My father Tom was already a McGill Engineering graduate and employed in his field when he met my mother Ann, who had just begun her college studies. This meant he got to enjoy the McGill “scene” and social life for a second time around! He happily escorted Ann to all the school’s social functions. According to Dad, he was a really good dancer and they made a handsome pair dressed in their evening finery.
Ann’s 1946 diary describes these dances, parties and charity balls in detail with most entries closing with a rather ecstatic declaration of affection for her “Tommy”: What a man, what a love, what a darling! I love him so! What a passion I have for him! Tommy is more wonderful every day. The more I see you, the more I love you, Tommy. What a darling you are-Tommy-the loveliest things are part of you. The happiest days are always with Tommy.
The diary entry for May 12, 1946, refers to “the best letter ever!” from her Tommy. They wrote each other almost daily during her summer breaks from college when her parents kept her “busy” and out-of-town visiting family and friends. What a thrill it was to find this very letter in my “dusty old boxes” of family memorabilia! And, yes, it is pretty special. It is a profound and lengthy letter analyzing love in different relationships such as a mother’s love, Christian love and love between a man and a woman. Tom wrote to Ann “…but all these things seemed outside forces and not within myself”. He continued to describe himself as “naturally a little cold emotionally and that his character and training encouraged reason.” The letter closes with “but since I’ve known you my darling, I’ve experienced love from my own heart responding to yours.” Good for you, Dad!
Clearly, their letter writing was not all romantic fluff!
At one time, they discussed buying a piece of property together – “Would you like a lake shore place rather than a place at the bay?” wrote Tom and included some rough number crunching for her opinion. Another lengthy letter summarized his fundamental thoughts on the universe: “…we can conceive of the universe finite in mass and energy yet with no boundaries and no centre.”
But what speaks volumes is that he consulted Ann in the planning stages of his own engineering company – the company name, his percent interest, his monthly salary and other essential decisions. Shortly before their wedding in May 1947, there was a letter to Ann written on the company letterhead – T. G. Anglin Engineering Company Limited.
I can only imagine Tom’s emotional state when he began dating Ann in the summer of 1943. In May of that year, his only brother went missing in action with his RCAF crew during WWII. I like to think his brother was watching over them and paving their way to a life together.
Ann always seemed so positive, happy and full of life. Her diary was filled with daily exclamations of Fun Galore! Swell! Wonderful! Simply Perfect! What a garden/view/weekend! It wasn’t long before my father, mesmerized by her optimism, gaily signed a letter with his initials made up of x’s and o’s.
It was not all that surprising to find Ann’s hand-scrawled note on a scrap of paper, hidden amongst their numerous letters and photos, promising not to have children for the first two years of marriage thus protecting their time alone after a passionate four-year courtship.