By Constance A. Holman
in their new "home", Augsburg, Germany -- 1952
[Ed.: About the first of September 1952, Constance A. (Purington) Holman of Hampton, left for Germany to join her husband, John, in Augsburg. The couple will remain there while he completes his tour of duty. Hampton Union this week received from Mrs. Holman, a letter relating the impressions of her voyage and arrival on the continent. Knowing our readers will be interested, we are printing the letter in full.]
Voyage to Europe
I took the 0834 train to Boston, where I was to meet Shirley Straughn, the girl traveling with me, whose husband was also in Germany stationed with my husband. We spent the afternoon and early evening at her home in Jamaica Plain. Then at 11:30 p.m., we started by bus for New York.
We arrived in New York the next morning and having much time to spare, we decided to do some window shopping. In the afternoon, Shirley's uncle drove us to Hoboken, New Jersey, for the sailing. We were lost for words when we saw the ship, the SS Nieuw Amsterdam, for it was truly the largest ship I had ever seen. After an hour of the usual "red tape", we got settled in our cabin, number 747, shared with "Bessie". As the ship nosed out to sea, Shirley and I took a good last look at the Statue of Liberty. At five o'clock, everyone was on deck with their life preservers for instructions on what to do in case of fire. At first we didn't know if the preservers went around our neck or waist, but we soon found out.
The meals were delicious with very generous portions. The roll of the ship seemed to bother Shirley and me the first night out at sea, so we went to bed early.
The ship was like a miniature city to say the least. It seemed to have everything you'd possibly need or want. For example; a large library, barber shop, cocktail lounge, beauty parlor, theatre, shopping arcade, cleaners, etc.
On the 9th of September, we docked at Southampton, England, where "Bessie" left us. Our first glance of Southampton didn't seem to give us a good impression. It was cold and rainy, with the buildings situated closely together. We were beginning to wonder if we would like our stay in Europe. The ship pulled out as we ate breakfast, then we started our packing for our departure in the morning at Rotterdam, Holland.
We couldn't seem to get to sleep, so got up at 0500 in the morning, thinking the ship would be docking soon. We ate breakfast, then hung around for a couple of hours. Finally, at ten o'clock, we did dock after a two-hour delay because of heavy fog and low tide conditions. What a crowd waiting on the pier! We couldn't possibly find John and Dick in this crowd. Then, I saw a head appear in the back of the crowd, waving a bouquet of flowers. I thought it was John, but couldn't be sure. The trunks and suitcases unloaded, then finally, at 1100 hours (11 a.m.), we were allowed off the ship but weren't free, as yet. We had to check on our baggage, return tickets, money, etc.
The 11th and 12th of September, we spent visiting the important places of interest in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Den Haag, the capitol, with Leo van den Burg, a Dutch friend the boys had met previously on the train coming to Holland. We visited the New Church, the Peace Palace, museums, and toured the canals and harbors of Amsterdam.
Saturday, we started our 12-hour trek back to Germany on a fast express train. We arrived in Augsburg, Germany, early that evening. From the station, we went to visit John's German friends, Arthur and Julika Leinwetter and their two boys. They have made John's stay in Germany very pleasant and treat us like one of the family. Our apartment at Frau Hoser's, is a three minute walk from the Leinwetters.
John had our apartment decorated beautifully with flowers, at least a dozen vases full. We have two rooms and share the kitchen, nearly all the furniture is new so it makes up for inconveniences. This is a temporary arrangement, until we get Government housing sometime in January, 1953.
There are still many ruins not rebuilt or repaired as yet. I was also surprised to find so many people with bicycles, as it isn't as common in the States.
Nearly as soon as I arrived, I was issued a Ration Card, which gave me entrance to any Post Exchange. Some of the P.X's are compared to large department stores, stocking food, clothing, toys, gifts, etc.
at John's birthday party 12/16/52
in Augsburg, Germany.
Then, John and I went to visit our German girls, Josefine and Antonie Holtzhuer. John had acted as host for Josefine at a Christmas party given by Service Company last year for the school children from the town of Gersthofen. I was very impressed by their politeness and good manners!
The following week, we took a trip to Buttenweisen to meet some more of John's friends, Ingeborg Jung, her parents and her brother, Hans. John and his buddy, "Stu" Halverson, had the pleasure of spending Easter and Christmas with them last year.
On the 16th of November, we enjoyed the company of Willie and Mary Kisker on a visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Dachau is about a 45 minute ride from Augsburg. We saw the Memorial sites in the Crematory area, where thousands of people were murdered and cremated during the war until it was liberated by the American soldiers in April 1945. This was rather a morbid sight, but it makes you realize how lucky you are to be an American!