June 25, 1956
Dear Dad and Russ,
Whew! I’m in the midst of a little breather here at the Embassy so I decided now would be as good a time as any to dash off a letter to Canada. It certainly has been busy here the past week let me tell you!
Since George left I’ve led quite a quiet social life (that is in comparison with the past few weeks just before George left). I spend a great deal of time playing canasta with Art and Pam Tough and going to the movies with them. Last night, incidentally, Art and I went to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea“, which was, to say the least, excellent. Did I tell you that Art has been posted to Geneva for the month of July and is going to meet Sylvia’s plane and get her organized to come to Bonn? Then, all being well, Pam Tough, their two kiddies, Sylvia and I will be spending a weekend in Holland next month and then, also all being well, I hope to get a couple of weeks off in August so that Sylvia and I can motor down to Switzerland and Lake Lugano.
Ken Thomas, the chap that George and I stayed with in London last March, has been posted to New Delhi as of July 3. Lucky guy!
My cold is much better now, but unfortunately is still with me. Practically everyone here at the Embassy has caught the same cold. George wrote me a letter just before he left London for Liverpool in which he announced that he too has not escaped catching a Bonn cold. We all blame it on the miserable weather – and I really think we’re quite justified! It has rained every day for almost a month now and it is so cold we all are wearing sweaters and coats and have little fires going or electric heaters all the time. In the morning you can actually see your breath! On Saturday, lo and behold, the sun came out and the clouds disappeared – for about three hours! Then everything got inky dark and lightning flashed, thunder roared and it rained cats and dogs again and it is still raining! Depressing to say the least!
I can’t tell you yet which month, July or August, would be best for you two to come over here next year. Actually, I think either month would be equally nice, according to the natives – that is if it stops raining by then!
August 1, 1956
Well here is August first already, which marks the completion of eight happy months in Germany. Eight months certainly seems like a long time but I must admit the time has passed all too quickly. Before I know it, the other two years and 10 months of my Bonn posting will be all over and done with!
And I’m sure it must be close to eight months (or so it seems to me) since I last wrote you folks! Hope you haven’t been worrying about me now, just because you haven’t heard from me for so long, because you’ve certainly no need for worry. The only reason you haven’t heard from me before this has been a distinct lack of letter-writing time. As a matter of fact, Johnny York took the last two weeks off for leave and I had to run the Registry as well as Communications. Brother! What a job. I ran up 42 hours of overtime for the month of July alone, which incidentally gives me a total of 35 working days leave coming – or in other words seven full weeks!
I have before me four (4) unanswered letters from you, dated July 6, July 8, July 15, and July 23! Obviously you have been far better letter writers than me! I also received your cable telling me about the changes in Sylvia’s plans. I phoned Geneva and Paris immediately to transfer the reception committee duties from Switzerland to France.
If my memory serves me rightly, I haven’t written you at all during the month of July. Cecile Fyen was here for the July 1 weekend and we both attended Mr. Ritchie’s Canada Day reception in Cologne. On July 12, a Canadian chap from Canada House in London arrived in Bonn, en route to Venice. He was walking, by the way. He says it’s the best holiday he’s had. His name is John Powell and he seems quite a nice person. Well, anyways John stayed at my place overnight and we have sort of tentatively planned to take some leave together in October to hitchhike down to Vienna. John will bring his wife and little boy over here to Bonn and they can stay at my apartment while John that I hoof it down south. Of course, nothing definite as yet but sure sounds like a lot of fun.
Sylvia got in touch with Cecile Fyen in Paris as soon as she arrived and, of course, Cecile would hear nothing else but that Sylvia should stay at her place. On Friday, July 13, she arrived in Bonn. It was really wonderful to see her again – she hasn’t changed a bit. Sylvia stayed here until Tuesday morning, July 17, and she returned to Paris to study ballet. On the Sunday she was here the two of us hopped into the VW around noon and drove up to Arnhem in Holland. It was a wonderful trip and we were back in Bonn by 8:30 that evening for dinner with Pam Tough. Seems a little ridiculous doesn’t it, taking an afternoon drive to Holland! Sylvia phoned me from Paris last week to tell me how things were going. She is studying ballet with the Roland Petit ballet company and, evidently, Roland Petit himself told Sylvia that if she had been in Paris three weeks earlier and auditioned for the company, she would have been a member of it now! The Roland Petit company, by the way, is the company that Leslie Caron was in before going to Hollywood. They have been in several films, including “American in Paris”, “Daddy Long Legs”, and so on. Sylvia was quite excited to say the least.
Sylvia is coming back to Bonn on Friday and then Saturday morning we are taking off to points unknown. We are just going to drive down the Rhine to the Black Forest, Bavaria, Switzerland, maybe Italy, and goodness only knows where else. We’ll just have 12 days together as she have to go back to Paris on the 16th to leave for Canada again. However, you can sure see a lot of Europe in 12 days! We’ll be dropping you postcards from time to time to let you know what progress we are making.
Your letter of July 15 (and George’s letter and Bob’s letter!) certainly came as a very pleasant surprise! I didn’t expect George to be in Ottawa until around the end of July. However, I’m so glad you had an opportunity to meet George and were able to do something for him. He is really a swell guy (as I’m sure you’ll agree after meeting him) and I’ll never be able to repay him for the way he took care of me during my first few months in Bonn. To tell you the truth, it just doesn’t seem like the same place here without George around! However, I’m sure our paths will cross again someday, someplace.
Sally Swenson is leaving for home next Saturday. Last Saturday night we had a real old-fashioned Canadian wiener and marshmallow roast for her on the banks of the Rhine. We were very fortunate in not having any rain and I can tell you everybody enjoyed themselves immensely. It was quite a new experience for the Europeans present and they seem to got more of a kick out of it than we Canadians!
You know, having not written to you for over a month makes it very difficult to bring you up-to-date on all the news. I’m still being invited here and there for dinner nearly every other night – being a bachelor at a post like this certainly has its advantages. Never know quite where the next meal will come from but I’ve yet to go hungry!
Which reminds me. The weekend Sylvia was here I invited two of our stenos over for dinner. I cooked (repeat I COOKED) a roast of veal with tomato sauce, onions, peppers, spices, etc., and spaghetti. I was so pleased with the results and the others seem to be pleased also (and I guess a little bit surprised) that I have a repeat performance last Sunday night for Sally and the other two stenos. This time I added a green salad to my menu.
I took the car in for a checkup yesterday and they guaranteed that it is now in perfect shape for “going over an Alp”. I’ve been getting such wonderful service out of my little VW. Also I’m completely sold on VW’s now and swear I’ll never ever drive any other type of car (except, of course, a Ford occasionally!). That also reminds me that as of today, August 1, the car is all mine. The last payment to Sally went through today.
Things are improving a little bit weather-wise here. It only rains about every other day now instead of every day. However it is still quite cool and a sweater is usually the order of the day. However, folks who have gone south (as Sylvia and I plan to do on Saturday) have all returned with wonderful suntans and glowing reports about the weather down in those parts.
I’m typing this letter during my “guard duty” and as it is now nearly 2 o’clock and people are beginning to drift back from their lunch hour, I’m afraid I’ll have to close for now. You’ll be hearing from “S and D” on postcards for the next two weeks, then I’ll try to write you another letter when I get back.
lots of love, Dave
P.S. Incidentally, Sally Swenson is just going to stay in Canada for about a month and then she’s off to INDOCHINA for nine months!