So many of these letters are from people I never met. They were gone long before I was born. Cousin Tilly (Vince) Luckins is one of the few that I was fortunate enough to meet when I was a child. But, sadly, my memory of her is limited to photos from her visits and the stories my dad has shared. She was one of few relatives my parents stayed in close touch with throughout the years. Dad even went to assist her in the UK during the final years of her life. I was able to attend her funeral with him in 2002.
Tilly's correspondence with my grandmother Hilda lasted for decades. She sent over 100 letters combined to Alice (my great grandmother) and Hilda (my grandmother) between 1927 and 1984. My dad informed me she also wrote to my mother, Virginia, but those letters have yet to be found.
The envelope this letter came in was rather large compared to the paper it contained. I suspect there was a Christmas card in it once upon a time. Perhaps someday I'll find it and reunite it with the envelope.
5 Angel Close
Edmonton N 18 England
Dec 4 '56
Here we are once again with another year nearly behind us. I have been wondering why I haven't had a letter from you for sometime, are you all O.K. or is time a big factor? It really goes too quick doesn't it as we get older. I expect you are getting like me, I cannot keep the speed of modern times, one doesn't seem to get much relaxation, I can always keep myself busy when I get home. We have been busy decorating
& adding to the comforts of a good home. Tom, like me loves home life & is always doing little things to lighten hard work, he is very methodical & we are getting along swell. I didn't think it possible to have met anyone like him & as I have said so often that we don't know what is possible until we come up against these affairs & one should never say they wouldn't do this or that. In the past I used to say I would never marry again but here I am & very happy I seem pleased to say. Emmie has written to you & I expect has told you of Grace celebrating her silver wedding
on Dec. 6th. They have been & still are a very happy couple. Frank has brought her a beautiful diamond ring to celebrate the occasion. How is Robert is he seriously courting yet? I think his great cousin Helen is walking out with a boyfriend & seems to be enjoying life to the utmost, she really has a good future in her job at the bank, we cannot realise yet that she has grown up. How are my cousins? do you hear from Cousin Ethel and Percy? England will be rationed for petrol very shortly isn't it terrible to think we should have to go back to that sort of thing. How is Ben, does
he relax & does he get tired? How is my twin did she have a nice Birthday? Liberace was made quite popular over here with his mum & what elaborate clothes he wore while here. Well Hilda while I am writing this Tom is busy washing the tea things & I should hate to think I have lost a job (ha ha). Well dear, I hope to hear from you soon & I hope all is well with you. I have enclosed a snap taken on our holiday & now introduce my husband to you, he wishes to send his best wishes for the festival season. Cheers to all the best of health,
Notes on the Letter:
Tilly and Tom married on January 21 1956 and were together 25 blissful years. My father told me that her first husband, John Evans, cheated on her and they were divorced. I don't have all the details just yet but suspect there might be some information in those 100+ letters. (Here's a link to a letter she wrote in 1941.) I'm not sure what "twin" she is referring to as she didn't have one. It must be a pet name for one of her friends or relatives.
I asked dad if he knew anything about Tom and he told me, "Tom was a bus driver, a double decker I think. I can still remember Tom knocking on Hilda [my dad's mother's] back door while he [my father] was hiding behind the back shed with Virginia [my mother]." I asked why they were hiding and he said, "Because Tilly & Tom were there to surprise Hilda and we wanted to see her reaction that they had come all the way from England."
The photo at the top of this post indicated on the back it was taken at the Dunblane Hotel in Scotland. Of course I had to Google it. I discovered the Dunblane Hydro, now owned by DoubleTree Hilton. According to their website, it was opened in 1878 and once called the Dunblane Hydropathic Establishment. It was originally a Victorian health spa resort where guests visited to "take the waters," a fashionable trend to cure illnesses. At the turn of the 20th century, it became a destination for the countryside, fresh air and outdoor activities. It looks just as amazing today as it must have when they visited in 1956. Check out the hotel photo gallery here.
Dunblane is a small cathedral town with a population of just over 8,000, but it seems to be growing. It boasts a number of historical buildings including a cathedral and a 17th century library called The Leighton, the oldest private library in Scotland open to the public.
Scotland and the Dunblane Hydro are now on the list of places I need to visit that have been referenced in these letters. Dear Hilton Family - want to sponsor a visit for me, my husband and, my 85 year old father? A girl can dream.
And just for kicks, also referenced in the letter - Liberace. Here's a link to video of Liberace arriving in London in 1956 aboard the Queen Mary. What fun that must have been! I wonder if Tilly was there for the arrival, as I recall her visiting the Queen Mary in Long Beach with my family circa 1970s. Or maybe I just remember a photo of us there...
Life is full of so many "do-over" moments and one of mine is to have spent more time getting to know my relatives. Time & budget always seem to get in the way of such luxuries, don't they?
Until next time, Happy Genealogy Hunting!
Laurie & Dad