60 Years Ago Today

Friday, 8 August 1952:

Sadly for breakfast we had cheese and dry bread that we had left from Vienna. With my new suitcase I packed with two suitcases instead of one. Whatta change! I even got my coat in at the last minute.

I stopped in a shop across from the Hotel Gruner Kranz and drooled over the Hummel figurines. I succumbed and bought 2 for 6.60 and 8.80. Gee! The crowd certainly had collected a lot of stuff mostly in way of figurines. We got a clue that this might be a good place to shop in view of the fact that this town wasn’t loaded with tourists. So we really went hog wild and the fruits of our labor were much apparent today.

Carol showed up carrying a big box with Dresden china inside. We hurried over to American Express only to wait for 45 minutes for the mail to come in. I mailed off a letter to Lori, but sadly after the long wait there was no mail for me.

We got back on the road again. With all our acquisitions we were having baggage problems again. Somehow we made it all fit but every available space was filled. We went over the programs and schedules planned for Nuremberg, Hidelberg, Frankfurt, and Cologne. Wow! It was going to be busy the next two days. Our time was going to be spent in the middle ages and in medieval cities.
I spotted a Ludwig I shrine, German king of Bavaria, in the distance. There were fields of vines that hung from poles. Someone conjectured that they were hops, which was fermented to make beer. Germans were thrashing the grain just like we did at home. We noticed the mate to Walhalla which we had passed on the road to Regensburg. This temple had 365 steps, one for each day of the year. The winding tree-lined roads had white strips.

Huge detour! We were too heavy for the bridge and we had to get out and walk over the bridge. Andre had quite an experience as the bus just made it through the archway to the town. We asked a man the name of the town and he said Vohburg by the Danube River. On the other side of town we had to get out and walk across another bridge. A barefooted lady with dirty feet followed the bus across. Everyone watched the bridge sag as Andre drove slowly across. I could see some old stone pillars from a bridge that had once crossed the river there. The architecture of that bridge was a little bit different than I had seen before.

We passed through another gateway in the next little village. Wow! What a tight squeeze. Then another gateway going out of the village. The road to Dinkelsbuhl took us through beautiful woods and fields along a dirt gravel road. It was kinda dusty but pleasant surroundings anyway. Some of the woods looked planted like the Schwarzwald-Baar district in the Black Forest. Their crops were planted right up to the edge of the forest. Other areas looked like the Island Park territory back home in Idaho. There was a lot of diversity in the landscapes.

We stopped in a little town en route for a rest and snack stop. It seemed we were getting to Dinkelsbuhl a different way than we had planned. I spied a horse and cow hitched together and the kids on the bus were knocking each other down to get a picture of this unusual scene. I spotted another archway to the city square that looked kind of medieval. The army drove through while we were loitering. Comically one vehicle almost ran into a building and another went the wrong way. A jeep with three fellows stopped to talk to us and we found out they were on their way to Nuremberg. Lots of thrilled little kids gathered around us as we handed out candy and gum.

On our way again it seemed every little town had a big church or cathedral as its center. One small village had a huge cathedral in the center with stables, animals, and hay in the street next to it. We were certainly off the beaten tourist trail wandering through the countryside. We stopped to take a picture of a lady at the plow. The mob crowded down the road and when we got back Dr. Rogers asked if we had almost caused a traffic jam.

Another shower of rain burst upon us as it had been threatening all day long. On the highway to Dinkelsbuhl there was a romantic road and an old medieval castle on a hill overlooking a little village. Kids in the bus were practicing for our program en route to our destination. Dinkelsbuhl was having its 1000 year anniversary and housed one of Germany’s national monuments.

The 13th century town of Dinkelsbuhl, had survived with all of its original atmosphere to modern times. I noticed some similarity between architecture in Dinkelsbuhl and Strasbourg, France. An old city wall and watch towers were still standing. In the city dyed yarn rugs hung from the fences and a violin player was on the street in front of the café. We passed the cathedral and a red house on the square where Kaiser Karl V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, had lived. Martin Luther had refused to recant his beliefs before the Catholic Church and Kaiser Karl V, and it resulted in Martin Luther’s excommunication. Karl V had so many troubles with his empire that he finally resigned and went to live in a monastery.

Bev had an accident so I loaned her my skirt. Then I got to run around town taking pictures in my shorts. Since the bags were down in the bus, I took my bags with me in order to pack my Hummel figurines properly. Our German-style inn, Gasthaus Soldene Traube, was 500 meters from the square. Our little guide helped me carry my big bag and Lucy my little one to the inn. At almost the end of the main drag we turned down a small side street that looked kind of neglected and run down. Yet the hotel actually turned out to be fairly nice. The room had a big comforter and cold running water.

After getting settled in, we hurried over to the St. Aurelius Cathedral where 15th century paintings hung from the walls and the old bones were decorated with jewels. As I looked around I could see that there were only a few stained glass windows left. When we finished in the cathedral we browsed around in the surrounding shops. Florence bought a new skirt with an elastic kind of band around the waist.

Since we were too hungry to go back to the hotel street, we stopped in a restaurant which was approved by the German travel agency. With radio music in the background and flowers at each table, a cute little boy, Carl, who spoke some English, took our order. Our first course turned out to be a really hot soup with a raw egg in a half shell. The egg went into the soup when the shell was taken out and the hot soup cooked the egg. The second course, sauerkraut and wienies. Only the sauerkraut tasted much different than the U.S. variety. The wienies were pretty tough shelled and quite rich and unrefined.

Back out on the streets, I caught sight of a beautiful lifelike doll in the window. The door to the shop was locked, but one of the ladies heard us trying to open the door. So she hurried over to unlock the door and let us in. We looked at everything and the ladies were getting pretty perturbed at us. They thought we were the typical tourists who were just going to look and end up not buying anything. Then one of them brought out a darling little doll for 3.5 marks that wound up and swept the floor. That did it. We each bought one.

Then all of us stopped at a little store for some oranges and grapes. Meanwhile as my back was turned Alice was on the ground demonstrating the doll to some of the kids. Next was the EES Parlor where we ordered takeout but the lady must not have understood us, because she brought our food to us in dishes. So we stayed there to eat. I didn’t order anything, but I had a taste of everybody else’s meals.

And now back home again at the hotel we had to show off our loot. Quickly we ran down to Herr Watkins room to show him our dollies. Disappointedly for us he wasn’t home. There was a gab fest for awhile and then we got ready for bed. I repacked my suitcases to make room for my souvenirs. Blue striped feather ticks greeted us on the beds and Irene put up my bangs.

60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 28 June 1952:

Today we got to see the tombs of Keats, Shelley, and the Pyramid of Porta San Palo, an ancient tomb. But first we saw the Piazza Colonnade, Italian Senate, and Obelisk of Marcus Valerius. He was a Roman general, author and patron of literature and art.

While walking around the wall of the Vatican Museum, a man was washing his clothes in the fountain in St. Peter’s Square. There was a thick ornate bronze spiral staircase with large shallow stairs. Next was the Vatican Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, that holds books and manuscripts behind locked cabinets. I observed gold miniatures of the Basilica of St. Anthony.
It was time to go to the Sistine Chapel, the official residence of the Pope. There were lit windows in the passageway. Pope Sixtus IV built the Sistine Chapel in 1470, 22 years before the discovery of America. There were frescoes, a type of painting done on plaster, representing Christ and Moses, which were begun in 1481 a.d. The frescoes included the circumcision and baptism of Christ by Pinturicchio, and the story of Moses and Christ by Botticelli.

In 1508 a.d. Julius II ordered Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in four years. Michelangelo began working on the Last Judgment three decades after finishing the ceiling of the chapel. It took four years to finish as well. The chapel was filled with groups of people crowded around their guides. Huh….this is certainly a contrast to our temples to which the public was not admitted.

Then we saw Raphael’s four rooms which form a suite of reception rooms for the public part of the papal apartments. School of Athens was one of Raphael’s most famous paintings. There was an optical illusion on the ceiling with John the Baptist’s head by Raphael. And the ceiling and the mosaic floors were elaborate. We viewed the sculpture Laocoon and His Sons. Laocoon was a figure in Greek and Roman mythology where the father and sons were killed by a snake.

We had to dash quickly through to make the appointment with the Pope. At the door we were met by the guards. Then the usher asked for our invitation and we entered a room almost full of people waiting for the Pope. The ushers were dressed in red costumes in the red-walled rooms. Many of us were left standing so we were ushered into another smaller room that was not quite so elaborate. I noticed paintings of all the popes on the walls.

Here we sat like bumps on logs, not knowing what to expect or what to do. I was anxious to see how the Pope handled us as an audience of curious students from BYU. Herr Watkins had a Book of Mormon autographed by each of us to give to the Pope. We thought perhaps we would be in a large group with others who were Catholics, but here we were pretty much by ourselves. Wrong clue! Now back into the main receiving room where everyone was standing in a circle. We looked like a bunch of peasants with our scarves.

The Pope, dressed in white, came in with his assistants. He was 77 years old with a pleasant manner. He shook hands with everyone and gave us each a little remembrance. Some of the Catholics kissed his hand and knelt before him. There were several monks in the audience and he spoke to them for several minutes. He had a pleasant personality.

Herr Rogers was one of the last to meet the Pope. He presented our scriptures to him. We all watched intently to see how he would receive it. The Pope asked if we wanted the book blessed, but Herr Rogers told him no. However, we would like him to put it in the Vatican Library. His secretary looked at it rather queerly and handled it gingerly.

After the Pope had talked to everyone individually, he spoke a few words to everyone collectively. Afterwards a photographer came in and took two pictures of the Pope and his audience. And if you put your name on a slip of paper, they would deliver a picture to your hotel for 500 lire. Talk about commercializing the Catholic Church!

Next we ate lunch on the way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral was Romanesque and I really liked it. It seemed much simpler than other chapels we had seen. It had a flat ceiling, Ionic columns, and five naves. St. Paul was buried here. There was a beautiful courtyard with paintings on the outside.

Outside St. Paul’s Chapel is the Domitilia Catacombs. There were four floors of catacombs that were the oldest and best in Rome. The catacombs were excavated and had murals on the walls, baby tombs with paintings from the 1st century, and martyr tombs. There was a painting of Christ and the twelve apostles in the Last Supper in an alcove of the catacombs. Over 100,000 tombs were there including coffins for noble Romans, sculpturing from the 2nd century, and Dorian, Corinthian, and Ionic columns.

Afterwards we reached the St. Sebastian 17th century chapel. Ancient Christian symbols, Jesus Christ, and fish adorn the church. The chandeliers were fish holding light globes and there were four levels of chandeliers that measured nine miles long. A pupil of Bernini sculptured Sebastian beaten with arrows. About 45 feet under the church, St. Peter and St. Paul were originally buried there with the inscription from the 1st century. Overall there were 174, 000 tombs. A monk told us to shut up and listen and it took courage to come over and drink out of the old well.

Utah Travelers See Power, Beauty of Rome

Editor’s Note: This is another letter from Mrs. George H. Hansen of Provo who is traveling through Europe with a party of 35 college students from Utah.

Dear Friends;
“All roads lead to Rome; the eternal city.” For three full days we’ve seen the power and beauty of Rome, old and new.

Expecting to see a city brown and grey with age, as we entered on the Aurealian Highway we saw modern and unique signboards, which stretched for miles, before we reached the city. Of course, many of us could only read the pictures, but lucky are we to be guided by Dr. Arthur Watkins who knows and speaks so many languages.

Anxiously, going directly to the American Express Office to get our mail, we found the office closed from 13 to 15 o’clock for the midday rest period. This is a welcome arrangement during the warm weather.

Rome offers so much for the tourist to see and hear, smell and taste. Our view of past time has lengthened and our understanding is more alive. The older the country is, the more we can see the four dimensional processes of civilization at work. The vast stretch of time backward and forward, and the high and low levels of humanity are clearly widened in Rome. The apparent poverty of the woman peasant as she carries bundles of straw or sticks on her head is contrasted with “mama” who came into the silk shop (where we stopped) with huge diamonds on her hands, and many strands of pearls hanging down from her stout neck.

With evening, came the opera. The week’s program offered Rigeletto, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville and Madam Butterfly. We were amazed to see so many common people in attendance. They enjoyed the opera and it is as much a part of their lives as the picture show is to us.

Tramping around on foot to see the ancient ruins, we first saw the Colosseum. Though not in use now we climbed its awkwardly spaced steps to the second and third balconies, hearing from our guide that as many as 7000 animals were often slain in the 100 days of festivities. It was Constantine who tried to stop the fights, but a monk by the name of Telimacus ended their orgy when he jumped into the arena between two gladiators ready for action. Telimacus lost his life but so did the fights; they were held no more.

As the life of ancient Rome unfolded before our eyes, we saw the Circus Maximus where chariot races were held, and Nero’s circus where events of competition, as well as trial and slaughter were held. The fountain in the center sprayed water for more than 300 years. Numerous fountains, statues, and bridges have their stories in silence to tell. Father Neptune at the huge Trevi fountain tells us that if we will drink of the fountain or throw a coin in the water, we will come back to Rome. We did both-for all of us would love to come back some time.

The interior of the Sistine Chapel was a disappointment to us because so many people were there. The confusion of tongues of five or six different languages interfered with our vision. Yes, it was so noisy that we could not see well.

We were well-paid with serene quietness however, when we had an audience with Pope Pius XII. He is one of the most personable men we have ever known. Gowned in a white robe and red shoes, he shook hands with all thirty-six of us individually, asked where we were from and gave us a token and a blessing. We in turn gave him a combination copy of our church books to put in the Vatican library. It was an occasion of lasting worth to us.

Along the ancient, yet modern Appian Way we will go to Naples, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri.

Good-bye for now, Mrs. George H. Hansen

Next we went down the road to Naples via Appian Way. We were in the old Roman Campagna, which was a low-lying area surrounding Rome. Soon after we saw part of an old aqueduct, a tomb of Cecilia, fragments of an old Roman road, and remains of monuments all along the road leading into the city.

There was one spot with the original stones of the Appian Way, one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. Italian people used to live in the old mausoleum along the Appian Way. Today they live on streets with billboards and signs. Next was an old aqueduct and a woman thrashing with a broom.

Andre, drove down the wrong side of a four lane road. He turned around and went back along the new Appian Way. There were eleven aqueducts and modern Rome still used three of them. Again we saw acres with white stripes. Next were the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla which were the most extensive baths in ancient Rome. The Romans came to bathe everyday as part of their social life. Open air operas were still held here in July.

We spotted the Aurelian wall that was the last big wall built in the beginning of the 2nd century by Marcus Aurelius. Rome didn’t feel secure, so a wall was built for protection. We passed the Pyramid of Cestius that was built for himself as a burial place. It stands in a fork between two ancient roads and was erected in the last years of the republic on Piazzale Ostrense. There was a family of cats living at the base of the pyramid.

In a cemetery next to the Pyramid we proceeded to the gravesite of Percy Bysshe Shelley who died at age 30 in 1822. He drowned in a sudden storm while sailing back from Livorno to Lerici in his schooner in Italy. Percy, one of the major English Romantic poets, was critically regarded among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Edward J. Trelawny, a friend of Shelley’s, died in England and was buried next to him. His grave stone quotes from Shakespeare’s Tempest:

Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

John Keats, a famous English poet, was also buried in the same cemetery. He was 25 years old when he died of tuberculosis. His last request was to be buried under a tombstone, without his name, and bearing only the legend in pentameter. Joseph Severn, devoted friend of John Keats, was buried next to him. The plaque on the wall near John Keat’s grave states:

This Grave contains all that was Mortal,
of a Young English Poet, Who,
on his Death Bed in the Bitterness of his Heart,
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies,
Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821

John Keats epitaph tombstone states:

Keats! if thy cherished name be “writ in water”
Each drop has fallen from some mourner’s cheek;
A sacred tribute: such as heroes seek,
Though oft in vain-for dazzling deeds of slaughter
Sleep on! Not honoured less for epitaph so meek!

Next was the tomb of Goethe’s son, August. After that I spotted a fellow running and jumping on a street car. The streets were wider here with modern buildings. Then we passed an anchor in front of a Navy building. We learned that the Italian government had tried to buy the Barberini Palace by our hotel. Then we saw the buildings and a stadium that the Fascist, Mussolini erected. At the end of World War II, Mussolini and his mistress, Petracchi, were shot and hung by their heels from the roof of a service station near Milano. His body was buried in a secret place.

Then we observed a monument to the Balilla youth organization, mosaic in a courtyard, and big rest camp for the 5th Army in 1945. Piazza Del Popolo, a city square, was to Rome what Place de la Concorde was to Paris. The name in modern Italian literally means piazza of the people. It was historically derived from the populus in Latin, pioppo in Italian. The Church of Santa Maria del Popolo was in the northeast corner of the Piazza.

Afterwards was the Banco di Santo Spirits, which was the first national bank in Europe founded by Pope Paul V. It was typical of the city eternal with spiritual and commercial mixed together.
We ate standing up at the cafeteria just around the corner from the hotel. One must see it before you can eat it! I had an egg salad and spaghetti—not bad. It was my turn to fix lunch for tomorrow so I went down the street with Alice to the bread, fruit, and pastry shops.

That night I had an interesting evening concert with Kay, Dean, and Dixon. The music included Bach, Mozart and Brahams. I think the atmosphere of the ruins and Basilica made the music sound better. At intermission we met American and English speaking Italian artists. They walked home with us and were interesting to talk to. It gave us a little more insight into the Italian people. Armando, one of the artists, claimed Italy hadn’t forgotten America. That they loved all of the United States. In fact, they were going to New York in December.