David Maraist’s Journal: New York to Vienna, February 1961

David Maraist’s Journal:

New York to Vienna, February 1961

The ship that took us to Europe, Cunard liner RMS Saxonia

Introduction by David Maraist, March 2011: It was with great expectations that I left Louisiana for the spring 1961 semester in Wien. I decided to keep as detailed a log as possible since I felt that one day I’d enjoy revisiting that time. I have edited certain incidents and mostly left out personal references for obvious reasons. My log was not meant to be a great literary effort expressing deep thoughts and emotions but merely a listing of occurrences to jog one’s memory. So, please bear with  me as many of the entries were written by flashlight in the wee hours of the morning.

Introduction by George Trask, March 2011: David Maraist sent his journal in early March 2011 in response to my request on this website for memories of our Vienna days. At the same time David was writing his daily entries in 1961 I was taking photographs with my trusty Leica, oblivious to David’s effort. Now, fifty years later, I am pairing my photos with his words to give an illustrated narrative of those days we IESers experienced long ago. This is the first of what will be a number of diary episodes that we will publish here. I have added captions to photos with my best effort to identify classmates, question marks behind names when I’m not sure. Please send me corrections and additions to the captions.


My parents traveled with me from New Orleans to New York by train “The Crescent”. As recommended, we stayed at the Beekman Tower Hotel where we had an orientation by Miss Lilian Jeffchak of IES. We went to see “The Sound of Music” on Broadway which was quite apropos of the situation. Also went to Radio City for a movie. And so the adventure began. It was to be a very rough winter’s crossing of the north Atlantic.

Crunchy ice on the Hudson River, February 2, 1961
“We toasted the Statue of Liberty as we criused out of New York harbor,” February 2, 1961

Thursday 2/2/61 6:55pm RMS Saxonia   Deck A   Cabin 59
It was very cold this a.m. 5 below 0 and clear blue skies. Took a cab from the hotel to the pier and bid farewell to Mom and Dad. Looked over the ship after boarding…should be a very nice crossing. My roommates are Eric Myers (Dartmouth) and Gary Morrison and Jim Neil (Univ of Texas). We toasted the Statue of Liberty as we cruised out of New York harbor. Voyage has been very smooth thus far with calm seas. Drink prices are terrific…27 cents for a mixed drink and 9 cents per glass of draught beer.

Friday 2/3/61
Signed up for the ping pong tournament and attended my first German class with Frau Fellner. We arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia at around 6 pm. Jim, Dan and I got off the boat and took a cab into town with 3 girls. We walked all over town in search of a bar, but couldn’t find one to take the girls into. So we walked back to the ship and went to the dance.

Saturday 2/4/61
Woke at 9:30. Went to German class. Tonite all four of us put on suits, had a drink and went to dinner. Then, “horse” racing and bingo. A group of us sang songs for about an hour, then back to the dance and eventually turned in about 3am. The seas were quite calm today, but got rough later.

Sunday 2/5/61
Woke up at around 7:30 for breakfast and felt a bit woozy since the boat was rocking  quite a bit. Took a Dramamine. I couldn’t finish breakfast as I wasn’t feeling too well. I slept though the 2 hour lecture at 10. I got up up at 12:45 and was feeling much better. Attended German class after lunch. Returned to the cabin later and was not very hungry for dinner. Eric was sick all afternoon. We had crackers and apples for dinner and later went to play bingo and dance. The sea was rough and it made dancing difficult, but amusing. Turned in at around 1:30.

Monday 2/6/61
The sea was very rough this am. I woke up at 11:30 and missed the lecture. I hear very few attended as many are seasick. Eric was still sick this am and had the doctor give him a shot, but it did little good. After dinner went to the dance.  I came in at 1:15 and the 4 of us talked about religion until 2:30.

Tuesday 2/7/61
Slept thru breakfast and got up at 9:30. It’s fortunate that we went to the lecture this am because Dr. Fellner checked the cabins and put a 10 o’clock curfew on those who failed to attend the lecture. It’s still rough and foggy. At noon, the foghorn started blasting and continued for about an hour. After the dance tonite we watched the waves from the crew deck…getting rough.

Wednesday 2/8/61
Awoke just in time for the 10 o’clock lecture. After this I fell asleep and missed lunch. There was a “Fancy Dress” contest after dinner tonite…very enjoyable. At the dance which followed, Butch threw a champagne party with the money he won from Jim playing gin. I got pretty high. We tried to move the party to our cabin after the band stopped playing without much luck. I turned in about 4am.

Thursday  2/9/61
After lunch I went up to the lounge and then we walked all around the ship…
a very pleasant day…about 50’….sighted several ships. Studied for the German quiz. Later we sighted the coast of France. We docked at Le Havre shortly after 5. It was quite cool then…about 37’.  After dinner I took in the movie, but it was lousy. Then, went to the dance for a while.


Cranston’s Ivanhoe Hotel, where we stayed in London

Friday 2/10/61
Midnite Room 509 Cranston’s Ivanhoe Hotel, London
Got up about 7:30 as we were slowly coming up the Thames. We disembarked about 10:30 and filed into three buses and drove from Tilbury to London. Arrived at the hotel about 1 and Phil Arnold and I drew a double room. Just relaxed this afternoon and had a meeting. Phil and I went to the Old Vic on a double decker bus to get tickets for Sat nite. Took the “tube” to Picadilly Circus and walked around and went to the Crown Pub. Turned in at midnite.

George Trask and Buck Hoyle (?) feeding the pigeons at Trafalgar Square, Cindy Calkins in beige coat in background, February 11, 1961

Saturday 2/11/61
We left for the Conservative Party HQ in Westminster where we had a lecture by Mr. Richwell, the circulation director of the party. The city tour began after lunch. We saw most of the points of interest…Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, Trafalgar Sq., etc.Later, Phil and I and about 8 girls went to the Old Vic to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After this we all stopped in at the pub across the street for a quick ale before they closed at 10:30. Then we all took the double decker back to the hotel. Betty Freiburger had gotten a fruit cake for her birthday and we ate it in the hall. Then we turned in at midnite.

Windsor Castle, February 12, 1961

Sunday 2/12/61
Our tour departed at 9:15. Stopped at Windsor Castle for a quick look and went on to Oxford arriving at 12:40. Had a lecture by Don Jessup on the history and setup of Oxford. We were split into 2 groups with an undergraduate guide. Her name was Leslie. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant. Walked all over Oxford seeing all the colleges. Had tea at Leslie’s and went to the student union for a lecture and tour. Later, we had dinner at the Union and departed at 9:30. On the bus we sang all the way back to London which we reached about  11:30.

Houses of Parliament, February 13, 1961

Monday 2/13/61
This morning we went to the British Museum. Saw the Rosetta Stone, Magna Carta, Ur of the Chaldees, Elgin Marbles, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinius and various manuscripts. Then we went to the British National Gallery where we heard lectures and saw paintings by Duccio, Boticelli, Van Eyck, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Titian and Rubens. We had lunch at a pub off Trafalgar Square and we walked to Westminster Abbey, looked it over, saw Poet’s Corner and the graves of Milton, Tennyson  and several others. After a snack at a pastry shop, we went to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Later, went to the Globe Theater and saw “A Man for All Seasons” with several  others. Returned to the hotel and packed.


White cliffs of Dover from the ferry “London”, February 14, 1961

Tuesday 2/14/61

12:30 am Room 8 Hotel St. Hubert    Bruges, Belgium
We left London at 7am for Dover. We passed thru Canterbury and saw the Cathedral. Arrived in Dover at 10. We boarded the car ferry “London” and shoved off at 11. Had lunch on board and arrived in Boulogne, France in early pm. We drove thru Calais and Dunkirk…saw old German fortifications…and arrived in Bruges at 6. Butch and I walked around town but it was dead due to a carnival going on by the sea. We have one WC on the floor and it is quite primitive.

IESers in town square, Bruges, Belgium, on foggy Ash Wednesday, February 15, 1961. Click on photo for a larger view. Please help us identify everybody.
Keith Manatt and George Trask on walking tour of Bruges, February 15, 1961

Ash Wednesday 2/15/61
After breakfast, we  walked in search of a bank to cash travelers checks. We had a lecture at the College of Europe about medieval notions of liberty and the role of history in behavior. After lunch we had a walking tour of Bruges. Saw some works of Memling at St. John’s Hospital museum. Had planned to rent a bicycle, but it was foggy, overcast and cold, so we didn’t. The beautiful carillon bells are ringing now (5:30). We had a lecture at 8:30 on Africa and Europe. Got packed and ready for tomorrow.

Thursday 2/16/61
12:47 am Room 129  Hotel Trianon Palace, Paris, France
We left about 8:30 under a heavy fog which did not lift all day and completely obscured the scenery. We crossed into France at Halluin, stopped for a break at Arras about 11:30 and arrived in Amiens for lunch shortly after 2. We visited the cathedral and continued on to Paris arriving about 7. Bus A stayed at this hotel and the other 2 stayed at the originally scheduled one. We went for a long walk. We got slightly lost and were quite exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.

Friday 2/17/61
Our city tour started at 9. We saw the Sorbonne, Notre Dame, Palais de Justice, Sainte Chapelle, etc. The day was beautiful..blue skies..about 65’. At 1:30 we left for a tour of the Jeu de Paume Impressionst Gallery ( Monet, Bazille, van Gogh, Renoir, Gaugin, Degas, etc. Then we went to a lecture on European integration.

George Trask acting like a French artist, Montmatre, Paris, February 18, 1961

Saturday 2/18/61
At 9:30 we went to the Louvre and saw Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, Mona Lisa, Michaelangelo’s Slaves, etc. At 2, the second half of the tour began. We went to Mont Martre, Sacre Coeur, the top of the l’Arch de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, etc.

Sunday 2/19/61
Walked to Notre Dame for 7:30 Mass and we left for Chartres at 8:45. High Mass was ending as we arrived. Had lectures at the Cathedral. Stopped to see the Chateau Maintenon and got back to Paris at 7. We had dinner at the corner restaurant. After that, we walked to the Seine, ate some creppes, walked around Notre Dame and on the bottom walk along the banks of the Seine. Returned to the hotel about 10.

Our 76-year-old guide in black hat gives us tour of Versailles, February 20, 1961; Tom Wolfe stands in upper left, Cindy Calkins in beige skirt at lower right. Click on photo for a larger view. Please help us identify everybody.

Monday 2/20/61
We left for SHAPE headquarters  at 9 in a heavy fog. Heard talks by British and American officers and had lunch. By then, the skies had cleared beautifully.Then we visited Versailles with an excellent guide who was 76 years old! Saw the Hall of Mirrors, etc. Phil, Betty, Mary Ellen and I went into the village to buy a pastry. Got back to the hotel at 5. Phil and I had dinner at the Pantheon restaurant and took the Metro to the Champs Elysees and walked around. Then we took the Metro to Pigalle and ran into Eric, Kathy K. and Barb.

Tuesday 2/21/61
Midnite Room 210  Hotel Pax  Strasbourg, France
We were awakened at 6:30 and left Paris about 8. Stopped briefly at Sezanne at 10:30 and had lunch in St. Dizier. Late in the afternoon, we stopped in Nancy and arrived in Strasbourg shortly after 7. Phil and I got settled in our room and had dinner downstairs. Then, a bunch of us went in search of a dancing place. We found a very nice one… The Sporting Bar. Had a few beers and danced almost till midnite. Returned to hotel.

Wednesday 2/22/61
11:18 pm  Room 19  Hotel Victoria   Freiburg, Germany
After breakfast, we went to the European Council and heard speeches by the Sec. Gen.  Pflemlin, the former French premier and now mayor of Strasbourg. Toured the cathedral and returned to the hotel for lunch. Departed at 3 and arrived at Colmar at 4:15. Spent an hour walking around the town and visiting the cathedral. After leaving, we crossed the Maginot Line and forded the Rhine at Breisach. We arrived in Freiburg shortly after 7. The group is divided among 3 or 4 hotels. After dinner several of us went walking in quest of a nice bar, but we didn’t find one. Went to the “Oberkirche” where much of the gang was, but decided to return.

Thursday 2/23/61
Our tour started at 9:30. We were shown around the Univ. of Freiburg and several churches. At 3 we had a lecture on Germany’s role in the development of Europe. After this, I walked all over town by myself. After supper, a group of us hiked up the mountain outside of town…a steep climb… and went to a mixer with some German students at a restaurant on the top. Had a glass of that potent white wine…Kaiser Stube. We danced a lot. About midnite, we walked back and turned in at 1.

Ulm Cathedral, February 24, 1961

Friday 2/24/61

Room 119  Hotel Torbrau  Munchen, Germany
After an early start, we had a rest stop at the little town where the mouth of the Danube is. The scenery was very beautiful…we saw our first snow…first on mountaintops in the distance and later by the roadside. Saw rolling green hills covered with fir trees and ski slopes. We stopped for lunch in Ulm. Saw the cathedral there which has the highest church spire in the world. Beautiful sweater weather. We left at 2 and traveled on one of the Autobahns which Hitler built in the 30’s. Arrived in Munich after 4. Phil and I went walking and I bought a German hat. After dinner at 7 we had a brief talk about Munich. Then, a group of us got together and went to the Hofbrauhaus wher Hitler had once spoken. We drank beer in liter mugs and danced. We walked back at midnite.

Border station on Autobahn as we crossed from Germany into Austria, our IES buses in background, February 25, 1961

Saturday 2/25/61
10:15  Room 429 Studentenheim   Vienna, Austria
We left Munich at 8. Saw beautiful scenery…the Bavarian Alps, the mountain where Hitler’s Berchtsgaden was located. Drove by Salzburg and had lunch. Later we drove by the palace of Francis Ferdinand. Had a rest stop about 30 minutes out of Vienna. Arrived at the IES dining hall about 6 and had dinner. Was shown to my room in the studentheim next door. It’s a nice room with two single beds. My Austrian roommate Fritz wasn’t in as he had gone home to Graz for the weekend. Got settled into my new “home”.

Postscript March 2011 by David Maraist: What a trip! Looking back, we must compliment the IES folks for guiding a large group of American students from New York to Wien so efficiently. They made sure we got to see all the sights and heard all the history while keeping us out of trouble. As great a trip this already was, we were to see that much more awaited us in the coming months.


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