Crisis? What Crisis?

November 23, 1960

Dear Dad & Russ,

You’ve probably heard about our little war here last Monday night. Fortunately it was an isolated affair and no Canadians were in the least way involved. I happened to be working late at the office that night and because of roadblocks and stray shells, etc., on the way up to my house, I just stayed downtown for the night on the sofa of the Canadian friend who has an apartment close to the office. Downtown Leopoldville was perfectly calm with people sitting out at sidewalk cafés, listening to music, etc.

Afraid I’m too busy to write much more. Seeing Louis Armstrong, climbing a mountain on November 11 with a Dutchman, an Englishman, a Portuguese, an American girl, and other bits of news will have to wait. Incidentally, I’m getting in lots and lots of swimming these days, especially on weekends.

Armed soldiers on hand to keep the peace at Louis Armstrong's concert in Leopoldville, November 1960 (AP photo)

Armed soldiers on hand to keep the peace at Louis Armstrong’s concert in Leopoldville, November 1960 (AP photo)

Nearly forgot – extract from recent letter from Sylvia: “Things couldn’t be better for me in London – have just finished a half hour film in colour to be shown in America, called ‘Hi Sylvie’ with James Devlin who did the lead in Walt Disney’s last film ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’ and co-directed by Stephen Boyd who was one of the stars of Ben Hur…” Pretty good, eh?

Bye for now, David

November 26, 1960

Dear Dad and Russ,

Roger Bull is taking an Air Envelope to External Affairs when he flies to Canada next Monday so I thought I would include this note in the envelope for some fast mail service.

When you see Roger in Ottawa, I wonder if you would mind giving him the following items for him to bring back to Leopoldville.

  1. A pocket lighter – as long as it’s fairly airtight to avoid evaporation of fluid in tropical heat. There are no repeat no matches to be bought in this part of the world at the moment.
  2. A woolen sweater – I think my gray one, the pullover with the shawl collar, would be best. If time permits, could you possibly have it dry cleaned and mothproofed before giving it to Roger?
  3. Cigarettes – a couple of cartons of Rothmans king-size filter tips – large packages – would be wonderful. For a while here we could buy canned DuMaurier and Matinee but, alas, like the matches, supplies have vanished and now we can only get cigars or cigarettes with black tobacco.

Must dash now. I know you’ll like Roger and he will be able to answer any questions you might have about Leopoldville (and my house).

Lots of love, David

[Note: several photos used here have a strange colour to them thanks to local processing and cheap film. “Garland Film” turned out to be best avoided.]

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