Friday, November 1, 2013


33 Furnace Road,
Normacot, Longton,
It was shortly after World War II, perhaps 1948 or 1949. I was a young girl working in my family's store at 1248 Peel Street in the heart of Montreal. Our store, Metropolitan News Agency, was the first store in Montreal to sell newspapers from all over the world. We also sold English Bone China cups and saucers and fine Irish linens.
One summer day, my Pop, George Rubin, and I were out on the sidewalk in front of the store, unpacking a barrel of cups and saucers just arrived from England. The china was packed in wet straw or wood shavings and we couldn't unpack it inside the store while customers were there. So we unpacked the china on the sidewalk and packed up the straw for removal by the city later.
That day was unusual because there was more than pretty cups and saucers in that barrel. My Pop handed me a paper he had just found in the straw.
It was a small handwritten note that read something like this. "My name is Dorothy Elsmore. I work in (the china factory)". I can't recall which factory it was. The note went on. "I don't know where this barrel is going to be shipped, but if you get my note, I would like to hear from you. I would like to have a pen pal overseas." And then she wrote her address which I remember to this day.
Dorothy Elsmore, 33 Furnace Road, Normacot, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, England.
And so I began a correspondence with Dorothy Elsmore that lasted for quite some time. I sent her some of my costume jewellery and American comic books and she sent me British girls' magazines. She also sent me a leather letter case she had made. I still have it somewhere among my precious mementoes. 
And we exchanged photographs. One photo she sent showed her and I think, perhaps, a brother, in front of St. James' Palace. I also remember that Dorothy was a Sunday School teacher at an Anglican Church.
At Christmas, I arranged to have chocolates sent to her - Cadbury, I think. Ironically, the chocolate was made in England but it was still rationed there. So I could easily arrange with Eaton's on St. Catherine Street in Montreal, Canada, to send her the chocolate from the factory in England, but she could not buy it herself.
I remember the letter Dorothy sent me when she received the chocolates. She said that it was the first Christmas since the end of the war that the Christmas lights were turned on in London. That should fix the year for those who were there.
I tried to find Dorothy Elsmore a few years ago without success. If you know her, I would love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook or here on Blogger.
Phyllis Carter

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