January 6, 1956
Dear Dad & Russ,
I received your most welcome letter dated January 3 this morning and I figure it is high time I got a letter off to you folks. Say, that’s not bad is it? Three days for a letter to get from Canada to Germany! Sure beats Canada-Cambodia mail arrangements!
I have another letter from you folks at home (in fact I think there are two!). However, no sign of the parcel yet. Some of the people here had parcels sent from Canada as early as November 15 and have still not received them, so I’m not worried about your parcel. Now that the Christmas rush has died down I’m sure it will arrive in Bonn one of these days.
I’m quite satisfied with my bank balance as reported in your latest letter. You see, my share of the rent is deducted at source, which means that I just have water, light and telephone bills to pay myself here. Incidentally, I spent yesterday afternoon picking out new furniture for the apartment. I’m sending back all the old furniture (rented) and doing the whole place over to my own taste. The furniture I picked out is all modern (and also rented, by the way – it’s included in the rent for the apartment). Most of the furniture is in white maple with black trim. The chairs and sofa are in black, Chinese red, yellow and some grey. Quite effective, believe me. But my real pride and joy is the bedroom suite. The bed I chose is about 7 feet square and shaped like an Egyptian divan (whatever that may be!). It’s quite tremendous anyways.
We do get Ottawa newspapers here in Bonn and I was very sorry to read about that awful fire so close to the apartment. The Russian Embassy also made news here in Bonn. [The Russian Embassy in Ottawa burned down and the Russian Embassy in Bonn opened.]
So far no snow in Bonn. Lots of frost every morning, though.
Now about Christmas-New Year’s activities in Bonn. Honestly, so very much happened I’m sure I’m going to forget half of it but here goes: (incidentally, wherever I say “we” I’m referring to George and me.)
December 20: buffet dinner and party at the home of Mr. Starnes – First Secretary
December 22 – buffet dinner at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Tough (Pam and Art) – our accountant
Christmas Eve: tree-decorating party at the the Mathewsons home – one of our officers
Christmas Day: first of all we went to the home of Mr. Stone – Third Secretary – at 11 a.m. From there we drove to a town called Beuel (across the Rhine from Bonn) for Christmas dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Lyon – information Officer – at 1:00 o’clock. Then, Christmas night we drove up to Cologne for Christmas dinner (another one!) at our Ambassador’s home (this was quite a tremendous affair and lasted way into the wee small hours!).
Boxing Day: dinner at noon with the Mitchells (Trade & Commerce), then a party that night at the home of one of our stenos.
New Year’s Eve: party (and late supper) at the home of Col. Forbes (Military Attache) followed by another party at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Lyon, followed by another party at George’s place! Whew!!!
January 1: slept all day!
Believe it or not, this list is far from complete! There were several other parties and dinners that George and I were invited to at the spur of the moment. However, I think the foregoing list will give you at least a sketchy idea of how I spent the holiday season. As I said before, these people here at the Embassy in Bonn are the friendliest, party-lovingest (?) bunch I’ve ever met! They’ve all opened their homes to me since I’ve arrived and let me tell you it makes all the difference in the world! It would take a pretty nasty type of person to not enjoy himself in Bonn!
George gave me the most wonderful book for Christmas. It’s called “A Man’s Guide to Europe” and tells you everything you ever want to know to have a good time in Europe. Incidentally, if you get a post-card from Spain or Spanish Morocco sometime in March don’t be alarmed. George and I are planning a wee sojourn to Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and possibly a day or two in Africa (Spanish Morocco) around the end of March. Will report further on said sojourn in later letters.
Speaking of wee sojourns, did you know that Bill Glenn is leaving next week for Europe? Should be lots of fun when he lands in Bonn. Which reminds me. Everyone here is awfully interested in seeing my slides of Indochina, Hong Kong, Siam, etc. Do you suppose it would be possible to send them over with Bill? If not, perhaps you could maul them to me. I wouldn’t keep them here for long, however. As soon as everyone sees them I’ll mail them back to you or send them home with Bill. I wish you could do this for me fairly soon as the folks here are very anxious to see them.
Well, folks, I consider myself very fortunate in being able to type this letter at work. Quite unusual to have a slack like this, believe me.
I’ve probably forgotten all sorts of things that I meant to tell you, but gradually, letter by letter, I should be able to paint you a fair picture of life in Bonn.
One place I meant to tell you about last letter is a quaint little restaurant in Bad Godesberg. The walls are completely covered in bleached burlap sacking and all the tables are bare, scrubbed wood. And the food – WOW!
It’s nearly time to close up now, so I’ll say Auf Wiedersehen for this time.
lots of love, Dave