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

Thursday, 14 August 1952:

After I indulged in a continental breakfast at the hotel, all of us brought our bags down before we left to see Frankfurt. Then I waited at a street side café next to the hotel for Alice and Dot. Karen and Leland came along with them and they took us on a conducted tour of the zoo, the second oldest zoo in Germany.

The zoo was started in 1858. On March 18, 1944 the zoo was bombed and many animals had to be shot. Since the war, the zoo had been rebuilt with animals like flamingos, tigers, leopards and laughing hyena. Metro & Goldwyn Studios had donated some lions to the zoo. Approximately one million people visit the zoo every year.

They had American Prairie dogs and Steinmarder weasels. Boy! How the rodents room smelled. Some remains of the zoo ruins had not yet been restored from the war. Also there was a ruined castle and an old aquarium which had once been one of the finest in the world. There was a children’s playground near the Shetland ponies, monkeys, and little baby goats. I snapped a quick picture.

A Nestle Kinder zoo was still in the process of being built. Next animals were the donkeys, dogs, cats, roosters, hippopotami, mom and baby elephants, rhinoceros, and seals. Then there was a bear castle and thatched roofed houses for the bison and zebras. Only one building had not been damaged during the war.

After the zoo we caught a trolley. Soon after we met the bus as we walked towards Aachen, which included the Kaiser Karl’s Gymnasium, town hall and cathedral. There was a famous statuary before the cathedral which was 13th or 14th Century Gothic architecture. Holy Roman Emperors had been crowned here. At that time seven electors would meet at the cathedral to elect the new emperor. The badly ruined cathedral was being repaired. I observed the coat of arms and the Carolingian building that was replaced in 1200-1250 a.d. It was the sole relic of what was known as the short knave inside the cathedral. The golden bull and art treasures survived the bombings of World War II in 1944.

Next on the tour was the tower, which took 100 years to build. It was started shortly after the cities of Ulm and Strasbourg were built. The interior was still under repair. There were ugly 9th century murals in the process of being replaced. An altar piece carving reminds me of the work of Donatello, an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence. I observed red Gothic pillars and that everything was in bad condition.

Then we went around to the tower entrance where kids were playing in the court yard. For 30 pfennigs we hiked a long dizzy climb. At the top there was a beautiful view of the devastation from the war. We observed a famous old bombed out bridge, an American hospital on the horizon, and the Main river.

We met a couple from Argentina on the top. He was born in Frankfurt and had come back for a visit. He asked us about Mormons, so I gave him a tract. Afterwards, we walked along the river over to Romerberg square. Some men and boys were sitting on the door steps of the former town hall or rathaus which was being repaired. There were three Gothic steps and the gables which were emblems of Frankfurt and statues of the four Holy Roman Emperors that were crowned here in Aachen: Friedrich I, Ludwig I, Karl II, Maximilian II. It was reconverted to a town hall in 1405 a.d. Next was Paulskirche which was a church with important political symbolism.

We circled around it till we found the Goethe haus where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived until 1765. There were paintings with children that represented different months of the year. I found a place where rain water ran down and was saved for washing clothes. On March 22, 1944 the house was damaged during a bombing raid. The original furniture was taken out to the country to 12 different places with samples of wallpapers so it could be reconstructed. It was restored for the 200th anniversary of Goethe.

I noticed a 1700’s hand carved wood framed mirrors, clay and cast-iron stoves, walnut cabinet, inlaid furniture, 1800’s paintings of hunting scenes and original dishes from the famous pottery plant nearby. In the kitchen there was an open hearth stove, running water in the house, and cookie forms which were wooden carved. Coffee grinder, copper bread box, shopping basket, waffle iron, tea warmer, cake and pudding forms were in the kitchen as well. Other interesting finds included a little pack with a box to take food on a trip and a chair and ladder combination.

As we progressed through the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s house I discovered a linen cupboard in the hall. We were told the stairs and railings were original. Sketches of the Vatican, St. Angelo, and Coliseum were in the house. A Venetian glass chandelier hung in the dining room upstairs. The porcelain stove was made in one of finest factories and there was a portrait of Goethe’s grandfather on his mother’s side, who was mayor of Frankfurt at one time.

In the music room the guide played a few notes on the spinet, a keyboard instrument. There was a game table and clavichord where Goethe had had his first piano lessons. A family portrait hung with five little angels in background to represent the children in the family who had died.
In the house, there was an astronomical clock which was made in 1749. It told the time, day, month, year, and zodiac sign. It ran for eight days and five hours then when it was time to rewind the bear would lay down. Soon after in the library of the father, who had been a lawyer, there were books, sheepskin bound and handwritten. There was a calendar showing Goethe’s birthday. In the father’s waiting room there were paintings collected by him, mirrors brought from Venice, and porcelain pipe lighters. In his mother’s writing room there were paintings of Goethe at 27. He lived here until he was 26 years old.

In other rooms in the house I saw a sewing chest, card table, stove fired from outside, lantern to light the way in the streets, (wealthy people had two candles), and portraits of Goethe’s father and mother. We walked in the room where Goethe was born and there was a bust of Goethe at age 30. And a symbol of his poetry and star which had come from his death room in Wiemar, Germany, where he died in 1832. There was a newspaper with a notice of his birth on Friday August 29, 1749 and some relics of Cornelia, his sister.

Goethe’s work room was next with the desk where he wrote Faust and other works. Then we got to see the library and a puppet theater that was given by Goethe’s grandmother when he was five years of age. He wrote little plays for it. I glimpsed at originals of many books and a picture of the square with the crowning of Leopold II. Also, included were scenes from Goethe’s original production of Faust, a plan of Frankfurt in 1760, and other drawings. Some were done by Goethe himself, as well. In the hallway there was a standing writing desk, spinet, and a linen press with 12 dozen sheets. Washed linens were done twice a year. Two servicemen listened to Dot translate what the guide said in German.

After Goethe’s house we caught another trolley and traveled past the shell of the opera house. Written on the front of the opera house was Dem Wahran Schoenen Guten. We also saw the US Court of Appeals and the Rothschild Estate.

We jumped off the trolley at Palmen Garten, a botanical garden near the Service Club and snack bar. And on the lake were swans and boats. At the botanical gardens there were hot houses with all types of cactus, coxcomb, begonias, and all kinds of beautiful tropical flowers and plants. Among the park landscape I caught sight of a pond with gold fish.

Karen and Leland were telling us jokes as we walked through the gardens. Then there was a palm house with Bavarian and tropical palms, and a room with all sizes, shapes, and hues of orchids. In the water lily room I tried to take a picture. One really hot and damp room had parasitic plants that were tropical. Finally, we ended with a stunning rose garden.

Afterwards, our trolley was waiting at the gate. As we got on a serviceman gave me his seat. We got off at the Central-Bahnhof Frankfurt Station at 4 p.m. Ben and Cherie were talking with the missionaries and servicemen. The crowd gathered and we crossed the street to get on our trusty bus and head off to Wiesbaden. Ben and Cherie stayed behind to get a camera. Then we discovered Pat and Betty were missing too! Betty had gone to meet her boyfriend.

We traveled through the Rhine Valley and stopped at Wiesbaden for 45 minutes or so. Boys were playing near our bus by a huge red Protestant Church. I talked to one and he showed me the main street of Wiesbaden. There was a passageway through a building just like in Salzburg. Also there was a beautiful park, concert building and statue of Kaiser Friedrich, a German Emperor and King of Prussia nearby. I snapped a picture of my friend in front of the big concert hall and exposition building. He called it the Kurhaus.

At 6 p.m. I heard the church bells ringing. So we headed for our bus. When I got there the gang argued about whether I was late or not. Everybody had a different time though, so I think I dodged the fine for now. However, all of us had to wait longer for Bonnie and Kay.
After we found everyone, we followed the Rhine River to the Rudesheim Hotel Germania, which was right on the banks of the river. I was in room 25 which was on the top floor. It wasn’t luxurious but comfortable with a straw tick. There were no towels and the WC was on the first floor.

At the hotel the weiner schnitzel was 3.50 marks. Too much! I looked around for something cheaper, but ended up coming back to eat in the little cellar below the hotel. It was the same kitchen for both places. The atmosphere was interesting with accordion players and singers plus the food was delicious. Upstairs we found the waiter we had talked to and he had decided that he would give us the rate of 2.50 marks for dinner. But I guess it was then too late for us to get that rate.

Betty Lou and I walked down a little narrow street on the other side of the hotel. It was really buzzing and full of people. I observed cabarets, bars, and cafes. There was even dancing in one place. It started to rain so we stopped in the doorway to watch the dancing. We came “home” when the rain subsided and fell into bed exhausted.

60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 13 August 1952:

All of us had breakfast on the house this morning. The hotel had made this offer for all of us. Our breakfast consisted of cold milk, rolls, and jam. Then we were off at 8 a.m. but we didn’t get too far. The bus was sick with a gasket or something of the sort. American Express came to our aid and we’re back in Heidelberg. We had to report back at 9 a.m. to get the good word on how long the repairs will take.

L.O. and I dashed through the quaint streets of Heidelberg looking for Haus zum Ritter which was the oldest mansion. After help from several of the natives we found it right across the street from the Holy Ghost Church. We curiously ventured to the church to see how it had been divided. We walked down to the river and then wandered back through several other churches. There was a big red sandstone building past the library known as St. Peter’s Church or Peterskirche, which had cloisters. Then we went off window shopping until 9:00 a.m.

American Express gave us news that the bus would hopefully be ready at 2 p.m. I decided to make an excursion to the top of Konigstuhl, the highest point on the mountain. We stopped at a shoe shop on the way. Alice’s purse and my sandals received a nice polish. We wandered all over searching for the funicular.

Then we climbed the dark stairs to the top of a tower. Too bad it was a hazy day. On the way down we stopped at the castle to look for Helen’s lost glasses. And we talked to a cute German guide and learned the German word for cloister which was oterskirke. We also met some Spanish women.
We stopped in the university bibliotek reading room where there were a collection of manuscripts, original charter and registration, Luther’s manuscript, Goethe writings, and papyrus. There were manuscripts from Persia, India, Greek and Arabic as well. The founder of the university was Heinrich. We caught sight of a chimney sweep on our way back. Then we had dinner at a snack bar with the rest of the mob. There was a bearded man from the day before that was here again. He doesn’t look like an American to me.

Finally, we where back at the bus at 2 p.m. and it was ready and waiting. Yea! We were finally off to Frankfurt. Kids, who were late, were charged for being late today. They were burned up cause they didn’t charge yesterday for being late.

Still we made good time to Frankfurt and arrived about 3:30 p.m. We stopped at American Express and I received a letter from Mom and a letter from Twila. Mom sent me a clipping of President McKay’s European tour report.

Next we reached Hotel Eden Am Zoo which was a new hotel built by the Marshall Plan near the zoo. My room 204 sat behind the main hotel in a separate building. It was comfortable and we each had a little card with a map of the city inside.

Alice called her cousin who then invited Alice, Betty Lou, and me out for dinner and a bath. We caught a special cab which cost 90 cents or $1 in script. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Jonas and family had a beautiful apartment and a German maid. What a delicious dinner and wonderful bath! We just got finished in time to walk over to a church through a big park and Forben buildings that had been taken over by the U.S. Forces. They hadn’t been bombed in World War II. The maid accompanied us on our walk. When I looked ahead there was a nice chapel and a big crowd waiting for us to give our program.

During our program our septet got started on the wrong foot. We didn’t get our pitch, but we pulled through okay. Several numbers seemed to have a little difficulty, but all in all it turned out okay, I guess. We had to change it from the night before because there was no room on the stage for the dances. So we left them out. An extra talk by Henry was added and the Italy deal was changed to a poem instead of a song. There was a big visiting fest afterwards.

Later we visited the mission home and it was the biggest and nicest we had seen. Mrs. Cannon took us on a tour and everything was spotless. I took a quick look at the guest room where President McKay had stayed. Then we ate some homemade candy and President Cannon took us down to see the mailing room plus some other rooms. We arrived at home about midnight or thereabouts. And I couldn’t decide which bed to sleep in.

60 Years Ago Today

Sunday, 10 August 1052:

At 6 a.m. I was up in the morning and dashed down the street before church to see the making of a big parade, which was coming off during church. A VIP was there to help open St. Lawerence or St. Lorenz Cathedral for the first time since World War II. The pictures of these events were stuck in my head all day. I hurried back just in time to catch the crew going to church.

Despite being built from a bombed out building the church was clean and pleasant. We gave our program and the congregation was receptive to us. We visited with them after church and they presented us with lots of gladiolas after the program. We caravaned to a program for the army which was on our way to Byreuth. We needed to be there by 2 p.m. for another program.

Then we were off to see King Ludwig II Festival or Fespiele House which was built for Wagnerian operas and that was designed by Wagner himself. King Ludwig II greatly admired his work. Wagner’s first performance that he conducted himself was held in 1829. Directors checked with American Express and tried to get tickets for us to Parsifal. We had written in advance but were informed it was a closed performance for the workers. However, luck was with us. We were able to get about 25 tickets at $5.00 each which were made available at the last minute.

We hurriedly tried to read about the opera before we went in. The performance started at 3 p.m. and our seats were scattered throughout the huge auditorium. My seat along with some others was quite close and a little to the side. The performance was excellent probably even more so than I realized with my meager background in Wagnerian opera. The stage was huge and seemed very deep. In some scenes it was almost as if the knights were marching in from miles away. The lighting was most effective. It lasted until 9:20 p.m. with two breaks of 30 minutes each. It was over five hours long.

During these breaks we went into the huge restaurant in the back of the Festival House for refreshment. At one sitting we had an egg caviar dish which was most delicious. Many of the people were dressed formally. It was good that we probably looked better than usual considering we had just come from church that morning. Afterwards, we were somewhat spread around again in different houses or apartment building of different local people. Our place was quite nice.

Provoan ‘Covers’ Bayreuth Music Festival for Herald

(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of letters from Mrs. Afton A. Hansen, traveling through Europe with a group of Utah college students.)

Dear Friends,
You didn’t know, did you that the Daily Herald in Provo has a special reporter, covering the Wagner Music Festival in Bayreuth, Germany? Neither did I , until I discovered that many large cities of the United States have a reporter here, so why not the Herald.

Let me first tell you about Nuremberg, the city where the war criminals were tried and hung. Time has veiled the severity of the scenes, held in the room on the third floor of the Palace of Justice, and in the small yard behind the building. But the mountains of rubble throughout this city and others is a constant reminder of those terrible years. Nature’s vines and weeds will gently cover, wind and rain will partially dissolve, but those monument to man’s stupidity will last for ages.

Memories of Carnage
As we stood on the hill near the old stone wall of the city we saw the statue of Hans Sacks standing untouched in a field of rubble. An old man near us said, “I once stood here and saw those streets below us covered with the dead and the dying.” At one time 85 per cent of the city was either killed or scattered to other parts. A younger man added his story. “I came to Nuremberg from Czechoslovakia in 1946. I came with nothing—only shirts and short pants—no shoes, no stockings. I too am an escapee.” To and fro along the same paths, men are driven by physical and mental fear, danger and cruelty. How long will they take it?

Rising above the dust and rubble of common clay is man’s supreme effort toward the good and best in his nature. The music festivals weave and bind the spirituality and emotion of the past into the artistry of today. Again we see the directors of life and civilization to and fro across the stony paths—from the low to the higher in man’s alms and desires.

Wagner Festival
This Wagner Music Festival, into which the descendants of Richard Wagner put a great deal of effort, is an auspicious occasion. Good luck came our way, through the American Express Company when they announced to us upon our arrival Sunday at Bayreuth, that perhaps we could obtain tickets at ‘workers’ rates, if we so desired, for the early performance of Parsifal given for the workers union. So we paid $5 for $8 seats, the ?pest, and went toward the Festispielhaus to join in the promenade of the fine and fair, in street clothes and opera gowns. Only Americans wore makeup.

To prepare ourselves, we read the English translation of Parsifal, a sacred festival drama written by Wagner. Material for the drama was taken from the wealth of legendary lore, which circles around the mythical chalice of the Holy Grail. In lore, it is said that when Love and pity were about to die on earth, the angels brought to his world, the crystal chalice used by the Savior at the Last Supper, and also the Sacred Spear with which his side was pierced. To house and guard these precious relics, a castle was built from which the Knights journeyed forth daily to champion the weak and suffering. The story drama brings out the healing quality, both physical and spiritual of these precious objects.

“Love-Feast” Prelude
The orchestra prelude opens with the Love Feast motive, which is the commemorative feast of the Knight after the unveiling of the Grail each year when faith has been renewed.

Throughout the drama, the orchestration seemed almost more important than the words and voices. Of course, it was sung in German, which was a barrier to some of us. The graduation of one and of light and shade was so even and so effectively placed that the actors seemed to fade on and off the stage instead of walk.

All action was slow, solemn and profound. At times the only movement on the stage, with 40 to 50 actors, was the effective nod of a head or the movement of one hand, or the sustained note of a violin. During such movements, the sound of my note taking, pencil on paper, seemed too loud.
As the Knights, forty in number, knelt at the round table, each drank from a goblet, and on each face was shown the warm glow from the illuminated Holy Grail, which was on the central round table. The symbolism of spirituality received by the Knights was most effective.

The scene of humble and repentant Kundry washing the feet of Parsifal and drying them with her hair, was beautiful in grouping, action, lighting and atmospheric music.

For six hours we were held spell-bound in the enchantment of this medieval garden, with two hour- periods between acts to promenade and eat. After the first act we ate a piece of delicious peach pie—then the clear notes of a trumpet called us back to the theater. After the second act we ate Russian eggs with caviar. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it, but it was only halved hard boiled eggs decorated with fish eggs, lettuce and mayonnaise. It all added up to a memorable occasion.

During the month of August, the world is also invited to hear Tristan and Isolde, Walker, Siegfried, Meistersingers and other operas. Having seen the first performance, the Herald reporter must move on.

Afton A. Hansen

60 Years Ago Today

Saturday August 9, 1952:

At 6:15 a.m. it sounded like someone near our hotel owns a noisy tractor or truck. My feather tick was really warm and comfy but Herr Tractor was our alarm clock. Boy it sounded like everyone went to work at this hour!

Our tour guide, a little old man named Dinkel, was guiding our excursion. Dinkelsbuhl was 1000 years old and residents of the city were not allowed to change the exterior of any of the houses or buildings without the permission of the city. First was Deutche Haus, which was erected by the Lord Mayor of Dinkelsbuhl and had intricate wood carvings.

Soon after was a cathedral which was started in 1444 a.d. and had taken almost 50 years to build. The entrance was still the same on the outside since it had been restored in 1856. And there were wood carvings on the end of the pews. Dinkel told us that the city had been built on three hills and a man named Dinkelo gave the city his name. I observed the carvings of the different shields.

At St. Sebastian Church there were arrows on display and St. Aurelius’s bones, who had been killed by a sword and buried with the sword. At the center piece of the crypt there was an altar that was carved from one piece of stone. A pastor from the 13th century had led a procession from all over to see this church. As I turned around I observed a tub of holy water before me.

Next was St. George who lay on a large altar because he killed a dragon. As we continued there was a monument of World War I soldiers and people who had died from this church. The wood carvings were done by someone local.

As the tour progressed through the city I spotted the doorbells on the houses which had pull cords. Also, there were peep holes on the corners of the houses in order to see the people walking by. The oldest house, dated from the 11th century, was called Hezelhof. We also saw the City Hall or Rathaus. Next was the Three Kings Chapel which was built in 1350 a.d. It had been a sheep’s stable for over a 100 years during that period of time, but was restored again as a chapel.

I noticed old flags hanging in shreds. It had been a free city till 1802 when it was annexed into the Kingdom of Bavaria. There were 22 towers running around the city. One tower had been reconstructed by an Italian architect because it had been destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War between 1618-48.

Then we identified the Worntiz River which had a youth hostel nearby that used to be an old granary for storing corn which had been built in 1508. We walked down by the moat around the wall. Soon after we saw the Dinkelbaurer monument and our guide informed us the name of wheat is dinkel.

After a two week siege of Dinkelsbuhl by Sweden, Lord Mayor of Dinkelsbuhl decided to let the Swedes have it. A Swede General took the keys of the town and made it Protestant. Children from the city came to plead for the Swedes to save their city and lives. The Swedish general had recently lost his young son to illness, and a boy who approached him so closely resembled his own son that he decided to spare the town. The children softened his heart and became the saviors of the town. Every year the town celebrates a Children’s Festival where the little kids dress in 16th century uniforms and rejoice over their freedom.

As we circled back onto main street I noticed a sign warning of anyone throwing trash would get dunked for five minutes. Funny huh? We stopped and bought fruit at street side market. Later we looked in the Baroque Deutschhaus Palace which was another historical building. A travel bureau representative gave us a souvenir pamphlet of Dinkelsbuhl. We stopped to take pictures of a stork’s nest on top of the roof before we left Dinkelsbuhl.

The next town, Ausbach, was a fairly good sized, quaint little village. There were gabled houses with weeping willows. As we drove on we passed a big money exchange, theatre, and other buildings.

We finally reached Nuremburg around 12:30 p.m. where the old city walls and towers were still partly standing and many of the old buildings were mostly in ruins. We followed the street along the old walls and moat and there was a transient mess from what I could see.
Farther on there were sidewalk cafes and a big Bahnhof dome being repaired. It ended up being quite a large and thriving city. We passed a snack bar and opera house. Near here was a house where Hitler had stayed at one time.

As we continued to follow the wall we journeyed past the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials were held after World War II for German war crimes. Hermann Wilhelm Goering, military leader and a leading member of the Nazi Party, committed suicide here. Other war criminals were convicted and executed by hanging here.

Our guide was a refugee from Czechoslovakia. He escaped with only the short pants he was wearing and no shoes. He informed us the post office was constructed in 1950-51, German Congress started in 1834, and Augsberg Church was built in a new architectural style.

During World War II Nuremberg was home to many German SS troops who marched, trained, and lived here. Even the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, which were Hitler’s personal bodyguards, were headquartered here. The Nazi party held big propaganda events in Nuremberg starting in 1933. We examined stoves from Italy and marble from Carrara, Italy. The city had a large modern coliseum where large Nazi party conventions were held. It was still unfinished.

In the heart of Nuremberg there was a flower church and a famous fountain market place. It was a shame to see all the ruins around the village and the remains of the old part of the town.
We journeyed past a whole castle made with a hammer and chisel. I couldn’t believe it! Next was a 12th century well which was 18 feet deep. Water drops fell down the well in 6 seconds and there were 8 rows of sandstone and then solid rock around the well. The water at the bottom was 9 feet deep with underground connections from here to town hall.

Shortly after we observed Hans Sachs, a German poet, we noticed it was the only statue not damaged in the city. We heard the story of hoofprints where knights jumped over the wall and moat. It was used for anit-aircraft guns during World War II. We saw the Kaiser garten which was done in a French style.

Then we went past Albrecht Durer’s House that holds Germany’s greatest statue of Durer, the famous painter. I met a lady in a shop off the square whose husband or father was Michael Power, who wrote Religion in the Reich in 1939. I couldn’t quite understand what she said. Then there were beautiful carvings. One of them was of Hans Sachs, a German poet, which sold for 160 marks. The carvings were sold at the University Club in Chicago as well.

We were staying here Sunday and Monday to see the festival which had been going on for 900 years. I caught sight of the statue of Hans Sachs in the rubble. And there was a new stove here. It seemed strange with all the gutted buildings around us. Certainly this was a city of contrasts as was most of Germany. A brand new Bavarian State Bank faced us.

All aboard for the youth hostel. Eric was directing us and picked up the rest of the kids where we had left them. Ralph Frogley, Dorothy’s boyfriend, was there looking for Dorothy. Fortunately, Dorothy was sitting on a step in front of the youth hostel when we pulled up. We weren’t real sure at first if this was the building we were scheduled to sleep at or not. From the outside it was just a big tall square grey box deal with funny round holes at intervals. Dot said, “Wait till you see it.” We could hardly wait to see it ! So we proceeded to look for the spot we were going to be laying down our heads for the evening.

The entrance was filled with bicycles and to one side was a dining room where some people were eating at wooden tables. After five flights of cement stairs, we turned into a bare hall and from there into a barren dormitory style room with double decker bunks with nothing but mattresses. We heard a rumor that we would sleep on a sheet. At the end of the two big rooms was a washroom with cold running water. Then we saw where the four men would sleep next door on army cots. Everyone seemed quite thrilled. The young natives roaming around the halls were all boys.

Andre refused to sleep there and said he’d sleep in the bus. There was a big conference and we decided against it. American Express fixed us up in three hotels for more money. Good thing because there was church tomorrow and we would have to get ready. The hostel wouldn’t have provided too much privacy.

Our new hotel was across the street from the Service Club. Two soldiers offered to show us around. So Alene, Alice, Carol, Elo and I went with them to a cute little basement café to eat. It was atmospheric with candlelight, U.S. Officers and music. What a delicious dinner of wiener schnitzel! Carol was sulking about something—not enough attention, I believe. It was raining as we walked back to hotel to complete a wonderful evening.

60 Years Ago Today

 

Monday, 28 July 1952:

After getting up at 6:30 a.m. in Munich, I had a quick bath using the basin. My keys to the suitcase and hangers were still missing. I guess I’ll leave them In Germany for a souvenir for someone else. Again I had a continental breakfast. The hotel had a couple of lobbies and it was raining outside. I retrieved my raincoat which was folded neatly in my bag.

Then I walked across to Tele-tel to mail four postcards air mail for 50 pfennies each. We gathered the crew up and took the long way to American Express through Konigsplatz Square. However, I didn’t receive any letters. Dorothy was back from Heidelberg by now. I’ve had it here and I’m ready to move on.

We headed out of Munich through Starnberg and then on to Oberammergau, in the Bavarian Alps. Then we ate chow in Alte Post. I had wienerschnitzel and strawberry pie. Oberammergau was famous for its Passion play that has been performed for over 300 years. It included a cast of over 1400 people who were made up of German natives or people who have lived here for over 20 years.

The Passion story was about Christ and had no pause in the play. It ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a two hour lunch from noon to 2 p.m. There were no artificial effects or makeup in the play and natural light was only used. If it rained, the play would go on.

A middle stage and sliding stage was used. A set was prepared and then slid forward. The supposed Last Supper table had been used in the play for over 200 years. We saw a showcase of costumes that had been last used in 1720 and Oriental costumes 120 years old. All other costumes were still in use. Swords and other objects were in different dressing rooms for each group of characters.

Afterwards I ran down to the café where we ate at the Gasthaus Alter Post Hotel owned by Anton Preisinger, the owner, who had played Christ in the theater in 1950. I got an autograph of Stak at the famous White Horse Inn. We hurried through a typical graveyard to a church. It was a Rococo Baroque church which was ornate and elaborate for such a small church. St. Amanda’s bones had been taken from the catacombs and buried there. The Trinity picture hung above.

Then we wandered around shops and at 4:30 p.m. we met the whole gang at the bus. It was still raining and little kids were there to meet us and take us to their homes. We drew cards to determine which house we were going to stay at. I drew a little girl named Betty Eder that had long dark pigtails and a cute smile. Henry and Dick were in the same house with some of us girls. We met her mother as she greeted us at the door.

As we talked with the little girl in our broken German, she was very hospitable. Alicia and Henry took the lead in the conversation, but I managed to get out a few words now and then. The little girl, Betty, showed us a picture of the surrounding country we would be seeing and explained some of the things to us. Alicia asked her about the Bible and she brought out a catechism book which was a summary or exposition of their doctrine.

There were pictures of the family in the living room. Unfortunately her father had been killed in Russia during World War II. Horns from animals that her father had killed made up decorations around the pictures. They had a beautiful stove with carving on the outside of it. I felt that I had received a really good lesson with the opportunity to stay with these people. I saw the suffering of this German family and their needs were just like anyone else.

My bedroom on the second story was clean as a pin with big feather comforters and two huge pillows. I spotted a huge wash basin and pitchers with a big tall square varnished stove in the corner. The modern toilette downstairs had a picture of an open window and a poem on the wall that said “Machs Fenster auf Lass frische auft herein der nachste wirddin dankbar sein!” At 6:30 p.m. we bid them adieu to go to the hotel post to eat. It was still raining and I had on my Vesuvius Sandles for a free foot bath.

As we arrived we discovered there was a private dining room just for us. Everyone reported each of our own experiences and good fortune. Eloise and Virginia claimed to have had ein bad or a bath. My meal was kind of like a hamburger steak, but it wasn’t cooked quite thoroughly. Sadly there was no dessert but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

We scrambled off to the Oberammergan, the Passion play. It turned out to be in a cute little theatre dealy with our own theatre Passion play guide. He came over to sit by us and tried to explain what was going on. He said it was in a German dialect so we wouldn’t be able to understand it even if we knew German. Since we didn’t know German, we were left to decipher for ourselves with the guide’s help. However, the first part was typical music with three musicians. One person had a double guitar and another had a Zither. Two little girls and four boys sang and yodeled a cuckoo clock among other sounds. Then three funny guys in typical dress with leather shorts did likewise.

Then came the play. The play turned out to be a political brawl and I couldn’t understand any of the jokes so I napped now and then. Our small Oberammergan guide thought we didn’t enjoy it very much cause we were catching up on our sleep. We just couldn’t understand it.

Outside again the rain greeted us as we left the little theatre and headed for the bus. Some of the kids were left off along the way. They were bragging about the baths they had had and we didn’t know whether to believe them or not. Then we stopped in bar for a drink where I got a really nasty orange drink. Those of us staying at the Eder house had a dark trail to walk along to get to the house. Mrs. Eder was still waiting up for us and showed us where the kitchen was located.

 

60 Years Ago Today

 

Thursday, 24 July 1952:

At 8 a.m. I had breakfast which included two rolls, jam, two boiled eggs, and hot milk for 1.23 marks. Helen and Margaret had made hats for all of us. There was quite a hub-bub over this! We sang Come, Come Ye Saints to celebrate Pioneer Day and played a volleyball game after breakfast.
Then we went back down to Stuttgart where we saw the remains of the royal palace. In front of a street side café we picked up the kids who had gone to town earlier. Andre parked the bus in Hauptbahnhoff, the train station, and then everybody went shopping for 45 minutes.

Mrs. Hansen and I inquired about Gartenschau at the information center, but it was 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back. I guess we will have to forego that pleasure. So we got a map of Munchen while there and tried to find out about what was going on.

I went across the street to the big station to look around. I found book shops, snack bars, and keno, a bingo type gambling game. We ate hamburgers and donuts from a military restaurant with Jerry, Carol’s cousin. We had a picnic on the bus to celebrate July 24th.

As we left Stuttgart on the super autobahn, we were allowed to go any speed our bus could take us. Once again there were more red roofed villages on either side of the autobahn. As we left the Black Forest, there were big fields of cabbage on fairly level farm land. It was grain harvesting time. I observed men loading grain bundles on a big new truck in one field, tractors pulling a wagon in another field, and horses and wagons in many other fields. Everyone was working with the men including women in dresses, boys, and girls wearing skirts.

Our drive took us into Wurtlemberg, Germany, as we were heading towards Bavaria. In the bus we discussed how Bavarians were said to be poetic and musical, but not philosophical. Also how the Danube River geographically borders between Bavaria and Wurtlemberg. In Ulm we were in two hotels with 19 people in one hotel and the rest in another hotel.

Then we stopped at Ulm Münster which was a Lutheran German church built between 1377-1494. It had been the tallest structure in the world until the 20th century New York skyscrapers were built. I had to walk back a block just to get a picture of it.

Afterwards, we hurried over to Woolworths which was just like the Woolworths in America. I bought a package of combs for 65 marks. I almost got run over getting back across the street to the church for a tour.

While waiting we learned that the stain glass windows on the sides of the church were shattered during the bombing raids in World War II. As a result the windows were replaced with ordinary windows. However, the windows on the church ends were still intact. Though only part of the stain glass windows on one side was visible since the big pipe organ was high above the entrance.
Next was the baptismal font and statue of Bach and Martin Luther. This church was now called Münster and had been taken over by the Protestants. I spotted plaques in memory of the officers and men soldiers that had fallen in all the various wars.

After the church some G.I.s guided us over to Rommel’s house where there was road construction. His house looked just like it did in the movie Desert Fox where the director of the movie was a prisoner of war for three to four years in Russia. The house was now used as a rest home for convalescent children called Kinderkurkeim. The children there sang for us. And they wanted us to sing for them so we sang Home on the Range. Then we all sang Guten Nacht or good night together. One doctor commented that “This is much better than fighting.”

Utahns Visit Grave of General Rommel

Editor’s note; This is another letter from Mrs. Afton A. Hansen of Provo touring Europe with a group of Utah College students.

Dear friends,

The eve of July 24 was spent at a rest home for old ladies which was beautifully situated in a wooded area. Here, a most delightfully lovely girl from Stuttgart, name of Sigrid Schael visited with us. Some of you may remember her being in Pleasant Grove, Cedar City, Provo and Logan at a 4-H Club convention.

With newspaper caps on our heads, and singing appropriate songs, we traveled to Ulm where the tallest Gothic cathedral majestically stands.

This July 24 culminated in a touch of reverence. Three fine GI’s located here with the Army directed us to the home were Field Marshal Erwin Rommel of the German Army, lived prior to his death in 1944. You may remember the story of his bravery as told in the picture show, The Desert Fox. His grave is well-cared for. Standing around it we heard in quiet tones the story of his bravery and foresight and in solemnity paid tribute to him.

His home is now a city-owned convalescent home for 80- to 90 children who were returning from a hike as we came out of their temporary home. After a few greetings from the doctor, the children arranged themselves on the doorsteps and sang several German songs to us. Asking for a song in return we sang Home on the Range.

They loved it so we sang Gute Nacht and they joined in. Sweet harmonious emotion was felt as we ended by saying “Gute” and they said “Nacht.” The doctor nodded his head and said, “Yes, and this is as it should be, good harmony together.”

This doctor, a short time previously had returned from three years in a Russian concentration camp and had nothing good to say about it.

Afton Hansen.

A little way off in the town of Herrlingen, about 5 km from Ulm, was Rommel’s grave. It was a simple headstone in the shape of a swastika. As we trekked back to town, we went past a field full of tractors.

Half of the group stayed at the Gasthaus zum Fuchs Hotel. I entered through the dining room and then on to room five. It had polished floors and was nice and clean. There was a big feather tick on only one of our beds and the window opened on the front street which had road repairs going on.

Alicia ordered a meal for me as I hurried fast and washed my hair in cold water. I ate dinner in my room of breaded veal and trimmings for 2.50 marks plus 10%. Afterwards, Alice and Eloise each had a bath for a little under 2 marks. They had to let the hotel know in advance so they could heat the water.

After getting ready we were off to the movies. MPs or military police stopped us and we found out that keno started at 8 p.m. So the police told us where the Service Club was. We wandered around the deserted streets for awhile, looking at bombed out buildings. It was chilly outside so I was so glad I brought my coat. Then we went into a large Catholic Church just before it closed.

Then we strolled around again in a circle to the Service Club. There I bought military script from a service man and then I indulged in pie à la mode and banana split with pie instead of the banana. It was so good.

After we discovered the game room and dance hall above. The place was almost empty since it was near closing time. The hostess was hospitable to all of us, but after awhile we headed back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

 

60 Years Ago Today

Thursday 12 June 1952:

6:30 a.m. and today we land in France! I think I was kind of fouled up a little. Because every little girl was packed except this one. Finally I ate breakfast and everybody prepared sandwiches for lunch. We were optimistic that we would be standing on French soil by 11 a.m.

I hurried back to the cabin to finish packing where I had difficulty closing my suitcase. I couldn’t understand this since I was wearing more clothes than usual. After taking care of the money tips to the cabin boy and steward, I went on deck to take some pictures. Frenchie happened to be in the background of one picture. I don’t remember if I have mentioned her before or not. She looks like someone out of the 1920’s, hairdo and all. Her father was a doctor in New York.

We can see the outline of the harbor now. The harbor master pilot came aboard and we went in. There were boats of every size and shape on all sides of us. We heard the dinner bell at 11 a.m., but it turned out to be a false alarm. We heard it again at noon just as we were arriving in the harbor, and we ate as the boat docked.

After lunch, we discovered that we couldn’t get off the boat until we had our passports checked in the fore lounge. This involved a long line and a certain amount of time. Le Havre seemed to be partly on a hill and partly not. Many of the buildings on the shoreline had never been repaired since the destruction of World War II.

Finally we were ready for the walk down the plank. Just a few steps and we would be on French soil! At the bottom of the plank, however, the French officers stopped us. We had to wait for something or somebody for innumerable minutes. I tried to use a little of the French I had learned which helped pass the time. Eventually a man in plain clothes came up, and we were permitted to take that last step onto French soil.

Customs turned out to be a mere formality for most of us. With an “S” on our suitcases, we were free to go through. However, two or three of the kids’ suitcases were opened.

As we climbed on the bus, which was waiting to take us to the station, we saw the Ile de France and the Sibajak ships move out. At 2:30 p.m. we were on our way to the LeHavre railroad station over a brick street and past a carnival with a Buffalo Bill sideshow. Some of the stores had such funny names as Bar Brasserie and Parfumerie. Most of the buildings needed new faces. Many had never been repaired since the bombing and strafing of World War II.

We had several hours to wait before our train left for Paris, so we spent it exploring the city. Every little thing almost seemed new, different and interesting. As we walked along the streets, a Coca Cola truck passing by reminded us of home. We passed a flower shop, Normandie Fleurs. There were English signs in the windows of stores, cafes, and shops. And some places even had Se Hable Espanol signs. We noticed liquors sold in small grocery stores. We passed a lottery ticket booth where some of the poorest people spent their last penny in the hopes of striking it rich.

Then we walked through an outside market where clothes and all manner of trinkets were sold. Soon after we spotted a bicycle store. Bicycles were a popular mode of transportation and surprisingly bicycles may even have outnumbered the cars. The cars were for the most part rather old and dilapidated. There were food stalls on the streets just like in Mexico. In fact, you could buy just about anything right on the street such as yard goods, shoes, rugs, Lux, Colgate, flowers, or just take your choice.

The trees lining the streets looked like they were growing out of the cement. We passed some nuns and then stopped in a furniture store to look around. The furniture was stacked up with no particular attempt at display except in the window.

Out on the street again we passed people carrying long loaves of unwrapped bread under their arms. There were unbound books for sale at book stalls. And an old truck stopped at a corner and people got on and off, so we assumed it was a city bus. Later a beggar accosted us as we proceeded down the street.

I noticed some of the cars were little tiny cars like Maeser’s. It seemed to be the style to use the horn instead of the brake. A lady on a motor bike buzzed by us. We came to a large estate with walls all around it and our curiosity was aroused as to who might live there. We talked to a gardener and a passerby who knew a little English. Soon after a little old man came out of the gate and a lady stopped to help us. We gathered that it was the mayor’s home and gardens with 46 aldermen also living behind the walls. The sign at the front gate said 83 Ville du Havre, Maison Familiale de Vieillards.

We saw Dick and Henry down the street and exchanged discoveries with them, and then met Alicia afterwards. We came to a park and official looking building. In answer to our “Parlez vous Anglais?” One of the workers fetched a man who told us that it was the Hotel de Ville or town hall and city park. Also, he told us that the population of Le Havre was 165,000. He had been in America in New York City for nine years before World War I and told us about a beautiful park in another part of the city.

We started out for this park or jardines. On the way we passed a shop for mending hoses, and I took a picture of Lucy and Carol at the Services Municipaux. We saw little kids drinking beer at the first street-side cafe. We got tired out before we found the jardines, so we retraced our steps.
On the way back to the station, we noticed lots of mothers wheeling their babies in various kinds of carriages. The mothers weren’t always dressed well, but the babies always seemed to be well cared for. And I noticed lots of cute little red headed babies. As we continued, we noticed they were putting in a new sewer or something of the sort along the main drag.

Back at the station we found a “Dames” bathroom with nothing but the bare necessity. No scrubbing brush had visited its domain for some time. We saw a lady changing her outer clothes in the baggage room of the station.

At 7 p.m. we left for Paris on a pretty dark green train. We traveled third class with eight in a compartment. The compartments or fumeurs had great big windows and dark green leather cushioned seats. The windows of our compartments had signs “Reserve, American Express.”
The panorama from our train window was interesting as we sped toward Paris. There were beautiful fields of light green grass, funny shaped tall skinny trees with busy tops, thatched roofs, and people still in the fields bunching hay. Then I viewed pastured cows in a field of clover that were tied in a circle which were eating their way to the middle. And a green patch of land that looked like good old sugar beets.

As we passed a little station I saw Dames and Messieurs WC (water closets or bathrooms) signs plainly visible. Then there were more beautiful patchwork fields with a straight grove of tall trees and women wearing dresses while pitching hay.

Next we passed through a little town called Yvetot where the houses had regular roofs. Then we proceeded through another town with several short and long tunnels. I spotted a linoleum company in a little manufacturing city, funny crane businesses in another town, and more tunnels. We came to a big station in the city Rouen that was Joan of Arc’s birthplace. In another tunnel, we almost missed the whole city going through the tunnels.

We had our first glimpse of the Seine River and viewed a shrine on the hill which could have been the statue of Joan. There were more small squares of patchwork fields without any fences. They looked like hundreds of little gardens. And there were children playing on what looked like an outside basketball court. Then we passed tall narrow squarish houses, Seine River again, new houses being built, and tiny shocks of hay or grass. And farther down I noticed the Seine River winding again, a small village against a hill, and more small fields with rows of little shacks.
There was another train track next to ours and every time a train passed we almost jumped out of our skins as the shrill whistle sounded loudly. We passed a little village church with beautiful flowers. Then the train followed the Seine River for a ways, another tunnel, another tunnel, and a red roofed village. Two men in the aisle way by our compartment decided to eat lunch. It consisted of a sandwich and a bottle of wine.

We caught sight of the reflection of the trees along the river and then passed through a town with a lot of square buildings near the railroad. I glanced at my watch. It was 9:15 p.m. as we passed a man in the field still working. Another tunnel—I should have counted these blessed things!

The train followed the Seine River and the highway as well. We passed a railroad terminal of some kind and a cellophane factory that looked like a reconverted munitions factory. It was quite dark by this time and there was no light in our fumeurs. As we passed a Ford auto factory at 10 p.m. we saw the lights of Paris.

We finally arrived in Paris! My how excited 36 kids got at seeing Paris. Bev was especially excited because she expected to see Bob, her boyfriend, in a few minutes. The four men of the mob (group) tossed our suitcases out the windows and porters loaded them on a car for 15 cents. We had a nice long stroll to the depot, but Bob was not there. People gave us the once over and we did the same for them.

Two big buses had been waiting for us since 3 p.m. Then we met Andre our bus driver for the trip. We buzzed down the streets with our mouths hanging open. We passed the opera, American Express, sidewalk cafes, Place de Republique, and Hotel Moderne. We really gave onlookers a show—crazy American estudiantes in Paree!

Unexpectedly, our hotel room was heaven. From what we had heard and read we thought it would be worse. There was a great big bathtub and beautiful soft looking beds. This wasn’t hard to take in at all. However there was no soap and the toilet paper was like oil paper. But we were braced for many more hardships than this. We each spent about a half hour soaking and then settled down to bed about 1 a.m.

A Suitcase Full of Letters

Nancy’s suitcase full of letters

Have you ever discovered a treasure trove of family documents or photos. NotSoFancyNancy found a suitcase full of letters from her dad to her mother. Here is what Nancy had to say about the find.

When my daughter Tania first told me about the letters I knew that something had to be done with them, after all they ARE our history. I took them home and put them all in chronological order. I scanned that first letter and looked at how many were left and I became overwhelmed. There are SO many of them, did I mention it is a suitcase full? There may be thousands, but I guess we will find out together if you want to join me for this adventure.

Nancy is sharing each letter on her blog. Many of them chronicle her dads experiences in World War II. I think that Nancy has come up with a great way to deal with the overwhelming task of saving and sharing these letters. She is taking them just a little at a time. She scans them and transcribes the text, preserving the letters. Nancy does some research about the information in each letter and posts it on her blog.

Down the road she can decide if she wants to put what she has gathered into a book or share it in some other ways, but for now she is taking a huge project and moving forward in a doable and sustainable way. Great job Nancy! I look forward to seeing how your project progresses. Thanks for setting a good example.

Do you have a huge family history project like this? Have you found a way to move forward with it? What is holding you back?