Friday, March 15, 2013

Two WWI Letters from the Home Front

I found this letter from 1914, the beginning of WWI, in a drawer. It got separated from the others.

My husband's grandmother, Marion, is a new mother and probably not rich enough  to hire a nurse, so her dear husband, Hugh, is doing the housework.

Soon, Hugh would be totally useless and dependent on her. I have a letter from 1917 where he is left at home and he is pleading for her to come home. I'll stick it at the end.

In 1914, Marion and Hugh live with Marion's sister Flora, a teacher at William Lunn in Griffintown. They live in Notre Dame de Grace, or NDG, but join the Westmount Church.

The Pastor there, a Dr. Clark, knows her older sister Edith, who taught in Westmount between 1909-1912. By 1917, Edith is a stenographer at Sun Life and very active in war relief efforts, the Red Triangle etc.

Isabel is good friend Isabel McCoy who married in 1912 and has yet to get pregnant it seems.  Or she is heavily pregnant. You can read about it here in Threshold Girl.

Thursday Afternoon,

October 29, 1914

281 Old Orchard

Dear Mother,

Your letter came yesterday and I as glad to get it and I can tell you that you need not worry about me doing any work for I don not get the chance as Hugh is a regular "Biddy" now and makes a very good done indeed.

I certainly could not get along if I did not get so much help from him. In fact, I can say he does almost all that needs to be done and as for having any hands in water, I only have them in when they are not clean in need of a wash.

The Baby I think is getting along fine. I had two nights that she cried and fussed so much that I was up nearly all night. At least I was up from one until 4 and there is not much night after that is there?

I fancy now there was not much the matter with her but at the time I did not know what to do with her. However the last two nights have been much better. I only hope they will last.

Now, Mrs. Morrison was in yesterday with her little boy, he is a fine little fellow, but quite big for six years.

She found that the baby had grown and thought her doing fine.

Tuesday night Isabel and Allen walked over here. Just imagine Isabel taking that outing. She is so discouraged with waiting that she is getting desperate.

She sent in the money for the eggs which I was to give to you to take home so I will send it tomorrow I think as it did not arrive before you left.

Purves was in this week and came up for tea on Tuesday. He found a big change in wee Margaret . We weighed her today with her clothes all on as I forgot to when she was having her bath and Hugh said it was 9 1/2 pounds but that seems too much to me.

If I can think of it I will try again tomorrow.

This afternoon Dr. Clark of St. Andrew's called and Hugh luckily happened to be in and now he is going to send to Three Rivers for his certificate and put it into St. Andrew's.

He seemed to like Dr. Clarke.

It think it was just as I said long ago; he needed a little pressing.

I told Dr. Clark that we had Flora here too and she he said he would come to see her sometimes.

We are going to get three sittings there so will not be Church Wanderers any longer.

He was enquiring for Edith. Said he knew her quite well.

With love to all, Will stop for this time.


A few years later, with two children now, Marion is away at her mothers and he is in the care of  his sisters in law, who have better things to do, during WWI, than take care of him.

July 16, 1918
39 York, Westmount

My dearest sweetheart,

I cannot express in writing how pleased I was to hear your voice over the telephone a little while ago and was very sorry when I learned that due to the circumstances, you were not able to come home.

Dearest, I have never written you on this strain since I have known you and before I say what I have in mind, I beg of you to please try and understand it in the light that I mean it.

 For Marion, dear, I love you with all my heart and it is because of my affection for you that I try to pave the way a little. I honestly, would not intentionally hurt you Marion. 

Now sweetest, here it is: You know, Dear, that you have left me alone at different times for indefinite periods, but may I say that I have never yet found one month to be as long as this one. 

Really, it has seemed to me almost like years. I would a thousand times rather be left entirely alone than to be left again with the girls, as I cannot get them to  do anything which appears to me to be reasonable. I have come home on several occasions and the front and back doors were not locked. They will not close the windows and the house is almost like an oven. They forget to order food. The refrigerator is left open; the ice is melting as fast as you can put it in. Cawlice. Water is running all over the floor and things are lying about. I am sick and tired of the whole place.  

Take pity on me Darling before I go crazy and come home to me to look after and love me. *but under no circumstances take chances (with mother's health).  Take it from me, God help the poor man that gets either one of them, if they don't change. You can do more in five minutes than they can do together in a day.  You have forgotten more than they'll ever know. God bless you Marion and may it be God's will that he can spare you to me for many long happy years.

Hughie,PS. Don't fail to burn this when finished reading.

By 1920, Marion has a third child, another girl, a nurse, a maid and sister Edith takes care of the older children at night.

Edith is working at the Registrar's Office at McGill by 1920, or about to start in August.