August 1949: Meanwhile, back at the the ranch..

While the newlyweds had their honeymoon, life went on among their friends and relations. Carol, the mother of the bride, had sent her choice of wedding photos to the groom’s family in Canada the week after the wedding. The Costains in Saskatoon made sure the news was spread, with quite a lot of biographical detail!

The Anglican Church at Chesterton, England, was the scene of a pretty wedding July 26 when Cynthia Hazell Ewing, daughter of Mrs. J. M. Ewing of Cambridge, England, became the bride of Lt.-Cmdr. Cecil Clifford Costain of Sutherland, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Costain. A reception was held in the Dorothy Cafe at Cambridge, the young couple leaving later for a honeymoon in Paris and Cannes. They will reside at 37 Freville Avenue, Cambridge.

The groom is a distinguished graduate in physics from the University of Saskatchewan, winner of an Empire scholarship and is now attending the University of Cambridge, England. For three and a half years during the war he served in the British Navy with the rank of lieutenant-commander and was in command of the radar squad on The Indomitable, winning the Distinguished Service Cross.

The bride was born in the West Indies, of English parents, and spent most of her life in England, with a year in Toledo, Ohio, as an exchange teacher.

They will return to Canada early in 1950, afterwards going to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for further graduate studies.

Cyn’s close childhood friend Denis was preoccupied with his own wedding two weeks after hers, and none of those invited above were able to attend, Cec and Cyn being in France and Carol packing up for London. But wedding presents and photographs were exchanged.

Denis and Dorothy Sheedy

And a week after that, in Newcastle, Cyn’s other childhood friend, Nan, had her baby and sent an announcement.

Nan and Dick Heslop’s son was called Sandy.

August 5 1949

There were friends who could not come to the wedding, and who had sent wedding presents and telegrams of good wishes. This letter from Irene Mitchell in Newcastle is one of these, and she refers to others who wanted to hear all about it.  Cyn’s oldest childhood friend, Nancy, and her husband Dick were about to have their first baby.  Irene, who had married Bill three years before while Cyn was in America, had not been well, and was taking it easy after being on holiday with her husband.  So Dottie went home to Newcastle after helping Carol with the wedding clean-up, and gave all the wedding details to their friends!

5 Harriot Drive,

 Killingworth Station,

5th August. 49.

Dearest Aunt Carol,

I have wanted to write to you for several days because you have been so much in my mind but as Bill has had a week’s holiday, we have been away each day and I have never had a second, however, he is painting the house today so as I dusted the office the urge to write could not be denied so here I go…

You will be feeling sad without dear Cyn I am so sorry and would love to pop in so that we could have a good old chat about her and the wedding, which, Dottie and Mary say, was absolutely marvellous. They say Cyn looked the prettiest bride they have ever seen and as for you, well you would get a swollen head if I told you all- and your hat would never fit! I have ordered a full set of photos and if there are any you think I should like, please get them and I shall settle with you.

Cec looks a dear from his photo’s in fact they look a perfect couple. The girls say that Ruth and the little bridesmaid were very sweet and that Ruth has become a most charming young lady. I made Dottie start at the very beginning and tell me every detail, I think I have a very good mind picture of what happened on the GREAT DAY – I know what you all ate and what you wore and the best of all, I know that Happiness was as bright as the sunshine.

Thank you for writing me such a sweet letter Aunt Carol about me being unable to come it helped a great deal and I want you to know that Bill and I will really be THRILLED if you find you can come and stay with us. You are welcome anytime, you need only phone or wire and we shall be down at the station to welcome you with open arms. I do not know what your future plans are, but I know you are staying in England as long as Cyn stays and I shall never be the same if I do not see you all again before you leave, so there!

Mam and Dad have just returned from holiday and Mam looks much better so I hope the good work continues. Bill took a week off as he was a bit fed up. He has had to train a new representative who seems to have been rather heavy going. We have been away each day and I am feeling much better but I think I must have caught a chill sitting on the deck chairs at the Beach as I feel rather queer today. I shall not do much work and will soon be fit again. 

I have not seen or heard anything from Nan lately but Her baby is not born yet, she really is radiant about the Babe and she has not made any grumbles even though the hot weather must’ve been a great strain. We all wish the baby would come and Nan be fine.

Mary & Bill are coming for supper next Saturday, I like them both very much. Mary does not alter and looks just as nice as ever. Barbara & Grace were at Dottie’s Bee on Tuesday Bar looks awfully thin and Grace was tired but as she has two-year-old twins one cannot really wonder at it. 

Well Darling I really think I must make the bed now but I feel so much happier having talked to you. Cyn will be fine don’t you worry and don’t forget you are welcome here whenever you want to come   it really would be fun for us to have you. 

        Much love 

                Irene

15 words exactly!

August 8 1949

After the wedding comes the honeymoon, where the bride and groom are off together, and life goes on for those left behind.  This letter is written by the mother of the bride to Cyn and Cec on their honeymoon, but was never sent since Carol had no address for the travelling pair.  She gives details of the aftermath of the celebration, but what she is most concerned with is packing.  Cyn and Cec are on their summer holiday and then they have one more term of school in Cambridge.  Their address will stay the same, but they are moving to the top flat in the building, and Carol is packing up and moving out of the flat downstairs that she and Cyn shared.  She will have a holiday in London with Miss Lefroy, her friend and former headmistress, and then stay in England until the new year, when changes are due for all of them.

In Cec’s letter to Cyn in March, he mentioned the dinner in honour of his professor, Dr. Gordon Sutherland, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.  Cec’s studies in physics in Cambridge with Dr. Sutherland had led to his specializing in spectroscopy, but Dr Sutherland had accepted a professorship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  So Cec was going to continue his PhD with Dr Sutherland there, moving with Cyn to the U.S.A. in 1950, which meant Cyn would teach only until Christmas.  Carol, on the other hand, planned to go home to St Vincent, and live with her unmarried sister Muriel, so her packing involved sending the heavy remnants of her thirty years in England off by ship to the West Indies, and putting the rest of her goods into suitcases for the remaining months in England.

40 Elsworthy Rd.

Hampstead NW3, 

Monday, August 8th 49.

My darlings Cyn & Cec!

    We managed things very badly you dashed away & never gave me any address to write to- & I have your letter from London & your card & letter from Paris- & yet I can’t thank you for them, as I don’t know the name of your Cannes hotel.  I am hoping I may yet hear it, & get this to you before you leave – not that I suppose that you’ll miss a letter from me much, at this blissful time! I didn’t come to AGL’s until Friday 6th & I never intended to, as I knew I wouldn’t get through before then– but I also knew that if you thought I was staying alone there so long, you would make a fuss – so I just was vague!! It wasn’t a day too long, as I was busy up to the last. It wasn’t all work & no play though- as you will hear – Dotty was a wonderful help, & we laboured hard on the Wednesday getting all the china & glass etc. up – so much so that Dotty had to lie down & rest in the afternoon & in the evening- who should appear but Mr. Cooper and Edgar- I had completely forgotten they were coming on the Wed. so in my surprise I embraced them both warmly – much to Chris’s surprise & embarrassment I am sure!  We sat & chatted & then Bob & Lee came in to see your presents, I saw them earlier & told them to come. Dotty & I decided to leave out your presents in the sitting room for a day or 2 in case your friends came along. So I took Edgar & Chris up to see them too. Bob & Lee had just gone- when Edward appeared with the proofs of the wedding pictures – wasn’t he quick? They are all very good- some better than others– so much so I had such a job choosing one to send to your people Cec- in the end I picked one of just the two of you alone, although I thought some of you in the groups were better. Edward brought more than a dozen different proofs even one of you in the church– I think you will be pleased with them– he did a finished picture & brought it along Sat early- & I wrote a note to Mrs. Costain (senior!) & sent it off by air at once– so I do hope she got it in good time- I didn’t know what to do about ordering anymore, so I told Edward I w’d wait till you returned.

Thursday. Dotty & I worked away again, but she went to town shopping in the a.m. first, then we had lunch & lugged pots & pans etc. etc up When Joan came in she suggested the Pictures- & Dotty said yes she w’d treat us to dinner first. So we went to the Corner House & had a very good meal. I was certainly leading the High Life- as I forgot to tell you I had dinner at the University Arms with Charlie & Amy on the night of the wedding. We went to see “Passport to Pimlico” really very funny – & we enjoyed it – Then of course Dotty went next day early- & I went to town to the Bank & to pay numerous bills etc – & back home to do a bit more shifting & to begin my packing which was a big job but Connie came in so I got little done!

I did a little more on Sat a.m., but not much as Chris was calling for me at 12 to go to the ‘Garden House’ for lunch with him & onto the Senate House to see Edgar receive his doctorate-more High Life! It was a lovely day – so Chris & I sat in the Garden & chatted (poor fellow he has had a sad & trying time with Katie) had lunch, & then walked up to the Senate House– & I found the whole ceremony most interesting. Chris wanted me to come & have tea, but I had to get back- as I had Mrs. T. coming to clean the downstairs flat that afternoon. Sunday I packed & packed & on Tuesday I had to go out & buy a large suitcase & even so I couldn’t get everything in – & I expect you will curse & swear when you find a few odd things of mine lying about! By this time I was sleeping up in your flat, yes I went up there while Dotty was still there. Joan expected the couple in on Monday but they didn’t come until Tuesday, & then only left a few things & went off for a weeks hols- Joan gave me a hand on the Monday, & we shifted the old washstand, & I got up to the loft & packed away numerous pictures & books etc. that couldn’t be used. All your groceries etc. I just had to pack in a big box- Gwen & Jerome came before I left, & I showed them how there was just no where to put groceries – & Gwen is going to see what she can get. I think she will still be there on your return so that’s a good job. To return to my doings Chris & Edgar came in on the Monday evening & I gave them tea etc. – They left Camb: on Tuesday. That evening Pam phoned up that they w’d come thro’ Wednesday p.m. to see me, & later Joan A. came & asked me to supper on Wed.  I said I would if Pam & George weren’t too late. I did a big wash one of those days, & was busy ironing up to the last! It was lovely seeing Pam again, just the same dear old Pam, & what do you think? When George saw you had gotten new fuel for the gas fires, he insisted that they should pay the bill which had just come in for 11/6- as a matter of fact in the end it was Pam who really paid it!! They were charmed with the flat & all your lovely presents – and so was Gwen who came on the Thurs. The two were most awfully decent to me, had me into lunch on the Friday before I left & we had goose! Then they drove me down to the station & Jerome came too, & they gave me quite a send off! I hated leaving Cambridge, I have grown so fond of the place – however that’s life – I sent my trunk in advance but I still had 4 suitcases, a hat box & a poke, but Jerome was most good-natured over them- & then I got a taxi this end. As usual I got a nice warm welcome from AGL & Chris-  and on Sat. Bebe phoned me up & Miss Lefroy said to ask her to tea on Sunday & I invited her friend too- who turned out to be a very nice little person. Bebe has improved in looks and has a fine figure. AGL said we were to have tea alone in the dr-room– but later I took her in to meet them– & they were charmed with her & seemed to enjoy their afternoon. Then I went to tea with them this afternoon at The Piccadilly Hotel where they’re staying. Then tomorrow I am meeting them at 10:30 a.m. and taking them a trip up the river. They have seen a great deal in the short time they have been here– Poor dears– they crossed the Channel on 2 August: & they had the most terrible crossing. The papers next day said it was the roughest crossing of the year– & they had to cut it out & send it home– as they knew no one in the U.S.A. would believe them when they told them how bad it was. I hope you to have better luck. Unfortunately you & Bebe are following one another round- & will just miss seeing one another by a week or so– they were in Paris & Cannes & now this week they go for a day to Cambridge- then on Sat: they leave for Scotland, return down the West Coast, & sail from S’hampton on 24th Aug-

Wed. Here I am again- No further word from you from the South of France so it looks as if this letter will never be posted. I had hoped you would send me a card from there with the name of your hotel – but no such luck. I wonder when you’ll be arriving back, I would love to be at Victoria to meet you- but there again I am all in the dark.

I went up the River with the girls yesterday, a trip I have often longed to take, it was a glorious day- & we went as far as Richmond- it was beautiful out there, & we had lunch at The Castle Restaurant right overlooking the river- & then we went up the hill & had a grand view– both of the river & park. We all enjoyed it & got back at about 7 p.m.

Today I did some washing & then AGL took me to the Horticultural Show– the most gorgeous show of Gladiolas & dear little Rockeries- & rock plants – I got AGL a sweet wee rock garden in a plant pot – & we had tea at the Army and Navy Stores. When we got home we did quite a bit of gardening, so my dogs are killing me & I am glad to be in bed! I wonder is it very hot with you & are you getting lots of sea-bathing? When I was recounting my doings while still at Cambridge– I forgot to tell you Joan & Ray had me to supper, and gave me the most luscious meal of real ham and green peas and new pots: & Peaches and cream- finishing off with large beakers of coffee. I really did well with meals after you left didn’t I? And now I am doing very well here too – so I’ll soon have to be getting weighed too! I wonder will you to really put on any weight on your honeymoon!? I doubt it – too much sightseeing & love-making does not tend to fatten one!! in spite of the extra food eaten!!

I also forgot to tell you how, after the wedding & you 2 had rushed off in a huge hurry– we all got back to the house– but very soon after AGL & Chris had to leave, then Mary & Dorothy & Jessie and Zinnia, but Stainthorpes & Bella & les girls (Dotty, Mary, Joan & Ruth) were still there– then les boys arrived full of champagne & apologies that there was no champagne left! but they got the cake there intact- They were naturally all very happy- & Charlie Barnes made love to me in the most blatant way!! but of course I liked it!! We then left les boys & girls to amuse themselves – & from all I gathered Al spent most of the evening in the bath-room recovering from the champagne-! Serves him right not even leaving a bottle for you – what?

Carol’s letter ends there at the very bottom of the 4th page with no room for a signature, which doesn’t matter since she had resigned herself, not without protests, to the fact that she was not going to be able to post it.  I’m sure Cyn enjoyed it when she read it, even if it was forty years later.  

Explanations of people in the letter:  AGL is Miss Lefroy, who had attended the wedding with her partner Miss Hull, and then returned to Hampstead, where Carol would go for a visit after clearing up and packing.  Dotty, one of Cyn’s closest friends, was helping Carol, as were other friends (les girls) clear up; Cec’s friends (les boys) were available for the heavy lifting; and Carol’s friends from Newcastle were popping in as well, looking at the wedding presents, and taking her out for meals!  Once Carol gets to London, her niece Bebe from New York (in her mid 20s I think) calls her up and Carol contributes to Bebe’s whirlwind tour of Europe with a river tour up the Thames.

Love Letters

When I began this blog posting the letters of a daughter to a mother, I suggested that nothing very harrowing or emotional would be revealed in them, because no daughter wants to upset her mother living far away in time and distance, unable to console, comfort or rejoice in the moment.  An event may be described, it is certainly personal, but it is in the past, and has been survived, and the telling of it is reassuring in to both writer and reader.  When I got t0 Cec’s war letters home, I realized this was true of sons as well, especially of events the Admiralty frowned upon sharing. I discovered, however, that other letters crept in, and occasionally were of the moment and emotional.  Carol’s letter to her husband as she was on the point of leaving him, was harrowing.  And love letters are intensely personal and emotional.  They are intended to be read by only one person and I feel a little guilty about sharing them with the world, but they are part of the story. These two notes, treasured by her, were found in one of the slots of Cyn’s writing case.

Cyn and Cec got engaged at the beginning of March 1949, and planned and booked their wedding for July 26th, 1949, at 2:30.  The March letter suggests the wedding invitations had already been sent out, and Cec’s friends in England were responding to them.

11 Park St.

Cambridge.

March 23, 1949

My Darling, 

Here I am back home, with no chance to see you. I got a telegram yesterday to tell me to come back for a dinner in honour of Dr. Sutherland on his F.R.S. So I came back, went to the dinner at K.P at 7:30 & then onto Sutherlands till 12:30. It was great fun at times, but my cold had just reached its climax (I hope) & I didn’t feel much like celebrating. I was hoping I would be able to slip away early & come & see you, sweetheart, but I didn’t get the opportunity.

I hope you didn’t have the same germs as I did, Cyn, the little —— were at work inside my nose with pickaxes.  Also, I missed the licensing hours & couldn’t get any medicine. However, I am on the mend now & should be OK by Friday.

I’ll miss most of today – Wed. in Baldock, but it’s not much loss since they are having a big official “visitors day” & will be overrun by boffins.

I had a letter from Cliff asking us to stay with them for a day or so.  He says “It will mean of course, your sleeping on the floor (unless it is two single beds in the back bedroom!) but I know you won’t mind this, will you?” I’m not sure which it is he thinks I won’t mind!!

I miss you, Cyn darling.  It’s awful spending a week away from you. But it’s only 17 weeks yesterday! Then I won’t have to leave you again.

I also heard from Al Bryce. He said when he saw the writing on the envelope he said to himself “There goes Cec!”.  He said I seemed to have that “subdued self satisfied look” about me a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t think my self-satisfied look was quite so obvious, darling. Al is sailing on July 26, darling mine, so I think it would be nice for us to get over for a visit at Easter.

Must catch my train to Baldock, lover, so I’ll say goodbye till Friday. 

    I love you,

            Cec.

This crumpled note with mystery columns of addition on it was obviously written by Cec on the morning of his wedding day, and refers to the tradition that the groom mustn’t see the bride until they meet at the altar.

My Darling, 

I’m not allowed to see you until 2:30 today, but I don’t think there is any custom which stops me from writing you a letter to tell you how much I love you.

What a sweetie.

July 1949: Preparation

The months and weeks before a wedding are filled with preparations.  Cyn, Cec, and Carol sent invitations to friends and family in England, Canada, the States, and the West Indies, knowing that only local friends and family would be able to come.

Three pages, finishing with handwritten additions, from presents they received once they got to America.
Cards that accompanied the wedding presents.

As responses came in, Cyn kept organized lists of the wedding presents that accompanied them and Cec booked travel tickets and hotels for an August honeymoon in France. Outfits were planned: the groom and best man would wear their naval uniform; the bride, bridesmaid, and flower girl would wear white.  Auntie Moo had sent the silver Hazell bouquet holder that other family brides had used, and the florist was entrusted with it.

Silver bouquet holder: pin through leaves to hold the posy in even if upside down- you put your finger through the ring and let it dangle when dancing!

The week before a wedding is filled with crises!  Ours involved a frantic outfitting of my three small future stepsons with navy blazers and grey trousers on Boxing Day, the day before the ceremony.  Cynthia’s involved The Wedding Cake.  After years of organizing Christmas cakes in her Cookery classes, supervising the making and decorating of ‘hundreds’ of them, Cyn wanted to decorate her own wedding cake. 

Cyn’s sketches of design ideas for the wedding cake.

With rationing still in existence in England, the difficulty of obtaining suitable ingredients for the traditional fruit cake was overcome by asking her Auntie Muriel in St Vincent, who had sent them a Christmas cake in December, to send the cake made already, for her to decorate.  It arrived from St Vincent, soldered into tin containers, and Cec was called upon to open the tins.  The three tiers emerged, solid with fruit and preserved with lots of good West Indian rum!  A fruit cake is traditionally topped with a layer of marzipan paste and then iced with white royal icing that hardens, then is decorated.  Cyn covered the three tiers with the marzipan and smooth icing and allowed it to harden overnight before starting on the decorations.  But in the morning she discovered that the rum-soaked cake was bleeding through and discolouring the white surface.  A thicker layer, preferably done at the last minute, was required.  This worked, and the intricate lattice work, flowers, and appliqués of lucky silver horseshoes was completed.  Assembly had to follow, before the final piping of rosettes around the pillars for a finished look.  But when the pillars were set upon the cake, and the heavy next layer balanced on them, they began to sink!  Cyn and Cec hastened to disassemble before irreparable damage was done, and Cec was forced to sacrifice candles the size of the pillars, carefully core out the cake, and insert the candles as firm supports for each of the upper tiers.  Then Cyn could finish her piping and on the morning of the wedding day, add the silver vase on the top, filled with fresh flowers.  Cec, who had sampled the cores he’d removed from the cake, suggested the guests would get tiddily from merely consuming a slice…

March 6 1949: Engagement

Cyn and Cec announced their engagement on March 6th, as recorded in their first scrapbook. There are cards of congratulations from their friends, including an original poem, and telegrams from Cyn and Carol’s friends further away in England: Anne and Tadek, Nancy and Dick, Pam, Maud Allan, Irene and Bill, and Mrs Sheedy and Denis.

One of the Boveys was a poet!
The 1949 equivalent of Facebook?

The following Friday, they celebrated their engagement with friends at the Felt-Turner’s Ball. The couple sitting beside Cec are Canadian, Lee and Jim Gander, and would be close friends in Ottawa in the future.

Unknown, Cyn, Cec, Lee, Jim, Unknown.

Word from Canada was slower, and I assume Cec didn’t keep his family’s congratulations for posterity in the scrapbook, but they began planning a wedding in July. And since Easter was late that year, they also planned fun for Cyn’s holiday break!

Home Again 1912

Carol stood at the ship’s rail peering into the dimness of early dawn. The Captain had told her that they would be arriving in St. Vincent in the morning and she wanted to be ready for the first sight of the island. All the goodbyes were behind her; Miss Lefroy and the other teachers back in England were already fading into the memory of another life. Before her was the homecoming she had looked forward to for nearly three years.

“Well, Miss Carol, you are up early,” said the First Officer’s hearty voice. “You’re going to have to wait another hour or so to see that island of yours. We’ll not be arriving until about ten o’clock.”

“I’m longing to see it,” said Carol.

“Well, you still have time to go down and have some breakfast. I’ll call you when the sun comes up and you can watch for the volcano on the horizon.”

Carol felt that she couldn’t eat a bite, but as she sipped her tea and found hot toast and a boiled egg very acceptable she thought how nice it was to be treated as a grown-up.

She had thoroughly enjoyed the ocean voyage with a friendly group of passengers and ship’s officers, and found herself involved in musical evenings and small impromptu dances. She was no more the shy little schoolgirl, but a young lady holding her own in society.

The sky brightened and Carol watched faint outline of the island appear on the horizon, then grow more distinct until suddenly it was daylight and in no time the ship was sailing into the sunlit arms of Kingstown harbour. There was the familiar little town (was it smaller than she remembered?) and the green surrounding mountains, and yes, she could see the red roofs of Windsor halfway up the hillside. She was excited and scared and happy all at once and afterwards could never remember the morning clearly. Dad and Willie and Fred on the jetty; the carriage waiting to drive her home with old Leo grinning as he helped her in with her smaller bags. People in the crowd calling out, “Hello, here you are home again!” and “Nice to see you back, Carol” “Welcome home!” until at last they were up the steep hill, into the driveway, with Mother and the girls waiting on the verandah.

All that first day was laughing, crying confusion. Everyone remarking on how much she had grown, how they liked her dress and her hairstyle; Willie teasing her that she was even pretty now; and the servants giggling at her English accent. She was hugging brothers and sisters: some who had grown older, some who had grown fatter, others who were handsome, and some who looked thin and tired, but Mother was just the same. Later came the married sisters with their families. First was Georgina with the girls growing up and even Basil, the baby, a sturdy boy firmly held by father Carden who had visited her at school and had so kindly taken her to the theatre. Ethel was there with her three girls, Mona still a baby, and Trixie with her husband John and handsome little Jack, all living nearby and welcoming Carol home. As she lay in bed that night, tired out but too excited to sleep she thought, “They all still call me Monks but I’m no longer the baby, I’m a real person and everyone treats me as if I’m new and interesting!”

Carol at the piano

It was a happy carefree time. After all her trunks were unpacked and her new clothes admired by her sisters, the presents distributed to everyone with squeals of joy from the little nieces and nephews, she soon fell into the easygoing pleasant routine of home, with few duties and plenty of leisure time.

After the structured hours of school the casual social life of the young people delighted Carol. She was a lively good-natured girl with dark hair and big brown eyes and before long she was a popular member of a congenial group of young people with Doris and Fred, as well as other local families. They went riding and visited Willie on the estate where he was manager; took picnics to the beach for bathing; enjoyed sailing parties up Leeward to see the waterfalls at Baleine or to Bequia to spend a weekend with friends. There were small dances at home; or dinners where married sisters enjoyed playing hostess and introducing their young sister just home from England. Visitors from the various ships were entertained and visits from British warships always produced a spate of parties and dances. Some times the officers would give a dance on board ship with fairy lights decorating the rigging and under the huge tropical moon nothing could be more romantic! To one of these Carol wore her most beautiful white satin balldress embroidered with pearl beads, only to find the heat of her partners’ hands melted the beads and quite ruined the dress. It was a big joke in the family that all Carol’s partners stuck to her!

Group on Rutland cliffs, Mustique

One day at lunch Fred said, “I met the new young doctor today. He’s from England and is working with Dr. Durrant. He’s called Gordon Ewing.”

“What is he like?” asked Blanche.

“Oh, quite a little fellow- not much to look at, but very pleasant. I suggested he might drop in one evening but he said hewould call first.”

Call he did, with the required number of engraved calling cards, and before long he became a much sought after member of the island society. He was charming and polite, very neat and immaculate in dress, with blue eves in a fair-complexioned face. He was older than the young group to which Carol belonged but he enjoyed joining in some of their outings although his work was demanding. Before long it became obvious that he was one of her admirers.

“Do you like him, Monks?” asked Doris one night as they were going to bed.

“Y-e-s,” said Carol. “He’s so different from the men here. He’s been to America and India and all sorts of other countries when he was ship’s doctor on the Cunard and P&O liners and he can talk about so many interesting things.”

“Well of course he’s quite a bit older than you are. Twelve years, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but he doesn’t seem stuffy like some older men. Anyway I like blue eyes,’ Carol giggled, “and his head is such a nice shape!”

Family Group on Young’s Island

Some months later the engagement was announced in the weekly newspaper and before long there was another engagement: Fred had asked a pretty blonde Barbadian, Mildred Ince, to marry him and there was a combined party for both couples. They enjoyed the greater freedom that engagement brought, and in the evening would stroll out into the garden and sing the songs Carol had brought home with her. Mother and Dad were not too happy- Dad felt that though Gordon had a good profession and could certainly support a wife, he seemed to move from one job to another and might not stay long in St. Vincent. Mother considered both Fred and Carol too young and she did not care for either Gordon or Mildred, but this was not unusual, she disliked all her sons and daughters-in-law!

During this time the family had a sudden and tragic blow. Doris came to breakfast one morning complaining that she was getting a stye on her eye. By evening it was larger and inflamed, but she said that she would bathe it with boracic and it would be better. However in the morning her eye was closed and the whole side of her face was swollen, so Dr. Durrant was called. Before penicillin there was not much could be done to cure an infection, and in the tropics it was said that there was not much illness, but a lot of death. In a few days pretty young Doris was dead. John Louis had died some years before of pneumonia while in the USA but this death was at home in the heart of the family.

Two years after Carol returned from school she was married to Gordon in June 1914 at the Cathedral in Kingstown. It was a happy family wedding with two young nieces, Marion and Milly, in pale lavender dresses carrying bouquets of mauve lilies and wearing big hats that looked rather like wedding cakes. The bride was in ivory satin and a veil with a wreath of orange blossom in her hair. Both hats, bouquets and the bridesmaids’ dresses were made at home but Carol’s dress was ordered from the States. The reception was at Windsor, and the bride was careful to send wedding photographs and cuttings from the newspapers to her new mother-in-law and relatives in Northern Ireland. They had received an invitation months earlier, but of course could not accept, so no member of Gordon’s family was present.

A wedding in 1914! No one could imagine how their world would change in the next few years.

Carol’s Wedding