Christmas and After

December 9, 1956

Dear Dad and Russ,

On Friday last I received your letter of December 4 and also your letter of November 8! This latter item turned up in an envelope without stamps which, needless to say, confused me no end until I read in the letter that you were enclosing the Carleton calendar. I remember now that the envelope containing the calendar was torn down one side, so I imagine what must have happened was that your letter had fallen out somewhere en route between Ottawa and Bonn and just now reached me!

Well, by this time you must have received my letter telling you that I sent off my enrollment in English literature and history to Toronto the day after the enrollment form reached me. I guess the mail must be a little slow around this time of year.

For the past week we’ve had nothing but rain and dense fog and today, for a change, it cleared up a little bit but it’s still so mild you scarcely need a coat to go out. We did have a little wet snow a couple of weeks ago but it melted as fast as it hit the ground. Bad Godesberg really looks lovely now, though, with all its Christmas decorations.

About phoning me during the Christmas season. Well, that sounds like a fine idea to me! Yes, I do have a phone here at the apartment. My number is Bad Godesberg 12567 (I’m listed in the Bad Godesberg phone book so you shouldn’t have any trouble reaching me). Now, just what day would be the best is rather hard to say. On Monday, December 24, I will be on my “Santa Claus” rounds. There are about 10 Canadian children here at the Embassy who all call me “Uncle David” and I must take them all a little something for Christmas (one of the duties of an uncle, I guess!). And, of course, I must pay my respects to the Toughs and the Yorks. They’ve been so darn wonderful to me all year. Then, on Christmas Day, I’m having lunch with the Toughs and, as last year, we are all going to Cologne for Christmas dinner with the Ambassador. As far as I know as yet, Sunday, December 23 is free and any day after Christmas day during the following week. The time difference, by the way, between Ottawa and Bonn is six hours. You must add six hours to Ottawa time to get Bonn time. I think around 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the evening would be the best time for me. Anyways, I’ll let you decide and be sure to drop me a line so I’ll be home when the call comes through.

My work over here seems to increase more and more every day. No sign of a let-up as yet and my overtime hours are really staggering! I must have close to seven weeks leave coming my way right now. All being well, I hope to take a couple of weeks off in February or March and go down to the south of France with Jack and his wife. Monte Carlo is only a 2-day drive from Bonn. However, that all remains to be seen.

I had a very nice and very quiet birthday this year. A whole gang of us went to the movie and then had an impromptu party afterwards. Hard to believe I’m 22 already! And also hard to believe that I’m into my second year in Bonn! Time sure does fly.

Well, I have a dinner invitation for seven tonight and as it is almost 6 I think I must get dressed and shaved etc., so will have to close this letter for now.

In closing, there’s one thing I insist on, namely – you must not be worrying about me. Our little Canadian “family” is getting along just fine over here and other than a lot more work, the recent events in Eastern Europe are very remote from Bonn. So please don’t be concerned about me one little bit.

I’m afraid next weekend will be rather hectic what with the “ball” at the Ritchies and pre-Christmas celebrations, so just in case I don’t find time to write before, may I wish you both


Lots of love, Dave

January 19, 1957

Dear Dad and Russ,

Would you believe it – today, January 19 is the first day since New Year’s Day that I haven’t been at work this month! I have never been so busy since coming to Bonn as I’ve been this month. And this, incidentally, is the first letter I’ve had time to write this year! I even had to go into work last Tuesday morning at 3 AM! It’s been that terribly busy. However, it’s all overtime to my credit; as of now I have two months leave coming my way.

Well, it certainly was a pleasure to hear from you to on the telephone. It certainly was an amazing experience talking across the Atlantic just as if we were phoning across town! Pam MacDougall (our only female officer at the Embassy) and her sister Lorna came over for dinner that evening around 7:30. I had been expecting your call at 6:30 but, as you know, it didn’t arrive until nearly 10:30. I had just phoned the operator in Cologne to find out if she knew anything about why the call was being delayed when you came on. Dinner that night, by the way, consisted of a roast beef, carrots, peas, potatoes, salad and an entrée of cold salmon and asparagus tips. Quite good, if I do say so myself.

It’s been so long since I’ve written that I quite forget what all has happened since last letter. The Christmas season got rolling over here on December 15 with a formal dance at the Residence in Cologne. It was quite delightful affair and the first time I had ever worn a tuxedo. I borrowed it from a friend of mine at the Turkish Embassy and the kids also that I looked quite smart in my Turkish tux! The place was just crawling with Counts and Countesses, Barons and Baronesses, Dukes and Duchesses, etc., etc. After the dance most of the Canadians and a couple of the younger baronesses all went back to Phil Weishar’s place to round off a very enjoyable evening.

Around Christmas and New Year’s I was booked solid with dinner invitations. I’m afraid I had to turn down about 75% of the invitations I received. That’s the wonderful thing about the people here at our Embassy, they look after us single types as if we were there very own! Christmas Eve was quite the most beautiful night I’ve ever seen in Germany weather-wise. It had snowed on the 23rd and the 24th was just cold and crisp enough to keep a little bit of the snow on the ground and trees. The sky was clear and all the stars were shining brightly. And all the church bells were ringing most of the evening. The German custom is to open all their gifts on Christmas Eve, which is the big night for them. The Kesselheims (the people George lived with) invited me over to share their Christmas Eve with them and it was a very wonderful experience. The whole family are really swell. Herman (the father) had made a great jug of what is known as a “Kalte Ente” which, in English means “cold duck”. This is a subtle mixture of champagne and white wine into which is dunked a grapefruit peel for flavor. The whole thing is chilled, then served. Which makes quite a nice drink. “Kalte Ente” is the traditional Christmas drink in this part of Germany.

"Kalte Ente"

“Kalte Ente”

I had Christmas lunch with the Toughs this year and nearly burst at the seams! Pam is English and she turned out a genuine English Christmas feast which would really have made your eyes pop! There was turkey, baked ham, brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, sage and onion dressing, chestnut dressing, plum pudding, mincemeat tarts, Christmas cake, and a few other items which I can’t quite remember. Peter and Susan Tough give me some socks and hankies and later on in the day, when I could manage to walk after that dinner, I called in on the Yorks, where I was presented with a cocktail shaker and ice bucket! I don’t know if I told you before or not, but over here I’m known as “Uncle David” to about 10 Canadian children! Quite a family.

The Ritchies had their usual Christmas dinner at the Residence on Christmas night followed by a party. Then, on Boxing Day, I had lunch at the Mitchell’s (Trade and Commerce). The following week was just one party after another and one dinner after another.

On New Year’s Eve Marion Greenwood and I had a party here at my place which turned out to be a roaring success. Instead of the usual little sandwiches and odds and ends you usually get these parties, we served up something like 42 grilled Canadian hamburgers for refreshments. This went over with a bang, especially with some of our foreign guests (including Belgians, Turks, Germans, and Norwegians!).

On New Year’s Day most of the single kids turned up at the Mains about noon for bowls of hot, homemade vegetable soup. Wonderful! Then over to the Yorks for a goose dinner that evening. Whew! Quite a busy week!

Well, the books arrived in perfect condition last week along with that wonderful picture of you folks outside the apartment with George. Also the desk calendar. Many thanks for everything. The most extraordinary thing happened shortly after the books arrived. One of our officers here, Doug Small, and his wife, Helen, offered to tutor me in English Lit. and history! Helen majored in history of college and was a schoolteacher before marrying Doug. And Helen’s mother just happens to teach Grade 13 Lit. back in Canada! I have a lesson now every Monday night and the interest those two are showing in my work just amazes me. You would honestly think that they were the ones who were going to go to college! Helen is more than happy to do this for me because as she said, she has so much spare time on her hands over here she hardly knows what to do. The Smalls have many personal friends on faculties of various colleges in Canada and they’ll be able to get all sorts of information for me to help me along. People are really pretty darn wonderful aren’t they?

I was talking to Gordon Happy the other day on the phone. Hap is up in London now along with Pat and Debbie, of course. No more lone postings for Hap if he can help it! The strange thing was, however, that we had asked Ottawa for another Communications Clerk because of the tremendous increase in work in Bonn as of late and Hap to was the one chosen! Then, just about a week before he left for Bonn, there was a change of plans somewhere and he was posted to London. We still haven’t heard who is coming out to Bonn to help me! This, incidentally, is all classified information that shouldn’t go beyond the Nixon household.

Gene Loo's Xmas Card

Gene Loo’s Xmas Card

Well, folks, I should like to chat away for a while longer but I simply must get cracking on letters to a dozen other people who wrote to me at Christmas (including Jean Loo, my Hong Kong tailor!).

All the best and I’m looking forward to September very much,

Lots of love, Dave


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