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


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


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?


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


Hope this envelope gave you lots of reading (FGK 226)

I’m not sure who this is, but it seems to be someone who knows the family and also was dealing with polio. The return address on the envelope is from the Vancouver General Hospital

(Postmarked May 31, 1954 from Vancouver BC)


Hope this envelope gave you lots of reading. I had a lovely note from your Mother and she said you were now walking with crutches. I know what a job that is as I have started to use them also. I hope that it won’t be long till you can go home now that summer’s here.

I guess by now you have finished your school year. Did you pass.? Or did they give you only some studies?

I was very happy to hear Sheila was training to be a nurse and that she likes it.

Did your Auntie Marg tell you of her visit to the coast? It was very nice seeing them.

You must thank your mother for me. I did so enjoy the card. Say hello to all the family.

Love and best wishes

Donna R.


Haven’t grown as much as Marshall (FGK 225)

I’m so happy to find another letter from Mrs. Barkley, I really like her letters- I wish I’d known her!

May 27, 1954

Dear Margie:-

Received your nice letter sometime ago. Haven’t heard a report of your progress for sometime now. Last report when Sheila was in for a few minutes was good, she did tell us too that you haven’t grown as much as Marshall.

We haven’t any garden in yet. Carmen has some up. have a few peonies at the house here growing nicely but the rest aren’t even through the ground.

Glad you enjoyed “the baskets”. Have really been lazy and not made any since. Seems we’ve been going through so much mud lately and then have to rest for next session of it. Had to go through barn to get the turkeys for about three weeks.

Best wishes,

The Barkleys.


So busy with school and housework and gardening (FGK 224)

I’ve decided to post more of the hospital letters. it’s been a long 6 months for me as I’ve been addressing some way overdue health issues which has slowed my whole world down substantially. It’s created space for healing and reflection – as have these letters.

I don’t read any of these letters until I post them here. I thought at first maybe this was Aunt Annie, but it seems like it was a friend and probably someone who also had been in the hospital with mom. mom would have been 13 when this letter was sent.

Vauxhall, Alta

May 30, 1954

Box 341

Dear Margaret

Now I guess I will have to apologize for not writing to you but really I am so busy now with school, housework, and gardening.

You mean to say dear old Maryanne is still there? Well say hi to her for me. Tell her I still haven’t forgotten about her but I haven’t got any time to write anymore letters than I am now. Also to ______ and Verna when you see them. When you write or talk to Janet ask her for me whose turn it is to write. I think it’s mime but I don’t want to write when it is unnecessary.

It’s sure good to hear that you are getting along so well. You have sure been in the hospital a long time already . I hope you will be able to get out in the near future

Did you ever see Lillian anymore? If you do also say hi to her for me. Does she still come to Girl Guides? how aboutBetty Brown? Does she still come up? If so give her my greetings. I hope you will remember all these but if not it’s ok, I’ll excuse you this time.

Tell your mom thanks so much for all those good things she did for me while I was in the hospital. i will never forget them. She sure cheered us up often.

Last time I was at out-patients was April 9 and I couldn’t come up to see you because we were in a terrible hurry and I didn’t know you were still there. Honestly, we started out right away after we were through at the hospital. We went to Brooks, back around Bow City and the road was terrible. It had rained very hard. When you were between Enchant (?) and home we got stuck so terrible where we sat for I’m sure over an hour. Unit and transport came and pulled us out.

We expected to get home at four or five and we got home at twenty-after-eight. Boy were we tired.

I guess you are tired too of reading by now. So I will close

Bye for now

Write soon




Protected by mom’s love

Mom’s birthday was a couple of days ago so she’s been on my mind more than usual. Last night a memory came up that I shared with the girl and I thought it was such a powerful memory of mom’s love that I would share it here.

When I was a little kid- I don’t know how old but probably in the 6-8 year old range – some of the horses here got into some gopher poison. The carrier for the poison was oats so when the horses discovered a big bucket of oats they devoured it. I remember lots of yelling and then mom, dad, and I (and I think Grandma and maybe some others – I’m a bit sketchy on these details) were standing just outside of the yard in the square field watching Grandma’s horse Captain and another horse named Stick run flat out up and down the field. I remember the adults all freaking out and the horses both snorting loudly and having kind of wild looks in their eyes. At the time I had no idea what was going on but I knew something bad was happening.

Suddenly mom turned to me and yelled at me to run back to the house and grab her purse.

Now I was a little kid, and a curious and kind of defiant little kid so I stood my ground and stared at her demanding to know why she was sending me off when clearly shit was getting real. I don’t know how she said it but something in her voice let me know that I really needed to run back to the house and get that purse. I was grumbling my way up the driveway when I heard more shouts and cries and things were kind of chaotic. My stomach sunk because I knew something bad had happened and I recall having a moment of gratitude for my mom who had sent me away.

The horses didn’t survive the incident and it was pretty devastating, I remember how much my Grandma loved Captain.

Mostly what I remember though is how mom’s immediate thought was to protect me from what was undoubtably an extremely traumatic scene. Because mom couldn’t just pick me up or grab my hand and kind of force me to leave she had to choose words that would convince me to run. There’s a fierceness in a mother’s love that I don’t think you really find anywhere else and I’m so grateful that mom pulled me out of a really tragic situation.

Mom protected me in many other ways throughout the years, especially near the end when she was my strongest supporter throughout my divorce. We had so many bumps in our relationship but there are these moments when her love shines through so clear and bright.


Where were you when you heard the news?

I was sitting in Tulip Room 2 with my girl waiting for a doctor appointment. I had left my phone in the car and was just sitting there when her phone buzzed. She looked down and casually said “the Queen is dead” and I promptly burst into tears.

A few minutes later we could hear two women talking about the Queen’s passing. We couldn’t make it all out but they were clearly upset and sharing some of their memories of her. When my doctor came into the room it was the first thing we spoke about and it turned out that it had been her processing the death.

Those of you who know me may remember that I fell madly in love with Lady Diana before she married Charles and my love and respect for the People’s Princess carries on today. I’ve also had a lot of respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth. No matter the situation, she has always conducted herself like royalty, I’ve never heard anything bad said from her or about her (not saying there isn’t anything – but really if there is it must be fairly uncommon – her children are another matter).

Lately I’ve said that the only thing that would be worse than the Queen dying is him becoming king, and with that her becoming queen consort. Bleh. Mostly it’s just that I don’t like how they were dirty with Diana.

And it was pretty much the same thing my doctor said – she just said it with more kindness than I just did. Really upset about the Queen, but even more upset that she was going to now be called queen. Then we had a long and lovely talk about how much we both loved Princess Diana. Finally my girl understood what I was saying when I said that there were so many of us in my generation who loved the People’s Princess.

I’ve loved the Queen too – for all of my life. And I sure will miss her. I will miss her class and grace. I will miss the way she kind of reminded me of my Auntie Mary who is also gone, and who also made it to a lovely old age (95). I am grateful though that I was given the opportunity to process the information of her passing with an adult whom I trust and admire and respect. It was very meaningful to be able to share our memories of both the Queen and Princess Diana with each other.

God Save the Queen.