60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 21 June 1952:

We had breakfast in our room with chocolate rolls and jam. The missionaries were going to Grasse with us. We stopped at the American Express to put in a claim for Watkins’ severely damaged suitcase. Several other suitcases were banged up, but not as badly. Herr Watkins bought a new one.

Grasse was a small Medieval town on the French Riviera, that was founded as a Republic in the 12th century. In 1732 Heinrich Herterich was a Franchard painter here. Later Pauline Boneparte, younger sister of Napoleon, separated from her husband in 1887 and came to Grasse. It provided a quiet little city for convalescents. Queen Victoria spent several winters here. Napoleon came here after his escape from Elba and was received here at Grasse, but he only stayed one hour.

Grasse, built on a hill, was a major support of the perfume and tourist industry in France. It takes one ton of flowers to make one quart of perfume or two pounds of essence. The process involves fat drawing perfume from the flowers and alcohol extracting the perfume from the fat. Then it is mixed with alcohol to make liquid and beeswax to make solid perfume. There are different processes for each flower as some flowers are more delicate.

Girl workers can’t eat garlic for three months when working with the perfume in the third process while aging perfume for three months in agitators. In the last stage, the perfume is mixed with alcohol 15-18% blended or straight. Everybody was smelling the perfume like mad. It smelled good, too!

The perfume manager had been in the movie business for 12 years in publicity and production. However he liked the perfume business better. Face powders and creams were also manufactured here. Vegetable coloring was used to make powder rouge and lipstick. I gave Herr Watkins a bottle of pain restorers for his headache. Then we had a beautiful scenic drive back .
We stopped to eat at the restaurant, La Cyrano, with the missionaries. We had a good dinner with potage, macaroni au gratin, ham, potatoes and two desserts for 270 francs. Afterwards Carol and I went shopping at Lafayette Galaria for gloves and baby clothes. I didn’t buy anything though. In any case I spotted a store with Iris on the front.

We visited an old cathedral. Just as we were leaving, a funeral procession was coming in. The priest stood by the door and the pall bearers carried in the wooden casket from the hearse. A handful of mourners in black followed the casket.

We window shopped on the way back “home”. We had to ask for directions to the hotel several times, but on our way back we had a strawberry pastry. Gee, everybody wore shorts in this town. I wondered if it could be a beach town.

Touring Students View History, Personality of Old France

(Editor’s note: This is another letter from Mrs. George H. Hansen of Provo on her impressions of a tour she is making with 36 college students through Europe.)

Dear Friends,
Can you imagine this group of Brigham Young University students swimming in the Mediterranean Ocean? We could hardly believe it ourselves-that three weeks after leaving home, we find ourselves on the French Riviera of Cannes in Southern France.

The weather is pleasantly warm this morning and I am sitting here in the Cecil Hotel watching the servants prepare the hotel for the day, also I am watching the street vendors hurrying on their way to market.

After seeing the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean, it is the tall date palms and magenta colored bougainvillea, that attract our attention.

The enchantment of distance has for days now given way to the romance of reality, as we travel along the tree-lined highways. Our comfortable American Express bus is being chauffeured by Andre, a genial Frenchman of about 40 years of age. The loud speaking system, a very good educational device, permits all of us to hear the two professors, and occasionally the missionaries, tell the stories of history as our imagination sees them in the making.

We have seen the conquest of France by the Romans. Those immense amphitheaters (two) with thick stone walls built in the first century B.C. are still being used. Across the street from our hotel in Nimes, France we saw the numerous arched entrances, which afford an exit, in a matter of minutes, for more than 20,000 spectators who will see a bull fight there Saturday.

We are told that there are more Roman ruins here than there are in Rome. There are also more swallows living in crevasses and niches of the ruins than there are in Utah.

A picture of the old beside the new was seen in Vienne. The beautiful old Temple of Aquate et de Liver, built in 41 A.D., is located across the street from an American Launderette where 12 or more automatic washers are in motion.

For several hours on Wednesday we stopped at Fontaine-bleau. We walked through the halls where that big-little man Napoleon walked and talked. His bed was so short that we felt sorry for him, until we learned that he was only five feet and two inches tall. He often carried one of his beds with him when going to battle.

When Napoleon and other emperors and kings of France were at home they lived in the splendor we now marvel. The carved, gilted wood ceilings were designed to correspond with the floors of nine to 15 different kinds of wood. The exquisitely chiseled crystal and bronze chandelier, for which Napoleon paid 4000 francs (more that $1300) in 1945, is probably the largest of many.

The velvety black, carved ebony cabinet of Empress Marie Louise and the harp of Empress Josephine are only a part of the elaborate furnishings of this old stone chateau, built in the 11th Century. The stone staircase, horseshoe-shaped, at the entrance is a mark of individuality for such buildings.

But this country of France does not lack for individuality. Indeed, the personality of these 43 million Frenchmen is sometimes puzzling and sometimes provocative. The little old man driving a mother turkey with two little ones in front of our bus; the street cleaners whisking the gutters with their willow brooms; the small statue of Mother Mary carved in rock about 20 feet above the highway; and palatial homes on the Riviera are all scenes of amazement to the traveler.

-Afton A. Hansen

We took a nap at the hotel for a few minutes. Then we went on our way to a military concert around 8 p.m. We stopped at A La Riviera Department Store to get a piece of material to make a purse. We arrived at an intersection jammed with people. This must be the place. Then music started coming from down the street. The French Navy (at least that was our interpretation of their uniform) came marching into the center of the square. There was more music as the Marines marched in from another street. In competition with the Marines and Navy, the Army came in from still another street. The Air Corp. marched in last and took a position between the other two forming somewhat of a square in the middle.

They played several numbers together and then the Navy wearing berets marched off. They were followed by the Marines in Khaki. Then the Air Corps, which were wearing white hats, strolled toward the beach through a park. There seemed to be a crowd going in a certain direction, so we followed them and ended up at an outdoor amphitheater with the Navy on the stage getting ready to play. We recognized Aprea de ma Blonde and a medley of English tunes including Old Folks at Home. The Marines in khakis and white followed. Both of them played standing up. They brought chairs in for the French Air Corp. They had more of a concert type band with flutes.

Alice talked to the lady next to us and she said they are just marching through Nice for other parts of France. Gee, I really wish I had brought my camera with me. I could have gotten some great pictures as the sunset. Some people started leaving when the more classical numbers were being played by the Air Corp. The other two groups came back in for the finale. And each time before they started playing each group twirled their horns and trumpets together with flags hanging down from their horns and drums.

The amphitheater had an orchestra pit in front of the stage and above the stage were statues, flags, and hanging ferns. A big statue at the back of the arena was put there to celebrate the French Centennial by the maritime services from 1792-1803. Emblems of the crown of France and Navy were displayed at the front of the stage. There were white wooden folding chairs placed throughout for seats. Each level was covered with coarse grass and had a stone edge. We were hoping they would play the French National Anthem and they did! Everyone stood up for La Marseillaise and so did we. We watched the bands crawl into their trucks right in front of the beach and we waved to them. Soon after we strolled on down the beach as if nothing had happened.

After hearing music across the way, we followed it to the Hotel Ruhl. They had beautiful sidewalks and an inside restaurant bar with an orchestra. A sign near the entrance stated they were open all year long. We caught the sight of delicious silver platters of food through the doors of the restaurant. And there was a window display of beautiful clothes inside the lobby. Next was a huge lounge with plush red Victorian furniture and really big lamps with peach satin shades in all four corners. I mean really huge lamps! Then I sat down on the wooden bench outside the hotel to write these notes. Our stomachs were calling so we were off in search of food.

Guess what? Here is Le Cyrano again. It wasn’t too bad the first time so I guess we’ll give it another shot. I had hors-d’oeuvres, ham, potatoes, raspberry and apple butter. An English fellow at a table near ours wrote a note on his napkin “Did you get what you ordered?” He sent it over with the waitress. As he left he came by and talked to us for a moment and we thanked him for his concern. When we got to the two desserts, Alice ordered an orange. She peeled it and lo and behold it was red instead of orange. She asked the waitress how come she got a rouge orange. The waitress explained that she thought it was an orange sanguine from Spain. It was as red as blood.

Later we came down the dark alley from Lilygrass where there was a lady on the street with a dog. Then we cut back to the main thoroughfare, Victoire, even though it meant retracing our steps back to the hotel. At the hotel we crawled into bed as fast as possible.


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