David’s Obituary

February 9, 2017
David at Age 20

David at Age 20

The following is set to appear in the Victoria Times-Colonist on February 11, 2017:

After the long goodbye of progressive dementia first diagnosed in 2000, David Nixon set off on his next adventure on February 9th at the age of 82. A resident of Victoria since 1977, David loved the city and often said it was the very best place in the world to be, and he lived in many places!

Predeceased by his parents, Glen & Ethel, and brother Russell, David will always be remembered by friends and loved ones, especially Sylvia van der Stegen and her brother, Rev. Al Tysick; Suzanne Olson; Laura Wright; Robert Rivoire; and his former partner, Ken Sudhues.

David lived a colourful life, starting at age 19: he was a clerk with the International Supervisory Commission in Indochina; a cryptographer at the Canadian Embassies in Bonn and Leopoldville; 2nd electrician at Wyndham’s Theatre in London; casting director for the Constance Brown Modeling & Talent Agency in Montreal during Expo 67; he framed Ted Harrison’s first show at Robertson Galleries and processed OFY grants in Ottawa; and, after moving west, he became “Our Mister Nixon” – the beloved china & crystal manager at Birks in Victoria. His final working years were spent having fun (yes!) with the BC public service. David’s last working day was Friday, December 31, 1999, which he thought quite auspicious.

David at age 65, with his Peacekeepers' Medal

David at age 65, with his Peacekeepers’ Medal

There were dark times as well. David was purged from the federal service in 1961 on suspicion of being homosexual and therefore a security risk. This eventually led to his being hospitalized for depression and being further victimized as part of Operation MK Ultra through the tender mercies of Dr. Ewan Cameron in Montreal.

Through it all, David remained upbeat and treasured his friends. His participation in the ISC in Indochina led to David sharing the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize with other peacekeepers and he received his Peacekeepers’ Medal in late 2000.

No service by David’s request. A private gathering will be held later this year. Please raise a mug of strong coffee, a glass of good red wine, port, or cognac, or savour some quality dark chocolate, and think fondly of “Our Mister Nixon”. Many thanks to the staff of 3 Dogwood at Oak Bay Lodge for everything they’ve done for David. Arrangements through CARE Funeral Services.

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Auf wiedersehen, Bonn!

February 2, 2013

March 10, 1959

Dear Dad and Russ,

My letter writing, of late, has been frustrated by two things: 1) not enough time and, 2) when I do get a minute to write a letter, sure as shooting I get a letter the very next day from a person I just wrote to! I’m sure a lot of people must think that their mail isn’t getting through, or something, because of my lack of comments on their letters. However, as I felt sure that a letter would be forthcoming from you soon, I deliberately held off writing for a few days longer, and sure enough, your very newsy and informative letter of March 4th arrived today.

Your grand tour of Canada sounded terrific, Dad, and I just might try to do the same thing myself one of these years in order to re-acquaint myself with my native land – I’m sure going to feel like a foreigner after 3 1/2 years on this side of the Atlantic.

Thanks for the advice on typewriters and tires – very good idea – I had forgotten that there were such things as guarantees and how important they can be. I’ll hold off on these purchases until I get home. And thanks for the suggestion about picking up Johnny’s and my VW in Montreal prior to our arrival. Sure sounds like a good idea to me – didn’t realize that they would hold them for a couple of days in Montreal, even though I did know about the greasy chrome and all that. Johnny is at present on leave but still in Bad Godesberg so I’ll try to get in touch with him soon and get his views on the matter. I know he would appreciate anything you could do along these lines as the Yorks are counting very much on having their little car ready for the road as soon as they set foot in Montreal. Just last night, as a matter of fact, I was over at their place playing canasta (I won) and Yvonne was saying how much she was looking forward to driving from Montreal to Ottawa and stopping someplace along the way for lunch. She said that she was going to eat about 12 hot dogs and buy 5 pounds of chocolate coated marshmallow biscuits! However, as we still don’t know the definite sailing date for our cars, there’s no big rush on this matter at the moment. I’ll be sure to let you know Johnny’s abuse and further developments as they occur.

Thanks for the info re: Carlton U. As a matter of fact, Helen Small (my ex-tutor) knows a few people at the university and is going to write to them “warning them” (as she puts it) of my intentions. So I shall feel like an old friend, I am sure, when I first set foot on campus!

About my home leave plans – have noted your premonitions about Haliburton in late May but, as a matter of fact, this won’t be concerning me after all! I received a letter from George last week and he tells me that he’s been posted to Washington DC for three years effective May 16th – he’ll be secretary to the commander of Canadian Army staff or something like that. In the same letter, after regretting that our Haliburton plans would naturally have to be shelved, he asked if perhaps I would like to visit him in Washington and help him set up his apartment. This appears to be a rather good idea and appeals to me for two reasons: (1) I’ve never been to Washington and would indeed like to visit that city and (2) the weather is bound to be warm and spring-like that far south. So – what I think I’ll do is head south around the first week in June and visit with George for a while – perhaps two or three weeks. Which, of course, brings up another bit of a problem about driving permits. If, as you say, I am carrying “External Affairs documents” (I assume my passport will do the trick) I can obtain a 60-day driver’s permit for Canada, would this by any chance also apply going to the USA? Perhaps your friend George Sloan could clear this little mystery up for me.

I don’t have the vaguest idea where we are going to put them, but I am bringing back a beautiful, pure white, “Form 2000” Rosenthal dinner setting for 12 persons, plus 60 pieces of very lovely and most unconventional crystal glasses! These 60 glasses consist of: one dozen liqueur/martini glasses; one dozen cocktail glasses; one dozen red wine glasses; one dozen white wine/beer/water goblets; and one dozen champagne/sherbet/ice cream shells. I chose these glasses with great care and, as you will see, each glass can be used for one or two different purposes. These are the five basic shapes essential for proper table settings. Of course, there are masses of other shapes designed just for one specific purpose, but as we are not a running a bar or hotel in Ottawa, the ones I have purchased should suffice. I was delighted to read that you are now using coloured tablecloths in place of placemats! The pure white china must be set, of course, on a coloured tablecloth, preferably, a rosy peach colour, a pale pastel green, or even Wedgewood blue. All solid colours, of course. With such a setting, laced throughout with liberal quantities of sparkling crystal, flowers in mid-table, lit by candles in pure white candle holders (I have them too), you have a table fit for a king! We should have all sorts of fun entertaining people that Sunday dinners I love you Ropa! And those new pots and pans sounds terrific too!

Rosenthal Form 2000 Dinnerware

Rosenthal Form 2000 Dinnerware

At this point, I see no hope of me ever getting organized enough in time to leave Germany on May 20th! But, naturally, things will fall into place, one by one. Every Canadian goes through the same thing before leaving here after 3 ½ years. I am right now going through the throes of deciding what to take home, what to throw out, what to give away, what to sell, etc., etc. However, I’m sure that, eventually, I’ll get things straightened away. I think I mentioned before that I’m taking most of April and May off in overtime leave so that should help me out of my packing-up dilemma!

Say, it just occurred to me that I think I’ve been to London again since last writing you! Had the usual wonderful time and hated to leave – as a matter of fact I just went up for the weekend and ended up staying a week as Sylvia had understood that I would be staying a full week and had made all sorts of arrangements for free tickets to shows, various parties and a couple of dinners. Joan was in the hospital for the first three days, but was able to join us for the latter three, being just as fit as a fiddle again. Bob and Joan are spending Easter with me here in Bonn (figured it was about time they visited me for a change!) so we should have lots of fun. I just might make one more farewell trip to London next month, as I know not going to Turkey as originally planned, and also a week or two someplace in Bavaria. However, we shall see.

You’ll never believe it, but I am now in the process of being de-wormed again, practically four years to the day from my Indochinese worm session! These worms are far less serious, of course, being a European variety and have not lost the weight I lost Phnom Penh. They have wonderful little worm pills here (recommended by other Canadians who have had worms recently) – you take 25 a day for three days and that constitutes one “worm cure”. This seems to be a thing with me – getting worms shortly before the end of the posting!

Well, I think that’s about all the news for now. Busy as ever, both in and out of the office – at present going through a round of “farewell to Phil Weishar” events. I’ll try to write sooner next time.

Lots of love, David

SNIPPETS

April 1, 1959

Dear Dad and Russ,

I’m afraid that, as the time goes on (and gets shorter) my letters are also going to get shorter and fewer and further between! It just occurred to me this morning that now I can say “next next month I’ll be home!”

Johnny York is most grateful for your offer and would like to take advantage of it. He says (and this goes for me too) that if you’ll just let us know any costs involved we can send you cheques right away.

I spent a lovely Easter with Bob and Joan – beautiful warm spring weather – drove via the back roads to Heidelberg and back – also visited Düsseldorf and Cologne. It was wonderful to see them again.

Closing time, must dash,

love David

April 22, 1959

Dear Dad and Russ,

Returned Monday after a glorious time doing nothing in the Austrian Alps. Have subsequently just about gone “round the bend” trying to figure out where to start my home-coming (or should I say home-going) preparations. As a result, time is scarcer than hens’ teeth these days so will not bother telling you about my recent trip at the moment but shall save it for next month when I can tell you in person.

I have two of your letters – one of April 5th and one of April 15th. Sorry to hear about your income tax problems, Dad – I only had to shell out $2.22 this year!

Before I forget – my two airpacks were waiting for me when I returned to Bonn last Monday. Arrived in perfect condition – many thanks.

Re: car insurance – as requested, Johnny and I are herewith enclosing two letters for McFarlane and Charboneau. As you’ll see from the letters, unfortunately, the cars will not now be arriving until about June 1, as May 19 is the first date Poseidon Linien Hamburg can accommodate us. However, that’s only a day or two after I get home so shouldn’t be too bad. The car, by the way, acted like a dream on this last trip – went over some alpine roads even worse than the ones we drove when you people were here!

I must really dash now as one of the Embassy drivers is going to be out of my apartment in a few minutes to pick up my trunk for repairs. Still haven’t done my inventory but that comes next. Millions and millions of things to do these days – plus “to say farewell to Mr. and Mrs. York and Mr. Nixon” parties are already starting!

At the "Farewell to Mr. Nixon" party

At the “Farewell to Mr. Nixon” party

April 23, 1959

Dear Dad,

Just a very quick note to ask you to please keep an eye on my bank balance for me during the month of May? I don’t expect anything drastic to happen, but just in case there should be a slight overdraft, could you please make amends for me accordingly and I shall straighten up with you on May 28!

Sorry to bother you with this but it’s so terribly difficult to keep track of one’s financial status of the distance of three or four thousand miles!

April 28, 1959

Dear Dad,

I’m afraid this is going to be another one of those “please deposit” requests.

Do you think you could possibly spare $50 until this time next month? If so, I would be most appreciated.

I saw my car yesterday – coming along very well and looks three years younger.

Masses of things to do now, so must dash.

Love, and thanks, Dave

PS: a very belated “Happy Birthday” to Russ. I remembered it on the 14th, but was too late to do anything more than toast the occasion with a glass of Austrian wine!

D

This marks the end of David’s letters from Germany. He indeed sailed home on the Homeric and retrieved his 1953 VW from the docks in Montreal. He attended Carleton University at its then-new campus at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa from September 1959 to April 1960 and returned to a summer job with External Affairs. That summer job developed into another exotic posting to a nascent republic: the Belgian Congo (which is to say, Congo without the Belgians).

 

And Sylvia, while in London as “Anybody’s” in West Side Story, had a knock on her dressing-room door one night after a performance. There she found Patrick Larking, an artist. Mr. Larking, accompanied by Mrs. Larking, so Sylvia could be assured that he was on the up-and-up, invited her to pose for him – in character. She did. Larking’s works were published in “The Artist” magazine of August 1959 (price 3/6). In the accompanying article, Larking describes the difficulty of finishing his portrait after seeing Sylvia both in and out of character and trying to reconcile two very different personalities in one image.

Patrick Larking's portrait and sketches of Sylvia in her West Side Story role

Portrait and sketches of Sylvia in her West Side Story role, by Patrick Larking

ST Sketches


Questions and Pre-planning

February 2, 2013

January 22, 1959

Dear Dad, Aunt Clara and Uncle Russ:

I sure hope this letter coincides with your arrival in Saskatoon, Dad – you’re getting as bad as your youngest son the way you’re traveling around these days!

Really not too much news to report at the moment because things are as quiet as usual here in Bonn. With the exception of course of quite a few dinner invitations and the audit party or two.

The only exciting bit of information I have to pass on your way is the fact that both Johnny York and myself are going to be able to ship our VW’s back to Canada via Hamburg to Montreal for the nominal sum of $38.50 to cover loading and unloading charges! We wrote the shipping firm concerned in Hamburg two weeks ago and their letter of yesterday informed us that they would be only too glad to take our cars. In our letter to this firm we pointed out that we were expecting to arrive in Montreal on May 28th and would like, if at all possible, to have our cars there waiting for us. The shipping company made note of this but can’t tell us exactly when the cars can be shipped because they haven’t as yet completed their spring shipping schedules. However, they are going to give us a date around mid-March and, as they know we are anxious to have cars in Montreal before May 28th, I’m sure they’ll do their best to accommodate us.

I mentioned in an earlier letter that I was going to jot little things down concerning my return to Canada as they came to mind because I’m sure to forget something if I wait until the last moment. A few little questions that maybe you, Dad, can answer for me after you return from Ottawa: first of all, do you think you could get together any papers, diplomas, records, etc., that you think I would need to take with me when I approach Carlton U re: my proposed attendance starting next fall? Perhaps if you contacted the university they could let you know what they like to see in cases such as mine. I may not have the time, of course, but at the moment I am thinking along the lines of trying to have at least a preliminary interview with the university as I pass through Ottawa on May 29 on my way to the Haliburtons and Toronto. Another question I have concerns my car and perhaps the Ottawa police department can answer this one for me: how long can I drive in Canada with German license plates on my car? And for how many months is my European driver’s license good in Canada? I know that coming from Canada to Germany we are allowed, I think, about three months during which time we can sport Canadian license plates on our cars and our Canadian driver’s licenses are good for that long too. I rather think it must work both ways but I just wanted to be sure because it would complicate my leave plans a bit if I were delayed over a trivial little thing like a driver’s license. Personally, I think that any person that can cope with European driving conditions for 3 1/2 years should be granted an honorary lifetime driver’s license good anywhere in the world! One other question concerns might Zenith “trans-oceanic” portable radio, model no. RL-600: can I buy batteries for this radio in Ottawa as I would like to take it with me to Haliburton if this is possible.

Well, this turned out to be more of a questionnaire than a letter, I’m afraid, but really must dash now and do some work.

Lots of love to you all, Dave

February 9, 1959 – “Rosenmontag”

Dear Dad and Russ,

Today is a holiday here – “Rosenmontag” (Rose Monday) – but nonetheless I’ve been having a particularly busy day of it here at the Embassy. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, I’ve been having “particularly busy days” every day for the past two weeks what with the Germany and Berlin business. As a result, I have amassed no less than 65 1/2 hours overtime just since January 26th! In terms of days, this means that I will have about 9 1/2 days coming to me in overtime leave which I must take before leaving Bonn or else lose it. In addition to this recently accumulated overtime leave, of course, I have another 15 or 16 days overtime leave which I haven’t touched yet – which will probably mean that I will be going on leave around Easter time and staying on leave until the day I depart Bonn for Ottawa, May 20th. I got stuck on this overtime leave thing when I left Phnom Penh because you are supposed to use all overtime leave at the post where it was accumulated – which I didn’t do when I left Phnom Penh and thus lost about two weeks leave. However, as in this case the leave amounts to something like six weeks, no amount of pleading on the part of this Embassy will ever convince me that I might just “donate” this time to Queen and country. Besides which, I will more than likely be very glad of some leave come “packing up” time – even now it gives me the willies when I think of all I have to do before leaving!

With an eye to the future and such time as when I might have a place of my own, I am buying dishes, cutlery and crystal here in Germany to have shipped home with my personal effects. Of course, I shall be only too glad to have good continuous use made of it at 574 Kirkwood as it will be very nice, I think, to have the proper wine glass to go with the proper wine, etc. I’ve already ordered the dishes and I think you’ll agree when you see them that they are very nice indeed. They are “Rosenthal” dishes, pure white, and are in Rosenthal’s “Form 2000” which you may have seen advertised in some Canadian magazine at some time or another. I haven’t chosen the crystal as yet, but imagine it will be quite plain, as will the stainless steel cutlery. The cutlery costs about $15.00 for an eight-person setting. And the dishes – they practically give them away over here at the nominal price of about $35 for a complete 12-place service!!

Rosenthal Form 2000 porcelain

Rosenthal Form 2000 porcelain

You may well wonder from whence cometh the money for such buying sprees – well, to tell you the truth, I have thought the matter out for a long time now, and have decided to forgo my wee Grecian-Turkey jaunt in favour of something more constructive, material, and longer-lasting, i. e.: household effects. I shall also be buying the odd clothing article from time to time before leaving this part of the world, especially, I am sure, on my shopping/theatre junket to London next weekend.

Speaking of London, I am so busy of late but I haven’t had a chance to write to Bob for weeks so last night I decided to just phone him and clear up all sorts of little outstanding questions and answers that have been pending for sometime between Bonn and London. It took me quite a while to get through to him as I do believe that the long-distance operator was just slightly under the influence of the prevailing Carnival spirit, but we finally made connection and I had a nice long (about 20 minutes) chat with him. Joanie, as I think I mentioned earlier, has been in the hospital for a week now for a very minor operation (something she had to have done in order to have children) but Bob informs me that she is rallying beautifully and hopes to be out sometime this week in time for my arrival in London on Friday. I think poor old Bob is the one who is suffering the most as he has had to eat out every day! However, as it now stands, Phil Weishar and I shall be arriving in London Friday morning at 9:14, drop our bags at Canada House, do some shopping, meet Bob for lunch, do some more shopping, have supper and then see Sylvia’s show “West Side Story” that evening. I imagine that Sylvia will be joining us all after the show for a “coffee pot” chat. On the Saturday, Phil has a ticket for “My Fair Lady” (hope she has better luck with Rex Harrison than I did!) and then we both have tickets for another musical that evening. Sunday shall most likely be spent lounging around the Rivoires (Phil is staying with a Canadian steno who lives in the flat upstairs from Bob and Joan) and then we shall catch the 7:30 boat-train back to Bonn, arriving here around 11:00 Monday morning. I really love these weekend jaunts up to London as so much always seems to happen in such a short time but the weekend seems like a week instead.

I mentioned the prevailing Carnival spirit – well it sure is prevailing here in the Rhineland. And personally, I am avoiding it like the plague! This is just one of many little German characteristics I find most revolting, this Carnival business. I fail to see what fun there is in “having a good time if it kills me” just one time every year (the rest of the year, the German race are so sober and staunchy it hurts!) The whole of Bonn and Bad Godesberg are submerged in frenzied fun-having, everyone is tight as a tick, and the Carnival participants are seen everywhere in (what they think are) funny costumes and hats. I even saw a dog today all made up in a clown’s costume and hat! I think the most obnoxious thing about all of this is the fact that all this nonsense is unfortunately not restricted to the children – makes no difference your age, as long as one can make a consummate ass of oneself, it’s O.K. Even my steely-eyed, iron-sided old putzfrau must be living it up these days as she didn’t turn up at the apartment last Thursday when she was supposed to, but instead put in an appearance on Friday. And judging by the way she did the cleaning and straightening up, methinks she must have been out on a royal old toot the day before. Did you know, by the way, that every year around this time, people too poor to do otherwise, will actually sell their furniture and clothing just to have enough money to rent a costume and buy beer??!! Another sidelight of Carnival is the famous story of the man from Mainz who now holds the world’s honor of ever having been able to drink himself to death in just one night! Oh well – come next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) and all this frivolity will be shelved for another year.

I have two letters here – one dated January 31st from Dad in Vancouver, having just returned from Victoria. I note that you will be back in Ottawa on the 16th, Dad, so I’m hoping that this letter will coincide with your return. I notice in your last two letters that you’ve commented on the “bad spell” of weather we’re having over here this year. I am confused – this is without doubt the nicest winter I’ve had in Europe (my fourth winter at that). I will grant you that we had quite a bit of rain before January, but just after I returned from London last time, we had a lovely week of snow which, strangely enough for these parts, remained on the ground for almost three weeks. This was followed by about a week and a half of gloriously sunny, clear and warm weather which washed all the snow away, but at least it didn’t rain much. And lately, though we haven’t had any more snow to speak of, we have been having lovely crisp days with frost all over everything in the morning and lots of sunshine and blue sky. I must confess, though, that the last three days have been rather bad. We’ve been in shrouded in a very thick fog – so thick, as a matter of fact, that several Canadians have had to abandoned car and take to foot on occasion. I’ve been lucky though and have always managed to make it home, even though it took me nearly three times longer than usual. So with the exception of the past very few days, I really am forced to wonder where the Canadian papers are getting their European weather forecasts from!

The other letter I have before me is from brother Russ, dated January 24th with the well-loved epic “The Ride of the Bearded Ones” (part one) enclosed. Many colleagues here at the Embassy have read this report, Russ, and enjoyed it just as much as I did. The Yorks, particularly, got a large charge out of it and it even inspired them to bring forth some never-before-mentioned episodes that occurred during “the bearded ones” second visit to Bonn – the one I liked most being being about “somebody must be living up there (in the lamp post) because there’s a light on!” I guess, probably, I should have thought to warn you and Pete that Wahn airport is internationally known for its bees with breakfast – but at the time of departure I was so involved in trying to figure out how I was going to BLUNDER ALONG in Spain (and Spanish) that it must have slipped my mind completely. However, glad to hear that you both survived the ordeal and were able to go on to even greater and more startling discoveries, such as “beerinthebakeshop” and “beerinthegasstation”. Your expressed amazement at such completely commonplace and accepted facts in Europe, brought rudely to mind the fact that I shall soon be returning to the land of nobeerinthebakeshop and what’s even worse and more ridiculous – nobeerinthegasstation! The question immediately comes to mind – “What is a thirsty traveler supposed to drink when visiting bakeshops and gas stations?” I was also glad to note that you have discovered some palatable Canadian wines and, as I pointed out earlier, I shall be returning with the correct vessel for each type of wine, plus liqueurs. And, of course, my collection of beer steins. Do private citizens have to have a license of some sort to serve wine with their meals? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did!

Whoops – just remembered another one of those many questions that keep cropping up from time to time: could you please let me know how much tires cost in Canada for VW’s? I was thinking of re-tiring my car over here but somebody suggested that tires might be even cheaper in Canada, so perhaps I should wait till I get there. The old tires have just about had it, inasmuch as my car now has somewhere in the neighborhood of 99,300 kms to its credit.

Mayor Willy Brandt shows his wife the key to the City of Ottawa presented to him, 1959

Mayor Willy Brandt shows his wife the key to the City of Ottawa presented by Mayor Nelms, 1959

I was listening to a broadcast (in German) a night or two ago concerning the visit of Mayor Willy Brandt of West Berlin to Ottawa. It was evidently a re-broadcast of an eye-witness report of the visit and it was very nice to hear old familiar terms like “der Bundeshauptstadt Ottawa” [federal capital city], “Burgermeister Nelms”, “Fünfzig bis zwanzig grad UNTER nul” [15-20 degrees below zero], and “Brrrr!”

Well, I do believe that that’s all about all there is for now, so will close off and get back to the overtime.

Lots of love, Dave


London Shows, Xmas 1958

January 29, 2013

January 7, 1959

Dear Dad and Russ,

I’m sending this to you at your office, Dad, ’cause I rather think it’s a bit too big to fit into the apartment mailbox. The enclosed is a programme from Sylvia’s show, “West Side Story” and Sylvia has written you both a little note on the back of the programme.

London couldn’t have been nicer – had a splendid time with the old Ottawa crowd (Bob, Joan and Sylvia) – such a good time, in fact, that I’m planning to do an encore visit next month, just for a weekend this time, but long enough to see Sylvia’s show once more and perhaps do a bit of pre-returning-to-Canada shopping. Both Bob and Joan took leave for the full time I was in London so we have lots of time together.

Entertainments included: “West Side Story“, “My Fair Lady“, “Long Day’s Journey into Night” (a beautiful play!), “Roar Like A Dove”(Comedy), “The Mouse Trap” (an Agatha Christie thriller now in its 7th year in London), “Living for Pleasure” (a hilarious review), and “the Nutcracker” by the London Festival Ballet Company. “West Side Story” was by far the best show – not only because of the fact that Sylvia appeared therein – but just generally speaking it topped everything else – a truly terrific show. Sylvia has a wonderful part and, as the newspaper reports indicated, really does come close to stealing every scene she’s in! Unfortunately, “My Fair Lady” was very disappointing – the record is far better than the actual show! Rex Harrison appeared to be drunk all through the first act and almost fell asleep on the stage during the second part of the show. However, the “good shows” more than made up for this one effort.

The West Side Story souvenir book autographed by Sylvia

The West Side Story souvenir book autographed by Sylvia

We had a wonderful Christmas together and I played Santa Claus for Bob and Joan (who were just like a couple of kids opening their gifts). We had a big party on New Year’s Eve too. When we weren’t going to theatres or cinemas, we were sampling all sorts of exotic foods in Soho. Bill of fare included: Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese (twice), Turkish and French eatables – all very delightful. And, of course, we consumed great quantities of turkey and ham “at home”.

Inside of the Programme - and there's Sylvia's name

Inside the Programme – and there’s Sylvia

Bonn looks particularly horrible after the bright lights and fun of London, but I keep reassuring myself with the knowledge that I do not have very long to go now. I completed and handed in my questionnaire re: sailing on the Homeric so I do feel now that I have at least got a “foot in the door”. I have masses of things to do here before leaving – not the least of which will be an enormous inventory of all my personal effects (a most imposing list after 3 1/2 years of accumulating odds and ends from all over Europe!)

My Fair Lady (Stanley Holloway, Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison) by Richard Searle

My Fair Lady (Stanley Holloway, Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison) by Ronald Searle

The head of our personnel division was visiting here in Bonn for the past two days and I had a little interview with him. He thinks I’m doing a very wise thing completing my university and indicated that if I was looking for summer work during the next four years, I should drop into External and make inquiries. This might be a good idea but we shall see how things go.

Your letter of December 30 was awaiting me when I returned to Bonn on Monday, many thanks for the calendar pads and clipping on Sylvia. I was glad to hear that you were able to get together with the Toughs at Christmas time, even if it meant transporting the turkey all the way across Ottawa, and I hope that your New Year’s Eve with the Toughs and Barb Johnston was a success too. I was also glad to hear that Graham Creelman met you at the “Y”. Yes, the Happys have a new daughter – I wasn’t able to arrange a see them in London as my time was pretty well taken and they live quite a distance out of town as you and Russ probably remember. I was also glad to hear about my airpacks coming to Bonn. As I mentioned before, I will sure be able to use them and will most probably have to supplement my luggage anyways with another trunk.

Your forthcoming trip out west sounds terrific, Dad, and I will try to have a letter arrive in Saskatoon about the same time you do. I wrote to Aunt Clara and Uncle Russ yesterday, thanking them for their Christmas present (socks and handkerchief). By the way, I also received a very nice gift from Pete Hodgins – two tins of good old Canadian maple syrup. Very thoughtful of Pete.

I cannot say for sure just how long it will take my VW to reach Canada as it depends a lot on when the freighters sail from Hamburg. I certainly hope that it will be there when I get back as I will be needing it for Haliburton. However, Johnny York wrote the shipping firm yesterday, making inquiries for both of us, so we should know something within a week or two.

I am thinking of buying myself a portable Remington typewriter before returning to Canada. I can get one through a firm in Copenhagen for $127.50. Before doing this, however, I wonder if you could make some inquiries re: Canadian prices to see if they would be any cheaper in Canada. The model I am interested in has an 11-inch carriage and, I believe, is known as the “Office-Writer”.

Well, I guess that’s about ’30’ for now. Have a wonderful trip out west, Dad!

Lots of love, Dave


Planning for Christmas and Beyond

January 28, 2013

December 14, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

Just before I forget, I wonder if you could send me with your next letter, two Dominion Life calendar pads.

Glad you both like the cufflinks. Boy, they sure arrived in a hurry! I decided to “mail early for Christmas” this year to avoid expensive airmail postage, but I had no idea that they would arrive in Canada so quickly. However, better lots early than lots late. I received your card to “all our friends in Bonn” and have circulated it to interested persons.

Well, I am now tentatively booked a room U-1, Upper Deck, SS Homeric, leaving leHavre on May 20 and arriving in Montreal on the morning of Thursday, May 28. The booking office here cannot give a definite time of arrival as a lot depends on what kind of a crossing the ship has – you know, if we have a few days rough seas we might be delayed by a few hours or a day even. However, as far as that goes, you will be able to check the time of arrival probably the day before with “Home Lines Steamship Agency of Canada Ltd., 1255 Phillips Square, Montreal. Telephone VIctor 9-4571”. It sure would be nice to see your smiling faces on the dock in Montreal if at all possible! The York family, and also Phil Weishar, one of our stenos here, are booked on the same sailing too so it should be a real “ball” for eight days aboard ship. However, as I said last letter, Ottawa (External Affairs) does not know anything about this as yet, as we haven’t written to them officially and, of course, the whole thing hinges on whether or not they approve our departures at the time we have chosen. So please keep all this information more or less “under your hats” until I can confirm that all is settled and approved. Personally, though, I am becoming rather excited about the prospect of returning to Canada and the more I think about it, the more I find that I have to do before closing up my apartment here and leaving Europe. That’s why I am passing on any little bits of information that I think you might be interested in, as I think of them, because if I leave everything until the last minute, I’m sure to forget to tell you something!

About my two airpacks. Yes, I certainly would appreciate having them shipped over here to me as I fear that I shall be rather cramped for luggage space and, even with the addition of the two airpacks, I will more than likely have to purchase another trunk or something. It’s amazing (and a little frightening) what one can accumulate over a period of 3 1/2 years! Shipping them through our External Affairs supply depot sounds like a good idea, but I think you had better check to see when they will be shipped as they will probably be included in a supplies and stationery shipment to Bonn, and it might just happen that such a shipment would not coincide with my hoped-for and expected departure. If such should prove to be the case, perhaps you could ship them through ordinary mail channels (by ship, of course). That way, I would be sure to receive them within a month after they were sent.

I am hoping to bring my Volkswagen back to Canada with me as I feel sure it would be a wonderful little car to have at my disposal for charging back and forth between Kirkwood Avenue and Carleton U. I am planning on having a few things done to it over here (much cheaper this side of the Atlantic) such as having North American bumpers installed and having my divided rear window converted to a single window. I shall also probably purchase all new tires and have a bit of work done on the motor and perhaps a bit of fresh paint applied where necessary. The little car has nearly 98,000 km on it now and it is still operating like a gem. The big deciding factor as to whether or not I shall bring it back with me will be the shipping costs. I could not afford to bring it with me on the Homeric as that would cost approximately $300.00, but there is a German shipping firm that has, in the past, offered to ship Embassy cars to Montreal on freighters as ballast, the only cost involved being the sum of $38.50 to cover handling charges in Hamburg. Johnny York is making inquiries on behalf of both of our VW’s next week so we should know before very long where we stand on this matter.

I was very interested in your comments re: my proposed visit to Turkey. However, I really don’t think a little dirt will bother me too much as I have been in some pretty weird places in my travels and I’m now almost immune to that sort of thing. I shall remember, though, to take along lots of soap.

I do hope that the Toughs can manage to get over to Chez Nixon on Christmas Day, as I rather feel that this would be a form of repayment for the two magnificent Christmas Days that I spent with them here in Bonn. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, it seems that I very nearly lived there all year round! They are certainly wonderful people, and any hospitality you can extend to them and it will be equally appreciated by me.

Your trip to Western Canada sounds terrific, Dad, and your remark about “really spreading” yourself by taking a roomette brings to mind that I, too, am really spreading myself on my Christmas-in-London jaunt. I was booked into a “Deluxe Suite” on the ship coming back from London on the night of January 4th! This wasn’t quite what I had asked for, but it would take so long to change my reservation at this date that I decided to just leave it and live it up.

I received a letter from the Rivoires last week and they and Sylvia will be on the station platform when my train pulls in on the morning of December 24th. Both Bob and Joan have managed to get the week off between Christmas and New Year’s so, as Bob put it, “we should have a ball”. Bob had lunch with Sylvia last Monday in London and he assures me that she hasn’t changed a bit, still as bouncy as ever and still talking a blue streak. Sylvia’s show opened in London on Friday and the Rivoires sent her flowers and I sent her a telegram. Needless to say, I can hardly wait to get to London to see all the old gang again. I will definitely be seeing the Happys sometime during my stay and I shall pass on your best wishes to them.

My stove is, at long, long last, finally repaired and going full blast. The workmen appeared on the scene last Monday and worked at it all day long. Then, at 4:30 in the afternoon they discovered that they had installed the wrong part and had to come back again on Tuesday and do the work all over again. The first day or two that I have the fire going was pretty awful as the smoke had a tendency to pour into the living room rather than go up the chimney. However, the smoke is now departing by the correct route and my apartment is real cozy. Almost too cozy, as a matter of fact, because as soon as my furnace was repaired, we experienced some very mild weather which, I hope, shows no signs of letting up. Today, the sun even made a feeble attempt to come out, but soon gave up and we had rain. We have rain every single day. We have only had about two mornings when there was a wee bit of snow (about 1/16 of an inch) that soon turned to sleet and that, in turn, dissolved into rain. Very depressing.

I am enclosing with this letter, some colored prints that I have made off some of (what I consider) my best slides of Ibiza. I’ve numbered them on the back of each and they are as follows:

1. A view of the town of Ibiza taken from the boat as it arrived from Barcelona at 8 o’clock in the morning. The white houses in the foreground comprise what is known as the “new town” and are built on land reclaimed from the sea. The upper part of the city, or the “old town” is all walled in and you can see the ruins of a Roman fortress and the steeple of an ancient cathedral dominating the whole town.

2. A view of the bay and beach at Port des Torrents where I stayed for my first three weeks on the island. The three white houses in the background are the ones owned by the Thompson’s and we were staying in the house on the left in the picture.

3. This is a view taken from the roof of the house and shows the bay and beach and the open sea out further. The point of land you can see in the distance is known locally as “Little Gibraltar”.

4. This is the Thompson’s boatman, Juan, returning with the provisions from San Antonio, and shows him unloading the boat down at the beach. Note the clarity and colour of the water.

5. View of the town of San Antonio. I have been told by the photography shop where I have these prints made that this is a particularly excellent picture as, evidently, I have captured a difference between “sky blue” and “sea blue” and also managed to keep the buildings and boats pure white. They tell me that in most pictures with so much blue, there is a tendency for everything (including whites) to become the same shade of blue. Of course, I must confess that I wasn’t thinking about all that when I took the picture – it was just a lucky shot.

6. The bay of Portinatx on the northern tip of the island of Ibiza. This was another one of those lucky shots. There was a storm off in the distance (note the dark sky) but the sun was shining like fury where we were, causing a lovely contrast between sky and multi-multi-colored sunlit sea. This was truly a lovely scene to behold with the white yacht (Belgian) seemingly floating in air over a carpet of greens, turquoise, and many shades of blue.

7. And yet another “lucky shot” this time of a sunset, taken without any filters at all – a very dangerous practice with colour film as it has a tendency to absorb just the red or blue rays of the sun early in the morning or late at night. This was taken on the Mediterranean from a boat as we were returning from a day’s excursion to the bay of Portinatx.

Well, anyways, I hope you like them. [The original slides will be scanned and shared here after they have been shipped from Victoria in the next few weeks.]

I must get a letter off to Bob and Joan now, so will close this letter with best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and New Year’s season. My best to the Toughs and all friends you happen to see.

Lots of love, Dave

December 23, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

Well, my train leaves for London in exactly four hours from now, and needless to say, I am very, very excited at the prospect of renewing old acquaintances with a goodly representative portion of “that old gang of mine”.

Just thought I would take this moment to quote you the text of a telegram we received from Ottawa this morning:

“Simultaneous departure your mission of Miss Weishar, Mr. York and Mr. Nixon authorized. Accommodation as outlined Homeric ex leHavre May 20 approved.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How’s that for a Christmas present? As I told you in an earlier letter, I had made tentative bookings for Phil Weishar, the Yorks and me on the Homeric sailing on May 20. Last Saturday morning the travel agency called me up to tell me that they regretted that every cabin we had asked for had already been booked, but that they were able to offer us alternative accommodation along the same lines but, as bookings were very tight, we would have to confirm them by Wednesday, December 24! So yesterday morning the Embassy fired a telegram off Ottawa-wards explaining the situation and telling them what accommodation was available, etc., and the above telegram was the reply from Ottawa. I shall have a double cabin (no. U-24) all to myself.

It sure feels nice to have a definite date to look forward to, I can tell you. The Yorks and Phil are very, very pleased with the way things are turning out.

Ottawa’s telegram, by the way, bore the security classification of “Restricted”. All communications dealing with personnel movements are considered classified inasmuch as Personnel Division would be swamped by requests for postings or complaints etc., if such information was public to all members of the department. In other words, nobody is supposed to know (in theory) of forthcoming vacancies or departures until such vacancies are truly vacant and such departures are truly effective.

But it is perfectly alright for you people to know about it now – Ottawa’s telegram makes it official. However, just in case word should get back to the department, I would appreciate it very much if you could answer all inquiries re: my return along the lines that I “expect to return perhaps in May sometime”.

At any rate I shall keep you posted on developments as they develop.

Oh, by the way, I wrote to George Howell months ago reminding him that I would be returning to Canada sometime around May or June of next year. I mentioned in this letter that I would like very much to spend my home leave someplace by a good old Canadian LAKE as that is one of the frustrations of living in Europe – no lakes. Well, I got a letter from George last week telling me that the family he knows in Toronto has a summer camp in the Haliburton region and that they have offered us a cabin for the whole month of June (or longer, if we want it) absolutely free of charge! George has asked for leave in June so what I think I’ll do will be spent a few days in Ottawa on my return getting unpacked and slightly organized and take off towards Haliburton (mit Volkswagen, I hope) for a month, before settling down in Ottawa.

Well, must do a little work now before starting the Christmas season.

Lots of love, Dave


Dief the Chief, Elmer and “Others”

January 27, 2013

October 14, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

This will just be a quicky as I am typing it during my lunch hour and really don’t have too much time to spare as of late what with preparations for Mr. Diefenbaker’s visit next month and all that sort of thing going on around here these days.

First of all, I received your letter of October 7th this morning with the enclosed clippings. I was absolutely delighted to hear about Sylvia’s good luck, even more so because I will be spending Christmas in London with Bob and Joan and undoubtedly we will all be together at that time. It will be like “Ottawa Week” in London. I sent one of the clippings onto the Rivoires as you suggested and asked them to try to get tickets for us all to see the show sometime around Christmas. Should be terrific.

I hate to ask you this, but could you do me a favour? Would you mind very much just sort of keeping an eye on my bank balance for me just in case I might have overdrawn it by a few dollars? I cashed a cheque here last week and I must confess I don’t think I took into consideration onto that $15.00 cheque I gave Russ or my $10.00 life insurance premium! I couldn’t swear to this, but I thought it might be a good idea to have you check with the bank just to avoid any embarrassment. It’s probably is all okay, but should there be any chance of an overdraft of a few dollars, could you cover it for me and let me know next letter?

Winter is beginning to set in here in Bonn now and with it dull days of almost continuous drizzle. Very depressing – makes me wish I had stayed in Ibiza.

And speaking of Ibiza, I received my coloured slides yesterday and they are indeed beautiful. After I label them and have a couple of showings on this side of the Atlantic, I’ll send them Ottawa-wards.

Well, must dash now, so please excuse shortness of this letter.

Lots of love, Dave

PS: I’m still very anxious to hear all about Russ and Pete’s trip. How about dropping me an “illustrated” letter, Russ, telling me all about it?

November 16, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

Well, about one visit from a Prime Minister in a lifetime is about all a person should be exposed to I feel, after last weekend’s whirlwind! Fortunately, Mr. Diefenbaker’s visit to Bonn went off without a hitch (in spite of the fact that his plane arrived an hour late) but not without much sweat, strain and toil by the Embassy staff here. We had set up our Communications Office on a 24-hour basis for five full days, being assisted by Frank Poulin from our Embassy in Brussels. And it was very fortunate for me that Frank was here because the chap I work with here, Albert Sauve, became ill on the Saturday morning of the PM’s visit and could not (and has not yet) come into work at all. Which meant that Frank and I had to cover off 24 hours a day between the two of us! A bit hectic, to say the least. But the real fun began after Frank returned to Brussels last Tuesday morning. Then the telegrams started pouring out of Bonn concerning Mr. Diefenbaker’s visit here and also about this latest Berlin tiff* which is making headline news these days in which, naturally, falls under our jurisdiction. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, today is absolutely the very first day I have not been in the Embassy for two solid weeks. Thus, the long delay in getting a letter off to you.

Mr. Diefenbaker’s tight schedule in Bonn did not permit him time to pay a call to the Embassy itself but I was fortunate enough to meet him privately in the hotel he was staying at in Bonn. That was last Sunday morning and I had gone into the hotel to help out a bit in the wee office we had set up in a room on the same floor as the Prime Minister’s party. A couple of the kids and I were just sitting around at the time, drinking coffee and waiting for something to happen when Mr. Diefenbaker came hustling in from church and greeted us all with: “Well, well, well, nice to see you all up so bright and early this Sunday morning!” (He didn’t know it, of course, but the truth of the matter was that I had also been up all night long doing his telegrams!) He stayed with us for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries, etc., then breezed off to his next appointment. In spite of all the work involved, it was extremely interesting to be “behind the scenes” of a Prime Minister’s tour and to see all the things that have to be done in order to ensure a smooth-running itinerary. It was particularly interesting to talk with members of the Prime Minister’s party, from his private secretary right down to his valet, and to learn about all the funny things that have been happening so far at hotels, airports, etc. One person I particularly enjoyed meeting was Mr. Diefenbaker’s brother, Elmer, who is a truly “Will Rogers” type of character and is very much liked and admired by all the people involved in the tour.

John & Olive Diefenbaker with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Bonn, November 1958

John & Olive Diefenbaker with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Bonn, November 1958

John & Olive Diefenbaker with Ambassador Escott M. Reid and his wife, Ruth, Bonn, November 1958

John & Olive Diefenbaker with Ambassador Escott M. Reid and his wife, Ruth, Bonn, November 1958

Elmer Diefenbaker, the PM's older brother and advisor

Elmer Diefenbaker, the PM’s older brother and advisor

I was glad to get your note of November 5th, Dad, enclosing my bank balance, and also glad to hear that the bank “carried” me for a few moments on October 28th. That amount of $267.85 had me puzzled for a while too. A pleasant surprise when I found out that the Posting Loan that I had taken out before coming to Bonn, in order to buy my car, etc., has now been paid up in full and I shall now be getting just that much more money each month!

I shall be eagerly awaiting your account of the trip, Russ, and Pete has written to me a couple of times about his slides and he says that you’re doing the trip in installments. Good idea – however, don’t go to a lot of trouble, now. Just whenever you get the time.

I had a long, long letter from Bob and Joan last week and they’ve got all sorts of plans for the Christmas – New Year’s period when I’m in London. I shall be going to London on the night of December 23rd, arriving early next morning and staying right through until the night of January 4th. Really looking forward to it, I can tell you. The Rivoires have already got tickets for several good shows and gave me a list of suggested other shows that we might all try to see together.

Next April, I hope to take a wee jaunt down to Turkey for a month or so. One of our stenos here, Dorothy Gross, has been posted to Ankara effective next month, and naturally, there has been great interest in Turkey around the office as of late. Sounds like a terrific country to visit and as one of my best friends here is with the Turkish Embassy, I feel as if I know enough about the country to whet my tourist appetite! Tentatively, my plans are to take a train down to Vienna where I shall visit some Australian and American friends of mine for a few days around Easter, then take a bus from Vienna to Athens, stopping overnight at Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Salonika, Macedonia (northern Greece). I would then probably meet Dot in Athens and we would take a boat to Istanbul then on to Ankara by train. However, time will tell. The Rivoires are also interested in an Italian holiday with me around April.

The following information is strictly for Nixon Eyes Only: the Yorks and I are now starting negotiations here to get us all aboard the SS Homeric which departs from Le Havre on May 20, 1959 and arrives in Montreal on May 28th! We may, however, leave from Southhampton on May 21st instead (the Homeric goes from Le Havre to Southhampton before heading for Canada) as the Yorks are rather anxious to see London again before going home. The reason I mention that this is for Nixon Eyes Only is that May 20th is slightly before we are actually due to go home, but for personal reasons, both Johnny and I are slightly fed up with certain things (and people) at the Embassy here and are most anxious to leave here as soon as possible. External affairs doesn’t know about this, of course, but we shall be advising them possibly early in January. The reasons for Johnny and I both being fed up, by the way, are a bit difficult to explain in a letter but I’ll just say that our once “happy home away from home” has undergone some rather drastic changes in the past few months and the arrival of some particularly objectionable types from Ottawa haven’t helped things very much.** Like the old saying goes, it only takes a couple of bad apples to spoil the barrel!! However, it won’t be long now to go so we are trying not to give the matter too much serious thought.

My little stove here in the apartment is still on the fritz and I spend most of my time lately huddled up against a wonderful little electric heater I borrowed from the Embassy. I reported my broken stove well over a month ago, but in true European fashion, nothing has been done about it as yet. The weather lately, incidentally, is ghastly – rains continuously and is foggy all day long. Grey skies all the time.

Must take a bath now and get a fairly early night.

Lots of love, Dave

* Premier Khrushchev had just announced that the USSR wished to terminate the Four-Power Agreement on the status of Berlin. The Plan was rejected by the Western Powers on December 3.

** The new Ambassador, Escott Meredith Reid, was apparently much, MUCH stuffier than Charles Ritchie. David’s later description of Ambassador Reid was that of “the stuffed shirt’s stuffed shirt”.

November 20, 1958

Dear Dad and Russ,

Just a wee note to answer your letter of November 16 which I received this morning.

I was vastly amused by the CBC report of my having met the Queen – however, I assure you that it was another David Nixon who actually had that honour! David Nixon (the other one) is a very famous British TV star and every time I go to London I always run up against the odd skeptic who doesn’t believe that I am David Nixon too! Even outside of London, I am always being introduced to English people who invariably say something like: “Not THE David Nixon” or “My word!” or “Jolly good – but what is your name, really?” So you can see that this is not the first time I’ve had identity trouble on the side of the Atlantic.

I shall look forward to receiving the final version of your short story cum essay, Russ, when you get time to finish it.

This morning was a good day for mail for me! I received an enormous five-page letter from (believe it or not) Bill Glenn!! Good old Bill. A good deal of his letter was devoted to thanking me for the nice time he had over here in 1956 – oh well – better late than never, I suppose. Bill is quite excited about his new venture and his letter was written on very attractive letterhead embossed with “Bill Glenn’s School of Drama” and all that sort of thing. Bill and I have often had our little differences of opinion over the past 12 years or so, but as you once said Dad, I guess old friends are the best friends after all.

Another great fat envelope received this morning had, as the return address: “S. Tysick, C/O West Side Story Co., the Opera House, Manchester, Eng.” Sylvia had enclosed three voluminous letters dating from last April 15 up to November last week. It was terrific hearing from her again, you can well imagine. Her show moves to London on December 12th and, as I think I told you, Bob and Joan and I have tickets to see it around Christmas time. Sylvia is absolutely thrilled with her part and the newspaper reports know no bounds of praise for the show. She enclosed a clipping with her letter and it was from a Manchester newspaper which said: “Nothing like it has been seen in Manchester since ‘Oklahoma’ opened at the same theatre 11 years ago.” The article also says in one paragraph: “A tiny Canadian redhead, 23-year-old Sylvia Tysick as the little girl who wants to be ‘in on the act’ often comes near to stealing the show.” When you consider that there are about 35 or so in the cast and Sylvia was one of about four people mentioned in the whole write-up, this praise is really tops!

Well, must dash now and get back to work.

Lots of love, Dave

Sylvia Tysick in her role of "Anybody's", West Side Story, Manchester, 1958

Sylvia Tysick in her role of “Anybody’s”, West Side Story, Manchester, 1958


From Ibiza to Bonn, via Madrid

January 26, 2013
David's postcard from Ibiza

David’s postcard from Ibiza

September 7, 1958

Dear Dad,

Having a glorious time loafing, swimming and riding a bike I rented for 35¢ a day! Truly a paradise – lives up to all its expectations. Will drop you another card later.

Love, Dave

David's postcard from Madrid

David’s postcard from Madrid

September 23, 1958

Dear Dad & Russ,

I’m visting Madrid for a week then returning to Ibiza for another week before heading back to Bonn. All going well and I’m having a good rest.

Love, Dave

[While David was in Ibiza, regular air service to the mainland began, so, once again, he was in the right place at the right time and experienced a special place before the hordes (tourist or military) descended.]

October 9, 1958

Dear Dad & Russ,

As you’ll see from this letter, I’m back in Bonn again after one of the most glorious holidays I’ve ever spent! It was truly superb and, strangely enough, a very difficult one to try to describe to anyone by letter. I suppose that’s because it was more or less an “atmospheric” type of holiday – that is, a person would really have to be there to get the full appreciation of the atmosphere of life on Ibiza.

And what a life! Swimming, sunning, boating, bicycling, walking and visiting funny little “bodegas” (Cafes?) in the evening and listening to guitar music and singing. I did a lot of “skin diving” in Ibiza, having purchased a pair of rubber flippers, face mask and snorkel. I always was a far better swimmer underwater than above anyways, so this new type of sport suited me to a “T”. This “skin diving” is quite fantastic – like discovering a whole new world.

My itinerary was as follows: for the first three weeks I was staying at the private villa of an English couple who are friends of a Canadian friend of mine at our Embassy in Madrid [Gwen Bottoms]. These three weeks were particularly wonderful as their villa was secluded enough to be nice and quiet and yet only 20 minutes by boat to the town of San Antonio. There was a delightful little beach with top swimming just in front of the villa. Then, I went to Madrid for a week and, while there, took a day’s tour out to Toledo. And the last week was spent in the Hotel Bahia in San Antonio (cost me $2.00 a day – full pension!). While not quite as restful as the first three weeks, this last week was terrific fun – I made all sorts of wonderful friends.

I think the best way to describe Ibiza to you is to wait until I get my coloured slides back and then send them to you so you can see for yourself what a beautiful spot it is.

Judging from reports here at the Embassy, Russ and Pete must have had quite a good holiday too. Our receptionist is still talking about the two black beards that appeared at the Embassy one day. And the Yorks tell me that you all had quite a night out on the town. By the way, how did the car run? It’s really running well for me now and I must thank you for filling up the tank when you left it. Also thanks for filling up the refrigerator. Be sure to let me know, Russ,how your trip went.

Well, as I’m typing this at work, I guess I’ll have to cut it short as we are apt to get into a bit of a flap at any moment. As you know, Mr. Diefenbaker is due over here next month, so needless to say, we are all up to our necks in preparatory work. Will write again soon.

Lots of love, Dave


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