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The Donald S. Fredrickson Papers

Letter from Donald S. Fredrickson to C. Arthur and Blanche Fredrickson pdf (425,082 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Donald S. Fredrickson to C. Arthur and Blanche Fredrickson
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (425,082 Bytes)
1948-06-25 (June 25, 1948)
Fredrickson, Donald S.
Fredrickson, C. Arthur
Fredrickson, Blanche
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Biographical Information
Box Number: 7
Folder Number: 91
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence, 1948-1998
SubSeries: Personal Correspondence, 1948-1997
Folder: Fredrickson, C. Arthur and Blanche Sharp Fredrickson (parents), 1948-1975
at Sea
100 miles off Plymouth, England
June 25, 1948
Dear Mom and Dad,
The last day of any voyage is much too filled with goodbyes, packing etc. to write hence I shall have this mailed from our first port of call, Plymouth, England, tomorrow morning. At this time we shall watch the tenders pull into Plymouth to add of our passengers, the most going to Le Havre and Oslo, Norway, the last two ports-of-call.
Let us begin the Oddysey [sic] by the comment "magnificent [sic] trip" not because of the weather namely, though for the fog horn has [ . . . ] every minute now for 3-4 days after 1-2 days of glorious sun-on deck, nor particularly because of the boat and its accommodations. But "C'est en bon voyage", for the strident personalities because so many of the better [?] aboard ship are all around me now in the lounge (at 2:30 a.m., -- a great mass of us not going to berth before 2-3 a.m. on any night, rising from the rocking berths at about 11 a.m. -- to start the day over with constant talk, good talk if you seek it out, music, art, sex, love, religion, any topic in any language, excellent meals, the day rising in importance and enjoyment as it lengthens, reaching height after midnight over the 3-4-5 cups of tea or coffee with a cigarette (none for me, I made myself beautifully ill second day out with half-a-dozen to catalyze a conversation on Freud) in the A-deck dining-room.
But as Radio-Paris brings in Chopin into the lounge loud-speaker (seems lately it has been Radio Moscow beaming [?] toward France voluble propaganda and a strange medley of [ . . . ] snatches of Victor Herbert, Russian folk music, and ill-interpolated measures of Being [ . . . ]ly) I shall offer a few details of the ship and its odd cargo of students and the handful of Quakers who compose our "meditation staff".
The Boat
The S.S. Marine Jumper is a troopship -- no doubt of it -- but it carries its present load in a deserving [?] fashion. Brass plates "troop mess", "sick bay" etc. still adorn its hatchways, but the 4-deep tiers of bunks are only used for two, table cloths cover the benches in its two mess halls, and its crew-passenger ratio now 214 for 600 passengers is much better designed for comfort than its own time. The boat was sired by Kenny Kaiser, out of Portland, Ore., beyond that its ownership, lease etc. is a muddled lineage shared by the Gant, Moore-McCormick, and U.S. lines. Frankly, though I'm in the lowest cabin-room [?] possible ("C") it is a luxury liner compared to expectations. Food is excellent, choice in the menu, good cuts of meat, plenty of egg and fruit and served by stewards who know what they're doing, and even at least does it well. Passenger decks are C-B-A (but accommodations equal only 12 -14 in a cabin as compared to about 35 per in ours. This plus porthole in the former are about the only difference. The cabin is only for sleeping, hence it doesn't matter, a lounge for cards or talks, "D"-deck -- recreation hall for dancing (tonight) and frequent meditation meetings -- none of which we need attend unless we wish, a small "library" (a couple of filing cabinets) Fair amt. of deck space -- a small "A" deck, reserved for A deck passengers -- if any distinction were observed -- none is -- "Boat-deck" -- for a main promenade, and the Sun Deck, mainly consisting of hatches and gun turrets sans guns -- plus a bridge and various restricted areas, with galleys etc. below make up the Jumper -- which once carried 2000 troops in a voyage -- now almost 600 students -- and could carry more a few sections remaining empty.
The voyage:
Left New York Harbor at 5:05 p.m. E.D.T. -- I missed, thanks to gluttony (dinner being served at the time) a passing wave to the bronze lady who watches over the harbor -- and could only bid adieu at a distance over the stern. Beyond that, the description of the trip as to color of the ocean (I have now seen, at last, real ultramarine) the red sky at dusk portenting [sic] good day tomorrow, lazy hours on the crowded sun deck, now main deck with only a few yards of visible ocean on each side -- and the interminable blast of the horn, demanding 5 seconds of silence in every minute of conversation, moonlight over the Atlantic ad mal-de-mer -- all can be found in any book on the sea. I must confess I have spent no lonely moments hanging over the side -- the days have passed too full of interest for loneliness.
The personalities aboard:
Here is where my vision and memory are always most clear. The 600-odd passengers may arguably be grouped into: (1) 210+ going to Oslo University in Norway for summer session, a rather dull group of undergraduates who are for some reason going to study Norwegian language, history, marine life, or geology for no discernable reason in most cases. It's good to get ahead etc. -- the mass of interesting people are not in this group by any means -- (2) the group getting off at Plymouth, various odd lots going on tours in small groups (like Ruth Connelly -- a girl whose name R.W. Atwater gave me -- from Carleton College, one of 20 going all year wither her prof. of German; quite lonely, quite young), others to St. Andrews in Scotland for a summer's work -- (names like Hi Bates of Louisville, Ky. whom I must remember) and others including our rare travel mates from Michigan, Chas Bauer and John Shaw.
(3) the "disorganized group" getting off at Le Havre for France, a large group to Fontainbleau, below Paris to study music (like Bill Graves, a student composer under Ray Morris), art (like Boston's Diana Metcalf (nom de plume equals Diana Hathaway) (took me 5 days and 2 insults to meet this woman -- a rather nice untamed panther-type freckles, black hair (descriptions for future reference); John Rhenhere [?] in sociology (from Conn.); others to study piano under Robert Casadena, like NellieW[ . . . ] -- others to travel, beginning with Paris like ourselves; Julie Blume and Helen Wicker, two Michigan girls "going to study (Ha!) at the Sorbonne (to these two I have, among other things, several windy nights on the bridge aft. -- my very good friends aboard (constantly at tea) (1) W. [ . . . ] Miller, Charleston French Teacher; (ah! Bayer- ) Eleanor _______ , teacher at Bernard College N. Y. and Creighton Gilbert, gaunt John-Carradine-like creature constantly in a dirty pair of white striped pants, long raincoat, ill-kempt mustache [sic] -- history of art teacher at Louisville, Ky -- off to Rome for the summer.
I have forgotten (1) Allen Crouch of Batesville, Ark. now at National Law School -- very interesting and well educated we shall seek him out in Zurich. (2) August Janssen -- of Amsterdam -- 2 yrs in Malay conc. camp, now studying at Ill.; we shall stop at his home. And the other more casual acquaintances, so many -- many gifted, many others very naive and not blessed with great deal more than passage costs, although there are
no dullards aboard. -- Everybody in jeans, peddle [sic] pushers, dirty sweaters, old shoes, no protocal [sic], no standards of elegance to envy or strive to equal -- all are very much students, all easy to meet, most offering worthy conversation, a few good advice while abroad, though for most this is the first voyage. The passenger list contains a very few oldsters -- all of whom teach or did so -- and are ship's characters-par excellence -- Madam Munet (of Smith College -- off to see husband in Paris, and setting a new non-stop record for borrowing cigarettes.) There are many nationals on board, going home again -- at the table, one can sit next to a boy going back to Copenhagen, to Toulon, or to Heidelberg, and many of the travelers speak well several languages. Twice a day we have quick practical language lessons in small groups, if we wish -- mine with good old Prof. Menge of Carleton College in beginning (the very beginning) French, so that hapless bicyclists will not be without disarming phrases like: "je suis americain; venez faire in promenade avec moi au clair de lune, mon cheri" etc. -- although the bicyclists will still be very hapless for a while I think. Our first meeting of the French peasant will be as memorable for France as 1917. I listen like a parrot to all conversations in French and pester constantly all the initiated for critiques (usually despairing sighs) of my vocalizing.
Women? -- not enough attractive ones, although there are adequate representatives of coed stature from Bowling Green, Ohio -- to the usually, nay omnipresent, Vassar representation, most, however, seem to be in groups, pure arranged -- but the voyage has not been dull.
The medical students (Three from Duke are aboard to study pediatrics at Old Guy's in London) were given a tour of the ship's hospital -- not used to capacity, the surgeon had not yet figured out how to turn on the O.R. lights, but very complete thanks to the previous troops for whom it was built.
Chas and John contrived a deck tennis game which keeps most of the passengers from promenading aft on the starboard side of the boat deck -- and which gives us merriment when all is occasionally dull. I actually haven't been with Sally or the Michigan group very much, spending most of the time in other heavier [?] conversational groups, meeting new people constantly is always a pleasure -- luckily most of the interesting people will return with us on the Tyer!
odd bits of intelligence -- adequate showers, water bowls with clean towels and soap -- God Bless our ship --
orientation program extends to census [?] discussions, folk social dancing -- and a couple of B-movies both of which I had the foresight to see before -- one shown below, and
the other rather successfully out on the funnel. Now, 3 a.m. and we are good loud untiring [?] groups as ever.
Most of us already are quite brown and should present remarkably healthy specimans [sic] of young Americans to the protein-minus Europeans.
All of western Europe -- better much of -- is now before us, most of our fellow travelers envy our summer, for most are "consigned" to definite study somewhere, and will not have our foot-loose freedom. The condition of the bicycles when lifted from the hold will condition my further mood.
Thus -- for now, land is one hour away -- we are south of Ireland and won't see it -- anchorage off Plymouth ("Harbor won't hold us") at 5 -- Plymouth groups off at 8 a.m. and next day finds us at Le Havre for our own debarkation -- papers for which we obtained today. The assault of Europe is about to begin, and the Marine Jumper without even a good core of sea s[ . . . ] to man its voyage (provided we negotiate this fog) will now lose its wonderfully varied cargo of eager people who haven't noticed the hardness of its bunks, its lack of a French salon, or tiled swimming pool -- who are quite self-sufficient in the student tradition -- a magnificiently [sic] comfortable way for those of us to travel who hate social protocal [sic] with the fervor of the emancipated, and, who with nothing more than road companionship and plenty of food to make a trip like this "the time of our lives"
So far, I've loved every moment of it --
Happy Father's Day, some belatedly --
next word, quite literally, from Paris,
au revoir --
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