60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 11 August 1952:

In the morning I had a little bit of a bath in cold and not so clean water. We were in the tenement section of the city. There was a dirty grocery store nearby with a man outside speaking in French that wanted me to eat a dirty plum. When I got to the bus I helped Andre unload bags. There were rolls at the bakery and a big slice of fried dough with nut butter. Next door there was a little girl scrubbing a wood floor with plaid tablecloths on the tables.

At 9:15 a.m. we met an English fellow that Bev and Ione had picked up at the Festival last night. He showed us inside the iron curtain at the Festival House. The stage was as big as the audience. I observed the props and set for the Holy Grail scene which included a round table, big pillars, and dragon from the opera Siegfried which breathed fire. Yet most of the scenery for Parsifal was done with lighting effects that the depth of the stage made possible. Bev’s friend, who was studying staging, told us about the techniques which were used during the opera.

The dressing rooms were nearby. While sitting in the orchestra pit we talked about plays in London and compared operas and singers. We tried to get permission to sit in on one of the rehearsals of Das Rheingold.

We hurried over to the American Express where everybody cashed some money. It seems that the opera had taken all of our money. Next we were back on the bus heading for Wurzburg. Along the way we took a detour that looked like a cow trail. Finally we were back on the regular road. It seemed to me that this part of Germany was drier than I expected.

We stopped to tour a Romanesque Cathedral which was one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. And it had two big altars with one on each side with such beautiful carvings. In Bamberg, I caught sight of a bus load of young people in native costumes. We snapped quick pictures of them.

Then we stopped to eat at a quaint, little restaurant off the square. That same group of young people were in front of us and they showed us on the map where they were from. They were originally from Prague, Czechoslovakia but now they live in Kassel, Germany. They had been to the Nuremberg Festival and were now on their way home. They danced at the Deutsche Museum while we were there, but we were so busy trotting around we didn’t see them.

The two lady chaperones with the group redid the head scarves and rewound the apron ties on the girls. It was very interesting to see how the big red scarves were fastened to stay on well. Their blouses were white laced with big red striped aprons and orange knee socks. The fellows wore all black and white shirts with high black boots and waist coats.

For lunch we had big pieces of wiener schnitzel and a whole big plate of salad for each one of us. We finished eating about the same time as the other group. So we had to wait while they paid their bill before we paid ours. We only had about five minutes to dash up and take a look at the cathedral. Then we all had gelati’s and pastries from a really good shop around the corner from the plaza. I just can’t resist them.

Once again we’re off to Wurzburg past an army convoy. The Schonbrun Hotel which was right in the middle of this bombed out city looked brand new. There was no lobby to speak of but a clean looking dining room. There were darling rooms with hot water, new looking furniture, soft beds, and feather ticks for a cover.

A couple of us ventured out shopping across the street from the hotel and bought a darling motorcycle toy. A cute little girl about ten years old waited on us. There was a friendly monkey in a cage and it tried to knock off my glasses.

Next was a department store which had a new kind of escalator. It was a little box affair with one part going up and one part coming down. It was constantly moving as someone stepped on the box when it came by and got off as they came to the floor.

We discovered a store which sold jam by the gram and I bought 40 pfenny’s worth for breakfast. I ran around from one store to the next searching for pocket knives. I found success in a hardware store. It was a hard decision for me. Finally, I bought a pearl handled pocket knife with 6 dealies for 12.50 marks, a large meat knife, and a gift for 21 marks. The clerks were helpful and the prices seemed reasonable. I spotted my serving prongs from Regensburg for 8 marks less. Rats! I heard later that Margaret saw her now broken Dresden figurine for 40 marks less.

Back at the hotel we practiced for our Heidelberg program. It was kinda rough as of yet but we will hope for the best. We grabbed some soup and apple cider in the hotel restaurant to go. Thereafter, we had sextet practice and it was sketchy as well.

As I wound down from the day there was nice warm water, so I washed my hair, clothes and self as best I could in a wash basin. By then it was just too late to work on my diary or write letters. So we crawled into our new soft, clean beds and relaxed for the night.

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