The Festive Season Begins

December 19, 1955

Dear Dad & Russ,

I managed to borrow my typewriter from the Embassy last Friday night so I thought I might dash off a few lines while I have the chance. I sent my first letter off to you in such a rush I can’t for the life of me remember what I said in it! In case I didn’t mention it (probably not) the address you folks should send your letters to is c/o Canadian Embassy, Zitelmannstrasse 22, Bonn, Germany

My home address is Austrasse 14, Mehlem, but please don’t send mail here. By sending it to the Embassy I get it nearly a whole day sooner. All our mail goes out from the Embassy too. Johnny York is in charge of selling stamps to Embassy personnel and about twice a day one of our drivers takes the mail to the Post Office. Quite a nice arrangement. Another little step-saver the Embassy provides is laundry privileges. Every Tuesday afternoon the laundry man picks up our laundry at the Embassy and delivers it back the following Tuesday!

Well, last week I tucked my first three German lessons under my belt. I have an excellent teacher (female) who also teaches a great many other members of the Embassy. She speaks perfect English, too, which is always a help. But here’s the pay-off! I take my lessons right at the Embassy DURING OFFICE HOURS!! This I don’t think should get around, as I’m sure the Department would have a fit if they knew their Bonn personnel were taking German lessons on Government Time! Of course, the funny part about this is that the Department pays for these lessons and, when you become fluent in German, they increase your salary by $10 or $12 a month!!

Canadian Embassy, Bonn (garden view)

Canadian Embassy, Bonn (rear/garden view)

I have never in my life met such a bunch of party-loving people. Most of the staff are young and those that aren’t young in years are young in heart. Last night, for example, Sally Swenson and one of the other girls at the Embassy threw a party that lasted until 8 a.m. this morning!! A glorious time was had by all, needless to say. Also needless to say I didn’t get out of bed until 3:30 this afternoon. I have spent the rest of the day housecleaning, stoking the fire, pressing my pants, washing my hair, making my supper, etc.

A week ago last Thursday, the German couple who live upstairs invited me up for supper. Von Studnitz is their name and they both speak fluent English. They are very fond of Canadians and assured me they would take good care of me. Last week I met Frau von Studnitz in the hall when I was going to work and she said she had been sick with a cold for most of the week and was very apologetic because she hadn’t been taking care of me!! And last Saturday morning, the First Secretary of the Turkish Embassy (the other upstairs apartment) dropped in to pay his respects to his new neighbour. He also speaks English. Across the hall from me live the Wilborns (German) and, although they don’t speak any English, Frau Wilborn came over one day and said “Anything you want, just call”. What a bunch of neighbours!!

I found a wonderful store one block from the apartment. Two of the clerks speak fluent English (which makes it nice) and this store has all sorts of things I never expected to find in Germany – Horsey fruit juices, Heinz soups, etc. They also have a selection of potato salads, cole slaw, cold meats, etc. I sure was fortunate to find such a place.

Last weekend the Arbuckles dropped in from Paris. “Buck” is our European technician and I knew him in Ottawa. On Tuesday night, George Howell and I took them out for dinner at a very quaint German restaurant. And then on Thursday night, I had dinner at the Mitchells’ home. Sam Mitchell is with the Trade & Commerce branch of the Embassy. Next Tuesday night the staff is having a buffet dinner at the First Secretary’s home and George is planning to have a party on Christmas Eve. One of the stenos is having a party on Boxing Day. Have you ever heard the likes of it?

The Embassy here is just a dream. Zitlemannstrasse is the last street in Bonn before Bad Godesberg and No. 22 (The Embassy) is the second-last house on Zitelmannstrasse. At the end of the street there is a field stretching down to the Rhine. There is a beautiful garden at the back of the Embassy and all the offices on the first floor have picture windows looking out over the garden. My office, of course, is in the basement right next to Johnny York. However, it is quite cheerful and I do enjoy working there. Of course, I don’t have a termendous view, being in the basement, but I make up for that here at the apartment with the Drachenfels just outside my living room window!

Did you know there were Esso and Shell stations here in Germany? A little touch of home.

I received your two wonderful Christmas cards last week and also your two letters. Also a Christmas card from the Morlocks and one from Marg In Wellington, New Zealand. Still no sign of the parcel but I expect it shall show up next week. You mentioned in letter of November 25 about the Canadian Ambassador to Turkey travelling on the Empress of Scotland. As a matter of fact, I played Bingo with his wife for most of the trip and I had cocktails with them one evening in their cabin!

As much as I’d like to, I’m not going to get a letter off to Bob [Rivoire] tonight. Please phone him for me, Dad, and give him my best and ask him to say hello to all the gang for me. I shall try to bring my typewriter home again some night next week (in between parties and dinner invitations) and get a letter off to him. By the way, my Christmas cards are going to be a bit late this year. Yesterday afternoon, when George and I went shopping, was the first chance I’ve had to buy Christmas cards. So tomorrow I’m sending one to you folks, one to Bob and one to Sylvia. Under the circumstances, I’m afraid I’m going to have to overlook a lot of people this year.

Well, my cuckoo bird tells me it’s midnight so I must be going for now. I’ll certainly try to write again before too long.

lots of love, Dave

PS: With the exception of one very cold day, the weather here has been like spring! Guess I’m in for another green Christmas.

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