Spain with George – Yes or No?

July 9, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

I sure meant to write you folks last week but time did not permit so this will have to be a rather belated “thanks” for the wonderful parcel. Couldn’t have done better Russ – those shirts are terrific and just exactly what I had in mind. As for not being “no-iron” that doesn’t matter at all – I just happened to see some of that kind of shirt advertised in an American magazine over here and was wondering if they were yet available in Canada. Also the flints and razor blades filled the bill to an “T”. And speaking of “T” I was wondering if the T-shirts (Fruit of the Loom) are perhaps on their way in another parcel or maybe you can’t get them in Ottawa?

Still haven’t heard a word from George as to whether or not he still plans on “doing” Spain with me in September. I am beginning to wonder if maybe he has been transferred from Toronto or something.

Terribly terribly busy these days as my associate (Albert) has been on three weeks’ leave and is now in Paris on a month’s temporary duty. Oh well – it’s all pensionable time I guess.

Sorry this is just a note but must get back to the grind. Thanks again for the shopping and give all my best to all old Bonn-ers who are presently residing in Ottawa.

Lots of love, Dave

PS: Got a postcard from Sylvia last week and she’s doing summer stock in Pennsylvania. She is coming over again next April and, as I had planned to take one last, long European holiday, I suspect we shall be motoring down to Italy together.


July 1958 telegram

July 17, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

The moral to this story is “Never take your car into a conscientious German garage for a routine check-up between paydays”.

Bearing in mind the fact that I intend to take my VW either to Spain or Austria this year, and because my muffler was slightly noisy, I decided yesterday to take my car into the garage for a general checkup and a new muffler. Russ, you would have really appreciated the efficiency with which they handle cars at a big VW garage over here – first of all you drive up a glass-encased office (like the ticket booth at a drive-in theatre) and they issue you with a number; you then drive on into the main yard of the garage where a white-coated attendant interviews the drivers by number priority. When you have finished telling the white-coated attendant what’s wrong with your car, he whistles up a car-jockey who whisks the car away. Real sharp. Well, anyways, once this VW garage got my car up on the blocks, they discovered all sorts of things wrong with it including the necessity to install a complete new front axle assembly or something and also a new brake system. The reason I took my car into the garage for the new muffler is only going to cost about DM 22 ($5.50) but those other little incidentals are going to bring my bill up to between $80.00 and $100.00!! Thus, the telegram of today’s date requesting financial aid from the Royal Bank of Nixon. I am enclosing a $100.00 cheque dated August 1 for repayment. While all of this is a bit of a shock all at once, I really don’t feel too badly about it inasmuch as I have spent the grand total of only $3.50 in maintenance on my car during the past year. That was for a new indicator-arm.

1953 VW turn signal "indicator arm" - famous for sticking

1953 VW turn signal “indicator arm” – famous for sticking

I went to the dentist a few weeks ago to have some maintenance done on my teeth and I was very pleasantly surprised when he discovered just one filling to be done! This was the first time I had been to a dentist in almost four years so needless to say I was expecting the worst.

Summer has long last arrived in Europe. We’ve been having some glorious sunny weather of late with temperatures in the 80s. Just a bit too humid for my liking though.

Must dash now as I’ve got quite a lot of work to do and I’m typing this on Embassy time. Hope my telegram doesn’t cause you a lot of trouble.

Lots of love, Dave

July 25, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

I certainly meant to write you before this, but what with current world affairs being in such a mess, we foreign service types have been in an almost continuous “flap” for the past week. I’ve chalked up nearly 40 hours overtime (just about six days leave) since July 1 and there’s every indication that I’ll have more overtime to my credit before the end of the month. However, for some inexplicable reason, things seem to have quietened down, for the moment, at least. [The “flap”: On July 15th, 5,000 United States Marines landed in Beirut to protect the pro-Western government.]

I think you might like to know that I now have a VW to beat all VWs! I’m not kidding, it’s honestly just like a new car. When I picked it up at the garage last Friday, I asked the man if, perhaps, it might be okay to take the car on a long trip in September, he replied: “Mr. Nixon, that car can now go anywhere”. People have always told me that 1953 was a good year for VWs and I’m inclined to agree with them.

I have here your letter of July 13 and I’m delighted to hear that Russ and Pete have “firmed up” their travel plans. As I haven’t heard a word from George as yet, I must assume that something has come up and he won’t be coming over after all. So I think I can pretty definitely say that I will be able to accompany you guys (with VW) on your jaunt to Austria. However, even if George does appear at the last minute and we do go to Spain after all, I will definitely still be in Bonn as of September 1, because my leave doesn’t start until then and I’m sure that George will want to spend a few days here before we take off. From your letter I take it that Pete will be meeting Russ at the Düsseldorf airport on September 1 in his car. Is this correct? If not, just let me know and I’ll hop up to the airport to meet you, Russ. However, if Pete does meet you, your best bet to get to my place is as follows: when you leave the airport, look for the “Autobahn” signs. Follow them until you see a sign saying “Autobahn Frankfurt” or “Autobahn Köln” – be sure you got on the autobahn heading south, else you’ll have to drive for miles before you can turn around again. Once you do get on the autobahn heading south, just carry on until you see a turn-off marked either “Siebengebirge” or “Königswinter” – that’s where you should leave the autobahn. This turn-off, by the way, is after the Bonn turn-off so don’t leave the autobahn too soon. When you get off the autobahn keep following the road to Königswinter – it’s a very windy road through the hills. When you get to Königswinter you’ll see signs pointing the way to the “Rhein Fahre” or “Wagen Fahre” which is (naturally) the car ferry across the Rhine. This will deposit you on the other side of the Rhine about 100 yards from my front door. You’ll recognize my place, Russ, when you see it. Should you require elaboration on these instructions, just drop me a line and I’ll be glad to give you further details. Just in case you get lost – my phone number at home is Bad Godesberg 12567.

If this glorious summer weather but we are having now keeps up, we should have a wonderful trip this year. This is by far the nicest summer I’ve spent in Europe.

I had a very interesting day last Sunday. Marilyn Philp, who is our newest steno, invited me along to visit a friend of hers who used to live in Toronto with Marilyn’s grandmother. He’s a young German chap about our own age who lives in a little town called Höhr-Grenzhausen which is only other side of the Rhine between Koblenz and the autobahn. Gerd (Marilyn’s friend) lives with his mother and father (Mr. and Mrs. Kessler) in a beautiful home with a garden the size of a small park. The Kesslers, by the way, have been in the ceramic business for over 400 years! Gerd Kessler is engaged to a charming girl from Dresden. Well, anyways, the six of us spent the whole day visiting what is known as the “Schuetzenfest” – an annual festival of marksmanship. There were wonderful parades with terrific German bands during the morning and then in the afternoon the whole town went off into the woods to a clearing way up high overlooking the surrounding countryside. There they had a rifle range set up and also a pavilion where beer and sausages were the order of the day. The band continued to play all afternoon. There was a great ceremony where they chose the new “king” of the festival – this is accomplished by all the marksmen taking a shot at a wooden bird and the first one to shoot it down becomes the “king” for a whole year. In the evening there was a torchlight parade to the home of the new king and all the townspeople had to pay “homage” to their new monarch. This was followed by a dance in the town hall. Well, it was after one in the morning when the dance broke up so the Kesslers invited Marilyn and I to spend the night – which we gladly did. We were up at 5:30 Monday morning and drove back to Bonn after breakfast, arriving here around 8 a.m. Needless to say we were both pretty weary all day Monday, but we both figured it was well worth it.

Well, I guess that’s just about it for today. Be sure to let me know, Russ, whether or not Pete will be meeting your plane. I’m looking forward to your visit very much. Too bad you can’t come along too, Dad, but I expect Camp “Y” – vacated – will be a pretty welcome sight after a hectic summer.

Lots of love, Dave


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