Most fun I’ve had since I got out of RCH (FGK 236)

Pincher Creek, Alberta

April 26, 1954

Dear Margie

My but I’ve neglected you shamefully lately. Im really ashamed of myself, but the excuse, same as always is that I’ve been busy.

Here I am writing a letter while lying on my back, just like I used to do on my blessed old frame. I’ll tell you the reason why later on.

i was supposed to come up (as you know) in about a month’s time from March 19th to get my brace off but heard nothing from the hospital about what day etc. so, mom phoned Dr T the other day to find out what to do. He told me to start taking my brace off at supper time for a couple of weeks and leave it off till bedtime if I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. Then I am to start taking it off after school hours (not much of a promotion) for another two weeks. After that Im supposed to go up to the “horse pistol” and I hope, get it off for good. So I’ll see you sometime in May. Last time I was up, I phoned “Hamers” about the pictures (I still haven’t got them yet by the way) and she sounded as good as ever. I wanted to go over and see her, but it was quite a distance and Dad and Mum wanted to get home, as usual.

You didn’t happen to get home for the Easter holidays did you? It would certainly have been nice if you did. I came home the Tuesday before Easter and have been here ever since. I’m going back to Lethbridge tomorrow or Wednesday.

The night I came home, Tuesday, I got in on the 7:00 bus and right after supper went to church for a special service for confirmation candidates. You knew I was getting confirmed didn’t you? Well now you do. After the service we went over to the height school to a play that the United Church Young People were putting on. Ted was the leading man and Sharon Bratz was the nurse. Remember Sharon? The one that came in with May that day, perhaps you don’t. It was called “Take your own Medicine” and was really hilarious. The cast really did their parts well.

Here it is the 6th of May and I’ve just now got around to adding a few more lines. Gosh I’ve been busy! I must impress that fact on you or you’ll think I’ve just been forgetting you. Well I haven’t!!!!!!

Gee it feels good to get out of “Uswald” for a while each day. I’ve got the ugliest “puffs” on my hips from it and it exaggerates my plumpness a little bit too much!! Am I ever getting fat kiddo!!!! (I enjoy making exclamation points as you notice. They’re more exciting than just periods or question marks).

I went to the High School Party during the holidays. I wasn’t planning on going but then when nobody seemed to think it would hurt I decided to go. Did I ever have fun!!!! Most fun I’ve had since I got out of RCH. Verna was there looking wonderful as ever, but was on the lunch committee and seemed to be doing most of the work so Ruth Watson (Ted’s sister) and I went in and helped her a bit. You better not tell anyone up there about the dance for fear they might not approve. I doubt if it matters because Dr T said I could do anything within reason, and I think a few waltzes is within reason don’t you? However maybe a few other people might not.

May 7. Third edition

I may finish this episode before I get to the fifth or sixth edition.

Give my love to Miss Horner and the rest. Tell her I started a letter to her a month or so ago but haven’t finished it yet. Tell her not to give up hope though.

Oh yes! While I was home, the ladies in a neighbouring district put on a little kids dance. All the little brats from miles around went to it to, presumably to learn how to dance. Mom and Auntie Dorthy thought Charlotte and I might like to go and help teach them. So we went!!!

In one corner, there were really little ones tottering around supposed to be playing “drop the handkerchief” with some poor frazzled mothers trying to help. In another corner were the poor, tired, bored fathers playing cards and gossiping. Up on the stage was the orchestra consisting of a piano, accordion, and a violin; and in the rest of the hall where Charlotte and I were were all the young dancers playing around like a “bunch of young cattle in a pen” as Marjory put it. The evening consisted of pushing kids around until you forgot what you were doing yourself almost. Then we ate and a so-called cowboy sang four cowboy songs and a lot of others showed off we had another dance and then went home. What a night! And yet we had fun!!!!!!!

Last Saturday (May Day) the Shriners were down here for the weekend and had a parade. Anne and I went. After it had gone by we started to run up to the store where Annie’s mom works to tell her to be sure to watch. There weren’t many people on the sidewalk as they were all out in the streets so I guess we would attract attention running up the street at such a rate. Anyway suddenly we heard everybody behind us start to laugh but we thought they were laughing at the parade so we didn’t look back. All of a sudden I saw something black stick out in front of me and some went around each of us. Something dug into our sides and it felt like I had a shock or something. We turned around and here it was the “black devil” from the parade he had a long black fork with a little battery on the end and he would dig that into people and give them a shock. Anne and I both got one and I was never so scared in my life, nor so humiliated. I couldn’t look anybody in the face on that street without having them sort of grin and make me feel worse then ever. I wish I had fainted or something and got that guy whoever he was into trouble. After we got over our scare we were just plain mad.

Say “old bean”, why don’t you get Dr Townsend. Maybe he’d get you out of “that place” soon. I didn’t think you’d ever get mad at Dr Walsh. I always thought he looked sort of sleepy. (I’m sure glad I’m not wishing throwing distance from you right now, I’d probably get a roll of toilet paper in my face). Or would I?!!!!!!! Anyway I don’t blame you for wanting to get out. You’ve sure been in there long enough!!! Im glad to hear you’re walking on crutches that’s quite a bit “promotion” or whatever you call it.

Well, I suppose I better do my exercises and go to bed. I promised Miss Mason I’d do them faithfully and I guess I’d better not let her down. can you keep a secret? I missed two days in a row, so I’ve been doing double-duty ever since. My old stomach and back muscles are still going “flippity flop” though. Gee I wish they’d improve!! When I get out of my brace I just eel like I’m going to break or fall and my back will end up in one corner and the rest of me in another.

Say hi to Helen and Lillian and Maryanne and anyone else you see that I’m acquainted with. I hope to see you all before too long. I told Mom to write you a note Marg and apologize for my neglecting you because I didn’t have time, but by grabbing a minute here and there I managed to get a few pages done. You may get a letter from her anyway though as I won’t be writing home for a while. I hope you can read this shameful scrawl. The reason I’m using pencil is because I can’t find my ink. It’s lost on my desk somewhere.

bye for now “sweetie”

heaps of love and loads of kisses,


PS don’t go and get measles or something. I want to see you when I come up this time. I’m afraid Im one of those people that write an awful lot and tell very little

love Janet


A day in the life in Fort Macleod (FGK 235)

I find these mystery letters quite interesting. It seems this was a pen pal set up through this girl’s Sunday School. I googled and found her mom’s obituary – these types of letters make me wonder how this story of this young girl turned out as she grew into a woman. What adventures did she have? I hope her life has been happy. Mom would have been 13 when this letter was sent, so they’re close to the same age. Both her mom and my grandma died in the same year (2004) although grandma was 4 years older. It’s easy to fall down rabbit holes with this stuff.

Pearce, Alberta

January 27, 1954

Dear Margaret

We get Sunday School Lessons from Mr. W R Johnson in Calgary. He sent us your address so I am writing to you.

I am 12 years old and my birthday is July 11. I live on a farm and have three brothers, 1 older than me and 2 younger and two younger sisters. All buy my youngest sister go to school. We go to school in Fort Macleod on a School Bus. We are 1 mile from Fort Macleod. We get on the bus about 8:25 in the morning and get off about 4 o’clock if nothing happens and the roads are good. We start school at 9 o’clock and get out at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I am in grade seven at school starting my first year of Junior High School. I have four teachers, one we get only once a week for Home Economics on Wednesday afternoon from 1 o’clock until 3:30. There are 35 pupils in my room, 16 girls and 19 boys. Our room teacher is Miss Hyssop, who teaches us mathematics, English, Spelling, Physical Education, Reading for Meaning, and Social Studies which she also teaches to the two other Junior High rooms grade 8 and grade 7 & 8. Mr. Sterling the 7 & 8 teacher teaches us Health, Literature, and Art which we get once a week. The three rooms also have a Student’s Union. We have meetings and programs once a month.

On our farm we have 1 horse which belongs to Jacob my older brother which he broke last year. She is a sorrel and about 12 years old. We have 4 young calves about a year old. 2 heifers and 2 steers which also belong to Jacob. Then we have 2 heifers which will have their first calf this year. One of them I call mine and the other Esther my youngest sister calls hers. We have 4 cows, a red one Garrett the oldest of my two younger brothers owns. A red white face that is also Jacob’s. Then we have a Holstein and a red white face. We have one pig which we want to get rid of as soon as it warms up as it it too cold to butcher it now in this sub-zero weather. We have around 40 chickens now, 3 roosters and the rest old hens and young pullets. Last spring I set a hen and got 8 chicks, 4 roosters and 4 pullets. They were really cute when they were babies especially my little black rooster who disappeared when he was bout 3 months old. He was quite tame. My other 3 roosters we ate. My 4 pullets are now laying eggs. We have 1 dog a white and black one about a year and a half old. He isn’t too much good except that he barks when someone comes. He is really a pest but he sure likes barking at anything.

I didn’t go to school today because it is too cold and we have got farther to walk now than before. Jacob was the only one that went. Last night the bus got stuck coming off the highway. The snow was so deep and full of ruts that you couldn’t expect much else to happen so the driver said we would have to walk that far. It really isn’t so far but it’s so cold outside.

That’s all for now.


Mary Ann deKoning

ps. Hoping that you will write back soon


More cooking, cleaning and gadding about (FGK 234)

How rude of Grandma to give brief details about what Slim had been up to but not go into greater detail. I hope for mom’s sake she heard the stories but that doesn’t help us much now 70 years later does it? Slim sounds like he was quite the man.

Friday 26th 1954

Dear Margie

My! It just did me the world of good to see you yesterday. I always get to worrying about you when I can’t see you and that’s foolish.

Dad and I made all the 12 loaves into sandwiches this morning and now I must hurry to get into town, the roads are going to be really bad and I’ll have to drive slowly. we came straight home from seeing you yesterday and were just having tea when in walks Slim. He stayed for tea and for supper and i could just write a book on all his activities if I only had time. He’s really been busy, it was he who started all the investigating into the Edmonton Police and he even pinched Dr Giffin the other day and took his nice Cadillac from him, he sure kept us entertained, I’ll tell you all the tales when I can visit you. He gave me his phone number and says he’d like to come up to visit you sometime soon – in his uniform – so you’ll have fun with the nurses eh? His fiancé – Marg the nurse in Edmonton up and married another guy the other day.

I couldn’t find a geometry set in the house but I’ll try and buy one for you today. Do you need any clothes at all? Let me know.

Well, I must scram now. I think Sheila is going to bring some girls out with her and the house is in quite a mess. Mr Kumlin’s funeral is at 2pm on Sat in High River and the nurses in Sheila’s class are having a tea at 2pm on Sat and we’re supposed to go to both. What will we do I wonder and how am I supposed to cook and keep house and gad like this, it’s awful. I’m sure glad to see you looking so well. Say, I’m worried about that swell report card of yours, I can’t find it, did it go in to you with the papers etc that I collect in the shopping bag? I sure hope you have it, i haven’t signed it yet and I hold have signed and returned to your teacher long before this. Please look for it amount your stuff, it’s in a long brown envelope with the Red Cross on it. Lots and lots of love dear. Maybe I’ll be able to see you today too if Miss Olson is back. (Thanks for that grand letter I nearly wore it out reading it over and over)

Mother xxxxxxxx


Next month I’m going to do everything I didn’t do this month (FGK 233)

March 24

Dear Margie

Do hope you are all over those measly-measles. Your Mother said Sunday nite she hoped to see you today. Glad to hear you had enjoyed the baskets. They are supposed to have Maple Syrup over the Ice Cream.

Do you get tired of winter in there? We do – guess we’ll have to move South.

Nothing new or exciting here. Next month I’m going to do everything I didn’t do this month – I hope!

Glad to hear you are doing so well with your school work!

Best Wishes

The Barkleys


Easter Eggs for breakfast (FGK 232)


Calgary, Alberta

Dear Margie

How are you? Alvin, Dad, Mom, and I are fine. Did you have a nice Easter? We had a nice Easter. Alvin and I found 26 Easter eggs on Easter Sunday morning. We divided them and we had 13 eggs each besides 2 more each. We coloured some eggs for breakfast Easter Sunday.

Dad ran the horses in for Alvin and I on Good Friday, Alvin and I went to Grandma’s place Monday and came home Friday. Grandma and Grandpa bought Alvin and I a pair of shoes. I went to the dentist on Friday

Love, Lorraine


Free stamps (FGK 231)

Pincher Creek, Alberta

March 16, 1954

Dear Margie,

Well, how are the measles? Sure hope they’re better. I’m writing this to send to you from out-patients on Friday. I think Verna has one for Maryanne too. I might get generous and try to find time to write her one too. It must be pretty bad for her to be having to face another operation after all she’s gone through. I just was talking to Mrs Burns on the phone and heard all the latest RCH news.

I came home last night with Charlotte’s family. They were all down to the dentist so I came back to get ready for Friday and have a visit with the folks before I took off. I’ve worked on my studies all day. What a life!

Well, here I am trying to write in the car, and consequently, look at my writing. I was going to bring you up a parcel but I think I forgot and left it on the dining room table at home. If I don’t find it in my suitcase, I’ll mail it up promptly! Enough of this, I’m getting a headache. Miss you, hope you can decipher this scrawl

Bye for now,

All my love, Janet


I thought you might like to collect a few more stamps and this one’s not a bad offer considering it’s free. With the free stamps they’ll send you some other ones that you might want to buy. Try it anyway. My tamp collecting cousins sent away for it and seemed to think they were alright, although nothing special.

Bye for now,

Love Janet


I sure find it hard to keep up with the work and to gab too (FGK 230)

I find it hilarious to read Grandma’s description of her experience at the Glen Miller concert considering one of my favourite stories to tell is how I was constantly (or so it seemed) forced to sit with Grandma and watch the Lawrence Welk show as a child. What the blaring horns were to her the accordions were to me haha. Fortunately I have only made my children listen to 80s music so I’ve prevented them from the same sort of emotional scarring.

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

March 20th 1954

Dear Margie

I hoe I don’t leave any cold-germs in this letter, I’ve had a horrid cold these last few days. Bet you enjoyed Mrs Barkley’s gift and the flowers Clarence sent. I’ll try and thank them soon. Dad has been curling every night and going to town every day and I’ve been trying to keep up with him. Guess I should’ve but the house is so empty and lonely now I hate to stay home. We all miss you so terribly, Sheila and Marshall feel as Dad and I do, you can see it when they come home. It will be a happy day when you are all home together again.

I am going in for Sheila now, she gets tonight and tomorrow off. Uncle Frank called in for tea this morning, he wanted to see Dad’s Bulls. I didn’t get the floor done until just now, I sure find it hard to keep up with the work and to gab too. Mrs Dunne surely is lonely. She was so kind the other day, wish we could do something for her.

I hope they let us see you tomorrow, I’ll ask today. Get one of the nurses to phone if you want anything. I bought a white midday that was on sale at the Bay and I’ll send in this old red skirt of Sheila’s if you think you’d like it. I’ll buy some Dixie cups today and some milkshakes tomorrow if we get in in decent time. I went to see Glen MIller’s show yesterday and only stayed a few minutes, it was awful – such a relief to get outside and away from all the blaring horns and toothie idiots acting. Guess I’m just queer eh?

Well I must hurry and get ready for town. Dad has gone to Grand Valley and I don’t know where Marshall is but I wish he was cleaning the chick’s house.

My it will be good to see you again, it’s terrible when you can’t even write to us. Hope those measles are run out by now. Why does the 2nd floor always be the one to be quarantined so much?

We got your report card last night and it was very, very good. Congratulations. I am going to keep it and let Sheila see it before I take it back. I think Dad and I swill be going in on Tuesday to try and get a man.

Hope you are well and happy dear and improving every day in your exercises.

Lots and lots of love




Floundering Around on Six Pages of “Glow Worm” (FGK 229)

This has to be a letter from one of mom’s friends from the hospital. Mom rarely spoke of her time there and so I don’t really know much about the other kids who were there. The only time I did get a really good account of her time in the hospital was years ago when I interviewed her for a paper I wrote for a Women’s Studies class. Unfortunately during the years when I wasn’t living here my room was cleaned out of all of the treasures I’d stored there for safe keeping and this essay was among them. So instead of being able to go through my own childhood treasures I have been gifted the opportunity to go through mom’s and I’m grateful for that.

Box 196

Pincher Creek


Dear Margaret

Well, I just received your darling letter, and decided that you’d probably be worn out after writing 12 pages of news.

Thought I’d better use some decent note paper after your gentle hint. Gosh I’ve been busy! Haven’t had a chance to write any letters at all hardly, and I’m afraid I’ve neglected you shamefully.

Mom washed and ironed your bed bag and mended the rip and I took it to town Saturday to be mailed. I forgot (same old story). It is in at Grandma Hammond’s and although I asked Marjory to mail it, I’m afraid it’s probably still there.

I found your “coral” among my belongings (also some other things) so will send them along with the bag. Sure sorry I didn’t get it up there sooner. Hope you didn’t need it too badly. Afraid I’m an awful, neglectful person.

I was in to see my doctor in Pincher on Friday aft., and asked him if and when I could start school. I started going for half days last Monday, and it’s much more satisfactory than trying to do correspondence at home. Just received five lessons back, and got 4Hs and one A. Hope I can keep that up without Mrs. Aitken’s help. Mrs Reilly helps, but is so busy with teaching 19 other brats over there that us neglected little grade nines don’t get the attention we need. You may tell Miss Horner I love her and that I”m a model patient, have two hours rest every afternoon, stretched it to four yesterday. Of course she knew I was a model patient anyway haha.

Charlotte, Bruce, and Alvin (you don’t know him) came over at 2:30 this afternoon to practice the play we’re putting on at the Christmas concert. My part is only 18 pages long! It’s quite funny and i think it’s going to be fun putting it on. The name is “The ______ of hearts”. I’m Lady Violetta. Address me with respect in your voice after this as I’m your queen elect. Crazy eh?

My Uncle Bill from Vancouver is out here now and mOm is giving a big dinner party tomorrow night. I think there are going to be quite a few here. Charlotte’s coming up, so I’ll have a little bit of moral support (I’m shy you know!!!). Anne’s favourite phrase lately. Don’t need to worry about me staying up too late, because mom sees to it that I’m in bed by nine or nine thirty every night.

I went to see “Shane” on Saturday. Incidentally, Charlotte and I went to get her and thought it was pretty good. Howard and Bruce went too, and as we were going into the theatre Bruce said to Howard that he’d better take Charlotte to see the show. Unfortunately Charlotte heard him and turned around saying “nuts you will!!” I guess it put old Howard in his place because we lost sight of both of them for the rest of the evening.

I haven’t started taking music again as yet, but I want to after Christmas if not before. I sure spend a lot of time at the piano lately. Not as much as Marjory though. She is learning one of the most difficult selections Brahms ever wrote. You can imagine how hard it is i guess. It’s really beautiful though. Me floundering around on the six pages of “Glow Worm” doesn’t sound like much in comparison.

If you see Marg F. Give her my love eh? Say hello to Lillian and Helen. Tell Mrs. Howard her coasters are finished if she still wants them, but I couldn’t figure out how to finish them off so she’ll have to do that I guess. Say hello to Mrs Atkin for me too. Tell her I’ll write her “sometime”.

My photos turned out pretty well. If they weren’t so big I’d give you one, but I don’t think you’ll have any place to put this without it getting wrecked. I may bring it up to show to you on the 18th anyway, and maybe try to get a smaller one made, that is if you want one.

Mom and Dad send their regards and Anne hung over my shoulder all the time I was reading your letter to see how you were and if you were getting home for Christmas etc etc etc. have you heard any more about that? Say that was quite a story about Doctors ______ I was hoping you’d find out more than you did though. Don’t worry about those crazy physios saying you have a scoliosis. They were just fooling or they wouldn’t have talked about a spinal fusion in such an offhand manner. I think they are all a bit crazy personally (except Miss Olsen of course I wouldn’t want to get in your bad books you know)

Well as I have some homework to do and Mrs. Reilly has offered to help me with it I better go. incidentally, we had the most delicious stakes for supper. We’re they ever good. Yum. Do I make your mouth water?

Must go now Marg

Loads of love


Ps please get rid of this immediately. Burn it! (Ha ha)

I lob o eve yum o you. Dud o yum o you hel mum e shush out squared. I hash or shush

If you can’t read this, don’t worry. It’s just a bunch of “puppy talk”

Love Janet

Please Marg, don’t let anyone see this I beg of you. It may have fateful consequences (neat eh?)

What happened to our screws? Did they get lost in the move?


Be a good little girl (FGK 228)

This letter is dated July 11 so I’m assuming she’s talking about the Calgary Stampede at the beginning of the letter. I do love her letters.

Sunday July 11, 1954

Dear Margie:-

Did you have many visitors last week such as Sonja Hune? They really were fortunate for weather again. Mr. Barkley and I didn’t attend at all. Maybe next year.

We were down to High River Wednesday to see a girl get married who worked here a few summers ago. The reception was indeed very nice. The W.J (?) put on the supper. Everything homemade and plenty of it. Cabbage and potato salad and Angel Foods and Cookies. Hall was nicely decorated as were the tables. A dance afterward with string music really cowboy. The bride had a nice blue suit and white hat and wore a corsage. She said her Grandmother wanted her to have a long white dress but she didn’t care to. She doesn’t care much for fussy clothes. Her husband is a farmer from Vermillion. At the reception I sat next to a boy who attended olds when Harvey did.

Our lilacs have been quite nice this year. Suppose you had plenty – they really were nicer this year than they have been for a while. We still have some blooming.

Be a good “little” girl now ‘cause I’m hearing nice reports of you.

Best wishes

The Barkleys


I saw a show every day (FGK 227)

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

April 23, 1954

Dear marg

I was in Calgary for four days and I saw one show every day. I will name some of the four shows. Peter Pan, The Bear Country, the Long Long Trailer, and Ma and Pa Kettle at Home. They were really good. I got a new dress, Easter bonnet, and a new pair of shoes.

Tommy got some new clothes too but his coat is a little too big. How are you getting along in school Marg? Have you got crutches yet?


Joan Copithorne