Coke and Coke

January 20, 1956

Dear Dad & Russ,

I’m just sort of between telegrams at this point so I thought I’d at least try to dash off a line or two. This has certainly been a busy, busy week here at the office! I’ve been working full blast from 9 to 5:30 every day, then dashing out to Mehlem to stoke up my fire at 6, followed by a mad dash into Bad Godesberg via streetcar each evening to visit George Howell, who is laid up with acute tonsillitis!

Since I last wrote you I have received the parcel containing bath mats, rain-coat and desk calendars (Johnny York and I both say thank you) and also the parcel from Aunt Clara and Uncle Russ. Also received the Star Weekly and the Bank of Montreal calendar. And, of course, your lovely long letter of January 13 (it’s at home at this point) arrived too. I feel real guilty that all the mail has been going in the Ottawa-Bonn direction!

I’m trying to remember all the questions you asked in your letter. Oh yes – what do I burn in my stove? Well, first of all coke*. Then, when the fire gets going good I pop in 3 or 4 brickets. I must admit (now it can be told!) that, for the first two or three weeks I nearly froze ’cause I didn’t know how to operate the darn thing correctly. However, I’ve had a continuous fire going for the past week and it really is cozy now. I just stoke it first thing in the morning, then again around 6 at night and once more just before going to bed.

A 1950s coal stove

A 1950s coal stove

About churches, theatres, etc. The American settlement has a very nice movie theatre here in Bonn. You have to pay in either Script (American) or Baffs (British) though, so we can only go if we happen to get hold of some of these monies. Also, there is a wonderful little coffee shop in this settlement where you can get such delicacies as hamburgers and milk-shakes. Coca-Cola is manufactured locally here, by the way, and you can buy it in any store (gee whiz – it’s civilized!).

There is also a church in the American settlement but as yet I haven’t managed to get to it. It’s quite a distance from Mehlem  and not having a car does complicate matters slightly. Besides, Sunday morning is usually spent in bed here in Bonn!

All my new furniture arrived last Friday and honestly it is just too wonderful for words! It is all ultra modern and nice and colourful. George made a brilliant suggestion when he saw the apartment all fixed up. He suggested that I take some colour slides of the apartment and send them home, which I certainly shall do.

Now, about the slides. Mr. Stone (3rd Secretary) is leaving for Ottawa very soon and his replacement – Mr. Peter Towe (I think that’s how it’s spelt) shall be coming to Bonn. It has been suggested, Dad, that you might try to get in touch with Mr. Towe through the Department and ask him if he’d mind bringing the slides along with him. Another alternative would be to simply ask the mail room if they’d send them to me in a sea bag. Or, failing both these, send them by ordinary mail insured.

So glad to hear that Bob [Rivoire] got into the Department at last. I’m sure it will do him a world of good. I expect to hear from Bill Glenn one of these days saying he’s on his way down from Scotland.

I fully intended to write more than this, but duty calls (in the form of a long telegram!) and, as this is Friday afternoon, I certainly would like to get out on time.

So, until I get another “break” to drop a line, I’ll say bye for now.

Lots of love, Dave

P.S. My radio arrived last week, too!

* What is coke? Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Coke is used as a fuel and as a reducing agent in smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made.

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