Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 1920

This is a rainy day and we are leaving Brussels for Switzerland at 9-10. A morning paper from London gives something of English ways, which is interesting. Some one was passing through the period known as “having the drains done,” and they write their plumbers are quite as gentlemen.

“They arrive at 8 o’clock. By the time everything is ready for work, it is time to lay off for a cup of tea and a sandwich. At twelve they have another break for lunch and at one o’clock they prepare for a fresh start. It is usually about 20 minutes of two before all is ready to be at work again. At three o’clock they gather round the tea cups once more and at a quarter to four they begin to gather up all scattered implements of their toil and neatly barricade the coal house door, the tool shed door, the yard door and all other doors that must be necessarily opened before they can resume work in the morning. At four o’clock to the minute - they are punctual souls - they strike work and go home to their clubs and other interests.” The article added - “at the present rate of progress, they will still be here when the grouse shooting opens, and it will take all our invested funds to satisfy their wage bill.”

After leaving Brussels, our first stop was at the fortified city of Namu taken by the Germans. We crossed the Meuse river - saw shepherdess caring for her sheep. Had our noon lunch on the train. We reached Luxemburg to find the train schedule changed, which gave us six hours to spend in this ancient little city and duchy, sixty-five thousand of whose former citizens live in Chicago and Evanston, Ill., while the whole population is only about a quarter of a million. We took a car and rode to the park and walked through to the Palace, which was not a very imposing structure, but a guard was on duty at the gate.

We went to pay our respects to the American Consul and found his agent in, who gave us his autograph on post cards and told us some interesting things. Said Luxemburg had always been independent. They did as they pleased and were happy and that they were the wealthiest country for its size in the world. Said they suffered little from Germany for they had nothing she wanted.

Their army consisted of 125 men, 3 horses and two cannon. Said their cannon were made circular (?) so when they shot it would not go beyond their own country.

Their little country is 60 miles across. We had supper at station and 3 American soldier boys, stationed at Coblenz in the army of occupation, ate with us. We saw some very narrow streets, and old, old houses, cobble etc pavements, beautiful valley along the Alzette river, flowers, gardens and walks on either side, and wonderful bridges of stone etc.

The town was built in the 9th. century and there were older buildings than we saw in England. The Customs House officials of France went through our train as we entered Alsace Lorraine, and Mr. Mann our guide, vouched for us, but we were held up for some time.

This was our first effort to sleep on a European train six in a compartment, and it was a big failure. We anxiously watched for Metz of war fame, and then our next desire was to be awake when we reached Strasburg.

We admired the big fine station here and realized it was built by the labor and money of Germany and now belonged to France.

At three o’clock tired nature had asserted herself and everybody was asleep. The train stopped. We were called, and more asleep than awake we took all our baggage, went through a long passage way down stairs, up others, along another platform, into a long shed. A door opened and two of our party disappeared etc. Finally ten of us were allowed to go in at one time, questioned about the amount of gold and silver we had, and passed to the next room, where our passports were examined and stamped. A chalk mark was put upon each piece of baggage, and we filed back to our places in the train and waited for the rest to come. We stood in line two hours, before the ordeal was over. This was in St. Louis, France. At six o’clock, our tired party landed at the hotel in Basle, Switzerland.

No comments:

Post a Comment