60 Years Ago Today

 

Wednesday, 23 July 1952:

I was up at 6 a.m. to get my tapestry deal taken care of. When we finally got over to the post office across the street we found that no one spoke English. Ione ran over to get Dr. Watkins to help us. Now we were cooking with gas. We finished there and on the way back I noticed how their waste baskets were attached to the light posts.

We went back to the Strasbourg Cathedral, learning that it was built in the Gothic style and later changed to Romantique architecture. The pipe organ was located high up on one side. The clock was very sophisticated and told not only the time, but also the seasons, zodiac signs, and eclipses. It could tell me most anything I would want to know it seemed. If I only knew how to read it, I might add. The clock struck 10 a.m. while we were watching. Everything on the busy clock did something. One little cherub hit a ball, another cherub turned over an hour glass, another figurine high up hit his bell, a priest moved around, and a big organ started playing.I moved on and saw people reaching through a fence around the bishop’s pulpit to rub St. Peter’s head.

We traveled back to the hotel to see if Andre had arrived. While we were waiting the hotel employees became really unhappy with us since we were cluttering up the lobby. A little before noon Andre pulled in with the bus. That was when he thought we were supposed to be leaving.
Now packed in the bus we learned that Albert Schweitzer studied at Strasbourg University before he left for Africa. He received all his degrees from there. Dr. Schweitzer was a universal genius, a theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He had many interests and talents, but couldn’t step on a worm. He wrote the most complete biography of Bach. Herr Watkins said there were still many people that knew him in this area like barbers, clerks, and others.

Herr Watkins told us stories about Schweitzer as we waited at Berden, Germany to cross the border again. We had individual declarations this time so we could change money in Germany if we needed to. Finally Dr. Rogers came. The customs man had to sign all 36 of our declaration forms.

We found ourselves back in Germany again. There were tree lined roads and Strasbourg architecture. War ruins were still apparent here and there. I learned that the fields we saw as we came into Strasbourg were tobacco. I had noticed them before but didn’t know what they were. Other than the tobacco fields the countryside here was quite a lot like many at home with sugar beets and potatoes.

Just around the next bend we came upon something not quite so typical. There were rows of fruit trees or grape vines down through patches of potatoes or beets. It was a good way to save space but this layout necessitated hand cultivation.

I observed another crucifix by the roadside. This seemed to be common for the German people. Again I saw white strips on the trees. Vineyards and fields were located on the slopes, hills and mountains. We passed a small canal with high banks, where a lady was just finishing a big batch of wash. The clothes were spread out along the bank to dry.

Soon after we went back into the hilly country again. I think the Germans must plant a tree every time they cut one down.It seemed we’re taking a different route to Stuttgart than our itinerary called for. During our shortcut, I observed men and women in their native dress shocking grain on the hillside. There were lumber yards and saw mills by the side of road. I spotted grain on a cart that was being pulled by three people. Farther on there were three women walking down the road with two huge baskets full of berries between them.

As we climbed gradually up through the Black Forest again there were tall straight trees again. While we wound to the top a beautiful view opened up to us below of the fields and forest interspersed together. There were all different shades of green and yellow with diverse shapes and sizes of fields. A man was trimming grass along the road side and sweeping it over the sides of the road.

At the top of the pass in Freudenstadt, the city of joy, there were petunias and geraniums in almost every window. It was one of the most beautiful little German cities. I observed new buildings, apartments, and houses. Andre almost scared some of the cyclists right off the road with our blatantly blaring horn.

Then we reached a plateau and then went down into another valley. Meanwhile we left the forest behind, I saw fields and orchards ahead of me. Under a high rail trestle there was a field laid out with racks the shape of big half moons which dried the hay in the fields. I saw how little boy blue got under the haystack.

The majority of German houses had red roofs with wooden fences. As we traveled through the really thick forests we ran into road repair which diverted traffic one way. There were orchards with apples right next to the roadside and groves of tall slender dark needled pines on the other side. Talk about variety of orchards and trees in a small area. Later on I found train tracks right next to the road we were on. There was only one foot between the road and railroad tracks.

We passed the border between the French and American Zone of Occupation from World War II. Farther down the road a piece, we came upon a whole convoy of United States trucks. We drove under the autobahn, the super military highway built by Hitler. As we came into Stuttgart we passed the 7th Army Headquarters.

In Stuttgart there were more red roofs, cathedral spires, and a famous library in ruins. The library had 600,000 volumes, hundreds of manuscripts, and specimens of early paintings. The Natural Historical Museum, Haupt Buhnhopitation, and creative arts building were bombed. Just the fronts and shell were left.

We circled around a little pond and park where people were carrying briefcases. Many boys and men were wearing lederhosen, leather shorts. I spotted a car that had a big dummy on top which held a newspaper. It gave me a funny feeling to be here in this town with all the bombed out buildings around me. At the same time I watched all the hard working but non-prosperous looking people that seemed to struggle in their lives.

As we stopped nearby, the Germans all seemed quite curious about our bus. Herr Watkins told us Schwabens, this region of Germany, were a happy curious people. Then we stopped near the station and American Express in search of our hotel. People in the streets looked at us but when they saw us looking at them they turned their eyes downward.

Alicia said Gutentag or good day to a man who didn’t turn his eyes down. He stopped to talk with us and told us about the Killesbergpark, an urban public park, that was the most beautiful place in Stuttgart. Some American soldiers stopped to talk to us. A little later we gathered to go to our hotel. Personally I hoped it wasn’t in the woods again with candle light.

On our way to the hotel we passed a beautiful huge building with only the front of it left. Shops were still operating behind the front walls. We discovered we were to be led to our hotel by a small black car.

Finally, we found our hotel, the Walderholungsheim Degerloch. It looked like an old ladies home by the type of clientele that were there. We concluded it was supposed to be some kind of YMCA. I noticed large red surfaced tennis courts and paths that led into the woods in all directions. The terrace was nicely landscaped with chairs and tables all around it. Shrubs were pruned sort of like bowling pins.

My room was in a separate building. There were basins, pitchers, and two dark wool blankets. The top sheet on the bed was filled like a comforter. It was too far from town to make it profitable to go back for the evening, so all of us had a good dinner at the hotel or YMCA. For 2.35 marks I had soup, three sausages, potatoes, salad, and coffee ice cream. There was a family table for all of us to eat together.

 

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