Volume 1 of Raw forming: 1963-64 September-April  work & days: a lifetime journal project















First year at Queen's University, living in room 49 in Ban Righ Hall near the northern edge of Lake Ontario. In transcribing letters to my family I have left out most of the family chat and some of the explanations I thought they would need for terms like timpani, and where I am harshly particular about people I leave out their last names. There are occasional regular journal entries when I needed to talk about something I thought my mother wouldn't be able to handle, and I have transcribed these unedited.

Part 1 the train to Kingston and the first two weeks at Queen's. Part 3 Kennedy's assassination. Part 4 Christmas in Ban Righ. Part 5 two weeks in New York, developing friendship with Olivia Howell. Part 6 CUCND nonalignment seminar and a party at Alison Gordon's. Part 7 end of freshman year.

Mentioned: Dean Duncan teaching Philosophy 1, Dugal Campbell teaching Psychology 2, Dr Robertson in English 2, Dr George in Music, Sloan family, Jean Royce, International House, Olivia Howell, Tom Hathaway, Jerry Dirks, Mike Easton, Norman McLeod, SIN Party, Alisdair McLean, Andrew Kennedy-Marshall, Tommy and Bevin Brown, Anne Dyck, Don Carmichael, Cathy Widdess, Paul Simon and John Cowan at a nonalignment seminar of CUCND, Lavada Pindar, Maureen Law, Alison Gordon, Sunnyside Children's Centre.

Die Brücke, 81/2, Irma la Douce, The tin drum, Lady Chatterley's lover, Of human bondage, Atlas Shrugged, The organization of behaviour, the Beatles, Auden, Andre Bieler, Byron Janis, Picasso and Man exhibition.

September 21, Saturday afternoon, Ban Righ Hall

I'll begin your orientation here by telling you about Ban Righ. How to describe it to you! When we drove up grandly to a side door in the taxi last night, ie after dark, the street lights under the maples along University Avenue made them seem to glow of themselves, scarlet and orange. Ban Righ rose above the lawn and trees like a medieval castle in grey limestone with narrow windows (still dark for the most part), large oak doors, and ivy spread over the walls to the top. Inside was a very little old lady at a desk, a common room with a fireplace and a Degas print, more sitting rooms, a vast, echoing cafeteria, and an enormous bulletin board full of regulations and notices of extra-curricular activities.

My room is on the top floor, a floor with only about twelve inhabitants and one telephone, one ironing room, one very large bathroom and a dimly lit carpeted hallway.

The room itself is painted a stark cloister white, with oldish brown furniture, a brown-doored closet, a desk with a goose lamp and a very good desk chair, and a tall narrow bookcase. My window has the dorm's prize view, a wide-angle shot of University Avenue and the many-acre park beyond it. I am nearly above the front door, and so can watch all comings and goings. Last night another girl who was rattling around on second floor went for a walk with me. Two blocks took us to the lake, very dark, very quiet and stealthy on the rocks below us. We can see the lights on the other side from here because the lake has narrowed to form the "Thousand Islands" entrance to the St Lawrence River [actually it was an island, I think]. The streets bordering the lake walk are grassed and flowered to form a long strip of park which I can imagine would be a very popular lovers' lane. The leaves are indescribably beautiful.

Now I smell supper, and as I've eaten nothing but one chocolate candy since yesterday's CNR dinner, I believe I'll go make use of some of the enormous board and room charges I'm paying. $590.00.

September 22 1963

Could you file these letters for me in a ring binder or something? I haven't time to duplicate it all for my journal so will depend on this as a record, hence the holes on the sides. This has been none too chatty, but it is all I can manage to keep up on the informational stuff - we can chat later when less is happening.

Sept 25

Oh these leaves! These trees! These yellows and reds and tans and blacks and greens! These stone towers and casement windows and awesome entrance halls! And classes tomorrow too! And red shoes! And the cleaning lady who sweeps my floor and tugs my rug straight every morning!

Sept 27

We have an exceptionally good psychology professor, Mr Campbell, whose Scottish accent is just light enough and educated enough to be charming. The cadence of his speech is particularly interesting, being a fluctuation from very light to sudden emphasis. Also, he strides about continually, almost like a cat tho, very quietly. This is an example of the way he talks: "The TEXTS you will need (step) are LISTED on the sheet (step) I handed you in the beginning of the class (turn, step) and I should LIKE you to READ them in the ORDER I've indicated (step) BEGINNING with the book (step) by ROSS." This gives his speech a headlong, breathless quality that is difficult to ignore, and because the intervals between emphasized words are so quiet, he keeps the full attention of us all. So far.

Sept 29, Sunday

A stormy, windy, rainy, tempermental day in Kingston. Rather a day for nostalgia, especially after writing seven letters and three postcards and thinking of this summer. Wrote Grandma and Grandpa, both sets. Aren't you pleased? No, really, this summer was awfully good for getting to know them as people and as part of this phenomenon called 'family'.

Down the hall a knot of girls are sitting on the carpet around a banjo and singing sad ballads. As if we aren't a little grey around the heart already - but they sound actually quite nice.

Some mundanities: Judy could you send me a money order for what is in your account that belongs in mine please? I shall probably need it as I'm a little low and should have some dental work done and take out some hospital insurance in case. And when/if you send my blouses do you suppose you could throw in one of the Mexican pottery jugs - I need a pencil stand and toe-cover-holder. How did the pictures turn out? I want copies please if they aren't too bad, and even if they are.

I've been having a peculiar sensation of standing at the edge of something, whether of a precipice or of a magic door I don't know.

Have you heard about my Music 1 class yet? It is held in the living-room-like atmosphere of the library music room, and to make it seem even more of a social afternoon, there are only about thirteen of us, four fellows and nine girls. Our professor is a tall fairly old Britisher with a husky low voice, potentially warm, and a face that much resembles Harold Macmillan's. I know I'm going to like him a great deal. What he proposes to do in the class is to listen and listen and listen to music until we get some glimmer of an 'understanding' (which is not an understanding of form at all) of the music. Also we want to look at the evolution of music a bit, and the structure of the various types and variations. Our professor, whose name I don't know yet, spent most of the first class sitting in an armchair in front of us, speaking very informally. Before he began he smiled a wisp-smile and said "Now don't take notes please: this isn't going to be note-worthy." Isn't he nice?

From somewhere in Kingston cathedral bells are tolling in the rain, both eerie and moving. Kingston has the most beautiful churches I've seen, so many of them, set back on huge lawns, made of the traditional grey stone, most of them with tall Gothic towers rather than spires. On a Sunday morning all the bells ring out across campus: it's breath-taking.

How am I really? A little lonesome so far: making friends too quickly is not appealing or a good idea. In the meanwhile, I miss Frank rather acutely at times, Mr Mann, Peter, the Windrims, the Grandparents even, and Paul, Rudy, Judy, Father, you.

And until I became caught up in the books and classes I was a little lost, a little desolate, a little rootless. But these things - philosophy, psychology, music, English - are home.

It is very late.

Tuesday October 1

It is called Dinner with the Dean. It is something which happens to every freshman at least twice in the first year at Queen's. It is a very awesome thing, remembered with trepidation, anticipated qualmingly.

Hi! That was just me having some fun with last night's semi-ordeal. Do you want to hear what really happened?

Our floor, together with several other girls was formally invited to eat our evening meal (at dinner) at the Dean's table. This is Mrs Bryce's way of learning to know all of the new 'little ones,' and is a tradition with all the rite and ceremony of a coronation.

One first puts on one's very best dress and one's highest sophisticatedest heels and one's most expensivest jewellery, and then one marches tremblingly (if it is possible to march tremblingly - it must be) downstairs to the Dean's office where one is scrutinized and named. Evidently Mrs Bryce, who is the paradoxical combination of efficiency and feminine gracefulness, spends hours before these 'ceremonies' in studying photos of us and attaching the blobs of faces to the corresponding blobs of names.

After she has correctly named us one by one, last names too, and astonished us deeply enough, we trot behind her in straggly pairs to the dining room. The moment she enters, everyone in the dining room rises and stands foolishly with her napkin clutched against her knees to keep it from sliding off entirely. We file into seats somewhere along the semicircular table, with Mrs Bryce at the head and some of us on both sides, both adjacent to and opposite to this formidable female Arthur at her round table.

There is a salad plate beside our places - nothing else. (Salad = half a canned pear on a skimpy sheet of lettice with a tortured mass of whipped cream on top.) Is this all of dinner? We aren't that lucky! Two little maids in white uniform appear carrying bowls of food. The Dean serves out the monsterous slabs of baked ham, then hands the plate (white china with a Queen's crest in gold) to the girl next to her who adds a potato, then to the girl across the table who adds a coblet of corn. Then the plates are passed on down the table until at last we all have one. All this takes ages. During all this time the Dean is making polite chatter to those of us she can conversation-spear without stretching (so to speak), being careful to talk to each only a very short time and then going on to another one.

Finally she picks up her fork and begins on the ham. All down the row heads swivel to see which fork it is that she has picked up and then swivel back, all together, to contemplate their own row of forks. Between main course and dessert there is a recuperatory pause of about fifteen minutes - more ceremonial chatter - while the maids clear plates away and bring out the dessert. Voila! Small banana splits. Even the Dean lights up.

Eventually, eventually, she rises, motions to us, and leads us out. Then, at the door of her office, she shakes our hands in turn, being careful to mention our names to prove that she can do it again, and says a gracious "I was so pleased with the little talk I had with you, good night" accompanied by a very regal touch of a surprisingly soft hand as we pass toward the stairs.

October 2

Surely this must be Wednesday, yes it is.

Last night was oooooo. It was the first Interfaculty Choir rehearsal, for one thing. We meet in the Music House, another ramshackly brick 'ediface' (no other word is suitable) there should be a period at the end of that but I forgot it. Anyway, the wonderful Dr George who is the warm Macmillan looking music professor I mentioned before, is our director and accompanist. Last night's beginnings were a long Irish ballad in semi-cantata form called "Praudrig [Phaudrig] Crohoore," and a tender Elizabethan hymn with breath-taking harmonies. But what I was aching for all evening was a real tenor - I thought very wistfully of Mr Mann and Pierre singing down the hallways at school last year. But we had not one reasonable tenor and not one better than reasonable bass. But the songs themselves carried the rehearsal and I walked out afterwards into the witchy first night of October in a bit of a witchy rapture. A night! Absolutely empty sky very far away and pale, yellow trees glowing in the streetlamp light, a luminosity around the Grant Hall belltower that hinted of a moon behind it, dry leaves swirling and skipping with only the smallest rasp of a sound when they touch the sidewalk, a pretty blond girl in a collegiate trench coat and sneakers scuffing along ahead of me.

Saturday October 5

Today was an important day for Queen's: the university idolizes football, and today our Gaels routed the Toronto Blues, long-time arch-enemies. I didn't go to the game, but heard it: bellowing commentators, the skirling bagpipes, the two bands, the cheering crowds from both Toronto and Kingston. After the game the campus was overrun by couples on their way to after-game dances and banquets.

What are you doing at home, two time-zones earlier? Let me guess - the record player is on, either a quartet or the Emperor. Paul has finished calf-feedings and is reading in a living room chair. Judy would be piano-practicing if the record player wasn't on, but is studying instead. Rudy is sitting on the floor with a magazine wishing he had something to do. Father is sitting on the 'sofa,' sprawling rather, with a far-away plotting look. Mom's beside him with a far-away reading and dreaming look. This is Sunday evening, by the way, 10:30 pm.

I tripped off to church this morning in a very large velvet hat, red with my red suit and beige coat and red gloves (the extra finery donated). The hat is a large derby-mushroom crossbreed, a marvel. And I shall have to buy myself a hat too - idiotic things! Idiotic females! Church this morning was mass in the cathedral, because my music class is studying mass music and I wanted to see for myself - and the music is beautiful; the Sexsmith choir, Judy, is no indication. The end of the sheet and of my noisy hour - goodnight.

Weds 9

Now, about Thomas A Hathaway. The minute he walked into English class the boy next to me whispered "He must be a genius." He looked like one: tall and very thin, nearsighted with round wire-rimmed glasses, rather anxious blue eyes, a detached absent-minded expression, wearing thick-soled shoes and tweedy sports jacket with leather elbow-patches and definitely non-dress (looks like a type of khaki) trousers. He carries a big briefcase with him everywhere, haunts the library, and seems a stereotype shy intellectual. Fascinating! By luck (not guile, honest) I sat next to him in philosophy this morning and got to know him a bit - he's an English major who wants eventually to teach high school, rather courtly, altogether approachable. This is somebody I'd like to land for a friend, but it may take some manoeuvering. (But subtle of course.)

16 October

With November exams looming, with two enormous essays to be written, with a minute-pinching schedule to be slavishly followed ...

We are still having summer weather, really hot in the afternoons, and often warm even at night. And all day the dry brown leaves whirl down, so that the lawns are all thickly covered now.

If you are interested in what we are up to, in English we are studying Middle English: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Ben Johnson's play Volpone, both written in English that has to be translated into American before we can understand it. We have an 1800 word essay due on an abstract analysis of the satiric function of one of the Volpone characters. Ycheaah!

In psychology we are studying scientific experimental method in connection with modern techniques and have another great long essay to write on this. Dr Dugal Campbell is a dear! And he is a family friend of the Sloanes, so I can find a few morsels of information about him - he is Scottish, educated in a Quaker school, psychologically trained in the London University school of psychology that Dr Sloane attended as well. Likes to sail but is rather clumsy at it - and that would be typical of him. I wish you could see him bound into the classroom and fly straight to the window to get a gale started circulating around the sleepy students! And his most elf-like expression when he begs to be allowed to escape the barage of questions and go on with his lecture, "Please, could I get back to that later?"

In music we have gone on to dissect various types of music, and I find to my distress that I cannot usually detect a change of key.

In French we are concurrently taking, in effect, four courses - a grammar course, a French civilization and culture course, a vocabulary course, and an auditory-oral course. With this I have to study elementary university French grammar by myself - wow!

In philosophy we are still trudging (raggedly) through Plato's Republic. It's actually a very good and sensible course, this philosophy 1. If I pass everything fairly well I'm thinking of switching my second minor to philosophy rather than French.

A wee short note from Grandfather Epp - he talks about rain and the grapevine and Willie Reimers. It is good to know that all of this is still there, as it was, even if my new environment knows nothing of it. I still often catch my breath and think, "This is university. You are really here." And at times when I am deep in a book or close on the heels of an idea, the thought that this, incredibly, is to be my life for the next long stretch of years is too good to be true.

23 Wednesday

A rather interesting evening last night. (Oo where am I today? Any idjot would be smart enough to avoid saying "evening last night.") I sat beside Tom this morning, or rather he sat beside me in philosophy lectures and bumped into my elbow several times - that may be why I'm a bit garbled ... just kidding!

At last our sultry false summer has been blown away by a suitable-to-October cold wind, exhilerating but noisy: it sets all the windows on the floor chattering at night.

Rumor has it that the kitchen puts saltpetre in our milk, but this doesn't seem to have the effect it is supposed to have, ie bovinizing us. The men's residences discovered what was happening to their milk and after a great row over it have been drinking nothing but carton milk.

Friday October 25

I have just come in from a very interesting psychology class where we worried about whether the mind is an entity or a concept. Mr Campbell was bemused about the fact that we are worried about it. He says "I know you've thought for a long time that you have one, and I'm sure that you've become rather attached to it. But you can't think of it as really being there. It is a concept you have to explain your cognizant behavioral processes, just as molecules are a concept to explain the behaviour of matter. But nobody has ever seen a molecule and nobody has ever seen a mind. It isn't really there: it is only the idea we use to explain ourselves." So there was a vigorous battle.

I realized just this afternoon what I miss most about this residence life: solitude. Strange that I should remember last winter in Sexsmith as one of the best times in my life when it was also one of the most alone times. Loneliness adds a distinctive sharpness to everyday experiences that seems blunted by too much human companionship, especially when it is a rather casual type of companionship.


The campus is beautiful at night, now with a skimming of cloud across the moon, dormitory windows alight behind the ivy, couples and loners walking in the park or sitting on the steps of Ban Righ saying goodnight, stark branches, rasping leaves, echoing footsteps, and always the knowledge that it is Queen's, one of the best and most highly regarded universities in Canada, and special because it is my university. And it is, now. The first month was a limbo of half-heaven, half-hell, where-do-we-really-fit-in. But it is nearly November and Queen's is our university.

November 2

This might be a time to talk to you about your cryptic little "Sabbath day" note, Mother. I really don't think you need to be worried about these little excursions into the forbidden, because after only one month I've discovered that:

a. alcohol tastes dreadful, and I certainly don't need it anyway - spirits high enough without it
b. social dancing bores me and I'm clumsy at it

And as I'm never in the least tempted to smoke or to neck as social recreation I'm clear of all the vices right from the beginning and won't have to waste any time wondering what I'm missing. I think actual dislike is a better and surer basis for avoiding something than having been told by someone that it was wrong, don't you?

Tuesday 5

Something peculiar about residence life that is noticeable after a while is the passionlessness of it all - rising, feeding, studying, feeding, classes, feeding, studying, sleeping. We wash our faces. Iron things. Brush our teeth five times a day; really! Other things are all done for us, food gathering, floor washing, all the grubby bits of living fade away until we may begin to feel that living is merely a state of aquiescence. The EXAMS are telling us differently though, and so do exciting things like trees and the lake and art gallery and the children we babysit.

November 10

Olivia and I sat talking tonight, with faces hard, voices angry, resentment even against each other, about our deteriorating selves. She leaned back in her chair with her legs stretched from under her brief slip, either knitting or smoking. Face blurred and pinched. Hair nondescript. Eyes red. Pink fingernails moving - long blue sweater, smoke rising and fuzzing out in front of her face. It was in the midst of angry, slow, deliberate statements from our searching and resentment that I said "... but I do love it." She laughed. "So do I."

13 Nov

Exciting tonight was a textural pattern of light and shadow formed by tiny reflecting rain puddles in the worn rock of the Ban Righ front steps. I went out with my camera in the dark to try a long exposure shot, but it is not likely to turn out. It is things like that that make me ache for proper equipment - tripods, sensitive film, light meter, photofloods, dark room apparatus. Someday I would like to become a good photographer. What is this passion for recording things?

November 17 Sunday


Stillness, solitude - where? Pure dedication, limestone purpose unaware of fluttering petty ivy - where?

In a day, what is there? Going downstairs for breakfast sometimes with others and in a pre-breakfast haze of chattering irrelevances. Fluctuating self-disgust with thought of the weeks of work undone and undoing. Tooth-brushing. Food.

Solitude, strong spirit - where?

But in the chattering irrelevancies there is sometimes a cool, still, gong-sound of human communication. Wesley's eyes clear and earnest as he says "I like to show people that I love them. And I think sex will be a wonderful experience because it will be my best way of showing my love."

Norman with his young middle-aged face reciting Hopkins in the cold dark with his breath diagraming in the air the vitality of words.

My picnic alone on the pebbles of the beach yesterday as I huddled along the lake-walk and the waves smashed into froth on the rocks.

What am I finding about myself? More than ever, that I must be self-sufficient to survive. That my own integrity is indespensible to me, in order that I may have something on which to rely. That my inviolate and separate self is what must be most carefully guarded; it is my home, and only from it can I venture surely into warmth of external relationships.

That I have a capacity for, and an intense desire for, purpose. That without working for a difficult and important goal, I am dissatisfied.

That my capacity for joy is activated by things I can do by myself: listen to Bach, sit at the lakeside, walk corridors in the park, read poetry. But that communication is yet a passion to me: that I look for it in these things I do alone: in Bach, in Elinor Wylie, in my own intense self-awareness.

That in milling with the 'steaming herd' I lose my love of people, my love at all, and my awareness. That my reaction is mechanical. Where is my love? Who do I love here? Is there anyone? No. And I grieve that I do not love.

But I do not know many things. Is loneliness larger than solitude? Will my pettynesses corrupt entirely my capacity for purpose?

November 18, Monday

There is a wonderfully heavy spring-like rain this morning and I've been mooning out the window letting it drip on my hands with all the enjoyment of someone who had just discovered rain. Very early this morning we had our first really violent storm with splashes of lightning and bellows of thunder and an inevitable high excitement.

Saturday 23

Yesterday's shocking news about the assassination of the president had surprising repercussions all over campus. The first to be noticed was a clumping effect. Little groups of people left their radios to go to classes just after the news came, and on all the street corners they met others - "Have you heard?" "I don't believe it." The reaction immediately following disbelief was one of fright. Kennedy was a figurehead and a hero: heroes aren't supposed to be vulnerable. And "Why, why?" "How? It can't happen to someone like him."

My friend Marion from New York was particularly hard-hit. "The United States never meant anything to me before he was president, but he was a real man, and he personified the country to me," she said. I think this is the root-reason for the daze that it put everyone here into.

And when I went downtown later in the evening, everyone was talking about it. "A terrible thing" said the bus driver. "I think this will touch off a lot more assassinations," said the grocer. A woman in the store was crying. A bland sheep-like face on the television set mumbled clichés, comments from the local ministers of all faiths. And the papers today are lurid with such headlines as "Mrs Kennedy places a last kiss on the lips of her dead husband."

On the television set earlier in the afternoon, just after Kennedy's death had been confirmed, the commentator had merely stood and said "The president is dead. The president is dead," with tears running down his face.


I've never told you, I don't think, about our Little Ladies. They are the desk-sitters at the residence doors who watch all comings and goings-away, make sure everybody signs out in the late leave book, and read romantic novels with their feet in prim black shoes up on small green hassocks in between. As soon as dusk falls they wander about shutting curtains and turning on lamps. They all look remarkably alike, tiny, whitehaired, fragile, completely uninvolved in the boisterous life bounding past their desks in shapely co-ed bodies all day long. Uninvolved is exactly the right word, for they seem to smile a very slightly benevolent smile that is completely without focus or feeling. Their conversation is dusty, without spark or shinyness or real warmth, just a kind of fuzz. These Lavendar Ladies (they look as though any other scent on them would be ridiculous and vulgar) are almost an institution. Nobody sees them when passing those tidy desks. Those who say hello say it as to a fixture. What are the Ladies, why are they working here, what do they think in their wise old minds when they see us rushing toward classes - toward life - with such impetuosity? What do they know that we don't?

Sunday 24

The lake becomes more and more a haven from frustration and ennui; a walk to the end of University Avenue, a run across the chem. building's lawn and down half a sloping street edged by decrepit old houses and a country-like grocery store, and across another street, voilà. An expanse of water to the horizon with a line of trees emerging just at the world's end. The trees are growing on the twelve-mile-long Wolfe Island. Each wave appears from nowhere just before striking shore, curving up and magnifying the lake bottom for just one mysterious moment before tipping over and crumbling. I'm continually amazed that there are not more people walking along it, for usually I am there alone.

Monday 25

The television room today was full of girls, with delivery men stopping by occasionally. Everyone was watching President Kennedy's funeral, and very impressive it was. The long procession of marching men, horses, and black limosines moving very slowly through the Washington streets toward the cathedral; the chason or horse-drawn 'buggy' in jet black, drawn by seven white horses and carrying the flag-draped coffin; the spirited black riderless horse straining at its lead behind the president's flag, symbolizing the unspent energy that America has lost with Kennedy - a magnificent horse; Mrs Kennedy with a black veil around her face and a child on each hand, stumbling up the steps to the cathedral; the visiting dignitaries marching behind her in no particular file, anonymous in effect. It was valuable to be able to look up from the television screen and see all the intent, much alive faces of the girls all around.


We have a peach of a cleaning lady whose name is Mrs Cox. She's a big, meaty Irishwoman, comes puffing up the stairs, "Good mornin', and it is a lovely mornin' isn't it." While we are down at breakfast, wastepaper cans are emptied, everything dusted off, the rug straightened, and the floor whisked clean. On Wednesday mornings she sneaks a clean sheet and pillow case under our pillows. This is done with a conspiratorial glance up and down the hall: it is illegal, because we are not to get them before Thursday, but if she gives them to us early we don't need to wait for her before making our beds next morning.

Tuesday 26 November

Three days ago, no, two, our psychology class Dr Campbell had a rampage. He was in brilliant humour, doing snarling take-offs on television commercials and fattening us up generally for the slaughter that we weren't expecting. Then, wham, he cut us down, chopped us fine, minced us, about our last experiment report, holding up examples and running verbal daggers through them.

A funny thing about Queen's University is the all-out-of-proportion number of people whose fingernails are bitten down to nearly the roots. About fifty percent of my music class, and it has only two freshmen! But, granted, that music class does have reason to bite its fingernails. Just as an example, Paul, the brilliant medical student, got HICs in all his courses but music last year - and that one he failed. Anybody can fail! Especially people with perfect pitch, especially people who know something about it. We are trembling.

While I was studying in an empty classroom today two upperclassmen came in, talking about the English 2A course that I'm taking. It became obvious that they were among those assigned to correct papers for the last essay we handed in. While pretending to clear up my books, my ears stirred under my hair, standing out at right angles to my head. Said one, "Who is this Tom Hathaway?" The other, "I corrected one of his essays, he's the brilliant freshman type - you know, lots of ideas but no background. He said that Donne's poetry is negligible!" "A good paper?" "Oh, brilliant, but he'll get a B." "Yeah, after four years he'll be moulded."

The Christmas examinations are more than two weeks away, but the panic is well upon us. It is impossible to feel any amount of security. What I would say is the largest difference between university and high school is that the huge volume of work in university never allows you to feel at all a master of your work, you just skim high spots - there is no time for more. Frustrating. But you do learn more!

27 November

Dear Mom,

You speak of never having had to rely on yourself totally in decisions - but who do you think is the backbone of our family, who keeps it together? We all know that you are and do. Whose interest in books started us into the routes to a better way of life? Yours. And who made us aware of music? And whose principles of loyalty (not as theory but as everyday living) are valuable to us now? Who made the decision to fight for a unity in our family even at such impossible odds? - To allow us so much independence, even as very young children in even the vital matters of our New Dresses (weren't you embarrassed sometimes to have me seen in the clothes I designed and you faithfully worked out to our instructions?). And who, for all those years and years of aloneness and poverty saved scraps and engineered special surprises and glued us together, all this with no one to complain to? If you think I'm the one who's fighting against the wind - look back a bit and see who really taught me. All right?

Saturday November 30

As a last fling before the serious work of exam-stuffing I went to International House last night at about 10:30, after studying. It was an extremely good party - ie my favorite people were there (including Jim and Ghazali) and there was a man-girl ratio of about 3-1. This is unfortunate in some ways, because in the middle of an avid discussion on what Canada should be doing for India one is hailed and hauled away, but it is gratifying to be in demand, even if only because there is no one else!

It had been raining when I arrived, heavily and very wetly. But when we left at midnight-plus, a miracle of sorts. It had begun to snow, very large wet flakes, clinging to the trees and sifting down through the light around the street lamp. Ghazali (with his gallant moustache aperk) stood for a long while and looked. This was his first snow.

By l:15 when 'visiting hours' were over most of the Ban Righ girls had come in glowing and shaking water from their hair - it was inevitable, really it was, although it was a bit late, that we had a conference in Marg Spurgeon's room afterwards, knitting and setting our hair and talking, running to the window once in a while to exclaim about the snow. (Lying like a fairy tale on the sloping tower roofs of Ban Righ and sifting into patterns in the ivy - Hans Christian Anderson.)

And this morning everything is wet and white - even the delivery trucks passing on the Avenue were completely frosted, like ghost trucks moving so soundlessly on the snow.

You can tell from all this girlish lyricism that the snow is something of an event; we know that we'll hate it later, but today it is a stroke of magic and we are all children.

There is a lone med student in the park across the street playing football in a floppy straw hat!

December 1

At about eleven (Judy won't like that "at about" bit) Olivia came in and we left my psychology books for a cuppa and a long long talk. We are friends, I think. She tells me I am a hard-boiled, tough, ivory-tower isolate. I tell her she is an inconsiderate, self-centered child. But we like each other enormously - funny isn't it. We talked a long time last night about Europe. She has been there several times, but wants to go again, on her own. I can't think of anyone I would rather go with. So if it works out - and it will, both of us despise dreaming without doing, and we will do - if not together then seperately. But we will. Signed in blood. She wants to show me Wales and the Riviera. And we want to do it with just as little money as possible, camping and hitch-hiking and probably stealing fruit from orchards. There is something appealing about being dumped into Europe and knowing that you have to live by your wits entirely. To get lost, cut loose from past and present, see what you are outside of your society.

Sunday 8 December

I should tell you about the slant-street. It is a very short one, officially called "Lower University Avenue," but it is too individual to be called "Lower" anything, and what is more, is hardly an avenue. Well: it is short, its pavement is cracked crossways in many fine running lines and it pelts itself downhill into the far grander and busier Stuart Street. At the top of the street, nearest to the university, is a huge old hulk of a house with many turrets and bulky juttings and an ugly beard-like red-brown hedge around it. Next to it, huddled along the slope, are ratty little houses in a row, tattered curtains, crooked-board fences, stone walls with provocative doors set high off the street, and at the bottom, a tiny grocery shop looking out toward the lake.

Ah, and the lake in the rain and the dark. Deserted of course. Covered with mist, nearby lights looking far away, the foghorn sounding faint as mist too, far out along the cove; the ludicrously solid sound of the electricity-generating and heating plant grinding out electric light and radiator warmth for the university and the hospital (whose lights rise tidily and precisely in rectangular rows for about seven stories, very close to the lake) at the same time as the primitive waves soliloquized.

It was too dark to see the waves, but only, regularly, a curly line of white running along the curved beach and disappearing again immediately. And a catching-up sound just before another line of white ran. The rain falling on the houses across the road (old, tall houses with steep roofs, three stories) made them look haunted, and the lights on the street corners, isolated. Their reflections, though, reached the trees along the beach and highlighted the texture of their bark. One tree that I like especially stands just above the pebbles: it is a young and slight tree, but tough (like me) and it stands in the midst of a heap of rock with its two trunks bending away from each other.

What else to remember - the steam rising spookily from the heating plant, highlighting from the back, white and luminous. The 'pong, pong' of rain falling on tin roofs along Slant-street, the tweedy-textured sheets of light reflected from the wet streets, the ropey streams of water carousing into drains, the eager faces of boys leaving their dates at Adelaide Hall and running home happily with their collars up.

Hmm, prosaic again. My hair is of course wild and my coat dripping from a hanger behind the door. Sweet old home. Oh, family, you don't really mind if you find your letters filling up with all sorts of crappy girlish discriptions? They are things I want to remember (yes, even the "pong, pong"!), in case I ever forget that once I was young and Ellie and went to Queen's and rhapsodized by the lake in the rain.

Friday 13

I persuaded the 'man' to take off my storm window! It is colder without it, but when it is on we can't lean out of the window, and even worse, it blurs the view. (I told him that it gave me claustrophobia, and it is true, altho a little exaggerated.)

Our first exam will be tomorrow, philosophy in the morning and English later on. Cram, everybody! It would be interesting to do a sociological study of the effects of pre-exam tension on undergrad girls: hysterics, overeating, undereating, oversleeping and undersleeping, red eyes in the morning and bizarre dreams all night. The boys just go out and get drunk. Girls play practical childish jokes on each other.

Saturday 14 December

Sunday night, oh, very cold. I've been away at the Union all day, studying psychology in one of the dim bare little study rooms way up under the roof. For nearly twelve hours, with no dinner and no supper, and you can guess: an enormous feeling of nobility! A lovely Sunday on campus, with everyone too busy to appreciate it. [Was cramming the whole of Hebb's The organization of behaviour.]

The bare little rooms, though, have a view out over the rooftops and trees. I always feel as if I am studying in a castle tower somewhere in Germany years and years ago. That is, when I'm not feeling as though I am in an old castle-university in Italy, or at Oxford. It is just that the student life is such a universal thing and so time-spanning. I feel part of a tradition that has been strong and special throughout all of the civilized world before, even, the Renaissance. And it is from these universities that, eventually, most books and inventions and ideas have grown. What a splendid place to be! That word, 'splendid,' is actually jolly useful. Whenever I use it I feel guiltily that it must be an affectation, but Jim and his English friends use it so well that I feel cheated at having been born Canadian and unable to use it too.

Kingston, January 5, 1964, Sunday night

To begin at the end (the beginning will come later), we arrived back with Lloyd this afternoon, after traveling all morning through the sunny Christmas card scenery of northern New York State and the Thousand Islands: red barns, white-painted old houses, sleigh and ski tracks on the hills, shining curves of snowbank with lavendar shadows, gnarled tree branches in the old old oaks grasping at the china-blue faraway sky, a relatively untraveled road on a lazy sunny Sunday, very beautiful and calm. Much more later, I promise. Tired!

Monday January 6

Newsflash! Judy, you've put the Epps into newspapers all over Canada. Enclosed is something one of the girls on the floor found in today's Toronto Globe and Mail - it is a Canadian Press item, which means that it is relayed to most every newspaper, which may or may not use it. [Headline "Epps are apt" describing two sisters getting the same medal for grade nine marks]

Another newsflash - my psychology mark for the midterms was a 93%, and as I was exiting after class Professor Campbell said "Your paper was very good, Miss Epp." So far, great, but a skinny boy with glasses got a 96% (the only other mark in the nineties). That won't do! [The skinny boy with glasses was Alisdair McLean.]

January 10, Friday

Gloryouse! I was given an A for my psychology essay, in a class where an A really IS an achievement. Another A in my English essay too. The remark was "Excellent. You have a fresh, thoroughly readable way of expressing yourself. However, I would repress tendencies towards the 'poetic'."

New York I - January 1964

From my notes:

Tuesday the 24th:

I took the local bus into the City from New Jersey this morning - it terminates here at the Port Authority Depot, which is a sort of city in itself, with stacks of loading ramps for buses and a honeycomb of escalators, and every sort of service imaginable, including eye-testing and glasses fitting. A pudgy nice-looking Italian sold me a city map and said "I'll give it to you without tax," with a grin and a wink at his boss's back. There are striking, pleasant, attractive faces on the streets: then too there are warty yellow pickle-faces with bristles of platinum hair wisping from under their mink hats.

- There is a fruit-seller on a dirty curbside with grapefruit the size of melons and apples like grapefruit, everything shiny and twice as big as real. There are myriads of newspaper kiosques as well, selling magazines and matches and the day's Times. They seem a New York landmark, low, narrow shacks holding down the street corners, with red faces peering from them framed by fur collars and plaid mufflers and the stacks of papers. Sometimes the faces are young and pretty; sometimes they are cross and old; all seem unreal and not attached to real people because they are without expression.

- Everything is in a filthy slush, the snow like thin porriage half a foot deep. People along the curbs curse impudent taxis that whirl through the gruel and splash it up into their faces.

- A dingy building announces that it is the Metropolitan Opera House, the famous 'Met.' A skyscraper calls itself the McGraw-Hill Publishing House - home of most of our textbooks!

- The taxis are yellow with red tops, brassy snub-nosed things not at all like the sophisticated Chevs of other cities.

- A negress in the bus station had her hair dyed a happy yellow.

- A vendor has an ingenious suitcase that he can set on end and wheel along through the porriage.

- The famous Macy's department store is, it's true, the largest in the world, but it is very ordinary and is full today of people glued into mobs shopping for tomorrow. The Santa Claus is a horrible beet-faced skinny man who growls at the children, threatens their parents, and sneaks off to "feed my reindeer."

December 27 (notes)

My adventure today was a ride on the 3rd Avenue bus, a bus that travels from City Hall at nearly the south end of Manhattan to nearly the north end of the island. It is the longest urban bus route in the world, two hundred blocks and over twelve miles one way, taking nearly two hours to traverse. It slices through the middle of the East Side, laying open a colorful cross-section of the city. I found it very exciting. Soon after it leaves the City Hall Wall Street area it enters the Bowery, the skid row area of pawn shops and frowsy saloons and gutters full of drunks. Here a thin, drooling old man who must have been about 45 literally crawled onto the bus. He fell into the front seat and began to sing loudly while the two ladies in the seat behind him poked each other and moved to another seat. What he was singing was "I had a dream dear."

The bus passed a corner of Chinatown, then moved into an area of antique shops, gradually becoming more wealthy and more glittering, windows full of dusty lamps becoming windows full of chandeliers. The bus became crowded, the poor old drunk being jostled against a thin-eyebrowed woman in a brocade coat with black fox cuffs, a redhead with maroon lipstick clinging in anguish to a post to keep from careening into some gentleman's lap, a haughty young man looking very anxious as he balanced just over me. The aisle was full of feet and there really wasn't room for mine - I would dearly love to have folded their toes in like socks being put away, but they had to stay where they were and be tripped over by the whole mob.

January 16

Folks - as a recess from NY narrative, a bit of a real letter. Your three letters arrived this morning, I was most pleased for them. Have I told you about Catherine Egan who shares my mail box? I think so. Yesterday she was gloating because she got two, and I had none.

My new phys ed schedule is modern dancing, which you needn't worry about because the fancy name means doing exercises to music - an all-girl class. Minds at ease?

My financial problems are mended now, thanks to a loan of $275 which Miss Royce produced out of a hat today - not exactly out of a hat, but: she simply pushed me into an office and said "Mr Bannister, here is one of our good students from Alberta who needs some money. I'm backing her." So the formidible Mr Bannister wrote "backed by Jean Royce" on a card and said "Pick your money up on Monday morning."

Tuesday 21

I thought of you today as I wandered about campus in the sun and the slush in shoes and a sweater. And yesterday it rained, rained, as Olivia and I stood in the window and watched the water sliding down the slate roof and choking away down the drain. I ran around campus from class to class all afternoon smiling at people I don't know.

So today I visited the lake; it is frozen over, smooth to the islands far across. The sun was at late afternoon and the ice reflected it in a sheet - skaters were spidery silhoettes. There is a funny island on the horizon that looks like a palm-treed desert island, just from the shape of the trees.

Friday 24

Yesterday Olivia and I did some house hunting in the afternoon - have I told you that we plan to live together? (Good training for me in living with temperament, good training for her in living with a prude). Afterward we made paper boats and sent them floating down the rivulets of melted snow flowing along University Avenue. This funny Oliver is going to be an adventure to live with. We have dropped into a very peculiar habit of thinking of my room as 'our room,' mainly because when I am home and in it she usually is too.

The next letter will feature New York again.

The very big problem now is finding a summer job. I am clearly not going to be coming home, at least not before September, and then only if I make a fantastic heap of money.

[New York part II]

More dusty pawn shops, thrift stores, lineups outside mission soup kitchens, musical instruments hanging in headhung dejection in shop windows.

Only a few streets further, money. White marble office buildings, dinner clubs. The antique shops become more dazzling, gilt furniture and red Ming vases with their chipped edges inside.

At last our drooling derelict staggered off; a man outside at the bus stop corner looked at him sadly and said, "How's it going, Skipper?" He walked away stiffly, like a toy soldier, holding his very thin coat together where the safety pin had fallen out.

Furs draped over doorways like very tired old animals, a funny store advertising "things and things and things and things."

And then the area becomes slowly infiltrated with signs in Spanish, "Iglesia" (church, a mission usually), "Farmacia Latina," "Madame Lora, Spiritual Advisor: Love, Marriage, Business." This is the beginning of Spanish Harlem. I fell into conversation with a brown-faced little Spanish man in a wide-brimmed hat who shared his Spanish newspaper with me.

This is a slum area, lean brick tenaments with gay plants in blue and green coffee cans sitting on the fire escapes, posters plastered onto grey walls, a heavy-set cop leaning against a door swinging his stick, a very old lady powdering her face in a window, a beautiful negro smirking behind his hotdog stand, a peculiar sharp smell that I cannot place, pink underwear sagging on a clothesline, a cluttered meatshop window offering chitterlings. Quick views of the breathtaking Washington Bridge between the walls. Firemen in rubber coats returning from a fire. A sudden hill sloping steeply down for a long way, shining mysteriously in reflection of the sunset.

When we had made the complete circuit, my busdriver (a pleasant negro who had been on that same route for twelve years) bought me a cup of coffee and told me a bit about the real New York, the city he sees everyday. Impersonal, lonely, pushy.

December 30: I spent the afternoon exploring. There is a street shaved off to one side of Manhattan, Nineth Avenue, that slides corners of Greece into this new American setting - there are butcher shops with whole rabbits hanging unskinned, upside down in the windows, and piglets with ferns and a red light bulb in their mouth leering at the passers. Heaps of brilliant red peppers. Sacks lining the sidewalk full of Columbian coffee beans, cowpeas, poppy seed, spices, paprika, 'favas'; butcher shops offer squabs and unfeathered ducks; a small café displays a dirty skillet in its window with red peppers and onions sizzling sadly in it greasy corners; heaps of fruit carefully guarded from the kids playing hockey nearby on roller skates; pyramids of purple cabbage and purple eggplant; raw fish in barrels full of ice; cheeses hung from ropes in a display window; scrubbed white stomach lining looking like sponge; barrels full of fire for the outdoor merchants to warm their hands at; a very black negro smiling mysteriously over his fire; a swarthy gypsy who gave me a handful of greasy black olives to taste when I bought an orange; a very old woman leaning in a doorway with a child's sucker in her mouth; signs like "Couphopaulos Meats" above a doorway; and the Greek pastry shops!

The Village - to tell you about the village I think I'll describe the two people I met who seemed an essence of the Village.

There was Curran of Horizon Galleries. I saw his sign above the doorway of a half-flight of stairs going down into a basement apartment, and followed it to a door that rang when I opened it and a roomful of paintings. And a young man with the hopeful signs of a new beard. He had a rather wistful face, a light voice barely touching down occasionally on an arty accent, longish hair, a very thin body, a hammer in his hand - I discovered that he was Curran, painter, actor, and gallery manager. While he showed me his paintings and those he exhibits for his friends, he brought me a cup of coffee in a very ladylike white cup - he drank his from an enormous mug. Those were probably the only cups he had. His gallery was his home as well. Behind the two little exhibition rooms was a dark kitchen with one sink; a single grey window looked out onto a courtyard of ashcans and fire escapes. Because he desperately needs more exhibition space, an abstract was pinned onto his bathroom door, and the closet where he sleeps (one skimpy pillow, one sheet) has a metal mobile swinging above it and a telephone at its foot end. There was a small flight of stairs leading to the upstairs hallway. This too was piled with canvases and small sculptures. Another very large painting was propped up in the sink. One of Curran's favorite objects was an awkward pottery vase, huge and heavy, with a rim of metal half-melted into the top - a rather hideous but beautifully natural-looking thing.

Curran's friends wandered into the gallery while I was leafing through pictures. To one of them Curran said, "Have you been eating?" "Well, not today." "I am - I went to my banker yesterday and said, 'I think I'll eat this week, rather than pay my rent.' And he said, 'You'll be sorry' and I said 'I'd rather feel sorrow than hunger.' So - stay and I'll give you supper."

Somewhere in the tangle of afternoons, mornings and evenings I've told you about was one that I forgot to put in its proper place. The evening that Uncle took Auntie and me to the movies. We drove over to Manhattan in the lights, across the rather wonderful George Washington Bridge whose two six-lane levels are nearly continuously busy. The movie we decided to see was an Italian film (subtitled) called "8 1/2" by a famous "New Wave" producer called Arturo [I know better now] Felinni. After the movie Uncle took us down Broadway to one of their old student haunts, a tiny pizza gallery - squashed in on both sides by larger buildings, so long and narrow looking - with just a counter, a large oven, and two spindly thin tables, and a pretty daughter flirting with a guest in the back room. There was one other customer, a garrulous and semi-drunk little Sicilian woman who made eager semi-understandable jokes with us and was no end amusing. Meanwhile the pizza making wife shrieked at her, at her husband, at the daughter in the back. Uncle and Auntie recalled enjoying a pizza there once to the accompaniment of a pizza-hurling fight between the woman and her husband, all in perfect unselfconsciousness of both the customers and the display window.

The night before New Years, when Uncle John was with us, we had tickets for a Broadway play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" This particular play has been running on Broadway for about two years, has received much good reviewing, and was convenient - so we went to the Billy Rose Theatre, which I'm sure you've read about. We took the subway downtown from a parking lot, the four of us mushing through the snow arm-in-arm and then riding bang-lickety-bang through the tunnels staring at people and commenting about them. After the play we walked up along Broadway. Beautiful. The lights along the street, blazing from all the marquees on the most famous theatre street in the world. The sky was strange colors, luminous oranges and green-purples between the roofs. Uncle told me it was only the smog, but I think it is magic. New York style smoggy magic.

That is about all of the New York holiday. Kissed everyone goodbye on Saturday, arrived back at Ban Righ on Sunday: that beautiful cold gleaming Sunday that I've told you about.

New York - I've been there! So have you.

January 28

I'm sure that I've told you about the lectures I've been going to, by Dr Muller on individualism. Tonight, as well as Dinner with the Dean, the meal became Dinner with Dr Muller. And Mrs Muller. And Others. The one girl in engineering, the one girl in law, several scholarship freshmen and the Levana executive were at the Thing. After the ceremonial dinner (during which I gasp rested my elbow inadvertantly on the table several times) there was a ghastly coffee in the common room before the blazing (I should have been able to think of another word there, I know) fireplace. The reason that it was ghastly was that we bravely clustered about the Great Man and asked him eager questions. He is a fraud, utterly, utterly. Not only does he not have a scrap of humour or one spark of visible individuality, but he also has not one original opinion and little intelligence, at least not any that showed. His lectures were rather lousy too.

Olivia and I had a fight yesterday afternoon. I refused to go for coffee with her because I had to do some work. I yelled that I had to show some character sometime. She yelled that, well, was she being a bad influence? In that case ... I yelled that if I was a dissipated old woman it wasn't her fault. She yelled that why was I accusing her then, and why didn't I come for coffee with her. I yelled that I refused to be so easily led. She yelled that for heavens sake I was not being easily led. I yelled that I was going to do some French. She yelled that I couldn't walk out on an argument. I yelled that we were really having a fight I think and wasn't it fun. She yelled well have coffee with me then so that we can enjoy it. And I yelled that I was going to do some French and I went. She yelled over her shoulder that she hated people who walk out on arguments. As a fight, though, it was rather a flop because we were grinning at each other during the whole thing and couldn't seem to raise any real anger.

Have I ever told you what she looks like? She's about my height but thinner: about 120 pounds. She has what she calls a bottom-heavy European figure which no matter what she calls it is rather good. Her hair is about as dark as mine, short and usually tousled. Her face is difficult to describe. It has everything a face needs, you know, forehead, mouth, nose, chin, etc, but somehow it never looks like a face to me. One never notices it as a face, just as an intense expression and a pair of Welsh hazel eyes. That is no help to you I know. Her favorite outfit as I've told you is a skirt and flats and the blue sweater she knit herself. That and sometimes an accidental bit of lipstick. Seldom any other makeup. But it isn't that she is unfeminine, because she is, rather overwhelmingly. She just can't be bothered.

A note of reassurance Mother: I'm rather disappointed that you still think you have to warn me not to get involved with men. That is a lesson I've overlearned I'm afraid; if anything you should begin now telling me to by all means and in all possible speed become as deeply involved as passionately as possible, so that by the time I'm thirty I'll be reconciled to the idea. If you really want to know, I'm waiting for a prince. I've seen a few here - or what look like princes - but I've not met any and surely not been out with any. And also if you want to know, going out with anyone more than once makes me restless. And I think that is an emotional handicap. So for goodness sake don't rub it in.

February 3, Monday

Want to hear about the weekend? Arrived in TO just after dark, and in straggling through the lower platform of Union Station for the fourth time in my life, was met by a tiny smiling woman in a large black hat who hugged Olivia and welcomed me very warmly: Mrs Howell. She grabbed a bag and hurried us outside to the car, at last, at last, outside the station. In ten Volkswagon minutes we arrived at the house on Dale Avenue in Rosedale (a very old, very well-to-do section of Toronto). Barely inside the door, I met Granny, the seventy-year-old windmill-turbine of the household. Mr Howell was away studying until dinnertime. He came down just before dinner and I met him then. He is a fairly large man with a hooked nose, large Welsh eyes like Olivia's, glasses, dark hair with grey edges around his face, an enormous sort of dignity, and an air of ignoring anything that displeased him. I was terrified that I wouldn't think of anything intelligent to say to him all weekend - as it happened, I didn't have to because he really didn't expect me to: didn't notice me most of the time, and when he did, was really very nice.

The Howell house is a wonderful and exciting thing. It is I-don't-know-how-old, built long ago in Toronto's early days, and thus has all the wonders of the age of Rosedale mansions. A fireplace in the living room, another in the hallway (this one tiny and made of polished red stone), one in the upstairs drawing room (ie Richard's beloved television room). There are three flights of stairs, red-carpeted, going up to third floor. The walls are thick, about eight inches, with the windows deeply recessed, and many of them made of diamond panes. Also, the windows open outward, swinging way out far enough for children to jump through and for people to lean out while they daydream. The dining room is the most wonderful room of all. Painted white, with a polished wooden floor and polished dark beams across the ceiling, it looks like a Victorian dining room in a little country house, with the set of large diamond windows on one end opening onto the back yard with a wide window seat, a set of high little windows in the sturdy white side walls, a large Welsh cupboard, a little door in the side just large enough to send dishes through to the kitchen on the other side, a large and gracious table - but the miracle of the room is the lamp hanging in the centre above the table that turns the lighting a mellowed gold color, and seems to send it out in rays and patterns, mysteriously. And the paintings on the walls are all done by Mrs Howell.

Wednesday 5 Feb

Have I ever told you about the Ordeal of Entering Ban Righ? At the entrance there is first a flight of stone steps, then another, then a Portal: a thick heavy wooden door nearly impossible for us to open; even our dates have to strain. In the vestibule there is another flight of steps, then another Portal. Finally the hallway. There sits the lavendar lady at her desk. Say something pleasant to her, and try to escape before she runs to anecdotes. But that is not the worst: the Dean's office is along the corridor and the door is always open - if one is wearing kneesox to dinner, one creeps by with one's legs tucked up under one's skirt. Finally the stair landing. A pleasant baking-potato smell. A half-flight of stairs. Window. Turn. Another half flight. The first floor. Turn. A half-flight, window, turn, half-flight - so on to a puffing panting collapse at Home.

12 February

Toronto (con't)

On the way home on Sunday afternoon, the two Kingston cars were so full that we were in despair of ever finding a seat and five girls sat all the way home in the washroom! After a while Sue with her guitar in the washroom decided to have a hootenany. So we sat in the sinks and on suitcases, about ten of us including an Engineer and an Artsman (which considerably embarrassed a little lady who wanted to go to the lavatory).

Further on, Olivia went to sleep and I read while the scene outside darkened. We were in the last car, in the last seat, so the little observation platform was directly behind us and two railway men sat and smiled at us from the seat opposite. We were clicking along beside the lake until it was dark, and some of the scenery is extremely pretty, with the lake coming almost to the track sometimes and sometimes far below at the foot of a cliff. There was a great deal of long stiff dead grass, forlorn looking. The sunset came in wonderful colors, streaming purples and oranges and dusty reds. The track rolling away behind us was two bright lines curving into a bit of brilliant sky, and the lake-sky outside the window turned from violet to a violently maroon shot with orange. Houses, trees, bits of grass, were reduced to silhoette. And then it was dark enough so that we could see our faces reflected on the landscape: we grinned at each other and it was extremely nice to have a friend.

I've always felt slightly silly when I go into the sort of description I've just finished, but now that I've told you that I realize it is a bit sloppy I can go on unembarrassed: it is one thing to be unwittingly sloppy and quite another to know you are being sloppy and to go ahead anyway. Sort of a definate courage about it that way, a form of nobility, don't you think? Well, all happily rationalized, I continue.

13 February

You are entirely right, Mother: I am in danger of becoming a snob. It is particularly easy, living in this community of intelligent, mostly attractive, many wealthy, and generally self-assured young people, to forget about REAL people and to think of them as objects rather than people with real insides. I know very well that this danger is there, and I am glad you remind me because I do want to keep some contact with the Outside and its realities.

February 14

I've spent all day today with John Stuart Mill the philosopher, and on getting to know him a bit better, I find that he does make sense and I tend to agree with him. I'm continually surprised when I get deep into a subject, that I actually do enjoy studying so much. It's only when I'm slacking and studying only in bits, superficially, that I get bored and restless.

My walk last night was memorable: it was after supper and dark, kids were skating in the park, the houses were lit inside and grinning through their parlour windows like jackolanterns, and the churches were leaning up against a perfectly beautiful clear sky with bits of yellow and pink washed into the dark.

16, Sunday night

It has been such a strange and exciting weekend that I'm not sure it is Sunday night at all, but I'm told it is.

Just an outline - Friday evening: the first of the seminars - I've told you about that. Then the fatal mistake of two cups of coffee: that killed my sleep for the night and threw it into a pauper's grave. By five o'clock when the caffeine was wearing off, in staggered the prom dolls to change and rest and straighten up the wrecked hairstyles until they went out again at six. And by six, there was no point at all in trying to go back to bed so I wandered downstairs, exploring the kitchen which we are not allowed inside, by the vague light of a faraway streetlamp and a doubtful moon. And while I was padding guiltily about behind the ovens, click! A light. It took all the six a.m. poise I could muster to saunter out of the shadows and say good morning to the lady who'd come to begin breakfast. She was a kind soul with a soft heart and a sympathy for the adventurous impulses of youth, and she showed me the rest of the kitchen: a frothing longnecked monster of a dishwasher, a complex revolving toaster that can handle about 40-50 slices of toast at one time, a freezer full of fat gallons of ice cream.

I've told you a little about CUCND. Briefly, its tenets are that: we are opposed to atomic testing; we oppose acquisition of bombs by countries now emerging as potential nuclear powers; Canada to take initiative independent of US policy and reject both nuclear arms and the stockpiling of always more weapons; mere bomb-banning is not enough and must be supplemented by work toward social justice (eg civil rights bills such as those coming up in the US now) and a decent standard of living for everyone; the arms race, a propaganda device which has spent its money only producing far more weapons than necessary for world annihilation ("overkill") is morally, economically and in every way WRONG; both Western and Eastern blocs are to blame for the cold war situation, with the West no less guilty than the East. This last policy, the one of non-alignment, is one giving the group a reputation for leftist leanings, which simply is not justified. We believe that only by stepping outside the squabble will we be able to gain the healthy perspective that will enable us to use our pressure methods to convince governments to some form of sanity. You'll notice how naturally I am beginning to say 'we' in talking of this CUCND: I am thinking of joining the organization but I am going slowly because I owe it both to the club and to my time to be intelligently and well-informedly convinced before becoming a member.

The party on Saturday night at Alison [Gordon]'s appartment was memorable. We walked into the front door of a very old Victorian barn-mansion to find jazz roaring out of a back apartment in torrents. The main room is large and square with a high ceiling and a ridge going around the room near the ceiling: on this ridge, entirely around the room, were set empty wine bottles of all shapes. In some of them, scattered randomly, were fresh daffodils. One side of the room was hung with curtains in a rough red burlap. The floor was wooden, with a threadbare Persian carpet in the middle. A solid and stone-like wooden table stood in the middle of one side, balanced by a shabby couch on the other. A magnificent parti-colored cat was fast asleep on top of the bookcase, someone was digging through their piles of records, others were perching on broken chairs with only one arm, smoke was settling slowly to the floor by its own weight, people were drifting to and from the cooler in the broomcloset-sized kitchen with fresh glasses of beer. I got out a book, sat down on the register leaning against the burlap (the register was hot and rather ridgy, the burlap masculinely scratchy!) and watched. Refreshments were long crusty loaves of French bread and slabs of exotic bread and a tin of slimy red fish called Coalfish, but actually looking more like goldfish hacked carefully into bits and dyed red. We took knives and hacked off chunks of each. And it was good! Gradually the people became 'happier.' There was a table at one end of the room decorated by five tall candles and a slab of real gravestone with part of the inscription still visible. When Tom Hathaway arrived after a while, he sat down on the table leaning back against the gravestone with his ridiculously long legs dangling and an out-to-lunch expression on his face. Someone walked by, lit a candle, put it into his hand, and walked on - and Tom was left there with the candlelight making a halo around his head and a most beautiful look of astonishment.

Someone came along and said to me, "By the way, you have an extremely bright and attractive face." I said, "Oh, I'm glad that you like it," and he drifted on. John Cowan, looking for an audience, sat and told me rather piteously how maddening it was to talk to people who wouldn't listen, then gave me an autographed copy of See No Evil and told me what a nice girl I was. While I was digging through the closet looking for my coat and Paul Simon was encouraging me vaguely by asking if it was "this pussy cat" one or this "camel" one, Tom came over and asked if he could protect me from that fresh man. Everyone was delightfully friendly and rather loveable, wandering about looking forlorn and blissful at the same time. Everybody sang "We Shall Overcome" (a popular folksong) and a little later in the evening, "We Are Overcome."

17 February, Monday morning

Olivia has had a frantic weekend too and came in for a while to tell me about it last night. About eight o'clock last night I saw her blur past. She called back to me "I'm invited to the Laverty's and I'm three minutes late."

This is how she told me about it later: "I walked into the door, they greeted me, I hung my coat upstairs and came downstairs. We watched television in the living room, the Beatles. Then I looked round and I couldn't seen anyone else so I said "Am I supposed to be here?" and they said, 'Well, not really. Not until eight-thirty.' And then I got stuck with a boy - I was tired out of my mind from this weekend and in no shape to socialize. So I told him: 'I am not going to make conversation and you had better not ask me what faculty I'm in. I'd rather sit here in dead silence for the whole evening.' But after a while he started telling me about his allergies. He's allergic to toothpaste, to soap, oh, everything. I knew I was supposed to be sympathetic, but I thought it was terribly funny and I sat there and roared. And then he told me he was colorblind and I told him that if he had lived in Germany the Nazis would have killed him. And then finally when we were going home, I said goodnight to Mr Laverty and was halfway out the door when Mrs Laverty said "Good night, Olivia." I was so embarrassed to have forgotten her that I practically threw my arms around her and said, "Oh, Mrs Laverty, I'm so sorry. Thank you so much, I loved the brownies." Which was terribly phony because they weren't brownies to begin with, they were little brown cakes. And I didn't like them at all. I only had one and she couldn't persuade me to have any more."

21 February Friday morning

To mop up any news that may be untold: my latest English essay was a coup, another A. Olivia remarks nastily "They're just in the habit of giving you A's. I bet they don't even read them."

March 7th


- of a wild windy morning of no sleep.

Last night lying in half-dream with seaweed thoughts thrashing in my mind and the window thumping faintly from the wind. Until surrealist morning framed in my window -

Olivia coming in in the dark to smooth my covers and hang up my red shift. She doesn't hang up her own things. It was touching to see her hanging mine -

Lying on the floor, stretched flat with my elbows tight over my face, shaking with grief. Cathy and Olivia sitting behind me silent, and not hearing the "goaway, goaway, goaway, goaway" shrilling in my mind.

Flat, with tears sliding down the sides of my face. A feeling of retreat into a hard black triangle far away in grey nebulous ...

Olivia touching my chest and far away saying "Ellie what is the mattah? You can tell me. Tell me! Ellie!"

[Earlier] walking home with hard crooked steps - holding hands with Dennis unfeelingly. Calvin and Olivia behind us.

Moments dancing slow dances with Dennis when there was nothing but the beat of the music and the sliding beat of our footsteps - his shoulder under my hand, my shoulder under his. My face along his. The muscles moving under his skin. His face along my neck. No person, Dennis: a shoulder of comfort and reassurance of being precious, as I remember Frank -

"I have been faithful to you, Cynara! In my fashion." Standing to look out the window on the cool dim street. With Dennis looking at me as tho' I were lovely. Responding with ludicrous earnestness to his gallantries, and laughing, then, later. Ellen's thin body entire animation and her pretty narrow feet flashing. The couple in the corner dancing in gay improvisations, he beautiful and dark, she light and delicate. Tyrone dancing with a girl in a blue dress, their arms around each other's necks loosely, heads tilted to talk. Olivia following complex calypso rhythms like a West Indian. Ghazali smiling and solicitous.

A feeling of isolation and loss; the feeling of being alone at a party. No contacts established.

And in the dissolving dark of it all this morning, my poetry book (all loose pages) and Auden -

Lay your sleeping head my love
Faithless on my human arm.
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral.
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie -
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your sleeping head
Such a day of sweetness show
Eye and knocking heart shall bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

This morning a smile for the wind and another for the histrionics of last night.

[back to letters]

Two things today:

- I am secretary for the CUCND for next term.

- I have a job.

Most important, I have a job. Here in Kingston. At Sunnyside. I am not excited primarily about having a job, or about the money (I could make nearly twice as much a month at the cannery - it is $125 per month plus board and room), but about the job itself. Listen. Sunnyside is a rambling white Colonial house about five blocks from here, surrounded by acres of grass and trees. There are two stone gateposts and a sign that says "Sunnyside." [Sunnyside Children's Centre] The house: a home for disturbed children taken from foster homes. There are about fifteen kids between four and eleven years old, not mentally retarded at all, in fact, most are above average in intelligence, disturbed in that they have trouble relating to other children or to adults or both. They stay at Sunnyside for a year or eighteen months until they are ready for adoption. During their stay they are kept in this enormous, wonderfully tidy but yet full of kid-stuff house with its dogs and cats and records and pictures and smothered with all the happiness and affection and individual treatment possible, and slowly they begin to act like bright normal kids. I spent last Saturday afternoon and dinner there as an interview to see how it would be and to have the place look me over. Tonight they phoned to tell me that I was - bar catastrophe - in. During the afternoon I met most of the kids, played baseball in the slush, broke up a few fights, and talked to Miss Detweiler (second boss lady) [psychologist, clinical director 1954-1967).

She explained that the staff includes a psychologist, a social worker, so on. All of the staff meets often to discuss the children individually, and each child is handled according to a special tactic almost military in character. Some kids get the overwhelming affection bit, some who tend to be over affectionate are reassured in other ways. All of them are given the happiest atmosphere the staff can manage and the results are steady and warming. Do you blame me for feeling very happy about getting on, pay be hanged? My job will be a sort of glorified baby-sitting: recreation, getting up and putting to bed, cuddling and cooing and scolding when necessary. They are very dear kids and I'm looking forward to it all especially. The whole summer of playing with kids. The job also provides for part-time next year, so that will be extra money then. And all this is near the campus and the library for the summer. There are also other college kids working at Sunnyside full and part time. And Olivia will be in Toronto.

See you post exams.

March 23

It is almost impossible to realize that in exactly a month from today the exams will be over, my first year at university will be over, our Ban Righ III family will be wind-scattered forever. The summer holidays begin so early.

Last night listened to some of Bach's Easter music on CBC - perhaps you heard it too?

It is a beautiful, bright Monday - the ice in the lake is clearing out. People are down promenading along the sidewalk. Everyone is out in summer clothes -

We did the Schuman A Minor Concerto in Music a day or two ago - made me a bit homesick.


A meeting with International House last night at Dr Colbourne's (math prof very interested in international students) with cocoa and apples and cakes - met a boy there from Camrose who has worked in Fort St John and sat jabbering with him excitedly about Beaverlodge sports days and Grande Prairie softball tournements and so on. And he has seen the La Glace signpost - it feels uncanny to meet someone who knows where La Glace is, as tho' someone else had trespassed in a private dream I had or a world I only imagine to exist.

Has the wonderfull wild-watery gumbo Peace River Spring arrived yet? I miss the savagery of our back-pasture torrents here where spring is so pastel and pretty, but tame. Muddy feet aching from cold and wood boats stuck in the culvert and a patch of earth under the window along the south wall with tiny green weeds beginning to grow. Getting stuck in the field on the way to pick crocuses. Pussy willows. Queer about nostalgia: you miss even the things, times, places, people, that you didn't enjoy much in the first place, just because you know there's no going back. Does everyone feel just a little frightened once in a while, not often, when they realize they are steaming ahead blindly and happily into a complete dark? Strange that we are so gay about it; you'd think we'd be more frightened than we are.

Good Friday morning

Last night after studying Olivia and I were doing personality inventories from a psychology book. We had to finish a sentence when given a beginning word like "man," "marriage," "my mother thinks my father," "I wish." The joke of the evening was the sentence keyed off by "a friend." Olivia's sentence was "A friend is somebody you can depend on;" mine, "A friend is an independent companion."

Saturday April 4

There was Easter Sunday. Neither Olivia nor I went to church because we didn't want to join the hordes of newly hatted twice a year churchgoers. Instead we ran down to the lake where the ice had just moved out (shards of it were floating and ground against the rocks) and ran along it leaping like mountain goats. Olivia is an ideal companion on these abandoned runs because she feels no embarrassment about being seen and because she is capable of being so altogether happy. We ran far out across a boggy huge lawn under giant newly sappy trees and then to the end of a long pier with the wind howling about us and Sue's radio roaring an oratorio. And this is the funny part: to this oratorio music we twisted madly, just the two of us on the end of the pier with some male undergraduate popping his eyes out. Says Olivia, "I don't know why, but every Easter morning I get terribly happy."

Have I told you about Maureen [Law], my friend who is going to Germany this summer? She came to university last year on twenty dollars her father gave her and a promise of a $400 scholarship. She hadn't counted on the initiation expenses, and her twenty dollars was gone by the end of the first week. The scholarship didn't come through until Christmas. She couldn't pay tuition, residence fees, or buy books. She didn't even have toothpaste! So she went to Miss Royce and said "I haven't any money." Miss Royce threw up her unperturbable hands and said "Child! Do your parents know you've come to university without any money?" Maureen, all composure, "Oh they know about it, but they haven't that much to do about it." So she got a job in the library and took out the biggest loan in the history of the university, $650. And paid it back! And copped a $200 prize for the highest mark in German 1 and another for the highest in English 2. And now she has a scholarship to Germany. And she is the merriest creature I know!

Monday morning, very early, 5:15 April 6


Woke at three this morning to discover that round and round and round my wooly mind were floating wisps of deontological intuitionism - this will never do I thought, took two aspirin and snuggled down to think about Frank. And somehow, between two and five a.m. I am always thinking I can write poetry, and lines form in my mind but drift away before I can lash them to an idea: "Suddenly / In the tumble-colored ...", "Stamp my imprint on your faces."

Then a crow barked outside and I ran to the window - the sky orange behind the crooked line of roofs and treetops around the park, the buds on the trees about my window silhoetted, lake grey and recessive. I sat on the fire escape for a while with my blue blanket wrapped around, watching a bird, the blue shadow of a tree seen between the grating of the fire escape, the water on the roof glittering, the ivy all around me on the wall growing thick and stubby for spring.

April 24

Ban Righ III for the last time.

Hello again family and beloved typewriter.

I begin to work at Sunnyside on Monday night, and will move in tomorrow so that next letter will be full of my kids.

April 25, Saturday

Still from Ban Righ, for the last time. I'm moving to Sunnyside as soon as I have this dashed off. All of the rooms are empty. I've said goodbye to the floor and removed my nametag from the door of 49 and left the curtains still blowing in the defiantly screenless window.

There were so many mothers and families here today that I wished you could all have come to see Ban Righ during the exodus, on the last official day that residence is open. The kitchen staff gave us a royal dinner: turkey and Bavarian cream for dessert. And everyone is wishing everyone else a happy summer and we meant it in the case of the kitchen people because they have been dear friendly cheerful people all year.

The first to arrive and the last to go - and I finished the year exactly as I began it: with a bath!

All the rooms, all down the hallway, with the furniture piled up. The telephone booth still full of scribbles: "Cathy, boy, sounds like John," "Ellie, Tom Hathaway, phone back," "Olivia, Andy, will call back," "Nancy, boy, no message, said 'oh, studying again,'" "Cathy, long distance," "Ellie, boy, no message." Pile of magazines on the table, but not the Saturday night issue in a thousand sections that used to be strewn all over the floor when we came in from a date late on Saturday and sat around on while we gabbed. Freshman year, room 49 (beautiful room even now when it is bare), telephone booth, g'bye.