Friday, April 3, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Grounded Planes and Real Coffee

It's Friday, and time 
for another Lansdowne Letter post.

When my father lived in Lansdowne House 
deep in the wilderness of Northern Ontario,
he wrote many letters that have come to me.

Most of those long ago letters
were written to our extended family,
but some were written to individuals,
like my father's mother, Myrtle MacBeath.

Sometimes his letters to his mother
revealed things I never suspected about my father
when I was a young girl.

This is one of them.

Unsettled Weather ~ Northern Ontario

Saturday, October 15, 1960 
My father wrote:

Dear Mother:
This is the first time the mail has been delayed 
since I arrived at Lansdowne House. 
The weather was out all over Northern Ontario, 
and although it cleared later in the afternoon, 
it cleared too late to allow the mail plane to come in.

Uno and I were lost last night 
and didn’t know what to do with ourselves.  
What creatures of habit we mortals are.  

Ever since we both came up here, 
we have been spending Friday evening 
reading mail and hometown newspapers; 
and yesterday, just because the mail didn’t arrive, 
we couldn’t find anything to do to amuse ourselves.

I figured that you 
will be looking 
for the regular Friday letter 
on its regular day of arrival 
and will be disappointed, 
so I thought I would write 
you this short note 
so you would have two letters 
instead of one.

Myrtle Jane Pratt MacBeath
My Father's Mother
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

That ought to help make up for the fact 
that the mail was delayed.

The flu and its accompanying discomforts 
have pretty well run their course now, 
and I am beginning to feel human again.  
I should be back to school by Monday.  

All told, I lost about ten pounds during the siege.  
Let’s hope that I can keep it off.  
I am loosing weight slowly, but steadily now, 
and I have had to cut holes in all my belts.  

I should be damned near my proper weight by spring.  
I was awfully heavy when I left home this fall, 
heavier and fatter than I have ever been in my life.  
I guess it was all because of my nerves.

Most people loose weight when they are troubled, 
but I gain it.  I guess it is a case of compulsive eating.
I know I go on terrific candy binges when my nerves get upset.

flickr:  Leo Reynolds   license 

   Some of My Father's Favorite Candies

Brian was over last night, and 
we had a couple of good chess games.  
He’s pretty good, but not in my class.  
The Father and the Brother are more of my caliber, 
and we have had some real rip snorting games 
since I came up.

The coffeepot has been perking 
for quite a time now, 
so I guess I had better attend to it.  
Will be back when I have had my morning coffee.


Now that’s real coffee!!!  
You can float a spike in my cup.

flickr: Charlie O'Shields

It has started to cloud over again today.  
I hope the plane gets in before the weather goes out again.  

Oh well, if this letter is several days late, 
instead of just one, you will know 
that the plane didn’t get in on Saturday.  
Oh I hope that the confounded plane gets in today.


I can’t figure what else 
I can put in this note 
to fill up the pages. 

That is one drawback of typed letters – 
one page not is equivalent to several pages of handwriting, 
and anything less than a page looks so mean.
However, mean or not, the well has run dry.  

I include all the news in the regular Lansdowne Letter, 
and the only other inspiration for letters 
is to be found in answering letters that you have received, 
and I have answered all that I have received from you, 
so I am utterly devoid of inspiration at the moment.

Well, by for now, Mother.  
Take care of yourself.
Love, Don

It's fascinating for me to read a letter like this.
When you are a child, your parents 
are monumental figures in your life.

You can't really imagine them as people
who sacrifice, struggle, and worry;
especially when they keep their troubles to themselves
so their children can feel safe and secure.

My Parents and I
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It never occurred to me,
that my father worried about his weight
or the responsibilities and pressures
of raising five children on a small paycheck.
Dad was godlike in my eyes.

And my mom?
She was unwavering love 
and the bedrock granite of our lives.

I had to live a few decades
and experience rough times
to really understand my parents
and all that they went through.

But I did learn very early on
where my father hid his stash of candy.

Fifty years later, I can still taste 
the sweet, tart, and licorice flavors
of those hidden treats.
I am my father's daughter!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



  1. Louise, seeing the old typewriter and your father's favourite candies has brought back some childhood memories for me. My father also liked the Tavener's Drops, and I have fond memories of when my father would bring me a Cherry Blossom and some 12 cent comics, too. Another wonderful post and so nice that your father sent a short letter so that two letters would be received instead of the usual one. :)

    1. I'm so glad my post brought back fond memories for you, Linda! I was excited when I tracked down an image of the Tavener's Drops. Now if I could just find them for real! Have a lovely Easter and a great week!

  2. It's funny how at one point we start to realize that our parents were/are 'real' people with thoughts, worries and concerns just like anyone else. Another great post!

    1. Thanks, Martha! The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents as "real" people! Have a lonely Easter with your family tomorrow!

  3. We are creatures of habit most days, something gets thrown in like no mail delivery and we have to find other ways to amuse ourselves. But there is sure always something.

    1. Definitely I'm a creature of habit! I just wish I could get into good habits as quickly as I can adopt a bad one. LOL! Have a happy Easter Day at your bay!

  4. Hey Weezier, another great post. I am enjoying Dad's candy stash in my mind this morning. All us kids have pieces of Mom and Dad reflecting in us :) I'm going to try to call you this weekend - I needs to hear my big Sister's voice - hugs Barb

    1. Hey, Sis! It was so good to talk to you! Hope that you got that bread pudding finished! I sure wish I was with you all at Bertie's tonight for Easter Dinner! :( I''l bet that we were all sneaking an occasional candy from Dad's stash ~ not the Cherry Blossoms ~ they were noticeably big! Happy Easter!

  5. I can't believe my parents didn't kill me and tell God I died..but my kids made up for it.

    1. LOL! Is that what you call karma? Happy Easter, Jackiesue!

  6. Another great glimpse into your father's mind. I can imagine that the plane not coming was extremely significant when your father yearned from news from home. It seems life there was broken down to the most essential elements. How kind of your dad to write two letters to his mother. Just another example of the exemplary man he was.

    1. Thanks, Peggy! You stated it beautifully ~ life broken down to the most essential elements! That's exactly what it was! I hope you, Don, and Sadie have a lovely Easter tomorrow ~ with more of the family perhaps! Take care!

  7. I imagine they all looked to that plane as a breath of fresh air every Friday.
    With so little to do some days, it's a wonder he didn't gain weight instead of lose it.

    1. Hey Alex! When I lived in Lansdowne, I would run for the Bay dock whenever I heard that plane coming in! Same thing in the outport I lived in in Newfoundland ~ only there it was the coastal boat, and once a helicopter! Living in the isolated north was physically demanding! We don't appreciate how comfortable our modern lives are! Have a Happy Easter!

  8. A Plane arrival once a week, how they would wait with huge anticipation. Liquorice, my favourite, and like so many, I didn't realise the sacrifices my parents made, maybe not for many years after I was married. Your letters are treasures, for you, and to share with use, it is more than doubled, over and over. Happy Easter.

    1. Happy Easter, Jean! I could go for some Allsorts right now! I can order them on-line, but I hesitate to have them in the house because they are irresistible! I usually end up with a pile of black licorice cylinders left, after I've raced though all the sweeter ones. We understand a lot more as we go through life, don't we! I hope your hubby is feeling a lot better! Happy Easter to you both!

  9. Oh, how I wish people still wrote letters. I have all the letters my dad wrote home to his parents while in World War 2. Boxes of them. Also the V-Mail letters all the people in town wrote him. So interesting to read them.

    So glad you have these letters now, to get to know your parents as we didn't know them before. Truly a lovely post.

    1. I wish people still wrote letters too, Julie! How wonderful that you have your father's letters from WWII ~ maybe there is a book in there for you to write! Thanks for the kind comment! Have a lovely Easter!

  10. How wonderful to have all those old family letters, nobody write letters any more.

    1. I have a lot of letter, Jill, and I'm grateful for every one! We all send email, but I don't see how those will be looked at decades from now. Happy Easter, my friend!

  11. Just look at how young your parents are, Louise! They are kids! And probably terrified as most parents usually are after having their first child. But from the sounds of things they were strong and determined to do and be the best they can be.
    Nothing is worse than having nothing to say in a letter....especially to your mother!! Yes, your Dad was a normal human being. Scary eh?! I remember realizing this about my parents. They actually had a life like the rest of us! Just imagine that!! lol

    1. LOL indeed, Jim! Not just our parents, but all the "elders" in the family. I remember walking into my grandmother's kitchen when I was about 18 and seeing my great aunt Louise and her husband throwing flour at each other in a playful spat! That's when I realized that really old people (They were probably my current age ~ LOL) had lots of fun! Have a lovely Easter with Ron!

  12. Loved this simple letter from your dad to his mom, but I'll bet getting that letter with no bad news was a welcome read to his mother. My own dad wrote the weekly letter home to his parents in England, and when his parents died he brought home a huge box of all the letters he had written to them (40 years of letters!!). I was heartbroken when he told me he burned them all. I would have loved to read them, but perhaps it was uncomfortable for him to have any of us discover what he used to be like. Still ... he could have saved a couple!

    1. Oh how heartbreaking, Wendy! Just think of all the family history that must have been in those letters! I think a lot of Mom's letters were burned. And I can see my grandmother MacDonald out in the backyard burning all of the mail she received in a 45 gallon barrel. Her diaries went into the fire too. I am lucky to have quite a few from my Dad and those I've saved that came to me. It's interesting how different people feel toward their personal papers. Have a great evening!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.