W4321 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his father, Isaac B. McQuesten
Oct 23 1883
To: Calvin McQuesten [later Rev.] Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York City
Fifth Avenue Hotel
My dear Cally,
Your younger brother's P.C. [Post Card] arrived here this a.m. He really expresses himself with great facility. And you will have to hurry up as his writing is better than yours now.
I have written to Hespeler stating when I will be back: Wednesday [?:30] a.m. next week. I have just returned from trotting your Uncle Calvin away down town, & he has gone home "busted." I am glad to hear that you are all keeping & doing so well.
Tell Tiny [Mary] she must not bully you all to such an extent that your eyes will be standing out of your heads with fear.1
Mama was out this morning investing in ber-r-r-itches for you.2 At the same time, young man, you must always be humble, and bear in mind that these articles have to yield to the undivided skirt.
Thank Miss Sharpe for writing & keeping us so fully posted as to how you all are.3 Tell her & grandpapa that I feel like a different person since I have been freed from all work. And now I would just like to fight some one or break in a few doors.3 Will you present Nellie, Tiny, Hilda, Ruby & Master Tom with a vicarious paternal & maternal osculation and believe me as ever,
I.B. McQ. [Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
[Use IMG084 when entering--
1 "Tiny" is Mary the oldest child, born in 1874, so she is nine yrs. of age.
2 In the Victorian era, young boys wore dresses until they were about five or six years old, mostly because it might be difficult for younger children to have to fumble with buttons or ties if they needed to use the washroom. At the time this letter was written, young Calvin would be about seven and one-half years old, and from his father's mention of skirts and the purchase of "britches" it is possible (though by no means certain) that Calvin may have been getting his inaugural trousers later than most because of his disabled left hand. However, it is more likely that the reference to skirts may have been a mere jibe, as was the reference to Calvin's writing at the beginning of this letter--since his brother Tom was only one and a half years old at this time.
We have included an image of young Calvin in a suit, in "britches."
3 Miss Sharpe is likely a maid. The "Nellie" mentioned later in the letter is also likely a maid.
4 Isaac's comment suggests that he had not been well before this trip and the curious comment suggesting violent behaviour may be a joke or it may reflect Isaac's unstable nature. For more on Isaac's health and mental illness and breakdowns, see W2511, W2520, W4327.