Letters of Stella Howchin, of Adelaide, Vancouver, London & Linz
to her friend Annie Cowie nee Watson

P. O. Box 1502
British Columbia

Jan 21 /12

My dear Nance,

Many thanks for your kind Christmas remembrance, also to your husband for so kindly writing me the great news ! I have been thinking so often about you & the little girlie, & do trust that you both have gone on progressing well - without any Knock-back. Is the baby a little Kate, Eleanor, Annie or Winifred?

It seems a long time since I heard news of Kate. I wrote her for Christmas, & imagined you two there for that season, not knowing what was really happening to you. Are we accepted as uncle & auntie by her wee ladyship?

We spent a quiet holiday time at home as the mill only shut down for Xmas Day & ran even on New Year's Day. Since Christmas we have had a good deal of snow & hard frost - but nothing to compare with other parts of Canada.

What a host of churches to look after ! They must keep both of you busy - but is it not delightful to live in a quaint old place like Malmesbury - Wiltshire would be quite a new county for you. Have you been to Salisbury Plain yet? Edith's husband's people live at Salisbury. There is a large family of them (Uphill). Some day you might run across some of them. Mother & father were expecting to sail for N. Z. on Dec. 20th. so will be there now if all went well.

Now take great care of yourself & do not get overdone.

How is Dr. Watson [???] uncle ? I am always so glad to hear of his keeping so well.

My very best wishes to you all -- & a special kiss for the velvety cheek I have not yet seen - in all of which Walter joins me (even to the kiss).

Tell Kity to write soon if she has time
Yrs. affectionately

44 Norfolk Square
London W

Friday [early c1916?]

Dear Nance,

It seems ages since I saw you all, and you will be wondering if London has swallowed me up, or even whether I ever arrived here, but I have just been waiting to be able to give you an address.

I do hope you are feeling much better now, and that the concert did not knock you up again. I am afraid I went off in a rush at the last moment, and upset you a bit, running up and downstairs as you did. But as I said to Dick I think goodbyes said in a hurry are best. It always seems such a painful time, sitting about for the cab to come, don't you think so?

When we reached Oxford they told me that the train would leave at 2.5 (it was then 12.40) so that I did not have much time. First of all went in for a cup of tea & sandwich - then took the bus to the Bridge - took a look round the quad. of St Magdalen's -- & walked up some of the old worn staircases. did the same at Queen's & All Soul's (also getting into the chapel at latter) & watched the students (in Khaki) snowballing in their quads. Walked to Carfax (is that right?) Caught the bus back with about a minute to spare (of course) & then we had to sit in the cold train for nearly an hour before we finally left. so that it was getting fairly late when we reached Paddington.

A very pleasant lady was my companion who 20 years ago was in Canada and she recommended me to try a boarding house in Norfolk Sq. (just close by the Station). It was full up & they advised me to try this number. & I just managed to get a room, vacated only that afternoon. It has turned out (like the first one I went to) to be a Residential Home for Nurses, very comfortable & homey & very moderate in terms, so that I really got in under false colours, I being, of course, taken to be a nurse, & I only found out the character of the place by reading the instructions in the bedroom. However the manageress says that I am quite welcome to stay as long as I wish, and everyone so very nice & pleasant & I hear just the hospital yarns that I love so. I have just paid up for the week. so that it will be quite safe to forward letters etc to me till next Tuesday morning (last mail from Witney on Monday I suppose.) I will let you know again before then as shall probably be here after that, as I am to interview the Committee of T. A. S. next Wed. or Thursday.

I had a meeting on Thursday with Miss Gordon by appointment. I liked her very much. She seemed to think I could be wasting my time. She thought the Ministry of Munitions might make better use of me. Also she said they needed someone very strong as it meant going out at all hours & in all weathers. The various applicants who have been put on the preferred list have however to be examined by the committee & then voted for, so I think that my chances are very slim ! Another drawback is that they prefer someone who would undertake to remain permanently with them.

The weather is still cold as ever and I suppose it is the same with you. Did you read of the zero weather (& even below zero) in the Midlands.

Do let me know of any developments in your own affairs. & if I am free & you have to pack in a hurry let me know !

I hope that Kathleen will not forget her Auntie Stella (nor her emulsion!) nor her baby talk either. When I was in Kensington Gardens (just near here) and watching the skaters there, I was wishing she was here. She would have enjoyed the fun of watching.

Now Nancy dear, do [double underline] take care of yourself. You do not know how very much I enjoyed being with you all. It was just a happy time all through.

Some Kisses for little Kathleen (Auntie Stella's big girl) & Teddy too, not forgetting poor Jane and any of the menagerie that would like some!

Much love to you all.
Your affectionate friend

P.S. Did not notice the strap Dick put on till on train. Many thanks. Will send it back when settled. Please don't forget to let me know how much postage on Oliver's book.

[postcard with small view of "Ruine Aggstein, Niederösterreich"; word "Danube" handwritten on the river shown in the view; postmark "LINZ 20.V.34.20"; addressed to:]
Mrs. Rich. Cowie,
22 Regent Place

Volksgartenstr. 14
Upper Austria, Europe

May 20 /34.

My dear Nance

So pleased to get your letter. Of course, it would be very nice for you to have a companion - because, but for the Tulem[?] Council & my obligations to my own council to attend I would not now be visiting Paris. From July 2-12 my time will be practically all taken up with Council sessions & that is why I thought if I could arrive about 28th or 29th of June we could have a few days together before sessions. So far I have arranged for no hotel or boarding house. I must be near the Palais Royal as the meetings are to be held there. A list of recommended hotels has been sent me. I shall only need bed & breakfast as prefer to be free for other meals. The hotels vary in price from 35-20 francs per single room (without bathroom), double room (for you & friend) 75 frs. to 40 frs. but no mention of breakfast included. I feel inclined to leave it till arriving & take a taxi & look at one or two. If you decide to come let me know about which day you would reach Paris & if I am there first, I will have a look round & then I could meet you at your station & report. But what is your own idea? I should like to make some enquiries through acquaintances, if I can. I shall need a room to myself as cannot sleep in a room with others. After Conf. I leave probably on 13th to go direct to my friend at Lenstein, as after gay Paree I cannot afford an English trip! Much love

[written in the margin]
Be sure you brush up your French - mine is nil now-a-days!!

[Annie's husband, Richard Cowie, had died suddenly the previous year]

Hotel Weinzinger
Linz a/D
upper Austria

Aug 3 /37

My dear Nance

For months now you must have been thinking brutally unkind not to answer your last letter sooner. It was so nice of you to write it & keep me in touch with your state of health, etc. I do trust, dear Nance, that the reaction which was inevitable, has now yielded to a more normal state of health and that in any case the finer weather has helped you in your daily struggle to keep going and as cheerful as possible. You told me various interesting items of news. I was specially interested in John's success in obtaining a position so soon & one presumably so full of future opportunities. It does mean hard work - plodding along all alone in one's studies, b[ut] one day his reward will come & with greater satisfaction than if the way had been easier. I was so interested, too, in your prospective new home - now perhaps a reality - as you mentioned August as your Time-limit. The moving would be a terrible strain, in more senses than one, but I am sure your courage & determination would (or will) help you through. How blest you are in having two such props as Kathleen and John!

As for myself I had a peculiarly strenuous and depressing winter, & in the end was on the verge of a real break-down, & my old enemies - anaemia and neuritis - aggravated by the sunless, foggy winter got a hold of me as not since those bad old days when you & I used to groan together and plague Kitty with our various ailments. Old as I am, I am quite sure that I miss my dear old tonsils - I was much better when I left Linz in June /36 than when I returned. Also in the winter I had to have a course of several weeks' treatment for a nerve in one ear - an aftermath of an attack of "nervous influenza" of the previous year. It was horridly painful treatment & had to be effected through the nose (except the electrical part). I was quite wobbly after each "go". That, too, didn't help things. From May 1st to middle of June we had a trying heat-wave, which upset my digestion & I couldn't eat. However on July 1st I was free to run away from it all - I came up here - to an Alpine Clubhouse over 4000 ft. high on the slopes of a high mountain massif - the HochKönig, 9-10,000 ft. high in the Province of Salzburg. All through July I still felt very seedy but at last - I am getting a few more red blood corpuscles floating around & by Oct. 1st. I hope to be myself again, as I plan to stay here till then if the weather is not too cold by then.

Yes, I wish all the healthy young people in England (as well as the rest of the Empire) would marry and have lots of children. I have been horrified lately to read in "Listener", statistics re forecasts of populations in a few years' time. I am not a rabid naturalist but I do hate to think of the British stock falling behind so lamentably - for it is just the same in the Dominions. Canada is now almost 1/3 French Canadian. They have enormous families - one mother will have into the teens of children & even up to 30 ! Don't forget the quintuplets -- & nowadays the English Can. has none or 1-2 children.

I am wondering so much how you are though I don't deserve to know. I wish the overseas telephone didn't cost such a fortune!

You mention my coming to Eng. to stay awhile [in]stead of here. The summer I could manage but not the winter. I am utterly spoiled as to heating arrangements. If I do come, I must live in London in a centrally-heated house or hotel. But so far as I know I shall spend this winter again in Linz. In England, my life, too, would be so useless. Here, one doesn't feel quite on the shelf - that is judging from the numbers who come to one for assistance & information and the outcry when I speak of leaving. My pen is on strike, so had better stop. Much love to yourself, dear Nance, & a good share for Kathleen & John. Yours Stella.


In writing Kitty forgot to enclose the 2 snaps. Will you be so kind as to slip them into one of your letters to her.