, but I had no idea Lois & Til felt the same as me till we were in N.O. & of course we had no chance to discuss a thing, because she was always there! So tonight we really let our back hair down & had a lovely time. Til & Lois & I got on wonderfully from beginning to end, & even despite Mildred it was a marvellous trip & I loved it all – even though I could have hit her over the head with a large pole, many a time. She talked about the “River Trip” from the moment she left Toledo, & how she’d die if we didn’t go & how she loved going on the river etc. & when we went she sat & filed her nails all the time & didn’t look at a thing & never saw anything or seemed to enjoy it at all! What a woman! She is Lois’ age, but seems 100 & has just about everything wrong with her – according to the way she talks! But still!
I must stop now Mummy- it’s bedtime and work tomorrow. I wish you could have come on the trip with us and seen all the thiMAngs we did, but I hope you have a little bit of fun reading my gossip.
Lots & lots of love
Happy Easter Day! Finished on Easter Sunday 6th April.
Friday 18th August.
Up betimes. Had breakfast & finished packing. Got the car & off to King’s Cross- Miss Lefroy seeing us off. Sad to go – & a miserable old station.
Here I am finishing my diary in the train – as I started it a month ago. In that time I’ve sailed in two great ships – I’ve met people of all nationalities – I’ve seen New York and Niagara – I’ve met unknown relations and made countless friends – I’ve been made love to by a few and loved one – I’ve had nearly every experience I could wish – I’ve seen America.
I regret not one moment – looking back on it all it seems of priceless possession- something I have & hold. I may go again – I may do all these things again – I may love someone as much again – but somehow it won’t be the same. I’m young – I love life & this has been my first glimpse of it – my “first fine careless rapture”. Whatever happens it’s been worthwhile – a glorious lifetime in one month.
Thank you America.
Thursday 17th August.
Up in fairly reasonable time for once & down to breakfast. Mummy & I decided to go to town again as Miss Lefroy had to go out. Took the bus to Parliament Square – saw Westminster Hall – Westminster Abbey with the Poet’s Corner & the Grave of the Unknown soldier- up Whitehall past the Cenotaph- saw 10 Downing Street, then up to Trafalgar Square where I saw the Statue of King Charles II. Through Admiralty Arch and walked up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace, but it was too hot, so we walked up Lower Regent St. & to Dickens & Jones for lunch. Very nice it was.
Spent the afternoon ambling up Oxford Street & shop gazing. Took the bus to Selfridge’s – gazed round then a bus home & found tea waiting. Packed & saw the garden & then had dinner. Miss Lefroy afterwards took Mummy & I to see the Zoo illuminated. It was lovely & we saw the water birds, the lions, the baby panda! – the reptiles & the monkeys. Sat & listened to the band & then walked home. Chris down in her dressing gown to welcome us & we ate. To bed at last.
Wednesday 16th August.
Slept until 10 o’clock & eventually crawled downstairs for breakfast. Chris & AGL. out so we washed up & cleared away. Felt very miserable & hung around the telephone waiting for something to happen. Third time it rang it was Maurice – very tired having slept most of the time – asking me to go out in the afternoon & saying he’d call about 2:30.
Felt a bit cheered after that & got dressed & had lunch. Mommy told Miss Hull I was in love & she was terribly sympathetic- so sweet!
Maurice eventually arrived – plus umbrella- looking too frightfully bored & English! – And away we went to the Zoo – it was so nice seeing him again. We had last got there having walked about 10 times as far as we need & discovered the place simply crowded out. Packed. Very terrible so Maurice rushed me into the Aquarium & we spent a while at fishes & an octopus which I simply loathed! Outside & wandered round & saw penguins and things & then sat on a seat & talked about ourselves & each other. I discovered all about his mother & father & school & at all & I told him about the plan Mummy & I had of coming to live in London & he approved heartily. He’s a sweet boy. We then rushed around & saw bears & birds & whatnots. Then over & had tea & talked some more & then walked home. He is going for an interview at the B.B.C. in the morning & then flying to Paris in the afternoon to play in a tennis tournament so I won’t see him again. He came in & said goodbye to Mummy & then left – definitely a pet, Maurice.
Had an early dinner & got ready & AGL, Miss Hull, Mum & I off in a car to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre to see “Tobias and the Angel”. Lovely sitting in the dark & seeing the trees. Very amusing play, but couldn’t see terribly well although I enjoyed it all the same. Home & had a feast. Then to bed – sad.
[This production was made into a BBC Television show that month! TV in 1939!]
Tuesday 15th August.
Slept till 12 o’clock. Chris brought tea & then we got up in time for lunch. Afterwards Miss Lefroy had to go out so Mummy & I decided to go to town. Left a message with Mrs. Ryan about my phone call, but when we got to Oxford Circus, I thought I might phone the hotel & say goodbye if Wilkie was going. Rang up Hotel Imperial, Russell Square & waited. Then a voice saying he had left. I was expecting it, but still I felt the light go out. There was no fun anymore- nothing to sing about – no gay expectancy – tears in my heart – I know what it means now.
However we went on up Regent Street looking at shops, to Piccadilly Circus, then round Leicester Square & to Swan & Edgars for tea. Mum & I very sad chat! Out again & back up Regent Street to Oxford Circus- bus to Camden Town & another home. Arrived about six- no phone call of course.
Had dinner and afterwords played cards. And to bed – and I wept. Cynthia was never going to fall in love of course, and yet she cried herself to sleep.
Monday 14th August
Slept two hours & then up feeling not too bad. Dressed & upstairs. Met Jimmy and had a little chat.
Into breakfast – Egypt gone having left at Cherbourg – the doctor came & sat beside me instead. Up & saw Immigration officers in the Smokeroom afterwards, then talked- Mamma, Maurice, Nora, Jimmy, Bob & I. Mamma quite serene! Up on deck after a while & watched the ship going up the Solent. Lots of aeroplanes around. Wilkie there too & the Doctor.
Had lunch early & then on deck again already. Arrived about 1. People on board, but no one for any of us. Sat in the lounge & waited – Jimmy played for us. Off at about 3 & to the Customs. Showed all our things, but the Customs man was sweet & let everything through. Said goodbye to Jimmy & Bob & left them. Nora & Wilkie got through all right. Maurice had to wait for ages & had to pay excess baggage, much to his annoyance. Bunny Austin came & spoke to him though!
Got seats on the train & waited but the poor Doctor! He kept the train waiting three quarters of an hour while they searched every one of his trunks, dumped out his shirts and pyjamas, went through his pockets & generally played merry hell. Off at last- Mum, Nora, Maurice & I in a carriage with the man & his wife who was going to have a baby. Wanted tea, so wandered along & found it was brought to you, so we went & found Wilkie & the Doc & another man in a carriage & had it with them. Stayed with & consoled the doctor who was most upset. Gave Wilkie & Maurice my London address. Arrived in London & leapt out of the train. Got a porter & then went in search of luggage- Nora met her mother – & Maurice his father – much to his relief as the poor sweet only had 1/6 left!
Said goodbye to the Doctor & the other man & Nora & temporary farewells to Wilkie & Maurice. Then of course we kept meeting them all over the station! Got all the luggage at last & got a taxi- waved goodbye to Wilkie & Maurice & left.
Quite a thrill to see Westminster Bridge & the old Houses of Parliament. On round Regent’s Park & got to Miss Lefroy’s- Chris and Miss Lefroy waiting – & Nell arrived too. Had more tea & asked Miss Lefroy if she’d mind my going out with Wilkie – she said of course not & was quite thrilled.
A little later a phone call from the Doctor & Wilkie asking me what show I’d like to go to- I said Black and Blue, & they wanted me to come to dinner too, so I arranged to meet them at the corner of Wardour St. & Shaftesbury Avenue at 7:30.
Flew & got ready & Miss Lefroy got a car for me. Arrived & found them waiting so nice to see them there. We went and had dinner at a rather nice quiet place Pinollis [?] nice dinner & Sauternes– great fun trying to tell Wilkie what things were. Left & arrived at the theatre just as the curtain went up.
Much to my annoyance Francis Day wasn’t there & her understudy took the part. I was mad. It was quite good, but rather low in parts. Bebe Daniels was on for a few songs.
During the Finale the Doctor suddenly leapt up, shook my hand & said good-bye before it dawned on me that he was going. He had to catch the 11:40 to Glasgow.
After we got out, Wilkie & I wandered along- looked at Piccadilly Circus & saw the bright lights. Into Regent’s Palace for a drink, but of course could only get tea – much to Wilkie’s scorn! Talked about cabbages & kings – England & America – Jack thrilled me with America – New York in the fall- Miami and Florida- California in the winter – the spring in [?] – California & Virginia. Romance in every word.
We left at last & took a taxi home. Driving the rough London streets at night with someone – things you dream about- and a man you’d dream about. It didn’t seem real it was so lovely – we just drove around the Park & were bumped & shaken. And I was never so happy.
Time at last – we got there- trouble opening the gate & the door. Goodbye on the doorstep – my American – he’ll ring me tomorrow if his boat doesn’t leave. He wants my Mother to bring me to New York to live- it’s past hoping for. In just at 1 A.M.- Miss Lefroy waiting.
Sunday 13th August.
Didn’t wake up until 10:0 when Mrs. McKissoch’s friend came in. Decided to wait until stewardess arrived & ask for tea & toast, so we did that & it was very nice. Up & out at last & found Nora & Maurice up bright & cheery- more or less! Played ping-pong a bit & amused ourselves.
Had lunch to which Wilkie manage to totter. Afterwards we all grabbed cameras and rushed up on deck as it was nice & sunny, but most frightfully windy. Took some funny groups – Wilkie, Maurice, the Doctor, Jimmy, Ritz, Bob, Nora & me – all positions. Then dashed downstairs & saw the immigration authorities.
Went downstairs & watched Maurice play in the Final of the Ping-Pong Tournament – he beat Wilkie yesterday in the Semi-Final- a great battle- Wilkie is terribly cunning, but Maurice is really the better player. Maurice this time was playing a little fattish man- awfully good, but he played marvellously & won. Nice work.
The two finalists & Nora & I then went & had tea to drink the health of the Champ! Up to the Smokeroom then & sat until Nora & I decided we must use up the films on our cameras by taking photos of Henry & Egypt, so we dashed off much against Maurice’s will, & found the two amiable gentlemen & took their photos after much fuss. Didn’t bother to stay, but found Bob & Wilkie wandering around so we took some more snaps of them.
Decided next to go to the back of the boat to take more still so collected Maurice & wandered through. Stopped & saw Wilkie’s cabin on the way & found the Doc there, so he joined the party. Lost our way a few times, but eventually got there, took the snaps & wandered back.
To the cabin & packed. Down to dinner & the two gentlemen opposite treated us to Liebefraumilche. Very festive. Afterwards Nora longing to get merry so treated me to a Manhattan. Maurice & Ritz found us drinking & came & wrote on our menus– everyone did.
Eventually decided to go upstairs to the ship’s concert as Jimmy was playing.
Arrived to find the place crowded Wilkie & the Doc waiting for me & then with Harlan Heath- Maurice’s friend – an ‘Honourable’ incidentally! We all sat round & drank Tom Collins & after the Concert was over danced- greatly teased with my menu & bag & everything. Maurice showed me his Year Book – awfully interesting. Waited & waited for Jimmy to appear but he didn’t for positively hours. Ritz & Beatrice went eventually & the doctor – Wilkie asked me to walk but Maurice would’ve been left, so I didn’t. Nora went down to Wilkie’s cabin & got the remains of a bottle of Scotch, but there wasn’t much & I loathed it anyway. Jimmy finally appeared when only Nora, Bob, Maurice & I were left. The five of us decided to make a night of it, so we just sat & slept & fooled around. I tried to persuade Jimmy to play, but he only had spasms. I slept on Maurice’s shoulder & we played a silly trick with sixpences.
Saw the dawn come & the sun rising. Arriving at Cherbourg at about 6:30. At quarter to six Maurice & I danced- very nicely & we were extremely proud of ourselves. At about quarter past Mamma appeared – very mad! I was hauled to bed- but made it up before I went!
Saturday 12th August.
Breakfast with an even greater effort – 15 minutes late, but found Nora, Egypt & Wilkie all missing. Up to ping-pong room & found Maurice there. Played with him and also Bob who appeared. Felt weak about 11-ish so Maurice & Bob took me to find beef tea. Left me in the Garden Lounge while they searched & Egypt pounced on me! They were away ages, but eventually came & rescued me – minus beef tea. The horrors had very nearly left me to my fate! Down & found I could join the tournament- but could find no one to play, so the steward put me in the semifinal. Played some hot fours. Ritz & Nora arrived sleepily after a while & the Doctor, Wilkie of course, not until lunchtime.
After lunch went & stood in a queue for hours to get tickets from Southampton to London. Then downstairs & played in ping-pong tournament. Discovered I couldn’t be in semifinals. Beat 2 women, then got beaten by a Jewess who eventually won.
Up to tea dance with Maurice & tread a pretty measure! Afterwards down & played more ping-pong.
Dressed for dinner – in red brocade. Maurice quite bowled over with my appearance – or so he said! He also approves of my white skirt & fluffy yellow jumper. Amazing! After dinner Nora & Mummy went to the pictures. I went up to the lounge to dance with Maurice, Wilkie, the Doctor & Bob. Danced quite a bit, then when they started Keno we went down to the smoke room & had a drink – Tom Collins! Amusing discussions – especially about my clothes!
Upstairs again after a while and collected Ritz & Beatrice. Dance music & then Jimmy played the piano – I danced a lot – with Wilkie, Maurice, Ritz & the Doctor. Maurice unfortunately has sprained his foot at ping-pong but still hobbles around. Persuaded Jimmy to play a long time. Wilkie & I danced the last dance & then he took me to bed-3:30! Nora very matey with Robert one of the men from our table!
Friday 11th August.
Up with an effort & down to breakfast. Nora down too, & Egypt, with whom we are still on quite amiable terms. Wilkie not down. Nora and I decided it was a nice day & so went & changed into shorts then out on deck, but nothing much happening. Very spray-ish in our chairs. Nora’s cabin companion very sweet & complimenting me on how charming I looked last night – all overcome!
Down to the ping-pong room. Found Maurice there & he persuaded me to play – great fun- found I was still quite reasonable. Maurice very good. Nora doesn’t play. Played quite a bit – singles & doubles-with Maurice, Ritz, a Dutch boy & a Lancashire girl Beatrice. There was a ping pong tournament, but I was too late to join. The steward is going to fix it if anyone drops out though.
Big American man that I taught the Lambeth Walk to last night came & asked me if I knew Mr. Wilkinson so I promised to show them each other although Wilkie hadn’t yet appeared.
In to lunch & after a while Wilkie arrived. Very solemn- Mummy said he was in a bad temper. After lunch I went & told him about the big man who is going to play him in the ping-pong. Instead of being grumpy he was merely sleepy having slept until quarter to one- the big laziness!
Up and played ping-pong afterwards with Wilkie & Maurice. Mummy thought she would like to see Cabin Class and Tourist, so she asked Egypt to take her – with Nora & me as chaperones! He was very pleased & acted guide most efficiently. On your left the something & on your right the something else! Found Henry & traipsed all over, saw the swimming pool & cabins & all. Up on deck & William took our photos holding the Queen Mary life belt – very funny. Then Nora & Mummy had tea on deck- no more appeared, so Henry & William took me into the covered deck space & we had it together. Henry gazing at me intently and paying me compliments – especially about my eyes. Dear Henry! He must be nice!
Back to Mummy & Nora & then all back home. To the ping-pong room & found Wilkie there. Played with him & talked about American experiences. Also, a Scottish Doctor from Glasgow & Bob, a young man from London.
Ping pong eventually finished so Wilkie off to swim. Nora, Bob, the Doc. and I went upstairs & chattered. They then went into early dinner & Nora & I got dressed.
To dinner & felt quite crazy. Upstairs afterwards to dance. Mum to the pictures. Nora & I with Wilkie, Maurice & Ritz. I was quite crazy- much to everyone’s amusement! Refused Egypt’s invitation to go 1st class! Wilkie’s hat fascinated me – bright green cloth – very squashable! Danced then Horse Racing started, so we just sat & were fun to ourselves. Bob arrived looking very lonely, so we asked him to join us & we all drank Tom Collins. After a while dance music came on again & we danced & then Jimmy played the piano & we danced more. The Doc. joined us, also very full of amusement – altogether great fun and games. A Bulgarian sang some marvellous French songs & Jimmy played until he nearly died! At last to bed, Wilkie escorting me tenderly.