Marshall was right (FGK 268)

Mom was funny! I sometimes feel that I missed out on her sense of humour. Maybe our senses of humour were just different. But I get a real kick out of some of these letters. And while she hardly ever sent me letters while I was away, she would send the kids little tokens all the time – little souvenir type things or bookmarks – so that they knew she was thinking of them. And they loved it, they would get so excited when there was mail from Grandpa and Nana.

Also, it figures her phone number had a CL in it….

618 N. Halifax Ave

Daytona Beach

Oct 17, 1956


You’re probably wondering if I’m still alive or not it’s so long since I wrote to you! I’m beginning to think you’ll just have to be satisfied with two letters a week.

I’m glad you got my telegram Sheila, but i”m sorry I got you out of bed. What time did it come? You see i had to get it off before school so I did it quite early and forgot about the time difference! If I know you, you probably needed something to get you up!!!!

We’ve been having rather rough weather here as you’ve probably read so actually I haven’t been going out very much. Yesterday I went to Mrs Frank’s and she thought that I was doing just fine. Some Saturday she’s going to drive Jetty and I over to Florida State University in Gainesville because she thinks I’d be able to go there. I’m writing for a catalogue first. She’s sure nice isn’t she?!

Jetty’s father arrived last night and she’s leaving at noon tomorrow. He rented a car and after I had physio we went for a drive down the beach. We went further than I ever had before and farther down there is quite a bit of wild life (animals you own – maybe people too!!)

Marshall was right – he said everyone would write a lot at first and then drop off – well so far everyone else has been pretty faithful but I would like to hear from my family once in a while. Yesterday I got a little note from Sheila – first word in a week! So – get to work. If you stop so will I!!

School’s going fine. You’ll get a report card around the first of November. It’ll probably make you rather ill but they say it happens to the best of us so maybe you’ll recover!!

I just got my last letter sealed up when I remembered you wanted my phone number so I wrote it on the outside. If you missed it it’s CL2-8072.

Oh yes, the man at the laundry and the man who runs the National Airlines both said to say “hello” to you mom!! You sure must have made a hit down here! I’d keep my eye on her if I were you Dad!!

I’ve only spent $10 since you left two weeks ago and that’s not bad considering I bought some clothes and all sorts of extras kept cropping up. I pay my rent again this Saturday. I hate writing cheques!!

The basketball team is starting up at school now! Just wait and see we’re going to beat all the others – that’s if our star players don’t get kicked out of school first!!

Well, I just go do some French – just homework I’ve done in it compared to Latin it’s a snap.

Love Margie xxxx



March 7, 1956 (FGK 266)

Most of these letters are a lot of fun for me to share, as I’ve said some of them make me a bit more emotional than others, but in general this has been such a great experience for me as I’ve been learning more about who mom was – and as a fortunate and unexpected byproduct more about my grandparents, extended family and community (not to mention more about myself). The last newspaper clipping here though was really hard for me to post. As I’ve said, I typically just reach my hand in and grab a letter and share it, reading it for the first time as I type it out. That clipping, however, which is mixed in with the letters and a ton of other clippings, keeps placing itself in my hand. It hurts my heart to look at it and so I’ve continued to shove it down to the bottom of the box because I don’t want to look at it. Today I decided that’s exactly why I do need to acknowledge it. That’s how my mom lived in the hospital. In wards like that. Rows and rows of children who were sick and fighting for their health and in some cases their lives. It’s humbling.

These non-hospital related articles were just left around the two that had relevance, but I found them kind of interesting – it’s cool to see what was important in 1956. Turkeys apparently.

If you don’t know who Eric Harvie is he’s worth learning about. I learned about how he was part of the group of business men in Alberta in the early 1900s who put money into beautifying the faces of small towns in Alberta. His legacy lives on in the Glenbow Ranch – the provincial park that is just east of Cochrane. I remember his son Neil (who was older than my parents) coming to see my dad for legal advice- never would you imagine his net worth as he was such a humble and down to earth person every time I met him.

Eric Harvie Gives Cash to the City

Mayor D.H. Mackay said today the city is trying to place building sites to the west of River Park on sale as soon as possible. This followed the signing of an agreement Thursday between the city and Glenbow Investments Ltd handling the donation of 2 1/2 acres of land and $100,000 from Eric L. Harvie QC.

Mayor Surprised

The mayor was surprised when the large cheque was handed to him Tuesday. He had expected only to sign the agreement.

The signing and handing over of the cheque marks the end of a four year controversy over Mr. Harvie’s contributions.

Because, seriously, who doesn’t want to read an article about a turkey thief?? I’d so much rather read about this than the headlines of today.

Turkey Thief Goes to Jail

A 29 year old Calgary man, Douglas Shaben, Tuesday in Supreme Court was sentenced to 12 months at hard labour in Lethbridge jail after being found guilty of obtaining 17 turkeys form a local food wholesaler last Christmas by false pretences.

The stay of proceedings was granted by Chief Justice C.C. McLaurin on a second similar charge.

The sentence was handed down after evidence disclosed Shaben had posed as a buyer for Shell Oil Co and in return sold the turkeys for $241.89 to the Calgary Electric Light Department.

Character Witness:

A character witness, Robert Leslie Howell, a minister of the Christian Church testified Shaben was “a sincere fellow willing to help people at all times.” The minister also stated Shaben had been generous in his donation to the community fund.

Shaben was represented by J.S. Palmer. Earnest S. Watkins was crown prosecutor.

You know me, any opportunity to drive home the importance of wearing a helmet. My life was saved in my “rushed unplanned dismount” a few years ago because I had my helmet on.

Safety Helmet Saves Worker

And employee of Mannix Construction Ltd was saved from serious injury by his safety helmet about 9:30 am today when a piece of pipe fell on him at 9th ave and 1st St. W.

Bill McLean was taken to General Hospital by Starr’s Ambulance. He suffered head cuts but his condition was considered satisfactory.

Witnesses said the man’s safety helmet was flattened when the piece of pipe tumbled down on him.

Plaster Casts, Wheel Chairs and crutches have not dampened the spirits of the girl guides shown above. They are members of a company in the Red Cross Crippled Children’s Hospital, and are pictured during a lesson in know tying at their meeting Tuesday night. Smiling happily form left to right are: Muriel, Brenda, Emily, Patsy, who is yet a Brownie, and Lillian.

This is the photo – it sure brings a lot of feelings for me. Also though, how cool that Gene Autry came to visit. I remember when I was teaching in Airdrie years ago the kids talked about how Paul Brant would go to the Children’s Hospital and visit them – and this was when his songs like “My Heart Has a History” were topping the charts. It meant so much to them and I’ve had a lot of respect for him since then.

Cowboy Star Visits Hospital

Young patients at the Red Cross Crippled Children’s Hospital Thursday morning got a real thrill when cowboy movie star Gene Autry paid them a visit. Autry is shown above talking to a ward full of bed-ridden youngsters. He was in Calgary for a show at the Corral Thursday night.


Do you know what silver fish are?(FGK 265)

This girl’s dream reminds me of a really funny/weird encounter I had while grocery shopping at Kroger while we were living in Roanoke. This older woman – I had never seen her before and never saw here again- walked up to me and said: “let me tell you about a dream I had last night. I was standing inside a weird building and I was getting so hot. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing until suddenly I realized that I was watching my own cremation. I didn’t know what to think of that.” I also didn’t know what to think of that. I can’t remember what I said in response – but it certainly was one of the oddest grocery store conversations I’ve ever had.

I am fortunate never to have had to deal with silver fish, but we did have stink bugs all over the place when we lived in Roanoke. They used to drive me nuts, but interestingly enough I got used to them and didn’t pay them much mind after a while.

I assume that Walden is Thoreau’s Walden. I was about 18 the first time I was introduced to that book. I fell madly in love with it – it was assigned reading for an English class I took at MRC (now MRU) and I became obsessed with living in the woods for a year to understand myself better. I was so thrilled when – decades later – I lived within driving distance of Walden Pond and we were able to drive up and spend the day there. It’s funny what life brings you.

April 15, 1958

Dear Margaret

Hi! How’s life? How is vacation? Bet you’re having fun you lucky thing.

Have you seen Mr. B recently? The night I came back, I dreamed he was dead, it was perfectly awful.

Do you know what silver fish are? We have tons of them in our room. It’s perfectly dreadful. I hate them.

A brown and white, sliver fish found on the wall. Squashed with a “suitable container”. They are all over our room in all different sizes. Ranging from ___ to ___ (see the photos I included). I just HATE them. They come in different colours. White, brown, and two tone (white and brown stripes).

Above and below you can see her drawings of the dreadful silver fish.

Walden (the book I was reading) is due Monday and I have read fifty pages (there are over 200). I don’t even understand what I”m supposed to write about him let alone how to do it. I”m just plain stupid, I guess.

I left my lovely Latin letter in my pocket åbook with a check for $41 on the bus to school. I only just got it back. Bright girl.

I have to read Walden now.

Write soon

Love Joanie


A woman of exemplary character (FGK 264)

I know this letter was written for mom, and damn it must have made her happy to read this man’s description of her, but as a mom myself – I can imagine how humbly proud Grandma must have been. This man managed to complement the whole family, and even the entire community in his letter. How fantastic to have such wonderful things written about you! Sometimes the more sentimental letters from people I knew and loved leave me a bit teary eyed, but this one had big ole fat tears running down my face. I would feel so incredibly happy if someone spoke of my family this way. Grandma and Grandpa were remarkable people.

Copy for Mrs. Percy Copithorne

March 26, 1958

San Diego College for Women

Alcala Pk

San Diego, California



I have been asked to write you with reference to Miss Margaret Copithorne, of Calgary, Alberta, who is making application to enter your college as a student.

I can heartily recommend this young woman as being of exemplary character and very attractive personality, and I am quite convinced that she could profit very greatly from attendance at your institution.

I have known her and different members of her family for several years. In fact, her brother and sister attended Mount Royal College and were exceptionally fine students. Her father and mother are very respected people in their community, and she is a fortunate young woman who has been raised in a Christian home of good ideals.

With every good wish,

Yours sincerely,

John H. Garden



The Doodads Keep Coming Apart (FGK 262)

32 Dix Ave

Ormond Beach

Oct 13, 1957

Hi y’all!

We’re spending a “quiet Sunday at home”. For some reason I didn’t want to do anything but stay at home and rest. However, as it turned out I’ve spent nearly all my time doing homework. That goes for the whole weekend.

We were supposed to have a party at Serge’s house this week but it has been cancelled because of the flu. We were also supposed to have a beach party on Friday I don’t know whether we’re going to have it or not. If we don’t I may go with Barb and some kids to a football game in Orlando.

Barbara Linkous is back from the North. It’ll be good to have one of the old gang back.

A visitor just dropped in on Webbs. As soon as she found out I go to Seabreeze Private she asked me if I knew “those “O’Bryne girls” as a matter of fact I do and really like them. I think they’re full of life and lots of fun, she thinks they’re wild, undisciplined brats. They’re full of Irish fun, laughter and goodwill but I”m afraid Mrs Webb thinks they may be too wild. – Don’t worry I’m not “wild”.

We went to see Elvis Presley’s picture Friday night. Very lovely movie.

I’m going to Mrs Franks for my exercises on Tuesday. We are going to decide whether to go every week or every month. She sent me a birthday card and wants me to go to Gordon’s for a shrimp dinner sometime.

I was down to the beach last week but didn’t see anyone I know.

The typewriter arrived in fine condition. We had a bit of trouble getting it unpacked but it’s ok now except for the “a” and “d” keys have to be ganged to kingdom come before they’ll print. It sure is cute and I really like it. Thanks so much.

Barbara is historian of the DCT now. They had an article about it in the paper today.

Nancy has been calling quite often lately, usually right at supper time. They are all fine and send their regards.

Larry is doing fine, he’s about as poor at writing home as I am.

We’re playing some tapes on the tape recorder right now. There are some old ones Larry made before he left. There’s one where he is interviewing which is quite funny.

The school car took me to school the other morning as they happened to be going by our house. Webb’s car is getting quite run down the doodads keep coming apart but we keep praying that it will stay together for a while longer.

I wore my green suit when I went out last week and all the kids really liked it. I wore my reversible shirt today.

School is doing ok – I guess.

Must go now

Love to all


ps say “hi” to Anne and everyone.


Tornado Scares and Tobacco Greenhouses (FGK 261)

With tornado scares and tobacco greenhouses being built we certainly know we aren’t in Alberta anymore! No wonder mom enjoyed Florida so much (not for tornadoes and tobacco -but other things), it really sounds like she was having a great time and had lots of people to hang out with and care for her. I had to include a photo of the letter – I know I talk a lot about the handwriting in some of these letters – but this one was particularly beautiful. And it was on that crinkly paper that people used to use (she says like she wasn’t alive and writing letters in the time of crinkly paper).

As I go through these letters I realize that this could be the last generation where we can find these kinds of gems – who wants to sort through the millions of spam emails I have to find anything of value? And even at that most of what I send is via text and that gets lost with time. (Although I did blog when my kids were little and that has left us with a wonderful diary of that time. I printed them off into little books for Dad years ago and now they’re mine again.) I so appreciate all of these letters. I started this journey as a way of grieving mom and trying to learn more about her – but it’s given me so, so, so much more than that. I’m really grateful for this whole process. And I should say it hasn’t always been an easy one for me. It’s brought up a lot of feelings, memories, and emotions that I’ve been working through. While it hasn’t been easy it has been so worth it. There’s plenty more to come, but I also want to thank all of you who read this and share these memories with me. It means a lot ❤️.

624 N Peninsula Drive

Daytona Beach


April 20 – 58

Dear Mrs. Copithorne

Every week I think of writing you but things get in the way.

We are having beautiful weather now -sunny and warm. Margaret and Nancy were on the beach again yesterday afternoon and they are both getting quite brown.

We had a tornado scare one day this week. The schools were let out at 1pm but the storm passed by on either side of us.

Mr Adams flew home a week ago and phoned last night that he expects to be back by Wednesday morning. Had to see about getting the tobacco greenhouse started before he came back.

Margaret says you may come to Daytona next month. If you do we would very much like for you to stay with us. We have an empty room with Bill being away to school.

If you would consider this we would enjoy having you.

We would not want you to feel tied down – but be free to come and go as you would like.

Expect this is a very busy time on the ranch. Doesn’t seem like another school year is almost over.

i was asked this afternoon to be one of the chaperones for the junior-senior prom next month. Peg is a junior this year.

Know you will enjoy seeing Margaret graduate. We will miss having her stop by when she goes away to school next year. This is all part of their growing up and being able to manage on their own.

She does this so well and so cheerfully.

Trust this finds you all well

Regards to the family

As ever,

Hazel Adams.

This handwriting is a work of art (and there’s Jessie’s butt because she insists on being part of this process).

The School Kids are Really Wild (FGK 260)

It’s hard for me to believe she wrote this while in class hiding it from the teacher because it’s easily some of the best handwriting I’ve come across so far. I don’t know who Ruth is or how mom knew her – there’s no last name attached to it either. Funny how our fear of our moms finding out we aren’t studying to what we think are their standards seems to be an eternal problem. I wonder how long she had to wait to get her TV. Even in the 70s (which should not be as long ago as the calendar says it is), we had a rocking 12 channels – but my childhood best friend only had 3.

701 – 21 Ave NW

Calgary, Alberta

March 28, 1956

Dear Margie

Don’t worry about yourself tracking so long to answer my letters. I do next to nothing and I still can’t find time to write.

I’m in school right now, supposedly studying Biology but I can’t concentrate on it. (Don’t ever let on to my mother).

I bet you had fun at that party for Donna, we don’t very often have parties like that but I sure wish we did cause I think you can have an awful lot of fun. You are going to get fat eating like that. Oh well it’s more fun that way isn’t it.

So you went to Banff for the carnival eh? I bet you had fun. I’ve never been but quite a few of the kids from school went and they sure had fun. I hear though that the school kids are really wild when they get up there.

I’ll let you in on a secret, I don’t follow the game of curling either. My dad is sure crazy over it. I didn’t see that show The Glass Slipper but I heard that it was quite good. I haven’t been to a theatre in ages, although the other night I went to the drive-in but it was crumbly. I went with three boys. They were really funny, they didn’t have very much money an there was only a little bit of gas left in the take so any time they could they would turnoff the ignition and let the car coast along.

This darn teacher keeps staring at me so if you find you can’t understand the letter it’s because I have to pretend I’m studying. How are you coming along with your correspondence course? What grade are you taking?

We haven’t got TV yet (darn). We still have to wait for colour and seven channels (so Dad says). I have been running down to my girlfriend’s and watching it.

At school we have been lucky, so far we haven’t had any real big tests before our holidays, just about two small period tests but they are enough.

(I’m at home now)

My Dad and I are on our way to pick up Margaret from the hospital. How did you like the surprise party for Sheila?

Margie I sure would like to see you! If it wasn’t an inconvenience you could maybe come out during the Easter holidays? If you have other plans just tell me because I wouldn’t want to impose on you and maybe you could come back here.

Say hello to the rest of your family for me.

Love, Ruth

(On the back of the envelope she wrote:






We’re always fooling around (FGK 259)

1061 Volusia Ave

Daytona Beach

Dear Mom, Dad, Marsh, and Sheila

Hi!! Just thought I’d better write you and let you know I’m still alive. These past two weeks I’ve had so many other things to think of that I”m afraid my schoolwork and letters got neglected. Don’t expect too much of my report card this time especially in French and Latin and I don’t feel Mr Rich would feel so so disposed as to give me extra good marks either. – you can imagine what they think of me!!! Right now I’m busy trying to get my schoolwork caught up.

Christmas – sorry to get this bit up so late but —- Adam’s have been swell get them something really nice. Carharts have also been nice and i don’t know what I’d do without the Colonel so… if you have time try to get something for Donna, Kay and Janet. I think I’ll buy Mrs Franks an electric alarm clock. That seems to be all I can think of right now but I’m so sleepy (I just finished my homework). Mrs franks is rally making me behave. When I was on my own I kept later hours etc but she is making me go to bed an hour earlier and seeing I do my homework!! One of the boys from school picks me up in the morning and takes me home in the afternoon. I go down to Robbie’s at noon with all the other kids from school for lunch. Mrs Adams phones me up last night and invited me over for lunch today so I went and had a nice chat with her and Nancy. There’s the nicest pair of girls my age – Bobbie Lou and Sherry – living next door and we have a lot of fun visiting back and forth. Jetty phones every night – she has got permission from her father so she will probably be leaving Rich’s any day now.

I’m sure having a lot of fun with Mrs Franks. We’re always fooling around. She considers me her daughter already I think. There’s this character here who I’m out particularly crazy over when he phones up we have a system now either I haven’t done my someone etc so I can’;t go out or we’re just leaving to go somewhere. Works too thank heaven.

We had a shower for Kay yesterday before she goes to the hospital yesterday. We went to her house in New Smyrna and had a ball. New Smyrna won’t forget us soon.

I’ve got so many invitations for Christmas I don’t know what to do. Sounds like I’m going to be busy round ‘bout that time.

Well must go do Christmas cards

Love Marg xxxxx

ps will write more when have time.


It wasn’t his birthday or Christmas (FGK 258)

A lovely letter to Grandma from Aunt Annie. Dishes are still left/misplaced at the Hall – although we’ve moved to disposable dishes for most things. While there’s nothing quite like having a cup of tea from real china, as a board member I am grateful we don’t have to spend hours washing dishes. It’s kind of fun to see how often the Hall is mentioned in these letters – it really was the hub of the community back in the day. Santa is coming back to visit us there next weekend and I’m really happy to see that we are able to gather together again.

RR no 1, DeWinton

21st Nov, 1956

Dear Edna:

You made one little boy so happy today that I just had to sit down and tell you about it. He came home joyfully with his parcel. It wasn’t his birthday or Christmas so he thought he was real lucky. He liked his tie very much and so do I. They are the smartest things they have thought of for little boys in a long, long time. Of course, it goes without saying he enjoyed the candy and chicklets. He had a wonderful time investigating your lovely Pearce. Thanks a million for the lovely earrings. I am going to enjoy wearing them with my black dress. I don’t know how you remember us when in Florida. You must of had so much on your mind. We do appreciate it very much Edna and thanks again for your lovely gifts.

I have been going to answer the nice letter you wrote after your anniversary but just hadn’t got around to it. In fact I have been laid up with a bad back. Just old age I guess. However, it has slowed me up considerably and all I can do is get the meals and sweep the floors. I hope it will leave me soon as there is so much waiting to be done.

If you find that you can make use of those drapes to your satisfaction you are welcome to keep them. Don’t worry about sending them back. They have been in the dewar down here for 9 1/2 years now. I have these windows in place of two now they only use I could make of them would be to make pillows etc out of them. So you just use them if they are what you want. However, if you think you would like something else you just get what you would like. It’s always fun to dress up windows. If you use these drapes there is one thing you’ll have to do and that is either have them cleaned or wasn’t hem. I was really ashamed to send them to you so dirty but I wasn’t sure whether they would stand a washing or not.

I left my cake plate at the hall the night of your party – isn’t just like me to march home without it. If anybody remembers about a strange plate being there you’ll be able to identify it as mine.

Well, I guess I had better close for now as it’s just about time to get supper for my little family.

Thanks again for everything

Love, Annie


I never saw a pair of jeans all nite (FGK 257)

24 Nov/56


Well the big dance wasn’t at Milo after all it was at Arrowwood and did I ever have a tremendous time. The hall was just packed and they were mostly young people.

There was very little drinking and I never saw a pair of jeans all nite – take note Marsh.

Tell Clarence and Harvey – if you see them – that Roy King and Bill Steiner are going to Mexico for a month next week that is if Roy’s father gets back in time. Mr. King left for the States last week for an indefinite period and Roy’s sure mad cause they can’t leave until he gets back.

I’m going to a show at Champion tonite. Annie’s mother is in the hospital and she doesn’t get out of visiting hours in time so I guess Ted and I will go alone.

Mrs. Oldfield has phlebitis and has been in bed for a couple of days. I worked a split shift yesterday so went over to cook her dinner. Poor woman, no wonder she had to go to the hospital today.

I’m going on nites Fri nite and sure mad too cause there’s a dance at Milo that nite. I get Thurs off and don’t have to go to work until midnight Fri so I might be home over the duration.

Got a letter from Bernice (that girl in Stettler) she sure is bored up there. Was hours cleaning for her mother last week.

Got a new pair of shoes. Black patten leather flats, and guess what they’re a size six 1/2.

I went in and asked for my big eights, I was swimming in them. This country does wonders.

Well haven’t got anymore news.

Love Sheila