60 Years Ago Today

Friday, 13 June 1952:

At 8:45 a.m. the bed felt wonderful and I had a hard time getting up. The time for things to start was 9 a.m. When we got to the lobby we were late and it was deserted. We stood around in a quandary of what to do. I guess this was a good lesson for us to be on time. Oh, oh, disappointment! Time ticked away. Yea! I saw them and they hadn’t left us after all. They had j­­­­­­­­­­ust finished breakfast.

Finally a little before 11 a.m., we were off. We passed a man drawing beautiful pictures with chalk on the sidewalk of Notre Dame and the Seine River. We went to American Express on the metro. This was all very confusing and I was glad someone knew the score.

Bev’s boyfriend, Bob Mercer, a released missionary, came to the hotel to help show us around. The walls of the underground metro station were covered with billboards and posters. And it was just a half block from the hotel. One ad was about body odor, so a girl had a clothespin on her nose.

I bought a ten-ride metro book for 200 francs. Down inside the metro there were big signs all over the walls. There were sortie signs for the exits. Our metro stops included: Temple station, Arts et metiers, Reamur Sebastolpol, Senier, Bourse, Quatre Septembre and Opera. On our seventh stop we jumped off.

Printemp, the biggest department store, was down the street from the American Express and the opera across the street. Did I have any mail at the American Express? Wonderful! I got letters from Mom, Twila, and Marilyn with one inside from Bud. My morale improved 100 percent. I snapped some pictures before leaving and talked to some American soldiers from Dallas, Texas. After an hour or so we took off again.

We took more pictures at the intersection after walking around the Opera building. At the Opera repairs were being made on the front of the building. Next we saw Aux Galeries Lafayette and Toilities de te et de Campagne, one of the largest department stores in France. We walked farther down the street to the Place Vendome. Napoleon’s statue had such beautiful carvings and the leaves represented his victories. The French took the statue down when Napoleon fell at Waterloo. Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III, put it back by melting down a canon to rebuild the monument. The clouds made the statue seem like it was moving.

Then we went to Jardin des Tuileries, one of Paris’s most visited gardens. Eloise said they were going to use my yellow ribbon, which I lost there, for a landmark. While there Dr. Rogers was accosted by a man with pictures of nudes.

The next stops were the Place de la Concorde, Arch de Triomphe du Ca, and du Louvre that had beautiful iron work and elaborate carvings.

Afterwards we went to the restaurant, E. Robert and H. Bogey. It was cheap, just 148 francs, but ugh! We wandered in du Louvre while waiting for the mob. It seemed we needed to start moving faster. Paree might wait for us, but our time wasn’t going to wait for us ever. And we only had five days in Paris. Distracted I looked around and spotted a beautiful plaid silk organza dress for 24,000 francs.

Finally, we were off again. There were not many new cars in Paris and trinkets and tourist items were everywhere in the store windows. Hotel Maurice was probably like a hotel in Mexico no doubt. The mob was strung out the length of a block and we ended up at some kind of shop Bob Mercer had guided us to. The lady supposedly gave us a bargain.

Then we proceeded to go across Tuileries to Place de la Concorde and the American Embassy. This area was considered the wealthiest area of Paris. We found a statue placed where Marie Antoinette was killed by guillotine and her blood flowed in the streets in 1793.

Next on our tour was the Avenue des Champs Elysses which was built for Napoleon’s march of victory. Strangely no one sits on the grass in the beautiful parks here. Then I spotted small kids who were riding donkeys in the park along Champs Elysses.

There were sidewalk cafes and pigeons on the gravel along the sidewalk. I couldn’t really tell which was the street or sidewalk. The cars came right up on what I thought was the sidewalk. Later we passed a store for tall femmes and fat femmes. At a sidewalk cafe we stopped and had orange mineral water (looked like lemon). I took a picture of the Arc de Triomphe with traffic buzzing by on both sides. Then we saw the flame burning on the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Some of the kids got trapped inside a metro at the Anvers station, because they hadn’t moved fast enough to get off. At the Basilique du Sacre Coeur, which was built as an atonement for the pillaging of churches, we rode up on the funicular for 15 francs. It had beautiful ornate gold work, stain glass windows, and a typical Byzantine mosaic. The ham radio operators at the bottom of Sacre Coeur steps talked to us. I had an idea they might be communists from what they said to us. Then we observed the original cloth used by Mary to wipe Christ’s face on his way to his crucifixion. The imprint of his face had remained on the cloth.

Outside children were playing in the sand in front of the church. It was called Montmartre because St. Denis lost his head here while preaching. After his head was chopped off, he picked his head up and walked off preaching for six miles.

Inside the church­­­­ there were confession boxes and elaborate chandeliers with the holy water bowl empty on the left side. A sign requested modest clothing of those who entered the church. Then a bell rang and people kneeled. One lady stood, another lady read, and another repeated something afterwards. I spotted a young girl in white, which usually means it was her first communion.

The church was a combination of Gothic, Byzantine, and Romanesque styles. While the stain glass characteristic was Gothic, I noticed there was a sortie side portal for exiting and an escalator going out to the metro. Really weeping birchy looking trees were by the stairs going down.
Back on the cobblestone streets we bought a really good pastry in a shop for 25 francs. In another shop Alicia and I bought three apples for 118 francs and seven oranges for 113 francs for breakfast tomorrow.

When we met up with Henry, Herr Watkins, and Margaret Brown, they carried a four-foot-long loaf of bread and bottle of milk back to the hotel. And they held the bread without the benefit of wrapping. Herr Watkins told Henry to sneak up the back stairs while he got the key to the room. We returned to our hotel on the elevated metro.

Alene called and wanted to go out and find something to eat. So we crawled across the street to a sidewalky-looking cafe, La Tosca. Whatta deal! Yet this was what we had been warned about. It took us over an hour and a half to get a piece of fish and buy a tablecloth for a couple of American dollars in French francs.

We called this our Opera Comique. In any case we would have tried this cafe later, if not now. We had wanted to eat there tonight so it was good to get it over with. Of course, we swore not to tell anyone else. They could learn for themselves.

The $64 question was who was St. Raphael Quinquina? St. Raphael was one of the seven archangels who performed all manners of healing. Also St. Raphael Quinquina had an alcoholic drink named in his honor.


60 Years Ago Today

Monday, 9 June 1952:

I helped play the vibraphones on the way to breakfast. It’s such a nice way to be summoned to eat, but some of the kids say it makes their stomachs turn over. At our 8:30 a.m. class, we heard more about the wonderful city of Paris which we were soon to visit.

At 10:25 a.m., I studied French with Alicia on the aft deck. And Alicia finally made it to lunch for the first time since she had been sick. Afterwards, I cleaned and organized my suitcase while trying to find my pen. I was unsuccessful. While sitting in the fore lounge, I suddenly realized I hadn’t come across my camisole in searching for my pen. Undoubtedly, I left it at Aunt Ellen’s hanging in the bathroom. So much for that—I must get busy and write some more letters. Guess what I found my pen! However, I still didn’t get any letters written, because Ben came up and asked us to come down and help sing America.

After griping about the situation to Mrs. Rogers, we decided that helping to sing was the best thing to do. After they got through practicing America, they started on You’ll Never Walk Alone. So nasty me pops up with “You don’t want us to sing this one do you?” It seems to me if they wanted us to sing, they should have asked us in the first place. Oh well! I’m sure this will add to the chorus immeasurably.

At 4 p.m. it was French class again. Sure haven’t been studying like I should. The afternoon passed quickly with song practice and French class. After class, Dr. Rogers helped me with my talk. It was dinner again and I had to get some letters written, but we chit chatted in cabin 167.
Later we arrived one hour early to watch the Indonesian show and the lounge was already packed with passengers. So we crawled to find a spot in the fore lounge, but we had difficulty finding seats. Finally, we found a little bare spot on the floor up near the stage to watch the Indonesian show. While we were waiting for the show to start, we met a Puerto Rican fellow who closely resembled Zachary Scott. We informed him of this later.

The show was emceed by an Indonesian who was able to read English from his script. First, the men showed us the native costumes of the different parts and islands of Indonesia. Corey, our cute little waiter, with the gold tooth, modeled a costume from Bali where he was born. Then we enjoyed some native music and a dance by one of the boys dressed like a girl.

The parts of the program which impressed me the most were the fighting and fire dances. In the fighting dance, Corey, and another tall Indonesian, who had previously performed a very striking dance, pranced around till they acted out fighting each other. In the fire dance, two fellows and the girl (the boy dressed like a girl) danced with candles in each hand. They waved the candles around in all directions while keeping them glowing continually. The whole group of performers sang farewell by singing an Indonesian song which sounded like it might be their national anthem.

60 Years Ago Today

Sunday, 8 June 1952:

At 6:30 a.m. we had sunrise service. The service included a prayer by Mrs. Hansen and talks by Hermine, Dick, Henry and Pat. The music included a solo by Florence Rogers, several quartets, and the chorus. Our program was designed for visitors, but there was none to be seen.

After breakfast I read to Alicia until lunch. I did a repeat performance until dinner time. And everyone made it to dinner except Alicia. Her trouble wasn’t just the sea, however.

When we finished dinner, we got mixed up with a Baptist minister in the hall. The argument got a little warm once or twice. Once we left I read and talked with Alicia again till it was time for the movie. The movie was Standing Room Only with Dutch subtitles. We enjoyed the subtitles. At bedtime I found a cute steward to renew the hot water bottle for Alicia.

60 Years Ago Today and Tomorrow

Friday, 6 June 1952:

At 7 a.m. it was time to get up for breakfast. We looked at the stormy seas through our porthole. At 7:20 a.m. I crawled out and made a fast job of it. That morning our tables looked rather empty and the portholes were closed on the port side.

After breakfast, I joined the rest of the kids on our bunks in the cabin and crawled back in bed. I was just going to relax for a few minutes, but I fell asleep and missed class. Later the steward came in to shut our porthole. The chimes sounding the lunch call brought me back to consciousness. There seemed to be fewer souls with appetites every meal. Sea sickness was taking a toll. It was almost an endurance test I do believe.

On deck it was pretty damp with the spray beating against our faces. We finally found a comfortable spot in the aft lounge which seemed to be fairly centrally located. Here we spent the afternoon shooting the breeze and playing cards. After dinner I decided to take half a Dramamine just to be in style and went to sleep.

Saturday, 7 June 1952:

At our 8:30 a.m. class Dr. Watkins gave a lecture on Paris.

After class I wrote a few letters till 2 p.m. Then I ate lunch and talked to Bill Speckmann, our dining room steward. He was only 22 and had gone to school for 12 years. I napped, read about painting and sculpture, and then cleaned up for class and dinner. It was Saturday night, you know! But everyone else looked as dirty as ever so I felt rather out of place.

After dinner we Virginia reeled (dance) in the aft lounge without shoes. After awhile, I ran down to change my skirt and shoes so I wouldn’t be seen in socks. We played and danced until 9 p.m. when the regular musician came in to play for the dance. There were all kinds of costumes at the dance as one boy came in shorts. I danced with Dick, Herr Rogers, and Henry. Then I went up to the fore dining room to see the rest of the movie The Big Clock. Bill and Irene came by, so we had an interesting conversation about philosophy and the ways of life until people in a nearby cabin objected to our noise.

7 June 1952

It is Father’s Day tomorrow and here I am in the midst of more water than I believed there could be in the whole world. This is my first letter of the journey. It has been hard to settle down to writing or anything thus far, but I am using my will power today.

The bus trip from Provo to New York was tiring but fun. There was no time for letters except while the bus was moving. Washington and New York were interesting. We had the personal attention of Senator and Mrs. Watkins and Senator Bennett’s staff, had lunch with them and visited the floor of the Senate.

When we arrived in New York via the Lincoln Tunnel, Alice and I took a cab to Aunt Ellen’s. We were late arriving and they were in bed, but they welcomed us heartily and gave us a bed, our first since leaving Provo. We had a chance to visit a little before leaving the next morning. We had a very good breakfast and caught a cab back to the hotel. We really saw New York by taxi I do believe. We had to get baggage insurance and money changed, and then we took a quick look at New York from the top of the Empire State Building.

The bus picked us up at the Times Square Hotel for a very quick and not very extensive spin around New York and then to Hoboken Pier 5 to board the Sibajak. We set sail at 4 p.m. The sea was calm the first night and day and fairly calm the second day, but yesterday we picked up a slight storm, so we have been experiencing what it feels like to be on a rocking boat.

About two thirds of the kids have tossed their cookies. I haven’t had any difficulty as yet except for a little woozy feeling when my stomach gets empty. We have had very good meals and I have enjoyed them very much. It is a little calmer today. We have been holding class morning and afternoon.

60 Years Ago Today

Thursday, 5 June 1952:

At our 10:30 a.m. meeting, the mortality rate was rather high. There were only three of the 31 kids present at class. Dr. Watkins lectured us on France and in the middle of the lecture the waiters brought broth and cakes.

After the lecture, it was time for another delicious lunch. I thugged the menu as usual. There were apples on deck as I wrote in my diary. A little later, there was a storm brewing and Alicia wasn’t feeling well. So I sat on the stern and watched the churning waters.

At our 3 p.m. French class we only had 22 students present. We separated into two groups to study. After class, I was sitting on the bench by the rail on the promenade deck and Carol’s would-be friend, Joe, came by. Then we went into the lounge to get an orange drink and met some kids playing checkers. The girl, Eleanor, was going to a youth conference in Germany and the boys, Bill Borcherding, Frank Cuff, and Lewie Valle, were touring Europe on their own. One of them knew Rex Johnson. Somehow we got off on Mormonism, and I did my best to give them a clear picture of our beliefs.

At dinner, our numbers were definitely decreased. Once again the food was so good. Then I decided to take a nap. What I thought was only a few minutes turned out to be a couple of hours. It was 10 p.m. when I awoke.

On deck, I found the group of Puerto Rican students holding forth on the promenade deck. They were singing and dancing. I recognized one number Barrachita. Later, I asked Rosa, who I had met earlier and had been singing some solos, if they knew Por Un Beso De Amor? She said no, but asked what else I knew. So I said Barrachita and they sang it again for me. The whole group seemed talented. Before retiring we set our clocks up an hour, so it was about one in the morning when we got ready for bed. As I went to sleep the water was rather rough.

60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 4 June 1952:

I felt pretty good after my first night on the Atlantic, even good enough for a shower. It was quite a sensation for me to be in a cramped area which was surrounded by four walls with that rocking motion of the ocean. The water was fine, but then I discovered that my towel had not come to the shower with me. Unfortunately it had stayed in the cabin. But luckily our cabin was close by. I called to one of the kids and, lo and behold, they heard and answered.

At 8:15 a.m., we were called to the aft second sitting breakfast by chimes being played by Corey, one of our Indonesian waiters. After a delicious breakfast of everything one could possibly have hoped for, we made the purser responsible for all of our worldly goods. It was nice to let someone else worry about our valuables.

We had more exploring and picture taking up on the prow. Then we met and talked to several members of the crew. Not long, thereafter, we heard a rumor that Henry had tossed his cookies.
Lunch came fast after breakfast, because we were assigned to the aft first sitting. However, we had a slight period of confusion in getting our seating arrangement straightened out. Herr Rogers finally arranged for us to sit together on approximately two and a half tables. Lunch was only one course less than dinner and the courses were so good.

After chow, we sat on the deck sunbathing and talking to some other students until time for class. We sighted several porpoises not far from the ship. At our 2:30 p.m. meeting, we elected Pat Anderson as our president and set the time for subsequent meetings.

That evening we decided to dress for dinner which turned out to be another delicious one. The only flaw in the ointment was Betty Lou and Joyce weren’t feeling so well. Later on the entertainment schedule for the evening was a dance and show. After dinner we w andered around the deck and enjoyed the refreshing sea air.

Then Irene and I went into the dance which turned out to be a rather quiet affair. We watched the pianist for a while and then stopped by the movie with Ray Milland. He put me to sleep so we gave up and turned in for the night.

60 Years Ago Today

Touring College Students See Bright Lights of New York Before Starting Ocean Voyage

Editor’s note:
The following letter has been received from Mrs. George A. Hansen of Provo, who is accompanying a group of 36 college students from Brigham Young University and Weber College on a tour of Europe. This is one of a series of letters in which she is writing her impressions of the trip.

Dear Friends,
The bus load of 36 college students chock-full of excitement, emotion and anticipation as they approached New York City was a classic in human interest. They sang, laughed and talked. They shot questions at the bus driver who was equal to the occasion, but the questions were not always on the college level.

The bus drivers all along the way, with their various personalities, were part of the interest. But the one who took us in to New York City was most appropriate for this part of the trip. He was a ruddy faced Pennsylvania Dutchman who jovially answered the questions as we sped along that marvelous New Jersey Turnpike. Countless times he was asked. “When do we get there, driver?” Each time he would look at his watch and tell them, “Sing some more, it won’t seem so long.” Whereupon, they would burst into another round of folk songs.

The conversation between the students and driver ran something like this.

“Oh, I can smell the city now,” said one student.
“Dats not da city, dats da New Joisy (Jersey) oil refineries.”
“Driver, what’s this bridge ?”
“Dis is no bridge, dis da New Joisy Turnpike yet.”
“Now, I can smell the city.”
“Naw, dats da swamp, see da water over dere.”
“What’s the long row of bright lights over there driver?”
“Dats da air port.”
“Driver, when do we come to the Lincoln Tunnel?”
“In about ten minutes.”
“Oh, is that the tunnel, driver?”
“Dat no tunnel dats da ramp dat leads to da tunnel. See dare’s yer Empire State Building over dere.”
“Oh, that teeny little tower of lights doesn’t look like it 102 stories high.”
“Here’s da tunnel. Its two miles long and goes under da Hudson River. Here we go folks, we’re goin’ under da water.”

The lights came on in the bus and we could feel the pressure in our ears. Seeing the city lights again, the questions resumed their impact upon the driver.

“Now do we start the tall buildings, driver?”
“Well we’re getting’ a good start.”
“What’s that thing over there, driver?”
“Dats da Pennsylvania Tolmenal” (Terminal).
“Gee, but you’re a good driver. Don’t you ever get lost? Are these blocks?”
“It’s easy, you can’t get lost, all da streets is numbered, dis is toity toid (43rd) street, it goies to 96, 128, 200. Dey’s all numbered ya can’t get lost.”
“Driver, where’s the hotel?”
“On Foity second and Broadway, you’ve heard of dat. Dis is da west side, east side is where da United Nations is.”
“Driver, what’s up town and down town?”
“Oh, uptown is = up town, and down town is – down town. Times Square is in da next block.”
“Where’s Broadway driver? Let go to Broadway.”
“Oh no, I don’t go over dere, too much traffic. Here’s da Hotel but it’s across da road. Have to go around da block to get on da other side of da street. Den we have to go to Broadway now.”
The few moments of avid silence was broken with excited expressions about the precipitous buildings, multi-colored lights, and realistic sign boards.
“Look at that ‘Camel’ sign. Its a picture of a man and he’s blowing real smoke rings out of his mouth.”
“There’s a silhouette picture show (moving) on the huge beaded screen advertising television.”
“Look at that news traveling around that building in huge electric lighted letters.” Its the Times Building and the news is the same that we heard first hand in Washington, D.C.
“Oh, driver, you just about didn’t miss that car, you sure are a good driver.”
“Da moment ya get off dis street it’s dark, but don’t worry, yers not alone in dis town.”

After unloading our bags in our rooms, we eagerly surveyed the town until the wee hours. For safety and convenience, we divided the group into smaller units but some got lost anyway.
On the way back to the hotel, Irene Blake and Florence Rogers missed a corner and walked and walked and walked, looking for a landmark. Finally, they saw it, a huge sign of a bottle of Budwieser Beer on sparkling ice. Not too often would a beer bottle serve such a purpose for LDS girls.

Kay Cullimore became separated from the group which she was leading when she stopped to greet an elder newly returned from the British mission fields. After a few anxious moments we found her.

See you later,
Mrs. George A. Hansen

Tuesday, 3 June 1952:

It was sailing day! We were up and at ‘em at 6:30 a.m. with a hearty breakfast and a short visit with Aunt Ellen and Uncle Gus. I was still very much disorganized and made an effort to remedy this. Aunt Ellen gave me two pair of nylons for a going away gift.

Alicia got ready first. After I finished, we were on the street corner looking for a taxi about 9:30 a.m. Another couple was waiting on the same corner. The gentleman finally hailed a taxi, and they let us ride with them. Their destination was the Biltmore.

As we wound through the traffic along Fifth Avenue, they pointed out the new all-glass Lever Brothers Building. After being dropped off at the hotel, some of the crew were just beginning to perk up after wandering the streets of New York until the wee hours of the morning.

Baggage insurance and money changing were on the docket for the morning. Lucile Olsen, Alicia and I decided to see what we could do on our own. We soon found out that we had the wrong money changing address. So after finding American Express on Fifth Avenue for baggage insurance, we found another exchange office on Fifth Avenue for money changing. We dispensed with our business and discovered later that the rates weren’t as good there as the other location. Live and learn.

We stopped in a few Fifth Avenue shops to pick up a few last minute things and then caught a bus to the famous Empire State Building. We took the ride up to the observatory, which was a profitable tourist business at $1.20 per person. It was a big disappointment with a mighty hazy view.

At 12:30 p.m. we were due at the hotel to embark for the pier. After a fast look through the haze of the great city of New York at the observatory, we headed down for another look at New York from a cab window. Traffic jams seemed to be the most common thing with impatient drivers laying on their horns and adding to the hubbub.

Dr. Rogers had arranged for a short sightseeing trip on the bus on our way to the pier. New York, formerly called New Amsterdam, was named after the city of York, England. Highlights were the Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral with its 13th century Gothic architecture, and Waldorf Astoria, New York’s most distinguished hotel. We passed by the last elevated line in the city and the Italian section where there were said to be more Italians than in Rome. Then we continued on to the Irish quarter where once again there were supposedly more Irish than in Ireland.

Next came Manhattan Island with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building. We saw a house, wagon, and East 23rd Street. Then came a new experience for me—The Bowery (area of southern Manhattan). Human beings were sprawled all along the streets—either asleep or sleeping it off, I guess.

At approximately 3 p.m. we arrived at Hoboken Pier Five. In my eagerness to get a picture of our home for the next nine days, I almost missed the rest of the group as they were herded into an elevator. At the top of the elevator or wherever we got off, our bags were put in a little car and the US citizens got in one line and the non U.S. citizens in another. A chatter duck, Joe Meyer, stood in line next to me. He talked so fast I thought he’d run outta something to say.

After a few formalities with the officials, I had my first walk up the gang plank of an ocean liner. There was quite a mob of visitors on both the deck of the ship and shoreline, but no familiar faces except our own. I snapped a few pictures of the crowd and the horizon. Finally, everyone got off who was getting off. Then the gang plank went up and we set sail.

As we left New York we were all taking shots of the Lady, Statue of Liberty. We gradually left the harbor—muchly impressed with her majesty. I watched her as she grew smaller and smaller. I thought of the next time when we would see her again and the things which would befall us in the interim.

After preliminary exploration of the ship, we anxiously looked forward to dinner time. Everyone was famished. Herr Rogers tried to pull strings to try and get us in the first sitting in the fore dining room. While unproductive with his first effort, his second attempt was successful. It was a pleasant experience with seven courses. All the food was delicious and we ate everything in sight. The head waiters or dining room stewards were Dutch and the waiters were Indonesian from the Dutch East Indies.

After dinner, I wandered around, listening to music in the fore lounge and tried to get my diary up to date. At coffee time in the lounge, we asked for milk. Hermine took one taste and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s canned cow.”

The sea had been calm to date, but a lot of the kids were taking pills as a preventive measure for sea sickness. Then we hit the sack about ten at night. The sheets were damp so we slept between the blanket and sheet.