When I tried to type my last letter to you – soon after arriving here in
We had a violent but successful struggle getting out of
And everybody felt better. News was that we were only two hours late, so we returned and spent the remaining time telling jokes and admiring the always increasingly beautiful scenery of the foothills of the alps, with their snow-covered summits and wooded girdles of pine. An occasional little village would drift by with its inevitable church and its substantial little houses. Most of the land, even the most hilly, was under cultivation. The latter is achieved by means of sticks to which the plants attach themselves and grow upright. French peasant women would be working in the fields, clothed in their costumes of loud colors. Altogether we were compensated for our night’s discomforts.
Shortly after noon we arrived at Modane, on the Italian border, where we were to be inspected. Here was located a small detachment of U.S. military police to watch for deserters and A.W.O.L.s (which in army parlance means absent without leave) and several R.T.O.s (railway transportation officer). In charge of both was a young sergeant, who on looking at my passport and military status remarked that he was from Balto. And that his bother lived at
From Modane was but a three hour ride to Torino from where we were to board the train for
We tho’t to while away some of the time playing cards so we made some of paper and Rubinow, Robison, Szold and I played poker, - much to the amusement of a group of onlookers outside. We used matches for chips. As usual I won! Meantime Dr. Fr. had fallen asleep so we all followed suit. We piled our suitcases on the floor and made ourselves quite comfortable. At one of the stations early in the morning I had gotten out to buy some chocolate – the first really good chocolate we’ve had since leaving the U.S - and had succeeded in smashing a window. And the night air was cold, so the blankets came into very good use. Most of us slept soundly until early in the morning when a loud humming awoke us. An airplane was flying just outside the window about ten feet off the ground. He waved to us and then arose several thousand feet. We were on very flat country, travelling parallel to the shore of the Medit. A number of airplanes were visible in the distance – and soon we passed a large hangar.
At eleven we arrived in
Late in the afternoon a Zionist enthusiast appeared name Dr. Bleustein and we succeeded finally in establishing linguistic relations with him with the forbidden language. Thru him we met a young Polish boy who, with about 150 other others, has after three months wandering, succeeded in getting this far on his journey to
This morning we went to temple. A huge, gorgeous, orthodox affair it was. The services were most chaotic and uninteresting. Afterwards we lunched at a kosher restaurant where we met a Zionist of some fame – Ushiskin*. He talked interminably!
We walked to
From there we meandered to St. Peter’s Cathedral which is attached to the Pope’s estate. Compared with it
In the center is a large tabernacle, modelled after one of Solomon’s temple. Below this behind several barred doors (opened by their keeper for a consideration) rest the bones of Sts. Peter and Paul, in a beautiful gold casket made by Benvenuto Cellini. We wandered about for a little. There were some rather interesting old paintings and marble sculpture, etc. Of the latter there was a lion, a wonderful creature, giant in proportions, about to make a spring. Every muscle is prepared and his huge jaw is already opening in anticipation. Gaze at him for a moment and unconsciously you shudder. Compared to him our 42
While the rest of the party returned to the hotel, Szold and I went out to the coliseum. It proved quite interesting with its tiers of stone on one side five high. While standing in the middle of the inside we chanced to look up and beheld directly over us an airplane looping the loop – the contrast of the different ages was ludicrously striking.
This eve we had planned to go to the opera – but could get no seats.
Lots of love and kisses
Ushiskin – Menahem Mendel Ushiskin:- b. Russia 1863 – d. Jerusalem 1941; active as organizer in every Zionist effort from 1881 in Russia; leader in Zionist Congresses, aliya groups, delegate to Paris Peace Conference after which he made aliya*.
“Aliya (literally ascending) is the Hebrew word for immigration to the