60 Years Ago Today

Tuesday, 1 July 1952:

At the continental breakfast we had marmalade and chocolate. I lost count of how many slices of bread we ate. Later I tried to brush my teeth without water. Today we’re off to the island of Capri. All of us walked down to the same pier we had gone to the night before and climbed through three boats to get to ours—a cutie speed boat. I climbed on top of the boat to sun bathe or burn.

As we rounded the bend, Capri’s blue shadow gradually grew larger. After approximately an hour there was a crowd of boats ahead. We sat rockin’ like a rocking chair waiting to go into Blue Grotto cave, one of the biggest draws on the island. Several kids got quite seasick and “tossed their breakfast.” It included Nelda, Carol S., Carmela, Betty Lou, and Joyce.

We had to get down low in the bottom of the boat to get through the hole into Blue Grotto cave. It was a huge cave with clear crystal blue water. It was absolutely indescribable as we swam in the water close to the boat—so refreshing!

Eventually we got back in the boat and everyone was trying to change back into their clothes. The men were first as they held a towel in front of the cabin door. Then it was the girls’ turn. What a circus! I wore my swimsuit underneath my clothes so it was a cinch for me. I just left my wet suit underneath.

Then we went back around the island to dock. We had three more boats to go through again to reach the shore. There were convertible open buses waiting for us. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the terrace of a beautiful hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner consisted of spaghetti, breaded veal, potato chips, salad, and fruit. After I took pictures from the terrace.
We piled aboard a bus for a 300 lire per person ride around Capri. We wound round and round past the little shrine and beautiful white villas. I saw a pensione once owned by Caesar Augustus. At the top we stopped at a village of little shops for our benefit. We walked past the shops to a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea, a part of the island of Capri, and the mainland. I took a couple more pictures of the sea.

Then we proceeded back through the Nastri Gelati marketplace. And I couldn’t resist a couple of scarves. I talked the Italian man down from 2800 lire to 2300 lire for both scarves. Next we followed Herr Watkins up to view the rocks of Capri and its gardens. I spotted a chateau in the distance. On the way back I got lost in the shops and succumbed to some bathing shoes for 1600 lire. I hope I’m not sorry. Then back to the square again to catch the bus and then the boat.

We got on a big boat this time–but heavens, it rocked more than the little boat. Water came over the sides and got the kids wet near the rail. Nelda, Betty and Carmela got sick again. An accordion player played for us and went around asking for alms. Again we passed over three boats to the shore. Then we climbed up the road and finally the stairs to the hotel.

Some Italian ladies and girls knocked themselves out laughing at us in a rather rude way. I don’t know for sure what brought it on, but we sensed ridicule in it. Perhaps it was the Levi’s, shorts, and peddle pushers they found so hilarious. One of the ladies stopped Alicia to tell her about her son who is in America in a very high and harried voice.

At the hotel I dashed up and stripped down to my bathing suit. I took 100 lire with my soap down to the beach for a swim and shower while Alicia had a bath in the wash basin. Then we dressed for dinner.

I scraped my soup bowl until the waiter asked me if I wanted more. He hardly had gotten through asking me when I was ready for more soup. It was mighty delicious tomato soup. White fish, pastry roll, and fruit followed the soup. Afterwards I walked down to look around the shops and the people. Back at the lobby I fell asleep trying to write. Once again we slept on the terrace.

60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 30 June 1952:

I had a good continental breakfast with the seething masses of people already up early. There were all kinds of vehicles. We proceeded to an ancient church built in 1600 a.d. that was restored. It had 54 silver statues with each one representing a saint. Our guide told us about the parade and feast day with different floats sent from each church. We found a sculpture in silver created in 1695 a.d. that weighed 45,000 pounds. It was St. Michael with a dragon. A large and ancient baptismal font was used to baptize by immersion. We passed through a section of the city that had been attacked during World War II and people were living among the ruins.

We got off on the wrong track to Mount Vesuvius and ended down at the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped traffic getting the bus turned around. And I observed a church with two beautiful yellow and green domes. There were purple frustration flowers creeping over the walls of the ruins and cactus plants in the courtyard. Then we squeezed by an overflowing wagon load of baskets. I noticed the dark rich volcanic soil. No matter how often it erupted, the Italian people refused to abandon the city.

Orchards and vineyards lined the road in Vesuvius. Italians had plenty of fruits and orchards, but lacked minerals. Then Andre had another tight squeeze past a small vehicle on a one way street. Some little kids ran to watch us and raised their hula hoops as we passed. The curves were too sharp for our long bus, but once again Andre did a super job. I viewed a man in the street without shoes.

At last a panoramic view of Naples, the valley, and the Mediterranean as we climbed higher and higher. Naples had a population of 1,600,000. By the side of the road there were little pepper fields. We passed a man and his family taking fruit to the market by wagon.

Again we had trouble with the curves. Andre really earned his money today. Lava flows had taken over some of the orchards here. Various kinds of vegetation were popping up everywhere since Mount Vesuvius had last erupted. This included wild grass and flowers. There were still some strips of fruit trees higher up in some spots between the lava flow.

The bus engine heated up with its 4000 ton load. We made it around the curves without having to back up. We stopped at the Eremo Restaurant and Hotel to pick up our guide and to gain the privilege of going on a private road for 300 lire apiece.

With our finances collected, the road turned out to be rather narrow and treacherous. We parked the bus and took to our feet, and me in Voodoo sandals, through loose lava, slate and dust. The road went inside the original crater that had destroyed Pompeii. A small crater had fallen into the larger crater in 1944.

At the top of the huge new crater it was still smoking in one section. Herr Watkins had been here nine days before the last eruption in 1944 and said the landscape had completely changed since then. He had gone clear to the top in a funicular which was destroyed in a 1944 eruption. There had been 33 previous eruptions recorded on Mount Vesuvius.

We climbed for about 30 minutes after leaving the bus. Then we reached a spectacular view of Naples, Mediterranean Sea, and countryside. It was from one side of the top to the yawning mouth of the other side of the crater. My sandals and rocks made even better friends with each other on the way down. The soles of both feet and sandals were walking on rocks. They came in from both the front and back of my sandals. There was only one advantage, no dirty socks.An Italian trail repairman at the bottom gave me a pretty rock with gold colored flecks as a medal of valor for my bravery in hiking Vesuvius in my sandals.

Andre did a good job turning the bus around on a really narrow road while we were gone. Going down was even more hair-raising than going up. Andre’s brow was furrowed from the strain when a huge rock got lodged between the left rear dual tires. It felt like riding on the rim and a square rim at that! We couldn’t stop to remove it until we got farther down.

While Andre maneuvered our big unwieldy long bus around one sharp turn after another we ate lunch. Andre backed up on many of the curves to make it around them. Finally, we found a level spot and stopped to remove the rock. Italian truck workers stopped to help Andre remove it. They had to partly remove the outside tire to get rid of the huge rock.

All of us relaxed again when we reached the foothills. We passed a wagon load of barrels that were hanging out on all sides of the truck. After crossing a railroad track, we made a detour to visit a cameo factory. I caught sight of little kids asking for cigarettes and a tiny shoeshine boy at the side of road who was busy at work.

What a madhouse the cameo factory turned out to be when we arrived! First I was busy taking pictures of Andre, the bus and purple frustrations. I missed seeing how the cameos were made. However, I got a pretty good explanation from the other kids afterwards.

In any case I didn’t miss going into the shops. There were so many beautiful cameos. I looked and looked and was tempted and tempted. But at the ninth hour I settled on a beautiful cameo ring set in gold for Lois. I was almost the last one on the bus.

Now we’re off for Sorrento. The view from the bus window en route was superb or more so than heretofore. Mount Vesuvius and the Island of Capri looked like thick purple mists on opposite horizons. The road curved high above the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and olive trees terraced from the sea edge to the roadside. I tried to pick out our hotel as Sorrento buildings came into view across a strip of the Mediterranean Sea. There were plumed horses pulling buggies through the streets.

We arrived at Hotel La Terrazza and the grounds were like an estate. Alice said she thought it used to be someone’s pensione. We went exploring while the rooms were being assigned. There was a terrace overlooking the sea with beautiful flowers. I wandered down tons of steps to the private beach below.

First thing on the docket for me was a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. It cost 100 lire and I was the first one in. What fun I had riding the waves! I played water ball and talked to Puerto Rican girls who knew the kids on the Sibijak. I found a warm shower on the beach, my bath for today.

Afterwards there was a long trek up just like climbing the steps of Notre Dame.
We dressed for dinner on the terrace. We had sliced bread, water, soup with a little macaroni, hamburger with a cheese topping, and cheese rolled in pepper skins. The meal was 300 lire and dessert was a potato-like ice cream or pastry cake fruit.

Then we went downstairs to the square called the Bagalella. A boy from the hotel showed us the way to the native Tarantella dances. This traditional Italian folk dance had a fast upbeat tempo and used tambourines like castanets. There were beautiful costumes, a blues singer, and musicians wearing black and white striped shirts.

Another group of American girls were there from Roanoke, Virginia. They were really dressed up. I sat by a man and his wife and daughter from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He pronounced thousand as Susan. Alicia talked to the daughter and a small Italian man asked me to dance. He was a good dancer and smooth, but so short.

We sat down to talk and he asked me what “ice block” meant. He had a letter from a girl signed “ice block.” I tried to explain. Then another character came over. I decided it was time to bid them adieu before things got involved. They both had spoken pretty good English though.
On the way to the hotel one of them followed us on a motorbike and offered to give us a ride. I said okay if the two of us could come. Eloise hung tightly to him and I to her for a hair-raising ride to the pier. We rounded the curves laying on one side of the motorbike. We climbed up on the pier and talked for a few minutes.

Then another bike roared up the hill. It sure looked liked a “put up job.” He asked permission to introduce us. I said “You can introduce us but that’s all.” The second bike left and I decided that we best get out of there. No! He said he’d take us home in a few minutes.

But before a few minutes were up the other bike came back. Then the other guy came up and talked to us. We convinced both of the bikers that we don’t smoke or drink and must get back to the hotel. We insisted on going back together, but they swore so sincerely to take us back to the hotel that we relented. We arrived at the door safe and sound, but the manager complained about the noise of the motorcycles.

It was a gorgeous view from our room. However, there was no water stopper in the tub which made taking a bath challenging. Margaret, Helen, Alicia and I took our mattresses out on the terrace to sleep under the stars.

60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 21 June 1952:

We had breakfast in our room with chocolate rolls and jam. The missionaries were going to Grasse with us. We stopped at the American Express to put in a claim for Watkins’ severely damaged suitcase. Several other suitcases were banged up, but not as badly. Herr Watkins bought a new one.

Grasse was a small Medieval town on the French Riviera, that was founded as a Republic in the 12th century. In 1732 Heinrich Herterich was a Franchard painter here. Later Pauline Boneparte, younger sister of Napoleon, separated from her husband in 1887 and came to Grasse. It provided a quiet little city for convalescents. Queen Victoria spent several winters here. Napoleon came here after his escape from Elba and was received here at Grasse, but he only stayed one hour.

Grasse, built on a hill, was a major support of the perfume and tourist industry in France. It takes one ton of flowers to make one quart of perfume or two pounds of essence. The process involves fat drawing perfume from the flowers and alcohol extracting the perfume from the fat. Then it is mixed with alcohol to make liquid and beeswax to make solid perfume. There are different processes for each flower as some flowers are more delicate.

Girl workers can’t eat garlic for three months when working with the perfume in the third process while aging perfume for three months in agitators. In the last stage, the perfume is mixed with alcohol 15-18% blended or straight. Everybody was smelling the perfume like mad. It smelled good, too!

The perfume manager had been in the movie business for 12 years in publicity and production. However he liked the perfume business better. Face powders and creams were also manufactured here. Vegetable coloring was used to make powder rouge and lipstick. I gave Herr Watkins a bottle of pain restorers for his headache. Then we had a beautiful scenic drive back .
We stopped to eat at the restaurant, La Cyrano, with the missionaries. We had a good dinner with potage, macaroni au gratin, ham, potatoes and two desserts for 270 francs. Afterwards Carol and I went shopping at Lafayette Galaria for gloves and baby clothes. I didn’t buy anything though. In any case I spotted a store with Iris on the front.

We visited an old cathedral. Just as we were leaving, a funeral procession was coming in. The priest stood by the door and the pall bearers carried in the wooden casket from the hearse. A handful of mourners in black followed the casket.

We window shopped on the way back “home”. We had to ask for directions to the hotel several times, but on our way back we had a strawberry pastry. Gee, everybody wore shorts in this town. I wondered if it could be a beach town.

Touring Students View History, Personality of Old France

(Editor’s note: This is another letter from Mrs. George H. Hansen of Provo on her impressions of a tour she is making with 36 college students through Europe.)

Dear Friends,
Can you imagine this group of Brigham Young University students swimming in the Mediterranean Ocean? We could hardly believe it ourselves-that three weeks after leaving home, we find ourselves on the French Riviera of Cannes in Southern France.

The weather is pleasantly warm this morning and I am sitting here in the Cecil Hotel watching the servants prepare the hotel for the day, also I am watching the street vendors hurrying on their way to market.

After seeing the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean, it is the tall date palms and magenta colored bougainvillea, that attract our attention.

The enchantment of distance has for days now given way to the romance of reality, as we travel along the tree-lined highways. Our comfortable American Express bus is being chauffeured by Andre, a genial Frenchman of about 40 years of age. The loud speaking system, a very good educational device, permits all of us to hear the two professors, and occasionally the missionaries, tell the stories of history as our imagination sees them in the making.

We have seen the conquest of France by the Romans. Those immense amphitheaters (two) with thick stone walls built in the first century B.C. are still being used. Across the street from our hotel in Nimes, France we saw the numerous arched entrances, which afford an exit, in a matter of minutes, for more than 20,000 spectators who will see a bull fight there Saturday.

We are told that there are more Roman ruins here than there are in Rome. There are also more swallows living in crevasses and niches of the ruins than there are in Utah.

A picture of the old beside the new was seen in Vienne. The beautiful old Temple of Aquate et de Liver, built in 41 A.D., is located across the street from an American Launderette where 12 or more automatic washers are in motion.

For several hours on Wednesday we stopped at Fontaine-bleau. We walked through the halls where that big-little man Napoleon walked and talked. His bed was so short that we felt sorry for him, until we learned that he was only five feet and two inches tall. He often carried one of his beds with him when going to battle.

When Napoleon and other emperors and kings of France were at home they lived in the splendor we now marvel. The carved, gilted wood ceilings were designed to correspond with the floors of nine to 15 different kinds of wood. The exquisitely chiseled crystal and bronze chandelier, for which Napoleon paid 4000 francs (more that $1300) in 1945, is probably the largest of many.

The velvety black, carved ebony cabinet of Empress Marie Louise and the harp of Empress Josephine are only a part of the elaborate furnishings of this old stone chateau, built in the 11th Century. The stone staircase, horseshoe-shaped, at the entrance is a mark of individuality for such buildings.

But this country of France does not lack for individuality. Indeed, the personality of these 43 million Frenchmen is sometimes puzzling and sometimes provocative. The little old man driving a mother turkey with two little ones in front of our bus; the street cleaners whisking the gutters with their willow brooms; the small statue of Mother Mary carved in rock about 20 feet above the highway; and palatial homes on the Riviera are all scenes of amazement to the traveler.

-Afton A. Hansen

We took a nap at the hotel for a few minutes. Then we went on our way to a military concert around 8 p.m. We stopped at A La Riviera Department Store to get a piece of material to make a purse. We arrived at an intersection jammed with people. This must be the place. Then music started coming from down the street. The French Navy (at least that was our interpretation of their uniform) came marching into the center of the square. There was more music as the Marines marched in from another street. In competition with the Marines and Navy, the Army came in from still another street. The Air Corp. marched in last and took a position between the other two forming somewhat of a square in the middle.

They played several numbers together and then the Navy wearing berets marched off. They were followed by the Marines in Khaki. Then the Air Corps, which were wearing white hats, strolled toward the beach through a park. There seemed to be a crowd going in a certain direction, so we followed them and ended up at an outdoor amphitheater with the Navy on the stage getting ready to play. We recognized Aprea de ma Blonde and a medley of English tunes including Old Folks at Home. The Marines in khakis and white followed. Both of them played standing up. They brought chairs in for the French Air Corp. They had more of a concert type band with flutes.

Alice talked to the lady next to us and she said they are just marching through Nice for other parts of France. Gee, I really wish I had brought my camera with me. I could have gotten some great pictures as the sunset. Some people started leaving when the more classical numbers were being played by the Air Corp. The other two groups came back in for the finale. And each time before they started playing each group twirled their horns and trumpets together with flags hanging down from their horns and drums.

The amphitheater had an orchestra pit in front of the stage and above the stage were statues, flags, and hanging ferns. A big statue at the back of the arena was put there to celebrate the French Centennial by the maritime services from 1792-1803. Emblems of the crown of France and Navy were displayed at the front of the stage. There were white wooden folding chairs placed throughout for seats. Each level was covered with coarse grass and had a stone edge. We were hoping they would play the French National Anthem and they did! Everyone stood up for La Marseillaise and so did we. We watched the bands crawl into their trucks right in front of the beach and we waved to them. Soon after we strolled on down the beach as if nothing had happened.

After hearing music across the way, we followed it to the Hotel Ruhl. They had beautiful sidewalks and an inside restaurant bar with an orchestra. A sign near the entrance stated they were open all year long. We caught the sight of delicious silver platters of food through the doors of the restaurant. And there was a window display of beautiful clothes inside the lobby. Next was a huge lounge with plush red Victorian furniture and really big lamps with peach satin shades in all four corners. I mean really huge lamps! Then I sat down on the wooden bench outside the hotel to write these notes. Our stomachs were calling so we were off in search of food.

Guess what? Here is Le Cyrano again. It wasn’t too bad the first time so I guess we’ll give it another shot. I had hors-d’oeuvres, ham, potatoes, raspberry and apple butter. An English fellow at a table near ours wrote a note on his napkin “Did you get what you ordered?” He sent it over with the waitress. As he left he came by and talked to us for a moment and we thanked him for his concern. When we got to the two desserts, Alice ordered an orange. She peeled it and lo and behold it was red instead of orange. She asked the waitress how come she got a rouge orange. The waitress explained that she thought it was an orange sanguine from Spain. It was as red as blood.

Later we came down the dark alley from Lilygrass where there was a lady on the street with a dog. Then we cut back to the main thoroughfare, Victoire, even though it meant retracing our steps back to the hotel. At the hotel we crawled into bed as fast as possible.