This letter from Carol Ewing (Grannie) to Linda, now 16 years old in Grade 12, seems to have accompanied the return of the Travel Diary which had taken her a few months after the summer trip to be completed and sent out to Grannie, with a plea for its return as a memento. In the letter, Carol mentions the younger generation of Hazells in St Vincent- older than Linda and at a different stage of life, but also leading what seemed to her (Linda) an exotic existence with parties, dancing and cars. [Recap of relationships in St. Vincent: Alex and Peggy Hughes, Cyn’s cousin and Carol’s niece, had the party for their daughter Margaret. Patrick is the adult son, Perry another, quite a bit younger. Milly and Ford are the visiting New York cousins of Peggy and Cyn’s generation, but older. Uncle Fred is Carol’s brother, Peggy’s father, and has been ill. Auntie Moo (Muriel) is the oldest Hazell sister, and Carol lives with her.]
Feb 10th 68.
Dearest Lindy, I have had this envelope addressed to you for some time- p.c.s which I thought you might like, to add to your collection, & I meant to write right away, then realized my writing pad was finished, & all I had was that “Shocking” little pad that you did not approve of!! I did enjoy your prolonged letter so much, (mine will be very old by the time you get it as it’s going by sea) (- was begun on 5th Nov. – – – after Xmas – – New Year.) You must soon repeat it, & then perhaps I’ll get one after Easter, eh? It’s a shame to tease you! when I know quite well it’s not easy when you have to write essays of 2000 words or more – as well as lots of other things. I hope you did well with Nelson – did you mention his lady friend Emma? You say they are making Easter holiday static – tell me what date it’s to be? I hope it means you will get a longer break. I’m afraid I misled you about Margaret, & her party was not so huge as I said, Peggy told me afterwards 36 – & some of them were Peg’s younger married friends, & it seems after supper & 11 p.m. they all went & danced at the Aqua Club – that’s a wild New Year’s Eve party where everyone kisses everyone, when ‘Big Ben’ strikes 12 – & there are wild whistles & yells & kisses galore! I have been to one or two of them, & it’s amusing – as of course, one tries to dodge the folk you don’t appreciate kissing you!! Margie is really quite a nice girl, rather silent & reserved – so is Patrick – but Mill & Ford who had heard this about him, when they went to lunch with them last Saturday, were surprised to find him quite chatty, so when Pegs came home, Mill said to her they found Patrick quite nice & friendly. Pegs said – “that was because he had had a few drinks at the club – otherwise he wouldn’t have opened his mouth”! Not a very good reputation, is it? As I have told Cyn, Margie’s latest is that she has dashed off & bought a small 2ndhand car – it’s a bright sky blue – & looks quite new. She took me out in it to ‘Grand View’ on her way home on Thurs– & it seemed very nice – but we are amused at them being a 4 car family – only Perry hasn’t! What a lovely cake Fanny’s sister made for you all, is she still with the Blachuts or did it come all the way from Switzerland? I am glad to tell you Uncle Fred is progressing slowly- he goes drives in his car now, & takes a great interest in the cricket matches which are going on right now on radio & TV – G.B. versus W.I. All the Hughes are going to Barbados next week to see the next big test match – & incidentally poor Perry is going to have his tonsils out – they’ll be away 3 weeks. Since the New Year we have been having quite a number of Tourist Cruisers coming here for the day – & you see lots of odd looking people about the town! – aren’t I rude? My friends the Carnegie’s in Newcastle wrote telling me some friends of theirs were coming on “M.V. Botany” on 27th Jan. & it w’d be nice if we could meet– but believe it or not they never mentioned the peoples’ name, & anyway I never got their letter until 1st Feb. after the ship had come and gone! Mr. C. said he had given them my address – but evidently they couldn’t find me – or didn’t want to perhaps – not knowing them – I am not sorry!! Now Honey Girl I’ll end this scrawl & beg you to excuse it – Auntie Moo sends love & is full of remorse that she forgot to say thank you for her shower cap when writing – Here’s good wishes for High marks this term. Much love from Grannie. Love to all 4. XXXX.
I’m not going to tell you about our stay in London and in Cambridge in great detail. We did the things everyone else does in London and you know Cambridge yourself. And another thing I’m running out of space.
However, in brief: In London we went to Buckingham Palace on Sunday. Mummy and I went to the National Portrait Gallery, and I have many lovely postcards of the portraits – including my lovely much maligned Richard the III. Have you read Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time?’ Concerning him, it is my Bible.
I bought a mint green and white mini dress in London and stacks of books. I bought a book (one of Jane Duncan’s I like her, do you read Jane Duncan) and eyeshadow (she’s mad about it) and a mood pen for my friend Janet, and leg paint!!! and a book and a necklace (oak leaf) for my friend Joanne. As well as little things for various other friends. We went to “Hello Dolly” at the Drury Lane Theatre with Agnes & Mrs. Herzberg and went to the Palladium to see Ken Dodd (I was shocked!)
We had dinner in a lovely “Dickens” restaurant – marvellous atmosphere. I love London.
I love Cambridge too. The Sutherlands were so nice to us! We were shown all around Emmanuel by the Master himself!
Auntie Gunborg gave me some birthday money and I got four more books. We shopped a bit- (Charlie got a deerstalker!) (He looks priceless in it!) We sightsaw, I want to come back. I get “home”sick when I think of England. I had a marvelous, wonderful holiday. Goodbye, Grannie Love Linda.
On reading this Travel Diary over, I feel I should explain a little about my personal reaction to England and Scotland. We had been brought up reading English books- Beatrix Potter, A.A.Milne (family story, baby Linda at the age of 18 months, got the point when her Daddy was reading about Pooh knocking on Rabbit’s door and being told that there was no one at home, and laughed, thus impressing her father with her accuity…), Wind in the Willows, the William books, Robin Hood legends, Narnia, Noel Streatfield, and so on. Yes, I read American books too- 19th century Alcott, Coolidge, and series like Nancy Drew, and Sue Barton: Nurse, but I liked ‘Jean Tours a Hospital’ and the rest just as much and enjoyed the contrast between the hospital cultures (dated though they were). My favourite series came through my mother’s keeping of the first three of Elinor M.Brent Dyer’s Chalet School books from her childhood, and I added to them whenever I could. (I now have them all. Yay internet.) The 15 year-old bookworm writing the travel diary had read countless teen historical novels- Hilda Lewis, Cynthia Harnett, Geoffrey Trease, and gone on to read her parent’s adult books set in England, Agatha Christie, Dornford Yates, Maurice Walsh, C.S.Forester, Georgette Heyer; and in Scotland, O. Douglas (Anna Buchan, sister of Canada’s wartime Governor General) and Jane Duncan’s ‘My Friend…’ series, and in doing so absorbed all the lore of the countryside- without ever having seen a bluebell (let alone a bluebell wood) or heather, or lavender growing, or a stile to cross a fence, or, in fact , a hedge- yes, we had one separating our lawn from the neighbours’ but it was nothing like an English roadside hedge! So while we visited friends, Linda dug around in their bookcases, and when we went sightseeing she was recognizing and enjoying things she had read about, and connecting with the history she had learned.
On Saturday we left Canterbury for London, left luggage, dropped off car and saw Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in Taming of the Shrew – lovely. We took the sleeper up to Glasgow – and hardly a wink of sleep did I get it, though my family did better – and grabbed our hired car and headed off for Kelvin & Mary Tyler’s for lunch. This visit was rather a farce – we had expected to have fun with their two little girls but they were at their grandparents so Charlie & I just sat.
In the afternoon we went up to Loch Lomond and stayed the night at Luss. It is a village which is very pretty but too “ye olde worlde picturesque cottagee”– perhaps this impression came because large number of trippers but I felt that they had gardens for effect rather than enjoyment.
There was a nice little church there but we felt that we couldn’t just march in like cathedrals so we didn’t see the inside. The hotel was crowded & noisy. Charlie & I wanted to walk on the hills around & Daddy came with us. Just as we had got away from civilization and the path began to be exciting he got tired and we had to take him home. He said it was too dangerous for us to go on without him! He, who was puffing & slipping while we ran, was protection but us alone would have been danger! I went to bed in a temper – the hills (I can’t call the mountains really) are really beautiful.
On Monday we went up through the Trossachs. I didn’t envy Sandy his Pennine Way walking tour, but I would love to tramp up there, I saw heather close, both kinds and I approve. We walked along Loch Katrine and threw pennies in to come back. We went on to Edinburgh. And the Firth of Fourth that I’ve so often read about. On the way we saw the Wallace Memorial on a hill against the sky and here in Edinburgh there is another of the same type to Scott. It embodies for me the statement in O. Douglas’s ‘The Setons’ — “We have all of us, we Scots, a queer daftness in our blood. We pretend to be dour and cautious, but the fact is that at heart we are the most emotional and sentimental people on earth.” I am getting horribly sentimental myself, I hope you like it. Paper lures me on sometimes. I find we have no picture of either memorial- Bother ! – Yes I do, I found one. Will stick it in. LC
In the Shetland Shop I bought a beautiful dull gold kilt & sweater (10 £). All my friends admired it greatly. Kilts are all the fashion. We saw over Edinburgh Castle – sweet tiny chapel, walked down the Royal Mile to Hollyrood but Daddy got angry at the guide and stalked out, leaving us to trail out behind miserable but obedient. What it is to be ruled by an autocrat! We got on the train and went to Newcastle. We had tea at the Sheedy’s. Bobby & Patrick were very nice. Old Mrs. Sheedy made a great fuss of me, she said she didn’t have a granddaughter. Aren’t you lucky? Then we went to the Coopers and I had a lovely time with the three little boys. Then we went to Pam & Sam Fay’s for dinner. We got on the train and went to London. On the train we saw Durham Castle lit up – lovely.
It is now Thursday 20th of July, this year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred & sixty seven. Happy Centennial! We went on to Salisbury and saw the cathedral which is lovely and I found the tomb of a knight, the son of Fair Rosamond & Henry II, William, known as Long-Espée, Earl of Salisbury. Do you know Fair Rosamond’s story? But Queen Eleanor wasn’t nasty.
In the afternoon we went to see Nelson’s ship the Victory which Charlie loved but which I think is overrated and give me the Duke of Wellington any day. In a museum there, there were figureheads and I never was so disappointed in my life, I didn’t know figureheads were like that – crudely carved and garish and UGLY! Oh!!!
However, Brighton quite made up for it and Stonehenge because at Brighton we saw the Royal Pavilion built by the Prince Regent, later George IV as a summer place. It is perfect – marvellous – ludicrous – fantastic – overwhelming – stupendous. Impossible to describe. It is Indian outside – with a million Taj Mahal domes, and mad Chinese inside – priceless – I will send you a couple of postcards but you must send them back, they are part of my collection. Mummy & I absolutely loved it.
Then we went to Canterbury and saw the cathedral in the evening.
We saw the spot where Thomas à Beckett had been killed but the shrine had been destroyed by Henry VIII of cursed memory and some fool nobleman had his memorial thing with a bust of himself just above on the wall so there was just the floor & 3 square ft. of wall.
We had tea at the Mitre in Oxford and had gorgeous chocolate eclairs, I had three. We took a walk through Oxford and bought some books but you can’t see much if you don’t know anybody. We spent the night at ‘The Hare and Hounds’ a very nice place, would have liked to stay longer, and went on to Bath. We saw the terraces of Regency houses and went into the Roman Baths. We had lunch in the Pump Room and I got a sweet little replica of a Roman pot 3 inches high & fat. It is silvery with red dots in a pattern, little bumps I mean, and the inside is brown glaze. Sweet. Charlie got a little replica of a silver penny like “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s… and that will be handy in Sunday School class.
We went onto Wells and met Ruth who is nice & Richard and Michael and the dog – all three very nice & friendly and Dr. Stainthorpe whom I am sorry for. Mummy & I think it was a great mistake for him to come and live with them, it is not a happy arrangement. Ruth & the boy are irritated by him and show it (rather like you & me & Mummy in a modified way to our shame, but we love you and I didn’t see any sign of them!) and poor ‘Grandpa’ has a hard time of it, with nothing to do & no friends. You should invite him out to St Vincent for a long holiday!
Ruth & the boy showed us the cathedral (I think we would have seen more, and taken in more on our own) (ungrateful me) and it is lovely – the squarish front with the figures of the saints & kings and queens reflected in the sunlight. However, they showed us Vicars Hall, a 14th century dining hall set with pewter plates etc. which we couldn’t have ordinarily seen. From the window we had a beautiful view of the oldest Street, intact, in Europe – Vicar’s Close. I hope you have seen it, it was lovely with walled gardens in the sunset but I can’t describe it. At tea Peter Haynes came in and I liked him very much but he just shook hands & kissed (they do it an awful lot in England) us (Mummy & me that is) and then dashed upstairs & changed into clerical garb and dashed off after shaking hands through the window. He had a meeting, he seemed awfully busy.
We then left & went off to Amesbury – not very nice – lots of traffic past the hotel. On the way we came upon Stonehenge. It just rose up out of the ground before us. However I was disappointed in it. I sent you a reconstruction version on a p.c. I think but actually it’s very untidy, all lying about, and since the historians have discarded the theory that the Druids built it, they don’t have a theory – it’s just there- something to do with religion and before the Druids but what, they don’t know – unsatisfactory. It is nice to think we are on our own now – meals in people’s houses tried me but I tried to be good.
On Saturday (I had my dates mixed) we drove to Sutton Coldfield (peculiar name!) through the Welsh mountains. The views were magnificent & we took a few pictures. We met some awful traffic jams – cars waiting for miles back while the crossroads in the tiny villages got stopped up. Of course it is the weekend, that probably accounts for it. We met Auntie Dottie and Tim (whom I think is a poisonous little brat, spoilt) and the cat Pooh (wild a bit, but he lay on my lap.) After tea we met Peter and his fiancée Val Hurst. She’s the one who designs rings. She is petite, a shoulder length blonde, vivacious and drinks more beer than I have ever seen Daddy. At supper we met Richard (I have his room & like his taste in books) and Uncle Ken. I like them all. Later we met Jim and his girlfriend Gill. She is dark and pretty and rather quiet and she wears contact lenses. I can’t decide who I like better – Gill or Val. Daddy obviously likes Val better, you should see him jump up to light her cigarettes. By the way, Auntie Dottie smokes cigars! Little thin ones but really!
The next day Charlie & I & Tim went for a walk in the park. One of these woody overgrown ones. We walked for miles! I got absolutely exhausted and we still hadn’t turned around. Finally we got fed up & turned around and he walked us all the way back. It rained off & on. I donot like that child!
In the evening we went to Grace & Bob Speller’s for drinks – quite nice & Daddy talked to John & his wife who are coming to Canada I think.
On Monday we went to Stratford upon Avon, stopping off at Warwick Castle on the way. It marvellous – after the ruins it was nice to see one intact & well cared for. The most marvellous things in it were the portraits. Henry the eighth & Elizabeth & Henry VIII as a boy (sweet) and Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. There were lovely tapestries of faery woods with princesses & bears and heroes in. One room had Marie Antoinette’s bed in it and my favourite thing in the castle – Marie Antoinette’s clock. The clock was flat iron – sort of like a sundial with Roman numerals traced on & lines & delicate iron hands. And on the points of the hours coming out from the middle were the Twelve Stations of the Cross in little medallions of red and white china. The whole thing was so delicate and somehow like Marie Antoinette, poor thing.
Stratford definitely disappointed me, I think the Ontario one is much nicer. Of course this one is the real thing, though. However I enjoyed seeing the relics of Shakespeare’s life, we saw all the houses of he & his children except Anne Hathaway’s cottage which was too far to walk. It was so hot that we couldn’t do much. The outside of the theatre was horrible but the inside was lovely & ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ was lovely too. Back to Dottie’s for bed.
Today (Tues.) bid a mournful goodbye to Auntie Dottie & Uncle Ken (who are very nice & he has lovely books in the attic including two Scarlet Pimpernels which he lent me and three lovely Dornford Yates which I read all but 1/2 the last and it was too precious to take away! Boo-hoo!) and a cheerful one to Tim and set off for Oxford. We stopped on the way at Jean’s and met her in person and her husband Peter & Patsy who are very nice. [Cyn’s Hazell cousins.] They have a lovely garden. I would have liked to have met Patsy’s son. I saw a picture of him.
Name Linda Costain Home Address Box 330, RR1, Ottawa, Ont. Canada Date of Start July 7 Method of Transportation Plane Personnel of Party Me, Charlie, Mummy & Daddy En Route for England Scotland Wales and Isle of Man?? No, not Isle of Man
Addresses My friends: Joanne, Janet, Beth, Maureen, Susan, Jeanie; Grannie & Mr. Graham
Farewell Gifts and Messages Charlie and I both got cards from Mr. Graham our rector. Inclosed with the cards were two pound notes each. Wasn’t that sweet! The Thomases also sent all of us a going away card and so did you Grannie. (Thank you!) Mrs Blachut gave Mummy a present too, those little things that are wet that you can use to freshen up, do you know what I mean? Travellers Checks nos. AB72.719.904 to 912. Nine ten dollar checks! Isn’t that a lot of money! I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of it!
Clarendon Court Hotel. Here we are! in London. We got on the plane at 11:00- had dinner, tried to sleep- impossible, not a wink- had ‘a continental breakfast’, arrived- and saw in the airport bus & taxi a bit of London. After a snack & a rest we got on the top of a 16 bus and went to Marble Arch & listened to some (I am sure certifiably insane) speakers in Hyde Park. After dinner we met Jessie and Norman Aldridge and their son David. He and Charlie went around together and we all had a nice time. Still, it is eleven o’clock now, and I have somewhere lost a whole night’s sleep. Now I am going to collapse ———- good night..z.z..zz..z.
Today Mummy and Charlie and me (it’s Sunday) went to St Paul’s Cathedral to Matins while Daddy walked in Hyde Park. The choir was nice but the chants were unfamiliar and the sermon was awful. After lunch we went to the Aldridge’s and stayed for tea and a supper and didn’t get home till 11:30. I met Sandra who is 21 and very pretty and vivacious- nice. Peg (or Zinnia) popped in for a while but we didn’t see her family because the children had chickenpox. Charlie and I think that if every family we meet is as nice as the Aldridges we’ll really enjoy our stay.
Monday was very hectic – we checked out, got our train tickets, met Auntie Jessie and got some theatre tickets, and then wandered about Shepherd’s Market until train time. [To Manchester] Uncle Dick met us at the train and then we met Auntie Nan & Sandy & Barbara (both madly red hair & taller than me). They seem very nice.
Today we went to the school that both Sandy & Barbara go to. I went around with some of Sandy’s friends (girls) & Charlie was with Barbara. It was the last day of school so we didn’t get too good an idea of British school life, but we watched Sandy play his last game of cricket for the school. Next year, he’s going to an art school – the samples of his work that we saw were extremely good.
On Wednesday Sandy & Barbara left on school excursions and we picked up our car. Daddy took a driving lesson from Dick.
Thursday we drove to Bangor and the Isle of Anglesey. Daddy managed the car on the wrong side of the road very well. We stopped off at Conway Castle which was lovely. The Sheridans are very nice. Both of their boys were away – they are both around the age of Charlie & me. We’ll see one tomorrow.
Today (Friday) we went to Beaumaris Castle- what is the most nearly perfect, others had no roofs – and in the village I got a lovely oak leaf treated with copper – lovely colours – on a chain for Joanne. She and Janet gave us the loveliest present – to be opened in the plane, and it had everything in it! Magazines, books, note-paper, cards etc. I have to give them something very nice in return.* In the afternoon we went on a boat trip through the Menai Strait and on to the Irish Channel – 4 hours. Nice but I & Daddy have colds. When we got back we met Clive, the youngest boy a bit younger than Charlie, who is nice too.
*For what I gave them in the end, see 3 pages from the back. L.C.
It is interesting to compare this Travel Diary I wrote at the age of 15 with the one my grandmother wrote when she was sent to school in England at about the same age, and with the one my mother wrote in her 20s the summer before the 2nd World War began when she and her mother visited New York. [These have already been published in this project.]. Although all three of us recorded the events and sights we saw without including much introspection, I can’t help feeling I was the most at ease, having fun on holiday. I had a purpose, an audience if you like, since I had decided to send my account to my grandmother as an extended letter, so I certainly included opinions, but didn’t have room for detailed critiques. Carol’s journal covers her years at school so starts off as a personal account, but later events or sights seem to have been partially school assignments, since some sections have corrections. My mother’s was a personal record for her eyes only, to remind herself of what she saw at the World’s Fair, and sightseeing in New York and Niagara, but doesn’t contain much about the people she interacted with, her relatives and the friends she made on the ship. I suppose she would not have needed a reminder of them, although her account of the love interest at the end showed emotion- but had a measured, somewhat distant tone- written by someone a decade older than the teenagers perhaps, in a generation fully conscious of what they were facing although she made no mention of the impending war. Linda was enjoying a holiday with her family in the country she had heard and read about her entire childhood- the child of an immigrant feels a certain connexion to the original home country, even if she doesn’t realize it. I remember flying over the countryside while landing and looking at the fields and roads so irregular and curving, unlike the straight lines of sectioned farmland in Ontario. As we flew low, then drove through London, the roofs of buildings were so eye-catching to us with the chimney pots (although we had read Mary Poppins and sneered at the Dick van Dyck character’s horrible accent as he danced on the rooftops.) And visiting friends, their gardens were different too, lovely, and the local roads with hedges and curves, all memorable, but not what got written down. The Travel Log had prompts at the top of the pages, but Linda started recording ‘My Travels Day by Day’, telling Grannie halfway through to ignore the headings which had changed to ‘Shops Here and There’ and ‘To Be Recommended’ and just carried on until space required summarizing. It was not all written on the road, and seems to have been finished and sent quite a bit later, judging by the accompanying letter, but gives a clear picture of a lovely holiday.
Dear Grannie, Take a deep breath, put on your best glasses, then firmly open the book and start reading “My Trip to England” by Linda Costain, fifty two pages of my terrible handwriting. I loved writing it and I am so sorry I’ve been such an age about it. I hope you’ll be able to read it and that you like it after you’ve read it. It is sort of an extended letter, written mostly remembering. I’ll write a proper letter soon, answering your last. The only things I want to say now are: 1. Please keep that sweet little cat you described, it will be company for your puppy, please, please keep it. and 2. I was so sorry to hear about Uncle Fred, I hope he gets better, quite often people do. Give him my love. 3. I am running out of space again. Love Linda
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!
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.