Saturday, January 29, 2011

Letter 8: Buggy Dreams and Heatwaves

Bills bills bills. The Nicholsons left behind household accounts from 1883 to 1921 and well as a number of invoices from the turn of the last century and the First World War. Their averge yearly expenditures: $350. to $500.

July 9 1911

Dear Norman,

Your letter dated July 2nd with cheque for $20.00 received. I will attend to the bills. Thanks for the same.

I just got a bag of flour (2.90) and I am owing my grocery bill at Mc Rae's. The wood is holding out fine.The garden looks very good, everything doing well.I have been having Stanley Hill cutting the lawn. He does it very well. I pay him 50 cts a week.

I put the Paris Green on the potatoes twice. Mrs. Montgomery came over to tell me that the bugs were eating up my potatoes.

I was waiting to get someone to do it for me, as that was one thing I never attempted.

But when she interfered thought we would try if. So one dark night, Flora got the lantern and we went out when the bugs were asleep and gave them their dose. We dressed ourselves in the shed. You ought to have seen us. When we got through left our clothes there. Went to bed and dreamed all night that the bugs were crawling over us.

We have had dreadful hot weather. Just fancy, one night we slept out on the veranda. Took our mattresses down. The Skinners were sleeping in theirs so that we were not afraid and we had Flossie (Dalmation)with us but yesterday afternoon it rained so last night was cool.

We all had a good sleep and today is fine. We feel like working. I hope you did not have this extreme heat. We had quite a cold wave about the 24th but no frost.

Mrs. Beiber is improving but not able to be dressed yet. Majory Sutherland keeps about the same.

I have not heard about Flora's exams yet.

We have seen not May Watters since she came home.

I mailed you papers Gilbert (Norman's brother in Alberta) sent you. I wonder why he sent them? Is it that you might see Borden's speech? (Head of Federal Conservatives.)

I have not heard from Herb since the one I mailed you.I was hoping he had mailed you. Yours with much love

I think you better save the little personal. They are apt to get into other people's hands. M

...The postscript to this letter says it all: Be careful what you write, you never know who will read the letter. This is something to remember as you read the Nicholson letters. They were edited as they poured out of the pen. At the same time, these letters are much like phone calls (they were substitutes for phone calls as Long Distance was far too costly to use, despite A T and T's efforts in their advertising to get era mothers to use the phone to keep in contact with wayward children.

$2.90 for a barrel of flour. Nicholson 'store accounts' reveal that figure to be a bargain. The usual cost of wheat flour was around $4.50 to 5.00 a barrel and stayed stable throughout the Wheat Boom Era. However, Margaret writes bag, so perhaps it was half a barrel.

There was a heatwave in Montreal in the summer of 1911. There was a heatwave in the UK as well, which precipated an exodus out of London and a number of strikes. According to the Gazette, for those Montrealers who want to escape the heat, the Princess Theatre was hosting a travel show, "ideal location as the theatre is always cool" with 'scenes' of the South Pole with penguins and ice floes and polar bears(sic).

The Nicholson's home town was a seat of Protestant education in Quebec; the first protestant school in Quebec was established in Richmond in__.

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