Letter 1: September 8, 1946
Dearest Mother and All,
The best of intentions were mine, when I began this ocean voyage, to write a day-by-day account of my feelings and the happenings. But along with many other things, I had planned on this trip when I left home, have had to fall by the wayside. It would simply be unable for me to explain why. Anyone would have to be on this trip to understand. You made the remark before I left home that now that we were leaving not to look back. That is good advice but extremely difficult to follow.
The main essential of this trip is a rugged physique and much fortitude. That I must have in comparison to many on this trip. From all reports we have had it harder than the other groups that have gone because they simply tried to send too many at one time. Our sailing was canceled three times but finally we loaded Tuesday morning, Sept. 2nd. Three hundred girls, without youngsters, had been quartered on the boat on the Friday before, in order to make room at Fort Hamilton for the new group coming in.
I made as good use of the time as possible to sightsee in New York. Last Sunday we spent the day in Central Park. Dave was beginning to know his way around on the subway. Margaret got a balloon at Central Park and played with it all day Monday. Finally a little girl ran up and broke it. She didn’t cry until she got to our room but she was heartbroken. She wanted to write you and tell you to send her some balloons. One of each color. Every day she asked if I have told you. If you can find them I wish you would. Also, I can see now one thing we are going to be greatly in need of that I failed to bring-that is square woolen scarves for our heads. See if you can get a couple for each Margaret and me and send them as soon as you get this letter. You will need to send us both the letter and the envelope when mailing a package. Watch for winter UNDERWEAR and send immediately for the kids and also another cap for David. I bought Margaret 2 pairs of dungarees at Macys and she is living in them now. David gave her his cowboy belt and she looks precious in them.
Were I only literary minded so that I could give you a picture of the boat and this trip, I would give it the title “The Great Evacuation”. For that is what it is. Tuesday morning our bags had to be in front of our barracks at 8:00. They were loaded on buses and taken to the ship. Each bag was tagged with our name, destination, and stateroom. Then at 9:00 the passengers were picked up by buses and taken to the ship. We crossed to Staten Island on a Ferry and loaded at Pier 11. There were 17 busloads in addition to the 300 people loaded Aug. 30th. This was quite a sight. At the gangplank we were given our passports. When we got to the stateroom our bags were there. There are 22 in our room but we have plenty of room. Margaret sleeps in a lower bunk and I in the upper. David is quartered at the forward end of the ship on the deck below with 36 boys, ages 7-10, and 4 officers. However, he spends most of the day with me. Our meals are served in 3 settings. We eat at the 2nd sitting in the forward mess. The meals have been fair at times and excellent at times. The kids wont drink the milk and I can’t say I blame them. It has been frozen. The potatoes are cold storage and Margaret says they don’t taste like Grandmothers. However, all considered, the meals are fine and we have thrived beautifully. But you should hear the griping and complaining that has gone on. David knows the ship from bow to stern, etc. Even Margaret informs me they are “stairwells and not stairways” and there are many of them. The first night we thought we took off at 7:30 and every one was on deck to see us pull out. It was a real sight and very thrilling. But the rest of the night we rode around in the harbor to be sure all was O.K. and took out before dawn. By Thursday noon – the first 36 hrs – we had gone 536 miles – Friday noon we were 920 miles, and Saturday noon 1261 miles. I haven’t heard yet today but they say we are halfway. I am sure if the boat is moving as fast forward as it is rolling from side to side, we are really making time.
I am sitting in a deck lounge writing while the kids are at the movies. Each morning from 10-11:30 there is a dramatic and game class for Dave’s age and another group 6-9 have a story and game period. In the P.M. is a movie for children and at night one for adults. This morning they had both church and Sunday School. All morning religious music was played over the loud speaker and almost everyone all over the ship was singing. They have begun a bridge tournament and also German classes, which I am attending. Many passengers are educated in the German language – in fact 3 are from Germany.
Most everyone wears slacks and all is extremely informal. They publish a daily newspaper called the “Holbrook Herald”. Also, there is a library.
Twenty-seven girls returned home before the ship sailed. In fact, one picked up her bags and left the ship just before the gangplank was raised. Cold feet at the last minute. Visitors were allowed aboard the last hour and the band played on the pier all afternoon before we sailed.
The seasickness has been terrific but to date I have felt fine. There has been much diarrhea aboard also. But considering the fact that all total there are 1229 people aboard, some sickness is to be expected. I only hope we are able to continue the remainder of the trip as hale and hearty as we have been.
Friday night at 8:00 a woman was taken from the Holbrook and transferred to a Norwegian steamer to be returned to New York for an operation. We had ringside seats to see it all. The gangplank door was opened, she was lowered by ropes into a lifeboat, and a crew took her to the other steamer. One of the nurses accompanied her back. It was something to see that boat bobbing up and down in the waves. At times it looked as though it had gone under. After the transaction was completed our boat blew three blasts and the Norwegian steamer replied. Lights blinked and we both took off again. Pictures were taken of this which were to be in the New York paper. If you should see any such picture, I would like one. We are in the Gulf Stream now and it is quite warm. The first day was very cold. Friday night we set our watches up an hour and again last night another hour. Altogether my watch has been set up 4 hrs. from Central Standard Time.
At Fort Hamilton they had a huge laundry building with 32 Bendix machines. You put your dime in and washed. Everyone washed every few days. Aboard is a laundry and facilities to iron but the waiting lines are terrific. Instead of being two weeks, it will be almost 4 before we get to Vienna.
Now for a spicier side. You know in a group like this there are all kinds. One rule is no fraternizing with the crew. Can you imagine that! But two women have already been put in the Brig and the decks are patrolled after 11:00 P.M. This has been an adventure in real life drama and now we say that all we are waiting for is a baby to be born aboard and that I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Again I’m in the A Lounge while the kids are in the show. Had anyone asked me last Thursday would I do this if I had it to do over again, I’m afraid my answer would have been “no”. But by now I feel much different about it. Everyone seems to be adjusting himself and getting acquainted. Last night we had a dance on the sun deck. It was a beautiful night. The ocean was very calm, no wind, and a beautiful moon. Moonlight on the ocean is a glorious sight. At noon yesterday we had traveled 1612 miles. Today at noon we have gone 1988. This morning at 7 bells the temperature was 65 degrees. The afternoon German class is ready to begin. Last night I played bridge with Ruth Hamlin and Mrs. Brigg and her daughter. Mrs. Brigg and daughter are from Va. Her husband is a lawyer. The daughter is 24 yrs. old. Her husband was killed in service in Germany. She plans to attend school in Switzerland.
This is a beautiful calm day. We were told this morning that the Queen Mary passed us during the night. We have only seen two ships. We had a lifeboat drill this afternoon. I pray that these never are more than a drill. What a scramble it would be if one should need more than practice. It gives me a creepy feeling to look around and see everyone in their life jackets lined up at the rail. So many, many children.
The decks have been strewn all day with people, sleeping, knitting, reading, playing cards or just visiting. After dinner the kids and I and another lady and her daughter and son sat on a blanket at the front of B deck and played cards until the moon came up. It was a full moon and a glorious sight to see. The kids are all in their bunks and asleep now. We hang blankets all around the bunks to keep the light out. The girls in our stateroom are all dressed for bed and in a few minutes we are going to have a party with lemonade, cheese and crackers.
It was quite a party last night. We all sat on the floor, drank lemonade, and talked. Each one told where she was from, where she was going and what work she had done before getting ready to go overseas. It is definitely a varied group. One girl in our room is very beautiful. She has toured the country and Canada with an ice skating team. Another was a Powers model and looks it. Our watches were turned up another hour making 3 on the ocean and five since I left home. At noon yesterday we had gone 2362 miles. At noon today 2726. Leaving only 920 to go. In today’s paper they tell us that it is 250 miles from Bremerhaven to Frankfurt and 480 miles from there to Vienna. Friday morning at 4:00 A.M. we will be able to see the Cliffs of Dover.
I joined the line this morning and did my washing. I never saw so many pairs of pants as were hanging on the lines in the laundry. I counted 206. All our clothes are clean again. One lady has a beauty shop set up in her room and has been and is booked solidly thru Sat. I have done quite well with taking care of our hair but feel fortunate to be one of the lucky ones to have an apt. Sat. P.M. At our table we converse only in German. One lady is a Romanian and speaks German fluently. While on deck this A.M. we sighted three ships. For lunch today we had tomato soup, baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, mixed salad, hot rolls and mince pie. The kids have gone to ‘San Antonio’ and I am again waiting for German class. This crate is really rolling. In fact it is difficult to stay seated let alone walk. There was a terrific crash in the dining room last night. We all have our luggage anchored to keep it from sliding everywhere.
Letter 1 continued: October 2, 1946
At this point I had to stop writing and simply haven’t gotten back to it since – all I can do now is give a summary of the last 4 days of the trip.
The public address system called for the emergency crew and immediately the fire gong rang. I hit the door and was down the steps toward the show after the children. All I could think of was a mob of kids in such excitement. As luck would have it, the show was over and the children were back in our rooms when the gong rang. Dave had gone for his life jacket and I met him on the way back. He said Margaret was in our room but when we got there she wasn’t. I was almost frantic for she had gone to get a little girl who didn’t know her way back from the show and her mother didn’t know where the show was. I immediately took out after them for I had visions of seeing the emergency doors closed so that she couldn’t get back. I just got up the first stairwell and met her – not only bringing the one little girl but three others. I noticed two ships off port side – which was some relief to know that aid was near. We put on our heavy slacks, life jackets, and each took two blankets. The tension was terrific. Every one was as white as a sheet and all the children were pressed against their mothers with eyes as big as saucers. The smoke was pouring out of the galley and all the excitement and running of the crew was frightening. But the gone rang – all clear – in about ten minutes. I never felt such relief in all my life but positively weak. The only result was a cold dinner because ours had burned up.
Thursday night we had a party for the kids in our room. We fixed lemonade and had cookies. One girl had favors which she had brought with her and she gave each of the youngsters a paper hat. We spread blankets on the floor and they all sat on them. The ages varied from 8 months to 7 years. One of the girls took a picture of them. Also, David and Margaret were in a group of children playing on the deck when a newsreel picture was taken. Friday morning we got up at 2:30 to see the “White Cliffs of Dover”. They could be seen clearly because the moon was bright. Friday too, we had an orientation lecture on what to expect after we docked. Altogether, we set our watches up 6 hrs. – or a total of 8 since leaving Kansas. A whole night’s sleep lost!
The P.A. system went constantly all day Friday and Saturday calling people for various last minute things. We were ready early Sat. so we could go on deck and watch the boat dock. Men – soldiers on the dock waiting for their wives and families. Every one was packed at the rail and many were taking pictures. It was a sight to see the first ones that were allowed to go ashore. There were 37 to stay at Bremerhaven. P.W.s came aboard and carried the bags down. One family at a time went down the gangplank to be greeted by their Daddy. Pictures were taken of each family. Every one on deck would clap. Some of the children had never seen their daddy and would have nothing to do with him. We also watched the unloading of the hold luggage. Each group left the boat Sunday as the train scheduled to that destination was on the track. The first group left at 6:30 A.M. and the last was scheduled to leave at 6:00 P.M. Our group left at 12:05. We had a wonderful trip from Bremerhaven. It was a super deluxe train and we had a compartment. Dave shared a compartment with an older boy. Sunday we simply sat in awe at the windows.
This was a real geography lesson! Margaret was so excited she said, “Grandmother had ought to be here to see all this”. Germany is a beautiful country. It is covered with one village after another. Beautiful mts. and valleys. Every window had a flower box hanging from it. Not one inch of ground is wasted and I never saw such gardens. However, the bombed cities we passed thru were worse than any newsreel shows. I enjoyed the trip from Bremerhaven on far more than any other part of our 6,000 mile journey. The first group left the train at 9:30. We watched their welcome at the depot. The band was out, all were presented with flowers, and a double line was formed with swords crossed for them to march under. We had another group to leave at Linz and Salzburg. At Linz they had a Scottish band in uniform and they played bagpipes. Even the women on the train not leaving were given beautiful bouquets. They gave Margaret one too – her first. The Red Cross girl bought us cokes each A.M. and P.M. – the first since leaving the States. Also, they had games for the children – colors, etc.
We were all set at 6:30 and at the last minute I had a runner and had to change my hose! The station was packed but Mark was the first one we saw. We were given huge bouquets – the band was out with all the trimmings. We came home in a jeep and our luggage, hold and all, was brought to us that night.
Tuesday we unpacked – also we rode out thru the Vienna woods up to a resort hotel on top of a Mt. We climbed to the roof from where we had a beautiful view of Vienna and the Danube. Vienna is such an old city and everything looks the same. It is a very depressing and terrible some of the sights to be seen. The people look as though they had nothing to live for. And their endeavor to eke out an existence is pathetic. So many, many old people! Every one has a pack strapped to his back carrying wood for the winter. I have seen old ladies sweeping up the animal dung on the streets to use for fuel. There are few cars here except army. The trolleys and fast trains are always packed. One takes his life in his hands when getting on them. They don’t wait for people to even get off- they just start crowding on. 165 people were killed in Vienna in one month getting on and off trolleys. I am thankful we don’t have to use them much. A bus stops at our door three times a day and is for dependents only. I always use it to go to the commissary.
We saw a ballet “Ne’er Do Well” and “The Austrian Peasant Wedding”. Also we have seen the opera “Carmen”.
Last Sunday we went to Schönbrunn, which was the summer home of the former kings of Austria. Later it became a museum and is now British headquarters. The parks and gardens around the castle are beautiful. We climbed the Mt. to the villas where the summer parties were held. It was called the “Gloriette.” We climbed the tower for another view of all Vienna. Thousands of people were wandering thru the gardens, sitting on benches etc. We saw Russian, American, British and French soldiers. Mark took pictures of it all. We bought a parasol for Margaret it is red and blue.
I simply have to stop and at a later time I will tell you what the apartment is like. I wish you would buy a number of games for the kids for Christmas and mail them now. Also, I would like to have about 2 dozen candles – three inches long. Do get underwear and send AT ONCE.
And please, please write. I have had no word from home at all – except a nice letter from Van Dyck.
Letter 2: October 23, 1946
Dearest Mother and All,
Well, I have 32 pages of paper here and if I only had the time I could fill them all even typewritten. I thought I would have oceans of time over here to do such things as write letters but there needs to be at least 30 hours in every day to get things done. I got your letter written Sept. 23 on Oct. 10 and the one written Oct. 7 on Oct. 21. I was surprised to find that the Government had not notified you when we docked as we were told that there was no need for us to cable since they did that. This has been an interesting experience. I cant say that it has been an easy one but I certainly am happy we had the opportunity to come. I am not gifted enough in writing to endeavor to give you a vivid picture of things that have happened and things we have seen but I shall try to tell you how we live. First of all, the children have been healthy and happy and that is the most important of all. They talk of when we go home. I tell them this is our new home but Margaret insists it is just our temporary home for Arkansas City is our real home.
School began Oct. 9. Their school is really a beautiful place. It formerly was a wealthy family’s home – almost a castle. It sets in the middle of what I would call a beautiful park. There is a high iron fence all around the park. In school they have all grades from the nursery thru high school. They are well equipped – each room has extremely modern fixtures in the midst of a beautiful ancient atmosphere. Each room opens onto a large veranda which overlooks the lovely park. Throughout the park they have fixed various play equipment volleyball courts, tennis courts, swings, slides, sand playpens and almost everything you can name. These places for play are built at intervals and connected by walks, as they do not play on the grass. Two afternoons each week every grade has physical training at which time they are being taught sports, according to the age of the group. The large recreation room in the school has been converted into a gym for bad weather. Margaret’s teacher is from Baltimore, Maryland. She is young and very attractive. She has had four years first grade experience. Margaret says she is glad we came so she could have Miss Hurtt for a teacher. One teacher teaches German to all classes, beginning with the first grade. They have German lesson every day. David is in a combination room of 4th, 5th, & 6th grades. His teacher is Miss Tobin from Los Angeles, Calif. She is a type much like Mrs. Ehler. David says she is tops. You would have been amused at Margaret starting school. She has been so enthusiastic about it all. The first few days she was extremely disgusted because they didn’t pick up books and start to read. The first day they learned a word, she came home simply glowing. As you know, Margaret had advanced lots in the last year, but you would be surprised at the advancement in the last two months.
David takes his first piano lesson today. We have a piano in our apt. now which we are renting and the teacher comes to the house twice a week, Wednesday at 5:00 PM and Saturday at 9:30 AM. His teacher is a former instructor in the University of Vienna and her husband is a lawyer here in Vienna. Also, David is to take violin lessons at school. We are working now on securing an accordion for him but such things take time. I am taking German lessons three times a week. The I & E here furnishes classes for us in almost anything you care to take. Classes are begun for individuals every week. The teachers teach all day and also evening groups. There were only 2 others who began with this teacher when I did so we really get individual attention. I am now able to ride down the street and at least read a few signs. Also the headlines in the newspapers. Speaking of riding down the street, when we first got here we had only the street car to ride in – and that is an experience for the only means of transportation in Vienna for the Viennese is by the trolley. After the Russians came in practically all the cars disappeared. Now you see very, very few civilian Viennese cars. About the only cars you see are the American ones, which came over with families and the army vehicles. Consequently the trolley is always jammed when it runs and even its running you can’t be sure of because you never know when the electricity is going to be off. There are also people standing on the step and hanging on. When a trolley stops it is a mad scramble to get on. They don’t wait for people to get off – they start pushing to get on. Almost every Austrian carries a large pack strapped to his back and this complicated the situation. So, I was thankful when the bus service for Americans was accomplished. A bus stops in from of our apt. house 3 times a day – at 10 AM – 11 AM – and 2 PM. It leaves the Commissary on the half hour every hour and regardless of what time you are there between 8:30 and 5:30 it will take you to your door. Also a school bus picks the children up every morning at 8:20 and brings them back to the door each evening.
Dr. Koepell called me and asked if I would be available for substitute work or a permanent job should one occur. I told him I would – but now I wonder how I would ever fit things in. Mark has to leave at 6:20 for the field. It is 35 miles from our apt to Tulln. He rides the trolley to the train station and a train leaves there at 7:00 for the field. This means that I get up at 5:30 and never hesitate until the youngsters are on the bus – then I do various jobs and am to my German lesson at 10:00. From there I go to the Commissary and come home on the 12:30 bus. We have tried to do some shopping and sightseeing in the P.M. but have to be home by 4:00. Mark gets in at 7:00 P.M.
However, at present I am married to a traveling salesman in the army. You asked what the paper meant that came to Ark City approving his appointment on active duty as a 1st Lt. I can’t understand why one came there. One came to the base here but Mark turned it down, as was his choice. He said unless he was granted the rank of Captain he couldn’t afford the change. It would be only a temporary appointment and then whenever they were thru with him as an officer he would still go back to M/Sgt. For since he enlisted in the Regular Army last Feb. as a M/Sgt he would retain that as a permanent rank. But, to date, he feels that unless he had a Captain’s rank he is better off to remain a M/Sgt. however, I referred to him as a “traveling salesman”. To explain that – in July the Tulln motor pool was rated the highest in efficiency in this area. Mark was given the credit and they wanted to transfer him to Wiesbaden. Colonel Davies, the Commanding Officer of Tulln, refused to grant the transfer unless he went on active duty as an officer, as the job called for an officer. Finally, it was worked out that he would still be assigned to Tulln and would be here at least one week out of every month and assigned to temporary duty at the other post. He spent ten days at Wiesbaden and then was home a week. He left yesterday for Wiesbaden by plane and will be gone two weeks. What he is to do is to set up a working plan for the motor pool there. Then move to another place a do likewise, then to another, etc. He will retrace his steps checking to see if the shops are run as the schedule is laid out. His headquarters will still be Tulln. If the children weren’t with me I could travel with him and be billeted in a hotel wherever he was.
Letter 3: October 29, 1946
Dearest Mother and All,
Aren’t you surprised to be getting a letter again so soon, I mailed you one only last Friday but Saturday evening M/Sgt Meadows from Tulln brought my mail in to me and in it was your letter. You can’t imagine the feeling of getting mail when it is at least a week apart. I am sorry I’ve not had time to get letters off to those in Ark City but there is simply a limit to what one can get done. I believe I have things so arranged that I can have a few minutes for writing. In fact, I’ve set Thursday morning of this week aside to write a review of our trip and some of the happenings up to this date and I know a Viennese girl who is going to type it for me. I need about 30 copies of it send to all that I should. I will no doubt repeat a great deal in it that I’ve already told you but I will send you a copy of it anyway. No, we get very few of the Travelers, in fact we have only had 9 papers since I’ve been here. So, if you see anything of interest please clip it and send.
I’ve tried to do come Xmas shopping to send home but shopping takes a lot of time here and the things I got I feel I want to know are good and worth the money. We look at things and I think they are good but Hedy (the lady who is my companion) seems to know what is and what is not and she wont let me buy unless she feels they are good. Consequently, shopping is very slow. The Austrian shops are closed from noon until 3:00 so we have to do what we do in the mornings. And 3 mornings a week are taken with my German lessons.
Last Saturday morning David took his second music lesson. It was over at 10:30 so we took the 11:00 bus and went to the Commissary. I had some cleaning to take down and some to get. They do a beautiful job of cleaning. Dresses are 60¢ and suits 75¢. Nothing is over 75¢.
Sat. evening we went to a marionette show at the Red Cross. They played Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” also a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Saturday night we went to the opera, “Madam Butterfly”. Sunday I took the children to Sunday School. The Sunday School here is in the Officer’s Lounge at the 110th Station Hospital. We had to take the trolley for 20 blocks then the dependent bus for a 40-minute ride, as the driver went his route which is practically all over Vienna.
Sunday school started at 10:30 and I went to church while the children were in S.S. We were waiting to take the bus back when the Chaplin came up to talk to me. When he found that we had a 45-minute wait he insisted on securing transportation to send us home. The only means available was an ambulance. The kids got quite a thrill out of it. Because of this, we got home at noon. Otherwise it would have been 1:10. To leave the house at 9:00 and get home at 1:10 is quite an effort to go to S.S. But they do have a fine S.S. In David’s group there were 11 – all 9 years old, in Margaret’s group there were 19 all in the first, second, and third grade. The Chapel for the church service is very lovely and the Chaplain is an excellent speaker. The Chaplain told as that unless he could get the bus schedule changed to fit with the church service and also to stop at the homes, as the. School bus does, he would send a car for us each Sunday. All I need do is to call 1/2 hour before we are ready to leave.
Sunday P.M. we went on a Red Cross tour to Schönbrunn. We had been there once before but only got to see the grounds. On the tour we got to go inside the palace and see many of the 1441 rooms. The palace has 140 kitchens but NO bathrooms. We also were shown the museum where the royal carriages and harness are kept. I have never seen anything so exquisite. But there I must stop because David said he was going to write a story about them and we will send, you a copy.
Sunday night, Hedy played German songs for us. She is teaching the kids to sing some German cradlesongs in German. She is also going to teach them to sing some of the Xmas songs in German. Hedy has an excellent voice and she is a fine pianist. During the war she traveled with the German entertainers equivalent to our USO. She is a former Vienna University student. She speaks perfect English, is fine company when Mark is gone. She is quite a music lover. In fact, she said one winter she saw “Carmen” fifteen times. Her family owned a silk factory in Czechoslovakia. The Russians now have it. It seems peculiar to be able to secure such a person but even former doctor’s wives here are working as housekeepers, nursemaids, etc., Their food ration is very small, and even to get it they have to be working and have a worker’s card. One person’s ration here this week includes l cup black flour, 1/4th loaf bread and fresh meat is not heard of. They issue l lb sugar to children under 12 every 3 months and none to adults. Their main dish is potatoes and they don’t get many of those.
We burn coal and I did feel sorry for myself – getting up every morning and building a fire – until I realized that there were very few chimneys that had any smoke coming out. There is no coal for them this winter. Their only fuel is what they had on hand from last winter and what wood they carried in from the Vienna Woods this past summer. Hedy’s father is 74 years old. He made 135 trips to the Vienna Woods. A round trip from their home takes about 81/2 hours. The wood is carried in a pack on their backs. They have to walk. And this is not wood like we have at home because they are not allowed to cut down trees. They have to pick up what was on the ground. When we first got here such sights were common – old women carrying wood – I believe I told you about seeing them sweeping up the animal dung on the streets. Consequently, one feels fortunate to have plenty of coal and wood and glad to build a fire. It is very cold here now, Sunday night it snowed some. I have kept the kids dressed warmly but it will be much easier to do so when the freight comes. It has been 11 weeks today since it was shipped and surely should be here soon. However, the kids haven’t even had the sniffles yet. David said to tell Uncle Ivan he had fingernails now because he was too busy to pull them off.
The Red Cross has a fine library and he has read a number of good books. He even reads Reader’s Digest and the amazing thing too, is he knows what he reads in it. The children are having a Halloween party at school and everybody is to dress up. Hedy brought Margaret a darling Viennese dress and bonnet to wear. I want to take her picture in it and will send it to you. Last night we washed and did her hair up in curls. She really looked precious this morning – but she insisted on wearing her blue jeans and that blue wool sweater. She said she couldn’t play on the turning bars if she wore a dress. By the way, the youngsters in school are from every place. Margaret talks about the little girl from New Jersey and about the twins who are American but have never seen America. They were born in Africa. One little girl is a Czech and doesn’t speak English yet. Her father was killed on the Russian front and her mother is now married to an American soldier.
Well, as usual, once I get started I never stop and I have only 20 minutes to get ready to catch the bus for the Commissary.
Letter 4: November 10, 1946
Dearest Mother and All,
My good intentions fall by the wayside. I simply do not get any letters written. In fact, you are the only one I have written to. I got a packet from Edith with my August check in it- the Sept. check came here. The October one is probably in, Mark’s mail accumulated at the air base. It has been two weeks since anyone brought the mail in to me and I feel sure that your package has arrived by now. We really need it – especially David. Mark called me from Frankfurt Wednesday night and said he would be in Munich on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He should be home by Tuesday.
Our freight hasn’t come yet but we have received encouragement now that the maritime strike is over. Freight that was shipped in July is now arriving. So there is hope anyway. Unless I change my mind I don’t even intend to uncrate the rugs. It would be hard on them in this apartment. We are getting along fine as it is and I feel it would be better to keep them clean to use in a place where we might have central heating. The lady who does the cleaning scrubs all the floors once a week and waxes them. I am happy I brought everything I did – or will be once I get it all. One thing certain, whenever I pack again all our clothes are going with me.
I have spent hours trying to shop and have found little to buy. They tell us that after Christmas there will be plenty of nice things in the shops but now all the things made here are for export only. In the PX Gift Shop are lovely things from Czechoslovakia and Switzerland but extremely expensive. I do want something nice to send you but if I cant find what I want before Christmas your box will have to be sent later. I am mailing a gift from the kids to Dixie. In it is an Austrian sweater. I bought Margaret one like it also. I have found a wristwatch but am going to take it to a jeweler to have it appraised before buying it.
Prices went up at the Commissary on Nov. 1st so while things are not as cheap as they were they are still less than they are at home. Most meat went up 50% and other things about 20%. By the way, I have an idea I would like to carryout at Xmas time. At least to some extent. I want to fix some boxes to give families here, since I do not use all our allowance of $130 per month. I have ample left to fix several nice boxes. A box with $3-$5 of groceries would be a godsend to any family here. I would have about $40 left of my food allowance and could use that this month. I thought maybe that you or Ivan might like to send me some of the charity money you usually give to help in doing this. If you could see the people here I’m sure you would jump at this opportunity to help them. Also, if you can salvage any old clothes – particularly warm things – I could make use of them. The lady who cleans for us is badly in need of warm dresses. She is not as large as I am but larger than you. She has a 10 yr. old daughter and one 22. One of the ragged P.J. bottoms that were in some rags you got at the rummage sale I was using for a dust cloth. She asked me if she might have it to make her little girl underwear. I gave her an old pair of silk pants too used for a rag – and I mean I never dreamt they were anything but a rag. She won again, and fixed them for her daughter. In fact, I don’t know what I’m going to do for rags for I find that things are used to better advantage as clothing. The Viennese ration is even lower than the German food ration. General Clark is making an endeavor to get it brought up to the German ration. The four allied powers take turns feeding the Viennese. In October it was the British, Nov. it is the French, Dec. the Americans, January the Russians. However they all feed them with American foods. Last week their rations were, per persons: 2 rolls (black), 1/2 loaf black bread, 1/2 cup black flour, 1 can blood sausage (size of condensed milk can) 1/2 cup oil (salad), 1/2 cup corn grits, 1 lb. potatoes (for 2 weeks), Children under 12 get 1 cup separated milk a day, 2 squares fresh butter a week, 1 candy bar a month, 1 pound sugar in 3 months. People over 70: 1/2 cup regular coffee a month, 1 cup separated milk a day. Salt without ration – Austria has plenty of salt. If they get anything else they buy on the black market. This amount of food that they are rationed on the regular market is 4.2 shillings or about 42¢. But sugar on the black market is 5$ a pound. The average Austrian factory worker makes 80-90 shillings a month. Office workers make about 125 shillings. Tops in workers is 150 shillings. There simply is no coal for them. The average Austrian home has had no fire in it and it looks as though it would be that way all winter. They are rationed on electricity and when their allowance is used they are cut off for the month, A man with a family of four can barely pay his rent, food rations, and electricity on 150 shillings a month. Many Austrians have plenty of shillings saved from the time they made lots during the war, and they use that, but the ones who don’t – just exist, and I don’t know how they do that. Austrians who have their money in banks can only draw out 150 shillings a month, from any one bank. Many of them were smart enough to have their money in several banks and therefore can draw 150 shillings from each.
During the day you never know if you are going to have electricity or not. Sometimes it shut off from 7:15 A.M. until 5:15 P.M. At 5:15 it is dark and by that time we have the candles lighted. Sometimes it is shut off only in the morning and other times in the afternoon. This is true in the stores as well as the homes. It is certainly odd to go shopping in a store where, in order to see, they have coal oil lamps or candles burning. Also the only public buildings that are heated are the hospitals and kindergartens. The civilian trains into Vienna were completely stopped due to the coal shortage. The Mozart Express, which is strictly an American train, is the only one that runs. We did have elevator service but that has been cancelled as it takes too much electricity to lift an elevator. The two American families living in the apt. house are the only ones permitted to use the elevator now unless they are crippled. However, the only time we use it is when we come from the commissary with more things than it is possible to carry up. I average at least 3 times a day making this climb and it is 122 steps. This may account for the fact that I have lost weight despite of the fact I eat like a horse. I haven’t been weighed but you remember how tight that brown dress was on me even with a girdle. Well it is loose on me now without one. I no longer have a stomach that shows. I know I have lost at least 15 lbs. or maybe 20. I had better get weighed before I start gaining again. The grey suit you made for me is 2 inches too big around the waist. I feel fine and simply can’t account for it when I have tried to diet before and hardly lost a lb.
Last Friday I took a Red Cross tour to the famous Porcelain Factory “Augarten” and watched while they made precious china. We were permitted to buy only a souvenir. I bought a lovely dresser set. They told us that after Xmas we could buy anything we wanted. They have some gorgeous figurines. Also I definitely want to get one of the white horses with the Spanish warrior riding it. It is one of the loveliest things I ever saw. Everything is hand made and hand painted. I ordered a tea set for Margaret for Xmas that was the only exception to buying anything but a souvenir to take with you. They would permit Americans to place their orders for these. There is a set of 12 cups, saucers, teapot, sugar, and creamer. All hand-painted, lovely and delicate. I thought it would be something for her always to have as a remembrance of this year.
Tonight we are going to the opera Vienna Blut. David is writing you a letter and I hope he gets to it finished so I can mail it. The kids are both busy and have very little time to do all the things we would like to. They really get a kick out of playing cards. Both of them are quite good at playing rummy now. The ice rink opens this week and Hedy is going to teach them both to skate.
David is changing miraculously. The trip has meant a lot to him. I had thought David was going to be hard to handle but it definitely is the other way. He is most cooperative in everything. In fact, he has been so good it almost worries me. His Sunday School teacher stopped me in the Commissary and asked how many years he had gone to Sunday School. She said she told her husband she should be the pupil and he the teacher for he knew more about the Bible than she did. Also his teacher wanted to put him in the 5th grade but I said no. One evening I asked Mark who he thought David was like and he said “That’s easy, there is no doubt who he is like”. I said “Who”. He said “Why, Ivan more and more every day”.
Everyone raves about Margaret’s eyes and legs. I got a big kick out of listening to her expressions when she and Dave play cards. At grace, she only adds “God Bless Grandmother”.
Well, this has turned into a book so I will just sign off.
Letter 5: February 28, 1947
Dearest Mother and All,
I don’t know whether to add a P.S. to this or not but as it has been so long since I wrote the first part of this letter I feel I must bring it briefly up to date. And I hope in writing it I can remember that word briefly. I felt certain I would get this typed and off before we left for Salzburg but everything here is such a task to get done that the time passed without my having accomplished it. So please forgive me and permit me to add a postscript over three months later.
Our trip to Salzburg was more than delightful and a most interesting experience. At the time we left it was cold in Vienna but no snow. In contrast Salzburg was a winter paradise. We stayed at the Hotel Fitter, which is one of the hotels requisitioned for Americans. The hotel is in the process of being rebuilt as it was badly damaged by bombings. It received one direct by a bomb, but a bomb that fell two blocks away moved the hotel two inches off its foundation. Our rooms at the hotel were beautifully furnished but unheated. Consequently we hurried into bed as last as we could. When in the hotel we spent most of our time in the lounge, which was heated.
Salzburg is more like I had imagined a European town than Vienna is. It is very quaint and in the old sections the streets are so narrow that they are really just sidewalks between the stores. One street is connected to another by open courts. We visited the house where Mozart was born, which has been transformed into a museum where groups of visitors conducted by guides go streaming in to satisfy their curiosity and pay homage to the mortal remains of the great musician. Sketches over a century old retrace the history of the performances of “The Enchanted Flute”; “The Marriage of Figaro”, “Don Juan”, etc. The first piano of Mozart as a child, reproductions of his early compositions–innumerable memories and material objects, large and small in Salzburg bear witness to the life and work of the man whose genius conquered the musical world.
On Sunday we were fortunate to have Elsie Lang, a Special Service worker in Salzburg, take us to Zell-am-See. Her brother, Otto Lang, was an outstanding skier in Austria. He left Salzburg in 1935 for the states where he was a Ski Instructor at Sun Valley. Later he was a Co-Director, of “Sun Valley Serenade”. Now he is a director of movies in Hollywood. We took the early morning Austrian train to Zell-am-See.
It was a two-hour ride and then an hours walk to the cable car, which took us to the top of the mountain where the American resort is. The walk through the village and up to the cable car was most picturesque. As it was Sunday morning groups of people were gathered in front of the churches visiting. The houses were painted vivid colours and almost every house has a huge picture painted on the side of it. This is really a farmers village and most of the houses have their barns attached. It was our first close up view of this type of living and we really stopped and looked at the dwellings. The village is hemmed in by mountains, and mountains were covered with snow. The spruce and cedar tress glistened as though made of silver. Many streams ran down the mountainside and the sound of the falling water mingled with the church bells really gave one a “Holy feeling.
It was our first ride in a cable car and now I feel I can understand what they mean when they say “like a nest of spiders hanging from the ceiling”. While I cannot say I held my breath. I admit I did loose it as we made the hump over each cable tower. We spent the day at the resort and since the kids did not have skis Miss Lang took them skiing by letting them stand on the back of hers. We rode the cable car down and took a Special Service Bus back to Salzburg. There were about 100 Americans at the resort that day.
On Monday we took the Special Service Bus to “Koenigsee” which is in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. Without a doubt this is the most beautiful spot I ever saw. We took a motor launch out to St. Bartholomew castle, which was built on an island in Koenigsee about 1200 by the Archbishop of Salzburg for a lodge and place to hold conference meetings. Koenigsee is said to be Germany’s loveliest lake and for over a century, a private playground for the kings of Bavaria.
On Tuesday we went to “Berchtesgaden”. I agree that it is a land of snow and sunshine. From Berchtesgaden we were taken in an army truck to Hitler’s Official Alpine residence where we stood in the open window of his once famous conference room. I never saw such a beautiful and inspiring view as this window offered. From there you could see Hitlers world famous mountain retreat, “The Eagle’s Nest”. The only way it was accessible during the winter was by cable car and that was destroyed. We returned to Vienna on the Mozart Express Tuesday night and the kids were back in school Wednesday.
Mark was home ten days at Christmas. Our Christmas was much better then I had hoped for. We had a big tree decorated Austrian style. Hedy took eggs and sugar to a bakery where they baked us numerous coloured cookies, which she hung on the tree. Consequently we ate Christmas tree decorations for a week. Christmas Day there were sixteen of us for dinner and we had turkey with all the trimmings. In order to have our turkey I stood in line two hours to get it, and then it took another four hours to get in and out of the Commissary. The Christmas shipment of food had come in over the weekend and, I believe, all 900 women were there at one time to get it. In order to get in the commissary you have to present your AGO card. No Austrian is permitted to do any purchasing for an American family. You are limited to so much per person per month. For a family of two you are allowed eighty dollars and many people find it extremely difficult to get by on this, especially if they have many servants. This month, on the blackboard I counted the number of accounts overdrawn a week before the month was up and there were 65. They are not permitted to buy any more until after the first of the month now.
We have more than ample since with the kids we are allowed one hundred and fifty dollars. However, in spite of the fact Mark is gone so much, our bill averages about ninety dollars. You see there are still three of us and two Austrians to feed.
David’s main Christmas was en electric train and an accordion. Consequently our apartment is very noisy from 4 o’clock on. Margaret’s main gifts were a beautiful French Doll and a dollhouse and furniture.
In January the kids and I took a fourteen-day trip to Rome. Leaving here it took us from Friday evening until Wednesday evening to get there. We went through Germany, to Mulhouse, France where we were processed. On Monday we left Mulhouse and crossed through customs into Switzerland. It was almost like coming back to America after having been in Austria and Germany. For Switzerland has everything. The shops are filled with anything you want. It was something to see cars of every make on the street and it gave me a homesick feeling when I saw a black, 1940 De Soto with white sidewall tires. Over one huge building in Basel was a huge “Firestone” sign and above another “Singer Sewing Machine”.
We spent Tuesday night in Olton, Switzerland. The main thing we were impressed with there were our beds. I really didn’t know whether I was lying down or standing up. There are two mattresses and at the head between the two mattresses is a small mattress on a slant in order to raise the pillow. In addition to that there are two huge pillows. A feather comforter is used for cover and it is heavenly to get under when you first go to bed, but soon you are so hot you throw it off. I spent the night throwing it off then putting it over me again.
Just as we were finishing our dinner in the hotel dining room, an old man came in selling papers and in contrast to the states most everyone bought one. As he was leaving he stopped at the door and “Yodeled” . One waiter, and then other, played the part of the “echo” for him. The kids were more than thrilled.
On Wednesday we completely crossed Switzerland. Since it was a sun shiny day we were really able to see and appreciate the beauty of the country. In a way it looked like part of the country from Bremerhaven to Vienna, but in was all mountains, lakes and villages between. We passed through eighty tunnels that day. The shortest was twenty feet and the longest nine miles. The villages were on the mountain side and it made you wonder how the people got from their farm plots, in the valleys below, to them. Our guide pointed out spots of interest and gave in detail Swiss history.
That evening we passed through customs again at Chaisso into Italy. We ate our dinner at the “Savoy” hotel in Milan and traveled all night on the train. The next morning, when we awoke, we found we were traveling along the Mediterranean. Except for the people, buildings and farm animals one would have thought they merely traveling through the middle western part of the states. In each farmyard were 15 to 20 haystacks. Where hay had been out from a stack the, sides were perfectly straight. Each farm had many buildings and they were all dirty looking. Many farmers were plowing in their fields with water buffalos. Numerous carts along the road were pulled by oxen. In one small village a group of women were washing at the village well– rather I would say beating their clothes. The washing hung on lines between the building and from the windows. The laundry all looked as though it had never been touched with soap.
We arrived in Rome that evening and were registered at the “Majestic” hotel. Our room there was more like an American hotel, especially the beds and it was a relief to have a hot bath and a kind of bed you are used to after so many days on a dirty train. We had nine changes from Vienna to Rome and after leaving Munich we had to carry our own luggage. At one place this was about three blocks. We were advised against letting anyone take our bags for us.
The Majestic was one of the hotels taken over by the army. From our window we had a wonderful view of Rome. Early Thursday we were up and ready for a Red Cross Tour. When we left our hotel we were swarmed by Italians wanting to buy American money, scrip, traveler’s checks, cigarettes, or even the clothes off your back. Also street venders with everything to sell. I never saw so many “genuine cameos” in my life. Beggars galore followed you so it was a relief to get to the Red Cross and I was thankful it was only two blocks way. Youngsters there must be trained to be beggars and I don’t believe the Italians understand the word “No” even though it is pronounced the same in their language as in ours. At least they simply ignore it. While waiting for the bus, you could hardly move for the vendors The MPs would come and chase them, but when they were gone they were back again. Also, in contrast to Germany and Austria, Italy has everything in their shops, even American nylons at two dollars a pair. There are also cars of every make there and many new ones.
We took six tours while in Rome which included seeing the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Basilica of St. Peter’s the largest church in the world, The Catacombs, Circus Maximus. The Baths of Caracalla, Castle Saint Angelo, Tomb of Augustus, The Fountain of Trevi, The Pantheon, The Pyramid of Cauia Cestius, Piazza Venezia, Roman Forum, St. John’s Cathedral, Coliseum, Ardeatine Caves and the out of town tour to Trivoli. By Saturday night I never wanted to see another tomb, statue, famous, painting, church or old building again, regardless of how well known. On our way back to Vienna, someone asked how many people lived in Rome. Dave said, “I don’t know how many living ones but they certainly have plenty of dead ones.”
But without a doubt it was, a wonderful history lesson to the kids and I spent a great deal of time discussing it and explaining things to them. Since getting back David has read a book on “Famous Heroes of Greece” and two books on “Famous Heroes of Rome” and “Early Roman History”. One evening he remarked that there probably wouldn’t have been a mighty Roman Empire if the Greeks hadn’t defeated the Trojans. I know that this trip will mean much to him as he studies history. I only wish these things could have been so real to me when I studied it.
We left Rome Sunday noon and spent two nights and one day in Lucerne, Switzerland. By the time we started back we were well acquainted with everyone on the tour and had much fun singing and discussing things we had seen. We arrived in Vienna Friday morning completely fagged but glad we had gone.
The weather here has been extremely cold. Last week we had a terrific snowstorm and all roads into Vienna were blocked. The only train running was the Mozart. Traffic was made possible in Vienna by groups of men, women, boys and girls shoveling snow from the center of the streets to the curbs. Snow was piled along the curbs in places almost to the bus tops. Consequently it made most streets one-way streets. The electricity and fuel have become more critical than ever. When Hedy and I went to pay the piano rental last week we found that one of the old ladies who owned this piano company had frozen her feet right in her home. You know a house with no heat gets colder than the outdoors. So I am thankful for coal even though ours is mostly dust and it’s a decided effort to keep the doors and drawers shut. The electricity is now off so much we are more than thankful for the candles that were sent on our SOS to Seattle. A five-story climb with everything you eat, cleaning etc. is a good reducer for anyone and makes dieting unnecessary. I only hope I do not put weight back on now that I have finally succeeded in losing it.
The sun is shining in Vienna now and they say spring will be here in 14 days. After having passed the winter here I am looking forward to picnics in the “Vienna Woods”, a boat ride on the Danube and the many things there are to do here when the weather permits. We are also looking forward to a trip to Holland, a week at Chiemsee and Garmish.
As things look from here we will probably be home by September lst. So until then I hope you consider this effort enough.
P.S By the way, our trip to Salzburg cost nothing but 25cents per meal per person – hotels are free to dependents, also travel, in Austria and Germany. Outside trips are done thru special services and they have a travel fee. For example, the trip to Rome is 14 days and costs $31.00 for an adult and $2 for a child plus 25cents per meal.
Letter 6: March 31, 1947
Dearest Mother and All,
Another month gone! I mailed you a letter last Monday and I am going to get this off tomorrow. Yesterday, Mrs. Shackelford, her daughter Betty (Americans who live in the same apartment building), Hedy our companion, David, Margaret and I took a bus trip thru the Vienna woods to Kahlenberg. It was a beautiful day and we thoroughly enjoyed it. From the top of the Hotel you can see all of Vienna and the Danube flowing thru it. Easter vacation starts Friday and we are going to Chiemsee for a week leaving April 8 and returning April 15.
I have been approved to do all the substitute work for the balance of the year and if the 7th and 8th grade teacher does return to the States I will teach her room the last 3 months. You see, they had hired a full time teacher to do the substitute work and take care of the library, but as the school kept growing and so many of the rooms were becoming overcrowded they had to assign her two grades. That left the school without a full time substitute. I have also been offered a contract to teach next year and I have until May lst to sign.
Please don’t worry about the Russian situation. Frankly, I think the U. S. is foolish not to sit down on Russia now. It looks as though it will have to be sooner or later. I could be wrong but I don’t think Russia is ready for a war now. But given time and all she demands and she will be. The things a person hears about what the Russians have done and are doing to occupied countries are just a bad as anything Hitler ever did. And the war is supposed to be over! I read the beginning article in the March issue of Cosmopolitan called “Confession” and it made my blood boil. However, I don’t feel there is any danger here for some time. No doubt the U.S. will do as she always does and give in to all demands only to pay for it later. Should she decide to do otherwise we would doubtlessly be moved out. Imagine what a job that would be with so many families in Europe! Until the peace-terms were finally completed I think it would have been wise to keep all families in America although the French, English and Russians have their families here also. If you haven’t already read the article called “Heartbreak in Vienna” in the February Coronet please get a copy and do so. I honestly feel sorry for these people here. They didn’t ask for war any more than we did. When Hitler marched in they had to do as they were told or ELSE! In the same situation I wonder what we Americans would have done. If we are ever to have any world peace it will have to be accomplished now by tolerance and kindness NOT the way the Russians are doing it.
I admire these peoples spirit for in spite of the cold and hunger they are enduring. They grin and bear it and are even able to make jokes about their rations. Naturally there are some complainers but not as many as we would have under similar circumstances. I have surely not found the Austrians “lazy” nor capable of “‘stealing you blind”. I have been in a number of Austrian homes and although there is no soap, their homes are spotlessly clean.
The lady who works here from 9:00 AM until 8:30 P.M. or until she is thru, keeps everything shining and spotless and we don’t have the things to do with that we had at home. In fact, a can of Dutch Cleanser is a luxury and she hoards it carefully. She eats both her noon meal and her dinner here. I know she often takes part of her dinner to her husband but it is hers and when we have meat for dinner, she always takes her share to him. I pay her in shillings as I am required to but on the side each week I never fail to give her something, however small. She is so very grateful. Her daughter fixes our hair each Tuesday and Friday and also has her lunch here on those days. I pay her 10 shillings each day and she is here all day fixing Margaret’s, David’s, Hedy’s, and Mrs. Shackleford’s and my hair. She brought a drier from her father’s shop and leaves it here. She told Hedy she would be glad to work here just for the meal and to be where it is warm. Her husband has been in the war since 1939 and for the last two years has been a Russian prisoner. She has no idea when he will be released although he wasn’t connected with the Nazi party in any way. The prisoners who return here after being held by the Russians are certainly pathetic looking. Newsreels of Hitler’s concentration camps victims are no worse! Also Frau Smitcars (our housekeeper) son was here from Salzburg one day. He is going to work for the Swift Packing Company in their Austrian office. She wanted me to meet him and when I invited him to stay for lunch his mother was the happiest person you can imagine. He is a handsome fellow, twenty-four years old. However he was badly wounded in one lung during the war.
Incidentally, all the things you have sent have certainly been put to good use. There just isn’t such a thing as a “rag” here. Hedy does all the mending and she does a wonderful job. Matter of fact, I don’t think we would ever have to buy another pair of pants. She put new elastic in all the old pants and sewed up every runner and small hole. She has really been a godsend to me in every way. She speaks perfect English and is wonderful company.
You see I was interrupted. David’s music teacher came and then the children. Hedy took Margaret to her ballet while David had his lesson. Just as Hedy returned three students from the University of Vienna came in. They are all to graduate from the Medical School and play in an orchestra here and Hedy has been singing with them since June. She has a wonderful voice. They practice here about 45 minutes, two or three evenings a week before they go to the Officers club where they play. Last Sunday they played in a Concert Hall there and they are really fine. David gets a big kick out of it. Monday night they let him play the accompaniment for them for several numbers.
You should have seen the Commissary crowds on Tuesday. Since it had closed for March month end inventory on the Monday before and is always closed on Wednesdays, it was packed! Too, many of the people had overdrawn their March food allowance and their accounts had been closed for the previous week. I swear, the first of next month I am going to take the camera and take pictures of it, otherwise you will never believe it. The Commissary is huge but when you crowd several hundred people into it what a sight! Besides throw in many items in stock that had not been there before such as mustard and Ritz crackers, sugar, bacon, lard, butter, Spry, crackers, cocoa and numerous other items that are rationed. We now have ration cards to be punched. The Commissary is wonderfully set up and most efficiently run. The change in it since last year is almost unbelievable. They now have all kinds of Birds-eye frozen foods, fruits and vegetables. Since I never bought these in the States I don’t know what they cost. Consequently they seem expensive to me but we do like to have one round of the fruits and vegetables. Frozen strawberries are 38 cents a box, green beans 32, peaches 40 cents, peas 34. They have delicious apples and grapefruit all the time and you remember how Margaret loves apples. They are 8 cents a pound and Spry 25cents a pound.
I got your first box of candles in a hurry and the second box in record time. They were lifesavers at the time. However, the lights have stayed on day and night for the past three weeks, heaven knows why. I have received most or the Travelers since Xmas and I do enjoy them. You asked what I was able to do with the cigarettes – yea, I got all you sent – well, l used them for shillings to get David’s accordion, for Margaret’s ballet (two private lessons a week and 2 group lessons, David’s music (3 lessons a week) for Frau, Hedy, and Mimie the hairdresser. It takes 300 shillings a week for these things and in American money that is $30.00. Operas take about 100 shillings and there are other things to be paid for with shillings. Altogether I take about 500 shillings a week, without actually costing anything. You see it takes a little planning.
We went to the Vienna Spring Fair last week. It was much more wonderful than the one last fall and many things are now available to buy. I got names and addresses of the firms that had things I wanted, and when we get back from Chiemsee I want to go on a shopping spree. It will take several thousand shillings to get the things I want but I shall at least make an endeavor. The Augarten porcelain factory is open again. They are supposed to make lovely figurines and I hope find one which Hortence would like. Incidentally they have just the thing you need for the mantel. It is 1000 shillings and I have placed an order. I only hope I can get it home intact.
Frau Smitears brought me 3 meters of wool material from Salzburg (39 inches in a meter). It is a beautiful grey and I am having a suit made. She is having 5 meters of green-wool made for me so I can have suits made for Margaret and me. Also, 2 medium grey for David for a suit. All this will cost about 1500 shillings or $15.00. I plan to have shoes made for Margaret and me and also hats to match. All of this will take a great deal of time, everything you do takes so much time to see about.
The painters came yesterday and they are completely redoing our walls. It has certainly put us in a mess just before Easter but I think everything will be shining again by Saturday. Sunday we plan to go to the Vienna Woods and have an Easter egg hunt. Monday is Army Day and there is to be a big parade here.
The children are both happy and really advancing. Margaret is definitely a “card”. In fact, I am not surprised at anything she might say. She takes everything very seriously. David definitely does have a wonderful mind! He says he is going to be a doctor. He has enjoyed so much having these three men, who have come here to practice with Hedy. Also, Cub Scouts have started here and there are a number of fine things for them to do this spring. All in all I am looking forward to the next few months here and to the next year if I decide between now and May lst that teaching is wise. This will have to be all for now but I’ll try to get another “note” off to you soon. Love to you all and don’t worry about us.