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Love on The Commons

Courtship on The Commons (Hill Street), in my parents’ day, sometimes featured more drama than a modern soap opera. My mother often told the story of her older sister Mary’s doomed attempt to bring love into the lives of two lonely singles who lived in the neighbourhood.

Aunt Mary, who had a devilish sense of humour, could not resist endeavouring to match a prim spinster with a crusty, middle-aged bachelor. Convinced that all they needed was a gentle push, she penned a romantic note to the spinster, signed the bachelor’s name and dropped it in the mail. Then she wrote an amorous reply bearing the spinster’s name and posted it.

Unfortunately, the plan backfired. The spinster guessed the identity of the real letter-writer and confronted her. After a solemn promise never to play Cupid again, Aunt Mary was let off with a stern warning. Unfortunately, it was not enough to deter her from future deceptions, in matters of the heart.

My mother recalled that Aunt Mary once made a date with a serious young man who was obviously taken with her. The next day, a handsome youth whom she had admired for some time, asked her to accompany him to the movies, on the same evening. She accepted his invitation, immediately, giving no thought to her previous commitment.

Apparently, eager to avoid a scene, Aunt Mary left for the theatre without bothering to tell her mother that another suitor, also, would be calling for her that night. When he arrived at the door, my grandmother was confused. She told him that Mary was not at home. She had gone to the movies, with a gentleman friend. The jilted suitor stalked off, but Aunt Mary had not heard the last of him.

A short time later, she received a note from him upbraiding her for her rude behaviour. Its angry author had signed it “Yours as long as a snowball would last in hell.”

When Aunt Mary eloped with her favourite beau, her widowed mother was greatly upset. She had looked forward to planning a small wedding for her eldest daughter. My mother tried to console her, stressing that she should not let her annoyance show, when the happy couple returned from their weekend honeymoon.

After playing the peacemaker, my mother went upstairs to her room. A few minutes later, she stormed downstairs declaring that she would have a few choice words for her sister, the second she arrived back home. Surprised, my grandmother asked what was wrong.

Mother informed her that Aunt Mary’s sudden wedding plans, apparently, had not allowed her any time to shop for a trousseau. Before eloping, she had raided her sister’s hope chest and absconded with several items of lingerie. It then became my grandmother’s turn to play peacemaker.

Upon returning from her honeymoon, Aunt Mary settled happily into married life, working diligently with her new husband to build a successful grocery business. The pranks she had once played on Cupid were quickly forgotten, but my mother never quite forgave her for plundering her hope chest.

Filed Under: Margaret Haylock-Capon

About the Author: Maggie Haylock is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who has co-authored several books with her husband, Alan Capon.

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