December 7, 1955
Dear Dad & Russ,
Well, at long last I’m getting around to writing a letter! Honestly, I’ve been so busy since my arrival in Bonn last Thursday that this is the first moment I’ve had to dash off a few lines.
Before I go on, I would like to explain that the only place I can type my letters is right here in my own little office, so I’m afraid there won’t be too many “14-pagers” like Indochina. However, I certainly shall keep you posted on my activities at least once a week if at all possible.
I won’t go into too much detail right now about the trip over on the Empress of Scotland. It was a wonderful trip – just like crossing Dow’s Lake, it was so smooth. The train trip from Liverpool to London was lots of fun. My first impression of England was “chimney-pots”! I was met in London by a driver from Canada House and our two communications supervisors in London. On the way to my hotel we passed Buckingham Palace, the Parliament Buildings and drove through Hyde Park. My hotel was just across the street from Hyde Park by the way. I took in a movie on my one night in London and spent most of Wednesday at Canada House renewing old friendships, etc. At 7:30 Wednesday night I boarded a train bound for Harwich and stepped directly from the train onto the S.S. Arnhem, a rather petite but very comfortable Dutch boat. The next morning at five I arrived at the Hook of Holland and boarded the Rhinegold Express for Bonn. We passed through Rotterdam, Tilburg and Cologne en route.
I was met in Bonn by quite a delegation of people. There was Mr. Starnes, 2nd in charge at the Embassy, Harry Stewart, our admin. officer, and Garny Foley, the chap who Johnny York is replacing [as Registrar]. They took me right to the hotel in Bad Godesberg. I had a lovely room with a little balcony that hung right out over the Rhine River!! My first German meal consisted of Wiener Schnitzel and good German beer! Food is so cheap here in restaurants! You can have a full-course meal including soup, steak, potatoes, vegetables, salad and dessert for about sixty cents!
Friday morning I moved into my apartment. I certainly was surprised to find that Marg Newton had moved out already! The apartment is really delightful. It is very modern – Marg was the first tenant – and is situated in a little town called Mehlem, about five miles from Bonn, just the other side of Bad Godesberg. The Rhine River is about 500 yards from my front door and from one of the living room windows I have a wonderful view of the Seven Mountains and the Drachenfels where Siegfried slew the dragons. Who could ask for more??? The furniture is very nice and modern, although I will need a few more pieces before I’ll feel settled. In some future letter I’ll draw you a plan of the apartment so you’ll have a better idea of what it is like.
When they call this Embassy “the friendly Embassy” they certainly mean what they say. I have never in all my life met such a wonderful group of people! On Friday night we had a terrific party here in the Embassy to say farewell to those leaving and to welcome Johnny and me to the staff. The party lasted until 5 a.m. Saturday morning!!! Just to show you what a swell group these people are, Harry Stewart asked if I’d like to stay at this place for a few days until I got settled. When I told him that I thought I could manage alright, his wife insisted on at least lending me a pillow as my apartment was lacking this rather essential item.
Friday afternoon and Saturday I spent shopping for pillows, pots and pans, cutlery, dishes (including a black and lime ceramic tea set) and a bit of food (soup, eggs, cheese, etc.) I also bought a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock for $6.50!! This wee bird is real company for me, believe me. Every half hour he comes out of his little house and says his little say. Then each hour he comes out again and cuckoos once for each hour to the accompaniment of chimes.
I met a very nice chap here at the Embassy by the name of George Howell. George is the clerk to the Military Attache here in Bonn and his also the OTHER bachelor. He has a little Volkswagen and we go out for lunch each day together. And, as I said before, for 60 or 70 cents you can buy a banquet here! Last night after work George came home with me to help build a fire (it had gone out and I wasn’t too sure how to operate the stove) and he stayed for supper (tomato soup, ham and eggs, cheese and coffee). Then we went to a movie and home I went.
I nearly forgot to mention that on Sunday night Mr. and Mrs. Tough (the accountant) invited George and me over to their home for dinner. Also, I have received two invitations to attend various parties during December. One of our stenos has given me a toaster and another steno is digging me up an iron.
I think I’m going to like it here in Bonn!
On Monday I became a man. I spent my [21st] birthday by working at the office until 9 p.m. and then went over to George’s apartment, where we celebrated with hamburgers and champagne (what a combination!).
December 8, 1955
I’m afraid this letter will have to be continued. Awfully busy. Will write just as soon as I get a chance.
Lots of love,