Comings, Goings and Tootling About

May 6, 1957

Dear Dad and Russ,

Well, how we did it I’ll never know, but we managed to get the NATO Ministerial Meeting over and done with! What a panic! Today everybody at the Embassy is staggering around in a daze – we can hardly hardly believe that it’s finished.

L. B. "Mike" Pearson

L. B. “Mike” Pearson

Last Wednesday I had a visitor to my little office in the person of our Minister of External Affairs, Mister Lester Pearson. Mr. Ritchie was taking him on a grand tour of the Embassy and Mr. Pearson’s first words on entering my office were, “So this is where all the work is done,” (how right he was!). He’s a very pleasant person to meet and we chatted for about five minutes. Mr. Ritchie was telling me later that the most embarrassing thing happened when he brought the Minister down to the basement to meet Johnny and me. He opened the door of the furnace room and said to Mr. Pearson, “And this is our registry”. To which Mr. Pearson replied, “Well that just shows how well you know your own basement, Charles!”

Well, at Easter, Pam, Art, Susan, and Peter Tough, their dog and I made off for Holland. We had excellent weather all the time and were able to have a picnic lunch every day. On Good Friday we visited the Canadian War Cemetery near Arnhem and on the Saturday we drove completely around Holland! We headed north from a place called Apeldoorn and drove clear up to the North Sea, then crossed over the great big dike that divides the North Sea from the Zuider Zee and to the West Coast of Holland. This dike was really something tremendous. It’s about 30 km long with a wonderful two-lane highway right on top! We then drove down to Haarlem, passing through the tulip fields (which have to be seen to be believed!), then across to Amsterdam for a boat trip on the canals and supper then back to Apeldoorn. On Easter Sunday we drove to The Hague then home via Delft, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, and Cologne. The VW behaved beautifully and only required three fillings of gas for the whole trip including the one before leaving Bonn!

tulips

Tulips fields in Holland, late 1950s

A week ago yesterday we all drove down to Münster Eiffel for the day and yesterday we attempted a trip to Heidelberg. We only got as far as Limburg, however, when we had to turn back. The reason: blinding snow blizzards!!! Snow in May. What next!?! We hope to complete our trip to Heidelberg next Sunday however.

I wonder if you could do me a little favour, Dad, on behalf of the Toughs. They will be returning to Ottawa next month and as yet have no leads on accommodation. So I was just wondering if you might keep your eyes open for a place for them to live. They would require two bedrooms if possible and something not too expensive (around $80-$90 per month). I realize that might be a little difficult to find but just in case you might hear of something would you please keep the Toughs in mind? Oh yes, and another little thing. They have a little dog with them and they just learned that he will have to be put into quarantine for three months or else on private premises. They would rather not put the dog into quarantine if at all possible so if you could if you should hear of anyone with a back yard and is fond of dogs you might just mention this to them. I was wondering about the Rivoires – Bob tells me that they lost their dog – maybe you could give them a call one of these days and just see if they would be interested. The dog by the way is a Pekinese.

Well, really not much more news for the time being. I am looking forward to seeing Bob and Joan here on June 8 and we are planning on taking off for Munich and perhaps the Black Forest and Bavaria. So I’ll close for now with,

Lots of love, Dave

May 14, 1957

Dear Dad and Russ,

I hope my little telegram didn’t cause undue concern with you folks as it is really nothing too serious.

Last Sunday we (the Toughs and I) drove down to Heidelberg for the day and on the way home the car just stopped on the Autobahn about 60 km south of Frankfurt. To make a long and very amusing story short we were towed in to a garage in Frankfurt where we were advised that it would take a couple of days to repair a broken camshaft or something.

From the garage we were fortunate enough to get a lift to the railway station in downtown Frankfurt where we caught a train back to Bonn (arrived around 3 AM!).

I phoned the garage in Frankfurt yesterday and they advised me the VW would be roadworthy tomorrow (Wednesday) and that it would cost approximately DM 300 ($75). But just to be on the safe side, I think I should take about $100 along – never can tell about estimates in this country! So I’m off to Frankfurt on the train around noon tomorrow to pick up VW and bring it back to Bonn.

I am enclosing a post-dated cheque to the tune of $100 for you on June 1. Thanks millions and once again I hope you weren’t too worried by the telegram.

Lots of love, Dave

June 10, 1957

Dear Dad and Russ,

Well, I have before me two of your most welcome letters – one of May 15 and one of June 5 – which I really must at least make an effort to answer.

I was glad that our little financial transaction came off OK and you’ll be glad to hear that my little VW is now running like a charm. I practically have a complete new engine – seems just about everything gave out at the same time. However, when you consider that wee engine had travelled over 75,000 km (about 47 500 miles) I rather think that I got my money’s worth!

A week ago tonight we managed to get Pam, Art, Susan, Peter, Lee-Bell (the Pekinese) and Tweety Pie (the canary) Tough on the train bound for Paris, Le Havre, and Montréal. It was quite a farewell scene to say the least as the trains only stop for exactly 2 minutes here in Bonn! We all surely miss them very, very much. Especially me because they were practically living at my place for their last two months in Bonn. Pam is a tremendous cook by the way, and I gained over 8 pounds from April 1 to June 1! They arrive in Montréal on the Ivernia either tomorrow or Wednesday but they will be staying with Art’s family in Montréal for about a month I think before going on to Ottawa. However, they have assured me that they will drop you a line in lots of time before their arrival in Ottawa. I’m sure you and Russ are going to be very fond of the Toughs – don’t be alarmed by Art though, he’s about the quietest person I’ve ever met, so if you get more than two words of old Art in an evening you’re doing good!

Really not too very much to report on here these days. I’m just eagerly awaiting next Saturday at this point when Bob and Joan arrive from London for a week. I think I told you that we really didn’t have any definite plans – we’ll probably stay around here for two or three days then take off in the VW all the way down the Rhine to Heidelberg then on to Munich and Bavaria, then probably home through the Black Forest part of Germany. All these places are truly too beautiful for words so I’m sure Bob and Joan will love the trip as I’m sure you and Russ will in a couple of months.

It sure would be nice if Russ could get the whole month of September off for the trip, but as I said before, it doesn’t matter too much if he can only get three weeks. You will both be absolutely amazed at the short distances here in Europe compared to Canada. If Russ does only have three weeks then we will just “condense” our tour slightly, staying just a little shorter time in each place but seeing everything we would normally be seeing in a month. Golly, when I think of all Sylvia and I saw in just two weeks! As for you Dad, you are more most welcome to stay over here with me just as long as you like – as a matter of fact I’ve even been thinking in terms of “Christmas with Dad” this year. It’s just an idea of course, but if you could possibly manage it I sure would love to have you here for Christmas this year. Christmas in Germany is wonderful and I’m sure you’d enjoy it very, very much. However, we’ll see.

The dinner invitations and canasta games continue at full swing around here in spite of the many changes in personnel at the Embassy. We had a great round of “farewell” parties for the Toughs, including one very delightful evening at the Ambassador’s residence in Cologne. One of the highlights of the evening was the showing of the film “Indochina” which I enjoyed very, very much. Mr. and Mrs. George Drew were among the guests at this party by the way.

I think I probably told you that Art was replaced by Jean Blackburn who was out in Indochina at the same time as me. Jean and his wife are a charming couple and a real good addition to our “family” here at the Embassy.

It’s been terribly busy here at the embassy work-wise lately. I chalked up another few days’ overtime in the past few weeks as a result. The weather here has been extraordinarily wonderful place – it usually rains most of the time here – however for the past two weeks – or rather for almost the past month – we’ve been having lovely sunny warm days but, like Ottawa, it still gets a little cool in the evenings. Let’s hope the good weather keeps up for the fall!

Well, that’s about “30” for today. The Rivoires and I will be dropping you folks the odd postcard next week to let you know of our travels.

Lots of love, Dave

PS: I can’t quite remember whether it was you or Bob and Joan I told, but just in case it wasn’t you please be sure to bring mostly casual clothes when you come over in September. The continental Europeans are “tres casual” when they travel and as far as I’m concerned that’s the only way to travel!

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