|The Shopping Trip: Europe In 1936 By Tom Holden||| Print ||
left to right Maxine Dickinson, Francis MacMillan, Effie Wilson and her niece, Olive Price Holden, Tom Holden and Zulique, (Maxine Dickinson’s cousin from California who was a sister of Will Rogers’ wife) photo by Curry Holden
The Shopping Trip By: Europe In 1936 By Tom Holden* [ from an unpublished memori]
In the first part of the summer of 1936, Curry (Holden)* took the field school to Mexico while I took Mama and Papa to Arkansas. Olive (Holden) stayed home to get the European trip organized. I had to have a passport in order to go. To get a passport, you needed a birth certificate. Since there was no official record of my birth, I got letters from people who knew Mama and Papa and who had known when I was born. One of the letters was from Aunt Bill who had been present when I was born. That was when the year in which I was born became an issue since I had to put down a year. I can’t remember which year I picked—1903 or 1904.
As soon as Curry got back from Mexico, we left for Europe. This trip was organized entirely by Olive. In addition to Olive, Curry and me, the people on the tour were Francis MacMillan, Effie Wilson, Maxine Dickinson, Zulique (Maxine Dickinson’s cousin from California who was a sister of Will Rogers’ wife), and Frances Brownfield (Effie’s very pretty 19 year old niece belonging to the family that founded Brownfield). We drove to New York in Curry’s and my 1936 Ford cars. When we got to the Holland tunnel in New York, we stopped and picked up a man who was waiting to guide people into the city. This was the depression, and men were doing all kinds of things to make a living.The ship we rode both ways was the Geraldstein. It had been an old German cargo ship during WW I. It was owned by a German ship-line at this time. It made 11 knots per hour on the open water. She was never sunk, and made it through WW II before she was “retired”. It cost $188. round-trip freight for each of the two cars. Curry and I were fascinated by the loading and unloading of our cars on and off the ship, and watched every phase of that operation.
We landed in Antwerp. Olive had brought two duplicate books of maps about 1½” thick, with a good map on each page. One book stayed in Curry’s car, and one in mine. We had an itinerary but no reservations. We just stayed wherever we found our selves. Olive was an absolute whiz at navigating out of those map-books, and she never put a foot wrong on the whole trip. We had no trouble getting gas, although sometimes it was just a pump out in the street in front of an old store. We may have had the only Fords in Europe that summer. In any event, people came up to look them over everywhere we went.
As we had done in New York, we got in the habit of stopping on the edge of a city or town and hiring a man to guide us to a reasonably priced hotel. The seating stayed the same from Antwerp to Budapest, with Francis MacMillan and Effie with Curry and Olive, and Maxine, Zulique and Frances Brownfield with me. In Budapest they switched, with Frances Mac and Effie joining me, but Frances Brownfield rode with me the whole way.
From Antwerp we went to Paris, Geneva and Italy. In Paris we saw the Arc de Triumph, and went to the Louvre. We just passed through Geneva. After driving into Italy at about 4:00 one afternoon, we drove to the first town, named Doma del Sol, and stopped for the night. We spent just one night in Milan and one in Verona. In Verona we accidentally happened on a concert in an old Roman stadium which Effie and Olive simply loved. Because of the concert, the town was full, and I had to sleep on a cot in the hotel laundry room. I had to get up early the next morning in order to put on my clothes because the maids started to come in. So I sat for quite a while in the lobby waiting for the others to emerge.
We spent 3 or 4 days in Venice, touring the canals in a tourist boat rather than in gondolas. The tour leader told us about the Bridge of Sighs and the horses on St. Mark’s church with all its pigeons, and he took us into the church. At some point in Italy, Curry asked for a glass of milk, and the waiters looked at him as if he was crazy. In general, none of us were terribly fond of the food in Italy.
From Venice we went north into southern Austria, to Gratz, where we spent the night. From there we went to Hungary, where we spent the first night in a small resort town. The hotel was two or three stories high--rather like the central office of a motel in that it was in the middle of rows of little shops. I had chicken for dinner in the restaurant at the back of the hotel, and got very sick. There was a dance outside the hotel, and I could hear all the young couples billing and cooing when I opened my window. The next morning, a big farmers market was held in front of the little hotel. The farmers arrived in their wagon's around daylight, and by the time the two carloads of Texans left about 9 am, the farmers were mostly sold out and some had already left. Budapest, where we spent two days in a small hotel, was very different from anything else we saw. A few people in the hotel spoke English, but English was quite rare. This really seemed to be the Orient—the East. We went to old royal palaces and castles, some dating to the Middle Ages. Napoleon is supposed to have stayed in one of these.
We returned to Austria, to Vienna. In 1936, it was obvious that the country had never recovered fully from the First World War. Add to this the dismal fact that Nazism was beginning to take hold, and it was rather eye opening and depressing. Our guide was a rabid Nazi, and he was very open about his hatred of Jews, going so far as to point out—very loudly and rudely-- some Jews also touring a museum. However, the first decent cup of coffee we had seen on the whole trip was served in Vienna. The hot chocolate was also very special, and we could order ham and eggs. This more familiar food and drink was welcomed with open arms by the Texans. Zulique was a lot of fun on the trip. She seldom knew where she was, but she really didn’t care. After two days in Vienna, she asked where we were. When told Vienna, she just laughed. She was a good old girl and never got cross-wise of anyone.
In Munich, we encountered more Nazism. However there were a number of interesting historical places of interest, and we stayed two days. Nazi flags were flying in every German village. Sometimes there would be 12-20 of the black swastika flags in a single block. We talked to as many people in Germany as we could, especially in smaller towns and villages, and found profound divisions between fascists and others. Families were divided. We followed the Rhine all the way through Germany to the Dutch border. In Holland we passed a place where “Kaiser Bill” was exiled from Germany, and I thought I might have seen “Kaiser Bill” sitting in front of the house. We only passed through Rotterdam, but stayed a couple of days in Amsterdam where we did the museums and I saw the largest art display of our European trip. There was a big Ruben collection with the robust nudes, but also nice farm scenes. We hired a little boat to take us out into the bay. A girl standing on shore saw we were Americans and called out to us “Come up and see me sometime, Big Boy”. They sure knew about Mae West in Europe.
Upon thinking about all I had seen, I decided I liked Germany and Austria best because they had the best and most familiar food, and the best roads. Germany had the cleanest towns and cities, and the beautiful Bavarian Alps. The food and the levels of cleanliness were not up to my standards in France, Italy and Hungary. I caught the worst cold of my life, and I named it my European cold. It got into my chest. I may have had walking pneumonia. I woke up with it on the first morning in France, and it stayed with me for the whole trip. Even though French coffee wasn’t as good as the Viennese, it still got me going in the mornings. In 1936, we had a bird’s eye view of central Europe, and this was valuable to me later in terms of understanding what was happening in WWII, and in my teaching.
We returned to Antwerp where we spent two days before sailing back to New York. I went out walking through Antwerp by myself, only to discover I was in the red light district. After I escaped from that, a man I will always remember came up to talk to me to ask if I could stow him away so he could leave Europe. This man wore clothes that had once been very good, but it was clear that he was living on a lick and a promise right then. His English was pretty good, and he was desperate to get to the United States. I was sorry that day I couldn’t help the man, and often wondered about his fate.The women who went on the tour always remembered it as a highlight of their lives. When the trip was over, most of the women went their own way, and while all of us remained friends, the only one who really went out of her way to continue her friendship with me was Frances McMillan. In later years, she often included me, and after Gladys and I married and moved to Lubbock, she included both of us in a lot of occasions. In 1937, she and Bill and their son William lived in a small house on, as I recall, 13th St. In later years, after Bill had made a lot of money on building Reese Air Base, they built a big mansion out on 19th St. Gladys and I attended William’s wedding to Laura in their backyard—along with about 300 other people.
Frances McMillan grew up somewhere down southeast of Dallas. Bill was from Calvert, Texas, and he graduated from A and M as an engineer. He played football there. I am pretty sure that Frances and Bill didn’t know each other in east Texas, in spite of growing up pretty close together. And I don’t know what brought them separately to Lubbock, but I am pretty sure they met in Lubbock. They got together real quick, and married in Lubbock. I don’t know much about Frances’ family, except that she had a brother whose daughter used to come stay with Frances, who took quite an interest in her. If Bill had any brothers or sisters, I never heard him talk about them. Bill became one of Curry’s best friends and went with him to the Yaqui country in 1934, and again in the 1950s, and he went with Curry on several archaeological trips. Certainly, Frances was one of Olive’s best friends. After Bill began to make money, he indulged his love of guns and hunting, taking trips to Africa and India and bringing back trophies of all sorts. I think Bill and William were the most hunting mad people I ever knew.
Olive planned to run other tours, and they would have been good ones—what with all the experience she got on this trip. After she saw that the trip had actually gone very well and all the people who went thought of it as highly successful, she legally set up Holden Tours and had stationary made. Had she not died, she would have continued the tour business. When I got back to Sierra Blanca in the fall, the editor of the newspaper ran a front page story on our European trip, with my picture.
The Shopping Trip By: Europe In 1936, from an unpublished memoir By Tom Holden provided by Jane Holden Kelley
*"The Holden Brother, Tom and Curry West Texans on a European Adventure " by A. Isabelle Howe. Lubbock Magazine, September 1996. p 52-53
Notes on Hungarian Dolls
* *"One of the most colourful of Hungarian folk costumes, and the one most familiar to the world outside Hungary is that of the Matyó people. The fashionable blouse of the young wife (not featured above ED.) from Mezökövesd, the young man's shirt with its extremely loose sleeves, and newly fashionable apron worn with it all bears witness to a style of embroidery that, while still well balanced and some what restrained at this point, by the 20th century would become a virtual exercise in colour and gaiety. Matyó attire, made of factor-mad fabrics embroidered at home, foreshadows the emergence of a new folk style. The distinctive patterns and colours of the Matyó folk art quickly adapted by the world Art Nouveau that appeared at the beginning of the 20th century " pages 8-12
" the most magnificent costumes of the Transdanubia come from Sárköz, a Calvinist region located on the the Danube. mid 19th century flood control operations had increased their lands and the extra revenue was often applied to the creation of highly colourful and costly "Folk Costumes"...." p13
Folk Culture of the Hungarians, written and edited by Attila Selmeczi Kovács and Éva Szacsvay, Museum of Ethnography2003. INSB 963 9540 00 5
Museum of Ethnography , 1055 Budapest, Kossuth Tér 12,
detail doll in Maiden costume from Sárköz.
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