happiness

Edna’s Story 30 (FGK 147)

By now Sheila had graduated very successfully from Grade 12 and had her application accepted in the university to become a teacher but suddenly decided she would try the nursing profession instead. That Christmas, Percy and Marshall were both very sick in bed with the flu and Sheila was on night duty in the General Hospital. However, she wanted to come home for Christmas Day and we both wanted to see Margi for the few minutes they would allow us. It was a cold, snowy day and poor Sheila looked so grey from being on duty all night but we had to sit in the cold empty basement of the Red Cross Hospital for hours before they let us see Margi for a few fleeting moments. That was one of my worst Christmases.

While Sheila was still in Mount Royal, one weekend she brought a girlfriend home with her and they wanted to go to the Friday night dance in Cochrane. Percy and I were in such distress over Margi, we just didn’t feel like going dancing so we asked Slim if he would mind taking the kids in and looking after them. Marshall went too just for the fun though he didn’t like dancing. When they got there, Slim took his nice suede jacked off and Marshall’s coat and they locked them in the car before going into the hall. Slim was an excellent cop. I’d swear he could tell you how many fillings a motorist had in his teeth a mile away. That night he spotted a car driving around Cochrane without its lights on so he followed it on foot until he got all the particulars such as make, etc. By then it was time to go back to the hall and take the kids out for supper. But when he got back they were sitting in the car waiting for him. He wanted to know how they got into the car when he had locked it but they said it was open, he just thought he had locked it. Then people all around him began to complain of the same thing, purses and coats were missing. Marshall’s and Slim’s fine suede jackets were gone. Even our own family didn’t know he was a cop but Percy and I sure laughed and teased him about that. However, he went into the police in Cochrane next morning and told them who he was and gave them a good description of the car. Both garages in Cochrane had been robbed. They were able to catch the car in Banff, a stolen one from Saskatchewan and they caught the thieves.

Slim was a big fine looking man 6 feet 6 inches tall. Marshall was at the aggressive age. Sometimes he would come to the table defiantly, with his hair uncombed or his hands not too clean. I would ask him to spruce up a bit and he’d say “Oh, I’m all right.” Slim would just get up quietly and tuck Marshall under his arm and hold him under the laundry tap in the back kitchen. It didn’t have to happen very often. We had an equally as big and tall Swiss man working there then. One cold rainy morning Harry was late coming for breakfast. Finally he burst in the door just steaming with anger. He couldn’t find the milk cows and was out in the rain all that time looking for them. He lit on Slim and said “You sitting there all nice and dry! You should be out helping me!” He was quite right and Slim said so and would have gone, but Percy took Harry in the other room and told him all about Slim. From then on, Harry just idolized Slim and Percy knew where to find those cows. There’s a little pocket in the hill below the house where they often hid and strangers couldn’t find them.

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Edna’s Story 29 (FGK 146)

Another emotional one – although I think that Grandma’s reaction at the hospital was completely appropriate. I’m glad that times have changed enough that we can show some of these emotions. I’ve never heard/read these details of mom’s illness and time in the hospital and while it’s incredibly painful to read I’m grateful to Grandma for writing it down. On a different note, the “favourite sauce” at Christmas must be what is now called “Grandma’s special sauce” (which sounds more like devilish than it is – the extremely high calorie delicious spoonfuls of goodness that we no longer have to put on gross pudding or disgusting fruitcake and instead smother our gingerbread cookies or panettone with the sauce).

By now Marshall was going to Mount Royal College too, and he and Sheila would bring their new friends out to visit. For Christmas I cooked our usual oyster soup, roast turkey, and Christmas pudding with our favourite sauce. It was a big dinner but Margi insisted on eating it like we did. But she wasn’t able to get it down. She soon was becoming dehydrated again. We bought a big rubber boat hoping to fill it with warm water and try to give her underwater therapy in her bedroom. The hospital didn’t have that facility at that time and it was supposed to be good for polio victims. But we couldn’t get it to work. I used to see pictures of Mahatma Ghandi and shudder at the sight he was so thin – but by now Margi was worse than that, she weighed only 56 pounds. Clarence came to see her and was almost ill with the shock of seeing her. Dr. Price came to see her and decided to put her in the Holy Cross for a while. We hired three special nurses and were able to visit her whenever we wanted. They gave her one or two blood transfusions that seemed to put new life into her. Dr Price brought many of his colleagues to see her and we decided she was able to be back in the Red Cross Hospital where they had special equipment for treating those with paralyzed limbs. This time one nurse, Miss Homer, took her in hand and just about hypnotized her into into eating a bit and keeping it down. Gradually she was successful, and by the following summer Margi was getting a little physiotherapy. By now she was so rigid that the agony of her physiotherapy just doesn’t bear thinking about. Miss Olsen, her physiotherapist set her goals ruthlessly and just persisted until Margi could lift her arms. She still cannot lift them very high but just being able to move them was wonderful.

About a year later when I went in to visit her one day there was an air of excitement in the room and when the other mothers left, they asked me to wait a few minutes. Then Miss Olsen came in and said “Well Margi, are you ready to show her?” Even when the patients couldn’t move the nurses always put a dress on them and noted lay on the bed nicely dressed. This day they had put a back brace on under Margi’s dress and Mis Olsen lifted her off the bed and Margi was able to stand up by leaning against the high bed. It was the first time I had seen her stand up for well over a year and the shock or surprise was just too much for me. I crumbled up and cried when I should have shown such happiness. I have never in all my life been so ashamed of myself. Everyone was embarrassed but I think the children understood, each one in there had endured so much and they were all such wonderful characters. Margi was able to sit in a wheelchair then and go down to therapy instead of on a stretcher. She was taking her schooling by correspondence with the help of a wonderful volunteer teacher Mrs John’s. That year (1954?) they fitted her with a leg brace which was the worst and she learned how to walk with crutches. I spent hours down in the physiotherapy room learning all I could about it and Miss Olsen often came out and spent weekends with us teaching me more.

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Edna’s Story 28 (FGK 145)

I’ve mentioned that talking about Mom’s years in the hospital was pretty much a taboo subject in our home. Reading this and some of the letters, I can understand why it was – it must have been incredibly traumatic for Mom not to mention the rest of her family. I can not imagine leaving my sick child at the hospital and not being able to go visit them. Grandma’s strength and faith just continues to blow me away. I always knew she was a fantastic woman but the more I learn about how she handled herself during challenging times the more in awe I am. And Mom – the strength she must have had to pull herself through these years -she was only 11 when she went into hospital.

We took her in to see Dr. Price early in the morning and he had us take her to the Holy Cross Hospital where they took a spinal test to confirm our fears. Dr. Price took us into an office to tell us he was very concerned about us having to receive such shocking news. But somehow the full force of the tragedy hadn’t reached me yet. We had to take her to the Isolation Hospital and they wouldn’t let me go in with her but asked me to wait on the steps for a while. Then they brought me all her clothes and the full force of it hit me. I broke down. We were not allowed to visit her but to get first hand information we would go down to the door and talk to her nurse. It seemed every time we went down there they were wheeling in another victim from an ambulance. It was a terrible epidemic. The government put out a call for more lung machines and they didn’t have enough. Margi said she will always remember the terrible noise of those big machines all night and all day pumping air into the people around her whose lungs were paralyzed. Margi was fortunate that she could breathe but her arms, legs, back and some of her abdomen muscles were paralyzed. She lay on her back without moving for well over a year. I lost track of time somehow. The government sent to Australia where they were more used to a polio epidemic and asked for skilled people to come and help advise us. One nursing sister who had worked with Sister Kenny in Australia came to the hospital and asked for me to meet her. She put a sterile gown on me and let me go in and visit Margi for a few minutes, then she walked with me to the door. She said she had given Margi a thorough muscle test and that it wold be much better if Margi would die right now because her back was so bad she would never even be able to sit in a wheelchair. And her stomach muscles were so bad she couldn’t keep her food down and she was too sick to stand the hot-pack treatment. The hot packs were strips of wool blanked put in hot water, wrung out then wrapped around paralyzed limbs. That was a famous cure of Sister Kenny, it kept the limbs from becoming rigid. The constant odour of hot wool packs was anything but pleasant but that didn’t matter. I told her I just couldn’t accept defeat yet, I still had plenty of faith and hope and felt she would improve if we could get her out of there. The allotted time for her quarantine came and I was so pleased to think I could visit her now. But there was a lot I had to learn. I had never heard of a closed hospital until then. Our own doctors were not allowed in the Red Cross Crippled Children’s Hospital, only as a visitor and if the parent was unable to visit. They had more rules and regulations in that hospital than the most fiendish mind could ever think up. As I later often said – “God never made laws like they had, they were just too unnatural.” Another thing that made it so hard for so many polio victims was that the hospital just wasn’t geared for very sick people, the children they were used to were healthy lively, but deformed ones.

Margi didn’t improve, she was just rapidly fading away and couldn’t keep anything in her stomach. We were allowed to visit her for about a half hour on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday if it was convenient for the staff. Finally we went to one of their leading doctors and told them she was so ill. He was quite surprised and got on the phone to confirm what I had said and was quite upset to think nothing had been done to keep her from becoming dehydrated. He ordered an intravenous immediately. She just lay there for months like that then, they could hardly find a new spot to put the intravenous needle in. People often told me you go into that hospital to visit and come out counting your blessings and that’s certainly true. There were so may very sad cases there. Christmas was coming and Margi still couldn’t’ keep any food down nor move at all. I asked the doctor if he thought a change of scene might help her. We would get a hospital bed, a nurse, and bring her home in an ambulance for Christmas. He said “You might as well she’s not going to get any better.” We brought her home for Christmas and it was so good to have her with us.

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Chew the Dog’s Ear Off (FGK 117)

I wish mom had written about her time in the hospital, but I think the whole thing was so traumatic for her that she didn’t even want to talk about her experiences. It certainly was a taboo subject in our house, so much so that it took 70 years – including 3 after mom passed away before these experiences could be discussed. I’m assuming Aunt Annie baked mom dog shaped cookies, not that she had some poor pup whose ears she would chomp on during challenging emotional times, but one never knows haha…

DeWinton, Alta

6th Nov. 1952

My dear Margie,

I do hope you’ll feel like eating these cookies and that it is all right for you to have them. I thought you could at least chew the dog’s ear off when you feel a little blue and let down. It might give you great satisfaction. I am sure the pup won’t mind.

I hear you have Mrs. Brown for a nurse. I think she would be very lovely to have around when a fellow isn’t just up to scratch. Please give her my kindest regards. We used to bowl in the same league but she could bowl just about twice as good as I could.

Wee Clarence David is creeping all over the place. You’ll see a big change in him from the time you saw him last spring. He likes getting into my cupboards and he just loves tearing up the papers and magazines around the place.

You’ll be able to write a book about your experience in the hospital when you get home. I am sure you’ll be having lots of different experiences and meeting new people. Nobody will be able to tell you anything you don’t know about the hospital. I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

I guess I had better close for now.

With love and good eating, Aunt Annie

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Woodland Club (FGK 116)

Everything about this letter cracks me up. I love that they had a meeting and made a motion to write a thank you letter, I love even more that this appears to actually be the thank you letter. I’ve never heard of the Woodland Club, and this is the first time it has come up in these letters. Anyone?

RR#2 Calgary

Alberta, Canada

March 25/55

Dear Margie,

At a meeting of the Woodland Club on March 21st, the following motion was unanimously passed: moved by Lynn, seconded by Raymond, that we send a note of thanks to Margie Copithorne for the lovely box of chocolates sent to use on Valentine’s Day. The motion was carried with hearty applause.

Yours Sincerely

Woodland Club

Sec. John Sibbald

Pres. Jim Bateman

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Letter from the Post Man (FGK 115)

I really wish we had mom’s letter back to this man, and kind of wish that he’d sent more letters – he sounds like quite the character. The first letter was more of a note, written on a torn green piece of paper. For perspective on time, 1908 was the year my grandma was born, and my grandpa would have been 9 at the time.

Correspondence Branch

Feb 18

Dear Margaret

I wonder if you are related to a Copithorne family who I knew in 1908-1910.

They lived in the Jumping Pound just north of Bateman’s Post Office. I was working for Mr. Byron at the time. He lived just south of the Post Office. I drove the mail occasionally between Jumping Pound and Calgary.

I expect since oil came the ranching country has changed.

Let me know re the family.

Cheerio

Very truly yours

Leo L Piercy

I was in Holy Cross Hospital Calgary about 1911

This is his second letter, presumably in response to the one mom wrote to him.

March 31

My dear Margaret

It was nice of you to answer my letter in such an interesting manner. Jumping Pound indeed must have changed sine I knew it. I drove the mail at times for Bateman – with horses of course. One day he gave me a team of broncs. Try as I would, I reached Calgary ahead of schedule. The Post Office refused to accept the mail. My horses wouldn’t stand. I drove to the Pacific livery barn on 8th ave and 4th (?), could attract no one’s attention so had to unhitch myself and put the horses in. I did not take long, but on my return my precious mail bags were gone. I was distraught, in panic, expecting to be sent across the line.

Just before mail time, a man sauntered up with “are you looking for mail bags? They are under the pile of hay.” The joke was on me. Best wishes for a speedy recovery

Sincerely

Leo L Piercy

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Mom’s Tour de France 23 (FGK 114)

This is the end of mom’s letters that were published in the Cochrane paper. I”m kind of disappointed, I wasn’t ready for them to end- what happened? Did she get to stay and keep travelling? Check out the price of her little punchbuggy!!

About 6 o’clock we went searching for the Youth Hostel. It was a quaint little cabin in a groove of trees run by a darling little man who spoke no English but seemed to be accustomed to this situation. By this time we knew enough German to tell him we were cold and wanted to stay only if there was some heating. He showed us the room with a usual row of bunks and with a little coal stove in the corner. He soon had a roaring fire going and we were huddled around trying to get warm for the rest of the building was like a refrigerator. As we were finishing up our supper of bread and cheese, four other girls came to spend the night with us. They were from Manitoba and had just finished university there. The four of them were going all through Europe in their Hillman for a year. They had already been to England, Spain, Morocco, etc and had some fascinating stories to tell.

Thursday morning, Pat, Carol and Jeannie visited the old fort which overlooked the town and I went for a drive in the country. It had stopped snowing and i could see the mountains which surrounded us. There are many interesting little villages in this area. I had all sorts of fun poking around them and trying to talk to them in my inadequate German vocabulary of about five phrases. We met again for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the shops. It was tempting but since we were all in the same financial situation we helped each other resist it to mostly window shopping. Thank heaven I’m not a skier or it would have been irresistible.

We planned to spend all day Friday driving to Vienna but road conditions were so good that we arrived there in the early afternoon. Our meals of bread and cheese which we ate in the car also helped save time.

We were fortunate in the fact that the Youth Hostel was along the route which we took into town so we were able to find it comparatively quickly – ie., after asking two gas station attendants, a man in the street, and a postman. We were completely overwhelmed when we saw the building. It was built two years ago, has an elevator and heating!! We really couldn’t have asked for a better place. I have to go to lunch now so will write more about the trip later.

If you’re interested I have some of the costs of the car broken down so you’ll know where some of your steers are going. The car itself totalled $1,361.00 US dollars, the insurance $120 and about $40 for the transportation etc. From what I’ve heard I should be able to get a fairly good price for it at home. It’s really nice to have something to ride down to the restaurants in now.

We are going to London for three or four days next month for a field trip. It should be interesting, I’m very excited about it. If it’s ok with you I think I’ll stay out of Stanford Spring Quarter and travel over here with Gail for a while and go home about the first of June and then to summer school. Let me know what you think about this ‘cause I have to let Gail know soon, her mother is coming over next moth too.

Lots of love

Margi

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Mom’s Tour de France 22 (FGK 113)

I had to laugh at mom’s speedy driving. I come from a family of speedy drivers – I remember white knuckling it a lot when I was a kid and Grandma was driving me somewhere. Dad always seemed to be one demerit away from losing his license (but swore he needed to drive that speed just to keep up with everyone else on the road). As a kid, I always tried to get in the back of the suburban my uncle would drive when we would do family visits to my aunt and uncle in Arrowwood, partly because it meant I could hang with my cousins and partly because it meant the long trip would take about half the time. If it took my parents an hour and a half to get there, it would take my uncle about 45 minutes and we would have stopped at allllll the feedlots along the way as well. I am speedier than my kids, but remain a family disappointment on trips as I hold up the line with my relatively slow driving). Mostly I’m cheap and don’t want to pay tickets.

We found a little restaurant near the hotel where we had one of our best meals in Germany. We ordered rindsgulasch in the hopes that it would turn out to be something good – and it was. Hence, another word was added to our growing German vocabulary. I think “rinds” means beef, at least it tasted like it.

We ended the day by doing some window shopping and going to the bahnhauf (which had finally appeared again) to have milkshakes. It tastes so good to have milk products again that we each had two helpings. It’s the first time I’ve made such a glutton of myself, usually I stopped at just one! We got lost again when we stepped out of the bahnhauf and it took us almost an hour to find our hotel which was (in the book) a ten minute walk from the station. Someday I’m going to solve the Great Mystery of this city. As we were entering our hotel we heard someone calling our names – it was Bob, Tim, Bill and Denny, some boys from the Centre who were staying in the hotel just across the street. They had just arrived as they had taken a longer route. I was able to get their advice on the roads, my car, etc as they are all quite experienced in that sort of thing.

We left the next morning for Salzburg. As there is an Autobahn all the way it was no time at all until we were in Austria. As usual we were completely lost as soon as we entered the town. I, who happened to be driving at the time, chalked up some sort of record for the trip by being stopped by three different policemen within fifteen minutes. Since we had such an obvious problem of communication, they never bothered giving us a ticket.

Salzburg is a fascinating town and is one of the places for which I would enjoy returning in the summer. It is noted for its beautiful scenery which we could not see because of the snow, its music, history, and of course Wienerschnitzel. From the moment I discovered a taste, this meant I ordered it for almost every meal in Austria. As you can see I’m really turning into a gourmet.

The streets in Salzburg are of the small narrow and twisty variety. It’s very easy to find parking places in Austria which was fortunate because everyone walks in the middle of the street, a situation somewhat frustrating for a driver.

It was a snowy afternoon – perfect for museums, so we went to the place where Mozart worked and some of the churches. One of them was particularly interesting as it had something from almost everyone period. Romanesque to late Baroque in it. We also tried some of the Salzburg coffee made with mounds of whipped cream. I think it’s the best I’ve found in Europe. I like it even better than the Italian.

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Mom’s Tour de France 21 (FGK 112)

This is the last letter of mom’s that was published in the paper. I am really hoping that we discover the rest of them and I can read about the remainder of her year abroad. Thank goodness Grandma kept everything. This letter is a long one, so part one is today and there will be at least one, perhaps two more instalments before I go digging through boxes again (there are still a few more letters sent to mom while she was in the hospital).

It’s weird for me to think of how drastically mom’s life was changing. 10 years ago she was still a healthy and rambunctious kid, getting into everything, riding her horse, and playing with her siblings and cousins. 5 years ago she was working her way out of a long hospital stay and then moving to Florida for school. Not too far in her future she would graduate from Stanford, move to Toronto, go to law school and meet my dad. 10 years in her future she was just about to give birth to me (taadaa!!)

I remember mom making this cake and wanting so badly to become the Queen. I have no idea whether or not I ever did though.

Tours, France, January 15, 1961

Dear Folks

I’ve just returned from Suzanne’s having done nothing but EAT all day. She invited Gail and I over for lunch today but asked us to come early if we wanted to help prepare the meal.

I made a cake!! It is my failure kind so Suzanne taught me how to make it – you won’t believe how domestic I’m getting! We also helped with the other things. It’s so much fun in the family now because we feel free to play with her little sisters, tease her brothers, and gossip with her mother. They are extremely patient with our French so we don’t mind making lots of mistakes. Since we are still celebrating the feast of the Three Kings, we had a galette (a type of cake) for dessert. The prize was in my piece so I was the Queen. The suspense while everyone bites into their piece is terrible. After lunch we drove out to Suzanne’s aunt’s in the country. They are having a special celebration there to taste the wines in the caves which line the hillside. Everyone in the village was there with venders at every turn calling crepes, roasted chestnuts, etc. I was amazed once we entered the caves to find it exactly like an exhibition at home. Lining the walls of dirt were washing machines, television sets, and I even saw in one cavern a car!! I was driving so I didn’t taste the wines like I was supposed to, but it was fun watching all the others. After we went back to the aunt’s house where we had another galette – this time Gail was the Queen.

I think I left off in my last letter just as we were entering Munich. We got there after dark so were able to see the brilliant Christmas decorations. The main streets were lined with huge lights in the form of stars etc. It is possible to sense the quick tempo of this city the moment one enters it. It is alive and growing in the sense that all of Western Germany seems to be moving forward and looking to the future instead of the past. This is especially noticeable if you see it compared to some other European countries. We managed to find our way to the famed Rathskeller in the basement of the town hall where we had a dinner composed of a variety of German sausages. I ate so many I never felt quite the same towards them again and started ordering other dishes from then on. The Rathskeller itself was a fascinating place with its huge German style of architecture and costumed waitresses. You could practically feel yourself back in the Middle Ages. We had the name of a good but cheap hotel which we found in our “Bible” ie “Europe on $5.00 a Day” but in spite of the directions which were given in the book we found it impossible to pick the right route. We were told to start at the Bahnhauf (railroad station). This was a formidable task in itself for it always failed to show up when we expected it but on the other hand, we kept running into it at the oddest places. It continued like this during our entire stay in Munich and we always found our way home more or less by chance. This lead us to the conclusion that the Munich bahnhauf has the astonishing ability to disappear underground for hours at a time only to appear later at the other end of town. That is The only explanation I can give. The first evening we gave up in despair and finally stopped at a gas station to ask directions. We were so baffled by the German answer that was given us, two travellers who had their car there offered to lead us to the hotel. We turned so many corners and got so throughly confused that we decided we were being led on a wile goose chase. Just as we were going to turn and go in another direction their cart stopped right in front of the hotel! We felt rather guilty of being so suspicious of people who were simply being kind.

The next day we prepared to see the Glockenspiel when it went off at 11 am. We spent so long over breakfast that we barely had time to get down in front of the city hall to watch the big clock. Pat was driving when the car with four confused jeunnes filles made their left turn in its main intersection on the wrong light. Imagine our horror when we saw the policeman blow his whistle and flag us down to the curb. He stomped over to the car to find four frightened faces peering up at him and babbling away as fast as they could in French. When he found out we spoke no German, he went around to the front, saw our French license plate, got a resigned look on his face shrugging his shoulders, and said helplessly “La va!” We thanked him profusely in French and made our escape quickly before he discovered what terrible accents we had. By this time it was almost eleven so we decided that Carol and Jeannie should go watch the clock while Pat and I tried to find a parking place. We soon discovered that we had set ourselves an impossible task. We were all the more nervous because we were stopped by another policeman – that made two intersections we had to avoid henceforth at all costs! We finally found Carol and Jeannie a half hour later. We were told that for the first time in years the Glockenspiel hadn’t gone off. After the big airplane crash, which you probably heard about, there was no singing or dancing in Munich for a week. The whole city went into mourning for the dead. We spent much of the afternoon riding around in the car and looking at various buildings. We visited Maximillian Palace which was so huge we couldn’t get through it all. It is still furnished in late baroque and rococo style. The grand ballrooms with enormous chandeliers, lavish furniture, and magnificent carriages make one wonder how the princes lasted so long without a revolution. Their wealth must have been incredible. We couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the gardens as they were covered with snow, but they surrounded the huge central building for acres. One needs a lot of stamina to live in a palace like that as the rooms are so far apart.

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Mom’s Tour de France 20 (FGK 111)

December 1960

Hi:

We are now in a youth hostel in Salzburg. There are also four other Canadian girls who are driving through Europe for the winter and staying here. The is place seems like sheer luxury because the one we were in at Neuchatel didn’t have any heat. This one has a lovely little stove right by my bed.

It has been snowing here all day so we haven’t had much of an opportunity to see the scenery which is supposed to be lovely. We are trying to economize because we stayed at a hotel in Munich and they charged us far more than we thought they would – not a very nice surprise.

We have been having all sorts of adventures. We are constantly lost in the cities and usually end up going the wrong way on a one way street. The policemen have been very patient and nice (mainly because we couldn’t understand them). People have helped us out on the street and in the stores. Every time we hit a new town we head like homing pigeons to the nearest Shell Station, which has maps of the city. We now know the German terms for left, right, etc.

The weather hasn’t been nice enough to take any pictures. I was foolish enough to put slides in my camera instead of black and white. I was so enthusiastic over the results of the ones I took in Rome that I got carried away.

(The next night)

I did some shopping today and spent my spare money. Austria is as bad as Italy, it is a terrible temptation to pass a store.

I wandered around some of the mountain villages this morning. They still use horses on many of the farms. It looks very Christmassy to see them pulling sleds full of firewood.

If people have sent me letters etc but haven’t heard from me, tell them not to worry, because we left on December 17th and won’t pick up our mail until the 9th of January. It will be nice to have that pile waiting for me!

I also haven’t mailed all my Xmas cards yet – so some of them will be New Years! I usually cannot get very much writing done while we are travelling. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. I’ll be thinking about you then – in Venice I think. From what we hear, it is going to be a white Christmas which is something new for the kids from California.

I’ll try to write again soon

Love

Margi

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