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Make Pictures in Your Imagination from the Words

The beginning of the trip in 1965

View Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

I came across a letter my mom wrote about her trip in 1965. It would make a good travelogue except that is wasn't my travel, and my mom is now dead so she can't post it herself. But I thought it was amusing.

In 1965, she and my dad took a working vacation to Germany. This trip entailed a week or so at the German publishers doing the final proofreading of the Atlas, a side trip to where Daddy's mother emigrated from in Germany, a car trip in the Pyrenees, and then meeting a bus tour in Madrid which did three weeks in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

She sent the letters to me, and I retyped them to send to the various members of the family. I didn't have a copier in those days, let alone a computer. My mom would have been almost 56 years old at this time, and my dad would have been 61 and a survivor of one heart attack.

Packing on Thursday

Saturday??? July 10th, '65. I THINK it is Sat.

It seems I can't get away from work, even tho we are away from the phone. Daddy is writing away and I borrowed this machine from the Purser's office to do his typing and have to return it by 11 tomorrow. I hope I can get it out again, but in case I can't I feel that the last 24 hours in the USA should be recorded! Almost blow by blow.

First, I must explain, this is a Remington typewriter, but with Dutch keyboard and some things may turn out a little odd. The parenthesis, quotes, dashes etc are all in different places. Also I find a manual is very hard on my arthritic fingers - this is an especially stiff action.

Where to begin? We were working on finishing Sobotta [the Atlas of Anatomy that my dad was editing], but that had been interrupted with end-of-the-year administrative duties for Daddy. When he got back to writing again, we really put it out. Had Betty (secretary) out to the house so when we finished up the text, we started polishing up the Index. Anyhow, we were proofreading it up until 2 am Weds. We left Thurs. for NYC and the boat sailed Friday.

Thursday morning, Daddy went down to school [where he worked] armed with all kinds of things to do, reports to turn in , a review he is doing for the student yearbook(?). Mrs. D [sec'y] had worked at home last weekend on some justification of the department budget for 2 years hence -- and that had to be turned in, signed etc. Betty came up to the house to type address labels for us in the a.m. B [my sister, who was home with her 2 yo child D.] took the index up to mail to Mr. M [publisher in Germany], getting some more stockings for me, refills for my ballpoint, and lots of little dinky but time-consuming errands. Betty left for school, taking some stuff with her to do. Daddy didn't get a haircut, or get his rough copy of the review typed. We are working on that now.

I was at home getting my checkbook in order, bills paid for B to mail. Daddy phoned at noon to say that the dean had said (when he took the budget thing over) that he would have to get another report of some kind in before he left, that his was the only one not in. Well, when I heard that, I just about collapsed. I knew there was no use rushing down after him. I had planned on picking him up about 1. He was coming home to pack, and we were going to get at least a 6:44 train for NY.

Luckily I phoned Mr. K's office [NYC publisher] to find a book that I had tried every bookstore in Baltimore & the second hand stores, and his sec'y suggested that she try Macy's and have it reserved in my name, and I would pick it up Fri. a.m. before going to the boat. And that I would also like Michelin guide for the Pyrenees, and that I hoped they would both be in the same store. Well, when we got to NY they were both in a big manila envelope waiting for us! Not only that but I noticed that the book had been autographed.

I'm making use of the time Daddy is spending writing to catch you up on all the events. If I went off to read or socialize then it wouldn't be very nice for him. I type things up as he gets them done between writing this -- so you had better read it the same way.

Well, I got down to the school a little after 2. Daddy more or less ready to go. He checked his files for that report and found that he had sent it in Oct., but he had sent it to one dean and the other one hadn't gotten it or some such thing. On the way home, we stopped at the bank, and I put my jewelry in the box, and then got some baggage ins., and then home and packing.

We packed fast and furious. We met friends for dinner, and then started in again after dinner. The packing itself wasn't the trouble, but all the household type of things to do. When I picked up the ins. from Mr. Knight [travel agent], he asked if I was through packing and I told him I hadn't started. I thought he was going to faint out of his chair!

Train to NYC on Thursday night

I had packed everything last week, to see how it would fit and decide on which suitcase, but I had put everything away and hung it up. Well. B came back from her in-laws to takes us down to the train at 7:30, because we thought sure we would make the 8:11. But I finally realized that Daddy hadn't gone thru the medicines and decided on what to take, and there were things I had to do, so I suggested that we just give up and take the 10 pm train, getting to NYC at 1:35 am. We phoned the Statler and told them to hold our rooms.

Even by packing like mad, leaving instructions for B (who was keeping D happy until that, for her, ungodly hour - she was really so sweet about it all), and B was so helpful- sometime she found time to put the hem in a dress I thought I would have to do on the boat.

We finally got in the car a 9:35, but as I backed out of the driveway, I remembered I had no coat, so B dashed back to get it, and again we started off. Traffic was slow. I thought it would all be cleared off by that hour, but no. We got to the station at 4 min to 10, unloaded the car, leaving B to shut it up and take care of D. Daddy carried those heavy suitcases and I took the other stuff. We were fortunate to find the ONE porter in the station who took the bags. We weighed them on the bathroom scales before we left. Mine weighed 38 lbs, BUT Daddy's weighed 54 lbs.

The train was in the station, everyone was just about up the steps --we dashed down, the conductor saw us coming and signaled to hold the train. Daddy went back upstairs to see where the porter was and to snatch the bags from him. He was going down the moving stairs. We were so rattled we had just flown down the others. B was carrying D who was a mixture of sleepiness and bewilderment, trying to adsorb the fact that grandmurmer and grandee were going away on the choochoo train. She didn't look too happy about that, we flattered ourselves.

We got on the train and it pulled out with a swish. We collapsed in the first seat - the one that has a wall right in front of you. Many people got off in Philadelphia, and lots of college fellows got on and then got off in Trenton. The worst thing was when we got to NY there was not a redcap in sight.

And none of those pushcarts, tho they would be difficult with all those stairs. There was a big party of people for the Greek Line and one porter was piling their stuff and we were going to add to it, but we soon saw he had more than he could manage, so Daddy took the suitcases, and I took the camera bag, and my shoulder bag, and a wonderful little 3 legged seat that we have (it is very light weight aluminum, you can carry it on your little finger. & I thought we could take turns using it when we had to wait in line etc.) and I held one of the two handles on Daddy's suitcase to help him carry that. I was really worried about my shoulder, but I was more worried about him [He had a previous heart attack]. I think I might have talked him out of that 18 lb. camera case (plus 3 or 4 lbs. of film) if I had wanted to take unfair advantage of him, and left it with Mr. K's office. That is really going to be our Waterloo.

We struggled on for about 20 feet, and then would stop and rest, then carry on again until finally we made it to the Statler and found their elevators were closed and we would have to climb the stairs. I was afraid of being left there alone - very deserted, but we went partway, and Daddy went ahead and got a bellboy. I thought he was going to faint when he lifted those bags. He had to prove he could do it, and did, but it was a much harder struggle for him than it was for Daddy. I think all boys ought to be put out at hard labor when they are growing up so they develop some strength. Daddy's has really come into good use many times.

We went up to the room and got a hot shower (in spite of the big water shortage in NY - you know restaurants can't bring you water unasked or there is a big fine). We fell into bed and slept until 8

Friday morning getting to the boat

Got up and dressed and went to Child's for breakfast. Never go to the one near the Statler. Terrible service. Then I went to Macy's to buy some slips--I remembered I hadn't packed any!! And Daddy decided to get suspenders to wear because nylon shirts make his trousers too slippery and they slide around. He was also going to the 5&10 and get some Scotch tape and rubber bands. I wanted to finish my roll of film and mail it in, but didn't have time.

I got back to the hotel at 10:40. Never let anyone tell you that New Yorkers are in a hurry! Those days are gone. I waited and waited to get a clerk to tell me whether they had and where the kind of slips I wanted (I don't like lace all over them), and they were SO slow and ignorant of the stock. I finally found one helpful soul, and she showed me some back stairs to get down to the street quickly, and I dashed to the hotel, getting there before Daddy.

I quickly repacked, using one of the Am Exp gift bags to put some extras in to lighten our burden -- including gown, pjs and Daddy's medicines in case something held up our bag on shipboard. Daddy came in at 10:55. The deadline for boarding the boat was 11:30, for sailing at 12 noon.

I told him I would dash down and check out, mail the book to B and send up a bellhop while he packed. I fairly flew downstairs to find a LONG line at the checkout cashier with a foreigner at the front trying to explain his problem. I had great sympathy for him, but! The bellhop found an asst manager for me, who opened a window to take care of the bill. I found I had no money by this time, and had to cash a traveler's check. Then I dashed to the mailroom, but couldn't insure the book.

By that time it was 11:08 and no sign of Daddy. I was just ready to call the room, when he appeared, and we dashed for the doors. No doorman, but I got a taxi just as he appeared and the driver leisurely made his way downtown.


The Holland American dock is one of the most modern on the waterfront I believe, and a good thing too. I had visions of all those stairs to climb, those horrible roustabouts to contend with for the luggage and that LONG pier to run down -- but no, our taxi was waved frantically onward and upward, a LONG WINDING ramp, as if we were VIPs and stopped within 50 feet of the gangplank. Of course, by this time everyone else was ON the boat and the visitors were coming off in droves. It was a good thing no-one came to see us off. We weren't there to be seen.

They had a very nice baggage man, who helped pull me out of the taxi, laden down with everything that we were to carry, leaving Daddy free to manage the expenses. And a very wild-eyed frantic (but usually stoical looking I'm sure) man greeted us breathlessly, and said "Mrs H.?" I knew he must mean us and I said "F" - he practically deflated like a burst balloon he was so relieved, and stuck out his card and said that Mr. Knight [travel agent] had sent him. He had called the NY office too because he was so worried about our making the boat. Oh man of little faith that Mr. Knight.

He asked for our papers so he could help us get registered,so while he and Daddy did this I phoned Mr. K's sec'y [publisher] -- I hadn't had a chance to thank her. It was so nice to have those books delivered. In our rush and hurry I forgot to mention how they were to be paid for, I realize, but they can deduct it from our account. After all they hold the purse strings.

By this time, Daddy and the man were back and was MOST anxious that I let Mr. Knight know that he met us and got us thru and onto the boat. Either Mr. Knight was very worried, or else he got this man very worried! We actually had 5 minutes to spare.

So during that time, I phoned B to let her know we were OFF, and that is when Daddy phoned Aunt M [his sister who was in the hospital after having a stroke]. She sounded so good that he thought she must be one of the children. We then battled our way up the gangplank against the surging tide of visitors coming off. [Note - I think they must have had to use pay phones on the dock to phone-no cell phones in those days]

We pushed by all the tears and goodbyes and the "be seeing you"s and made our way down to our cabin. Even our cabin boy seemed glad to see us! He opened the door and VIOLA! the biggest cabin we have ever had. This is supposed to be for 3 people, but they put the other bunk close to the wall. We have a huge deep tub with a shower - 2 portholes but they don't open - air conditioning etc. There is a pushout part of the chest that makes a desk for Daddy to work on. I'm typing on a coffee table pulled up to a chair. There is a full length mirror and enough room to really dance in.

Dining room Steward

The only fly in the ointment is the dining steward - a prissy, sissy individual. There are 5 at our table - another couple our age with 3 boys (the L's). He is in personnel at Westinghouse at Newark. They are very nice. The fifth person is a young German girl returning to Stuttgart after 1.5 years of business school in California.

Mr L was very annoyed about how snippy the waiter was. Daddy went down to breakfast about 10 min before the door closed to get some coffee (I stayed in the room to type - we worked last night until 1:45 am), and he said he didn't know whether he could get into the kitchen or not etc. etc. which is all poppycock as the DR is open until 10 or 10:15. When Mr L heard about this he went to the chief steward and complained, which he had been wanting to do all along, and we had a change at lunch. A steward either makes or breaks your trip, and I like to be on the good side of one and have things pleasant at mealtime, so I hope for the best.

We haven't missed too much good weather by working. I hope when this is done it will be better. They extended our time to 6 pm for this machine, and I am trying to urge Daddy onward, but the copy the secy made is so confused it is difficult for him. I think he has 5 lbs of books just for this paper, and I am trying to figure out how we can get rid of them. Maybe I'll leave them with the baggage master to be mailed in NY. But they go on two cruise trips to Russia before then.

I feel sure I must have left some clothes at home, but I can't think what. You should see the enormous bouquet Mr. Hafner [publisher] sent. Daddy and I said together "It is big enuf for a funeral" and "It looks like a funeral", but it is really gorgeous.

This just about brings us completely up to the last minute. I think I'm going to the gym and try to cycle. I've gotten very cramped sitting here.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 13:33 Archived in USA Tagged new_york cruise packing Comments (3)

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