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Connecting Generations

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August 5, 1914 – England Declares War on Germany

England actually declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 but my grandfather didn’t learn of it until he saw the newspapers the next day. I’m always amazed when I realize that it was almost three years before the US joined her Allies – Britain, France and Russia – and sent troops to Europe under General Pershing. Here’s a link if you’re interested in learning more about why England declared war on Germany.

Went out before breakfast and read in an extra paper that England has declared war against Germany. That makes things much more serious for us. We must not say anymore that we speak English, must say only “Amerikaner”. People are tearing off signs “On parlais francais” and “English spoken here” which some stores advertise on their windows, and even chiseling them out of the walls. I went in to a book store to look for a book in English, some fellow went out and told a policeman and he walked in to catch the Englishman. I had to get all my papers out again, but the proprietor of the store and his son, who spoke English well, stood up for me and wouldn’t let the officer take me. They told me to stay inside until the crowd went away, and the old man wrote a card in German saying: “This gentleman, who has already been arrested by the police, is an American, and has applied for his passport at the American Consulate” so I could show that if I were arrested again before I got my passport. They were awfully good to me in that store, and I am going to write to them after the war is over. The young fellow even offered to go with me to the Consulate, but I got there alright by myself and even got my passport.

Met Basset just outside coming for his – we had decided to travel alone that day to escape attention. We went down to the Grand Hotel and introduced ourselves to Chris Heurich and his wife. They were as glad to see us as though we had been old friends and old Mr. Heurich, thinking we were worried or scared, tried his best to inspire us with confidence, and did. He offered to help us with money or anything else, and made us promise to come round once a day at least. I never met nicer people than Mr. & Mrs. Heurich and Mrs. Heruich’s sister, Miss Keyser, also from Washington. They have lots of money but are just plain, good people, the most respected of all the 128 Americans in the Grand Hotel. Mr. Heurich is about 60 and looks German and talks rather brokenly.

It is really funny how our hopes go from top to bottom several times a day. Sometimes we imagine we will be out of it in a week or so, perhaps there will be a special train for Americans to Scandinavia and the US will send ships to take us home. Next moment we can see no hope at all. Someone reports that the banks have stopped paying and we rush there to cash a check or two or three and find it is the same as ever. It is a world war, and we must take our chances just like everyone else. We shall try to learn German, keep as well and healthy and make the best use possible of the time.

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August 4, 1914 – Arrested Again

This is a transcription of my grandfather’s account of his time in Germany at the outbreak of WWI. At this point, he has been in Germany for one week and has visited Berlin, Dresden and Nuremberg. His plans for travelling throughout Europe for three weeks were interrupted by the war and he and two travel companions (fellow students at George Washington University) are stranded in Nuremberg Germany because the trains were dedicated to the war effort and moving troops to the front.

What would you do if you were a college student in Europe for the summer and this happened to you? My first thought would be to return to America but that was not an option because the shipping lines were no longer running between the United States and Germany, even if he could have returned to a port city.

Interesting aside – my grandfather and his friends were probably on the last passenger trip of SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. When the war began it was converted to an auxiliary cruiser and sank off the coast of Africa in the Battle of Rio de Oro on August 26, 1914.

We made our daily trip to the consulate. There was no war news of any interest, but the consulate was full of Americans, and we stopped to talk to some of them. Most of them are at the Grand Hotel, among them Alexander H. Revell of Chicago, Chris Heurich the Washington brewer, Mr. Huntington, related to the late Southern Pacific president, and president of the National Geographic Society. They all expect to stay awhile, and all were filling out applications for passports, which the consul has been authorized to issue. We sat in a park to talk things over and decided there was nothing to do but wait. The uncertainty of things is the worst experience – whatever we do is guess work; we don’t know whether to cash all the cheques we can before the banks stop paying (which we expect) or get just enough for present needs, so not to have a lot of worthless paper to change if we should leave Germany suddenly. We decided to get it only as we needed it and that proved to be the right thing to do.

Looks like the boys were stranded in good company. Later in the story, you will learn that meeting these other Americans was a fortuitous event. Christian Heurich was a German immigrant who started the Heurich Brewing company in Washington DC. It was originally located near Dupont Circle but later expanded to a larger facility in Foggy Bottom, which is now the site of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Christian Heurich’s mansion located on New Hampshire Avenue near Dupont Circle in DC has been converted to a museum and is open for tours – Thursday through Saturday. (Reservations are recommended). It is also used for beer tastings and other special events. I definitely want to plan my next trip to DC around an event there.  Here’s a link.

In the afternoon we started out to look for a bath. The place we had seen advertised had closed down their pool, so we went around to the YMCA (Christliches Verein Junge Manner). They had no swimming pool, but the porter who spoke fine English, having lived in England a year, took us all over the building and told us a great deal about it. The building is a beauty, 5 years old, cost two million marks. The membership is only 50 pfennigs (12 cents) a month and it is for young men who need it, if they can’t afford the membership fee someone pays it for them.

The rooms in the YMCA were very nice and almost as cheap as where we were, but we didn’t think it would be of enough advantage to move. We talked with one of the secretaries who expected to go next day to fight the Russians, and many of the other secretaries had already gone. The assembly hall was quite a large room with a gallery and pipe organ, but instead of chairs or seats they had tables so people could eat and drink while they were at meeting.

We had a dandy shower bath with soap, towel and individual dressing room at one of the city baths right in the wall, for 10pf ( 2 ½ cents). They have several of these baths around town, another thing America could very well adopt. I think we would use them more than the average German does too. Bruce L’s friend Kramer says you can tell the day of the week in a crowd of Germans by the smell. This was the first real bath we had had since landing, and we felt like new. Started to walk around the wall, eating apples, came to a place where the farmers were bringing their horses to turn them over to the army. We stopped a second to watch and an officer came right up to us and we were arrested again. He took us in a laundry on the bank of the river to get away from the crowd and asked us the usual questions, then led us to another building, and through several more to shake off the crowd. But they saw us when we came out on the street and followed yelling “spion” It made the officer angry but he couldn’t make them back down. He told them we were Americans and not English, but they wouldn’t believe it. We crossed a little foot bridge across the river and a man at the other end blocked the way after us so the kids couldn’t follow, but another crowd collected on the other side. He took us to a different station this time and we had a harder time proving our identity. Finally we showed him on a little map where we had been taken before and he called them up. As soon as he had described us they told him we were alright and he begged our pardon, and let us go, but we couldn’t enjoy the sights much that afternoon, try as we would. We were not the only ones to go through such experiences; we heard of lots of Americans who were arrested almost every day, and they complained to the Consul, so he got the burgemeister to issue an order to arrest strangers only on the strongest suspicions, and made it a misdemeanor for anyone to follow an officer with a prisoner. After that we weren’t annoyed much.

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August 3, 1914 – Second Day in Nuremberg – We decide to “raise” moustaches to seem more German!

Fine warm day. Chocolate, rolls, butter and honey in our hotel. (This much I might ditto fifteen times, until August 17th). We walked around town and finally found the American consulate. Mr. Winans, the consul, arrived only three weeks ago from Seville, Spain, so is new to the job. Very friendly and reassuring. He told us that Nuremberg is the safest and cheapest place in Germany to be, as the Bavarian Government has guaranteed the food supply for a month. In Switzerland prices are going up, and the Swiss are anxious to get rid of the tourists. He advised us to stay here and not to worry for the present, which we will do.

Nuremberg is the oldest city in Germany. It still looks like a medieval town. An old wall, built about 1350, with a ditch fifty feet wide and fifty deep still circles the old part of the city, cut through by several gates or “thors.” Almost all the houses are quaint, with high steep roofs and oriel windows. The streets are narrower and more crooked than Boston, and every turn brings you upon more picturesque sights. We did not enjoy it much today, though, — there was too much else on our minds. Once as we stood waiting for a car to go to the Tiergarten (Zoo) an officer came up and marched us to police headquarters. The Chief immediately recognized Jim, begged our pardon, and after talking with us a little and giving us some good advice, some of which we got, let us go. We didn’t attract much attention this time but it is uncomfortable to feel that you are watched all the time. The officer that arrested us was nice, every time we met him after that he smiled and acted a little embarrassed. We decided to raise moustaches so we will look more like the Germans. The Kaiser says a man isn’t a man if he can’t raise a moustache. We are going to prove that we are.

After the second arrest Jim decided he would stay in the room, so he did, while Basset and I went out to the Tiergarten and had a nice restful afternoon, watched the animals and heard a good concert. That was the last concert, as the musicians were all going to war. Nuremberg has a fine zoo, and the keepers are all regular animal trainers. They play with their animals so it is like going to a circus. Once when we went out there the polar bear keeper saw that we had a camera so he climbed to the top of the rocks behind the bear’s pool, held up a piece of bread, and the bears climbed out of the water, up the rocks, and sat up and begged for the bread, while we took their picture. The seal keeper made his seals climb up the rocks and dive off for us, and the lion keeper brought out a little lion cub and let one of us hold it while we took a picture. In the evening we went to see a moving picture show (there are only about 4 in Nuremberg, — can you see how a city of 300,000 can be so backward?) and got our minds off the war for a while. Between films they threw on the screen pictures of Emperor Franz Josef, the German generals, and finally, — the Kaiser – there wasn’t a sound. I guess they think it is a sin to applaud in a movie show. Afterward we went down to one of the bridges across the Pegnitz. It was a beautiful but strange sight. You could easily imagine that it was 500 years ago instead of the present, to see the moon shining on those queer old houses, hanging out over the river, the odd shaped roofs, towers, steeples standing out against the night sky.



Source: Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons
Author: The original uploader was Keichwa at German Wikipedia


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We interrupt this WWI Diary to bring you news of two special wedding anniversaries!


Our Wedding

August 6, 1983

August 6th is a pretty good day for a wedding if stability is what you have in mind. Today as my husband and I celebrate our 34th anniversary – we wish my uncle and his bride congratulations on their 57th anniversary!


It’s funny how wedding dates are selected – no doubt it depends on the availability of the church and reception venue and I know many brides today spend many months, if not years planning their weddings.  For Rick and me – it was a much more practical consideration – there were only a few weeks between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my second year of law school. Why else would anyone choose early August in Washington DC?

We spent the early part of our time in Washington DC finding a church that we wanted to join. I remember many Sundays visiting different churches. I also remember visiting Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church and thinking I wouldn’t like it (it was in a wealthy DC suburb and I thought this very middle class girl would feel out of place with Washington’s upper crust). Of course, that was before I knew all of my Preston and Bryant family history, through which I learned that I am a descendant of Washington DC’s “upper crust!”

I still remember the sermon on our first visit to Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church int he spring of 1983 by the head minister – Tom Jones. It was entitled, “Sins of Omission.” It was a sermon about the civil rights movement and the terrible things that were going on during freedom marches in the south in the 1950s and 60s. He certainly got my attention when he said – “if you were not actively protesting the abuses by whites in the South,  you were just as guilty as the people holding those fire hoses on the marchers.” Hmmm… maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad church to join after all. And of course, it was beautiful both inside and out.

We joined in short order and remained active participants in the life of that church for the next two years until we moved away from DC in 1985. But I digress – this post is supposed to be about wedding anniversaries!

Rick and I were married at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church on August 6, 1983. It was hot – the Washington DC kind of hot, dripping with humidity. I remember Rick asking if he could pay extra to have the church leave the A/C on the night before. We were assured that someone would turn it on early enough for things to cool down in time for our 10 am ceremony. I don’t remember being too hot so it must have worked out.

As for Deane and Nancy who celebrate their 57th anniversary today – I have this picture that I found on from page 6 of the Columbus, Indiana Republic on August 8, picture.1960

Sorry to cut off the article but what an elaborate affair it seems to have been. I don’t see Deane and Nancy as often as I’d like, but it has always made me happy to share a wedding anniversary date with them.

Here’s an excerpt from my grandfather’s family letter dated November 25, 1958 in which he describes meeting Nancy’s parents for the first time.

“There are prospects of a wedding in our family. Deane is sure he has found the right girl, and they thought of getting married at the end of this school year, but the latest decision is to wait until Deane finds out whether the Army is going to take him, and for Nancy to finish her last year at the university. [Deane was a senior and Nancy a junior at Indiana University when this was written.] They met while they were both working on the Daily Student, and this fall it began to get serious. Nancy Myers lives in Columbus, Indiana, 40 miles east of Bloomington; she is majoring in journalism and literature. She is pretty, intelligent, and wise for her years, and we like her very much. We invited her father and mother for dinner about a month ago, with her sister and her boyfriend. It was her father’s birthday and we all had a good time. The four young people went to a dance and the four parents stayed home and had a good talk.

Mr. Myers studied for the ministry and preached for a while in a Christian church, then went into one of the plants in Columbus that makes radios and a number of other things as a personnel and labor relations officer. Her mother was born in Australia, and they are both lively, witty, and good people. They like Deane, and had no objections to the kids getting married, though it would please them if Nancy finished her last year in the university. This is an example of Mr. Myers’ kind of wisdom: he suggested that they think over carefully the pros and cons of getting married next June, then he would arrange a debate and he would argue in favor of it. Well, when Deane and Nancy thought of all the reasons against it, they called up her father and told him there would be no debate. They may still change their minds, but they are both thoughtful youngsters and, we will be satisfied with whatever they finally decide.

I just realized as I was typing this that the “we” in this letter means that Kitty also met Nancy’s parents. I rarely think of Kitty (my grandmother) as being involved in family events because she died in December 1959.




August 2, 1914 – Reality of “The Great War” comes crashing in!

In the summer of 1914 my grandfather was a college student spending what he thought would be three weeks touring Europe. Unfortunately he arrived on the eve of WWI and spent most of his time stranded  in Germany because the trains stopped running. Here is his account of his adventures that summer. He wrote these in a letter to his parents after he safely returned to the United States. I am so lucky to have the original of his letter.

I’m trying to post each of his letters on the day he wrote them but I’m still a little behind. The night before this was written he had planned to take a train to Switzerland. Instead it looks like our trio is headed for Nuremberg, Germany.

We had another dainty breakfast and came down stairs with our bags to pay our bill when we got our first jolt. The proprietor refused to take an American Express cheque in payment for the bill and after arguing until almost train time we paid him in cash (and we didn’t waste much in tips that time, either). We had just enough left to buy tickets to Nuremberg and a little to buy sausage sandwiches on the way, but we felt thankful enough to get seats in a little half-baggage, half-passenger car right behind the engine and to be on our way. It was a pretty ride, though dirty and tiresome, from 8 am to 5 pm. I bought an extra paper on the way and figured out with the aid of the dictionary that the trains would be taken over by the army at 6 o’clock that evening and no more passenger trains would run for a week, until the mobilization was over. So when we got to Nuremberg, Bassett and I left Jim with the baggage in the station and went out to look for a cheap hotel.

We stopped in the North German Lloyd office, (they had taken a ship from this line to reach Europe) which was open though it was Sunday. The agent spread a little more gloom over the situation by telling us that all North German Lloyd sailings had been cancelled indefinitely , and he had no idea how we were going to get out of Germany. But he very kindly directed us to a little hotel in a side street nearby, that we never would have found ourselves, and we got two rooms with breakfast for 3 marks a day each.

This is the nature of my grandfather – I challenge anyone today to respond to such a dire situation with this attitude. You’ve just been told that your trip home to America has been cancelled “indefinitely” because of the war but you appreciate the advice from the person who gave you this bad news because they tipped you off to a “cheap hotel.” I love my grandfather – always have – but even more now that I know his kind, gentle nature was his innate being – even as a 24 year old in dire straights.  And in the midst of a war scare – he takes time to go on for several lines about the beds in Germany.

Afterward Herr Bindl came down to 2.50 a day, when we thought we would have to look for a still cheaper place. The rooms were good and clean and the food was always good and plenty of it. Our experience with beds was funny. The Berlin beds were the best, — the feather cover was light and soft; in Dresden it was a little thicker and heavier; in Nuremberg it was about a foot thick and not very soft or light. I don’t know what they would have been still further south. We laid them all on top of the wardrobe and they reached the ceiling, then we removed the bolster from under the head of our mattress, put one of the fat pillows under the bed, and could almost assume a horizontal position when we went to bed. After we had done that one or two nights, they took away the feather beds and the bolster and we got along very well. Another funny thing they do is fold back the quilt at the bottom so your feet have to stick out. The Germans must think that if they keep their stomachs warm, that is all that is necessary.

We walked around a little bit that evening, but Bassett and I came back to the room and were sitting there about 8:30 when a lot of people came scuffling up our alley followed by three officers. We had seen officers the past few days until we were tired of them, so we didn’t think anything of them, but presently someone knocked at our door, and one of the officers came in, out of breath and told us, in German, that we had been trying to send a telegram. We said we had not. Then he demanded who we were, where from, what doing, where going, and why. I wasn’t scared, and I was racking my brain for enough German words to tell him. They went out for an interpreter, but I think all he knew of English was “Do you speak English?” We were overjoyed at having someone to explain it to, told him our whole story, but he didn’t understand a word of it, and when he tried to talk English, it didn’t sound like any language that I ever heard before. We could understand the ones who spoke German a good deal better. Finally, after marching up and down outside our door they left us and then Jim came in with his hair almost on end, and said that he had started to copy a telegram posted in the window of the North German Lloyd office so we could read it, when an officer came up and grabbed him and led him to the police station, with the whole Sunday night street crowd right after. An American fellow who spoke German saw him and followed, and through him, Jim convinced them he was alright. They searched him all over, read all his letters, counted his money, and sent men to guard us, whom, I suppose they thought were also spies. We heard the next day they had caught a number of Russian spies just outside of town. It made Jim prejudiced against the Germans (he said he never had like them) but I don’t blame them at all for keeping such a close watch. Our names were in the hands of the police within an hour after we arrived. The crowd below (this is a wine and beer restaurant) talked and sang and drank beer all night, but we slept well.

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Day 4 – August 1, 1914

My grandfather and his friends are beginning a summer trip to Europe that is about to be drastically changed by World War One. They’ve enjoyed about four days as summer tourists – including this one, but things are about to change. Here is his entry from his second full day in Dresden, Germany.

He and his two travel companions arrived in Brehmenhaven on July 28th and immediately took the train to Berlin. After spending July 29th and 30th in Berlin they arrived in Dresden on the evening of July 31st.

August 1st

Woke at 8 o’clock with the sun shining in our window (for the first time since we landed) and the birds singing in our garden. The waiter brought a delicious breakfast: coffee and little round rolls, butter and grape jelly, and spread it out on a table in our room, so we were ready to start sightseeing soon after nine. After going to the bank and cashing three checks between us, we spend the rest of the forenoon in the Zwinger, which many think is the finest art gallery in Europe. Bassett and I had one of the best times of the trip, but I don’t know whether Jim enjoyed it so much or not. There are many great paintings there, but the greatest of all, in a high room by itself, with a soft light coming in the window, is Rafael’s original Sistine Madonna. It is the face of the mother that is the most wonderful thing, — I tried to look at other parts of the picture but my eyes always came back to the face. It is sad, but full of love and sweetness, and a look as though something wonderful had happened to her. The baby’s face is like the mother’s and unlike other pictures of the time and other of Rafael’s pictures, it looks like a baby, and not like a diminutive man.

(You can see the painting and learn a bit more about it here.)

By luck we happened into a dandy little restaurant just at dinner time, — one of the characteristic German places that we had been looking for all the time, with a lively Bohemian orchestra playing Austrian tunes, and a jolly little waitress anxious to please us. So Bassett decided to make this his “seasick dinner.” We had made an agreement on the boat that the first one seasick must buy the first dinner when we got to land, but we hadn’t had time for a real dinner alone up to this time. It was a fine dinner, with roast chicken, Russian salad, and caviar, something only millionaires eat at home. It cost us a quarter, I think. You know what it is – the eggs of a certain kind of fish that comes only from Russia. I didn’t get such a longing for it that I have to have it now though. We enjoyed that dinner much more than eating in the gilded palaces of Berlin.

After dinner we tried to get into the Castle to see, among other things, the famous “Green Vault” in which is the most valuable collection of jewels in the world. But a big tall Saxon soldier at the gate thought we were trying to take pictures of the castle, and he almost “charged bayonets” on us. Check this link for a recent story on the Green Vault. We couldn’t explain to him that we didn’t want to take photographs but only see the inside of the castle. They were beginning to watch things pretty closely then. We saw a sightseeing auto standing still, with three Americans (from Dayton Ohio) sitting in it, so we got in and the six of us had a long ride around town to ourselves. Got a fine idea of the beauty of the city. It has the prettiest municipal and royal buildings and the finest residences (except those on the Harvel near Berlin) I have ever seen. On the outskirts of the city are little cottages in garden plots, 50 or 60 feet square, on which a family supports itself. The city owns them and rents them to the poor people for 8 or 10 marks a year – an admirable way to take care of the poor, I think.

We were riding through the New City, where the barracks are, and we noticed that all the soldiers seemed to be feeling good about something. One of them came out and got in the car (he was a cousin of the driver) and told us that it had just been reported that Russia had withdrawn its troops from the Austrian border, and that the trouble was therefore over. We all cheered and the soldiers and officers stuck their heads out of the windows and cheered and sang and showed undoubtedly that they were glad, — as was everyone else. When we got home we started up the street just to watch the shop windows, which are the most attractive I ever saw anywhere, far better than Berlin. The boys bought some little Dresden china souvenirs but I didn’t see anything I could carry without breaking. I bought a German house apron (which I will send to mother as soon as I have time to unpack my bag). Mrs. Roemmele on the K.W der Grosse had told me to be sure to get one for my mother. I don’t believe I got what she meant, I didn’t see anything remarkable about it except the price, which was about 35 cents. The greatest bargain I ever picked up though was a pair of field glasses, as good as I ever looked through, for M. 12.50 just $3. An old man on the boat coming over had told me I could get fine glasses for anything above $5, but these were just as good as some that cost M- 17. They are small enough to use as theater glasses, but out on the ocean I could see a ship before anyone, and read the name several miles away. I wanted to buy some of the famous German cameras which are so good and cheap, but I already had my Brownie which was satisfactory. Cutlery, gold and silver things, stones (especially garnets which come from Bohemia right nearby), linen goods, umbrellas and walking sticks were the hardest things to walk by, they were all so good looking and ridiculously cheap. I was just on my way to get a garnet tie pin for Forrest and Frank and Dean when the King (of Saxony) went by in his auto and we all rushed out with the crowd to get a look at him. Did I mention seeing the Kaiser just before we left Berlin, coming in from Potsdam in his car? The crowd went wild each time, and it seemed a little more enthusiasm than the occasion demanded, but a few minutes later the clerk that I bought the apron of, who spoke a little English went by, and he showed us the latest “extra” which said that the Czar had not stopped mobilizing and the Kaiser would therefore order the mobilization of the German army, and war would probably be declared Monday.

We couldn’t understand the full significance of it at first, of course; I don’t yet. But the young clerk kindly explained that everything would be badly upset, – we might not be able to get money, the price of food might go up, the railroads would probably stop running, and Germany would be no place for sightseeing anymore. So we stopped buying things and went right to our rooms and packed our suitcases. Went to bed early that night and Sunday morning were ready to start for Switzerland.

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Day 3 From Berlin to Dresden – July 31, 1914

Imagine being a college student spending a few weeks of your summer vacation on a trip through Europe. You’ve worked hard to safe enough money for the trip and when you arrive in Germany, it is on the eve of Germany’s declaration of War against Russia. You soon learn that all trains in Germany will stop running to support the movement of troops. You’re not quite sure what to do or exactly when or how you’re going to get home.

Here is my grandfather’s account of that situation as written to his parents after his safe return to the United States. My grandfather, Joseph B. Kingsbury was travelling with two friends from George Washington University – Bassett and Jim.  I am not sure of their full names but the three of them had planned a trip of about three weeks that would have included Prague and Paris. The plans changed almost daily as they learned more about the War developments.

I’m planning to post an entry each day that will eventually correspond to the current dates of this year, 103 years later. I’m almost caught up. If you’re just beginning to read this blog, earlier posts will fill you in on the names – but for a quick reference –

Bruce – is an acquaintance from my grandfather’s home town of Osage Iowa who had been studying violin in Berlin for the past year when my grandfather and his friends arrived.

Quarton is someone who worked in the American Consul’s office in Berlin and my grandfather had a letter of introduction to him and met with him on arrival to get an idea of what to expect over the coming days. I suppose it was hard for anyone to know exactly what was going to happen.

July 31, 1914

This morning Bassett and I went up and saw some of the museums while Jim went shopping. We saw some good pictures in the National Museum and the Kaiser Friederich Museum, and went in the cathedral. I had forgotten we’d learned anything about the war scare until we got to Dresden, but I find it in my diary, “An extra at 2 p.m. says that Russia is mobilizing her forces and
Germany may have to go at war at any time. If Russia goes in, Germany must side with Austria, France with Russia, and England where her own interests say. Things look serious. I asked Quarton and he said go ahead on your trip.” So we went to the station and Bruce saw us off at 4:30 p.m., for Dresden. Bruce leaves tomorrow for the Baltic Sea for a month’s fishing and camping. He is all worn out from a year’s violin study under professor Moser, – 5 or 6 hours of practice a day – one lesson a week for 30 M. His expenses are 300 M ($75) a month.

In this passage in the letter to his parents, I think my grandfather is quoting from his travel diary:

“After four days I am more than satisfied with Germany and Berlin. I like Germany and the Germans. We could learn many things from them. What has impressed me most is (1) Everything is done with an eye for beauty and permanence, the builders are artists. I have not seen an ugly looking building yet, nor one that looked poorly built. Berlin is immaculately clean. Every morning all streets are washed (and dried with a bath towel?) In the suburbs they have a way of beautifying the car tracks – they make the grass grow right up to and between the rails. (2) The people look happier and certainly are better natured and more polite than Americans. Shop keepers treat you so courteously you are almost embarrassed. Everyone lifts his hat on leaving a store and says “Good Day” or “Adieu.” To hear some German women talk is almost like a mother talking to a baby, not foolish or insincere, – most sympathetic and expressive voices I’ve ever heard. I think I said that Berlin is a beautiful city. The residential part of the city is almost solid 4 or 5 story white or cream colored stone houses, with artistic entrances and staircases. One family usually has a whole floor of the house, and the rooms are as large as three in an American apartment or flat. They all have such fine furniture.

We reached Dresden about 7 o’clock and went to the Hotel du Nord, which Kramer had told us about and got the nicest room that we ever had. It was about 35 feet long and 15 feet wide, with three circassian walnut beds, end to end. Windows to the south and east looked out on a yard full of trees and grass. Best of all they had American (or English) plumbing, at least the closet said “Tornado” on it and it was the first and only one we struck that would flush. That’s one thing on which Germany is far behind – plumbing, another thing is electric lights.

We immediately went out on the street and took an auto bus, the best looking and most comfortable one I ever saw, and the most polite big conductor, to the river where we walked around a little, and about dark we went up on the Bruhl’sche terrace called the Balcony of Europe to hear a concert. I must stop right here to say that Dresden is the most attractive, nicest city in Germany (so far as I know) It is so popular with Americans that they have an “American Quarter” of the city. American stores (Regal Shoes, Arrow cellars, etc) and we were constantly meeting Americans on the street. Lots of them were just coming in from the Austrian ‘bads,’ – Carlsbad, and other watering places, on account of the war scare. We were always too much in a hurry to stop and talk with them, but most of them looked agreeable enough to talk to. This “Bruhlsche Terrace” is one of the prettiest places imaginable, the park overlooking the river, with thick green trees, grass, walks and benches, but the chief thing in it is the Hotel Belvedere, a very nice restaurant, where we heard the best orchestra in Germany and ate sandwiches and drank chocolate. I remember how good I felt that evening – as though everything had been beyond my highest expectations and everything was turning out in the finest way possible to make our trip a success.