Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letter 132: The Understanding


November 3, 1912

Sunday Afternoon

Dear Mother,

Your letter arrived Saturday morning. I am sure you must have enjoyed the concert. Take in everything you can. I am not in the least lonesome.

In fact I have had no time. I keep things comfortable and am getting along nicely. Had tea at Florence's so you see I am being royally entertained.

Yesterday morning Emma McLeod came up to invite you, Aunt Han and myself to a tea. I went, Hattie and Bella McLeod were there. Had a very nice time. Then I stayed all night with Ethel. Came over and put on a fire before going to Sunday School. Was out for dinner. Ethel and I have been singing and playing ever since. But I shall stay here tonight. As I don't want to be a bother to them. Ethel has not yet decided whether she will go to Montreal or not.

I intended going out tomorrow, but if it is as cold as today, I would be afraid to leave the home. And then I suppose I should freeze to death anyway.

I saw Mrs. Barrie last night. They are initiating three new members a week from Wed. and wanted to know if you would be home. They are going to have a practice this Wed. 8. If you will not be there they will have someone else take your part that time. You must let me know so I can tell her before Wednesday night. So you had better drop me a card.

If the girls are very anxious you should stay, why not do so. Someone can take your place now better than later on. Mrs. B told me to tell you. Mrs. David Watson was buried on Saturday. Also Mrs. Wright of Kingsbury.

Malcolm brought Henry down Friday night. Ethel and I went to the station to see him off. It was terribly windy and so dark Malcolm stayed the night. I telephoned Mrs. Stevens (seamstress). She could not promise to fill the orders for some time, she has so many orders. I paid Fleury 80 cents for the express on Father's coat. So if he has not got it we will have to trace it. It was sent from her all right.

I got the bill for the taxes, will enclose.

Mrs. MacMillan came home last night at service. The young lady's name is Courtney. Mrs. C says he must have had quite a look first. I suppose they are going on at 2401 also. I think I shall have a short conference with him. I'll ask him if he knows what kind of girl he is getting. (Hugh and Marion aren't formally engaged but appear to have 'an understanding.') I am sending express parcel tomorrow.

Love to Flora and Marion and heaps for yourself.

Your own loving Edith

------------------ Although the Skinners were wonderful helpful neighbours, and great fellow Liberals, their children were tweenage. Ethel Crombie is the daughter of Jane and Marcus, and they've all just moved into the Skinner's home, after doing a number of renovations.

Ethel is 21, closer to Flora's age than Edith's. She is listed as having no profession on the 1911 census. Mr. Crombie is a lumber merchant. Norman pays the hefty mortgage on Tighsolas to Williamson and Crombie, Kingsbury.

In 1912, Edith is drifting professionally speaking. She is thinking of taking a stenography course in the city. In 1905 she completed a typing and shorthand course at St. Francis College. I asw no 'typists' mentioned in the 1911 census. Stenographer appears to be the catch all phrase for female office worker, although it may be that typing alone didn't qualify you for a position. There were no 'typing pools' at that time, apparently.

In the US, it may have been different. According to one 1912 article in New York Post, there were 100,000 thousand woman working as stenographers (which meant office workers?) in New York City alone. (Doesn't seem right.) 80-85 percent of all commercial typewriting in the US (up to 250,000 typists) was being performed by women.

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