Thursday, August 3, 2017

The trip to Europe, 1914

NYPL Digital Collection, 1910.
In June 1914, Anita Calneh Post and her mother Esther Suastegui Graham traveled with a group of University of Arizona professors to Europe for a summer immersion in languages and culture. Anita had applied for her US passport on 29 May 1914, and asked that the passport be sent to the Hotel Earle in New York City.
Source: Ancestry. US Passport Application, 1914.
Arizona Sentinel, 18 Jun 1914.

The traveling party departed New York on 17 June 1914 aboard the SS Prinzess Irene of the Norddeutscher Lloyd line (the image at the top is a menu from one of their ships in 1910). The route would take them from New York to Gibraltar to Algiers, and then on to Naples and Genoa.
Source: BrixtonSpa. SS Prinzess Irene, Genoa, 1911.
Arizona Daily Star, 21 Jun 1914.
Anita and Esther departed at Gibraltar and traveled to Madrid, where Anita would be taking a continuing education course at the University of Madrid and traveling through Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France.
NYPL Digital Collection. Gibraltar from the Spanish Coast.
Arizona Sentinel, 13 Aug 1914.
The timing of the article above indicates that Anita and Esther traveled from Spain to Italy by mid July 1914, just prior to the start of the war.

I wish we still had Anita's account of their travels through Spain, which she sent in a letter to the Ocotillo Club in early October 1914. Anita references this in her letter published in the Arizona Sentinel newspaper on 19 November 1914. I have transcribed this letter below, and included some hyperlinks where appropriate to several of the locations referenced in the letter:

Yuma Teacher Vividly Describes Trip Thru Europe
Yuma, Nov. 13, '14.
To the Examiner:

In a letter to the Ocotillo Club, written early in October, I described our journey through Spain, but said very little about Italy, Switzerland and France - mainly of Paris. Looking back now that the first excitement has passed, my mother and I regard our trip through Switzerland with particular delight.

As we left the beautiful lake region of Northern Italy on our drive through the Simplon Pass, which began at Domodossola. The air was balmy there and the landscape was green and beautiful. The road through the pass followed a gorge which most of the times clung to the side of the mountain - the roaring, tumbling stream at the foot. Very soon, as we climbed, the air grew cool and, before we knew it, our heaviest wraps were brought into requisition as the rain began to fall, changed to snow.

Finally, after the carriage robes failed to warm us sufficiently, we asked the driver to close the carriage.

After climbing for some thirty-five miles through the magnificent mountain scenery, and practically reaching the snow line, we stopped for the night at the quaint village of Simplon. Our inn, owned by a woman, was a little doll house, and, or course, exceedingly neat and clean. The beds upstairs had feather-beds for covers, instead of blankets or "comforts." We were lulled to sleep that night by the sound of falling water.

Early next morning, after a breakfast of bread, butter, coffee and honey, we started again on our drive, which lasted until noon. For a time we climbed still higher toward the towering snow-clad peaks, past the famous "Hospice," where we saw the kindly monks and shaggy St. Bernard dogs, ready even then, for their work of mercy. On, past several magnificent hotels; then, after passing under one of the many waterfalls, we began our descent to Brigue where we took a short ride to Montreux, a charming city on the shore of Lake Geneva.
Source: Google Maps. Approximate route of their trip through Switzerland.
Here we paid a visit to the Castle of Chillon, made famous by the poet Byron. We were led first to the dungeon where the prisoner had spent so many years; then taken to the dining room of the castle, with its carved ceiling, great fire place and wonderful antique tables - where justice was administered. We were shown the various towers and fortifications, which dated from the Middle Ages.

We continued our journey by rail and stopped at Berne, where we were fortunate enough to see the famous clock strike twelve. The various figures on the tower were put in motion, the cock crowed, the bear danced, surrounded by a circle of little nymphs, and old Father Time reversed his hour glass.

After we left Berne, we enjoyed a steamer ride to Interlocken, we spent several days. The weather was not conducive to mountain climbing on account of the rain and mist, so most of the party spent the time in quaint shops.

We left Interlocken by the steamer on Lake Brienz, on past wonderfully beautiful, forest-clad mountains and "lacy" waterfalls; then by a cog-wheel road over the grand Brunig Pass to Lucerne. This city, although large, keeps a certain quaintness that is so characteristic of Swiss scenery and architecture.

We visited the famous "Lion of Lucerne," a monument cut in the side of the mountain in honor of the Swiss Guards that were killed in France. We were fortunate to see their tombs, later, in Paris.

The 31st of July we spent on Lake Lucerne, at the head of which we visited the lovely statue of William Tell and his son, at Altdorf. We walked about three miles over the Oxenstrasse, a magnificent road built along the shores of the lake, to Tell's Chapel, where we journeyed back to Lucerne by steamer.

That evening, we first heard of the war; and the next day, having left the party (which, by the way, ventured into Germany), we started on our forty-four hour journey to Paris.

Paris, even under the war cloud that hovered so near, was wonderfully beautiful. The shops were nearly all closed, but flags floated over every doorway, giving the city a gala appearance even though the streets were almost deserted.

We lived for almost two weeks in the shadow of the Louvre, but saw only the outside. However, we visited the churches of Notre Dame de Paris, Sacre Colur [Coeur], The Tuilleries, the famous drive of Les Champs Elysies, L'Arc de Triomphe, La Place de la Concorde (where the guillotine was placed during the French Revolution), the Bastille, now a large, open square with a monument to the heroes of the revolution.

We spent a day at Versailles, gay with visitors to the soldiers stationed there. Unfortunately a drizzling rain fell most of the time, making it impossible for us to see all of the wonderful gardens and monuments.

The day we left Paris we visited Napoleon's tomb (which was closed), the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Pantheon. The only monument that we were fortunate enough to enter, and which we discovered quite by accident, was the tomb of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. It was here we saw the tombs of the Swiss Guards that I mentioned before.

Nothing can efface the charming memory of the view by day - more beautiful by night - of the Seine with the Louvre on one bank, and the Ile de la Cite, with the towers of Notre Dame pointing upward, and the searchlights sweeping the horizon in search of the enemy that we thought still at Liege.

Anita C. Post

Anita and Esther departed from La Havre, France on 22 August 1914 on the SS Espagne for New York, safely away from the war. Esther returned to Yuma and Anita resumed teaching in September.

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