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Home Again
Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 1 HOME AGAIN We bought a car, a red "Humber" for one hundred dollars. It's hard to believe. For six weeks we explored England and Scotland, using H.V.Morton's In Search of Britain as our Bible along the way, our only mechanical trouble a windshield wiper blade that needed replacement. Our passage home was booked on a ship that left from Manchester, and the day before we embarked George negotiated a sale of the car for seventy-five dollars. Our ship was another freighter, but carrying only ten passengers, and with very little deck space. The tiny lounge doubled as the dining room. One of our fellow-passengers was Helen Crichton, head of the Domestic Art department at Central Tech, whom we already knew well and liked. Four others were Barker Fairley who was on his way to take over the German department at the University of Toronto, and his wife and teen-aged family. Barker was already interested in art, but had not yet begun his second career as a distinguished Canadian painter. The company was congenial, but provided none of the high drama and excitement of our passage to England. "Monotonous days at sea" was my description of our voyage until the pattern was broken by the sight of land, icebergs, porpoises and whales all in a single morning. "As soon as I went out on deck it was different. There was a Cunarder near us, and I leaned over the rail and watched her and counted her decks enviously, then went good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 2 aft with Mr. Fairley and talked Georgian Bay and paddling, hungrily, till a sailor laddie ran up and rang the bell, saying 'Iceberg off the port bow'. We tore to see it, and watched it grow from a light speck to a lovely fairy creation of white and green shadows. We were still at breakfast when someone shouted 'Land' and we ran up the corridor and out all the doors at once, and passed the glass from one to another and shook hands on it, and were very gay. And while we were still congratulating each other on seeing land, someone noticed porpoises popping in and out of the water too quickly for me to see anything but the splashes - and then someone, young Bill, called out 'Whales' and there on the other side of the ship, port, was a whole school of them, lazily showing their great dark slippery bodies with the pointed tails, and blowing and spouting. "And lastly there was Newfoundland, an irregular low blue shape in the distance. And it's sunny! And the ship has stopped heaving! And the Fairley family have recovered! And I'm going home. I haven't dared to think about it too much. Since Sunday we have had day after day much the same, strong head winds the whole time, the ship pitching and tossing, pitching and tossing, hours on the deck wrapped up tight but cold in spite of it, reading, watching the waves rolling past, grey or green or blue or black, dozing perhaps, thinking long hours about whether Mickey will meet me in Montreal and deciding 'no', playing bridge in the cabin and going to bed at 9.30. I can't believe two passages could be so different". good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 3 That night we finished the second bottle of the Major's farewell gift of wine, with much ceremony. Then we put into each bottle a letter to him, wrapped in a request that the finder use the enclosed ten cents to mail it. We dropped them gently into the sea, and eventually both letters reached him in England. When we docked in Montreal Mother was there to meet me with Ken, who had come up from the States specially to drive her down. Mickey was there too, which just seemed to complicate life. We couldn't talk. Mother acknowledged him coolly. In a few meaningless minutes we had greeted and parted, with Ken bearing Nory and George and Mother and me off to Uncle Charlie's for dinner. Reaching Toronto meant Marjorie, who had come in from Brampton to welcome me, very pregnant, very happy, and being everything that it meant to me to be home. She stayed with me that night, and we slept, as we had so often slept through the years, wrapped in each other's arms. My CGIT group had set up a camp for the Labour Day weekend, a dramatic demonstration of their maturity, to which I was admitted without having to take any responsibility. I was still too disoriented to feel part of it. "Sept. 13, that date sounds familiar. I wonder - suddenly I don't - It's a year ago today that we left, and I'm almost as unhappy now as I was happy then... Mother seems very miserable. She was fine in Montreal when she met me, all right while Ken was here. At first I thought she was tired, then I thought she was good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 4 cross at me for having gone to camp. Now I don't know what it is, and I wish I could do something to help her". The "kindling" was safely delivered, and for a short time Marjorie stayed at her mother's. "Oct.3, I went down the hill this morning and landed in to the Beer household in a state of chaos, Mrs. B. in curlers, Marjorie in pyjamas, Harry (her brother) in pyjamas, Anne Eleanor in tears because she was hungry, so I superintended her bath, funny little long purple thing, and watched her fed, and gossipped a bit and then home." In many ways it was a grim fall. Mother was silent or curt. Grandfather and Grace were affected by her ill-humour, although we three were comfortable together. But the news was bad. "Jim Hunter (newscaster) reporting on the war in Spain, Mully (at CTS) prophesying fascism in U.S., Quebec talking secession, Edward's abdication". Eventually, in desperation, I broke into Mother's silence, and discovered the reason for it. The weekend that I had been at camp with my "Shawnees", Mother had dipped into my diary, and discovered the whole horrible truth about Mickey and me. She had been devastated, to the point of taking her prayer book up to Dad's grave in Mount Pleasant Cemetery and reading the burial service for me as for one dead. For three months her anger had been fermenting, and the explosion was violent. "Jan.1,1937 Something has gone out of writing in my diary, perhaps for ever. After the first ghastly horror of my Christmas eve talk with Mother, when her hysterical grief was so good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 5 much worse and more bitter even than I had feared, God what hell Christmas was this year, from time to time since, in with the sick ache of pity for Mother and worry for the future, there has been a feeling of shame and outrage that anyone should have read my diary. It was a damnable trick - worse than peeking through keyholes. Nobody but God has any right to a person's inmost thoughts". After Christmas I escaped to Haliburton, but my heartache for Mother went with me. "How I dread going home. I sat under a thick spruce this afternoon, watching the snow blowing past against cedars and river and hill, and thought that for the first time in my life I hate being alone, because as soon as I am alone the pain that is never far under, is raging through me on the surface again. And probably Mother feels the same, and yet is inevitably alone much more than I am. It's only when I'm with people that I can forget it even for a few minutes. Poor Mother. I think if she knew how miserable and how helpless I feel every time I think of her, she might be a little revenged. I'd rather suffer the hurt than be the cause of it to someone else. That's a far worse punishment. She understands so little. If only she could once know what someone else feels about something. And I suppose she never will. She could even read my diary without understanding it, which makes me hot every time I think of it. How it stings to think of her reading and distorting everything she read. Sometimes I could almost hate her for having read it. Mostly I feel too sorry for her to hate her, and she's terribly good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 6 important to me. She's so much of my world. And I can't forget her for one minute or get rid of the pain of having hurt her so terribly". Ken wrote to me from Toledo, "I don't know or care what you have done, had a baby or married a Jew, but you should never write anything down that you are not prepared to hear read out in court". Feeling, too late, the force of his ironic advice, I mutilated my journal, cutting away whole sections, and erasing every incriminating passage in which I had used Mickey's name. Unable to help Mother myself, I told Doctor Cotton the story, and asked him to talk to her. "Jan.7, I spent the last hour this afternoon in Dr. Cotton's office, and I feel now as if there were another strong hand in mine. He was dear and quiet and understanding and so sane. He and Ken have helped me back to a little sense of balance that I much needed". For Mother, however, Dr. Cotton's visit was the last straw! My guilt was now known, and she could never hold up her head in public again! "Jan. 13 Last weekend at Brampton was lovely. The baby laughed out loud. I went up with Roy to the high school to look over the Peel County picture collection". A week later Grace and Grandfather and I stood on the platform of the Union Station and saw the train pull out, taking Mother and her friend Mrs. Young off to Florida for a break that we all needed badly. We watched it disappear down the track, and then looked at eachother, the smiles spreading. good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 7 "Let's go to a movie", said Grandpa. I've forgotten what we saw, but I have never forgotten the three of us sitting around the kitchen table after midnight because nobody was sending us to bed, having a festive snack, and a leisurely gossip. Grace had decided to stay the night because it was such a special occasion. "Let me see", said Grandpa a few days later. "Tomorrow is Tuesday, and the next day is Wednesday, and on Thursday your mother will have been away a week, and the next Thursday it will be two weeks, and the Thursday after that, three weeks. How time flies!" Far too quickly for us. I looked back on those weeks as a holiday. "And on one of our many nights at home together, in the corner of the livingroom, reading detective stories and trying not to hear the radio, Grandfather got to his feet and coughed, and said that he was going down to look at the furnace, 'In case I might miss him if he went out without saying goodbye.' He is such a lamb. It's a shame Mother doesn't enjoy him. She could have such pleasure in living with him if she were a little more appreciative of his humour and a little more patient when he is forgetful or critical". Grace went up to town with him one day when he was needing new shoes. Grace loved that. She was proud of being seen with this distinguished-looking old gentleman. But she didn't know which way to look when the clerk in Eaton's shoe department asked what he was looking for, and Grandfather said with a twinkle, "They must be comfortable for dancing, and they must please her". good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 8 His eighty-fifth birthday fell during Mother's absence. We told him that Cousin Florrie was coming down for afternoon tea so he spruced himself up for the occasion. She was a part of the Levis connection, a niece of whom he was very fond. Towards the end of the afternoon he whispered to me to ask Grace if it would be all right to invite her to stay for dinner. "Yes, indeed" And the Jenkings and Mrs. McGill arrived together shortly afterwards, to his surprise and delight. Mother's friends loved Grandpa and enjoyed being with him. "We all got terribly hilarious and the cake was perfect, a circle of candles and HAPPY EIGHTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY on it, and a rose in his button-hole, and cocktails and beer and a general air of festivity". Florida and Mrs. Young had been good for Mother. She came home refreshed, comparatively civil to me, and wanting to send us off for a holiday as soon as school was over. So Grandfather had the satisfaction of showing off Montreal and Quebec to the fresh and appreciative delight of Grace who had never travelled before. "Quebec, June 30, In Montreal Grandfather was indefatigable. He took us round and round the city, naming every building as we came to it. And tonight we walked on the Terrace and climbed the steps below the Citadel and stood in the sunshine looking down to Lower Town and over the river while the band played. This place has such quality. Here in Levis I find a good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 9 character I had not expected that I like very much. I wonder how many of these grim little frame houses have such charm within. I love the funny old-fashioned furniture and Aunt Pussy, and Uncle Jack's simplicity and kindness and the way Grandpa settles right in to being at home." I was the driver of course, but Grandpa was the one who decided, about eleven o'clock in the morning, that I should have a rest, and saw the right tavern to stop at, where he and I could have a beer and Grace the innocent drink of her choice. Part of the ritual was for me to leave the second half of my bottle for him to finish. We all had a lovely time! Early in July I left for my first experience of the west. Marjorie's sister, Eleanor, could not join me until later, but we planned to meet in Jasper and go on together. Depression travel was primitive but cheap! I went "colonist" in a car with black leatherette seats that made up into berths at night, and a stove at one end for preparation of food. Usually I bought a good breakfast in the dining car, still gracious with linen tablecloths and finger bowls. My other two meals were sandwiches bought in haste at station counters. My goal was the YMCA camp near Jasper, where I was to wait for Nor and get some mountain painting. The first morning I wakened to see a bear looking in the opening in the tent-flap. I assumed that if he was on the loose, he was tame. At any rate, he ambled off. "Yesterday most of the campers went motoring, leaving just good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 10 Briant, Don and me in camp. We were sitting at our simple midday meal when we heard a few irregular noises outside, a growl and a shout. We three laid down our forks and knives without a word, pushed back our chairs and dashed to the window where we saw Max, the stout cook, half way up the roof of the cook house and a HUGE brown bear and her cubs tearing at some big bones of raw meat. It was pretty exciting for a bit". A few days after our arrival, six of us went by car, small boat and a twelve mile hike through the woods, to Maligne Lake, to stay overnight in the tent hostel there. That evening the warden of the park invited me to his cabin to meet his wife, who was a painter and starved for someone to share it with. I let the others go back without me and send me my sketching gear, while I moved in with Charlie and Mona Matheson and small Glenn. What an experience, two weeks learning to know the lake and the mountains that circle it with people who belonged in that world and loved it. The Mathesons came out with me when it was time to return to camp. We travelled by horse train, another wonderful first for me! That night I wrote, "I crawled into bed, and just as I hit - suddenly it hurt - and the blessed soreness took me right back into this morning, three golden lovely singing hours on the trail riding down from Maligne with a swinging movement that sometimes was almost like dancing, and the sun hot on my back, Mona and Charlie ahead on Saucy and Pilot with old black Mrs. Snaith trudging along and the bad brown Friendly stopping to good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 11 graze, or turning aside, or biting Mrs. Snaith's rump until Charlie broke off a gad or slapped his rear end with his reins -and away at the back, almost too happy to bear it, came Doris on White Cloud, placidly following, with a rare trot to catch up to the others and give me a chance to ride 'western' without posting". Nor arrived as scheduled and was so thrilled with Jasper that I forbore to compare it with Maligne. We went on together out to Prince Rupert, and down to Vancouver by boat. There we parted briefly. She had a heart interest to test, and I wanted to visit Florrie at her apple ranch in the Okanagan. When we re-met it was to begin our three weeks camping on the summit of Mount Revelstoke. Curry had pioneered this with one of her students the year before. The parents of this student lent us what we needed, and drove us up through dense fog to the square, glass-sided lookout cabin that was to be our headquarters. "Up and up in the truck, through clouds, seeing glimpses of the town, of other mountains, through huge timber with hanging branches, past four-mile cabin, eight-mile cabin, all the cabins, up and up till there was just scrub growth, and dear little Balsam Lake, and then the lookout ahead, perched like a red and white doll's house on the very top". The clouds that were covering our mountain gradually thinned and began to dissipate, opening up views of mountains and the valley of the Columbia River, fresh marvels with each gap in the clouds. We pitched a tent on the meadow below to satisfy the technicalities, but we good
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Draft of an autobiography of Doris McCarthy's early life leading up to purchase of and move into her own home "Fool's Paradise", Pages 1-13 12 ate, slept and worked in the main room of the lookout. On weekends, town visitors and tourists moved freely across us and up into the tower. The rest of the time we were left in peace, with a daily call from the warden of the park to bring us mail and supplies and drink the good coffee we brewed. Our duty was to watch for fires and report them. One night, just at dusk, we saw one start on the edge of one of the mountains, and even while we watched we could see the orange flame spread and grow. The nearest telephone was at eight-mile cabin, a long way down. We ran. It was all downhill, and in not more than five or six minutes we were there and able to get the warden on the telephone. It took us much longer to climb back up, with big grins on our red faces. The warden had assured us that our forest fire was the rising full moon. My diary is full of moans about the bad sketches I was making, but it later reports a quite successful exhibition of them and the canvases based on them. I am still learning that my paintings are always disasters while I am doing them. It isn't until I see them later, and someone else likes them, that I can see their virtues. Bad news from home cut short our summer. Betty McCarthy died very suddenly of heart exhaustion in one of her recurrent attacks of asthma. Ken's letter made me decide to reroute my return trip through Toledo. He wanted to see me. That was the year of the terrible epidemic of poliomyelitis in Ontario. The Toronto schools remained closed good

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