News – Good, Bad & Middling

March 10, 1957

Dear Dad and Russ,

It’s been so very, very long since I’ve had a chance to write you that I must have at least a dozen letters to thank you for.

Well, this letter I’m afraid, is going to be a combination of bad news and good news and I suppose I’d better get the bad news over with first. I’m terribly sorry to tell you but I have found it impossible to keep up with the exhausting pace of working all day (and usually all night!) at the office then coming home to work even longer on correspondence courses. But no one is more disappointed than yours truly I can tell you. Quite frankly trying to work the way I was is killing. I’m afraid I can’t really tell you just what is involved in “communications” work but I can tell you that it’s far from the easiest job on Earth and really takes quite a lot of a person. Especially of late. As of April 1 I shall have 57 days leave to my credit and over half of this is overtime leave! 57 days leave totals 11 weeks and two days leave, by the way, so don’t worry about my having lots of leave for you folks next September! However there is one little ray of sunshine in all of this. Helen Small who has given me so much time in helping me along with history and English literature quite agrees with me that it would be pointless to continue when the work is becoming such a burden, but she suggested I carry on with history doing maybe one lesson a month or just as many as I can handle and then write that exam off in June ’58. I must say she’s determined to see me finish this business up! So please don’t think the show is being given up on completely. I’m fully convinced that work and great amounts of schooling just don’t mix but I’m sure that by taking things a little more gradual everything will work out to the best.

Now for the good news. Last Wednesday saw the arrival of another communications operator at the Canadian Embassy in Bonn. No one could have been more welcome (or more necessary!) as far as I am concerned.

March 11, 1957

Hi again! The Toughs phoned last night to ask me over for a game of Canasta so I didn’t get very far with this letter. I was just telling you about the recent arrival of another communicator from Ottawa. His name is Al Sauve and he’s married with three small children. He seems like quite a nice chap and is very anxious for me to get away on some well-deserved leave. I can tell you that even in the few days he’s been here it’s made a tremendous difference in the work.

I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned Allan Hobbs to you in my letters. Allan is a young chap at the British Embassy here in Bonn (he works in communications too, by the way) whom I met a few months ago. It was swell having single companionship for a while (bachelors are very rare in Bonn). I say “was swell” because a week ago last Saturday I was best man at Allan’s wedding in Düsseldorf. He married the ambassador’s secretary at the British Embassy who is a very charming redhead named Pat. I’ve become very fond of Pat and Allan and we see a lot of each other from time to time.

Well, I guess you’ve been reading about the German “Carnival” season in the papers back home. Cologne and Bonn are right in the heart of the Rhineland Carnival district so there were all sorts of local high-jinks going on here for the past few weeks. I was just to one costume party this year at the home of a French friend of mine. It was a tremendous party and “tres internationale”, with representatives of France, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Romania, Austria, Norway and Canada being present.

About a month ago I had a visit from John Powell, Canada House, London one weekend. Sylvia may have mentioned to you that she stayed with the Powells when she was in London last year. John had visited me just before Sylvia arrived – he was hitchhiking down to Austria. Well, anyways, on the Sunday of John’s visit we drove down to Heidelberg with two of our stenos from the Embassy. We had a terrific time in spite of the rain (we’ve all got so used to the rain around here it really doesn’t dampen our spirits anymore!). We stopped off on the way to Heidleberg a little Rhinish town called Limburg which must be a million years old.

Heidelberg (2010 view)

Heidelberg (2010 view)

The Toughs are due to return to Canada next June and I will surely miss them very, very much. They intend to look you people up when they get to Ottawa. Which reminds me I had a letter from Cecile Fyen last week and she was telling me just how much she was impressed with the Nixon hospitality. Cecile is not too happy in Ottawa because I think she’s missing the European way of life very much. Which also reminds me that another visitor to the Nixon household – Theresa Hanratty – is leaving Canada in June for a posting in Belgrade. Well, I started off telling you about the Toughs. Art’s replacement is a chap named Jean Blackburn who was out in Indochina (Hanoi I think) about the same time as me. We shall surely have lots of things to talk about when he gets here.

About southern France. Well I tried to take some leave last month but unfortunately Paris could not provide a relief operator for Bonn so no go! However, now that Al is here I am planning on taking the last week in March and the first week in April off. I shall do nothing but loaf and rest right here at Austrasse 14 for one week then I am planning to dash over to London for a week to do some shopping and visit old friends. I don’t know whether or not Bob and Joan have found a place to live yet but I have five other invitations to stay with people in London, so accommodation should be no problem! Of course this is all indefinite as yet but I am going to try to get away from Bonn for short time.

I’m also going to try to get up to Holland some Sunday afternoon during the Tulip Festival time to get some coloured slides. Then, all being well, in June I’m hoping to spend two weeks with the communications operator from our Embassy in Rome at a little town called Lindau on the Boden See. Lindau is on the German side of the Boden See on the opposite end of the lake from Constance. Right across the lake is Switzerland and about 5 km to the east is the Austrian border. Liechtenstein is about 35 km south of Lindau. You can probably spot it on an atlas.

Well honestly folks there just isn’t much more to write about as I’ve been too darn busy lately to be doing anything much of interest. I’m looking forward so very much to next September. By the way, don’t forget to get your passports in lots of time. I’m just about to have a bath and then get an early night so must close for now.

Lots of love, Dave

PS: Meant to mention before that weather-wise this has been the most extraordinary winter here in Bonn. With the exception of Christmas Eve we had absolutely no snow at all. On about a dozen mornings there was a little frost on the ground. The crocuses have been up for almost a month and now the tulips are showing and all the trees and rosebushes are in bud! Spring seems to arrive in the middle of the winter around here!

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