60 Years Ago Today

Friday, 15 August 1952:

I woke to the ringing of the church bells. The day looked dreary, but maybe it was too early to tell. I dressed and hurried downstairs for a breakfast of ham and eggs with Mrs. Hansen. The cheaper rates for breakfast were good till 8:30 a.m.

There had been a big dance last night and Mrs. Hansen had stayed in Weisbaden till midnight. Many LDS servicemen were disappointed cause we couldn’t go. And so were we.

Everyone lugged their bags down at 9:30 a.m. to wait for the river boat down the Rhine. In the still dreary morning I bought a pastry and looked for some fruit. I sat in a street side hotel café writing till boat time. I noticed a bicycle brigade with boys and girls touring by bicycle. I talked to one of them down by the pier, who was from Baltimore. They were from all over the states and most of them were quite young looking. They were traveling with the SITA, a group that arranges international travel experiences for students.

As I got on the big river boat I discovered there were two decks. Lots of people were piling on the boat when we got on and lots more after us. It was smooth sailing with interesting people and sights. There were three languages being spoken at our table: German, English and French.

The waiter brought in delicious looking fruit sundaes. I asked one waiter where we could wash the fruit we had brought with us. He brought us a bowl of water and a napkin. There was a full menu for dinner downstairs. Meanwhile we ate our fruit, pastries, and a candy bar from Mrs. Hansen. I spied a Wiesbaden PX box on the boat.

The boat stopped at little towns along the way to let passengers off and take on more. It seemed there were castles at regular intervals and we heard about the Rhine River legends. We got a souvenir map that showed the details of what we saw.

It was almost 3:30 p.m. and my stomach couldn’t stand it any longer. So some of us went down to the foredeck dining room to eat. Since it was between meals, we were afraid we had lost our chance to eat. However, the waiter, who was friendly and sympathetic, found us some wieners, bread, and potatoes. We also had apple soft which was an alcohol free apple drink. LO and Alice succumbed and bought the tall dishes of fruit sundaes we saw earlier.

After eating I tried again to watch the scenery and write at the same time. The kids on the SITA tour were taking the opportunity to sleep on the deck.

In Cologne, the missionaries, Andre, Helen and Margaret met us. The latter came with Andre so they could visit the P.E. school. We dashed straight to church to give a program. We were changing clothes on the bus and in the church. It was quite an experience with both guys and girls changing at the same time.

Our program was quite similar to the Frankfurt program. Yet we had a smaller and more appreciative crowd. We used their organ but our chorus was rather stale. Poor Bev was still saying “Ick” during the program.

After the meeting, we talked to several of the members. One of the members we talked to was a little blonde girl of 16. She looked much older and gave us her address since she was coming to America in about a year. The branch president told us that they had tried to get a big hall for our program, but no soap. Boxing clubs can rent the hall, but not the Mormons, even after all they have done to help the people after World War II. As usual we had a rough time getting away.

Just like in Nuremberg the first sight of our hotel was quite a shock, but it wasn’t so bad inside. We ate while waiting for the confusion to subside over who went where. Seven of us were in a dormitory upstairs and down the hall. I just took a quick look in the room before I hurried downstairs to write. I ended up talking to the missionaries until 2 a.m. At 2:30 a.m. the manager at Hotel Deutzen Hof sent me off to bed.

Dear Folks,                                                                   15 August 1952:

Today we are sailing down the Rhine. It’s cloudy today, but beautiful nonetheless. This Rhine steamer is crowded with people of all nationalities, a group of American students touring on bicycles, and a group of little boys from England. We saw the room in the Frankfurt mission home where President McKay slept.

We gave a program to a big crowd of missionaries, members and investigators in Frankfurt. It was fun doing it and I hope they enjoyed it. It is pretty hard to prepare programs en route. That one was advertised as a concert, but I’m afraid it couldn’t be classed as such. We gave one the night before in Heidelberg, and then afterwards the missionaries and servicemen took us to the snack bar and treated us to hamburgers and ice cream. I gave my speech again in Nuremberg instead of Vienna and did a better job than the first time.

Most of the cities we have visited in Germany are still very much ruined, although they have been built up a great deal since the war, but when you consider the fact that they were practically leveled, it’s really sad. They have managed to save some of the art treasures by taking them out in the country. The relics from Goethe’s house in Frankfurt were taken to twelve different places and kept till after the war. The house has been restored and the relics brought back to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

In Bayreuth we were really lucky to see Parsifal. In fact, we were so lucky and it was so wonderful I could hardly believe it. In fact, I’ve been pretty lucky all along. I think I’ve seen more operas and concerts than anyone else. Rigoletto in Paris, La Traviata in Rome, Elektra in Munich, Marriage of Figaro in Salzburg, The Gypsy Baron in Innsbruck, Parsifal in Bayreuth, just to mention the operas.

Vienna was quite an experience. You’ve never seen our bus so quiet as when we entered the Russian zone. We weren’t sure what to expect and we didn’t want anything to happen to keep us from getting in the area. The Russian who checked our passports and cards was very young and kind of a smart aleck. The streets seemed deserted in the little towns we passed through. It may have just been the time of day, but the people we saw seemed very quiet and they didn’t smile or wave.

The American zone of Vienna is built up quite a bit, but practically nothing has been done in the Russian part. They really scared us about taking pictures, but we managed to get a few. There weren’t any operas or anything going on there, but we went to an American movie and had popcorn. Silly thing to do in Europe, but different. We had seen movies in all other languages.

Our meeting with the saints in Vienna was wonderful The people really appreciated having us come, and we really enjoyed meeting them. Many of them are trying to come to America, especially from the Russian part. Some, in fact, may leave all they have just to get out. Our plans are all final for the Scandinavian tour. We are supposed to give a program in Malmo, Sweden, while we are there. We will not get to Stockholm, because we will only have two days actually in Sweden.

60 Years Ago Today

 

Wednesday, 30 July 1952:

As I rolled over in my bed in the honeymoon suite it felt so good that I couldn’t get out of my bed. After we arrived here last night most of us went dancing and Innsbruck lost.

I finally got up around 10 a.m. to a huge continental breakfast. There were four different kinds of jam we could choose from. We had sent out for more rolls and the waitress brought us warm toast to tide us over. We had two big pitchers of chocolate and hard-boiled eggs. All of this food was only 2.75 schillings which was about 10 cents for us. They didn’t rush us or scowl at us or anything. Alicia asked for ein glass wasser and they brought all of us water in wine goblets.

The hotel had a beautiful lobby and some sitting rooms. The window boxes along the outside looked like opera boxes which were filled with beautiful begonias and other flowers. Lawn furniture was provided for enjoying the sunshine.

At 11 a.m. part of the gang headed for town. I decided to throw off my procrastinating and get letters off to all three of my aunts. I spent the better part of the rest of the day seeping in the beauty of my surroundings which included the mountains, hotel and town.

Later I airmailed the letters home for 6.20 schillings and regular mail to Sweden for 2.40 schillings. Then I walked down thru Ingls, Austria, about 5 p.m. going in and out of several little shops. There were lots of pretty jewelry and trinkets. I contemplated taking a bus down to Innsbruck, but I reconsidered when it started raining.

I hurried back to the hotel and found a little writing room where Carmela and I discussed our experiences so far. After the rain subsided I went out and back to my room. I ran into Dr. Watkins who had been sightseeing today and here I was under the delusion there was nothing particular to see.

Dinner at the hotel was over at 6 p.m., so we caught the 6:30 bus downtown and to the operetta. I enjoyed the bus ride even though you did have to hang on for all you were worth. It was a beautiful view of the valley, Innsbruck, and mountains. I noticed a little wooden teepee by the roadside and cute little garden like a patchwork quilt. Oh, what a beautiful shot!

On the bus there were two men with red jackets on that looked like native costumes and had musical instruments. Dr. Watkins pointed out the palace, museum, and church where Emperor Maximilian was buried.

After getting off the bus, we stopped at the Museumkeller Restaurant where the kids had eaten earlier. It had loads of atmosphere as I ate wienerschnitzel, soup, and vegetables for 40 cents. For 50 cents more at another place I could have had the same meal with a cleaner table cover.

Here in Austria the restaurants didn’t charge for the table cover like in France. Each roll or piece of bread costs 45 Groschen, which was about 2 cents, or 8 francs in Strasbourg, which was about 4 cents.

When we had finished we dashed over to the Landes Theatre. The theatre was not real elaborate but interesting. I bought a ticket for 80 cents or 20 schillings. In the city the streets were fairly wide and I noticed shops didn’t pull iron blinds down on the windows here. So I could actually go window shopping. They had cute little round waste baskets that hung from the light posts like in Strasbourg. However, the baskets were not white.

When we finally scurried off to the theater for the operetta, a lady in a uniform rented to us opera glasses for 2 schillings and program for 20 schillings to us.

I found myself on the 7th row with a big aisle in front of us so we didn’t get stepped on. The circular auditorium had boxes five stories high directly above each other. At this operetta there was no dressing up. Everyone just came dressed as they were, I do believe. Local advertising flashed on the curtain while the orchestra played the introduction.

The Strauss operetta, Gypsy Baron, had three acts and three changes of scenery. Strangely when people clapped after one of the leads sang, the lead would sing another number. The crowd encored one Gypsy and Baron duet so they bowed and sang another song. Then there was another encore with a general and dancers. All of this was a new wrinkle to me.

There were such incredible costumes, but at the same time most of the male singers had a little too much tummy. Eloise and I slept on each others shoulders between the second and third acts. Alice poked at us to look up and there were people looking down at us with either curiosity or disgust.

When the operetta was over, we dashed down to the street car stop. At a little street side stand I grabbed two frankfurters and a piece of bread with mustard for 4.50 schillings. I just couldn’t resist. Herr Watkins got a Salzbourg for 3.80 schillings.

Eventually we realized Hermine and Cherie were not there. The doctors went looking to find them. Dr. Rogers went down to the bus stop. Soon after they casually strolled up just before the trolley arrived. We had a brisk walk from the trolley to the hotel up the winding road. “Mein bed where art thou?”

As I changed for bed I contemplated how the Austrian people seem to be a cross between the Italians and Germans. They seemed on first impression to be more openly curious and carefree than the Germans, but not as open or direct as the Italians.