Sunday, November 23, 1947
My Very Dear Ruth, Rus, Mark, Erin [?], Frank, Anne, Jake, Louis, Alice ,
Dick, Myrtle, Leonard, Johnnie, June, Mary, Welinery[?]-Betty, Bob, Ross, Elmer,
Annie Lou, Patsy, Ruth, Uncle Ross, Aunt Betty, Esther (last but not least!)
This hasn't been written before – you will wonder why – but the arrival of
your announcement, Ruth – and the food packages – and our arrival here at “Allswell” followed
each other in such quick succession that I haven't quite recovered from it
all, and even now that I have pulled myself together enough to get this far – all
I can see is about thirty pairs of black Bare eyes on me, and I feel just about
as much at a loss to know how to say what I feel – as I did that time at Paul
Eshelmans, when I had such “Mike fright” on trying to make a record. The record
wasn't so good!
Never the less, it is a pleasure and an extremely affectionate and grateful
and appreciative one, to be acknowledging the wonderful thing you have done
for us, and (Incidentally) as you suggested, Ruth, to be killing so may birds
with one stone!
I am using the Thanksgiving turkey on the letterhead to symbolize all you “birds” because
I feel so truly thankful, and I hope that this will reach you by that dear
holiday, which holds so many tender memories for us all.
I still can't fully realize the magnitude of your gift – and all that it involved.
It was so complete, in every detail, and I bow in speechless admiration before
such generous, thoughtful, organized effort. As a family, I always felt you
were a power, but such power is almost beyond the imagination!
Although I am starting this as a Thanksgiving letter, I'm sure I could easily
write on until Christmas and then not get it half said, but you may be sure
that we shall have a great deal of Christmas enjoyment from these gifts, and
even though you will never fully know the extent of your good deed, yet, somehow,
I can't help feeling that it must come back to you in Christmas love and happiness,
from the appreciative thoughtfulness of all the folks here who will share in
what you sent. It is magnificent, and I can't say more than that.
We have been going early and late, trying to get enough things together and
to fix things up in our new home, so that we can be comfortable, but it is
slow and difficult, and although we feel very fortunate to have secured a house
at all, and when we consider that to get one so near “Grindelbald” is just
fantastic good luck, yet, the season of the year is bad, and the unbelievable
shortages and phenomenal prices (when they can be secured at all), make us
wonder sometimes if we can ever “make the grade”.
I do not yet have a single bit of Christmas mail ready, and my lagging correspondence
worries me to pieces, but I can only do my poor best, and I hope that my delays
may be understood and forgiven.
It takes so much time just to cook and do the housework, without any convenience,
and without so many things.
Claude does more than he should, I fear, bless him, he tries so hard, but
it worries me to see him force himself, and yet, there are so many ‘musts',
for just us two. Dad and Auntie are so dear, and we love their sympathetic
interest, and the convenience of being so near, but of course it is out of
the question for them to help us here. In fact, I wish we could do more for
them, than is possible now, but I am thankful they re keeping well, and we
hope to make amends for it when we are settled.
But now for the story of the food boxes.
We had heard rumour, sometime before, that the “Bares” were going to pack
us a box, but the thought seemed too dazzling, too wonderful, even to plan
with, because, well because it seemed too much to really happen, and so, Ruth,
when your exciting letter arrived, it had all the force of a dream come true,
though even then (with all due respect to you) there was sort of a “seeing
is believing” feeling about it, because it just seemed too good to really happen.
I just felt as tho something might happen to prevent, and when you said you
forgot to insure it, I think that streak of gray hair I have in front fairly
sparkled with concern!
I'm glad you didn't write when you sent the box, it was grueling enough to
wait the shorter time, I was so worried!
Actually, it wasn't so long though, and if anything in this world could have
added to the wonder of the box which arrived on November 3, was the fact that
it came to us in our own home, after we'd only been here about a day!
If that wasn't beautifully timed for a “welcome home”, I don't know what could
have been! It was glorious! I felt like a bride, almost! We shall never forget
the “opening”. It took place in our tiny kitchen, and although there was nothing
much in the room at the start, to make it look like a kitchen, I can assure
you that by this time the things were all spread out, it was a handmade kitchen
indeed! Claude and I sat there (me on an old backless chair, and Claude on
a box) and simply reveled in all those un-heard-of treasures! You seemed so
near, and we felt we just must, somehow, reach you right away, to thank you.
It seems as though you must have felt it.
The parcel was quite open at the top, the top layer of packing had been removed
at the Customs, but it was re-tied quite firmly, never-the-less to see all
those tempting items peeking through at us made me feel as though something
must be missing, but I was mistaken! On checking them with your declaration,
every single one was there!
How on earth you ever got so much into such a carton, is more than I can figure.
I don't know which was the most perfect job, the box around the contents, or
the contents within the box! At any rate, it was a work of art. I understand
that you helped to engineer the boxes, Uncle Ross, well, it certainly was well
done. Everything was in perfect condition. I even saved some of that nice fluffy
packing for Christmas decorations.
The first item was the cheese. Yum! Yum! I think Aunt Betty had something
to do with that! She gave me some when I came over, and it tasted so good.
The English are so fond of cheese, and our ration per week, for the two of
us, is a chunk not more than two inches square.
The citron seemed like a gift of the Gods, for it is the one thing Britishers
love, for their boiled puddings and fruit cider, which are so essentially English.
They haven't been able to get it for years, that, and all you sent has been
promised in half ounce lots, for Christmas puddings, so even just that one
item, will reach far in giving Christmas pleasure! And so on down the list.
I have been parceling out the rice, as that is another “off the record” item
A neighbor said she hadn't had a grain of it since before the war! Seven years!
And rice pudding, too, used to be almost an English staple, so you can guess
how much that meant!
Speaking of rice, reminds me of something I wanted to tell you. The whole
thing was so delightfully packed, it was a joy to open. It was easy to check
up on everything, and I thought the saccharines were missing as I couldn't
find them anywhere, tho I looked carefully, all through the packing. This was
regretful too, for they are so helpful, and often unprocurable. We thought
you were so very considerate to think of them. Indeed, I was sure they had
been slipped through the opening in the box by some “sweet tooth”. On the following
evening, I told Claude I was going to give him a real health drink, from your
box, so I got the tin of Hemo, read the directions carefully, heated some milk
in a sauce pan (made from your grand milk powder), and then opened the Hemo
tin, to discover that it contained rice! We had a good laugh over it, and Claude
enjoyed the hot milk, just the same. A day or so later, I opened the Hemo tin
again, to get a few grains of rice to put into a salt shaker, as our salt is
so damp. While doing so, I noticed something buried in the rice, and lo and
behold, upon further investigation, I discovered the “lost” saccharines! I
can just imagine you packing it, and wondering how and when it would be discovered!
It was a real surprise package, and a delightful one.
Sugar is another rare and wonderful thing here, and I can never tell you how
especially wonderful it was to get yours when we did. You see, our allowance
always went in with Dad and Auntie's, and they just simply can't save sugar,
even tho we had “extra” through the summer, for jam and jelly making. We only
get a pound a week for the two of us, and I didn't have a grain in reserve,
when we came here to our new home. I had no chance to save for Christmas, and
so just the granulated alone, was overwhelming, and when I saw the powdered,
and brown sugar as well (haven't had a grain of that for years) – well Auntie
Hat, she kept saying, “Oh, I say!”. We always know when she uses that expression
that her feelings are beyond words! She is a darling, you would love her.
Meat here, is our worst problem of all, I think. They bring us our small rations
once a week, we have no choice, either as to cut or variety. It is enough for
a tiny “Sunday roast”, and that is all we get.
If it is a tender cut, the ration is almost microscopic! – and if it is especially
large, we eye it suspiciously, and decide that it must be whale or horse, or
something. So your tasty tins made our mouths water, just to look at them!
The Almond bars, Hersheys, made me so homesick, I didn't know what to do!
They were the luxury of luxuries! – and so many of them! Goodness! I hope the
children didn't see you pack all them up for us! I'm sure they'd have it “in” for
us, to think that such a gain might have been an equally devastating loss to
But you should see how wonderfully they have been enjoyed here! Or at least,
those that have been eaten so far. Hershey are the best candy in the world,
I think, and every one here who has sampled them seems to be of the same opinion!
Children look positively dumbfounded to have a whole one to themselves! I don't
suppose that has ever happened to most of the little folks here in their whole
lives! I hope to save a few for Christmas, and give them out with a red ribbon
tied around the middle!
The macaroni we get here is not nice at all. It cooks up into a gooey mass,
like oatmeal, so yours was especially welcome, as Claude loves macaroni.
The George Washington coffee, I must confess I was selfish enough to keep
as my special appropriation, and I hope you will forgive me! I love it so! – and
nearly every night since, I've had a cup while Claude had a chocolate milk
made with that ground Hershey syrup. We certainly have been living high, since
November 3 rd !
Of course we are saving the specialties, the boned chicken and such thrillers,
for the holidays, but even right now, it seems like the holidays, to be having
I wish I could be less “wordy” about all this, but I just can't seem to help
it, though it is very late, and I must be getting off to bed. The days are
so full, and it scares me to think of Christmas so near, with nothing done
It will be a lonely Christmas, though, I know, and we shall gaze into our
own hearth fire, and think of you, and remember last year, and enjoy the good
things you have sent, and my heart will be bursting with love and good wishes
to you all.
When I heard you were ill, Uncle Ross, I wanted to send you a little note
of good wishes, but it never happened, so now I shall take this opportunity
to say how glad I am to know you are so much better.
Claude and I both realize, more fully, since Claude's illness, how upsetting
such a factor can be, but we try to think of them as signals to “go slow”,
and that by so doing, perhaps it is possible to enjoy even better general health,
after a time. At any rate, our very best wishes are yours, Uncle Ross, and
we are delighted to know that you are so much better.
But to finish of about your gifts, the second box, which came next day, was
a complete surprise, and although I've mentioned the combined contents, through
this letter, we certainly never dreamed, at that first opening, that any more
I wish I knew how to thank you! And even more, I wish we could do something
in return! It seems so shabby, just to say “Thank You” – but that is just the
trouble! We are shabby in so many ways, just now. Not in spirit, though, I
hope – and maybe some day, our time will come to do our share. I hope so, for
I realize only too well what a work and expense it has meant, and it isn't
right that you should go unrewarded. Why – I haven't half got over all the
things you did last year, your wonderful hospitality, and so much more.
I do so wish I could have seen Mary and her family! But having that wonderful
opportunity to be with the rest of you, makes her seem nearer, too – for she
is a Bare – and every last one of you is just as dear as can be! It was so
lovely of them to take part in your gift boxes, too – and I send them my special
thanks and love and greeting. Every one says they re such an interesting family,
and I like to think that we are fellow Canadians!
You asked about Claude, Ruth. He sends you all his warmest greetings and heartfelt
thanks for everything.
He is doing quite well, I think – but conditions here in England now, are
not so favorable, and sometimes I wish his progress would be swifter.
He is happy, though, as I am to have secured this little haven of our own,
and we both hope that after we are settled, it will prove beneficial to his
health as well
You asked about wood and coal. Yes, it is very definitely rationed, but our
home is quite small, and warmer than “Grindel Wald” so we have to make do with
our allowance. It may not be so cold as last year – and we have a small oil
stove which helps a lot.
Dad and Auntie are quite well just now. It is so wonderful to be right with
them, and yet, to have a home of our own. We can now feel that we are not imposing
on them, in any way and the whole arrangement is just about perfect. We are
so thankful, all four of us, for the sheer luck which made it possible. They
both send their earnest thanks for their share in your wonderful boxes, but
I fear they never will get you all straightened out! They are so deaf, it would
wear me out to describe each one of you!
I think Jerry is wonderful! Bless him! And how is my little Susan? It was
so good of her to write me, that time.
I can't start on politics now, Ruthie, but even if there were time, I couldn't
tell you much. It is too complicated!
The Royal Wedding was grand. I am sending some pictures and news items home,
concerning it. Maybe you will see them, but then I guess your papers were full
of them too. They are a popular couple indeed, and Princess Elizabeth is loved
by all. The dresses haven't gone “down” much here, yet, but since the new clothes
are simply unavailable, the change in the styles does not affect us much. Maybe
we shall get around to it, after a time!
Three day interruption here!
Oh my dears!
I'm glad I don't have to actually face all those black Bare eyes after such
It has been quite a lapse, I can tell you! Meanwhile the weather has turned
bitterly cold, and I've been chasing around to sales alone, trying to get us
a bed on which to sleep!
Claude isn't quite equal to it, and we find it so awkward and uncomfortable
half living in the two places. Beds are at a premium (like every thing else)
but I managed to get a whole suite, more by dumb luck than good management.
There was a “control” price and about eight of us bid for it at once. We “drew
lots”, and I got the lucky one!
But I must finish this off very shortly, or I shall fold up, I'm afraid after
these three long strenuous days.
I must say a special word to you, Esther darling. Your birthday card to me
was the very loveliest thing I ever saw, and I've enjoyed it over and over
again. You said you had it waiting especially for me, for almost two months.
Oh Esther! And I've had this acknowledgement waiting for nearly four months!
It seems incredible, for I've wanted to tell you how much I loved and appreciated
it, literally dozens of times since, but it never quite happened. You know
Esther, that card “had” something more moving than I can ever tell you. It
was so sweet, and so appropriate that it was almost uncanny. To think that
that little winged message actually came sailing in to me on August 18, before
I was out of bed, in that lonely [or lovely] holiday room of ours at Milebim[?]!
It seemed like a fairy tale, and I was nearly heartsick to think that you didn't
know how I felt, or how much I thank you in all this while!
And then to think that just about when any ordinary person would wash their
hands of me in disgust, you turn around and with you, Ruth darling, engineer
these wonderful boxes.
It was the final touch to something too royally splendid to ever fully acknowledge,
so please, just try to put as much imagination into my thank you, as you did
into the gift you sent, and then I shall know that you know a little of how
we all feel about it.
I know now, that this will be late for Thanksgiving, and if I don't soon get
it off, it may be late even for Christmas, so I shall stick a seal on it and
send it on its way with our united love and good wishes and heartfelt thanks.
I think our cards will all be late, but when this reaches you, you will know
that it is coming, and we hope you'll call it better late than never!
Warmest love and greetings to each and every one, and all good wishes for
Christmas and New Year and always from your same old loving cousin, Mary
Happy Christmas To You!