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Journey to Europe in 1932
unpublished diary of his journey to Europe in 1932, during which time he
Trees" in many European cities. His diary also describes these and
other events. To read the actual diaries, just click on each page to
enlarge it. (Paul Harris' unpublished diaries, copyright Rotary
International and courtesy of the Rotary International Archives).
From the November and December issues of The Rotarian magazine.
||Paul and female
employees of RIBI, in London
||Paul attends an
event of the Stockholm Club
leaders of the Stockholm Rotary Club
|These are reproductions of Paul Harris' actual diaries of his 1932 European trip to Europe, courtesy of the Rotary International Archives.|
|REPORT OF THE 1932 TRIP TO EUROPE OF PAUL P. HARRIS|
|What should be the
attitude of an adult American's mind on the eve of his departure on a
two months solo trip to Europe? Should he be exuberant or serious and
thoughtful? Should his outlook be “fore” to the strange and attractive
scenes in prospect or “aft” to the comforts of home, the good beds,
regulated hours, and accustomed diet suited to his palate and adjusted
to his digestive idiosyncrasies?
Safe to say that his vision must be forward, not backward; that the consequences of too much retrospect would he abandonment of the project. But that would not be adventure arid adventure we must have. The spirit of adventure has ever lured men from beaten paths out into the unknown. There is witchery in the spirit of adventure. It would, of course, have been great if Jean could have been with me, but she thought best not to attempt it at this time.
I had been contemplating a Rotary pilgrimage to the northern countries of Europe and matters had been brought to a head by my appointment as a delegate of the Chicago Bar Association to the International Congress on Comparative Law at The Hague. The mission would combine well with my Rotary plans so I accepted the appointment and was soon on my way. The passenger list of the boat on which I sailed from New York included the names of several delegates from different bar associations as well as those of numerous educators from the great American universities.
The crossing was delightful —— both with respect to the weather and to the association with cultured compatriots. As the Holland American line is not distinguished for the speed of its boats, there was time for enjoyment. It was manifest that most of those on board had more time than money -- a condition not half bad when folks know how to make good use of what they have.
I was happy in meeting two Rotarians, one from the University of Michigan and the other, a lawyer delegate from the south. He had been a member of the Supreme Court of his state and while occupying that position had written some scholarly opinions which had challenged the attention of lawyers through out the country. His Honor and I soon became pals. To him I was Paul; to me he was Audley and take my word for it, this Audley person could not have been passed unnoticed. He is sui generis.
In evidence of which, I will state the fact that prior to leaving his home he had procured a certificate from his sympathetic and understanding wife by virtue of which he was permitted during his absence from his fireside to do pretty much as he pleased so long as he observed reasonable conventions. As DeWolf Hopper would have remarked: Ho ho! His Honor needed me every hour. That he did as he pleased, I am prepared to testify. He was very outspoken. He had the un-canny faculty of recognizing a liar when he met one and the frankness to n open announcement of his discovery. How he has managed to live as long as he has is a matter of conjecture.
At Plymouth, England, a goodly number of Rotarians came out on a tug and visited with us as long as the ship remained in the harbor. Only one of them was in attendance at the meeting in Plymouth which I addressed four years ago. Changes take place even in staid old England.
Boulogne was our only other stop en route to Rotterdam. There many of our fellow passengers, including the University of Michigan Rotarian, left us and soon thereafter His Honor and I disembarked in the midst of a bevy of Rotarians under the leadership of de Cock Buning who had come to meet us. De Cook and his charming wife had been with us in Chicago only a few weeks before.
As this is intended as a Rotary story, I shall not enter into the detail of the Congress. Suffice it to say that it served its purpose as the beginning of a world—wide movement. The sessions were held in the Peace Palace, The major part of the addresses were in French and were not understood by many of the American lawyers. Lord MacMillan, Dean Wigmore of America and. several other English speaking lawyers delivered addresses which were intelligible to the eager listeners from across the sea.
It had been intended to use the Filene System of translations, but the org finally concluded to use the small sum which remained after disbursements for even more urgent purposes, in evening receptions, where it was hoped that there would be a liberal exchange of amenities between the lawyers of different nations. Considered from a Rotarian viewpoint, the exchange of amenities was not up to par. The racial groups remained by themselves, the free and ample flow of champagne even failing to unto the confusion of tongues so inauspiciously begun at the tower of Babel.
In the exchange of amenities His Honor was at his best. His temporary Magna Charta, obtained with such rare foresight from his indulgent spouse, seemed to give him a calm assurance delightful to observe. That is to say it was either the Magna Charta or the “Veuve Cliquot” or the two in combination. In any event, he spoke English fluently. Conditions and circum stances conspire at times to raise men to immortal heights. His Honor never once descended to lower altitudes during the course of these receptions. When they were over, it was a very different matter. In fact, both he and I lapsed at once into the earthy.
It was of consuming interest to witness the descent of His Honor’s air craft from the clouds to the landing field. In less time than it takes to relate it, both he and I were sitting in a little Dutch restaurant eating sauerkraut and frankfurters. If one’s tastes are really plebeian, he might as well admit it —- murder will out. I don’t know how many sides of His Honor’s character there are, I counted several and then gave up the count. To me, he was indeed a rara avis and eventually he became as indispensable to me as I felt that I must be to him until the repeal of his Magna Charta.
The Congress was soon over and notwithstanding its shortcomings, many believe the movement to he one of the outstanding efforts of the times making for international understanding and good—w111. One of the great obstacles to international commerce is the lack of understanding of the laws of the various countries, if lawyers can become, through the Inter national Congress, better prepared to advise their clients engaged in foreign trade, the number of irritating episodes will be diminished. The study of comparative law will naturally result in the removal of many needless obstacles and tend eventually to bring about a semblance at least of uniformity in commercial and criminal laws as well as the laws pertaining to divorce.
It was with no little anxiety that I parted with His Honor at The Hague even though it was agreed that we were to meet again two weeks later in Berlin. It is r the best thing in the world for an American judge armed with a domestic Magna Charta to be drifting around Europe alone; especially if he happens to be possessed of a soft, southern accent, a genius for telling darky stories and a willingness to get acquainted. However, His Honor had been quite a traveler and had visited Rotary clubs in China, Japan, and several other parts if the world.
I had two engagements in England before returning to the continent for further adventures. The first was in Cambridge, the second in London. On a previous ±rip I had visited Oxford and I very naturally had been looking forward to seeing Cambridge.
I landed at Harwich on a bright morning in early August where I was unexpectedly met by my old friend Bensusan—Butt of Colchester, and three Rotarians from Ipswich. !3ensusan left us shortly, promising, however, to bring Frank Watts, an old London friend, to the Cambridge meeting. Harry Hanson and the two other Ipswich friends and I, arriving in their city after an automobile drive from Harwich, first visited the White Horse Inn and had the pleasure of being admitted to the very room where Mr. Pickwiok, dressed in night gown and night cap, had his most mortifying experience with the elderly spinster. Then came a climb up a hillside through a park, once a private estate, then breakfast at Harry’s beautiful new home.
Being a member of a bowling club in Chicago, I had long coveted the pleasure of bowling on an English green. Realization came immediately after breakfast. The four of us were playing a match game shortly after 9:00 a.m. As I had not set foot on English soil until 7:00 a.m., little time had been wasted.
At 10:30 a.m. we were half way from Ipswich to Cambridge where we were met by three Cambridge Rotarians whom I at the moment classed as elderly. I had occasion to reverse my judgment before the day was over —- at least as regards one of them, as will be explained later.
My room at the Cambridge Arms overlooked a common of velvety green. Only in Washington Park, Chicago, have I seen its equal in broad, level expanse and beauty. At a playground it was perfect. There was an air of quietly dignity about the Arms difficult to find elsewhere than in England.
During the afternoon it was my privilege to visit the homes of three Cambridge Rotarians. Four years had passed since I had been in an English home. Any one of the three visited that Sunday afternoon in Cambridge would have merited a story in “The House Beautiful”. I hope that my friends will not think me disloyal to my own country when I venture the assertion that the finest homes in the world are English homes. If there is one institution above all others which I would have incorporated in our own civilization it is the English home and what is there in life more sacred than the home? If life is more than business, our homes should be more than conveniently accessible modern apartments.
On a tennis court in one of the exquisitely landscaped gardens a slashing game was in progress. I was surprised eventually to discover that one of the bounding volleying players was one of the three elderly Rotarians who had met me on the road from Ipswich that morning. He had a youthful partner and the two of them were more than holding their own with two young men, their opponents. There are not many Americans of his age who would have dared to indulge in such vigorous exercise.
As we were walking about later among the rockeries, shrubbery, flower and vegetable gardens, orchards, playgrounds, etc., I learned something of the habits of life of this youthful elderly gentleman. In the first place, I learned that the owner of this superb home in. the suburbs of classic Cambridge was not the owner of an automobile. To be sure, it was necessary for him to traverse the distance between his home and his office six times each business day of the week. The distance was considerable, but he did it easily on his bicycle, at the same time keeping himself, throughout the year, physically fit.
I visited three homes that Sunday afternoon and evening besides attending a most impressive service in the chapel of Queens College and loitering for a few moments on the banks of the picturesque and historic “Cam” where many an Oxford—Cambridge battle had been fought out to the last inch of the course.
The above description of the home of the youthful elderly Rotarian would have applied to the other two except in details. There were, however, features of the others which so impressed me that I must give them mention.
At one the lady of the house was not only an expert gardener, she also raised the chickens which provided her table with fresh laid eggs. The fact was not loudly proclaimed, but eked out half apologetically after she had learned that her American visitor was a lover of good poultry. I have said that this English lady “raised the chickens that provided her table, etc.” Please don’t think that I mean that she raised them vicariously. Let me be explicit. She raised them with her own hands.
Several things impressed me deeply at the third home I visited. First: There was a family of young people of their own besides a visitor, a young man from Holland of about the age of one of the two sons of my host. The young Hollander was not an old acquaintance, but had been tendered the hospitality of the beautiful home to mingle with the young folks. When I remarked on the matter, my host answered: “Oh, that is nothing. Our house is literally stiff at times with young people from every where.”
Second: During the course of my walk about their truly magnificent gardens, I said: “May I ask how many gardeners you have to employ?” The answer was: “One only and he gives us three days each week.”
Third: The next day my host’s oldest son, a Cambridge graduate, and the young man from Holland took me for a canoe trip on the t and during the course of the trip this fine cultured young gentleman casually and unaffectedly made mention of the fact that his mother was busy that day doing the washing. The in stances where the mistresses of exquisitely beautiful homes in America do their own washing are rare indeed and when they do occur, they are not much mentioned. Can we fail to admire a people who are not ashamed of life’s realities; whose philosophy is so sweet and wholesome?
There is little use of traveling abroad unless one can learn something from his experiences. It is a very delicate matter to attempt to teach. Nine times out of ten, one will be misunderstood if he attempts to do so. No nation wants to be set right through the gratuitous criticism of visitors. I love America, but am powerless to teach its principles by word of mouth while traveling abroad. If I am decent, kindly, considerate, it may be possible that I can make friends for my country through cultivating friends abroad. An unwise traveler is he who criticizes the customs of other countries and constantly draws comparisons favorable to his own, a despicable as well as unwise traveler is he who is constantly running his own country down.
But while traveling abroad, I am privileged to keep my eyes wide open, my mind unprejudiced in the hope that I may be able to take back to my own people some of the results of the experimentation of others in the hopes that they may some how be made to contri1 to the enrichment of life in our own beloved country.
Monday I was placed in the hands of one who was in truth both a gentleman and a scholar; he acted as my guide through the buildings of the various colleges which in toto constitute the great university. None more gifted than he, none more faithful to the trust of interpreting the spirit of Cambridge than he. Someone has said that his conception of a liberal education was Mark Hopkins sitting on one end of a log, a student on the other. My guide on that memorable Monday rambled the shrines of Cambridge with one willing to learn. On more occasions than one his face lit up with a fire of devotion of his Alma Mater and in his eyes was something very like tears. If Cambridge ever stands in need of honors, it can find them in the love of such as he.
This is a Rotary story and not an attempt to describe a great university. To describe Cambridge would require a much more competent pen than mine. I shall not attempt it further than to say that it seems to me that in Cambridge one may see the “Why” of England. What England would have been without Oxford and Cambridge would he difficult to conjecture; one would have to subtract the influence of men bearing the most glorious names in British history.
The president of Queens was kind enough to give a. little dinner which gave me contact with several distinguished university professors. I felt honored beyond my deserts, it was a deeply impressive occasion.
One incident will be of special interest to Rotarians. The professor of Greek asked me if I happened to be familiar with the passage in Aristophanes written five hundred years B.C. which reads as follows: “The Rotary movement is king.” I had to admit that I was not, but I thanked him sincerely for the interesting bit of information.
It is manifest that the great Greek foresaw some of the advantages which the world was to derive from the revolving wheel. Where would civilization be now without it?
Tuesday noon I addressed a splendid inter—city meeting, met my old friend Watts and was met by Hugh Galloway, the president of Rotary International for the British Isles. After the meeting Hugh and I hid goodbye to o many friends from the cities in that part of England, and took train for London. I was happy in the opportunity to become acquainted with Hugh and to visit with him en route. We had always just missed each other heretofore and it was good to meet face to face the quiet gentlemanly, serious minded man who is to bear the brunt of the burden in Great Britain this year.
Blair—Fish and a group of London friends met us at the Charing Cross Station and accompanied us to the hotel. The following day I helped to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the birth of the London Club at a great inter—city meeting.
Sydney Pascall traveled several hours from the place where he and his family were vacationing to attend the meeting and to bid me welcome to England.
The next evening I was entertained by Percy Jones, the president of the London Club at his home in the suburbs. I shall not permit myself to rave any further about English homes even though much remains unsaid. However, we had a delightful evening.
Thursday evening I attended a gathering of club presidents at Hendon and I spent most of the day, Friday, with Blair, leaving during the evening for Harwich, Rotterdam and Hannover Germany, where I contemplated meeting a small group of men interested in organizing a Rotary club and then running into the Hartz Mountains for a few days’ rest before addressing the Rotary Club of Berlin on Wednesday, 17 August.
My expectations were far more than realized. The Hannover group was large arid well organized. Their meeting was well attended, not only by Hannover men, but also by Rotarians from cities as distant as Bremen. I did not steal away to the Hartz Mountains by myself as contemplated, but became one of a very delightful party of Rotarians and ladies. To describe the day spent in the mountains would require a chapter, but the space unfortunately is not available. Worn and weary, but in a happy mood, I slid under the enormous eider—down contraption which serves as sheet, blanket, or comforter (whichever you may choose to term it) in Germany and many other European countries.
I adjure my fellow Rotarians never to kick these contraptions from the bed as I did the first time I saw one. You owe it to yourself to give it a fair trial. If you will do so, your patience will be rewarded. You will never want to sleep under anything else again. It looks, I will admit, ponderous, but it is as light as ocean foam, and as a sedative none can compare.
Of the many sights of Hannover, few can be mentioned. It will perhaps be remembered that America has an important financial interest in that city, a huge loan, having been negotiated in New York. What was done with the money? With that or with other money (perhaps it does not matter particularly which) acres of beautiful apartment buildings have been erected for the housing of the poor. In these modern buildings, apartments equipped with hot and cold water facilities, shower baths, etc. can be rented at monthly rates ranging from eight to six— teen dollars.
I was informed that ninety per cent of the tenants were unemployed. Most of them were recruited from old and squalid districts in the center of the city. In the new locations there is an abundance of outdoors and sunshine. The tenants were provided with free garden space for flowers and vegetables. What a transformation! If prosperity returns to Germany, the loans made in America will probably be repaid with interest. In any event, the new world will have repaid some of its indebtedness to the old. Germany’s contribution to the citizenry of the United States is beyond calculation. Perhaps I would not be so .complacently philosophical if I were the owner of some of the bonds.
There is one reaction which I must admit and that may be ex pressed in these words: “If our great American bankers, who have made fabulous loans in foreign countries, intend to raise further sums of money in the United States for the conversion of blighted areas of great cities, why, oh why, will they not consider the wants of my own little burg lying near the south west corner of Lake Michigan. I have visited some of the slum districts of Europe, but never have I seen anything to compare in ugliness with our own T: and our own ‘Back of the Yards."
It will take years to clean up the bad districts of our American cities, generations to create the cultural monuments characteristic of the best of - old European cities.”
Hannover maintains its own opera which it subsidizes to the extent of one half million dollars per annum. It is worthy of note that a city in such sore straits manages to maintain its own opera. If the Chicago Opera Company could have had such support, it too might have lived.
It having became known to the Rotarians of Hannover that I am interested in the Crippled Children movement, I was taken to the largest and most modern institution for the care, cure and education of handicapped children, shown me during my tour. It was truly a noble institution. It was located in the suburbs where every condition was in its favor.
The managing director spoke in glowing terms of “Daddy” Allen and Paul King whom he had met at The Hague during the convention of the International Society for Crippled Children a year ago. I experienced, you may well believe, a thrill of pride in hearing “Daddy" and Paul mentioned in many different countries. In Berlin I registered at the crippled children’s home as an humble follower of that great humanitarian and Rotarian, Edgar (Daddy) Allen.
When Rotary’s balance sheet in the records of immortality is written up, one item, which is not so very well understood even by Rotarians themselves, will stand out in bold relief — the work for crippled children.
How many know that under the guiding hand of Edgar Allen and mainly through the work of Rotarians, forty-two of the forty— eight states of the union and several provinces of Canada have established state or provincial societies to promulgate the crippled children work throughout the respective states and provinces. How many know that the international society of which Edgar is the head has already held three conventions in Europe and gotten the work of coordinating the European forces under way.
It remains for European Rotary clubs to decide fox, themselves whether or not they care to participate in the work, either as propagandists or otherwise. The autonomy of each club is absolute.
However, there is one misunderstanding prevalent among European Rotarians —- even the most prominent of them —- which ought be removed. Time and again I have been told that every social need in Europe is fully taken care of by the state and that social service has therefore no proper place in European Rotary. I took pains to post myself as to conditions in Holland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway and I visited institutions in all of the above named countries except Holland where I had to depend upon the testimony of men whom I believe to be conversant with the subject.
The result of my study justifies, I think, the conclusion that a grand fight is being waged by devoted men and women against considerable odds in all of those countries. There are some splendid institutions and the field will surely eventually be covered, but it is not fully covered as yet. The field is not fully covered in Chicago and yet the city of Chicago is at tempting to care for as many crippled children as are being cared for in all of the cities I visited while on the continent,
After Hannover came Berlin and reunion with His Honor who had been taking a trip on the Rhine and in the Black Forests in the interim. We abused each other vigorously on sight as good friends should after having been so long separated. Some of the n he called me would not look well in print.
Tuesday we were taken in hand by kind and capable Berlin Rotarians and their ladies. Sensing the fact that our stay with them was to be brief, they crowded the day full of delightful events in the city and suburbs. We visited several of the many beautiful watering places of which there are so many in the environs of the great German city. We visited the excellent crippled children’s institution, other institutions for social welfare and other places of interest.
As the day drew to the close, small detachments of our party scattered hither and yon leaving the honorary secretary of the Berlin Club, his wife, His Honor and me to embark in a taxi for return to the Kaisorhof. Then came an unexpected event of which I must make mention. The taxi stopped for a moment in front of the apartment building in v the honorary secretary lived, lie and his good wife, acting on the spur of the moment, asked us to drop in and have a little parting lunch.
His Honor arid I accepted with alacrity, both being anxious to see how real Berliners live. It was well we did —- there were wonders to behold. As we were to visit an apartment we were looking for something snug and cozy. Imagine our surprise when we entered a reception hail large enough to contain a modern three room apartment. From the reception room magnificent salons opened in all directions. We could see four of them from where we stood and the paintings were rich, numerous and to our unaccustomed eyes, prodigious in proportions.
We supposed, of course, that we had glimpsed the major portion of the establishment, but we could not have made a greater mistake. After we had traveled, from room to room for some time, His Honor asked the very simple but pertinent question: “Are we still within the corporate limits of the city of Berlin, Sir?”
It was a revelation I shall not soon forget, but the wonders have not been told.
We sat down to lunch, served by the sweet, matronly wife of the honorary secretary, and after the dishes had been cleared away, the honorary secretary asked me if I would be interested in looking at his Rotary records; he wanted to know what I thought of his system; it was entirely original with him and he modestly thought that I might have some improvements to suggest.
Then that big, fine, genial German gentleman unfolded to me a plan of systematizing Rotary secretarial work and of making Rotary quickly comprehensible to busy men. He had read, digested, and preserved everything concerning Rotary that had ever come to his hands, and from it had prepared a card index so that he can answer almost any question conceivable. He was desperately anxious that I should not miss a thing and on several occasions he sweetly, but reprovingly said to his wife: “Mutter” when the conversation between her and His Honor interfered with his attempt to make himself and his system perfectly clear. One could love him on any one of a half dozen different counts —— among them his earnestness, his thoroughness, and last but not least his soft musical affectionate accent as he uttered one of the sweetest words of tongue or pen.
This delightful German couple have a son in Chicago whom I shall look up —— the son of such people must be worth while.
On the way to the hotel His Honor arrogated to himself all of the credit for getting us in on that experience.
Wednesday forenoon I planted my first tree of friendship in European soil. It seemed to me especially appropriate that it took place in Germany —— in its metropolis —— Berlin. The planting occurred in a sports platz formerly devoted to war purposes, and a large number including Rotarians, city officials and others were in attendance. I was offered my choice of three trees of different species all of which had been groomed for the ceremony. My choice fell upon a Maple and I was then given the choice of three locations.
Having selelected what seemed to me the most appropriate tree and location, the ceremony began. There were two brief addresses, one by the mayor and one by myself. The tree was planted with the fervent hope that it would stand for many years as symbolic of the living, growing friendship between the great German people and my own country. Since leaving Germany I have learned that our German friends have planted a little monument in front of the tree commemorating the event and describing the purpose it was intended to serve.
During the course of the ceremonies at the planting, a considerable number of boys and girls of the neighborhood, attracted by the unusual spectacle, gathered about us, seeming to comprehend what I was trying to do. After the ceremonies, they swarmed about me and walked with me until I entered the automobile awaiting. Even then they did not depart; the boys continued to bow and the girls to curtsy until I was out of sight. What conclusions shall we draw from the demonstration?
Merely this, as I see it: Children are not capable of dissembling; their conduct portrays their true selves. But where did those children of Germany gain such respect amounting almost to veneration of the American people? There was one and only one possible source —— their elders. At the fireside fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers had been teaching those little ones respect for Uncle Sam.
I am just in receipt of a letter from His Honor which is in point. It reads: "Thanks to the fact that I traveled under your wing, these people were so sweet to me that I fell in love with the entire German nation."
Well said, Audley, I shall forgive much of your abuse, just for that.
Tall oaks from little acorns grow; great consequences frequently come from little deeds, Perhaps those German children and their children and their children's children reading the inscription on the little monument standing in front of the tree of good—will may continue to think well of us even in times of stress and strain.
The next day came the big Berlin meeting. One could not be otherwise than deeply impressed with the character of their membership, including as it does many of the great men of Germany. A small group of Rotary friends saw me off for Riga, Latvia, that night; it included His Honor, the honorary secretary and "Mutter." With several formidable misgivings, I delivered His Honor, Magna Charta and all, into their keeping. I fear they had a sad time of it.
It seemed like going out into a strange world this journey across the Polish corridor, and Lithuania into Latvia. Riga is about twenty-one hours distant from Berlin. The agriculture operations in Lithuania as seen from the car windows were conducted almost entirely by women. Where the men were, I know not. Maybe it was “Man’s day and they were enjoying a rest.
The landscape brightened up as we entered Latvia. Men were at work in the fields and the land was better cultivated.
Two very modern appearing Rotarians met me at the railway station in Riga and a brief but rapid succession of sight seeing, visiting, speech making, and dining followed. Latvia is undoubtedly strong in its nationalistic aspirations and purposes. To have a civilization of their own, unhampered by domination from the outside, is the Ultima Thule of their ambitions end in its attainment they are prepared to make any and all sacrifices.
At eight o’clock I was bundled aboard a train bound for Tallinn, Estonia. One of the party worked some kind of a rabbit’s foot on the railway guard whereby I was given a compartment all by myself though I had to switch from second to third class in order to accomplish the desired result. It was a mercy even though the bed was hard and the car rather rickety. It was blessed to be free from worries as to whether or not I was disturbing the man above. I slept, but somewhere along the route I had contracted a very severe cold and it caused me worry. I feared the possibility of having to break engagements.
A surprisingly large delegation met me in Tallinn. It comprised statesmen, military and naval officers of high rank, and business men. The president of the club, a hanker, invited me to be his guest at his country estate during the brief period I was to he in Estonia. The American consul gave me a friendly tip to the effect that I had best accept, and I gladly did so. In less than an hour’s time my host, the consul and I were wandering along a path which followed the course of a river which drifted into the sea near my host’s property.
It was delightfully restful. The kindly lady of the house volunteered to help me get rid of my cold, but rest in a comfortable chair on a sunny spot of the lawn seemed to inc the most acceptable first aid. In the afternoon, I caused considerable anxiety by insisting on having a plunge in the Baltic breakers which were combing the beach, but I knew that sea bathing was not one of my ways of taking cold.
After the plunge we saw some tennis games in a tournament which was in progress between representatives of several Baltic and Central European countries; the ace of the German team was fighting it out with the Estonian champion. The German won but riot without extending himself.
The Rotary program in Estonia included a luncheon, a tree planting, an evening dinner at my host’s and a luncheon at the home of General Leidener who is looked on as the George Washington of Estonia. As I sat beside his beautiful wife at their table she astonished me by stating that the general had told. her that he had gotten to feel quite at ease with me. Shades of Julius Caesar —- at ease with me) If he could have known my own emotions when I learned that I was to he the guest of the man who is credited beyond all others with having wrested Estonia from the forces of Russia, he would never have thought again about being at ease in the presence of a very humble lawyer from Chicago,
As I was preparing to exhibit the contents of my baggage to the officials at the wharf where I was embarking for Finland, the admiral of the Estonian navy said just one word to the official and proceedings ceased. What that one word was, I do not know, but there was magic in it.
Through the thoughtfulness of Estonian Rotarians, a stateroom had been provided for the four hours’ crossing of the Gulf of Finland and I enjoyed this rest. When I arose, it was raining and we were approaching the Finnish shore.
I had learned that the president of the Helsingfors Club had telephoned the Estonian Rotarians the day before demanding that they “let up on me”. He wanted to make certain that I did not land in Finland all worn out. He also stated that proceedings would begin immediately I set foot on Finnish shores and that they had something scheduled for every half hour during the two days I was to he there. My rest on the boat was therefore opportune.
The American flag was at the top of the staff on the wharf when we sailed into harbor. A few minutes later the president of the club climbed aboard, threw his own coat over my shoulders to protect me from the rain, I having lost my own coat somewhere in England, and we were soon on shore facing a battery of cameramen, flash-lights, etc.
Within a half hour from arrival, I found myself at the head of a table spread for Rotarians from Helsingfors and Abo. The program in Helsingfors included a tree planting, drives, visits to hospitals, schools, houses of parliament and another sizable meeting.
One of the drives will linger long in memory. It was to the home of Finland’s great architect, Mr. Eliel Saarinen. It was he who won the second prize in the Chicago Tribune competition on plans for their imposing and artistic building on North Michigan Avenue. Mr. Saarinen was not present on the occasion of our visit, but his sister received us. He was in America designing and planning the Cranbrook Art Center near Detroit. I was a bit ashamed to have to learn from Finnish Rotarians of the great project involving the expenditure of millions of dollars, which is now under way in the environs of our neigh boring city, Detroit. Mr. Saarinen has taken with him Sweden's outstanding sculptor, Mr. Carl Milles.
Once again, the new world is making levy upon the culture of the old world. There will be ample opportunity in the United States for many such as appreciation of art continues to grow in our country. One of the most impressive features of European homes is the abundance of fine paintings hanging on the walls of men of moderate means. Appreciation is not by any means confined to the well—to—do. The extent of the patronage of high class opera and drama by people of all classes is very impressive to a visiting American. While we are casting about for ways to raise the standards of our own national life, we may well pause to consider some of these matters.
My cold clung on obstinately and I became considerably worried but my patient and ever faithful friend, the president of the Helsingfors Club eventually took me in hand, drugged me, sweat me, and sent me to bed.
The next afternoon he and I left together for Abo where we remained for a few hours and then continued on our way across the Baltic Sea bound for Stockholm. He was en route to the meeting of the committee at Zurich.
No one who has steamed through the archipelago to Stockholm will ever be able to forget it. I can readily forgive those who contend that it is the most beautiful approach to a great city in the world. It baffles description. Stockholm might give one of its beautiful salt water lakes to each big inland city in the United States and still have some left for its own use.
The first familiar face I saw in Stockholm was that of Kurt Belfrage and the second, that of his fine son Leif. Both were at our home in Chicago only a month before I left there. It was good to see familiar faces again. They went with me to my hotel and extended me many courtesies thereafter. Kurt also was to attend the Geneva meeting, but he deferred his departure as long as possible. Through some mishap Cooks sent me to the wrong hotel, It was somewhat embarrassing as I found my self quartered in one hotel while the American flag in honor of my presence was gracefully fluttering in the wind at the mast-head of another hotel.
The principal meeting in Stockholm was an evening affair of great dignity and very impressive. There I met Mr. Moorhead, the American minister and as a result of the meeting he gave a little luncheon party to which I and several Rotarian friends were invited. After lunch, the American minister and I did a very homely little piece of business —- we went shopping and under his supervision I bought some little trinkets for my dear lady at home. We then went to the headquarters of the American legation and talked things over. Mr. Moorhead was once president of the Union Carbide Company and lived in. Chicago.
Before I left Stockholm, Kurt and other Rotarians of Stockholm made arrangements with the Crown Prince of Sweden to receive me at Sofiarue, his summer home on the southern coast. This was, of course, a great honor and I was very appreciative.
After four very full and delightful days in Stockholm, I left for Göteburg by the famous Göteburg canal. This meant two and one half days of perfect rest and relaxation. There were few on board and for that fact I was thankful, but I was mightily pleased to run across a young man of Swedish ancestry from Chicago. He had been visiting relatives and had much to tell me.
The trip was extremely interesting. The little boat ploughed through salty seas, inland lakes and the tiny canal making its way through the countryside and villages. In one respect the Göteburg Canal is the most remarkable of all canals. Several times we enjoyed the experience of being lifted from one lock to another in rapid succession. The little boat literally climbed flights of water stairs and then after having finally attained the summit, began its descent on the other side.
One hundred miles or thereabouts from Göteburg my canal trip was cut short by a delegation of friendly Rotarians who drove me through the beautiful hills to the country home of one of their fellow members. There we had a plunge in the sea, a splendid dinner with Rotarian friends and ladies. Later we continued our drive to Goteburg and rest.
Göteburg is the second largest city in Sweden and beautifully situated on the hills overlooking the river and sea. The events were sight—seeing, tree planting and a good meeting. The tree planting was unusual in that it took place in a public park adjoining the restaurant where the club holds its meeting. If the tree lives, Rotarians of this generation and others perhaps will be able to look at it from the dining room while at tending lunch.
Half way between Göteburg and Halsingborg, I was joined on the train by Baron Beck—Frils the consul of the Swedish legation at Washington who was vacationing in southern Sweden. We had a very enjoyable visit en route, arriving in Halsingborg early enough to participate in a dinner at the hotel. During the course of the dinner, the Burgomaster, Johan Baath informed me that he w to take me to Sofiarue to meet the Crown Prince at ten o’clock in the morning and that it would be quite proper to wear a dark business suit.
On the way to Sofiarue the Burgomaster explained that he presumably would not be invited into the presence of the Crown Prince, but that he would wait for me in the hallway. The procedure was about as he foretold. We were met by an aide de camp who ushered me into the presence of His Royal Highness who came quickly forward to greet me. He was a man of about forty and possessed of a fine personality, tall and well—built. We talked for a few moments on several subjects —- principally Rotary — and on my leaving he preceded me, opening the two doors for me to pass out. It then occurred to him that the Burgomaster was waiting in an adjoining room and he entered and greeted him.
From the Burgomaster I learned of the very high esteem in which the Crown Prince is held. He is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Stockholm and occasionally attends their meetings.
The Burgomaster showed ‘no about the city after which we at tended the meeting of the Halsingborg club. The attendance was augmented by a fine delegation from Malmo.
I was then put on board the ferry—boat bound for Denmark, On landing I took train for Copenhagen. Sweden had been added to the list of countries covered.
The delegation who met me in Copenhagen impressed me as being extremely friendly, full of fun and not in the least formal, The go of the district said that I was to call him ‘Chas. and the president of the club said that to me he was to be “Lindy”, Chas drove his admonition home by stating that I could not fail to remember his name, it was so like “Ches” Perry's. While “Lindy” said that there could be no excuse for any American forgetting the name “Lindy”.
Good natured chaff seeming to be the order of the day; I fell very naturally into it. I met my old friend, T. C. Thomsen, at the banquet, which, by the way, was the largest in attendance, except the anniversary celebration in London. Later in the week I visited “T.C. and his gracious and highly talented wife at their home.
I have never spent a busier five days than those in Copenhagen. They were full of incidents from morning until night save for my usual rest period in the afternoon, whenever rest was practicable.
One of my chief interests in Copenhagen was to make observation of the youth hostels movement in which the Rotarians of Denmark have done yeoman service. Rotarian Hempel, a young Dane of thirty—eight years of age, who is now the head of a dozen different corporations, all of his own creation, drove me about in the district surrounding Copenhagen where we visited three of the youth hostels, enough to enable me to get a good idea of what is being done. There are now about one hundred and fifty of these well regulated hostels where young hikers from all nations can have good clean beds and breakfasts for an astonishingly small sum, approximately fifteen cents in American money.
I am told that it would be easily possible for a group of Chicago boys to spend a summer In Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland at a total expense less than three hundred dollars and that sum would include rail ad water transportation both ways, assuming, of course, that they are willing to hike or bicycle from point to point as the European youths are doing.
In Germany the youth movement has gained tremendous proportions and in it is to be found one of the most hopeful features of the present distraught conditions. It is my deep— seated hope that America will take her place in the front ranks of this movement which has already gained such firm foothold in the countries mentioned and also in Great Britain. From tramps abroad, American boys would return invigorated and. strengthened and with a broader outlook upon life. Then very naturally arises •the question: What could we in America do in return? Have we anything corresponding with the Youth movement in Germany and the Youth Hostels movement in Denmark? How about hitch—hiking?
It is said that more than two hundred thousand American boys are experimenting in vagabondage every summer. There are two objections to hitch—hiking. One is that it is illegal in many states; the other is that it affords no opportunity for the necessary supervision. Distances are too great for hiking from town to town, but conditions are ideal for supervised trips in chartered auto buses and camping at night in the tourist parks to be found in most American towns. Which Rotary club will be first to organize such a trip for American and European boys?
My visit to Copenhagen happened to synchronize with the annual outing of the club which has been held of recent years at the country estate of Mr. Hempel. To begin with, the estate is superb in. its natural scenic beauty, but competent architects and landscape gardeners had contributed their share to an ideal ensemble. It was a beautiful place for an annual jubilee. There is a something about the Danes which must be reckoned with. Without it, Danish Rotary could rover be understood. With it, Danish Rotary is comprehensible. I thought before arriving in Denmark that I knew something of conviviality. I did not. I was a mere tyro. The most impressive brand of it which I had hitherto encountered was in the U.S.A. where things begin to loosen up at 2:30. p.m. In all day picnics in Denmark, arrivals begin shortly after daybreak and the jubilee is under full head way long before breakfast. When breakfast is finally served one has to ask himself whether it is a hangover from the day before or something new on the horizon.
At eleven p.m. the exuberance of spirit still continues. If any traveling American wishes things different, all I can say to him is “Stay away from Denmark”. As for myself, I tried everything once. I masqueraded for breakfast as a demure damsel from old Holland. My fiancé was a bewhiskered make-believe Dutchman in a high pointed hat, who incessantly played a hand organ. What the others were doing I would not. I was too busy taking inventory; but dance and sing we did from morning till night. My only hope is that my Chicago clients will never see the moving pictures which were being taken during the entire course of that hectic day in Denmark. The Danes are without doubt a remarkable people. It seems to me that much of their success is attributable to the cooperative spirit.
Through cooperation, Danish farmers manage to top the London market with bacon, eggs and butter. Rotarian Hempel’s business success makes it manifest that there are still opportunities in the old world for initiative and determination, end I must not fail to make mention of another Danish Rotarian; one who by virtue of the fact that he lived for a time in Chicago has won for himself the sobriquet of “Chicago” Hansen. He landed in. Chicago just prior to the panic of 1893 and got a job working for his older brother. The panic broke both of them and “Chicago” returned to Denmark and opened up a store which he designated the “Chicago” store. His brother achieved apparent success, but broke again in the present depression. “Chicago” is now pulling his brother out of the hole.
With one more country to negotiate, I began my journey to Norway early one Sunday morning. As night was approaching, and as my train was drawing near to Oslo, a friendly and familiar figure burst into the compartment in which I was quartered; it was the figure of my dear friend, Johannes Martens, In company with him was one who was to become my impresario during my stay in Oslo, Harald Thaulow. No greater solicitude could have been shown by anyone than was shown by Johannes and Harald for my interest during my stay in Oslo. We sailed the Oslo Fjord, climbed the mountains and drove about the city and surrounding districts together in happy fellowship.
Of all the social welfare activities in the city, the most impressive was that of providing housing for the working classes. As is the modern custom in Europe, the housing developments consist of colossal apartment buildings. Reason able provisions are, nevertheless, made for light, air and playgrounds, and frequently communal gardens are to be seen. To one of my generation the apartment building plan is not altogether satisfying. Small individual homes would be much more to my liking. To be sure, the need is to an extent covered by the little summer homes provided for the laboring classes at very reasonable prices on the shores of Oslo Fjord.
It seemed to me that Oslo had gone greater lengths than any city of which I know in providing housing and food for the laboring classes. It is a great experiment. The absorbing question, of course, is: How far can the necessity of the exercise of initiative be lifted from the shoulders of the less thrifty without pauperizing them. If a contrast can be fairly drawn between the welfare work in Norway and welfare work in the United States, it seems to me that welfare work in the United States is directed. more to the help of the help less than in Norway and less to those who might possibly help themselves. My opportunities to study the welfare work in Norway were necessarily limited and my conclusions may not be justified. One thing is certain and that is that Norway’s system of free schools is worthy of the highest commendation.
I think that I may in truth say that there were fewer evidences of depression in Norway than in any of the countries I visited. Building was going on everywhere and the depreciation of the Kroner as compared with the American Dollar about the only evidence of an unhealthy financial state.
Practically all new business buildings and, in-fact, many of the dwelling houses were built on a plan designated as “functionalism”. It is more or less evident in other countries, hut overwhelmingly predominant in Norway. Generally speaking, functionalism means the stressing of the utilitarian as against artistic and other considerations. The functionalistic buildings are very practical. Being without ornamentation except that one or more of the corners may be rounded. The maximum of’ space is n available for use. Batteries of windows serve to admit an abundance of air and light. The only opportunity to display individuality is in the use of colors. Flowers arranged in boxes fill the purpose admirably in the summertime where used, but they are not in general use. On the whole, functionalism impresses me as being somewhat monotonous even at present. What it will be years hence when new buildings will have replaced old is difficult to conjecture. There can be no doubt as to its practicability.
I was fortunate in being able to meet Governor Reidar Brekke of the district comprising Norway and also the presidents and secretaries of all of the clubs as the assembly was in session in Oslo during my stay there. I called on the American minister and in return was invited to dine with him. Unfortunately I could not accept, it being the case that a Rotary banquet was scheduled on the night selected.
On the last day of my stay in Oslo an inter—city meeting was held and many were present. I bid goodbye to my Oslo friends with deep gratitude for their kind favors.
Eilif Amundsen, president of the Bergen Club, who had been at tending the assembly in Oslo, took me in hand as we left for Bergen, my last stop in Europe. From Bergen, I was to sail on the Stavangerfjord on the 14th for New York, but the last had not been done as yet.
When I had opportunity to study my traveling companion, I had a strong suspicion that he was a Viking or a descendant of one at least. An incident soon confirmed my suspicion. It came about in this way. To begin with, it turned very cold as we approached the higher altitude and neither of us had any more than a light overcoat. I saw my companion cast his eyes about and they eventually lit upon a third traveler who had two very comfortable coats; he was wearing one of them and the other hung upon a nail. My companion, true to Viking tradition, coveted the warm overcoats of the outlander.
We talked things over and eventually evolved the plan that my companion snatch the hanging overcoat at the next stop and rush down the mountainside with it. My part was to exhort the stranger to throw off the overcoat he was wearing and to take after the fleeting Viking. When the chase was well under way, I was to vamoose down the other side of the mountain with coat number two. The plan was perfect except for its failure to provide for the disposal of our own luggage which, therefore, therefore would have fallen into the hands of the stranger. With considerable sadness we abandoned the plan as impracticable; but there is a lesson to be learned from the cooperative spirit shown by this descendant of a Norwegian Viking and a neighbor of Al. Capone. If Leif Ericsson could have had Al safely tucked away in his facility to act in an advisory capacity, his name might have been raised to immortal heights.
We left the train at Myrdal, high up in the mountains and there we were met by Einar Jensen, Viking number two, of whom I was destined to learn much in the near future. The rain was falling as if it never intended to stop again as we alighted. Viking Einar had provided an ancient native conveyance drawn by two determined looking fjord ponies. But how they, with all their determination and with all their sure—footedness, were ever to pick their way down that slippery rocky mountainside was to me a mystery.
Neither fjord pony, Rocky Mountain burro, nor Alpine goat could ever have made it directly; what could be done indirectly, remained to be seen. I was given the choice, ride or walk, and it did not take long to decide to walk even though the rain continued to fall as if poured from buckets. Down the zig—zag course, which intrepid engineers had laid out, we went; slipping, stumbling, sliding. The driver of the conveyance hid an ingenious contrivance by which an iron shoe was held in place on one of the rear wheels so that the wheel would slide instead of revolving. Had it not been for this expedient, nothing on earth could have saved those fjord ponies from destruction.
I asked Vikings Eilif and Einar how much more there was of this and Einar answered about twenty—six English miles. I remembered with some dismay that an English mile is longer than an American mile and roughly estimated that the distance was some thing less than half the distance between New York and Philadelphia —— and night was coming on. When the outlook was at its worst, Viking Einar providentially removed from his hand baggage a long bottle labeled “Tom Gin”. I could not remember ever having met Tom before, but I had heard of him and was not loath to make his acquaintance. Under his warming influence, spirits rose and on second application of Einar’s restorative, we didn’t care so much about the distance to warmth and shelter.
Then we began to become appreciative of our surroundings. The immensity of the mountains, the volumes of the cataracts which were tearing down the mountainsides all about us. I have seen and admired the Bridal Veil fails of the Yosemite, but here were bridal veil falls every-where. It was as if much of the magic of the Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Colorado had been seized upon and blended into one.
In course of time, we found ourselves traversing a less precipitous roadway and the driver asked us to get into the conveyance No, now that the walking was better,’ preferred to continue, hut it was not to be so. The driver preferred that we get inside so that he could make better time, We did so and were soon spinning along at a merry clip. The fjord ponies are wonders.
Sometime after the curtains of night had been drawn, we saw lights ahead and realized that the twenty—six English miles somehow had been covered. Here was the light, warmth and good cheer of Fretheim, nestling at the foot of one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, Sagne fjord.
I suppose that most any good, comfortable hotel would have looked good to me that night, wet and cold and somewhat worried as I was. Perhaps the conditions under which we arrived disqualifies me as a judge of the relative merits of the various hotels of Norway, but even at that, discounting enthusiasm as you will, all must admit that there is an atmosphere at Fretheim difficult to duplicate elsewhere. We were met at the door by a refined, matronly lady, whose very appearance was a guarantee of the character of the hostelry of which she was the managing director. Fretheim (Fred’s home) was indeed all that its name implies; cozy, clean, and home—like. Each of the several rooms on the main floor was a picture of refinement and coziness. They all reflected the personality of the management.
En route to Bergen and after arriving there, I visited many places of superlative beauty and interest under the guidance of my two Viking chums and other hospitable. and warm—hearted Rotarians.
The extent of participation by old and young in outdoor winter sports was cheering to learn of. Tens of thousands of skiers may be seen on the mountainsides any Sunday afternoon in the winter and frequently work is suspended for days at a time when skiing is at its best. On the evening of September 14th, surrounded by friends whose kindness I can never forget, I boarded the Stavangerfjord and was soon homeward bound.
And now that it is all over —— save memory, and I resign myself to the pleasant task of writing this story while crossing, how shall I answer the question: “Was it worth while?”
I can, of course, answer it categorically, but that is not satisfying. What were the values? What was there to justify the temporary abandonment of home comforts arid the joys of being with old friends and loved ones at home?
To begin with, I feel that it is the duty of all who can do so to broaden their perspective of life. It is especially the duty of Rotarians to do. so. The sixth object can not have much meaning to us if we persist in remaining provincial in outlook. Nor do I see how one can be truly patriotic without being intelligently patriotic. I think that I love my country as dearly as anyone. I yield precedence to none; hut I prefer that my love be not blind. I want to know my own country not only in itself, but also in relation to other countries. I do not return to my country with diminished devotion; I return to it with greater devotion.
There are things which I have seen in the European countries which I covet for my own country and I am not going to deprive myself of the privilege of making announcement of these things merely because of fear that someone may say that I think too much of things which I have seen abroad to the detriment per haps of my loyalty to my own country. If anyone must think that my Americanism has become diluted, he is welcome to think so.
If America has a lesson to learn from the older countries - and I think that it has - it is to place life in the order of importance before business. Business is a means to an end, not an end. Now that we have learned the technique of successful business, we should learn the technique of successful living. Education has been and still is directed mainly to the successful employment of our working hours. We must now direct our education to the successful employment of our leisure hours. The great advance in the science of business makes it manifest that -there are soon to be far more hours of leisure than hours of labor. Is it not absurd then to confine our efforts to the shorter period, leaving the longer period to shift for itself?
We can learn much from our European friends about the advantageous employment of hours of leisure.
The English country—home affords almost perfect recreational facilities. I believe that the home is more of a center in English life than it is with us. English women are not afraid of work. They not infrequently labor in their gardens until their faces are burned brown and their hands are hard. It is to be regretted that in our own country it is often thought that soft velvety hands and polished nails bespeak culture. I believe it would be nearer the truth if we were to reverse our conclusions. It is my observation that women, who love beauty enough to work for it in the soil, are generally cultured women.
I covet for my country participation in the great youth movement which is sweeping over Europe at present. Would it not be a grand thing for our American boys if they would forget for the time being the luxury of their automobiles and join the boys of Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, England, and other European countries on their educational hikes?
I covet for my country some form of sport which will take our people, old and young, out into the open as skiing takes the Norwegians out. To be shut in during the winter months is not good for soul or body.
I covet for my country the advantages of good opera, and theatrical productions of high class and elevating standards.
What am I willing to give to Europe in exchange for all of these advantages? This article is not intended to answer that question. I will, however, venture the assertion that all in good time the United States of America will do its full hit toward the enrichment of civilization,
All nations may be relied upon to contribute to the sum total of human knowledge.
Yes, my trip abroad was worth while. I don’t know how it would have been possible to have packed more adventure into ten weeks time, I have received rich dividends on my expenditure of time and energy. My possessions are of enduring nature. They can never be taken from me. As I sit at my fireside on winter evenings, my thoughts will frequently fly over land and sea to my many friends over yonder.
Paul P. Harris
P. S. I have just learned that His Honor, Dean Wigmore and Mabel Wildebrand have been appointed as a committee of the American Bar Association on International relations, This probably means that His Honor’s Magna Charta will have to be renewed next summer. I haven’t as yet been able to shake the depression to which the news has given rise.
05-Dec. 32-100 [Probably indicated the date and the number of hand typed copied needed]
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