Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Push Pull of Biology and Ambition 1910 era


Coats from Eaton's Catalogue, winter 1913-14, range 12.00 to 25.00. Mid range. The catalogue opens with glamour coats, fur coats worth 80 dollars or more, muskrat, seal and the most expensive, persian lamb.. There are also some coats for 10.00 and 5.00. In the 16.oo range, cheviot, vicuna, or, a bit more expensive, wool.

Following is an 'edited' letter from late 1912. Margaret Nicholson is visiting her girls in Montreal. You see, Marion, her gung-ho daughter, has taken the brave step of finding a flat for herself and her sister and two friends, all teachers, very bold of her. But it's near impossible in 1913 for working girls (sic) to  keep a flat and a job. So Mom has to come to help. (Besides, without Mom there, people are very suspicious.

My Threshold Girl story (on free ebook) tells the story of Flora Nicholson's year at Macdonald Teachers College 1911/1912. I am writing the follow up, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about sister Edith's life in the era, where she loses her great love in a Cornwall hotel fire. I end in August 1912, in Boston, where she is on a trip with sister Marion. Edith has no prospects, for she has quit her teaching job in May. Marion's story, Biology and Ambition, the third book in the digital trilogy, will tell about her life between May 1911 to May 1913, the two years she is courted by Hugh Blair, while working as a teacher in Little Burgundy.  Despite her huge ambitions, she ends up giving up teaching to marry Hugh. This letter suggests some reasons why.

2401 Hutchison

November 11, 1912

Dear Norman,

You see by the heading that I am still in the city.

Marion and Flora won't hear to me going home and E writes for me to stay as she is getting on all right - has one of the Pepplers when she stays in the house. I will not stay more than another week. I do wish Edith was here and that we could be together for the winter as they ought to have someone here. Your letter did not reach me until Friday pm, as Edith sent it--so I felt a little worried as I always got them Thursday.

I am so sorry about your coat. I gave the right add to Lann McMorine. You better make some enquiries there about it. Might be at Cochrane.

Edith writes that Mr. Dyson said he bought thirty cords of wood and would supply our winter's wood and would bring a cord any time and to let him know so don't worry any more about wood. She also sent me notice that taxes were due.



Now I am very sorry that Herb seems to be so careless, debt seems to be no worry to him. I hope you have just let him know how hard it is for you to be away from your family and that he might try and do better. He has not written me for several weeks . I really cannot understand how he can do it.

Well, the weeks are going by and Xmas will soon be here I don't know what the girls can do with the flat; or if they will be able to get someone to keep fires if they want to go home. They will have two weeks holidays. They were talking it over but said they would decide when you came. The weather has been quite nice since I came in here.

I have not bought a coat. Takes more than I had. Marion got a long navy blue one that will be very comfortable this winter. Paid 16.50 and Flora got a brown the same price. They really needed them.

I have not gone anywhere not been up to Cleveland's yet. I have been having trouble with my teeth and as Marion was having work done at Cleveland's Friday, I had him look at mine. He said he would do an hours work for me Monday so I am to go at three o'clock, Too bad yours are giving you trouble. I think it is caused from cold, my front teeth at least one of them felt loose, but he said he did not think it was but found cavities in others. M. had five filled.

Marion said she was going to write you and tell you about Mr. Hugh Blair. He seems very nice. Went home Saturday to Three Rivers. There are a good many things that he can do such as fixing window blinds, but Marion won't let me ask him much. We are trying to put the double windows on here. I want to see them on before I go, although so far they are not needed.

I don't think there is any danger of them getting behind: the four girls pay 25 dollars each. They would rather do it than board. They say it amounted to about that at Mrs. Ellis's.

Now don't worry about Herb. We cannot help it now. If the work stops there you must just take a trip out west. See why he does not at least keep himself. He must know that Marion paid Aunt Han's note. He never wrote her or mentioned it to me. Write when you get this and add to Richmond.

They say I will be here two weeks more but I don't like to leave Edith alone . She said she would go to Kingsbury for a visit but she thought it was too cold and just stayed at home.

Your loving Wife

Margaret

Flora is always saying she is going to write but there is so much going on they don't have time and when I write often they think I tell all.