60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 16 July 1952:

At 8 a.m. we jaunted down to the train station for the Jungfrau excursion today. It was kind of cloudy with the sun shining now and then on the lower slopes. Houses dotted the slopes with a clear blue swimming pool below. We changed trains at Grindelwald.

Cows wandering around on the slopes were pastured out here to save feed for the winter. The train had to stop so the train workers could remove one cow from the track. The clouds broke and we got a glimpse of the mountain peak. Herr Watkins said “that’s just a foothill.”

As the day wore on we changed trains again. This train was kind of plush and had glass in the windows, our last train didn’t. The temperature had gone down quite a bit particularly when we traveled in a long tunnel. It took five minutes to get out and look at the mountains again. It was like an ice box at the first stop and it took one more stop to be able to look through a window at the mountains.

Clouds hung around the peaks as we traveled through the tunnel to the top. When the train stopped and the conductor said this was the stop, we were still in the tunnel or refrigerator. Take your choice.

As we arrived we found tunnels going every which way. We took a tunnel and were reminded of the catacombs. Five minutes later we came to the ticket coin machine and elevator to the observatory so we were told.

With everyone’s insides growling, we weren’t much interested in that particular phase of Jungfrau Yoke at that moment. So we back tracked past the train into a lobby affair with a little café on one side. There were rest rooms along with a porch that gave a beautiful view of the mountains.

Afterwards we bounded up a few stairs and found a big dining room with a view. We joined the others who were supplementing lunch with a hot bowl of soup. All tourists like ourselves enjoyed the beauties of nature in Switzerland.

With our stomachs comfortably full again, we were ready to enjoy the wonders of the Alps with greater enthusiasm. Several flights of stairs up at the first stop was the Ice Palace where we paid one franc to experience it. It was quite an experience being inside a block of ice. There was a hallway as a tunnel through the ice that went past a car sculptured in ice.

Then I caught sight of a little ice carved bar with booths, tables, and benches. It included an ice clock, piano, bar, skating rink with Roman arches, and square pillars. A thermometer inside stated that it was 10 degrees below 0 centigrade. Outside again we climbed up the snow bank and out to the flag pole. A little man gave bobsled rides for one franc, so I took one. It was quite a thrill, but the ride wasn’t long.

From where the ride stopped we could see the Jaeger Mountain to the left of Monch. We helped the little man push the sled back up. Some of the kids were sun bathing on a big rock and I climbed up just in time to get in the pictures Herr Watkins was taking.

What a luxury this was lying on a rock in the sun surrounded by and gazing at these majestic peaks. The Jungfrau was said to have less snow this time of year than ever before. Eager for an even better view of our magnificent environment, Mrs. Hansen, Carmela, and I decided to go back to the spot of our first sojourn.

We hurried through the tunnels and individually put our little one franc coin in the box in order to get a ticket for the lift to the observatory tower. We were presently gazing down from the highest spot of comfort of the Jungfrau Yoke. We moved first from one side to another. We had a most splendid view of the big glaciers and white clouds that were like feather beds below us making a fluffy blanket over the valley and blue skies overhead. At one spot the blanket thinned out ever so little to give us a hazy view of a small part of the valley below.

Henry came up to the observatory soon after we did and went partially wild about all the radical apparatuses around the tower. Everyone dashed back down to go elsewhere. I hated to leave so I didn’t.

I ended up talking to an interesting fellow from Pennsylvania. He wanted very much to have a picture of Jungfrau, so I took a picture and promised to send it on to him. Time was growing short so I tried to get on the next elevator. Unfortunately, too many others had the same idea as me. As I waited for the next elevator ir seemed interminably long time arriving. By the time I finally reached the bottom there was about one minute to spare before our train was due to pull out.
I ran madly through the catacomb tunnel leaving the Philadelphia man in my dust. As I rounded the corner I saw the train which I hoped to be on. I had only twenty seconds left. I looked around for familiar faces and found the kids. Herr Rogers was leaning anxiously from the window. As I crawled breathlessly into the train without any wind left to apologize with, I realized my late coming had caused some consternation. Herr and others all thought for sure, I would be left behind. I jumped on just as the train had pulled ahead to go.

Then I was duly chastised and kidded. Herr Rogers had been trying to explain to the conductor that one of our group was missing and would he please let me come on the next train. It would have been rather expensive for me if I had had to pay for a one way ticket back.

16 July 1952 – Interlaken, Swizterland:

Dear Folks, we are on our way down from the top of the highest railroad in Europe which took us to the Jangrau Yoke way up high in the midst of high peaks. It was high enough to be above the clouds. It was so beautiful we kind of hated to come back and I almost missed the slow moving train. Right now we were going down through the middle of the mountain. Switzerland has been quite restful after Italy.

However, I think I liked Italy the best. There were so many things to see and we almost ran ourselves ragged. Switzerland is kind of restful with lots of beautiful scenery, good food, nice hotels, swimming, etc. Like Herr Watkins commented when we came into Switzerland, “The academic part of the trip is ending for awhile and the aesthetic was beginning.”

Europe has really been different from what people have given me to expect. We could have gotten along fine without bringing three months supply of everything. It’s really quite civilized over here. You can get most anything you need. The people can’t afford to buy everything that’s available, but they were glad to have tourists buy it.

Italy has been the cheapest country we have been in so far and the people were very friendly. We visited the Pope in Rome. He shook hands with all of us, and we presented him with a triple combination for the Vatican Library. I loved Rome, Florence, Capri, Sorrento, Venice and Milan. I want to go back and spend months there. We have had running water in our rooms everyplace except one. We seem to be able to find baths every twice in a while, so we really haven’t had to go around real dirty.

Tonight we were going to Monte Carlo ballet. In Bern we saw Europe’s best circus and believe me it was good. We were certainly lucky so far, no sickness or serious trouble of any kind. There was only one thing about Switzerland that disappointed me and that was their grey rivers. The rivers were filled with limestone or something and they were a kind of a milky grey instead of a sparkling clear blue. We had to change trains twice going up today.

As things settled down there was some beautiful scenery coming back down under the clouds. The sunshine was all gone so I tried to write a letter to the folks on the way down. There were three changes of trains and we always seemed to get a reserved car.

Now back to the hotel and out to get food for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. The prices at the hotel were too expensive for us so I purchased cheese, bread, and fruit. It cost one franc for each of them. Then I bought milk and cheese for dinner and smuggled it into hotel.

Afterwards, I cleaned up and dressed for the ballet. The ballet was in Kursaal but in the theatre part of it. Our six franc seats weren’t the best, but we could see pretty well. The hall, where we had been the night before, was decorated with candles in bottles and lanterns. In the ballet the first number was Swan Lake. There were intermissions between the numbers so the gambling tables had a break. It gave us the chance to listen to A Night in Vienna music as well. Romeo and Juliet was the next ballet. All the numbers were good. The Monte Carlo Ballet had just finished touring the United States.

I saw a fellow from Jungfrau whose picture I had taken. I said hello to him on the way out and talked about how I almost missed my train. I waited for the city clock to chime on our way home after looking in the bar to see what it was like. It was enchanting as all the lights went out as the clock got a good start for Thursday.


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