The Family Letter Blog

Connecting Generations


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Family Throwback Photo

A Bryant family photo in DC circa 1942.Back row (l-r) Theodora Preston, Elizabeth Preston Bryant (Lala),Herbert Sydney Bryant, Katherine Bryant Kingsbury (Kitty), Herbert Preston Bryant (served in the Army in WWII).
Front row: Preston Deane Kingsbury and Bryant Kingsbury with an unknown pet
Back row: Theodora Preston (Lala’s youngest sister) never married, Elizabeth Preston Bryant (Lala), Herbert Sydney Bryant (Bert), Katherine Gertrude Bryant Kingsbury (Kitty), & Herbert Preston Bryant (Herb), Kitty’s younger brother by five years (served in the Army in WWII).
Front row: Preston Deane Kingsbury and Bryant Kingsbury with an unknown pet

This house will be one of the stops on our Washington DC road trip this summer. It is either the house on Drummond Avenue in Chevy Chase that Joe, Kitty and the boys lived in for several years or the home of Kitty’s parents, Lala and Bert Bryant in the area now known as Manor Park – 304 Rittenhouse Street. Bert and Lala moved to that house when it was first built in 1919 and lived there until some time after Bert’s death in 1950. Shortly after that, Lala moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey where Herbert, her son was living and working on a newspaper.

For almost all of 1944, Kitty lived alone with the boys because Papa Joe was on assignment in Iran as Assistant to the Personnel Director of the US Financial Mission to Iran. My uncle Deane (younger than Bryant, my father by four years) has a great story about the FBI coming to the house to investigate reports of someone making a bomb. It was related to something my father was working on in the basement (probably not a bomb but knowing my father’s curiosity and scientific bent it might have been a bomb or maybe fireworks – it was definitely something explosive!)

Need Deane to fill in this story and others with more detail this summer.


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Family History Road Trip

peggyandme.3.21.19I saw my cousin Peggy Kingsbury Rice last week on my annual visit to Charlottesville, VA for the Virginia Festival of the Book – a five day book festival with an amazing variety of authors and topics. It was our second visit in two years. Peggy’s father Deane is my father’s younger brother. Even though we didn’t grow up together and have almost a ten year age difference, when we get together the conversation flows easily and the family connections shine through.

Peggy and I have been talking about taking a family history road trip to Washington DC and have settled on the perfect time to do it. Peggy’s parents, Deane and Nancy will be visiting her the first week of June. They fly in and out of Washington DC so we’re planning a day trip around DC that will highlight places that are significant to our family history.

My father, Bryant Kingsbury (1932-2007) was four years older than his brother Preston Deane Bryant. Their parents were Joseph Bush Kingsbury (1890-1983) and Katherine Gertrude Bryant (1902-1959). Joe and Kitty met in Washington DC at a party in December 1926. From his letters to her in the year preceeding their marriage on 4 January 1928, it’s obvious he was smitten.

Although Joe Kingsbury often travelled for work and took an assignment out of the country near the end of World War II, Kitty and the boys stayed put in Washington DC until the family moved to Bloomington Indiana in 1948, when Joe joined the faculty of Indiana University. Kitty had grown up in Washington DC and there were strong connections to DC on both sides of her family.

Those are the people and places I’ll be blogging about over the next ten weeks in preparation for our visit in early June. When I refer to “our great great grandfather” I am including in the term “our” my two cousins Peggy Kingsbury Rice and Stacy Kingsbury Christiansen and me, so I’ll be citing the relationship to ancestors counting from “our” generation. Kitty is our grandmother, Papa Joe (aka Joseph Bush Kingsbury) is our grandfather. Kitty’s mother and father (Elizabeth Monica Preston and Herbert Sydney Bryant) are “our” great grandparents; their parents are our great great grandparents (sometimes listed as 2G grandparents) and so on.

We know a lot about our Kingsbury-Bush ancestry because of the “Blue Book” created by our great uncle Forrest Alva Kingsbury in 1958. In it, he captures the American ancestry of the Kingsbury and Bush families beginning with Joseph Kingsbury who came from England in 1637 and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Forrest Kingsbury (1883-1972) was the oldest son of Wayland Kingsbury and Flora Jane Bush. He grew up in Osage, Iowa with three younger full brothers, Frank, Joe and Dean and one younger half brother, Clark. Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury died in 1900 and Wayland remarried Annie May Walker in 1902. All of the boys shared great love and affection for their new mother.

Forrest was a professor of psychology and taught for a number of years at the University of Chicago before moving to Redlands California where he taught at the University of Redlands from 1948 to 1952. Redlands is in San Bernadino County, east of Los Angeles. Forrest and his wife, Cornelia Hasselman (1887-1980) never had children but what a wonderful legacy he left for his nieces and nephews and their descendants.

We learned very little about our grandmother Katherine Gertrude Bryant growing up. Kitty died in 1959, when I was only four years old. Peggy and Stacy were not born until the 1960s. Contributing to the lack of information about her is that Kitty struggled for most of her adult life with alcohol addiction. This undoubtedly meant that many of the stories her sons might have remembered about her were too painful to share. I know this because I have a collection of my grandfather’s contemporaneous writings that provide a very detailed and sad account of how their lives were affected by her drinking.

So without dwelling on her illness and the effect it had on her family, I’ll start with what I know about Kitty’s side of the family, beginning with her paternal grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant (1839-1920). Fortunately there is a family genealogy, much like the one Forrest created for the Kingsbury Bush family about the Bryant family. It was published in 1938 and is entitled Charles Smith and Rachel Amy Bryant: Their Ancestors and Descendants. The author, Tenney Smith, was writing about the ancestors and descendants of his parents and by extension, at least on his mother’s side of the family, our Bryant ancestors as well. His mother Rachel Amy Bryant was the older sister of our great great grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant.

It can be dangerous to rely on previously published family histories without evaluating the data, but it offers a shortcut that I’m willing to take in this instance, to know a little more about our Bryant family. Several of our early Bryant ancestors were in Massachusetts as early as the Kingsbury family but living in Plymouth and Duxbury, which are south and a little east of Dedham.

Our first Bryant ancestor to arrive in America was Stephen Bryant who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Essex, England as a young man. The exact date of his arrival is uncertain but from the references to him in the records of Plymouth it seems he arrived sometime around 1632. He was on a list of Plymouth men able to bear arms in 1643, married Abigail Shaw in 1646 and became a freeman in 1651.

Fast forward a 150 years and we find Prince Bryant and his wife Rebecca Everett living in Springfield, Massachusetts. Rebecca came to Massachusetts from Northern Ireland with her parents when she was 13 years old. She is the source for some of our Irish DNA although we get another dose from the Preston side of Kitty’s family. Rebecca and Prince Bryant married in Springfield in 1798 and left for Monroe County, Illinois in 1800. Their second son, Jesse Bryant, our 3G grandfather, was born there on 8 Mar 1802.

Jesse Bryant married Betsey Williams on 18 Jun 1826 in Monroe County, Illinois. Betsey was the daughter of Zopher Williams and Ama Ludington who came to Illinois in 1815 from Tioga County, New York. Jesse bought land from his father’s estate and built a stone house near Waterloo, Illinois, where most of his children, including our great great grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant were born. The house was still occupied in 1935 when Tenney Smith researched his family genealogy.

In 1844, Jesse and Betsey loaded their eight children into covered wagons and moved to southern Missouri. There they encountered “malarial fever and insects beyond endurance” (p.46) and one of their younger daughters, Electa Elizabeth, died at the age of three in October 1845. The family loaded the wagons again, traversed the state of Illinois from south to north, and stopped briefly in Argyle, Wisconsin, where Betsey’s family was living at the time. They journeyed west to Jackson County, Iowa where they lived for a couple of years before returning to Moscow, Wisconsin, where their last child, a boy named David Zopher Bryant, was born in December 1847. Moscow is about 15 miles north of Argyle, Wisconsin, which means that Jesse’s and Betsey’s children grew up in close proximity to their maternal grandparents.

Jesse Bryant died on 21 Sep 1853. From this point on, the family stayed put (at least for a time) in Wisconsin. That’s how Levi Jesse Bryant, who was 14 when his father died, came to enlist in the Wisconsin 3rd Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War, which is where we’ll pick up the story in my next post. His older brother John Prince Bryant also fought for Wisconsin (Company B of the 18th Infantry) during the civil war. He died in Corinth, Mississippi on 3 October 1862.

One of the reasons I enjoy genealogy is because I like to imagine what our ancestors were like. It is very difficult to find enough information in most sources to form a good picture of their personalities but Tenney Smith does a great job describing his grandmother Betsey Williams Bryant, who was born in Candor, New York in 1807 and left for Illinois, “an almost untracked wilderness,” (p.53) when she was just eight years old. She is our 3G grandmother. Of her, he writes:

“She was a worthy daughter of an honored mother. She is remembered as an old lady with full, round, pink cheeks and a halo of white hair. Her placid face beamed with loving kindness. It was a face that attracted children at sight. They liked to be with her. That face did not come from having led a sheltered carefree life. It came from having lived a life of unselfish devotion in the service of others and the care of children.” (p. 53)

Betsey’s final days were spent as a pioneer. She joined her youngest son, David Zopher Bryant when he travelled west to Clay County, Nebraska, where they each took up a homestead. “They had a house on the line between their homesteads and lived together in one house. There the end came to the long and eventful life that had been hers. She was found sitting in her rocking chair , with her knitting in her lap. Just fallen to sleep, without pain or suffering.” (p.54)


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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 not 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 auxillary 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.

 

Nuernberg-fronfeste-und-kettensteg-v-O

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

 


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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.

 

 

 

 


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Day Two in Berlin – Summer of 1914

July 30, 1914

Woke at 9:30, feeling fine. Breakfast in our hotel – rolls, chocolate, butter and two kinds of preserves. You can guess by this time that we like chocolate. It is much better than we get at home, or else they know how to make it. Butter is a part of the menu just as much as bread, and breakfast is the only meal where you get it without paying extra. They don’t salt their butter and it is delicious. That is the regular breakfast, sometimes honey instead of jam, and after I got used to it, I liked it much. That morning we walked around town and looked at the stores which are one of the most attractive things about Germany. I can imagine a woman would not want to do anything but shop when she went abroad. Everything I can think of is now cheaper in Germany than it is here except fruit, post cards and chewing gum. At noon we saw them change the guard in front of the Emperor’s palace, a little exhibition of German soldiery which always attracts a crowd. Afterward there was a band concert by a military band, and I never heard a band play in such perfect time or tune. We took a few pictures around the palace, visited the Royal Stables, (which looks like a palace) where the Kaiser keeps his 300 horses and as many carriages and sleighs, and then went down to Bruce’s boarding house for dinner. There were two American girls, Misses Tillett from Texas, studying piano, Mr. Kramer from Cedar Falls, studying violin along with Bruce, Mr. Ferguson, a Yale PhD who was studying a few weeks in the University of Berlin, a young Englishman, two young Germans, and Frau Klein and her daughter, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Frau Klein had a fine dinner and she kept the whole table in good humor with her pleasant way of talking. She speaks the most perfect German I have ever listened to, and it would be a great place to learn German, I should think, but Bruce says whenever there are two or three Americans together they can’t learn German rapidly, because they will talk English to each other.

After dinner Bruce and Kramer and we three took the suburban train for Potsdam, about 15 miles away, where the Emperors have had their residences since Frederick the Great. Frederick built Sans Souci – the original palace with the grounds around it, and it is still what he intended it to be, – a place where you can forget every care. I still think it is the most beautiful place of the kind I have seen. I don’t know how many miles the grounds extend but they are all kept in the most perfect condition; forests of these big trees and thick, velvety grass underneath, wonderful flower gardens, fountains, grape vines, fruit trees, etc. We took a dozen pictures but never have found the roll since. We three who had never been there, went through the old palace with its reminders of Frederick the Great and Voltaire, whom he admired so much that he invited him to come and live there, but they soon got enough of each other and couldn’t live together. Just as we were leaving we heard aeroplanes overhead, and five of them passed over on their daily trials. They seem to be farther advanced in flying that we are in the US, airships are much more common. The next day we saw a big Zeppelin flying over Berlin. We saw all of Potsdam, which takes most tourist a day, between four and seven. The way Bruce led us around from one place to another reminded me of Forrest. We had a lunch on the bank of the river Harvel while we were waiting for the boat to take us back to Berlin. Just about sunset it came along and I don’t think I ever enjoyed a ride as much as that one. The Harvel is the prettiest little river imaginable. That exaggeratedly green grass grew right down to the water’s edge, so you could hardly tell where it left off and the water began. All along the shores are pretty little forests, with a spire or tower rising out of them. Everything along the river was ideally beautiful, although there is quite a bit of commerce. Nearer to Berlin are the handsomest houses by far that I have ever seen; white stone or marble, half hidden by trees, with green velvety lawns sloping down to the river, and artistic little boat houses along the bank.

We reached Berlin about 10 p.m. rather cold and hungry, so we told Bruce and Kramer to take us to the best eating place they knew of. They led us to the largest and finest restaurant in Germany, if not the world. “Das Rheingold” which seats 4,000 people, has 450 servants and 150 waiters. It is not expensive but the cooking is the best in the city so Kramer said. The interior is divided into a number of large rooms, all mahogany walls, plush chairs etc. You felt as though you didn’t belong there unless you were dressed for the occasion, but we saw poorly dressed and working people come in as though they were perfectly at home. That is one of the beauties of Germany, – you don’t have to dress up to go anywhere. The well-dressed man is conspicuous in Berlin. We had a fine dinner, with as good beefsteak as I’ve ever tasted in America, for 75 cents apiece.


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Summer 1914 – First Stop – Berlin

July 29th 1914

Woke at 9:30. Raining (it rains every day in Berlin) Had breakfast in a rather fashionable café next to our hotel, and walked down Unter den Linden to the White Star office, where Bassett engaged a berth on the Olympic from Cherbourg August 19th. The agent, to whom he had a letter of introduction, told us that we would have to cut out Prague from our itinerary, because all trains stopped on the Austrian border. In front of the office we met Harrington & Motley, two more of our University Club, and they went with us to the American Consulate, where I had a good visit with Harold Quarton, the deputy consul who used to be in GWU with me. The Berlin consulate is a big place and does lots of business, but it has a reputation with the American residents of Berlin of being very stupid and unobliging. From there we took a subway out to Charlottenburg (West Berlin) and walked through the Tiergarten, a big park of 600 acres, to Bayreuther Strasse 2, where we inquired for Herr Lybarger. I waited half an hour till Bruce came in – the other boys went back to get something to eat. Bruce has a moustache and some German mannerisms, but is the same old fellow, I am glad to say. He inquired right away about everyone at home, especially about Grace and her wedding. We talked only a few minutes and arranged to meet at our hotel in the evening and go out to see the sights at night.

Bruce Lybarger was a friend of my grandfather from his home town of Osage, Iowa. After studying violin in Berlin he returned to Osage and taught violin at Cedar Valley Seminary. It seems he knew just where to go to show his hometown boys the sights of Berlin.

That afternoon we took a trip in a sightseeing car, all through the main part of the city and Charlottenburg, where the emperors have a palace, and the famous Mausoleum is. The Berlin parks and palace grounds are the most beautiful I have ever seen. The trees all seem to grow about 100 high, and they are so close together that it is almost dark under them, but some how they make the grass grow thick and smooth everywhere.

Bruce came up about 9. He said there was no use starting out before 10 because there was very little doing before midnight, but we went out to a little open air park to see the illuminated water-fall – a series of cascades with colored lights shining through them. Bruce has been around to most of the cafes with people who have wanted to see them – he had taken Dr. Savre around just a week or so before, and he knows how to do it alright. We would have had a hard time without him. He came to Berlin about a year ago not knowing a word of German, he said, and at first had an awful time getting around, but without studying he has picked up enough words and expressions to pass as a German when he wants to. About ten o’clock we went into the Picadilly Café, the largest and most popular. It is an enormous building, with a wide gallery running all around, and the floor covered with little tables, all of which were occupied. At one end, between the ground floor and gallery there was a fine 30 piece orchestra, which was worth a big price to hear. We finally found a table and ordered drinks for the privilege of sitting there. It was an interesting sight, I could have willingly sat there all night simply watching the people; laborers, soldiers, business men, young sports, young couples drinking out of the same glass (that’s a sign they are engaged) , women dressed to kill, sitting alone unless they could get someone to sit with them and buy their beer. People sit for hours in these cafes on 1 glass of beer and talk and listen to the music. The waiters get no salary, but a 10% tip from everyone, and in some places they pay for the privilege of working. A custom that Bruce told us about might very well be adopted in the U.S. I think – every person pays for himself. It amounts to almost an insult to treat a man you are with, or even a woman. I suppose that is the origin of “Dutch treat.” Bruce says that the American music students, girls, in his pension (boarding house) sometimes ask the men to take them to the opera, each paying for him (or her) self. They can’t go alone, and everyone feels perfectly free to ask the other, and refuse if it isn’t convenient. He says it resembles a family more than any similar place he has been.

We left the Picadilly after an hour or so and went to the National, which Bruce says is the worst. I didn’t see anything very bad or tempting about it. There were about a dozen fat, old, hard looking women sitting alone at tables with their arms and breasts bare, smoking cigarettes, and looking coldly around for victims. They didn’t even look at us which was a compliment I thought, and we sat off in an alcove and watched, as most of the other patrons seemed to be doing. One old gray haired man seemed to have “fallen” for one, she was sitting on his lap trying her charms on him. It was nothing but disgusting. We drank chocolate and ate “kuchen,” our favorite dish in Germany. They have the most wonderful kuchen, or cakes, that any small boy ever dreamed of. It is like paradise to walk down the street and see the windows full of all sizes, colors and kinds of cakes, or it would be if you could taste them all. I wanted to send some home and if I ever go again I shall.

The next café we went to was a brand new, large one, and the most beautiful of all I thought, – big round brass pillars, marble walls, the balcony inlaid with onyx, windows of stained glass, big cut glass chandeliers, etc., etc. They also had as good an orchestra as any in town, with a famous Russian violinist leader. We had apple cakes and whipped cream here, and it entitled us to a seat all night if we cared to stay, but about 12:30 we went to the Ice Casino, a big building where they skate to music between eats or drinks. The ice wasn’t working at that time, though, and it was turned into a dance hall. We got a table near the edge of the floor and watched them dance. Bassett asked one of the German girls to dance with him and she did. Everyone watched them out of the corner of their eyes to see how Americans danced and we could have owned the house if we had wanted to. About two o’clock, we decided we had seen enough for one night, and as the cars had stopped running Bruce called a taxi cab and we rode to our hotel for about 25 cents apiece – two or three miles. The whole evening cost us a little over a dollar apiece. A real Berliner would do it for one-fourth that much and get a good deal more pleasure out of it. That is a mild example of the notorious “night life” that is supposed to equal that of Paris, – if it isn’t the Kaiser will pass a law making it so. It doesn’t seem to me it suits the German’s temperament – he sits through it all with a stolid face. The places where they do seem to be enjoying themselves are in the small beer halls where they can get a quart of beer for six cents and a big slab of cheese and rye bread for two cents, and sit and talk and sing “Die Wacht am Rhein” all night long.