Days 40 through 43 of my grandmother’s 1936 trip through Europe. (Previously: Introduction, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9, Part 10.)

Saturday, Aug. 1st [1936], Orleans

Left Tours this morning for Orleans where we arrived about noon. After getting settled in our rooms and having lunch we started out to see the city. This is the city that Joan d’Arc saved from the British and so it has many statues and church built in her honor. First we saw the statue in the market place which is supposed to be the finest one built to her memory. From here we went to the Joan d’Arc museum which houses many thousands of pictures of her and the war implements and flags used in her time. This museum is housed in what used to be the home of Agnes Sorel the most beautiful woman of France. From here we just wandered about the city and visited a church and then went back to the hotel. Walked after dinner & wrote letters.

Orléans_Jeanne_d'Arc_place_du_MartroiDoris mentioned Agnes Sorel in the previous entry too, she seems to have liked her. The statue she looked at in the market is probably this one, by Denis Foyatier. Also on this day, the opening ceremony of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, sometimes called the Nazi Olympics due to Hitler’s successful employment of the Games as a grand piece of pro-Germany propaganda. From the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Most newspaper accounts echoed the New York Times report that the Games put Germans ‘back in the fold of nations,’ and even made them ‘more human again.'” Three years later, of course, Hitler invaded Poland. (It occurs to me we’ve seen a pale imitation of this same strategy quite recently, with Vladimir Putin invading Crimea right after accruing international goodwill for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.)

Sunday, Aug. 2 [1936], Biarrritz

Left Orleans after breakfast and after a short ride to Les Aubrais changed trains and started on our long journey to Biarritz. As there were no seats in the second class compartments we had a 1st class on all to ourselves. We walked thru the third class cars which are simply terrible. I would certainly hate to have to ride any distance in them. The seats are just straight wood benches. The car was just loaded with people standing in the aisles and sitting and lying all around, eating, smoking, and hollering. Just like steerage on a boat. We spent the day, knitting, eating (as we had brought our lunch along this time just economizing for a change. Not that we don’t know how to. Our money certainly is low.) talking and sleeping. We arrived in Biarritz about 7 and were certainly glad to find a man, who spoke English, meeting us. We’re staying at a very lovely hotel run by people who can understand us. That is the grandest part. We were quite thrilled to find that our mail had been sent from Paris. It just made the day and night. After a very late supper we wrote awhile and ten went to bed very tired after the long train ride.

Les Aubrais is the train station in Orleans. While Grandma was congratulating herself on knowing how to economize, in Berlin, Hitler was personally congratulating Olympic medalists until Cornelius Johnson, an African American, won gold in the high jump. The consensus response from the Olympic committee was that Hitler–who had almost inspired a boycott of the Olympics by initially forbidding participation by Jewish athletes–should congratulate all medallists, or none of them. He chose the latter option.

Monday, Aug. 3 [1936], Biarritz

Got up this morning about 9:30 after the most terrible night I’ve ever spent. We got in bed last night all set for a good night’s rest but were soon convinced that this was just not to be. The flies and mosquitos were simply terrible. After about 2 hrs. Bert & I finally switched on the light to find ourselves just one mass of bites. Our faces and arms were so swollen we hardly recognized one another. For 2 hours after that we did nothing but kill the damn things and tried to sleep the rest of the morning (4-6) with light on swatting anything that came near us. It was terrible. This morning after breakfast we walked around the city, which is very lovely and very clean. The cleanest place we’ve hit in France probably because of so many tourists. We did a little shopping and after lunch Marie and I walked about and looked at the beaches and beautiful coastal life. About 4 we all went down to the beach for a swim in spite of the unsettled weather & showers. It was a frothy beach nestled in among the rocks with a lovely view of the reefs just a short distance out in the sea. After dinner we went to a movie. The original English version of “The Ghost Goes West” with French subtitles. It surely was a treat to be able to relax and understand the picture. We acted like regular nuts clapping when the American flag was shown in the news reels. Real true Americans, that’s us. Went back to the hotel and talked but not before we made sure the room was sprayed with fly tox and the windows shut tight.

The_Ghost_Goes_West_FilmPosterThe Ghost Goes West was a British supernatural comedy in which some rich Americans buy a Scottish castle and move it to Florida, only to discover they’ve brought along its resident ghost as well. In the Olympics, Jesse Owens won his first of four gold medals on this day, tying the world record for the 100-meter dash.

Tuesday, Aug. 4 [1936], Biarritz

Slept late this morning as our pals the mosquitos didn’t disturb us. After a busy morning washing & mending Jo & I went walking to see the aquarium which wasn’t open as it was almost one o’clock. All places in France, department stores included, close their doors between 12-2 for lunch. Business or no business those Frenchmen must eat. After the lunch the sun came out so we went down to the beach again where we spent a few hours lying in the sand and swimming. We have had so little sun since we’ve been traveling that it’s a real treat. Had an early dinner and then did our packing and to bed early as we have to leave at 7:30 in the morning.

Not a hugely eventful day in my grandmother’s life, but the day Jesse Owens won gold in the long jump, an event in which he’d already set a world record the year before that would stand for 25 years.