60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 2 June 1952:

At 1:30 a.m. we reached Pittsburgh and everybody got out. We were already 30 minutes late, but we were due to be an additional hour late waiting for a new driver till 3 a.m. Finally, the new driver came and we were off.

After arriving in Washington D.C. we had to make ourselves presentable for lunch with Senator Watkins. So suitcases were spread on the platform in front of the bus depot in order to get some clothes out. Then most of the students proceeded to change their clothes in the dressing rooms in the depot. While some students took showers for a quarter.

I felt my culottes looked enough like a skirt, so I took a walk instead of changing my clothes. I went over to investigate the big railroad terminal across the way and saw the plans for the expansion. Taxis and cars were parked under the large outside foyer. One thing I can say for Pittsburgh, it certainly has an interesting smell all its own.

Sometime after 3 a.m. I again laid my head back on the nice soft bus seat and closed my eyes. I woke at intervals to find that we had been back and forth over the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders.. Dr. Watkins’ voice brought me back to consciousness again, “Everyone was sleeping through the most beautiful part of our trip.” Awake again I saw beautiful fields, rolling hills, and the Georgetown Preparatory School for boys.

At 9:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time we entered the outskirts of our nation’s capitol. We passed the Naval Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, then drove through Bethesda, Maryland, and into Washington, D.C. at 10:45 a.m. We caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument before the bus finally docked at 11:25 a.m.

After preliminary arrangements, the bus took us to the Senate Office Building. Then we descended upon Senator Watkins in mass and deposited all of our excess baggage in his office. Alicia mischievously sat in the Senator’s chair. In the basement of the Senate Office Building, a little one-rail train took us through a passageway to the elevator. And thence to the Senate reporters’ room where we were scheduled to have lunch. Several tables were set in readiness for us.
We were welcomed by Mrs. Watkins and then Senator Watkins introduced us to Senator Lodge from Massachusetts, Senator Hill from Alabama, Robert Barker of Ogden (who is Senator Bennett’s secretary), and Senator MacFarlane from Arizona. On the walls were pictures of the pink-whiskered Senator James Hamilton Lewis, Joshua Giddings, and former Senator Shepherd of Texas who had fought for prohibition.

After Mrs. Watkins told us a story about Senator Lewis’ wife, Robert Barker brought us a bit of red hot news. The decision of the Supreme Court in the steel case had just been read at noon. The vote was 6 to 3 that the President did not have the authority to seize the steel industry. Chief Justice Vincent, Justice Reed, and Justice Mitton said the President did have the authority. Mr. Barker said some Justices wrote as many as 22 pages expressing views on the decision. He said Senator Ferguson is talking on the floor right now.

Then we were introduced to Senator Eugene Milliken from Colorado, the minority leader. Robert Barker sat across from us at lunch and talked to us about Senate procedure and explained the Taft-Hartley law to us. The luncheon was delicious, especially the apple pie. Senator Watkins gave us each a souvenir menu.

Our next stop was the gallery of the Senate where debate was going on concerning the consent calendar. Senator Watkins announced our tour and its purpose on the floor of the Senate, which actually goes in the Congressional record for the day.

From the gallery we went through the rotunda and into Statuary Hall. The statues here were selected by the states. The first statue from Utah was Brigham Young which was made by his grandson. It was the first statue there made by a relative. We took pictures of the Mall from the balcony.

Cars were waiting for us in front of the Senate with members of Senator Watkins’ and Senator Bennett’s staff waiting to show us around Washington. Our guide was Ralph Meacham, who was a research assistant for Senator Bennett. First on the tour, we drove past the Old and New House Buildings, Library of Congress, and Supreme Court. There were hundreds of cars in the Senate parking lot. We continued along Constitution Avenue past the United States District Court. We spotted a fountain dedicated to the memory of Andrew Mellon, former Secretary of the Treasury, who contributed the money for the United States Art Gallery. And then we passed the National Archives and Department of Justice.

As we turned on Pennsylvania Avenue, we saw the Treasury Building just off the avenue and the White House where we stopped to take a picture through the fence. From here we could also see the old State Department Building and across a green expanse of lawns the Washington Monument. Next on the tour was the Jefferson Memorial, Pentagon and Department of Defense.

In Arlington, we stopped at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, which was the first of many of these famous graves that we would see on this trip. Here we also saw the Lee Mansion and then continued along the Potomac to the Lincoln Memorial. This was one spot I had really anticipated with great enthusiasm. To me the Lincoln Memorial had always been the center and high spot of Washington. It was just as I had pictured it in my imagination. I felt very humbled as I gazed up into the countenance of this God-fearing man.

As we strolled down the stairs from this huge monument, there was before us another view of the Mall with its huge reflecting pool. We caught a glimpse of the Smithsonian Institute as we returned to the bus. We dashed back to Senator Watkins’ office to reclaim our stuff, but I didn’t quite make it there myself. I met Dr. Watkins carrying my coat and others who had brought the rest of my luggage. So we again boarded the bus and made our way out of the nation’s capitol just a little before 5 p.m.

On the bus again the University of Maryland came into view as we continued on to Baltimore. The city had white marble steps and little backyards. A TV Motel out of Baltimore caught our interest. We learned as we approached Delaware that the bridge had just been opened for seven weeks. Prior to that time ferry boats had been used.

Our bus driver, a jovial character, was helpful with bits of information here and there. It was most interesting. We entered the toll bridge before entering the New Jersey Turnpike. Paying a toll was a new experience for most of us Westerners.

By this time, we were straining for our first glimpse of the lights of New York. Can you imagine two of the world’s most famous cities in one day? We were getting primed for the many varied experiences ahead.

I smelled New York before I was in it. It reminded me of suburban Salt Lake coming in from the north but only a little larger. Another peculiar smell followed the first and then the lights of the city crept slowly out of the dark horizon. A sign appeared in the beam of the headlights—New York 10 miles.

I’m not sure if we came in on the Brooklyn Bridge or what, but the bus driver had to pay another toll, and we thenceforth rode in higher than the city. The kids were all firing questions at the bus driver, who must have had steady nerves to put up with all our noise and enthusiasm.

We passed through the Lincoln tunnel and soon thereafter arrived at the bus depot. However, the bus driver hadn’t received clearance to take us to the hotel. After a few minutes, things were all straightened out and we continued on to the Times Square Hotel.

As soon as we got our bags off the bus, Alicia and I tried to find Aunt Ellen’s phone number. No luck. With all those huge directories, I was rather confused. After a quick search, I gave up. We asked a cab driver how much the fare would be to 416 East 64th Street, and he quoted 75 to 85 cents more or less. At any rate, we jumped in and off we went.

The cab driver was a colored fellow from Brooklyn, and he seemed extremely interested in finding out just how well we knew our way around. The bus driver had just finished warning us about cab drivers, so impulsively I tried a bluff. He asked if we knew where we were going. Alicia said “no,” but I piped up with a brave “yes.”

Then he wanted to know where we were from and somehow got the idea we were from Philly as he called it. So we played along. His first guess was that we attended Penn State. I couldn’t think of any other Pennsylvania universities at the moment, so I concurred. Things kept getting a little more involved, and I had difficulty keeping up my bluff, because he kept cross-examining me.
Once he said, “Do you know what’s on your left now?” I happened to be looking the other way, so I gave him the name of one of the buildings we were passing. It so happened that we were passing Central Park on the left, which of course I didn’t know from beans, but tried to pass it off as a misunderstanding.

A little farther on he said, “Where are we now?” This time I was prepared. I had been watching the street signs just in case, so I quickly said 64th. I began to breathe easier because I knew we were getting close. We went three houses past the address, and as we were backing up he said, “Well, if you know where it is, why didn’t you tell me?” “But they all look the same,” was my very trite response. And thus our first taxi ride in New York ended without mishap and the cost was within the range he had quoted.

We discovered that my Aunt and Uncle lived four floors up. I am convinced that someone had slipped some rocks in my luggage—in my one piece of luggage that is. They had already retired, the hour being 11 p.m. We roused them and received a hearty welcome. By 1:30 a.m. we were finally ready to crawl in bed after washing myself, my hair, and my clothes.

Provoans, Bound for Europe, Enjoy Washington Stopover

Dear Friends at the Daily Herald
Would you like to hear of the experiences of the group of Brigham Young University students who are Europe bound. This third day away from home has been exciting (We left Provo about 5 p.m. May 30). It really commenced in Pittsburgh where we changed bus drivers and our clothes. So far we’ve worn out three buses and five drivers but we are still going strong: learning to eat and sleep when it’s appropriate and convenient, even if it doesn’t fit the hour.

Arrive in Washington
At 3 a.m. in Pittsburgh it seemed advisable to spruce ourselves up for our entrance into Washington D.C. We rented a wash room in the bus station, where every 10 minutes the colored maid poked her head in and said “Time’s up ladies,” where by we gave her another dime for 10 minutes more.

Upon reaching Washington we went directly to the Senate office building where we were taken under the generous wing of Senator and Mrs. Wallace Bennett., although Senator Bennett was not there. He was out in Maryland giving a commencement address.

While waiting to be served, we had the pleasure of meeting several distinguished people, one of which was Senator Lodge of Massachusetts, who is chairman of the “Ike for President Campaign” and who is a grandson of the statesman Henry Cabot Lodge.

It was nice to chat with Zelma Winterton Colton too. She assisted Mrs. Watkins in making arrangements for us and reported that her husband is busy writing his history thesis.

Famous Bean Soup
While we were eating, Mr. Barker (Ogden) from Senator Bennett’s office came in with a report fresh from the senate floor that the Supreme Court had decided 6 to 3 that President Truman did not have legal power in the Steel Mill seizure (quick release here).

Our memento of the luncheon was a menu from the U.S. Senate restaurant with their famous bean soup recipe on the back. We’ll have it for you when we come home.

Seeing the senate in action was interesting. Their program for the day was a majority consent process, but Senator Watkins injected into the record, speaking from the senate floor, he paid a nice compliment to the Brigham Young University and the members of this tour.

Leaving the senate office building, we were escorted in private cars of government employes who are from Utah. What a beautiful city Washington is! The shrines to our national statesmen are inspirational. There is something homey about Washington, perhaps it is the well-cared for lawns and shrubbery and the mocking birds nesting in the magnolia trees, which are as yet just beginning to burst into blooms.

Visiting hours for the White House are in the morning hours only, so we had to view that from the street. The fountains and lawns were in happy harmony with the gleaming white pillars of the beautiful building. As we passed the entrance of the White House we saw the man who may well be the new life in the renewed building – General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was smiling and of course, we could see that he was smiling at us for our car passed directly in front of his. He was in the front seat with the chauffeur.

Just ahead of us now, as we ‘bus’ our way along, is a carload of young men with “New York or Bust” painted on their car but I think we’ll get there before they do.

Mrs. George H. (Afton) Hansen


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s