England 40 Years Ago — November 30, 1980

When John $pencer plays with a ball, it reminds me of a baseball player, only $ does his sliding while he’s chasing the ball.

I knew it! I knew someday when we played musical beds no one would be in the right place in the morning, and it finally happened! There had been a scary show on TV that we watched about natural phenomena. First Kate came, then Lisa. The girls were in our bed together, and we in theirs separately. At 5:30 John $ woke up – it was terribly cold, so I think he’d been running around his crib to keep warm and ran into something. At any rate, at the getting up time, he and I were out of bed. Several nights this week the girls have elected to sleep in the same bed, partly for company and partly to keep warm.

$ got his measles vaccine and didn’t bat an eyelash while getting it. We’d made the appointment ahead of time, were ushered into a hallway to wait, and taken almost immediately by the nursing sister (not a religious term) who gives all the immunizations. Didn’t cost a cent, directly, that is. I’m sure we’re paying through the nose for such as this in taxes.

Our fish pond was poisoned. We can’t prove it, but we think one of the men working on the trees washed a can of petrol or oil in the water because it had a film on it. Clewes was the one who discovered it, because one of the fish was floating on the top of the water, and the others gasping for air at the surface. Lisa and Kate rescued two, but one is not doing well at all. John bought them a rectangular fish bowl made of plastic, a green bridge and two plastic plants. Looks nice. At first the girls were upset for the fish. Then Lisa said, “Think how Mr. Clewes must feel because he put so much work into the cleaning of the pond. We’ll clean it out ourselves next spring.”

We got something on Thanksgiving Day that you didn’t – regular mail delivery! Of course, it wasn’t a holiday here. However, we got the Thanksgiving card from Stony Brook on Thursday. I was thinking of all of you in the states as we were getting ready for our feast. We ate in the evening, so we were probably stuffing ourselves about the same time as you were.

Shortly after the girls and I came home from school, John arrived with Chris from New York, John from North Carolina and Phil from Kansas, all people who work with him in London. Chris had brought paper plates and napkins with big turkeys on them, two Hallmark cookie cutters, decorative posters which the girls had taken to school with them and brought home in time to stick up before they arrived, canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes. All this John had brought home days before, but Thursday she brought gifts for the girls – chocolate turkeys!

We began eating shortly after 5. They ate so much that they asked if dessert could be delayed. We all got sleepy, but Lisa and Kate kept us awake. The guests got up from the table after having pie and went right to the station to get the 10 p.m. train. We all had such a good time.

During the night of Thanksgiving there was a terrific storm with rain blowing ice at the windows to make a big racket. I woke and knew someone would be with us soon. Yes, Kate came first. As she was getting her pillow, Lisa invited her into her bed.

$ has found he can open the door where the tennis rackets are kept. There are holes drilled at the bottom of the door, probably for ventilation, and he can open the door by pulling it with one finger. He had a merry time among the sports equipment and spider webs until I found him. Put up the gate inside the door to keep him out. That was fine until the weekend when we wanted to hear the Christmas records playing in the study and had to use the gate at that door.

Have we ever had snow!!! It is supposed to be fairly rare here, but we had it anyway. Friday afternoon I looked out the window and saw the Downs looked white. The thought went through my mind that it could be snow, and sure enough, in a few minutes it was snowing mightily until the trees in the next street were blotted out. I ran to pick up as many apples from the two far trees as I could. I even called a mother of a girl from school to see if they ever dismiss school early. She just laughed. She said when it snows during the day, it’s always gone by tea time. It stuck more up here on the hill than elsewhere, but the mother said they never close school early for anything! I was concerned about getting out of the driveway. Should have gone out there earlier, but I thought I could make it. Backed up repeatedly, only to slip and slide half way up. Finally got a broom – don’t think there is a snow shovel in Reigate – and brushed off as much as possible. We made it! Other sections of the town didn’t have much sticking, but ours lasted several days. Had more during the night, too. It was fun having Merrin in the car on the way home, because they hardly ever see snow where she lives in Australia. She said they had none to speak of last year here, so this was the most she’d ever seen.

In the interests of Harold’s head, John relocated the angel mobile. John’s cousin Harold is coming for Christmas, and he is tall. I’d always wanted the mobile in a stairwell, and that is where it is now. Those angels really fly around and around. After a birthday party yesterday, John tied Kate’s huge balloon on the mobile, and that makes it go even faster.

We walked to church, walked home and left the push chair in the hall. Later I heard $ being too quiet; found him standing in that stroller helping himself to papers on the table. While I’ve been writing this in the dining room, $ opened the cabinet with the china and put a salad plate on the floor — gently, thank heavens! Just now he opened the door with the glasses for the first time and had his hand on the handle of a ship mug when I shouted at him. I’m glad he let go before withdrawing his hand.

Lisa and I had a long walk this afternoon with $. Found the public bowling green hidden away by a footpath! Love this town!

Both photos in this letter were shown before, but they really seem to belong here.

32 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — November 30, 1980

  1. A cute one. I certainly found it cold when we went to England in January once. I guess I was too used to central heating and not used to the dampness. That John $. He certainly kept you on your toes.

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  2. Oh, Yeah, the Thanksgiving letter made it! 🙂
    What was it Kate called $–“clever little freak”? She might have been right, or at least, quite close. He was quite the handful apparently.

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    1. I don’t think I wrote about children in bed with us again. Maybe they stayed in their own beds, or perhaps I gave it paper space only once. In any case, none of us sang sweet songs to mark the occasion. Too bad!

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  3. Sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving!

    Re “Have we ever had snow!!! It is supposed to be fairly rare here” – isn’t that always the way?! (I hope you had boots etc . just in case!

    I had a similar ‘rare’ experience when I was visiting my cousin in Vancouver in ’97. That summer was soooo hot there! We were in her living room and I was roasting – I asked her if she had any A/C and she said “No, it normally never gets this hot!!” My luck eh? 😀

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  4. Interesting the bowling on the lawn. I think the snow showed up so that you would not be homesick for New York, even though you were enjoying your entire stay in England. $ is full of energy – how did you keep up with him? I can imagine the delight in chocolate turkeys from across the Pond.

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