EVA AND HER SCRAPBOOK: A 1932 TRANS-ATLANTIC VACATION (PART 2)

This post was written by intern Jess Zaccagnini. To see the first part of her post, click here.

Eva’s train to Switzerland included a hefty meal of “fish, roast veal, potato, string beans, cheese, pastry, and a fresh peach.” The customs check-point in Basel, Switzerland seems to have been more lax than in Paris; the officer asked if the girls had Mountainany cigars or cigarettes and let them pass when they said no—“that’s all there was to it.” The mountain ranges seemed to have impressed Eva the most as she describes “how wonderful [it was] to look out and see those great touring peaks outlined against the sky.” The scenery and the quiet soothed Eva as she began to write and reflect on how noisy it was in Paris.

The girls took an Alpine tour on their first full day in Switzerland, which circled around the mountain closest to their hotel, on the Lucerne Lake. The tour bus ascended four thousand feet around the steep, narrow cliff sides. As they approached the infamous Devil’s Bridge, Eva describes how “we could hardly brace ourselves against the wind to walk. And girl at flaciercold! Just about froze.” Soon they rode above the snow line to see “great fields of daises, buttercups, and many others… the sight of all the colors against the snow was spectacular.” An attractive destination spot for this particular part of Montreux, Switzerland is the Rhone Glacier, the largest in the Alps contributing to several surrounding rivers and lakes including Lake Geneva. Eva describes the glacier as “a huge jagged mass of blue ice.” The other girls got the chance to go down through the glacier but Eva chose to stay behind because she “[didn’t] like to feel trapped.”

Small Alpine towns dot the mountainsides that over-look the glacier forglacier sight-seers to stay. The girls stayed at a hotel in one such town— Gotthard-Furka-Grimsel. Eva describes the loud “roar of the melting snow as it started to form the Rhone River.” Her night at the glacier was cold; she needed to sleep with all her clothes on and in the morning she woke up with her “neck as stiff as a board.” Eva also learned that she dislikes Swiss coffee, and their hot chocolate “was made out of goat’s milk, and it tasted like a stewed bransack” (a simmered bag of grain).

On their decent down the 5,000 foot mountain, the girls stopped in the town that circled Lake Geneva and visited the Castle of Chillon. The Castkecastle dates back to at least 1005 where it was used as a Roman guarding post and later as a sixteenth century prison. Eva did not go inside the castle because “that night club scared [her] so [she] dared not go in anywhere again.”

At this point in her trip, Eva is two weeks from being “out on the Atlantic on the way home” and she almost cannot wait to be there as she “hopes there will be peas and radishes” when she arrives home.
The last leg of their journey starts with arriving in Germany on July 20th. The train ride to Germany was “hot and dirty, not much like the Swiss trains.” The girls had a good laugh over what they were served for supper aboard the train: “soup, steak, potato, vegetable salad, a big piece of cheese (for which [they] needed a gas mask), a pretzel, and a bottle of beer.” What else could one expect of a German meal in the 1930s?

When they arrived in Heidelberg, Germany the girls learned that they “had the honor of sharing the same roof with Helen Wills Moody, the tennis champion.” She was considered to be the first American woman to become an international sports champion. Eva notes that German people seem “big in stature, they all look like descendants of Kaiser Bill, their faces look hard and militaristic and they look at us as much as to say ‘What the devil are you Americans doing here?’”

CathThis sort of attitude does seem to make sense given the fact that Eva is living in a post-World War I world. The effects of World War I seem to have lingered in Germany through 1932 as Eva describes how one of her tour guides spoke to them of how he was imprisoned by the French. One of the attractions they saw was the cathedral in Koln where historic jewels were stored until the World War I. The jewels were taken from the castle and hidden in case the cathedral was destroyed in the war; once the war was over, they were returned to their original home.

On July 23, the girls arrived in Amsterdam by train. From the train, Eva and her friends boarded a little steamer ship that took them through the town of Volendam, “one of the show places of Holland” where the natives dressed up on Sundays in traditional garb and tourists could go through old-world Dutch homes.

One of the prime attractions tourists often look for in Holland is the giant windmills. Eva and her friends were looking for such a windmill when the captain of the tourist steamer Dutchtold them that the mills are “fast disappearing since they use motor power now instead. The few that are left are only for show.”

After Holland, Eva and her friends arrived in Brussels, Belgium on July 25th. The train ride was less than pleasant as Eva describes how she “smelled some old-fashioned outhouses on a farm that were roses compared to that cheese [served on the train].” On a tour-bus ride through the city, Eva saw the “big arch” that is the gateway into Brussels and where the Germans came storming through in 1914. The city still remained intact due to its peaceful surrender.

Scene from Hell
Photo from: http://www.museumsyndicate.com/images/5/47090.jpg

The first stop the girls made was to the Wiertz Museum, an art museum dedicated to Antoine Wiertz, or the “mad artist,” who was a controversial painter known for gruesome, terrifying scenes. Eva feels as though “he was certainly warped in his mind…he painted mothers cutting off legs of children, burying a man alive, Napoleon’s arrival into hell, nude women and whatnot.”

All along the journey, Eva mentions the ease of which she can convert American money into the system used in the country she visits. Throughout the scrapbook it seems Eva saved a few coins and wrote underneath them what the conversion was. Luckily, a few Dutch coins were left in the book.

The trip to Belgium was short and sweet and by July 26th the girls were in London, on the last leg of their journey. Eva’s narration of London is significantly shorter than her previous ones. Perhaps this is because she was feeling ready to go home. MarchingNevertheless, she does mention that they saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the changing of the guard (the changing of the guard is a ceremony that takes place every day outside of Buckingham Palace where the guards appointed to protect the royal family are changed out for maximum security). There is usually a march of guards involved and a big to-do over the importance of being a guard for the royal family.

WS homeThe last place the girls visited in London was Shakespeare’s birthplace, an attraction that visitors can still see today. Eva enjoyed London the best out of all the countries she visited because “the scenery in England is very similar to that of New England, rolling country and farms.” On their last night before they boarded the ship home, the girls gave a surprise birthday party for one of their friends, Alice. They also gave little presents to their tour guide, Mr. Gately, and thanked him for all he had done for them.

The next day, July 30th the girls boarded the M.V Georgic and made their journey home. The boat ride home was similar to their previous boat ride in that they played games, ate a lot, wrote Home Tagletters, and even watched a movie called “The Red Headed Woman,” a 1932 film about a poor, gold digging woman who seduces her boss away from his wife and marries him. The ship made port once in Ireland and once in Newfoundland and by August 7th, the girls were officially docked in Boston and they made their way home. In Eva’s final letter she tells her mother that “it was a wonderful trip” and she hopes to go again sometime.

Eva and friends

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s