Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon were both only a short distance northwest of London and on the way to Liverpool where I was to get my boat for the return trip to America. I went to Oxford first and must have spent more than a day there as I also visited the ruins of Kenilworth Castle. I remember poking around the ruins and eating lunch in a tearoom in a small town where everything was closed because of a holiday. I asked the waitress what event the holiday was for. All she could tell me was that it was a bank holiday.
On the train going on to Stratford, I shared a compartment with an American couple in their forties or fifties who were on a three week tour of England and Scotland. They had all of their stopping places mapped out with the names of their hotels and eating places. They didn't appear to be sort of people who would be going to an expensive hotel so when we got to Stratford, I went to the same hotel they did. The clerk told us the hotel was completely full but they had a private house they could rent to us at the same price as two rooms in the hotel. We took it but after we moved in we discovered there was no running water except in the kitchen and only a cold water faucet there. There was a gyzer (pronounced geezer, like Raymond had next to his kitchen in London) where you could heat water, however, tho it took a little time. My companions were disgusted, especially the husband. Our rooms contained a washstand with a big porcelain bowl and pitcher on it and a "slop jar" underneath like those we had used in Paulding until we moved into a house with plumbing. The cost of lodging in England included breakfast in most hotels and it was not the skimpy continental breakfast of coffee and rolls but a substantial one of ham and eggs, hard rolls with plenty of orange marmalade and butter, prunes, orange juice and coffee. After breakfast I spend the day, like all of the rest of the tourists, visiting every place that had ever had anything to do with Shakespeare, including the cemetery.
The Megantic, the boat I boarded for home in Liverpool, was much smaller than the Belgenland. It had only one stack. Many of the passengers were Canadians as our destination was Montréal. My two table companions were both Methodist ministers from small towns in Ontario. We became good friends but not intimate. There were quite a number of college students on board who had spent the summer studying in England and I associated with them more than anyone else on the boat. To keep warm, I found a place on deck where heat from the boilers came up thru a grill and I was able to look down thru a small window and watch the big Corliss engines working. At meal times, the dining room was half empty since many passengers were seasick all the way to Québec.
I could have stayed on board and debarked in Montréal but I wanted to stop to see Berthe Côté and Georgeanne LeClerc and the two children, Madeleine and Margot on Rue St. Eustache so I got off in Québec. It took two hours to go thru customs. For some reason the officials were not ready for us. Instead of waiting patiently in our seats for them to appear, the college age travelers started a lot of horseplay which I doubt the older passengers enjoyed. I had a two or three hour visit with my friends and also with Arthur LeClerc, their brother, who was visiting them, before I had to catch my train west. It's the only time I ever saw Arthur who had recently become a doctor.
I hadn't written often to Yvette Côté while I was in Europe but had kept in touch with her. She too had decided to see something of the world and had left Ottawa with the intention of working her way west until she landed in Vancouver. When she got to Toronto, however, she found a good job with a wholesale mail-order house translating their catalogue from English into French. She was also a private secretary to the head of the company. She was staying in a Catholic girls' rooming house called Rosary Hill. I met her there and we did the same thing we had done in Ottawa the year before. We went out to the Exposition grounds on the west side of Toronto. The Exposition was in full swing. Then we came back to Rosary Hill and sat in the parlor holding hands until time came for my train. The light was subdued and there was at least one other couple sitting close together in another corner of the room and occasionally other girls would open the door to come in, see us, and then discretely leave us alone.
To get to Muskegon, I had to change trains in Detroit. I had about a two hour wait and was sitting in the main waiting room reading when a young fellow about my age sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. After a few minutes he told me he had been sitting too long and suggested we go out on the street and take a walk. I had been inactive myself for too long and I readily agreed. I must have checked my cello and handbag; I don't remember having them with me. At the first cross street we came to a man about thirty years old who, from his dress and manner was just out of the back woods, accosted us and asked directions to a certain street and number and then, without waiting for a reply, began telling us a long story about having just come from Kentucky with a large sum of money to deliver to a cousin at that address. I told him he should find a policeman and ask him how to find that address. We continued our walk and I thought that was the end of it but he still kept following us muttering to himself. My newfound companion said to me, "This guy is evidently not all there; why don't we get that money from him. I bet he would fall for a trick like, heads I win, tails you lose." He got out a quarter and tried it. Sure enough, the yokel put up a dollar and lost it. "He sure is stupid," said my companion, "We might as well match him for everything he's got. How much money do you have?" I wasn't very sophisticated for knowledgeable in the ways of the world even though I was a college graduate but by that time I began to smell a rat. I looked around for a policeman but there was no one around and we had gotten into a rundown neighborhood that made me feel uneasy. The supposed simple country boy stood by listening to every world and chimed in with, "I bet he hasn't any money." My pal disputed this. "Sure he has," he said. "Go on, show him." I was afraid they would grab my money and run and wondered what to do. I didn't want to antagonize them. On an impulse I reached into my inside pocket where I had five one pound notes that I had left over and was waiting to convert into American money after I got back home. I pulled them out and said, "Sure I have." The move seemed to throw them off balance. They didn't know what to do next. Then I told my would-be pardner, "I'm going back to the station. If you wan to take this money, that's your business." "I'll take it away from him playing pool," he told me. The two of them walked away, apparently glad to be rid of me.
Last modified on 27 November 2017 @ 19:31