Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 11-12 Nov; London – Remembrance Day

Sun 11-Nov-56: Went 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph which Queen attended. Hyde Park & Pall Mall in afternoon.
Mon 12-Nov-56: Chelsea by bus – walked to Battersea & to Tate Gallery – got Dorothy’s Rumanian letters.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0094

1 PM, Sunday 11 November 56
London

Dearest girl,

I have only just posted a letter to you, that may as well begin again, who knows when this episode will get finished, and sent off. It is sure to be a serial effort. I have just put some drops in my eyes, so for a hour or so will be useless on the streets, sightseeing. I haven’t been using them during the day as it becomes impossible to see a thing. I didn’t put them in early today as I wanted to walk along the embankment, post some letters and see the doings. Saw great crowds conveying towards Westminster, so I followed on and discovered it was remembrance Sunday when a service is held at the Cenotaph which the Queen attends. Couldn’t get anywhere near the Cenotaph but watched all the preparatory organisation. Military bands leading detachments of various forces towards the Cenotaph. The boys in busbies, looks fine again and they led a small group of really Ruritanian guards dressed in long red capes, shiny helmets with long white plumes all horsehair, I suppose, hanging from the top of the helmet. Some were in black capes with red plumes from their helmets-all marched with drawn swords held squarely in front of them. They marched so well-and the clothes so finely cut-that it did not look at all Hollywood-indeed, they were quite impressive. A wonderful splash of colour against the sombre lined crowd lining the wide cleared stretch of Whitehall which contains the Cenotaph down at one end. It had been drizzling, but a few moments before 11 AM, the sun straggled fitfully out for a moment, to disappear in the grey and impressive silencing of London for two minutes. Then the last post was played-followed by a hymn and prayers. But I was too far off to really appreciate the ceremony. Anyhow, the Londoners turned up in a big way. I came back here to get my coat. It was cool, but sunny, when I left. Quite cold and damp later. Sunny again now-and pleasantly the raise a shining into the room as I write, alongside the hot water heater thingummy in the room. Pleasant enough but not lively. Jolly good for such an afternoon as we tossed off in Narooma nearly 2 years ago. I have on my black suit, yellow tie, and a bright red poppy, the whole ensemble giving the effect of an emaciated, that animated Belgian flag rather appropriate for the day, but perhaps it would be an improvement if I were in some shades of red white and blue. Nothing of consequence to say that find it company to natter up a large and expensive air mail fee. However I suppose I should go out and carry on the good work. No galleries from me on Sunday. Hyde Park probably is the right thing. Yes to Hyde Park, by the end of this page. I still love you.

9 PM. Here’s the old minute writer back on the job.

[Canada Gate, Green Park, London, 1956]
[Canada Gate, Green Park, London, 1956]

Caught a bus down Oxford Street to the corner of Hyde Park and arrived about 2:30 PM. I think any other Sunday would have been all right for a normal Hyde Park session, that Armistice Day has changed the overall pattern. There were not many of the famous park orators in operation. No show worth speaking of. It, the park, is roughly 1½ miles long by ¾ mile wide, about half to ¾ the size of Centennial Park. It is mostly flat and open and has a curved lake known as the Serpentine in which ducks, and scullers, disport themselves. Alongside the lake one promenades up and down, ad nauseum. Completely isolated from the bustle of the traffic, the crowds find something of rest and idleness. The feeble afternoon sun kept up just enough illumination to make things affable. But by 4.30 its rays have had it. Cantered over to Rotten Row to gape at the horseman and women. But they seem to operate mostly on an empty stomach before lunch. Finally found my way round to Buckingham Palace, which it not as imposing as the great royal constructions of Paris or Vienna. Still hundreds and hundreds of English and foreigners walking around the outside hoping for some loyalty to appear-or failing that, crowding round, inspecting the poor wretched young sentinels do their marionette pacing up and down, and foot banging, he’ll stamping formal turns at the end of their allotted stretch. What a life. Walked up the rapidly darkening tree-lined and gas light Pall Mall and watched immediately put upon by cars and pedestrians whilst the myriads of starlings and pigeons search out a perching place along the cornices of the surrounding building. The starlings kicking up a frightful racket. Had a cuppa-and walked round to have a lousy Chinese meal. Came home tired and have been reading the paper for an hour. Tired now, and think I’ll shout myself some tea and toast, or such, in the lounge and so to bed. No pubs open today.

Waterloo Bridge from Victoria Embankment; 11 November 1956
Westminster Bridge from Victoria Embankment; 11 November 1956
Thames River looking towards Waterloo Bridge from Embankment; 11 November 1956
Cleopatra’s Needle from Victoria Embankment, London; 11 November 1956
Looking towards St Martin in the Fields with the National Gallery to the left at Trafalgar Square; London; 11 November 1956
Remembrance Day Parade, marching down Whitehall towards the Cenotaph, just up from Downing Street, London; 11 November 1956
Remembrance Day Parade, marching down Whitehall towards the Cenotaph, just up from Downing Street, London; 11 November 1956
Remembrance Day Parade, marching down Whitehall towards the Cenotaph, just up from Downing Street, London; 11 November 1956
Remembrance Day Parade, marching down Whitehall towards the Cenotaph, just up from Downing Street, London; 11 November 1956
The Horse Guards, Whitehall, London; 11 November 1956
Looking towards Trafalgar Square from Whitehall, just outside the Lord Moon of the Mall Hotel on the left, London; 11 November 1956
Trafalgar Square, London; 11 November 1956
Trafalgar Square, London; 11 November 1956
Trafalgar Square, London; 11 November 1956
Trafalgar Square, London; 11 November 1956

4 o’clock 12 November. Have just called down to Consol Press and they gave me all your letters. I am back at the pub and I am overwhelmed with the light that you should love me so much. I haven’t even had time to read all the notes returned from Bucaresti. I just am of a twit that you should be so sensible as to send them to me. I’ll have them like Spanish sherry-a sip at a time-I’ll extract all your affection slowly. My how the sparks will fly, when we meet! You are a honeydew, and just right for the picking. Sorry we have to hang out that extra flaming week. But I love you very much and a week more into the bargain. I’m tired of pushing around. I adore you so much I am going to run up the road and posters before I read all your early letters. I want you to know I am very happy indeed that you sent them. I am breathless with affection and I think I will celebrate with some Guinness Stout-it’s supposed to build you up no end-and seeing that the beer is crook I like it.

I caught a bus down to Chelsea this morning had a quick walk through and over the Thames to Battersea through Battersea Park and back across the river to the Tate Gallery which contains British paintings, modern European paintings, and modern sculpture. Was too gone in the leaks to stay long but will ride their next time. Called up to office and got the wonderful present. Am very happy. Have been a bit lonely in London. It is a big place-and pretty remote. Lacks the entertainment of the Gallic humanity. It was easier to watch in Paris. You are a very dear girl and I am your very sookie husband.

Bill.

St Mary-le-Strand Church from outside the Courtauld Institute of Art, Strand, London; 12 November 1956
[St Mary-le-Strand Church, London 1956]
[St Mary-le-Strand Church, London 1956]
St Clement Danes from The Strand adjacent to Australia House, London; 12 November 1956
Battersea Park, London; 12 November 1956
Albert Bridge from Battersea Bridge, London; 12 November 1956
Looking north from Grosvenor Road up Westmoreland Terrace, now part of Lupas Street, London; 12 November 1956

 

My location
Get Directions

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 3-5 Nov; Paris – stuck in a Christian Dior parade

Sat 3-Nov-56:    Day at the Daily Express while Roley worked.
Sun 4-Nov-56:   Went to Embassy church & dinner on pig. Went to concert. Roley went to Vienna.
Mon 5-Nov-56: Weary, Odilon Roden exhibition, later to the Louvre – too dark to see the Rembrandts etc.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0081

Paris
Monday
5th Nov ‘56

My darling Dorothy,

I got a letter from you this morning dated 29th Oct. That is a week ago and you called me a big monster because I hadn’t said I hadn’t got a letter from your affectionate heart. Please forgive me if I have not mentioned the joy they gave me. I am sure I must have done so. To tell the truth, it is only since I got to the Paris address that I have been getting anything. I know it is not your fault. I had one letter in Romania. One you had written just after the beautiful letters I picked up at the Hotel Austria. So you will forgive me. I asked them to mail my Romanian mail to Paris – but nothing has arrived so I guess everything is just any old-how in the east. I don’t suppose I’ll ever get the beautiful books they were to have forwarded. All the mail goes or did, through Hungary, so you can imagine that the chances of receiving anything at all are pretty hopeless.

Roley Pullen at his apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Roley has just been sent to Hungary, much against his wishes. However, he has arrived at Vienna as the border is about to be closed again – So I guess things may be alright for him. I took the liberty of getting him to put me on the phone to Robert Edgley & asking him to see what he could do for him in the way of local information, etc. I am leaving for London at 8am on Wednesday. I was to have gone on Friday but McNulty sent me a cable from New York to say that he will probably be there till the 18th. As I would like to see him, I thought I’d leave a little later for London & fly direct if I can. You have had a couple of pretty mad – but, I assure you, earnest letters from me. If anything in them has distressed you in any way put it down to tired and excited ramblings. I want you not to think I am lurching all over the city. I am not. There is a lot to do, and see, and perhaps I cannot cope with it all without an occasional savage outburst – Giving the theatre of the brain a flutter – if you understand – Not that I didn’t mean a word of my love making – but perhaps then it would have been more obscene – and not so beautifully obvious. Anyway I meant every word of it and you have to like it or lump it. Roley got me into a Christian Dior parade the other afternoon. I went alone & had to flash my passport to get in. Got stuck behind three rows of chairs & without a cigarette the two hours of so called parading became even more murderous than conceivable – because I couldn’t get out. All but one of the models looked like creatures from Buchenwald concentration camp. Pin stick limbs, but interesting faces. Very much like Nefertiti because the wizard profiles were capped by flat top haps like Romanian Astrakhan shepherd hats. All the winter clothes were finished off with these type of hat.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0083

I thought some of the winter type coats very nice. Quite your line. I understand your taste, but I haven’t got the money to risk a failure. I should like to have seen you, with your very forthright walk, modelling one or ten of them. The walk you wear when I first remember you running down the side of the pool at Dee Why the day you took off and sat on my costume, and took the little Dutch monster with you into the pool. Your little eyes were so purposeful and your behind wagged as if you were just about fifteen and it hadn’t sat on a hat or swimming pants or even a box of delights for twenty or thirty six years. I think it was on Feb the two-th of something. But it was a wonderful day, because I met you when you got off the bus and you were wagging it from work. I remember Christine saying you were a nice girl. But I had no idea that should agree so seriously with her. I thought she was right, but didn’t realise that I would be so convinced of it later. In fact I never thought then that I would be in love with you – I suppose I was, but wouldn’t admit it even to myself – because how could I, when I was, oh – well – you know, I loved Jess too. And it’s because I love you I can now say that. You understand now.

Bill Pidgeon (Wep) admiring Roley Pullen’s minitiature carousel at Roley’s appartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Roley has a musical merry-go-round that makes everybody who sees it want to cry because it is so wonderfully static & old world. And all the four figures who are seated on alternate donkeys and rabbits have their tails dropped off with age and the mange of neglect. With the inevitability of last year’s newsreels, the dear little clown clothed figures trace their fixed and inevitable course, centrifugally around the music of a tinkling and passé empire of France. They wear pantaloons & red velvet bows – cockades and pointed vermillion shoes. One of them, who wears a little peaked donkey hat with a feather in it is so like Graham, I could weep. Some of the horses they are not horse, but they had almost the privilege of being horses, are without tails and hooves. They are dusty, but are ennobled with age and affection. The base is ancient pink & contains the most sentimental music it is the pleasure of any cavalier to ride to. I have just wound it up. And all the figures go la-de-da-de-la in an inevitable circle with Graham, not the most elegantly dressed, riding on the only horse with a tail, in poised and delicate finality.

You know what the trouble with me is, I am not doing enough work. I’m building up & am near explosion point. The absorption rate is high & I guess, apart from the London galleries, I have seen almost every picture worthy seeing or which has been reproduced. The Louvre gives me the flaming horrors. I have been there four times without decently seeing a picture. It is so dismally dark. So is Paris this time of the year – Gives you the thing. Spent another quid having a look at Odilon Redon exhibition (plus catalogue) this morning. Only vaguely knew of him. Beautiful lovely work. So many of the masters are disappointing in the original. By and large, you could give me the early Italian and or Christian painters for my cup of tea.

This is becoming a long letter, my darling and is like my reactions to all external stimuli. I like getting letters from you but I would rather be home. I find the idea of spring hard to conceive. Really the weather here is the end! I’ve seen the sun twice. They tell me the grey of London is worse.

Please don’t expect much from me from London. I shall write only when I madly need you. Not that, that wouldn’t be every day I could make it. But I have had sending news reports, and would as soon be home. The winter 1956 timetable says my plane will get in at 7.20pm on Nov. 25. I do not want you to meet me. I would really much rather get a cab from the city and walk into my home with my people there. I do very really mean this. I would rather kiss you in Northwood than in Mascot or Sydney. I can take you both together in my arms at home. Please let me come home alone. I don’t want anyone else to help me see you all for the first time after all this much of the world. I don’t mind that vulgar Trellie being there. Will you please get this into your thick head? Also, please don’t write any letters I would miss. I can’t stand it. Save your affection up for my arrival. The letter I got today was dated Mon 29 Oct. That is a week’s delay. So don’t write anything I wouldn’t get by the 18th. I might have to go to Zurich by train. Anyway, I’ll let you know pronto. Seems very sad that the last letter I’ll get from you will just about answer this. Please tell me you love me. Tell Graham I’;; send a post card from London, or Calais, or Folkestone. Tell him I’ll only have about half an hour to nick up the Eiffel Tower. Tomorrow I’ll be awful busy. I love you, and miss you, my dear wife.

Bill

P.S. That letter from Orasul Stalin – Stefanie registered it – I didn’t tell her to – perhaps she had no faith in the post.

P.S.S. No man in his youth would be so dependent on a fickle – unpredictable woman – and what is more – shall not be! XXXXXXX

Margaret Murray at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956
Margaret Murray at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956
Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Wep's notes at the Christian Dior Fashion Parade, Paris, 1956 Wep's notes at the Christian Dior Fashion Parade, Paris, 1956

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 14-21 Oct; Cluj, Oradea, Bucharest and Vienna

Brasov Sun 14-Oct-56:  Saw the magnificent Biserica Neagu – the Black church – built 800 years ago – Driver of car missing all day – were to go on to Cluj – but didn’t.
Mon 15-Oct-56: Left at 8am for Cluj. Met an ethnologist Nicolae Dunare & went out near Oradea to a peasant potters house
Tue 16-Oct-56:   Met sculptor and two artists, discussed social realism. Returned to Bucharest arriving 1:30am. Got letters from home.
Wed 17-Oct-56: Went to Institute & talked with Baranga. Got presents, bought some records, had dinner with Charles & Victor.
Thu 18-Oct-56:  Cashed £5. Left Bucharest at 8am. Arrived Vienna about 1pm. Changed flight booking to 21 Nov. Phoned dear little Dorothy.
Fri 19-Oct-56:     Just wandered around all day – got pyjamas back from Stephanie Hotel [Hotel Stefanie]. Met Dr & Mrs Edgley & had dinner with Mrs E. at a Russian place. Was invited to stay with them!
Sat 20-Oct-56:   Went to Edgley’s and stayed. Was driven to Vienna Woods. Played Scrabble. Paid hotel, phone, rail fare. Cashed £7 & £10
Sun 21-Oct-56:  Visited art museum & large picnic park where we had lunch. Had dinner at the Balkan Grill.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0057

Romanische [Roemischer] Kaiser Hotel
Annagasse 1 Wien [ Annagasse 16]
Sat 20 Oct 56

My darling girl.

It’s about 7.30am and is a bit on the cool side. I got out of bed ¾ hour ago as I found little comfort there. Now if I was out on the front verandah at 85 I reckon I could show you a thing or two. There’s nothing much to look at here. My old machinery is getting out of practice. But my thoughts are ardent – and, I hope acceptable. As all this doesn’t help one little bit. I suppose I had best carry on with the historical & geographical aspects of this one man caravanserie. But truly, I do miss you so very much. I’m getting a bit tired of gazing at churches, & public monuments, parks, rivers, street names, traffic policemen, food shops, dress shops, German phrase books, city maps, handfuls of all sorts of currency and foreign menus. I am not tired of looking at girls or book shops, although it is my much considered opinion that the latter are of much better quality. It seems surprising how few top line sorts one sees in Europe – so far. However, talking about that is preferable to writing. The book shops here are very good – really go in for art publications with German thoroughness, but I dare say that in Paris & London I shall find them as good – probably better. I have only just realised that my last letter to you was posted from Orasul Stalin in Rumania last Sunday. God, knows when you will receive it – possibly after this one. I have been a bit too busy travelling to give you much of myself. I did get a kick out of ringing you in Sydney and even if the connection was bad, we did manage to make some real contact. It was nice to hear you sweetie, although for the life of me, I can’t remember anything much about it except the important items of date of return – seeing the Edgleys – giving you the tip off to write c/o Roley Pullen, and hearing Graham too. I bet he gave the schoolboys & the neighbours an earbashing about a telephone call from Vienna. I hope you felt I was loving you very much. Because I was. I didn’t get the address of the street too well – so went to a travel agency & with their help found the Australian Commission’s premises. Edgley was away at Linz – and was due back at 6pm Friday. About 6.30 I rang his wife – she was delighted to hear a dirty old Australian accent & insisted I catch a cab straight out, which I did & while trying to find out, with my filthy German, which house they lived in – the doctor arrived home. Only to find his youngest child, a girl of 2 ½ down with pneumonia. Mrs E wanted to dine out, so papa stayed home to look after sick child. They have invited me to stay with them for the day or two before I leave for Paris. Quite a lively couple – she is 6 months gone again – making it her 3rd. They are getting pretty sick of the climate here – but have to stay on another 12 months or so.

The Black Church in Orasul Stalin (Brasov), Romania; 13 October 1956

This rushing around is tiring and confusing – for the life of me I can’t remember where I was up to in my travels. Did I tell you about a beautiful old church in Orasul Stalin. It was over 800 years old. The stone of its exterior quite fretted away like rocks by the sea, so dark grey as to have occasioned its name of Biserica Neagra which means Black Church. It was very big and the interior all around the bottom end where the altar was placed was painted white. The towering shafts of stone appeared to radiate a purity of light – the altar itself nicely proportioned & with just the right amount of gold. It gave me rare pleasure. That white – unbelievably effective. The churches in Vienna, are even blacker in surface appearance – and more huge. But inside is all the original grey aged stone – & the effort is gloomy. The old black church had spirit – plus buoyancy. The maniacal driver managed to bash a mud guard in & that held us up for ½ day at O. Stalin. On the Monday morning we took off for Cluj at 8am. Transylvania! A country in everyone’s imagination – full of werewolves, bats, vampires and horrifying mysteries. Ruritania – with princes on sombre missions. Pine trees – dark recesses of the mountains & snow. And the whole damn place looks more like Australia than anything I have seen since I left home. It is a twin to the Monaro district. Autumnal brown grass rolling slopes, very few trees, and the Alps in the distance. Tell Price Jones to tear the word Transylvania out of his accumulated imaginings. It just ‘aint so. I am afraid I disappointed Mrs Edgley, too, with my account of it. Visited a vineyard on the way up & had a couple of quick snorts. They seem to only make white wines up here & pretty sour Riesling at that. Crumby stuff – which everyone drinks with soda water. Breaks your flaming romantic heart. To save something from the wreck you can tell Bill that the peasants do wear white trousers & white aprons – with great shaggy sheep skins coats to cover. They do carry long sticks & lead the flocks to various pastures. The only thing that was un-Australian was the complete & utter lack of fences anywhere. The peasants all live in clustered houses in the villages & at early morning set out in their carts drawn by horses or oxen for their plot which may be anywhere between one village & the next. Apparently they know their own ground backward & there is no dispute as to where one man’s lot begins & ends. The peasants give their stock (sheep or cattle) to the shepherd & he takes them all out to grass.

Believed to be at a studio for artists and sculptors in Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Unknown artist at work. believed to be at a studio for artists and sculptors in Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956

Met some artists and sculptors in Cluj. They were being very well done by. Storybook studios & apparently adequate money. Also met a director of a folk lore museum who suggested we nick out & see some peasant potters. We did so – found out, was about 35 miles out. Practically on the Hungarian border – near a town named Oradea. Quite interesting. Next day returned to Bucharest – got in about 1.30am.

Possibly taken at Wep’s final meeting with the Director of the Cultural Institute (Institutul Romin Pentru Relatiile Culturale cu Strainatea), Bucharest, Romania; 17 October 1956

Had a meeting with the director of the Institute. All very amiable. Asked what I thought about Rumania, what I didn’t like, etc. Received a present of a little bit of folk art. An old Rumanian custom I gather. Was happy to be able to reciprocate with the books. When I got back to the pub – found that more books & records had arrived. Such was the enormous weight of books – the Institute are sending them out. I hope they all arrive safely. Was explained to me that the early departure was due to the fact that it was the only booking they could get me before the Olympics.

All very pleasant – a great pity the country is so poor. Also wrote a little piece about Australian art & did a short talk for the air, this they took on tape in the hotel room. Heard it played back.

Got to Vienna about 12 noon. Where I thought to let you know immediately. Got the bright idea of ringing – not much more than a cable. To confirm our talk – I catch a BOAC plane at Zurich on 21st Nov. at 10.30pm & should arrive in Sydney on Sunday 25 at 7.20am. You can insure me for the trip if you like. I was shocked to read in a German magazine – I stumbled through it in German – of the unfortunate crash of the Vulcan Bomber as it returned to London. It is now 9am. I better dress & have some rolls & coffee.

Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956
Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956
Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956

Sunday [21 Oct 1956]. 3pm. I am sitting in a lovely park out of Vienna. In the middle is the Franzensberg Castle built by Franz Joseph early last century. The castle is set in the middle of a fine artificial lake which has no water in it. The autumn trees are beautiful colours & in the distance a group of school girls are singing. The weather is most indulgent. A mild gentle setting sun. The Edgley girl made a magnificent recovery, playing like mad in the trees behind us. We had a picnic lunch.

Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), Vienna; 21 October 1956
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), Vienna; 21 October 1956

Went to the Vienna gallery [Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts)] this morning & saw many fine paintings including Tintoretto’s Susanna & the Elders, Holbein’s Jane Eyre [Jane Seymour], Vermeer’s famous Painter & model. Wonderful Titians and 14 Brueghels. Pity I am leaving in the morning but I suppose I had better move on. Paris & London will take time. I telegrammed Roley Pullen to ask him to get me some cheap accommodation – I am going in the Arlberg Express from Vienna to Paris – via Zurich. Leaves at 9.10 in the morning & arrives Paris 8am the next day. Fare is about £7-10.0 against £17.10 by plane – also I will see up to the Alps in daylight. I stayed with the Edgleys last night & tonight – they seem to be a very happy coupe with two nice little girls. The Viennese are wandering up and down the lake – Yesterday, Rob took me for a drive through the Vienna Woods.

I shall have to finish now as we are about to return to Vienna, and I want to post this letter before I leave in the morning. Lots of love my darling. Give Graham my love & a pat for Trellie. Tell him I liked receiving his letters. I hope he gets all the different stamps that are coming over. A big thing for you. XXXXX for all. Your old loving roue [?]

Bill

[Apparently Wep’s visit to Romania was cut short as the people in the Institute wanted to get him out before trouble over flowed in Hungary. Five days after leaving Romania, widespread revolt erupted in Hungary against the Soviet backed government leading to its fall from power. On November 4, the Soviets invaded, crushing the revolt, and by November 10, all resistance had ceased.]

My location
Get Directions

View from the Carpati Hotel overlooking Nicolae Titulescu, Orasul Stalin (Brasov); 14 October 1956
Primaria Brasov (Town Hall), Bulevardul Eroilor 8, Brasov, Romania; 14 October 1956 (Note the possible KGB agent in the light trenchcoat)
Looking southwest towards Biserica Catolica outside 28 Strada Muresenilor, Brasov, Romania; 14 October 1956
Piata Cuza Voda with the Catedrala Ortodoxa (Orthodox Cathedral) in the background, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Piata Cuza Voda with the Catedrala Ortodoxa (Orthodox Cathedral) in the background, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Piata Unirii, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Strada Regele Ferdinand 8, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Strada Regele Ferdinand 33, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Votivkirche (Votive Church) viewed from near Schottengasse 9, Vienna; 19 October 1956

1956 Cultural Exchange Trip_00341956 Cultural Exchange Trip_00351956 Cultural Exchange Trip_00361956 Cultural Exchange Trip_0011

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 3 Oct; Heading off for Bucharest, Romania

Budapest
Budapest, Hungary showing the Houses of Parliament, 1956

Dear Graham,

This is the river Danube which runs through Budapest. The city on the side of the river nearest you is Pest. The city on the other side is Buda. Hence Buda-Pest. I haven’t had time to look at the place, and I am now out at the airport spending Hungarian forints (that’s the name of their money) as fast as I can because they are of no further use to me. Lots of love to you & Trellie. I am off to Bucharest.

Love dad.1956 Cultural Exchange_0041

1956 Cultural Exchange_0042
Budapest, Hungary, 1956
Halaszbdstya, Budapest
Halaszbdstya, Budapest, Hungary, 1956
Ceskosiovenski Aerolinie; Praha - Budapest - Bucaresti
Ceskosiovenski Aerolinie; Praha – Budapest – Bucaresti

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 2 Oct; Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary

Mon 1-Oct-56:   Taking off for Vienna 12:20. Arrived and rushed twice to Rumanian Consulate.  Cashed £2
Tue 2-Oct-56:     Great trouble making conversation at Consulate – no English spoken – got visa Hungarian & Hotel Stefanie – had to leave at 4 for Budapest – arrived about 7 Grand Hotel by the Danube over night.  Cashed £10

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0028

Grand Hotel Budapest
2 Oct. Tues night [1956]

My dear Dorothy,

It’s very late, something after twelve – but I’d like you to get a line from Hungary. See how dutifully I am supplying Graham with stamps from all ports of call. Costing me plenty. The letter from Munich was double weight & air mail postcard to Graham, and the same to Sharon [King Watson’s daughter], set me back about 8/-. Have had a heavy time of it in Vienna madly walking back and forth between the Hotel and two different legations. I had to get visas from both the Rumanian & Hungarian legations. The Rumanian Legation is a good two miles from the pub. On arrival at Vienna on Monday [1 Oct 1956] about 1 o’clock I struggled around the crowded streets with all my gear – weather hot too – looking for the travel agency to find me a room, which they did. More struggle till I got a bus they had suggested. Had a wash & like a fool left my heavy boots & hastened down to the Embassy – only realising when I had got there that my passport was at the hotel being entered up in the lodger’s book. (All European countries demand your visa when being booked in for accommodation.) Got there couldn’t find anyone to speak English – & with my pidgin German understood I was to bring it straight back. Which I did & left it on the hope that on the morrow they could dial up an English speaker. I was about zoosed the way back on the second trip & had a fairly early night. Went down early in the morning – got there & realised the time was only 8 instead of 9. Cooled my heels around the town for an hour & went back.

Burgtheater on Universitätsring, Vienna, Austria; 2 October 1956
Parliament, Vienna; 2 October 1956
Vienna, Austria; 28 December 2015
Parliament, Vienna, Austria; 28 December 2015
Burgtheater on Universitätsring, Vienna, Austria; 2 October 1956
Volksgarten, Vienna; 2 October 1956
Café Landtmann on Universitätsring, Vienna; 2 October 1956
Tresniewski Buffet at Dorotheergasse 1, Wien, Austria; 2 October 1956
29 December 2015
Tresniewski Buffet at Dorotheergasse 1, Wien, Austria; 29 December 2015

My location
Get Directions

My God, what a conversation. My phrase book, which I can’t find anything useful in – my pidgin German – occasional words of English & French & we came to some sort of understanding. Went to Hungarian Embassy & did somewhat better with an English speaking girl. Left passport & had to return at 3 pm. Then went to the flight booking place & found I couldn’t alter the flight plan & so had to rush madly around, pack up & get passport & be ready to board a bus by 4 pm, which I did. Unfortunately left my grey pyjamas behind in Hotel – but will write them with this letter & ask them to hang on to them for my return. I hope they do. Budapest is only 1½ from Vienna & only two passengers on plane. Police boarded us soon as plane touched ground & looked at our passports. Anyway we cleared through without trouble & I am settled for the night in the above hotel. It is a very big place. Must have been pretty posh once. I’m tired – Goodnight darling.

We arrived in the dark & so didn’t see anything of B-Pest but electric lights. The hotel is a long way out but is beautifully situated in a park alongside the Danube, not that the Danube looks anything but industrial in this area. Big wide river though – splits in two just here & this place I’m on is an island in the middle [Margit or Margaret Island]. Odd collection of people here last night. Refined & unrefined – dancing to orchestra till after I went to bed. Magnificent big dining room – foyer, etc. – Also Chinese here & a great bunch of Indians in all sorts of dress. They were of both sexes.

Lots of love

Bill.

I am apt to get panic stricken about getting these planes when so few understand English. I’m on edge now waiting for the hotel bill & for them to change some Austrian money into Hungarian – would have been a lot easier if my cheques had had been properly endorsed. If I get this plane, I’ll be able to relax for some time. I’m to meet Buican or someone at 2.30 pm today.

I wish I’d had you in Vienna. It is a lovely city. I shall you more of what little I saw later. Things would been a lot more pleasant if you were with me darling.  You’d better take some more lottery tickets because if ever we were to make the trip we’d need plenty. As it is with credit restrictions I reckon two people wouldn’t last more than a month for £300, i.e. paying their own fares etc. Be nice snooping around with you – and returning to the hotel – yes?

Lots of love dear and tell Graham I don’t forget him – I hope he is happy – and how about Trelly?

I hope you didn’t send any letters to Vienna, because I was in a different hotel.

Ta-ta Sweetie

Yours Bill

Grand Hotel on Margaret Island in the River Danube, Budapest, Hungary; 3 October 1956
Margaret Island, Budapest, Hungary; 3 October 1956
Árpád Bridge or Árpád híd over the River Danube, Budapest, Hungary; 3 October 1956
Grand Hotel on Margaret Island in the River Danube, Budapest, Hungary; 3 October 1956
Grand Hotel on Margaret Island in the River Danube, Budapest, Hungary; 3 October 1956

My location
Get Directions

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 1 Oct; Leaving Munich for Vienna by plane

Grünwald mit Isartal
Grünwald mit Isartal

Dear Graham,

This is a photo of the little village I am staying at in Germany. It is about 6 miles out of Munich and it is very green and beautiful. I am staying in a guest house which can be seen in the photograph just where this circle points out (P.T.O.). I hope you and Trellie are very well and that you will soon be able to take her for a run with your bike. I am posting this card from Munich. I get on a plane for Vienna in 1 hours time.

love from Dad wep.

1956 Cultural Exchange_0034

Torturm des Schlosses (Gatetower of the castle), Grünwald
Torturm des Schlosses (Gatetower of the castle), Grünwald
Schloß Grünwald, erbaut 1293
Schloß Grünwald, erbaut 1293
Das Isartal um Grünwald
Das Isartal um Grünwald