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Part 7 of my Autobiogtaphy
My adult life 7
Both the Pacific Rim Countries Esperanto Congress and the Universal Esperanto Congress in Vancouver, were held at U. B. C.., The lectures, the housing in the student dormitory building; which stood nearly vacant during the holidays and also the banquet on the last day of the Congress. It was an expensive affair, too expensive for my liking. I only went there and partly registered and tried to help out, meeting the visiting participants from other parts of our globe. Of the two, the Pacific Rim Countries Congress was more intimate because there were less participants and one got to meet them all and the feeling was more close. During the Universal Esperanto Congress we had more participants and the people seemed more nervous or stressed, as one says and besides all that, the local Vancouver members who donated too much of their time and energy were exhausted. To me it seemed as if the central headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands were more interested in making monetary profits for the association than the comfort and security of the paying Esperanto participants. One thing is for sure: we all lost some of our enthusiasm. Bill and Gwen Peers, Winfried and Marie Zacherl, as well as Wally and Olga du Temple, our president of the Canadian Esperanto Association; living in Sidney, B. C., on Vancouver Island are to be congratulated and thanked for their tireless volunteer efforts trying to make the two Congresses a success.My contribution of time and effort was meeting people arriving at the Vancouver Airport with a large placard written in Esperanto that they are welcome to the Universal Esperanto Congress in Vancouver, B. C. in Canada. There was no shuttle bus to U. B. C., only taxis. If some thought they may have problems using the Taxis then I would drive them to the campus in my Volkswagen Camper. Among those whom I drove to the campus at U. B. C., I had two very interesting people sitting in my camper side by side; one was a young, big and muscular catholic priest from Poland and the other, an average sized older zionist, named J. Giladi, from Israel. The catholic priest was friendly but not talkative, the opposite from the zionist who was extremely friendly and very talkative. He was a semi retired master bricklayer who managed his own construction company in Israel. He immigrated to Palestine from Poland in !928. After the finish of the Congress he stayed with Carmen & me at our home and asked us also to come and visit Israel where he would like to be our host. One day he asked me if I could drive him to a jewish community center in Vancouver because he would like to meet some of the jewish people in Vancouver. I drove him there and went inside with him. There we met a heavy set, tough looking man in his forties, in short leather pants with whom he spoke hebrew . He told me later that the person with whom he spoke in hebrew was a friend of his, a delegate sent to collect money for Israel. ( it seemed to me that they did not want me to hear what they were talking about. The friend spoke a good english and I noticed him throwing glances to me from time to time ). The catholic priest asked me after I delivered him to the campus if I would be so good and drive him to the priests residences at the local catholic diocese to deliver a letter by hand to the highest official of the church. I drove him to a place near the Templeton school in Vancouver where some catholic priests resided. One day Carmen and I took the polish priest and the israeli zionist sight-seeing and also took them to the conservatory in Queen Elisabeth Park in Vancouver. Here the israeli seemed to me, to be a genius in Botanics; he knew every tropical plant by heart and described every plant in detail. Even the names of all the tropical birds flying around inside the conservatory he knew by heart. I felt comfortable with him because he radiated such warmth and kindness that I felt as if I was related to him. He never made any remarks about my german background or of the Hitler regime or even about the U. S. A. and I did not criticize Israel but concentrated on Esperanto and its role of bringing peace to our earthly globe. I think he was sincere.
There were a couple from Manchester in England participating at the Congress. Gesinjoroj John Wells, the husband was blind; he could see some shadows and with a pair of binoculars he was able to recognize objects such as flowers and plants. A group of us went hiking on Grouse Mountain, a local ski paradise in the winter time with gondola and ski lifts. When the snow was gone it became a good place for hiking on its trails leading to two peaks: Grouse Mountain peak and Goat Mountain peak. Even on the first peak the trails become steep and very narrow. John and his wife insisted to come along. She would would go in front of him and take him by the hand and he, very sure footed followed her up and down the trails, right up to the peak and back down. With his binoculars he would kneel down close to the alpine flowers and plants to be able to make them out. He had a strong developed sense of smell (in spite of being a chain smoker) and hearing. He enjoyed the mountain atmosphere and the sound of the ravens, chipmunks and other birds. He also fed Whiskey Jacks, (a kind of bird home to only the higher elevations), from the outstretched palm of his hand. John was also a radio amateur, operating a broadcasting station from his home to reach blind people and he showed interest in my CB radio base station at home because here in Canada any one could buy a license to operate a C B radio station without any prior written or oral exams. He said he tried for sometime now to get permission for blind people in England to operate C B radio stations without having to pass any exams. Many blind people were shut-ins and that would be a great way for them to communicate with the outside world.
And we also had a Czechoslovakian esperantist staying with us for a few days after the finish of the Pacific Rim Esperanto Congress whom we also showed around in the Vancouver area. He was impressed with our shopping malls and particularly when the stores displayed their items outside in the pedestrian walk ways of the mall. He said that an ordinary portable transistor radio costs a fortune in Czechoslovakia. I gave him one of my Am-FM-Sterio and short wave band radio / Amplifier and he was overjoyed. He was employed as a draftsperson in the planning department of the city hall in Prague. A couple of months later, he wrote, that the batteries died and he was unable to get batteries in Czechoslovakia; his brother built him a transformer to adapt to their electrical power outlet of 220 Volts. I wanted to send him rechargeable batteries but somehow always procrastinated until I forgot about it.
An other couple from England, the wife was english and he was originally from Holland,( The Netherlands ), who both met at an english Esperanto Congress and soon after they were married and lived together in England. He told me that in the 1940s till 1945, he was the private chauffeur of a big wheel, german SS officer and at the same time he was an agent for the dutch underground. His wife died in Vancouver during the Universal Esperanto Congress. She had a heart problem and the stress was apparently too much for her. She was a very cheerful person who shocked all the participants when she died. She also came along with us when we walked up to the peak of Grouse Mountain.
An other time we had two young visitors, members of S. A. T. who were staying with Winfried and Marie (who were living in the same building as Carmen, Marian and I), on their way to Central America. They said that on their travels they also visited the province of Quebec and said they had difficulties understanding rural french canadians; they said that those people were speaking a seventeenth century french with a mixture of native and english tongue. (These rural french canadians got their education in the local parochial schools, run by the catholic church; I think the language backwardness was intentional to keep the people from moving away and so that the church could eternally influence them). These young travelers were on their way to volunteer in the rebel causes of Latin America.
In the mid seventies Bill and I went to Seattle to try and make contact with the group there, in order to establish a close relationship between the state of Washington Esperanto group and with us here in Vancouver. We met James Parks, who was a conscientious objector against the war in Vietnam; he had a certificate, sent to him, costing him the sum of a meagre $20.00 ( twenty dollars ), I think, by mail, that he was an ordained minister. Raol, who was a refugee from Cuba, Leland Ross, at the time a college student who seemed shy and hesitant to meet us and one or two others. They were a very enthusiastic small group. I went to visit them a second time in the winter with my Volkswagen Camper. In the evening in Seattle it began to freeze. I intended to sleep in my camper but I was nearly out of gas and therefor afraid to use the auxiliary heater because I thought I may run out of gas completely. James offered me to stay with him overnight but I felt uncomfortable with that offer. So I decided to find a gas station which was still open at that time and fill the gas tank. I had problems that all the gas stations in the vicinity were closed for the night. I drove in the direction of home as far as I could travel on the gas which I still had remaining in the gas tank. I made it close to Everett, Washington where I finally found an all night open gas station where I filled up. As I got back up on the highway #5, towards Vancouver, it began to snow but the road was still in good condition for driving. If I would have found a resting area on the way, then I would have turned in for the night but there was none that I noticed. As I was just bypassing Everett, Washington, I was driving over a small concrete bridge, over a narrow river when the Volkswagen hit black ice and span around in a 545 degrees circle and slammed with the rear end, at full force, against the concrete containing wall at the outer edge. It hit the wall with such a force that the rear motor popped out onto the road. I was stuck with the whole length of the camper exposed to the traffic. (The visibility was bad due to thick smog in the air). Immediately after, I saw this speeding car driving right into the side of my camper with such a force that my right knee which was beside the steering column which led to the floor of the camper, slammed against it, tore the ligaments of my knee and totally displaced my lower leg from the upper. I somehow managed to get out of the camper with the aid of the driver of the car that hit me, when right after that, an 18 wheeler tried to break stop from a distance but slid to the side on the ice and rolled over( the 18 wheeler was loaded with giant bobbins of cable who could have easily rolled off and crushed me). The driver of the car, who helped me out of the camper where I immediately collapsed on the pavement and saw the 18 wheeler approach wanted me to run to safety with him but I was unable to, and told him to run. I saw the end of my life but it turned out that I survived like a cat with nine lives. It all ended up in a several car pile up and was reported on the front pages of the News Papers. I was told that I was not the first who had an accident on that overpass in the winter and if I could afford an expensive lawyer then I could sue the city of Everett for not making the overpass ice proof. The ambulance came and the paramedic gently strapped my knee and drove me to the Everett General Hospital, emergency. The doctor asked me if I wanted a general anesthetic or a local, where I could watch what was done to the knee while it was realigned and put in a caste. I was too scared to watch and told him that I put my trust in him and wanted to be put to sleep while the specialist was working on my leg. When I woke up I was already in a bed in a hospital room. I had a private room and found the staff very friendly and helpful. The doctor, a young person and also very friendly who told me he admired the canadian universal medical health insurance but, I asked him, if he did not make more money here, as a doctor, of which he replied that it was not always that easy to retrieve ones expenses and remuneration in the U. S. A. but doctors pay in Canada was always assured. The ward aids told me that they envied us in Canada for our universal health care and that they had been unsuccessfully fighting for the same in the state of Washington. A ward aid told me that her husband had been unemployed for a long time already now and she was the primary bread winner in the family; she was unable to have her family added to the health insurance plan of the hospital where she has worked for years. She had to work for $ 6 dollars an hour while her counterpart in Canada made $12 dollars an hour plus many benefits that the american counterpart could only dream of. The doctor told me that I should get my knee surgery in Canada( within the next four days, otherwise I could not use my knee normally any more) because in Washington it would be too expensive and it needed several weeks of hospitalization after surgery which would make it practically impossible to receive visitors because of the long distance involved. The soul saver only visited me once; I told him I was an atheist and opposed all superstitions and particularly the organized religions. I phoned Frank, my friend in Surrey, B. C. and informed him what had occurred and asked him to pick me and the items which I had carried along in the camper up from Everett, W. A. and drive me to the Burnaby General Hospital in B. C. Frank came and drove me home, heavily sedated to the B. G. H. . Before I left, a nurse came and told me I should get a tetanus shot against wound infection. I told her no, that I was opposed to vaccinations but because I was already sedated she somehow convinced me to allow her to vaccinate me. From then on I ran a high fever and needed several days of intervenes antibiotics to clear up the infection. The driver of the car who broad sided me was uninsured and my camper totaled. I. C. B. C. paid all the medical expenses in Everett and gave me a low lump sum for compensation of losing the camper. For my sick time in hospital I had to use up my accumulated sick leave time allotted to me from my fringe benefits at work. ( I think that the only reason that Great Britain and its Common Wealth States had a universal Health Care and Social Security System was, because the invasion troops who invaded that monstrous, barbarian regime with jack boots running all over and people oppressed by a cruel dictatorship, had a social health and welfare system they never even dreamed of and with the strong soviet influence among their workers which they identified similar with the monstrous barbarians which they just conquered, they were afraid that maybe the socialist virus would infect their populations. For that reason they hung a red carrot on a stick and offered them a form of security, telling them that they had won all that because they volunteered to go out and fight for democracy. Forgetting that most of the workers were not interested in going to war to kill other workers or get themselves killed or maimed themselves; most of the work force was unemployed and in Work Camps. They were given a choice to either volunteer into the armed forces or get kicked out of the relief camps without food stamps, left to starve on the side of the road as outcasts. Now, ( now, at the beginnings of the !990s ), those evil soviets had thrown in the towel it is time to remove the carrot and use the stick for what it was intended)). I was lucky to be alive and recuperating well, after surgery at the B. G. H(Burnaby General Hospital). I did not want to let any relatives know of my accident but the wife of Frank, Gretel, ( blabber mouth ) contacted my brother and made everything seem much worse than it was. My brother Wolfgang and Eva came immediately when they were told. In the meantime I was back home but needed to go back and forth for some more physiotherapy treatments. Here my brother drove me a couple of times for treatment because it was not easy to get around on crutches.
The contact to our esperanto friends in Seattle was established and we interchanged several visits, went camping together, went cycling, etc. Soon after that and the energetic work put into it, by Wally du Temple in Sidney, B.C., we introduced the first N. O. R. E. K. (Nord Okcidenta Regiona Esperanto Kongreso = North Western Regional Esperanto Congress). The congresses were held alternatively in both countries. Several at Port Townsend, W. A. and several in Sidney, B. C. and others in Langley, B. C. and Delta, B. C. N. O. R. E. K. has become an annual event ever since. People regularly take part from B. C., Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California. I have not participated in those events for some time because I became skeptical of the leadership in these movements. I remain an ardent supporter of esperanto in our lower mainland area, where we meet twice every month and casually practice using esperanto in its spoken form with our group members. I am hoping to convince the I. W. W. (Industrial Workers of the World), to use Esperanto as the second language, the language of world wide communication. I joined the Wobblies not too long ago and am a member in good standing ( paid up). I joined not because I needed a union but because the principle of a One Big Union for the workers around the world which agrees with the philosophy of Non nationalism. I am still not sure if I joined the same caliber of Wobblies who, as I was told about, years earlier founded the organization and I don't know if there are any sinister, financial backings by anonymous groups, companies or other.( A year later I left the I.W.W.
In most of the affairs like camping I was unable to attend because I spent my time with Orville driving around. I thought it more important to help Orville to enjoy life a little then to go camping with the group who could easily get along without me. Orville and I mostly showed up in his van to greet them all but never stayed long because that would hinder the others from their purpose of using Esperanto out of respect for Orville who did not speak it. Although they all tried to speak esperanto, nothing of real interest was being discussed. Political issues were discussed only to a certain point because we were a so-called Neutral Association. Anything anti war was fashionable and permitted; even if you were unpatriotic and wishing that the other side of the vietnamese conflict, the Viet Kong, will win, was acceptable. The News Media was on the side of the north vietnamese (precisely the opposite from the stand the media is taking against the arab nations and Iraq. Americans were losing their lives in Korea and Vietnam, just the same as in Iraq.
In 1982 my mother, sister Helga and uncle Peter came to visit us, my brother and family and Carmen and me, here in Canada. Two weeks they stayed in Burnaby and then all except my mother traveled on to Canoe, B. C. to visit Wolfgang and his family. After six weeks stay in Canada all but my mother returned to Germany. My mother decided to stay longer. She stayed with us for twelve months and had the time of her life. She loved the Vancouver surroundings which reminded her a little of her home village in Silezia (at that time it belonged to Germany). When she first arrived she had difficulties walking one half block on our hilly street but when the year was up,because of our daily walks ( we had plenty of time for that because when we came home from work, mother had supper waiting for us and she also did our laundry and house cleaning and went on short walks on her own). We would drive to Buntzen Lake and walk along all the trails there or North Vancouver and on Burnaby Mountain. My mother at the end was better in shape than Carmen and I. We took the ferry to Vancouver Island and visited all the attractions there and the Gulf Islands, to Galiano Island where we had friends, an Esperanto couple by the names of Alice and Wilhelm Maier. Wilhelm was originally from Innsbruck in Tirol and Alice from Antverp in Belgium.( I shall write about them later). At that time I experienced pain that steadily increased in my right abdomen below my rib cage. At first the doctor could not tell anything and later on he sent me first to an X-ray examination, then to a nuclear scan and ultra sound but nothing conclusive was detected. The two physicians there argued back and forthe; one detected gall stones and the other did not. Finally an operation was scheduled at the Burnaby General Hospital. When I was wheeled into the operating room I asked the surgeon doing the operating that I should like to have the larger stones that he should find, to keep as a souvenir. ( My mother had saved hers, the ones that were removed from her in Silezia; they looked beautifully dark brown and shiny for a long time until they crumbled away ). When I woke up after surgery the doctor told me that I had quite a few small pebbles and one stone the size of a pigeon egg which he sent down to the lab to be examined. He asked me if I still wanted the stone and I insisted, yes. The stone looked like an ugly sandstone; I only kept it for a while and then discarded it. My mother and Carmen came for a visit on the same day and were surprised that the nursing staff let me get up to walk to the toilet. The first day I was given Demerol injections and the next day they came with pain killer tablets which I felt I did not need but the nurse argued that I should take them; I took them but dropped them into the drawer of my bedside table. A week later I was home again and recuperating. A couple of days after I came home, I had to drive to the hospital at BGH out patients department and had the car parked on the side of the Capitol Drive at the north side of our apartment building; my mother wanted to come along and sat beside me on the front seat. I was ready to turn on the ignition when a car from the opposite direction came racing toward us ( Capitol Drive had a curve between Holdom Ave. and Ellesmere Ave ), I was startled as I saw the car leaving his side of the drive and racing head on to my car which was still parked on the side of the street. At the last moment the driver remarked my car in which he was about to crash head on; he turned his wheel even more to the left and crashed into a lamp post standing there, so that the post snapped and fell over to the side, then he smashed into the left front part of my car, rolled down the slope and crashed into a balcony made of brick in our apartment building, partly demolishing it. If the car had crashed a little more to the left of the balcony, into the dining area, he would have killed the three residents sitting right next to the wall, sipping coffee. The RCMP (police) and ambulance arrived immediately after and the ambulance took the driver of that car to BGH (Burnaby General Hospital). Tests revealed that the driver had taken an overdose of prescription medicine in which state he was unable to drive safely.
My friend Michi and his lovely wife Hiroe were staying at the home of their daughter Haruko and Shiro at that time and we visited one another quite often. We went on ekscursions to Fort Langley, the peace Arch, with the B. C. ferries to Victoria and to the home of William and Alice Maier on Galiano Island. I also showed them the polio ward at Pearson Hospital where I worked and they all got acquainted with Orville and the other patients. This was my mothers second visit to Vancouver. The first time she came with her husband, Fritz Bosse and grand daughter Marianne; this was in the sixties when we were still living on 36th Avenue near Victoria Drive in Vancouver. At that time she and Marianne also visited Wolfgang and his family in the interior of B. C. . Fritz was not on speaking terms with my brother and stayed with us while they were visiting Wolfgang. Those were pleasant memories. Uncle Fritz as I called my mothers second husband had a piano at home on which he played often. That was one of the cheaper models and I disliked the sound of it; he also played it very loud. When we visited Woodward's Department Store in Vancouver, we saw some of the expensive models on the floor. Uncle Fritz asked one of the salesmen there if he could try one out and the salesman let him play it. That piano sounded heavenly and in no time, a crowd of people came and listened to him play. The salesman told him to come by anytime to play the piano/organ.
Now I shall write about a brilliant lady: Alice Maier. I met Alice the first time in Calgary, Alberta, in the sixties, during the canadian national esperanto congress. She was 87 years old at that time, she looked like a little shriveled up woman but once you got to know her, she still looked shriveled but anything else about her was very youthful; her physical body was in shape and her mind and memory brilliant. She said the flight to Calgary was the first time she had ever been on a plane and she enjoyed it so much that she bought another return flight ticket from and to Vancouver - Calgary, on the same day and repeated it. I bet she never refused any food on those flights because she was a ferocious eater. Alice was born in Antwerp, Belgium in the year 1889. She was one of four sisters and one brother. Her father was a road master by the railway who died by choking, due to a cyst growing in his throat when Alice was only sixteen. Because of that, she was forced to cut her further education short and went to England into the employ of some wealthy nobility, becoming a nanny to their two children and teach them french and how to play the piano. Alice was protestant by religion like her father and in that time it was against the law in Antverp to force children to say the lords prayer in school. When Alice refused to say it, the teacher made her stand in front of the class as punishment and gave her a letter to take home to her parents. Alice hesitated for some time to give the letter to her father, not being sure how he would react. To her pleasure he praised her, to stand firm against the teachers unreasonable demands and gave her some money as reward. He then went along with Alice to school the next day and really let the lady teacher know what he thought of her and that she never again punish his daughter for refusing to do what her conscience will not permit her to do. In those days it was fashionable for teenage and grown ladies to wear tight girdles that were so tightly strapped that they could barely breathe. Alice from day one refused to wear such a restricting garment and never did wear one. She was a tomboy and because of her straw blond hair and blue eyes she was always her fathers pet and always got what she desired from him. She liked to dance and roller skate, as well as ice skate. In those days each girl had a note book in which each young dance partner had to write his name and Alice was proud of the class of dance partners she had. She must have had quite a few love affairs but only with the crem de la crem (land or factory owners or their sons). She was fluent in french , english and german and knew some latin and of course esperanto; she went to a conservatory of music and learned to play the piano and violin. Between the two wars (First and second world wars) she worked for the diplomatic corps as interpreter to the commission of inspectors to make sure that Germany don't rearm. ( Die Schnüffel Kommision ). She carried a diplomats pass and because she had this pass, she went through customs check points without having her luggage checked. Once a custom official insisted she open her carrying bags but she gave him an earful with her sharp tongue, so that he immediately apologized and let her go without getting to look into her bags.
In 1923, thirteen years after she first learned esperanto ( she already took part, experiencing the universal esperanto congress in the year of 1911 in Antverp, Belgium), she met her husband, Bill Maier, also a proficient esperantist, an electrical engineer, in Nuremberg, Germany. Soon after, they were married. This was Alice's first marriage and Bill's second. Bill brought two children into this marriage from his previous one. Alice and Bill never had children together. He was born in the city of Innsbruck in Tirol when it still belonged to Austria. His father was a goldsmith and had a factory where jewelry was manufactured. He served in the austrian Alpine Corpse as a captain and after the capitulation he moved to Germany and became a german citizen because he did not want to become an italian. His factory was confiscated by the italian government when his father died. In Germany he was in charge of various power plants. When they immigrated to Canada he was employed by U. B. C. as a teacher of physics till he retired due to arthritis. Bill was a big, heavy man, unable to undress himself or get in or out of the bathtub without the assistance of Alice, a small statured lady. Finally his daughter, Annelies came to live on Galiano Island to be near and helpful to him. Thanks to her he had some quality of life left. She would come daily to drive him around and take him over to her house and spend quality time with him. She was his one and all. His son who wanted to study to become an architect was drafted into the german army ( he actually did not have to go but all his class mates kept on bullying him to volunteer so that he gave in and soon after lost his life on the russian front). When Alice went on her trips to esperanto congresses or only for a day or two to visit us, in Burnaby, then Annelies would take over caring for Bill. Bill was born and raised as a catholic but he told me he did not believe in any of those fairy tales and in fact was opposed to what crimes the church had committed. But never the less he went to an all denomination church on the island to have his only chance to socialize with the other residents. Bill must have had a lot of money because the bishop visited him several times at his home and when Bill finally ended up in the Lady Mintol hospital on Salt Spring Island, the bishop made a well publicized personal visit to him, dressed up in his bishops uniform. I don't think the bishop came out of mere friendship. (At least Alice thought she could not trust the bishop). Alice was suspicious of her own daughter which was probably only a sign of vulnerable age but she was very alert. She gave someone, a helpful friend, ( as she thought ), a check made out for five hundred dollars, for a contribution to buy himself a used truck, in which he also brought along her groceries when he went shopping and this person added an other zero, thinking that her fading eyesight would not notice the entry on her bank log book. Alice's mother was the third of five daughters of a rich belgian merchant who had owned ships that traveled to far away lands with trading goods. When her father died, the will read that the eldest daughter would inherit everything and after her death the second and their heirs would run and own all the accumulated properties and after that, Alice's mother and offspring would take over. This second daughter, Alice's cousin died in the mid eighties and now Alice had the rights to the remaining properties. She said if she were ten years younger she would have hired a good lawyer to get what she was entitled to. Shortly after her cousin died, some strangers, Mr. and Mrs. Bergiers from Brussels, Belgium came to visit Alice and Bill on the island. They were extremely friendly and said they were friends of her cousin and their family and they told her that her nephew was also planning to come and visit his aunt. Alice was very happy to have visitors from her native home country and friends of her cousin whom Alice had not seen for fifty years but she was immediately suspicious of them and wondered why her nephew took such an interest in her all of a sudden. After the Bergiers left for Brussels they kept in steady contact with Alice.
(After Bill died, Alice told me that she would like to take part in a universal esperanto congress one more time if Carmen and I came along. So we made plans to participate in the universal esperanto congress in Warsaw, Poland, in the year 1987(the 100th anniversary of Esperanto). A new member of our esperanto club here in Vancouver was a travel agent in Kerrisdale, a district in Vancouver. She prepared our itineraries for travel and looked after our visas for us. First we wanted to go to Berlin, in Germany to stay with my mother and visit Carmen's and My relatives for two weeks and get acclimatized to the european daytime hours and exercise the legs of Alice for all the walking ahead of us because living on Galiano Island where there were no sidewalks and the streets to dangerous to walk on, Alice had very little exercise. We walked daily in the heat and polluted air of Berlin to build up her leg muscles. At first she felt very weak but as the days went on, she walked energetically like a youngster. She thoroughly enjoyed herself with all the attention, fuss and love she received from our mothers and all our relatives in Berlin. Then came the day for departure at the main train station at the Zoological Gardens. We had to change into the train for Poland at a train station in East Germany. We got off the train and waited on the same platform for our train to arrive. In the meantime an other train halted for half an hour on the other platform not indicating its destination. Only after it had left we were informed that it was the train which would have stopped in Warsaw on the way to Russia. We now had to wait an other two hours for the next train to arrive on the other platform. To reach that platform we had to descend a long, steep flight of stairs, down into a tunnel and walk twenty yards and then back up the stairs on the other side. We assisted Alice up and down the stair cases and beside that, Carmen and I had two large suitcases and Alice had one and a large purse that we had to bring along; there were no baggage carriers. At last we were in our compartment of the train on the way to Poland. It was not bad in the compartment; it was clean but the toilets were not. The dining car consisted of a few primitive chairs and tables and on the menu was cabbage soup and as beverage there was coffee consisting of hot water and coarsely ground coffee poured into the water. They also had Vodka for sale. While Carmen and I left the compartment for a short while, leaving Alice in the compartment alone, to watch over our belongings, the currency changing officials came around, at least that was the explanation we thought we had afterwards, because as they came into our compartment while Alice was alone, she chased them right out again. That is why we had no polish currency as we arrived in Warsaw. I looked around in the station but found no booth where to exchange currency. It was already in the evening and american dollars were not allowed to be used in the city. We could have tried and the taxi would have accepted dollars but I was afraid of communist plain clothed policemen as taxi drivers. So we had to walk to the congress building which was quite close by but with all the suitcases and Alice by the hand we made slow progress. We arrived late after all offices except one for late arrivals were closed. One of the delegates who owned a car drove us to our hotel. It was nearly 2200.hours when we arrived there. We were tired but also very hungry. We were able to exchange our money in the hotel and the kitchen staff was kind to make us a superbly tasting roast dinner with all the trimmings. We had our rooms on the third floor of the hotel but not next door from one another. Alice had a single room way down the hallway and the first night she was afraid to sleep alone and asked Carmen if she would trade places with her. The building where everything was happening was only a short walking distance from our hotel. There were too many people (Esperantists) that everything seemed too overwhelming to us. We were at the congress but did not enjoy it. Two days before leaving Warsaw by train for which we had our tickets already paid for in Canada but I still had to buy a seat ticket for each of us. I went to the train station alone and lined up in an unending line of people; all there for tickets. The first day I waited four hours in line with no end in sight. I had to leave the line up and hurry back to the congress building so that Carmen and Alice did not miss the mealtime for which we had purchased meal tickets earlier. There we sat down at the table with Mrs. Shultz from San Francisco, California and some jewish ladies from Israel. The jewish ladies totally ignored us and kept on talking with Mrs. Cathy Schultz. The second day I had to wait only three hours when finally it became my turn to buy tickets for our seats in the train. One comment I want to make about the polish people we met: they were all very polite and helpful and certainly did not treat us as shameful as the east germans and Chehoslovakians. Most of the taxi drivers, as I felt, over charged us with the fare but two of them did "not" and even refused a tip which we wanted to give them.
We were off to Austria the next day after we had our fill of Warsaw and the U. E. A. congress. The polish people were all without fail very friendly and helpful. They all walked around well dressed and with makeup like western european women. But where they bought all their clothes is a riddle to me. Alice, Carmen and I walked into a Department Store but found it practically empty. The streets in the city and the lawns in front of all the apartment blocks were very neatly cut and everywhere it was clean. I can't say the same about the Czechoslovakian travelers on the train. The train was overcrowded with Czechoslovakian tourists returning home. The train's corridor outside the compartments was overcrowded with passengers standing there with all their luggage. Carmen, Aice and I were sharing our compartment with two esperanto / english speaking medical students from Italy and an other lady. The students left the compartment for a short while to visit some girlfriends who were in an other wagon. Whil