“Grandtour1913” is a collection of travel letters written between 1912 and 1914. The writer is a young, American woman, Alice Ross (1890-1980). Her trip takes her through the Pacific, Australia, Asia, and from Istanbul home on the Orient Express.
To read the entire project like a book, choose the earliest dated post on the right hand margin, and read forward from there. The most recently dated post will be the end of her journey. To sample the very best posts: in the search area type in five asterixes “*****”. This was my way of marking for myself the superior letters.
There are about 70 letters in the collection. In this blog form, the letters were posted once a week, as if she were writing to us from the past. Dramatis Personae, an additional page, gives simple notes on some of the main characters, but like the personalities found in a novel, they will reveal themselves as the story unfolds.
Be sure to check out the photographs. An additional collection of post cards will be the final element of this project, coming summer of 2010.
Your letters written the seventh reached us today. By this time I hope you have all of ours except, of course, the ones written yesterday. Have you received the Clarion papers? We think the Democrat, in spite of the Country editor style, has given a very interesting account of the wedding. The A.M. has sent away about ten thousand. People are still saying what a beautiful wedding it was, how sweet Alice looked, what a fine wedding party she had! Tell Rocky1 that Mrs. Aaron thinks “little Alice has a grand good man”. Sarah Wilson told me yesterday as we walked up the street together that Alice’s husband was a “dandy goodlooking fellow.” She was sure he was first rate and Harold Coblentz was much relieved at the wedding to see Alice being married to you and not to Mr. Punk2. That’s a little hard on poor Mr. Punk.
We’ve had pleasant letters from them all, from Punk and [Deb], Mr. Hall, Mrs. Chandler, May [Dutson], Sue, your mother, and your sister Mary. Didn’t we all have a good time. And with what pleasure we shall always look back on it. But we miss our Rocky, Enoch, even though we feel she is in good hands. The thought of the little commonplace things that she liked, brings a lump in my throat. Tell her I haven’t had the heart to have baked squash since she left!!
Just now the A.M. is sitting in the livingroom in his favorite chair reading the Philadelphia Ledger, and Sallie is on the davenport “looking over” the Gazette Times, May has gone out with her beau, and Shang sits by the fire in her room trying to write to her new brothercousin-in-law and swearing at her fountain pen. I forgot to put the cover on the blamed thing when I set it up in a little vase inside my desk during the wedding excitement. Everybody who passed my desk, crammed something into it until my pen was buried under a young mountain of trash. It was beat almost to the breaking point. And now refuses to work properly.
Aunt Hat is sick in bed with erysipelas; Uncle John and Nell left last week. Uncle John for Buffalo and Nell for Peoria. Rebecca is uncertain whether she will go to California, but as soon as her mother recovers she will visit in Missouri. Vernon was courting Ruth over Sunday, and Sara has gone back to school. We haven’t heard lately from Mary and our little Sara3. They are probably all right, for “no news is good news.”
Uncle Al4 gave a very good lecture at the church last Tuesday and repeated it in the Normal5 auditorium last evening. It was a talk on Jerusalem and the Holy Land. His pictures were beautiful, Enoch, I wish you could see them. He has had no further word from the people who suggested his speaking at a dinner in Scranton this week nor any word from his Chicago people. If those engagements do not hold, he will stay here until the twentieth. I am surprised at how contented he is. He is working on a new set of lantern slides6 and is interested in a Sunday school class of about sixty. Tell Rocky he and I are still eating apples and peanuts. I got a bushel of beautiful Northern Spies the other day and the A.M. keeps two bags of peanuts on hand all the time. I fill his jug every night and turn down his bed, and make fun of his crytomareas (or however you spell them). He has started a lot of apple seeds in cracks on the table at the foot of the cellar stairs. These he patiently watches and waters. My paper-white narcissus by the dining room windows are in bud now, and I hope in a few days they will bloom. The seed catalogues are coming in fast. Soon I shall begin planning my garden and making my lists. Spring will be here before we know it – though February is still to come. It’s the meanest month in the year.
I am glad you and Rock have had such a pleasant trip and are enjoying so much your first days in Galveston. It’s a great pity you must be kept in suspense about the movements of your regiment. We’ll hope and pray that soon it will settle in some good place for several years. But really I don’t see how we can hope for much (forgive me for being a Job’s comforter) so long as Mexico is in the turmoil.
Today I read my paper on Jane Addams. Thank goodness it is off my mind! Now I am going to enjoy myself writing letters and reading – I’m crazy to do some serious reading – and visiting some of these pleasant people in Clarion I haven’t called on in months.
The wedding presents kept coming for several days after you left. At the present writing you have just eight sets of carving knives and forks. A beautiful hand-wrought silver water pitcher came from the Gillises. It is smaller than the one […] your Sallie and much handsomer = I mean more artistic. I wish ours was like it.
Mother and I will go over Alice’s letter carefully and do the best we can about exchanging the duplicates. I must confess it made me a little dizzy to read that letter, and the A.M. exclaimed “Heavens above! How does the kiddie remember all that stuff!”
Give Rock a big hug and a kiss from all of us and tell her to return the same to you. That’s a fitting message to send a bride and groom, isn’t it?
Thank you for your nice little note from St. Louis and for your letter from Galveston which came today. With much love I am always
Clarion, Pa., January 11, 1915
– A dispatch from Carion, Pa., January 1 says: “A romance that began two years ago in the Philippines culminated here last evening in the marriage of Miss Alice Brewer Ross, daughter of Rear Admiral Albert Ross, U.S. Navy, of Clarion, and Lieutenant Enoch Barton Garey, U.S. Army, stationed at Texas City, Texas. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Glenn M. Schaffer in the First Presbyterian Church. The matron of honor was Mrs. Arthur B. Stewart. The bridesmaids were Misses Alice Ross [Shang] Ruth Campbell, Lena [G]arey7, and Louise Garey. The best man was Lieutenant A. A. Ellis, U.S. Army.
1 Rocky, Plymouth Rock, Plymie – Alice Ross Garey 1890-1980
2 A.A. Ellis nickname is Punk
3 Sara Stewart Hinckley
4 Admiral Albert Ross
5 “Normal School” in Clarion, PA – now the State College
6 Magic Lantern slides to go to Chris Garey in 2008
7 Sister of E.B. Garey, Mrs. Caleb WInslow
Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square
“cliflinton” (wesdo) London
Telephone No. 5953 Mayfair
Your “last letter” came yesterday and sends little shivers all up and down my back. In a way I wish you were going to be in New York, for I shall hate the time on the train when I really am so near, and yet not seeing you. But on the whole I suppose I would rather have you peacefully at home. Do you think you could run up to Summerville, and then we could have such a nice quiet chat on the way home, for I’ll be so excited if everything comes at once that I know my heart will stop beating. Two weeks from today I hope we shall be there!
I was so sorry to hear of Mrs. Brown’s serious condition. She has recovered from so many terrible spells that I somehow expected her to keep on and only hope she may this time. Thank you for the bills for the linen.
We had a fine trip down from Todmorden, 230 miles through beautiful country and over splendid roads. We stopped in some woods and had a picnic lunch, and later boiled the kettle and had tea. It took us just twelve hours, including the two stops. We came to this hotel as the Gillis’s wanted to come here (we expect them today) and it is under the same management as the Dysart, but a little more pretentious and larger.
I invited Maggie down to spend the day, and she is coming any minute now. She wants to do a little shopping, and we shall then probably go to some matinee. Father looks a thousand times better. It is probably the home life and good cooking we’ve had at the Farrow’s and Petrie’s, I think. Had a note from Mrs. Dutson, Mary’s mother, inviting us there, but hadn’t time this trip.
Do you remember some pictures in that “Alice in W.”2 of mine of an Englishman, Mr. Ponting, who crossed the Pacific with us ten years ago? He sat beside me in the dining room, and we got to know him quite well. He was the photographer who went with Scott three years ago on his South Pole expedition, and had most unusual experiences. Well, he is here lecturing now with the moving pictures he took, and when he heard we were here invited us to hear him, and afterwards to supper. He is awfully nice, and gave me a beautiful, big book he wrote after varied experiences in Japan. He was particularly interested in the bird and animal life in the polar region, and shows some wonderful views of their strange habits. One where a baby penguin is pecking its way out of its shell, and another of a huge seal gnawing through the ice. This ends rather suddenly just as the seal charges at the camera. He must have unlimited patience and endurance, for sometimes he sat by his camera ten or twelve hours waiting for a penguin to do some particular thing which he had seen, but no one else ever had, so he must make a record of it in the picture. One time he was swung by a rope over the side of the ship down to the water line, and there took most marvelous pictures of the bow cutting through the ice. Views of the dogs, ponies, camp life, and everything and all this done at 60 or 70 below zero. He said you could hear a man talking three miles away. He is dining with us tomorrow evening, and I hope to have some other people, too.
Am not getting any clothes at all. That is, except just the most necessary things, for I want to wait till you are with me. Let’s have a spree sometime soon, and you can get new linens, etc. for I don’t know beans about them, and I must have some summer clothes, too. My wardrobe is in a hopeless state, so be prepared for the worst.
We sail on Sunday at two thirty. This will probably go on the same steamer. Will telegraph you when to expect us, and if it doesn’t upset your plans, do come to Summerville. I can’t wait any longer.
May 28, 1914
Telephone No. 10
We left the Farrow’s on Friday. I was sorry we couldn’t finish the week with them, but Mrs. Petrie found she had to go to London soon, so begged us to come now. It was so planned at first. I mean we set that date, etc. and I put it off a couple of times before, so I thought we had better come, especially as we shall see Mr. and Mrs. Farrow in the States ere long. Maggie wanted us to come back and spend a few days with them later, but I don’t believe we had better, as she is having trouble with servants. I want her to come to London when we get back, and we can have a little spree together there.
Mr. Petrie met us in the car. They have three beauties, and as we came up the drive, we were greeted by thirteen guns and the hoisting of our flag. It was very gay, and Mrs. Petrie was on the lawn with ten little puppies; they were so frightened by the firing that they all scuttled off, and we were summoned to rescue them from the pond, tulip beds, etc. The grounds here are beautiful – very hilly country with wonderful flowers and splendid roads, so between numerous dinners, teas, etc. we’ve done a lot of motoring.
The coming week is full, and we leave on Friday for London. Evelyn Champion is here too. We met her in Egypt, and her father and mother asked if we would take her home on the steamer in June, so she will cross with us. Is a little older than I am and from Winnipeg.
Sorry I haven’t time for more, but they are calling me to go out for a walk.
Oceans of love,
May 17, 1914
1 http://www.scaitcliffehall.com/index.php Apparently a hotel 2009.
My, how I wish you and Shang were here. What good times we good have! The hawthorne hedges are beautiful now – great masses of snowy white all through the country, outlining the fields and lanes, and in town the pink ones are just at their best. I was so glad to get here, and it does seem good to see people whom I’ve known before. Maggie and Mr. Farrow met us and we’ve been motoring with her every afternoon. Last night were there for supper. The boys all have the whooping cough, but play outdoors just the same. Aren’t they splendid? I hope I shall have sixteen just like them.
This afternoon we are all going to an oratorio at the cathedral, the “Messiah,” and they say it will be very good. Willie and his family were here for tea a couple of days ago. The baby, of course, is much bigger than when you were here, and while it isn’t much for looks, she is a bright, happy little thing.
The Gillis’ are coming to see us off. They have been spending these two months in Florence, where the girls are taking three lessons a day is Italian, and now are coming on to London to have three or four days there with us, and will then take us to Southampton, going from there to Spain for the summer.
The first couple of days here were rather cold and rainy, but now it is fine – still not sunny, but clearer and warmer.
Mrs. Farrow is much thinner than when we were all here, though perhaps no more so than last summer. Mr. Farrow looks very well, and stouter.
I hear Maggie’s car coming. It’s time for us to go to the cathedral. This morning we motored over to Crowland Abbey.
Oceans of love,
May 14, 1914
Telegrams, Alderbourne Manor,
Fulmer Gerrard’s Cross, Bucks.
So much to tell you! I’ve been shopping wildly, and finished just at the last minute. That is, all but your curlers, which I hope to get when we return. Went to Tarlita’s one day, but he was closed. The baby dress was quite a puzzle, but lots of fun getting. Never before knew there were so many styles, and as you gave me no definite idea, I hadn’t much to go on.
Went to Selfridges. It is a beautiful store isn’t it, and their baby department fascinating, but they had only one dress that I thought very pretty at the time. So decided I’d better look further, for my own instruction if nothing else, for there was little for me to compare this one with. So after visiting various shops, I found the prettiest one I had seen – nothing very unusual, but dainty, good embroidery and fine material; well made on a little yoke – the lower part tucked, and under the little tucks, big ones so it can be let out – a touch of real val lace around the sleeves and scalloped bottom with eyelet daisies. It is very simple, but I hope you will like it. Thirty eight shillings.
Then I got a suit and hat, blouse, gloves and two blue silk dresses – one rather evening, and the other afternoon. That is my greatest weakness, for I rarely can resist buying one – and by the way, when I die, won’t you dress me in dull blue silk? I’m happier in it than anything I know of, and I should think most natural. Father had a very nice looking blue suit made. My army cape came from Lover, and is a monster, but as warm as toast, and will be fine for crossing the Atlantic.
We went to see “The Lights o’ London”. It was played in 1881. Father saw it here then, and it is now being revived, is most harrowing and I was dissolved in tears most of the time, but is well played. Also “Things We’d Like to Know” which was splendid and had as an ending the loveliest proposal I’ve ever seen on the stage.
Do you remember Mr. Bell White who was so good to me ten years ago in London and who always sends me a Christmas card? Well, Father let him know we were here, so he called and promptly invited us out to his home for the weekend. We took the 4 o’clock train, reached here at 4:30, where he met us in the car. His wife is a charming woman. Two daughters, about my age who have spent the day transplanting tomato plants, and are very human, and acres and acres of grounds, hunting preserves, woods, a big pond, and huge rambling house with thousands of rooms. Sir Charles and Lady Parsons and another man (the latter, I suppose, to amuse me) also as weekend guests, so we are quite a party.
We had tea, and then went for a stroll in the woods to see the bluebells, which are perfectly wonderful – just a solid carpet and it looks as though a blue mist had settled over everything. The garden and grounds are magnificent, and after inspecting all the vegetables and livestock, it was time to dress for dinner.
Imagine my surprise to find lined up on my dressing table various treasures, which I hadn’t seen for months! One of the maids had not only unpacked my suitcase in the usual sense of the word, but had taken out every single thing, arranged them in proper drawers, or on the desk, or in the closet, and gone off with the suitcase! Of course periodically I have a housecleaning party among my belongings, but never by any chance is the lower layer disturbed, for it contains “night needs” and other useless odds and ends, so you may know how I felt to see them out in broad day light. Things I didn’t know I had! Now the mystery is, how did they get it open when I was walking in the woods with the key in my stocking?
However, I selected from the array on the bed my most festive evening gown, which I donned with much assistance, descended to indulge in a most elaborate dinner. We talked later, had a little music, and now I’m having a fine talk with you. There is a lovely fire cracking away, I’m all ready for bed, and sitting in a big comfortable chair by a soft shaded light, and at my elbow is a glass pitcher of rich creamy milk, three dainty sandwiches, and a little sponge cake. I’m gritting my teeth and wondering if I can go to bed and leave them there untouched.
Do you know that three years ago tonight I was sleeping on the couch in your room at the hospital, and tomorrow we go home. Mrs. Perchment with the carriage and all. Do you remember?
It has turned quite cold today, but I don’t mind for these people are all so charming and natural, and the house so beautiful I’m glad to enjoy it more thoroughly.
The little clock says nearly two! So goodnight. I love you bushels, and to think that in a month we shall be at least in the States, and very shortly with you.
May 9, 1914
Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square,
Telephone No: 676 Mayfair
Doesn’t this look natural? We just arrived this afternoon after a lovely trip over from Bremen on the “Crown Princess Cecilie”. She is a most beautiful ship, and we had huge cabins with brass beds, hot and cold water big, roomy wardrobes, and comfortable wicker chairs. It’s been so long since I’ve seen such grandeur that I forgot it existed outside of catalogues and travel pamphlets. She is the biggest thing I’ve ever been on (The G.W. is still larger.) and I got lost every time I turned around. The upper deck is all enclosed in glass, and the main music room extends the whole width of the ship, is beautifully furnished in rose, and during tea the orchestra gives a wonderful concert there. Then, too, I think on those German boats you get he best things to eat in the world, without any exception.
Father went down for the mail and brought me the one from you. I don’t know what to tell you about the question that seems so important the way you talk about it, and yet I never thought of it that way. Why will people ask so many questions? As I said, I didn’t want a bit of fuss, but since you mention the fact that Ruth wanted to give something for me it put an idea into my head, and that is that in that case it would be a nice thing to look back on if I could announce Marie’s engagement, and she Ruth’s. Don’t you think so? Marie’s letters seem rather undecided, although she admits that she cares for this Ray quite seriously. And Ruth, I think, is usually practically engaged all the time, so perhaps we can arrange some clever little scheme all together. This is the only thing that holds me back from saying to tell any one who asks you, so now that is another complication. Ruth has said nothing to me about it, so of course I can say nothing till she does.
Clarion will certainly be swamped. Every letter from Lover tells me of some more people who have promised to come for our wedding, or encloses letters from various classmates or former sweethearts who have heard of his engagement and are writing to congratulate him and say that they shall certainly be with him on the fateful day.
A letter from Mrs. Wiggie says she has been desperately ill – was taken to the hospital in Manila, operated on, and then had paralysis of the intestines, didn’t eat a bite for sixteen days, and lost 25 pounds. The doctors gave her up as dead, but she somehow managed to pull through, and is better now – up in Baguio for the hot weather. She is one of the finest women I know.
I can’t imagine how any of those Penn Hall girls ever heard that I was engaged, for I never even write to any of them, except Helen Norris and Christine, and I haven’t mentioned it to them. Ruth must have thought I valued her friendship highly to tell them before telling her. I should really like to know how they ever knew.
You are in Pittsburg now I suppose. My how I wish I could be there and have you to shop with me. Tomorrow I must set forth for some clothes, and I was thinking this morning how much happier I should feel about it if you could go with me. You’re a wonder in shopping, and the only person in the world I ever like to have with me. You always make me get more than I ever would alone, and then to make me feel as though it were all right.
Must send Mrs. Farrow a note and ask her if it will be convenient for us to come on Monday the eleventh.
Oceans of love,
May 6, 1914
Amsterdam May 2, 1914
We have become typical American tourists seeing Europe. Armed with a Baedeker, we fly from one place to the next till I have to stop and think before I can remember where we were last. One thing to our credit though – we go to see only those things we are really anxious to see.
In Antwerp the important thing is the Cathedral, which is filled with Ruben’s masterpieces, as you doubtless know; among them is his famous “Descent from the Cross” and many other wonderful ones.
We enjoyed the Hague. It doesn’t seem like a real city, and the Peace Palace is very gorgeous inside – to my mind too ornate and looks almost tawdry, especially considering what it stands for. Then we went out to Scheveningen, the New Port of Holland, which is beautifully laid out and a delightful resort, as such places go. From there we went to Delft, a quaint but interesting spot.
I suppose you, an expert gardener, know that Holland supplies practically the whole world with bulbs, and I wish you could be here now to see the fields – a perfect blaze of color, and all through the parks and streets are huge beds of hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. Coming along in the train, we passed miles of solid color: pink, yellow, blue, white and all shades of red. The fields of scarlet tulips were almost blinding in the sunlight, and the air was filled with their fragrance. On every street corner is a vender with baskets full or a cart buried in blossoms and, as are most of the smaller carts here hauled by one, two or three dogs. Someday I’m going to specialize in tulips, and jonquils and daffodils.
I’ve been thinking it over, and have decided that in traveling, one’s point of view which undergoes the most radical and frequent changes is that on the subject of breakfast. Goodness me, if anyone at home offered me anything but a shreaded wheat biscuit, I should be insulted, while in Samoa we indulged in fresh green cocoanuts. In New Zealand there was always on the table a dish of crisp, dewy lettuce – the dew sufficing for mayonnaise. In Java smoked salmon, raisin bread and eggs. Burma gives what is the usual luncheon menu, from soup through fish, meat, poultry, curry but minus the pudding, instead of which they serve toast and jam and then fruit. India the same, omitting soup. On the German steamers I never miss a German pancake (and fruit), and as you know all over Europe one is satisfied with coffee and rolls.
I munched on a roll and let father have my coffee, but here I am working up again to the more elaborate English repast by having one morning a bowl of sour cream and the next a piece of cheese on a slice of brown bread eaten with knife and fork in true Dutch fashion. They do have such good dairy things here, and always brown bread in every shade from lightest tan to inky black. Also delicious currant buns and plain honey cake.
Today we had an all day’s expedition to Edam, where we watched them make the cheese, and then saw the market for them and it looked to be filled with dozens of oranges, or rather grapefruit – huge piles on the brick pavements, but they turned out to be hundreds of cheese ready for export. Then to Vollendam where they all dress most picturesquely, and the quaint little houses are in a chronic state of being scrubbed. Everyone does nothing but scrub, and from there by sail boat to the island of Marken.
The houses are most interesting. On the outside look like this [sketch]. The high roof serves two purposes, that of collecting rain water, and is also the cover for the hay stack, because you see, inside it’s something like this [sketch]. A little entrance hall, at the left a big bedroom and living room combined, because the beds are built in like closets with a door. Across the head of the bed is a little one like a tiny upper bunk for a baby. Isn’t that a cute idea? They shut themselves up tight without a breath of air, but everything is painfully clean. Well, then just through the hall are all the stalls for the cattle, and around the corner the blue and white tiled kitchen with a big cheese press taking up one whole side. The cattle are kept in there for six months, were just turned a couple of days ago, and now gambol on the green for six months, never poking their noses inside the stable all that time.
These people are the strongest, healthiest looking lot I’ve seen for ages. The babies are fat and rosey cheeked, the women big and strong. They pad their hips just below their waistline and then wear enormously full skirts, and the men look even twice their natural size in voluminous bloomers, heavy wooden shoes and high caps. We went into several of their houses, and they simply shone from their vigorous scrubbings. The chief decoration seems to be valuable old pieces of china and pottery, and they are very cozy and home like.
The last couple of days here have been freezing cold, but this evening it is warmer. We sail from Bremen on the Crown Princess Cecile on the fifth for Southampton, and I am longing to reach England. It will seem more like home, and is really the last lap of our two years.
Had a letter from Sue Carter saying John Charles had whooping cough. Glenn was away on a business trip. Arthur weighs 170, and is better than he has been for ages. Father had such a fine letter from little Margaret2. She was lamenting the fact that she had just been changing the water in the gold-fish bowl, and by mistake poured in hot water. No need to go further with such a harrowing tale.
It must be glorious at home now. The spring here simply thrills my soul. Think of not seeing a change of season for two years!
Oceans of love,
Please tell the Angel not to forget to send me those bills for my Chinese linens.
Still in business 2009
2 His granddaughter, Alice’s niece: Margaret Selden Ross b. September 30, 1902
Cecil Hotel1 Telephone A
A fine lot of mail was waiting for us here, and your letter as always, was the first I opened. It is fine that Cousin Fran and Clarence could “stop off” with you. That’s like the people who have told me they have been through Clarion on the train. The letter you enclosed was just a note from that Panama “bean” [?] who was in Wisconsin and had just run over to see my Station. He thought it fine, and got there just in time for some kind of drill.
I suppose father told you about our lovely trip up the Rhein. It was the most beautiful time of year, I think, to take it for the fruit trees are like great balls of popcorn, the fields a fresh, brilliant green, and everything flourishing. All the old castles are very picturesque, and the Lorelei rocks gave me quite a thrill. We spent a day or two each in Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Cologne – the cathedral being the only thing of interest there, but it is quite enough. We were unfortunate in being there during “Adoration Week”, when they were holding services all day long, so we were not allowed to ramble around, but the lighting and music were wonderful, and we managed to see it pretty well. The outside is so elaborate and so gigantic, it’s quite impossible – for me, at least- to take it all in.
I’m worried to pieces now about this old Mexican trouble, for it seems to be getting more serious every day. The Paris and London papers have great headlines telling about all the Americans abroad hastening home, all government officials instructed to keep military attaches, etc. posted so that they may come home immediately if needed, etc. I’m expecting and fearing any minute that a cable will come from Lover saying he’s off for the border. In his last letters, which of course are two weeks old, he says if war breaks out he’ll do everything in his power to get there. Opportunities come seldom enough, and he doesn’t want to miss this one. So now that war really has been declared, I don’t know what he will do. He was terribly distressed over a tooth he had just broken – a front one, and said the gold filling would have to be so big it would show dreadfully.
Yesterday we went out to the Battlefield of Waterloo – it takes only twenty minutes by train – and drove all over it. Saw Wellington’s and Napoleon’s headquarters in the old farm houses, and found it all very interesting.
Do you remember Mr. Schillinger, the German consul in Lake Forrest, a great friend of Jack London’s? I told you about meeting him in Manila last year, and [he] took me driving etc. a great deal. Well, the other night in Munich while I was dressing for dinner up came his card, and I hurried down to find him arrayed in miles of gold lace, silver spurs, and dangling sword. I have always liked him tremendously, but in his native heath he is doubly attractive. His delightful German manners, combined with their rigorous military training makes him all that you picture and expect in a bristling, bescrubbed and stern, yet jovial looking German officer. They serve so much time periodically in the army, and he has now come home for six months on that account. We had an animated chat, and I wanted him to drive with us, but his mother wasn’t well and he felt he must be with her, but came back right afterwards, and we talked till late. He was quite grieved that he hadn’t known before that we were there, as we were leaving the next day, but he is coming on to Amsterdam, so we’ll have a gay time there. He thought I’d understand anything, so didn’t always bother to speak English, and his German accent is wonderful. The mere beauty and sound of it so fascinated me, I would forget to think of the meaning of all he was saying. If I thought I could ever acquire it, I should start studying this minute.
I wonder if you remember too Aldin from L.F. He and his wife called one day, and I recall walking down along the lake front with them, and you and Shang too were there. We saw him in Munich.
Father is feeling better, but his side of course is still very sore. The doctor said it will take about five weeks to heal. He simply lives, now, from one evening to the next when the London edition of the New York Herald will bring more news of the war.
Ocean of love,
April 26, 1914
Hotel is in business under new name, 2009
April 19, 1914
Your nice long letter arrived several days ago. I shall love getting the things for you in London, and am so glad you thought of them. A few days before, Shang’s fine, newsy letter came, so I was as happy as a queen.
I needed cheering up, because father feels so wretchedly that I’m quite worried about him. Did he tell you that in Budapest while taking one of his fancy baths the man who was massaging him pressed too hard on that rib that has been broken several times, and either broke it again or strained it badly. Anyhow, it’s been paining him dreadfully and only today have I been able to persuade him to go to a doctor, so am anxious to know what he says. Father has been in bed off and on for half a day or more for the past month, and can eat hardly anything. He’s lost nearly twenty pounds, too.
As a result, we have done very little strenuous sight-seeing , but have enjoyed the opera, and it is good to hear real music once more. We heard “Parsifal”. It lasted over five hours, and was wonderful. I thought it had the most perfect lighting and stage effects I had ever seen, but the next night we went to “Das Rheingold” and it even surpassed it. As you doubtless know, the first scene is laid under the Rhein at twilight and the way those three daughters “float” around in midair, arrayed as mermaids, waving their arms continually to simulate swimming, never touching “bottom” for over half an hour, and singing beautifully all the time is nothing short of marvelous. I had to pinch myself every few minutes to realize it wasn’t water and they were real women.
We dined at the Ambassador’s not long ago. They live in a very grand house, and entertain in the way that is supposed to impress you as homelike, but really is formal from the word go. Their life is most artificial and superficial, and although I know that is the “game” I shouldn’t want to be a Mrs. Ambassador for all the political and social precedence in the world.
I always forget to tell you about a little custom they have all through here of saying to a woman in German “I kiss your hand”. I step into the elevator and the man makes a profound bow and says “I kiss your hand.” I am bowed out of the dining room in the same way, and just now when I asked “Buttons” to close the door, he first had to “kiss my hand”. Oh! I do like German people. The policemen are perfectly splendid – so good about showing us the way, and when I get into a discussion with the train car conductor, everyone gathers around eager to help me in whatever way they can. The clerks in the shops never wink an eyelash, but act as though I spoke German like a native, and manage to understand anything I say. The whole city seems to be nothing but eating places of every description, size and price, so we usually have lunch or dinner at one of them, and often try Hungarian or Viennese things, which are usually very good.
Lover’s last letter quite made my heart stop beating as it enclosed a printed copy of a form now reposing at the War Department requesting the leave of three months and twenty days (which is due him) to go home by way of Europe to the States to be married. This to commence on or about October 1st and an extension of one years foreign service in China, as he is studying Mandarin, which is the worst language under the sun to learn – and wants to improve himself in that. I have told you his other reasons for wanting to go back, because we can live so much better, get it over with while we’re both young, etc. and I told him I’m perfectly willing to go back, so it now remains to be seen what Uncle Sam will say about it. If you and Shang would come over there too, it would be perfect.
Mrs. Coffin left last night. She was here for four days, and was with us most of the time. She grows more interesting the better you know her, and I like her a lot. She was having clothes made and arranging about a hospital when her baby arrives in September.
Last night we went to see “The Girl from the Golden West” as an opera in German, and it was very good.
Oh! I have so much to talk over with you, and so many questions to ask you. You’ll wish I had never loved you so dearly, for you’ll be tired to death of me before June is ended. Only about seven weeks to wait.
Tomorrow we leave for Munich, then on to Nuremberg and Frankfurt.
Oceans of love,
Did I send you those bills for the things that are at Mrs. Farrow’s? I’m pretty sure I did, and will you send them to me so I can have them before leaving England?
Still in business 2009