Rome is a charming city (FGK 243)

Goodness mom had some fascinating friends. Whatever happened to them? I don’t recall hearing about most of these people but I would have loved to have met them!! This letter is before mom travelled to France herself (she would have been 15 when this letter was written – and it was sent here to the ranch), clearly she made friends with other women with the travel bug!

Grand Hotel Continental


3 Feb 1956

Dear Margie

Somehow I have a horrible suspicion that I’ve not thanked you for the lovely “travelling brush” you sent me for Christmas. May I now rather belatedly, say a huge “thank you”! The brush is lovely and believe me it is being put to good use.

As you will realize upon receiving this and the odd postcard I’ve sent I am again “wandering”. I left Oxford the first of January to join my friends in Boulogne for a wee motor jaunt in Europe. That, I would say, was starting the new year with a bang. We went first to Paris where we spent six days. Wow! What a city. Like good tourist-types we “did” most everything. Then we jogged our way to Spain – stopping hither and yonder odd spots in France. In Spain we went to Madrid, carried on southward to Granada, then to the coast and travelled backup to the Mediterranean coast to Barcelona. When returning to France we spent some time around Carcassone before going to the Riviera. By that time the weather decided to be good to us and the Riviera was absolutely glorious. Of course I tried my hand at gambling in Monte Carlo but fortune did not come my way. Then we came along the Italian Riviera which appears very shabby in comparison to the Côte d’Azur – and finally arrived here in Rome the first of February. Rome is a charming city in spite of the bitterly cold weather. I shall probably be returning to England toward the end of this month. My address there is the same as before – do drop me a line about how you are. I’m truly sorry about not writing sooner but I seldom have time to do even half of what I want to.

ok love to your family



Mom’s Tour de France 20 (FGK 111)

December 1960


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




Mom’s Tour de France 19 (FGK 110)

I continue to be impressed with the kindness shown by the people mom encountered on her travels. Was it a safer, kinder time? Was she just incredibly lucky (her guardian angels always worked overtime)? Whatever the case, she encountered some pretty remarkable people.

Part two

Pat and I remembered a marvellous restaurant there which served excellent meals for about 60 cents. We spent 3/4 of an hour searching for the youth hostel where we could stay for 50 cents (I’m sure we burned up more gas looking for it) and finally discovered it beyond the railroad track which we had been crossing all the time. It was a charming and picturesque little building, lacking only one thing – a stove. There was only one other person staying there and the lady was quite shocked to see so many people descending on her this time of the year. I don’t think any of us took very many clothes off that night and we were very speedy in getting out to the nice warm car the next morning. The drive through Switzerland was very pleasant in the morning when we could see the sun shining on the snowy mountains and the little villages which looked like Christmas cards but it clouded over in the afternoon so we were unable to see much of the Alps. We got lost at one point so we decided to stop and have a bowl of soup for lunch at a charming little hotel which was along the road while we found out where we were. It was a warm friendly little dining room with several people in there gossiping over cups of tea and glasses of wine. We were somewhat of an oddity and got several curious stares while eating. As we were leaving a man and his wife asked if they could buy us a cup of coffee. They were so very nice we couldn’t refuse and sat down again. No one spoke either French or English so we stammered out our few phrases of German and hoped that our smiles and nods conveyed some of our appreciation for this gesture. They were very concerned about us and stood waving at the door until we were out of sight.

We climbed through may mountains that afternoon getting into more and more snow. We could see the skiers returning to their lodges and I envied Gail who was spending her vacation with some French students learning how to ski. We stopped for the night at a little village near the boarder. Pat and I had a lovely room with a balcony. There was a lighted Christmas tree on it and we could see the snow falling on it all night. It really gave one the feeling of Christmas.

The next morning, after the usual continental breakfast of rolls and cafe au lait, we set out to find Liechtenstein. Since this country has a treaty with Switzerland, there is no regular border between the two and before we knew it we found ourselves in the tiny capital city with the Prince’s castle overlooking it. Liechtenstein’s main industry is postage stamps and we aided the economy by each sending off two or three post cards. Since the country is so small it was only a few minutes to the Austrian border. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we would be travelling on a big wide “autobahn” ie. a freeway. Needless to say it took no time at all to zip over to the German border. We did no shopping as we knew we would be returning in a few days. Germany is loved by us all as the land of the ‘Milk bars” and we stopped at the first one we found in a little town not too far from the border. There was a great big jolly German sitting in there who watched us with an amused and kindly expression on his face as we tried to ask the waitress if we could get a lunch there. Imagine our joy when we found out he spoke French and was able to translate for us. He ran out and bought the cheese for our sandwiches and made sure that we all got what we wanted. This was just one of the many times our limited French was a big help to us. We decided that Jeannie would drive for a while in the afternoon. Since she is very short it was necessary to push the seat of the VW up. It is rather sticky and we all got behind to shove it forward. To our consternation we pushed so hard it came completely out of the car and we were left in the middle of the street with a loose seat in our hands! We tried valiantly for several minutes to put it back but were unable to repeat our past performance of strength. Finally the waitress saw our trouble and sent out three big boys who soon had us all put together and ready to race off towards Munich again.


Have to go to classes now, will continue at a later date



Mom’s Tour de France 17 (FGK 108)

I remember as a teenager finding an old sweater of my dad’s sitting on a shelf. I’d never seen him wear it, I thought it looked kind of cool, so I stole it. Turns out it was a sweater he’d bought at a market in Rome while they were there on their honeymoon. I loved that sweater, and once I wore it completely out it became my barn/riding sweater. One time I was at a horse show and there was another girl there wearing the exact same sweater. Dad had to go over and talk to her dad to see where she’d found it and apparently that girls parents also had honeymooned in Rome around the same time, and the dad had also bought the sweater at a market. That girl also had found the sweater while snooping and had made it her own. So, all of mom’s coins in Trevi Fountain were worth it – she went back to Italy several more times.

Part two of mom’s letter

During our tour the day before we had a world famous ice cream parlour pointed out to us. It is a place frequented by all the movie stars as well as those of us of more humble status. After dinner a large group of us, including Prof. Knolls and his wife who are as full of mischief as any of the students, took off through the little back streets for the goodies. The store is in the square of the fountains of the Four Rivers. These are lit up at night, making them even more beautiful than in the daytime. I think the poor people in the shop were a little overwhelmed by having a group of 20 singing Americans descend en masse, demanding the specialite de maison, but they are probably quite used to it because we all were served within a few minutes. Some of the kids had birthdays so we sang to them – with all the Italians joining in. I had so much to eat I could barely waddle home.

Thursday was a free day with no tours. Pat, Carol, Susie and I spent the morning finding the Yugoslavian embassy to get our visas. When we finally got these we almost drove the little man mad because he only spoke Italian and Yugoslavian. There happened to be a lady standing by who spoke French so she translated for us but I have never seen anyone so relieved as he was when we finally left. Pat and I stopped at the Fountain of Trevi on the way home and i threw in my three coins just in case I couldn’t make it back the next day. We also had a water fight there – much to the consternation of the policeman on the corner.

I spent the afternoon window shopping – I wish you could see the beautiful things they have in Italy. It just killed me not to buy anything. Fabulous sweaters only cost about $10.00 and the purses, gloves and shoes – oo la la!

While I was wandering around I came upon a splendid fountain in front of the terminal. It really was a fountain to end all fountains. I spent about 15 minutes watching the sun on the water. That is the fun of Rome. You never know when you are going to stumble on a magnificent fountain. I also explored St. John the Lateran. The church were all the funerals for the Popes are held and where they used to live. From hereI walked down to the colosseum where I hoped to catch a bus home. Italy is the only country where I would have enough nerve to ride a bus alone. The people are so warm and friendly I always have more than enough help getting on and off – when I get home remind me to tell you about some of my experiences on buses, I’ve gone some dillys. I asked the conductor if the is was the bus for Ponte Sisto? He said “si” but made all sorts of gestures which I couldn’t understand. Since the bus definitely went to my stop I decided to get on anyway. An hour later I discovered what the gestures meant. Before ending up at Ponte Sisto the bus makes a route all over the city! Well that’s one way to see Rome.

Friday morning we left bright and early for Tivoli. First we visited Hadrian’s villa. This is the size of a small city and it is just incredible to see the luxury which existed at this time. By this time we were experts at climbing over ruins. Two of the boys disappeared underground in the sewer system only to pop up in front of us while we were studying the mosaics in the sun room. The guide was a little perturbed but the boys had a wonderful time. This trip also gave us an opportunity to see some Italian countryside. As our buses climbed up the mountain to the fountains of Tivoli we had vistas which stretched out as far as Rome. The fountains themselves were glorious. There is an enormous garden which is full of every type of flower imaginable. In places there are long walks stretching out lined with fountains on either side of them with one enormous one at the end. You have probably read about the organ fountain which is also there.

Our bus took us a little farther along the road to a viewpoint where we could see two enormous waterfalls tumbling down the mountain side into a valley with vineyards on the hills and pastures in the bottom. There was a tiny little church perched on the top of the hill with a narrow little path leading up to it. We ate our lunch while perched on the wall overlooking all this. The tour continued in the afternoon to some more ancient temples and villas but I returned on an early bus with some others who were feeling the effects of the Roman hikes, to have a two hour sleep. I woke up just in time to dash out with Gail and Pat to throw another coin in the fountain and eat a doughnut in front of it before dinner. We were planning a birthday party for one of the boys so had to get back early. That was my 4th coin in the fountain – for an extra strong wish to return to Rome again. After dinner we just had time to pack and take a bus to the station. You never saw a tireder more loaded down group in your life. No one wanted to come back to Tours. Most of us spent the two nights and a day on the train trying to recuperate – without much success. Some of the kids had their guitars along so there was more singing than sleeping.

We reached Tours at 2:30am this morning (Sunday). We didn’t get to bed until 4:30 though. I was really glad to see it!! Suzanne invited Gail and I to her place for lunch. It was just wonderful. We are starting to feel that we can be at home in her home. In France, this is really something. As usual they sent us away from their place just loaded down with food. She is just a darling girl.

All my Xmas cards will be late because I ordered some and they still haven’t arrived. This really makes me sad. Please tell everyone to hold on, they’ll come one of these days. Don’t expect to hear too much from me between now and the 15th as we are having our exams. I really don’t know how I”m going to do – they could be bad news. But I think the education I’ve received outside of the classroom will make up for some bad grades (I hope). The competition here is rough as most of the kids are outstanding Stanford students. The more I talk about it the more scared I get. Guess I’d better get to work.

Wish me luck with my finals. I need it!!




Mom’s Tour de France 15 (FGK 106)

I am constantly amazed by mom’s strength. Not just the emotional strength that it took her to move on from the trauma of polio and the years in the hospital, but her physical strength. Even though I remember as a kid mom walking everywhere – through the mall, the grocery store, and anywhere else she needed to go – it still blows my mind that mom did most of this trip on her crutches.

Margi’s second letter from Rome part 2

After leaving the shop we went up past the Fountain of Trevi again to see the camera shop where I had left my first film to be developed, 35 of the pictures turned out – I’m going to send you some of the most interesting ones. I just love the camera, you have no idea how dark it was when I took some of these pictures and yet they all turned out!!

We each bought one of the great big doughnuts they sell here and sat down by the fountain to look at the pictures. Trevi is use splendid at night too, because it is all lit up. From here we wandered up some little side streets to look t the many and varied little shops and outdoor stands. They have everything from freshly killed wild boars to every type of spaghetti imaginable. We really confused one little man because we anted to get some Italian wine bottles as souvenirs but he just couldn’t comprehend that we wanted them empty!! Finally by all sorts of gestures, we got our ideas across, leaving the poor man convinced that we were completely crazy.

We later found ourselves in the more expensive part of town where we had all sorts of fun window shopping. We went into a textile store with the firm intention of just looking and ended up being unable to resist the wonderful bargain. They were just closing, but they kept the store open for us and we had all the clerks climbing around the shelves for us. We really were made to feel important. They spoke to us in a weird mixture of English, French, and Italian, just to add to the confusion.

By this time it was 8:30 and we were hungry. We found a restaurant that looked excellent and was recommended in our guidebook. Since we were all broke, we decided to keep everything below 1000 lire (about $1.50) only to get inside and discover this wasn’t the type of restaurant where this could be done. We told the head waiter our problem but he assured us he would do his part to get us some of their good dishes for this price. We ordered one serving of ravioli and told him we would spit that up among the three of us. This was wheeled over to us on a little table. The Maître d’ and 2 waiters bustled around serving us each a great big plate of it, I’m sure it was more than one serving. There we sat in our skirts and sweaters with our two courses surrounded by grand dames in their minks and disdainful stares. The waiters loved us, however, and we got twice as much service as anyone else in the place. When we walked out they were all lined up to say goodnight.

We got lost coming home and at one point ended up at the Parthenon. This is rather spooky at night but I could pretend I was an ancient Roman.

Sunday morning we roamed around our district and went to mass in a little tiny church squeezed in between the buildings. The French Embassy took us on a tour of some of the buildings around their place. A group of us decided to visit the Catacombs in the afternoon. We hopped a bus out of the colosseum where we stopped for a while to watch them making a movie. It was about 19th century so the costumes were very colourful.

From here we bounced along the Appian Way to the catacombs of St. Sebastian. Dr. Knolls was with us and happened to be going to to see the Moses by Michel Angelo so Pat, Gail, and I went with him. This is in the church that has the chains which bound St. Peter. There are 50 million steps leading up to it but the statue was well worth it. On the way back we passed the colosseum and forum all lit up. They are even more beautiful at night. This morning we were taken on a tour of the Vatican museum. The buildings would take years to go through, I’m sure. We saw everything from Ancient Greek works to Renaissance and Baroque.

I had no idea it was so large. Fortunately we had the wheelchair along and I was given many a hair raising ride down the corridors of the Vatican by the boys in our group. My neck is still a little stiff from the Sistine Chapel. I don’t know how Michel Angelo ever did it.

I’ve spent most of the afternoon writing this letter and I’m getting writers cramp. You’ll have to wait until I get home for me to tell the rest of my adventures.

Hope I have some mail when we get back, none for two weeks now

Love to all,



Mom’s Tour de France 13 (FGK 104)

In 2009 a bunch of us were fortunate enough to go to Rome to see my cousin get married. Large as the city is, it seemed as though every time we turned a corner we bumped into a Copithorne, which made our sightseeing days pretty damn enjoyable as we always had someone to share them with. I loved that trip, and I’m so grateful that mom and dad were in good enough health to fully enjoy the trip too. The wedding was amazing, the food was outstanding, and the place was unbelievably spectacular. I hope to get back again someday soon.

Rome, November 25th 1960.

Dear Everyone:

Well – I made it at last! You know how I’ve always wanted to see Rome. We left Tours at 2am Thursday morning and arrived here at 5:30 this morning. I had sleepers for both nights so didn’t get too tired. There was some snow in the Alps – it reminded me of home, only there are fortresses along the passes instead of the wild kind of nature that’s in the Rockies. There were two busses to meet us at the train. They took us past all sorts of fascinating monuments to our hostel which is run by some monks and is a block away from the Tiber. A great big breakfast was served and then we were let loose on the town. Gail, Pat, Ruth and I walked along the Tiber for a way and then turned off up a street which led past some sunken ruins of Republican temples. There were all sorts of cats prowling around the broken columns and statues. I tried to take some pictures but don’t think the film was set right. We then wandered to the central church for the Jesuit Order. It is a magnificent example of baroque art. The marble had designs in it made of different colours of rock, and the paintings on the ceiling were well worth a stiff neck. The streets of Rome have no rhyme or reason. They just twist back and forth or else end abruptly at a fountain or a church. Every time you turn a corner you don’t know whether you are going to run into some old Roman theatre or a church. It makes one feel so very ignorant because it seems as though the whole wealth of western civilization is displayed here like a historical pageant. I never realized there was so much history I didn’t know about – and I never thought I’d see the day when I thought a building dating from the 8th century was relatively recent! After we came out of the Jesuit church Gail and Ruth lingered in a little shop while Pat and I strolled a little farther on, planning to meet them later. I wanted to see the fountain of Trevi first thing (remember the movie?) so we went to find the right street. When we went back to get Gail and Ruth they were gone so we decided to go on. We asked an Italian policeman for directions and boldly set off – not sure whether or not we had really understood the Italian. After we turned innumerable corners and gone up some little side streets we decided it was time we got our bearings again. We saw a priest standing on the steps of a church so I said, “Oh, let’s ask him, priests are very well educated so he’s bound to know French or English!” He had already seen us so we went up and hardly got our mouths open when he said: “You speak English?” We were immediately relieved and started to speak in very slow careful English – imagine our embarrassment when he answered us fluently. Then Pat asked him if he was Italian. He gave a start and said “Aye n’ if I had any Italian blood in me I’d give it back to them! I guess I haven’t been puttin’ on me brogue enough!” His face just overflowed with mischief. If I’d given it a second thought I’d have guessed he was Irish – and after we heard him talk a bit we knew!! When we asked him where the fountain was he insisted on taking us there because he had a few minutes of spare time and it wasn’t far away. As we were walking along we found out that he is a student at a school here for fellows who are going through to be priests. Classes let out while we were there and we met ones from the US, Canada, and Germany. They are there from all over. When we got to the fountain, Jon (that’s his name) offered to take our picture in front of it. That got me to explaining how I have this gorgeous camera and don’t really know how to use it. I had two pictures left on the film so Jon took those of us and offered to take us to a camera shop where I could get the film changed. We didn’t have any Italian liras so he said he’d take us to a place where we could get our money changed. We said “Oh no,” we didn’t want to take up more of his time since he’d already spent about half an hour with us. Then he told us he was already late for class by 15 minutes, that he might as well cut the whole thing and that while his Superior might not understand he was sure God would! So we proceeded to have a guided tour. Jon told us the best Italian foods to buy and the cheapest places to get it. I got a slide film put in my camera and had my travellers cheque changed into Italian money because you get 20% off here for cashing travellers cheques in stores.

After we left the American Express we went to the Spanish Steps. By this time it was almost noon and Joe had to leave us, after giving us careful directions for our way back. We got hopelessly lost and finally had to take a taxi in order to get back to the villa in time for lunch. After the meal the whole group went off in busses for a general tour of Rome. We saw so much it’s just impossible to name it all. We went through an old quarter where they say the people who live there are now the same (type) as those who were there during the time of Caesar. This road led to the top of one of the seven hills of Rome. Here we had a magnificent view of the entire city spread out before us. St. Peter’s was the next stop – we just saw the outside as this trip was just to get a general idea of the city. We went past all sorts of Pope’s palaces and Emperor’s tombs and ended up at the stadium where they had the olympics last summer. It is by these buildings that Mussolini was going to make into a second forum. There is still a big monument there with his name on it. We stopped in the Park Borghese overlooking the Plaza do Puopolo. This gave another view of the city. Several countries have their Academics in the park there and there are all sorts of ponds etc scattered through the trees. It was here that I saw my first Punch and Judy show – only it was in Italian. when we were going by the monument Emmanuel 11 on our way to the Colosseum we met some kids from Stanford in Italy so they came along on the tour with us. We went out a little on the Oppian way and followed the old wall of Rome until we came to a freeway which went right under the gates. We also passed the place where they used to have their chariot races. By the time we started home it was evening and we could see the sunset over the city. Tomorrow we are going to the Vatican and will have a chance to see the Pope. Pat and Ruth came with us as we wandered down some back streets tonight to a little pizza place which had been recommended to us. I burnt my tongue on a pizza, but it was just delicious. We also had some Italian pastries which were also yummy. I wish I could send some of those dishes home to you, they are so much fun to try.

It’s now 9pm – and I’ve spent an hour writing this letter. There is just so much to say I can’t get it all down on paper I think I’ll go to bed instead.

I’m going back to the fountain of Trevi before I leave, so I’ll throw a coin in for you all.




Mom’s Tour de France 12 (FGK 103)

I remember mom talking about driving her little Beetle around France. What amazed me was that she drove a stickshift, I think the clutch was on the steering wheel.

November 22nd 1960

We are all busy getting ready to go to Rome on Wednesday. We start our finals when we get home, os things will be right tight. My French mark is going to be dreadful I think – not to mention what the others will be. There are so many things to do over here besides study! Don’t expect very much from my marks this quarter! We have 8 hours of French a week plus a course in 18 century European Thought and one in French American relations. I think though the biggest educational experience we are getting is just living over here. You really get a different slant on things. winter has started to come a little bit, at least it’s raining a little more. Our building is nice and warm but it’s almost 40 degrees outside.

We’ve just got a television set installed so now we can watch the weather report in French. We are having what is known as “petits pluies” ie little rains.

I’m writing this from the US Information Services. I’m here to talk to the man about my car, but he is out to tea. We have just tons of work back at the center too!

We hope to have an Xmas party for the people in the building such as the maids, the concierge, etc., before we leave for our holiday so we have to plan it before we go to Rome because of exams when we get back.

We had a chance of having our way paid to Algeria for 10 days by the French government for the next quarter but as you can guess, things sort of fell through. I don’t think they’re very anxious for visitors there right now. I’m rather disappointed because I think that would have been quite interesting. If it’s ok with you I think I’ll take my summer holidays during Spring quarter. Gail, Ruth, and pat and I would like to see the Scandinavian countries and England while we are over here. It will also give me some time to come home before I go to Stanford for summer school.

After summer school I will have 6 weeks at home before Fall Quarter starts. It will be good to go home and have a great big thick creamy milkshake. The French don’t drink milk and you can really notice it. All the Americans are tall and healthy looking while the the French are short.

Well I’ve finally seen the Volkswagen man and should get my car between the 10-15 of December. It will be blue and have a sun roof because that is the only kind they are shipping to Paris.

Au revoir



Mom’s Tour de France 10 (FGK 101)

I remember studying Candide in an English class at University and it was enough to tackle translated into English – I can’t imagine reading Voltaire en français. My French is so rusty though, there was a time in my life when it probably would have been easier to read the French version.

A letter of Margi’s written to Marshall on November 4th, 1960 from Stanford University, Tours, France

I just finished writing an essay on existentialist philosophy in French – an effort which has exhausted my little mind completely, French is quite a language to tangle with.

I am crushed. The week before last I was sitting calmly in the railway station eating an orange while waiting for my train out of Paris while there was all sorts of excitement going on which I missed. Some Algerians got mad at the police and they had a big gun fight outside the station. I didn’t even know about it until I was safe at home the next day. There was also a big demonstration in Tours which I didn’t find out about until it was over.

Gail and I had dinner yesterday with a French family. The people here are unbelievably friendly. They hardly even knew us and they gave us a chicken dinner and took us for a car ride. We didn’t get home until 6:30pm and we had been speaking French every solid minute! My poor little brain was ruined for the rest of the day. Have you ever tried to explain the American election system, the farm surplus problem, or why Dad doesn’t put all his cattle in the barn for the winter, in French? They are so curious about America and just fire question after question all the time.

I still have about 50 million pages of Voltaire to tackle so I suppose I should get started. Wish they’d stop giving us assignments.

Au revoir



Mom’s Tour de France 9 (FGK 100)

I can’t believe I’ve hit 100 posts From Grandma’s Kitchen!! I am so grateful I’ve got these letters to share.

This is the second half of the letter describing mom’s trip to Germany. I noticed again that she mentions stealing apples off of trees to snack on. I had always figured it was dad who taught us to steal fruit – but now I wonder if maybe mom also had a hand in that. As children, when we would vacation on Vancouver Island, dad was famous for pulling over on the side of the road and sending my sister and I into the ditch with buckets. We had to stand amongst the prickly thorns and pick as many blackberries as we could, as quickly as possible. The drive back to Calgary after our vacations was always a very pungent one as flats of berries sat on top of our luggage.

Her description of the little parade watched reminds me of the Cochrane Labour Day parade when I was a kid. I think the only people watching the parade were parents of kids who were in it- everyone else was in the parade!

Mom bought a camera! I will have to dig around and see if there are any photos of her adventures in Europe.

About seven we got hungry but didn’t know where to find an inexpensive restaurant. While we were going through one of the towns we saw a Shell Station. We knew it would be German, but it felt so good to see a familiar sight that we stopped there to ask where to find a place to eat. Luckily the attendant knew a few words of English and with our few words of German he directed us to a lovely little wooden restaurant. We went in what we hoped was the right door and seated ourselves around one of the tables- which were similar to picnic tables. The waitress couldn’t speak French or English, but we got a menu by gesturing- then the fun started, because we were just starving but couldn’t understand the menu!! We spent about 20 minutes trying to decipher it . By this time a man and his wife had sat down at our table. Everyone in the room was very amused but we were getting hungrier and discussed in English where we should ask them if they would help us. Finally the man leaned over and said, “This is a very good meal!” He spoke a little French and English!! For less than a $1.00 we got a huge platter of meat and mushroom sauce, a platter of spaghetti, and a big salad among the four of us. We were so hungry we ate almost all of it. It was just delicious. We ended up having them all teaching us how to count in German and a few more sentences – like how much does it cost etc. We got into Ulm, which was our destination for the day, fairly late but found a hotel right away. It was new and clean. Our beds had the great big German feather mattresses on them – which made it very difficult to get out of bed the next morning!

Breakfast was served by a quaint old German lady who loaded us up with extra bread for lunch. As you probably have guessed by this time, bread and cheese is the cheapest meal you can get over here. We visited the church (I sent you a post card of it) and attended the service there which was Protestant. (Munster in Ulm an dear Donau hochster Kirchturm dear Erde (161m) Munster (cathedral) at Ulm on the Nonnau highest steeple of the earth (161m).

From Ulm to Stuttgart we were on one of the German autobahns. These are just marvellous – the same thing as a freeway. At Stuttgart our troubles started – everyplace we drove while we were in that town we got lost. We had to count an extra hour whenever we wanted to go somewhere just to get ourselves untangled. After crossing the city about three times we finally got on the right road for the campus of Stanford in Germany. This is in the country near a tiny village not far from Stuttgart. We could see the buildings in the distance because it was at the very top of a hill, looking out in all directions. The sides of the hill are covered with vineyards and apple trees. There is a tiny winding road up to the top lined with trees, from which we took some apples because we hadn’t bought any. We got a great reception from the students there, it was almost like coming home – to meet someone who spoke English!! They showed us all over the centre. We both have different advantages. They live in the country, get to know the people of the village very well and have a homey atmosphere. We have more of the advantages of living near a big town and can meet more students and our building is more modern. Since they have been established longer than we have, they have a few more things – like a record player and more books in the library. Remember this time last year when I was dying to go to Germany? I am still just fascinated by the language and would love to learn it. After taking a walk around the village, we went back to Stuttgart to see Christof, Gail’s friend. He is one of the nicest people I have met over here. We had supper with him and his sister. It was a very simple meal consisting of German bread with cheese and liverwort. Their company was so enjoyable that it was one of the best meals we had. They served some apple cider that had just started to ferment. It was delicious. I wish that it could travel so I could send some for you, but you have to drink it at a certain stage. Christof studies physics at the University of Stuttgart and he had a book on his shelf that was written by Ruth’s father who is a professor at Cal. Christof is also an amateur photographer – some of his pictures were really terrific. He gave us all one as a souvenir. This hobby comes in very handy because the next day he took us down town to buy cameras. I have a fabulous Zeus camera which I got for $50.00 off because someone had exchanged it. I am so excited with it I can hardly wait to run out and get some pictures. I’ve seen so many things since I’ve been here, it’s just killing me without a camera. We walked around the streets of Stuttgart a bit and then went to have a lunch at a milk bar. We had some German bread and pastries for next to nothing. They even sold milkshakes but we just had plain milk. That afternoon we headed for Baden-Baden and the Black Forest. This was one of the prettiest parts of the whole trip. On the tops of some of the hills we could see old ruins of castles. Down in the valleys, here and there we could see a little town. The forests are very well cared for. We could see where they had been re-forested after lumbering. At the top of one of the hills we came across a little store run by two little old men. We stopped here to buy some cookies. We went to so much trouble and get all this in German that he gave us chocolate bars to eat long our way. After leaving the Black Forest we took the Autobahn to Strasburg. The Rhine is the border between France and Germany here and we were caught in a traffic jam on the bridge, trying to get through French customs. They were looking in the trunks fo cars – and we had five cameras plus a lot of odds and ends from Switzerland. We decided to say we were tourists so went in that lane but the little man didn’t really believe us because we had French license plates. We more or less just drove off before he could figure the whole deal out. We spent the night in Strasburg in a tiny hotel in the old part of town. The street we were on was really interesting – hundreds of years old. The people there speak a mixture of French and German – I didn’t think they know what they are half the time. The next morning we visited the cathedral and threw a stone in the Rhine. Since we were quite far from Tours and this was our last day of holiday, we had to drive straight back. We hadn’t seen this part of France before though, so it was quite interesting. I saw some Herefords in a field. There was also some big stacks of baled hay – much more than around Tours.

It was All Saints Day and in some areas of the little villages we passed through they were holding services and parades. Everyone in the village was in the parade so there was no one to but us to watch them. We got back in Tours about seven thirty, in time to compare our experiences with those of the other kids who had gone travelling in all directions.

Margi Copithorne


Mom’s Tour de France 8 (FGK 99)

I was emailing with my aunt the other day and we were discussing mom’s trip to Germany. I wasn’t sure if she would have included it in these letters, so I was very happy to see this trip in today’s letter. The story I got from mom was a bit more dramatic and involved the guards walking out, fully armed, and pointing their guns at the carload of girls. Chances are mom embellished the story to make it a bit more exciting, but chances are just as good that she completely downplayed the border crossing in her letter so as not to freak out poor Grandma.

I am amazed at how strong and agile mom was. I do remember as a kid how much she was able to do – but the a trip like this must have taken such courage! Even her description of sitting under the trees having their lunch – for mom sitting on the ground was not an option because she couldn’t get herself up after. She must have trusted these girls she was travelling with. Quite the different life from 5 years before when she was 4 years into her hospital stay. It really is proof that you never know what is coming ahead for you in life. What if she had listened to the doctors who said she would never even sit up again? What a great life she would have missed out on. Thank goodness for the determination of Grandma and the support of her family.

November 2nd 1960

Dear Everyone;

Here at last is that long promised letter. I have just returned from a fabulous weekend to find mounds and mounds of work waiting for me. I don’t have the nerve to face it so I’ll write a letter instead.

We had a pleasant surprise last week when we discovered that the French celebrate All Saints Day. This meant that our French teachers refused to come on November 1st. We talked to our other professors into giving up their classes on the following weekend so that we could have from Friday to Wednesday free.

Gail knew a boy in Stuttgart who was a close friend of a friend here and who had invited us there for a weekend so we decided to try our luck at German. Together with Pat and Ruth, two close friends of ours, we took a car and headed east early Friday morning towards Switzerland. We had stopped at a little grocery store the night before and were well stocked with French bread, cheese, and fruit which was to be our lunch throughout the whole trip. Neuchâtel, Switzerland was the goal fro our first day. We drove along the Loire for the first hour and then headed off into the farmlands of Eastern France. These were just gorgeous with the red, yellow, and orange leaves against the dark green of the grass. At first, the terrain was quite flat with lots of forest but few hills and then gradually there got to be more and more knolls. We stopped for lunch at a little village on top of a hill. At the very peak of the hill there was an old Abby part of which was built in the 9th century. There were still monks living in the same old building – probably rebuilt. We ate our lunch out under the trees in the church garden From here we could see for miles up and down the valley. It would have been a good place for a fort. From here on we kept going into more and more hills until we hit the Jura mountains – which really aren’t too high but which are very picturesque because the towns are all in the valleys when you drive into one you get the same view as we get of Banff from the top of Sulphur Mountain. We drove through here at the hour when all the farmers were taking their cows home to milk them and many a time we had to yield the right of way to a big bossy looking creature with a bell around her neck. These bells sound lovely in the evening when they are all going home and there is a peasant going along behind chasing them with a stick. We crossed the Swiss border just at twilight. All the guard did was look at our passports – much to our disappointment, he didn’t even mark them so now we cannot show off all the places we’ve been to. We got to Neuchatel fairly early and were able to find a nice hotel near the centre of town. It was right by a market place where we went out and bought carrots the next morning. We met some Americans who were studying there and who told us where to go for our meal. It was a charming little restaurant where we had soup and a big main course for about 75 cents. Really good food. We all bought the Swiss chocolate bars for dessert and ate them in our room. Since we wanted to get an early start we went to bed early in our little wooden beds which were loaded down with elder downs. I had some more Swiss hot chocolate for breakfast along with some homemade jam on rolls. I’m sure I gained about 10 pounds on the trip. We drove around the town in the morning to look at the lake and the buildings and then headed out for Bern.

Swiss villages pleased me more than any others I’ve ever seen – they are so quaint, clean and picturesque. They still use horses a lot but there is the odd tractor. The fields are as well kept as the houses are – and the people are so very friendly. We kept waving at all the farmers as we drove along singing in our little car. We got to Bern about 11 o’clock, not knowing exactly what we wanted to do. It took quite a while to find a parking place and then we decided to look in some of the shops. As we were walking along the street we heard someone calling our names and a girl we met on the boat came running up! She showed us over much of the city – the cathedral and the clock were the highlights. You’ve probably read about the big clock in Bern. When the hour strikes all sorts of little men and animals come out and run around it. I was just fascinated by it all. She took us into a shop which specialized in chocolates. There were every kind imaginable there – and all sorts of weird shapes. I did some Xmas shopping there – you should get the parcel early in December and be able to distribute them for me. After this we went to a toy store, I could have spent hours there – much of the toys were the same as ours but some were quite different. I bought Dixie something – it was hard for someone her age but it quite sturdy and should be hard to break. After saying goodbye to Erika and buying some more bread and cheese for our lunch, we headed for Zurich. This is in the German speaking part of Switzerland, as is Bern, but most of the people could speak French so we got along alright – language difficulties weren’t to come until Germany. We got an excellent view of the Alps going into Zurich. They remind me of our Rockies. The difference is these have tiny villages with wooden houses (chalets) around them. Every village has a church with a big clock in the tower- I could always keep my watch set! We had to stop for gas here as it is cheaper in Switzerland than in Germany. The people at the station were very kind and gave us our directions in a mixture of French, German, and English, telling us a few necessary German phrases like “where is a restaurant, hotel, etc.” It was dusk when we drove up to the German boarder. As we approached two tall guards in the German uniform stepped out to stop the car. Suddenly I guess I forgot what year it was it I usually was terrified. It was just a passing feeling and I didn’t say anything about it until a half hour later and i found out the other kids had felt that way too. I guess I’ve seen too many World War 2 movies.