Chapter 52: Our First Trip Abroad
It was the morning of February 14, 1947. At that very moment, the Shasta Limited was approaching the station at Eugene, Oregon.
Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Annie Mann (a later hostess of girls’ student residences at the college in Pasadena), and I were in my office. I had my hat and coat on, my suitcase packed and beside me and was throwing last-minute papers into my briefcase.
Suddenly Mrs. Armstrong exclaimed, “I’ve decided I want to go with you!”
Mrs. Armstrong’s ‘Shirttail Shoot’
“Well, this is a nice time to make up your mind,” I said. “You couldn’t possibly get ready in time, now.”
“Oh yes I can!” she replied. “Grab your suitcase and typewriter, and let’s hurry!”
We dashed to the elevator. On the street below, one of our sons was waiting at the wheel of the car.
“Drive over to our rooms! Hurry!” I said. “Mother’s decided to go with me.”
At the time, the reader will remember, we were living in two upstairs rooms in a rooming house about five or six blocks from the office. We had sold our home nearly two years before. The Work had needed the money.
We were whisked, as only a 17-year-old boy can whisk an automobile around corners on two wheels, to our rooming house. We dashed upstairs. Mrs. Armstrong first threw her suitcase out of the closet, asking Mrs. Mann to throw her clothes into it while she pulled them down off hangers and literally threw them out of the closet. In less than two minutes she had dresses, suits and other things out of dresser drawers, thrown and jammed into her suitcase.
We dashed back downstairs, and the car careened around corners, pulling up to the depot about one minute before the train pulled out. Eugene was a division point on the railroad, and the train stayed there 10 minutes while they changed engines and crews. But the train had pulled into the station just about the moment we were coming down the elevator of the office building.
I told my sons to put our luggage on the train, while I dashed across the waiting room floor to the ticket office, and asked for a one-way ticket to Portland. There was not time, now, to procure tickets to New York and return for my wife.
Many, many times I had made what my wife termed “shirttail shoots” for trains. This is one time she herself was guilty.
But the “shirttail shoot” was not over yet. I now had to pick up her round-trip ticket to New York, when we changed trains at Portland. We had 12 minutes between trains at Portland. But, as usual in those days, there was a long line standing queued before each ticket window. At the very last second, I finally obtained her tickets, and caught the train as it was starting.
We arrived in Seattle in the afternoon, and that evening started the long ride from Seattle. It was a rough, jerky ride across the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, into Illinois at Chicago. Our Pullman berth must have been at one end of the car, immediately over the wheels, where the riding is much rougher. It was even rougher on the B & O all-night ride into Washington,
How Not to Plan Your Trip Abroad
Now ensued a series of exciting events which give the reader an example of how
Arriving in Washington in the morning, we first checked in at the Statler Hotel. Before applying for passports, it was necessary to obtain passport photos of ourselves. We found a leading photograph studio in the hotel. The photographer tried to sell us a dozen larger photographs along with the passport photos.
I had not had my photograph taken for many years. I had never allowed my picture to be reproduced in the Plain Truth or any of our literature. I had, for years, even dodged and avoided all camera shots, except a few to be kept within the family. But just prior to this I had received a letter from a radio listener that convinced me I had been wrong.
This listener asked me what I had to hide. He asked me what I would think of a minister if I dropped in at his church, and the pastor hid behind the pulpit while he preached. Would I not think he had something to hide? Would I not become suspicious? He said character is written on one’s face, and he always liked to see the faces of those he listened to. Of course, this was not possible on radio, but at least, he said, I ought to let listeners see my picture.
The thought came of using one of these photographs to reprint, but I was still hesitant about printing it in the Plain Truth. The photographer made a proposition. Why not place a bulk order for 500? He would make us a very special low price for such an order. He did it all the time, he said, for congressmen and government officials, who thus sent these photographs to constituents.
So, it occurred to me it might be preferable to send real photographs to just those few who personally requested and wanted them, rather than publishing my picture for all readers to see. We placed an order, I believe, for some 400 of me and 100 of Mrs. Armstrong since most requests we had received were, naturally, for mine. Actually, I think we found later that we should have ordered them just the other way around, for there was a far bigger demand for my wife’s picture than the supply. After our return from abroad, these were mailed out to those who had personally requested them.
Next I went to the State Department, but the press officer could not be seen until afternoon. Then I went to the ticket office of the Cunard Line, owners of the great ship the Queen Elizabeth. They had one cabin left, space for two, cabin class, on this particular sailing but that was the only space on the ship. We wanted to return mid-March. But there was no space whatever available on the west-bound voyage until August. I was told there might be some chance of a cancellation in the next two days, before sailing. The agent agreed to telephone their New York office, and I could contact them there, after arriving in New York. I purchased the ticket for the cabin on the east-bound passage.
In the afternoon I waited a long while in the office of the State Department press officer until he returned, about 4:30 p.m. He was glad to see me again, and immediately called the passport office across the street, asking them to process my passport at once. It was a few moments before closing time when we arrived at the passport office.
They told me our passports would be ready in the morning. I happened to show them my State Department credential card which I carried.
“If you had just shown us that,” I was told, “we would have put through your passports earlier in the day, and you could have had them before now.”
It was necessary to obtain visas to cross France, and to enter Switzerland, as well as to enter England.
The next morning, February 18, after obtaining the passports, we visited both the Swiss and French embassies, and had their visas stamped in the passports. However, we learned that the British visa had to be obtained in New York.
We had another very rough ride that afternoon on the train to New York—rougher than the others before.
Arriving in New York, we went to the Ambassador Hotel, where I customarily stopped when in New York. I had wired ahead for a reservation the day before leaving Eugene. But even then my telegram had not arrived in time. The hotel was booked up solid.
“Mr. Armstrong,” the desk clerk said, “we certainly try to take care of our regular guests, but we’re simply filled up, and booked ahead for about two weeks. But we have arranged a room for you and Mrs. Armstrong in another very good hotel just a couple of blocks away. We were also unable to accommodate your United States senator from Oregon. You’ll see Sen. Wayne Morse sitting over there across the lobby.”
I was acquainted with Senator Morse. He had been dean of the law school of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, before his election to the Senate. Mrs. Armstrong and I walked across the lobby, and chatted with the senator a few moments, then went on to the other hotel.
Immediately upon reaching our room, I telephoned the Cunard Line to see if a cancellation had turned up on the return voyage, sailing from Southampton, March 15.
“Mr. Armstrong,” said the man at the Cunard office, “I would say that your chances are absolutely hopeless. We are booked solid for all our ships—and so are all other steamship lines—until the middle of August. More than that, we have several hundred others on the waiting list—all ahead of you. There’s absolutely no chance of so many cancellations that we can fill all of those ahead of you before tomorrow’s sailing.”
Hopeless or not, I do not give up easily. I determined to call the Cunard office again next morning.
But let me say right here, all this experience is an example of how not to plan your trip abroad—on a moment’s notice, without passport, steamer or plane reservation, visas or other preparations. Start planning at least a month ahead.
Out-Determining John Bull
Next morning I telephoned the Cunard office again. The same voice answered at their reservation office. It was the same story.
“I told you, Mr. Armstrong, there’s no chance whatever,” he said.
But I kept on talking. Soon we got into quite a conversation. I was telling him about a branch college in Europe. The idea was something new in education. He became interested, and so I kept on talking. After a while he said, “Would you excuse me a moment? I have to take a call on the other phone. I’ll be right back.”
In just about 50 seconds his voice came back.
“What lucky star were you born under, Mr. Armstrong?” he asked. “Talk about miracles! Do you know what that call was? It was a man canceling a cabin on the March 15 sailing from Southampton, and just because you’re on the phone at this moment, I’m going to forget all those other applications on the waiting list ahead of you, and let you have it!”
It was no “lucky star,” but it probably was a miracle! Mrs. Armstrong and I walked hurriedly over to the closest subway station on Lexington Avenue, and caught the first express train to downtown Wall Street, and hurried over to the Cunard office, where we procured our return passage on the Queen Elizabeth. Without it, we knew we would not be able to obtain British visas, or even to board ship that night.
The actual sailing was set for about 5 a.m. next morning, but all passengers had to be aboard ship by 11 p.m. that same night, Wednesday, February 19.
Immediately we took a subway back uptown, and went to the British visa office in Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue. A line was queued before the visa window. I waited in line. Finally reaching the window, I was told that no visas could be issued in less than 30 days’ time. I could file my application now, but the visa could not be issued for 30 days.
“But I must have this visa immediately, today!” I said. “Look, here is our ticket on the Queen Elizabeth. We have to be aboard ship before 11 o’clock tonight.”
“That makes no difference, sir,” replied the clerk. “We require 30 days to issue a visa. You Americans are always trying to do things in a hurry. But you are in a British office now, and we don’t rush things through in such a mad manner.”
“This may be a British office, but you’re in America, now, mister,” I returned. “And here, we do things the American way. I have tickets to board the Queen Elizabeth tonight, and we are going to board it!”
“My dear sir,” the clerk said politely, “we British are quite determined, you know. Would you please step aside, now. You are holding up this queue.”
“Well now,” I smiled, “you may be Johnny Bull, and you may have bulldog determination, and stubbornness, but right now, I’m more determined. I will not move from here until you stamp the visa in my passport. If you want to make room for those behind me, just stamp it, here.”
“But I simply have to clear the way for the others behind you. Would you continue talking, then, to one of the officers at one of the desks behind me, so I can get to the others?”
“That depends,” I said. “Is the man at the desk behind you your superior? Does he have more authority to issue a visa than you?”
Assured that he did have superior authority, I agreed that if this officer would come to the window and agree to let me inside the gate to see him, I would leave the window and continue with the man higher up.
He asked me why I had not sent in my application 30 days earlier. I explained that this was an emergency trip, planned suddenly only six days before, out on the West Coast. I explained how we had picked up passports on the run, as it were, and how miraculously space on the ship had opened up, and we had all the other required visas. Now all we needed was the British visa, so we could land at Southampton and pass through England on the way to Switzerland and return.
But he, too, was stubborn. He refused to issue the visa short of 30 days. It seemed very unjust. If he was determined, I was more determined. I kept talking.
“Mr. Armstrong,” he said, finally, “I simply must ask you to please excuse me. I have much work to do.”
“I will not leave until you stamp the visa on our passports,” I said with finality.
“Well then,” he compromised, “will you leave now and come back at 3:30 this afternoon?”
The office closed at 4 p.m.
“Will you promise to see me then, if I do?” I asked. He promised, and Mrs. Armstrong and I left. Promptly at 3:30 p.m. we returned. But this man avoided even looking our way. I stood at the gate, waiting. He did not keep his promise. He refused even to glance my way, and I was unable to open the gate and go to him.
Finally, at five minutes to four, he walked into another room. A moment later, another man, who sat at another desk, after cleaning up his desk to leave for the day, saw me waiting at the gate. He came to the gate, asking if there was something I wanted before the closing time.
“Yes indeed,” I replied. “Mr. Blank asked me to return at this time for my visa. We are boarding the Queen Elizabeth tonight. But Mr. Blank just went into another room, and didn’t seem to know I was here.”
“Oh, I’ll take care of it for him, then,” he smiled. “Will you step in?” We walked over to his desk, and he stamped visas in our passports. I got out quickly, before Mr. Blank returned.
The Floating City
With nerves almost shattered, we walked up the gangplank of the Queen Elizabeth about 9 o’clock that night, looking forward to five quiet days aboard ship.
But there was no quiet until after 11 p.m., when all visitors had to leave the ship. The letters Mrs. Armstrong and I wrote our children tell the story:
Wednesday night, 11:39 p.m.
February 19, 1947
We are on board—mail leaves in 10 minutes—must be brief.
Visitors all have just left, This is the largest passenger liner ever built—tremendous! It’s been like an exaggerated movie premier—mobs throng all over—14 decks—blocks and blocks long—everyone dressed up—many in evening clothes—everyone happy—crowd surrounding Mischa Auer getting autographs (he’s going to Europe on the Queen)—now it’s quieting down. This ship carries 3,500 passengers—a city floating! One gets lost on it.
At last we’re really going to England—Europe! We have a nice small private stateroom to ourselves.
Dick and Ted, prove you are grown up and worthy of being trusted and taking responsibility. That’s the way to get more privileges. Ted dress warm. That’s all the time I have.
Keep the home fires burning. They say there’s no coal for fires in England or Europe. We’ll probably freeze and starve—but here we go!
Dearest Children all of you,
It’s a quarter of midnight. We are aboard and lack a whole lot of having seen the ship. It’s immense. We are going to bed.
Ted if only I knew you were taking care of yourself I would be much happier. You must not go out in a T-shirt when you are accustomed to a sweater. Now take care of yourself.
I can’t realize that I’m at last going to see England. I’ve always wanted to. This is a beautiful ship. We’ll get pictures of it.
We wish we could see all of you. We send a world of love to our dear family.
The Queen Elizabeth was 1,031 feet long—almost a quarter mile. It had 14 decks; its gross tonnage was 83,673 tons—about double that of a large battleship; it carried 3,500 passengers.
I was much amused at a cockney elevator operator aboard ship. Of course, actually the ship did not have elevators—the British call them “lifts.” In calling out the various decks, he would say: “‘C’ deck next—‘C’ for Charlie.” Then, “‘R’ deck next—‘R’ for restaurant.” Then, “‘B’ next—‘B’ for Bertie.” Then, “‘I’ deck next—‘I’ for Albert.”
We had the smoothest crossing ever experienced by members of the crew—so some of them told us. We had prayed for it. Nevertheless, Mrs. Armstrong spent two days in bed with seasickness.
Aboard ship, at the reservations office, reservations were made for us at the Dorchester in London. At Southampton, the boat train to London was waiting in the customs shed at the docks. I had obtained Pullman car reservations. This does not mean sleeping cars in England—just first-class coaches. The tickets had been obtained at the reservations window aboard ship. In the customs shed, an officer examined our tickets, and told me we were in car “I.” So we walked almost the length of the train, past cars “C,” “D,” “E,” and on down to “I.” Then we learned that we had encountered another cockney—and we had to trudge back to car “A.”
Arriving in London
We docked at Southampton on Tuesday, February 25. Thursday morning, the 27th, a reporter from the Daily Graphic called on the telephone and asked for an interview. He arrived at 12:30, so I invited him to lunch in the Dorchester Grill Room. The idea of a college with one unit in America, and one in Europe, with a number of qualifying students transferring from the one on scholarship to the other was a new idea in education.
“A wonderful idea,” he exclaimed. I did not get to see his story in the paper about it, since we left early the next morning for the Continent.
Our first real look at London was on Wednesday morning, February 26. In some respects it was like a dream. To us, it was a different world. Some of our first impressions were recorded in letters to our children. Here are brief excerpts:
From Mrs. Armstrong, written Wednesday: “It’s so different here in London. Cabs, buses, everything—never saw such a conglomeration of buildings, so many twists and turns in the streets. We went to Somerset House today. I thought I would look up Grandma’s birth record, but couldn’t find it. However, I don’t know just the year or place of her birth. We have a nice room, but cold. Lights all go off and elevators (pardon me—“lifts”) stop running from 9 until noon, and from 2 to 4 p.m. Scarcely any heat in the coldest winter England has had since 1840, around two years before Grandma was born. The sun shone brightly today—first time since five weeks ago. We’ve seen Buckingham Palace, Parliament buildings, etc.—of course, so far only a very small part of London, for we slept till almost noon.”
We had not arrived in London until after midnight.
A portion of my letter, written same day: “Dear kids all, at home: We have spent our first day in old London town. As Mother told you, because of a strike, and due to coal shortage, we were kept on board the Queen Elizabeth until 7:30 last night. Our train didn’t get started until 9 p.m. We almost froze. We’re almost freezing now. The temperature in the hotel room and lobby is about 55 degrees. It’s a different world. Old buildings—many in ruins, all originally nearly white, and of stone, now almost black—coal smoke.”
Attending a Royal Reception
Just before noon on Thursday, I received a telephone call from the private secretary to “His Excellency, the Ambassador and Plenipotentiary Extraordinary of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hafiz Wabba.” She said that His Excellency had heard that I was in London—I had an hour’s interview with him at the San Francisco Conference in 1945—and wished to extend a very special personal invitation for Mrs. Armstrong and me to attend a royal reception to be held that evening in the ballroom of our hotel, the Dorchester.
I wondered how the sheikh had come to know we were in London. Then I remembered that the day before I had seen some Arab officials in their flowing robes in the lobby of the hotel. I had gone to the reception desk to inquire whether Sheikh Hafiz Wabba was in the hotel. He was not, but I was informed that he did frequently come to the hotel. I had mentioned that I knew him. I supposed the reception office had made our presence known to the sheikh.
This royal reception was in honor of H.R.H., the Crown Prince, Emir Saud. He later became King Saud of Saudi Arabia. The sheikh’s secretary said that His Excellency would like to have another chat with me, and this reception would be the only opportunity, since he was leaving with the Crown Prince the next morning.
We had planned to leave London for Zürich that afternoon. We had an appointment to meet Dr. B. and Madame Helene Bieber in Zürich that evening. When I expressed regret at being unable to attend, due to this appointment in Zürich, the secretary urged me to postpone the Zürich appointment and stay over for the reception. It would be, she said, the most glamorous and important social event held in England since the war, and again reminded me it was the only opportunity for another interview with the sheikh.
I said that I would telephone Dr. B. in Zürich, and if I could postpone our appointment, I would call her back. The appointment was postponed, and I notified the ambassador’s secretary. A little later a specially engraved invitation arrived at our apartment by private messenger.
Perhaps excerpts from a letter written to the family at home immediately after returning from the reception will best describe the experience. This is what I wrote:
“Just this second we returned from the royal reception held by Sheikh Hafiz Wabba and H.R.H. Emir Saud, the Crown Prince of Arabia. It was very colorful. About 200 invited guests—earls, dukes with their monocles and flashing decorations, admirals, commodores, dozens of ambassadors—we saw those from Turkey, Chile, Albania, etc. We entered in couples. A brightly uniformed page announced each couple in a very loud voice, as ‘Lord and Lady so and so,’ ‘Admiral and Mrs. so and so,’ ‘The Turkish Ambassador,’ and so on. We were announced as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong.’
“The Arabs, in their flowing robes, stood in the receiving line. Mother advanced first, then I—since this was the customary way. First we were greeted by His Excellency Sheikh Hafiz Wabba. In turn he introduced us to the tall and very handsome crown prince, whom they addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness.’ Then the remaining five or six top Arab officials. Then the crowd mingled around, munching on tiny sandwiches, French pastries, while being served tea. The dress was not formal. The people over here have been through a war, in a way we Americans have no conception, and they simply don’t have many fine clothes over here right now. There were very few in evening clothes. The clothes of several were becoming a bit threadbare. Yet the titled ones wore their glittering decorations. Mother was the nicest-looking woman there.
“We had a very nice, brief, private talk with the sheikh, and got a statement for my article on the Palestine situation for the next Plain Truth.
“We were seated at a table, when the royal party approached. Immediately we arose, and took seats at another table. The crown prince sat at the table we had vacated, but before doing so smiled and motioned for us to be seated beside him at the table. He does not speak a word of English. I felt we should not accept his invitation, since it was apparent that table was intended for the royal party. He was merely trying to be cordial. Twice he smilingly motioned a welcome to us, but I smilingly and apologetically shook my head and refrained.”
That crown prince later became the king, when his father, old King Ibn Saud, died. That experience was the first time we had ever come into personal contact with royalty.
While I was writing the above, Mrs. Armstrong was writing the following about the reception:
“We just returned to our room from the royal reception. I felt just like Little Lord Fauntleroy. It was all so interesting. We were announced in a thundering voice to all. Presented to Sheikh Hafiz Wabba (His Excellency), who in turn presented us to the crown prince (His Royal Highness), and on down the receiving line. We were among the lords and ladies, dukes and earls, and admirals and ambassadors of many countries. They are all just folks. We were so interested in it all—tables everywhere—you could sit or not. In the center of the ballroom were large banquet tables with different kinds of food and drinks. One just walked up anywhere and helped himself. There was beautiful music—violins and piano. The Palestinian announcer for the bbc branch there introduced himself to me and then to two ladies, and I later introduced him to Dad.
“It’s March 1 now;” (this part evidently written later) “I’m all packed. We leave soon for France. It’s bitter cold, no heat at all in the rooms. I fill the bathtub with hot water and get in until heated through, and then jump into bed. Last night the maid brought me a stone hot water bottle that kept me warm. Poor Britain is suffering even worse, it seems, than during the war. Everything but water is rationed.”
And Now—the Continent
The evening of March 1, I was writing a letter with my portable typewriter on my lap, in my upper berth in a compartment on the sleeping car of a French train from Calais, bound for Zürich. Mrs. Armstrong occupied the lower berth. This is part of what I wrote:
“Here we are in France. Just boarded this train a half hour ago. It’s now dark. At 4:30 this afternoon we were on a boat crossing the English Channel, and the sun not far from the horizon sinking in the west. I looked at my larger watch, which is still set Eugene time, and it was 8:30 a.m. I did a little quick calculating and discovered that at that hour, you were looking at the same sun, same distance from the horizon, rising in the east, while we were looking at it setting in the west. We are one third way around the Earth from you. In other words, you people are walking almost upside down. I know you are, because one of us is, and it isn’t us over here.
“Calais is quite a little town. We’ve seen many bombed and shattered buildings. Our bombs probably did that. The Nazis had this town. Seems strange, like a dream, to think we are actually over here where the war was fought, in territory that was occupied by the Germans. I don’t see any Germans here now. The people here are French. And I mean French! At the dock and depot, which are joined together, the officers or attendants, or whatever they were, had typical French caps, like French Army officers, and flowing capes. The porters, seeking opportunity to carry luggage for the tips, yelled out, ‘Porteur! Porteur! Porteur!” with accent on the last syllable—or equally on both. The train porters can’t speak a word of English. They say ‘Oui!’ (pronounced ‘we’).
“It’s now 8:45 p.m. Just at that last paragraph we were called to dinner. A Frenchman walks through the cars ringing a cute little bell. We weren’t sure if it was a call to dinner, or whether there was even a dining car on the train. We were in the rear car, so we started forward. After going through all the sleepers, and about four day coaches (European type, six to a compartment), we came to what looked like the baggage car, decided there was no diner and turned back. Two cars back a porter stopped us. He couldn’t understand us; we couldn’t understand him. We tried by motions to make him understand we were looking for the dining car—if any. Mother suddenly remembered that the word ‘cafe’ is a French word, but probably we didn’t pronounce it the French way—at least he didn’t understand. I pointed to my mouth, then my stomach, and finally a light dawned on his face, and a smile. He pointed back up front. We opened the ‘baggage car’ door and found it was a diner. We sat by two Englishmen, one of whom travels over this railroad every two weeks or so, and speaks French. He steered us through the meal. First a waiter came by and served something supposed to be soup. (Right here Mother says we are entering Amiens—this town figured prominently in the war—remember?) After the soup, another waiter came along with a great big dish of spaghetti, with meat balls stuffed in deviled half-eggs. There is no water—unfit to drink. Everyone drinks red wine. The Englishman told us we could have fried chicken, not too bad, at extra cost, but by that time we had eaten enough spaghetti. Then a course of potatoes, then ‘ice cream,’ made with, apparently, water and skim milk. I paid in English money, about 14 shillings and some odd pence.
“Wish you could see this funny French sleeping car. These French cars are larger than the British—about the size of an American car. We had to climb up a steep ladder to get on the train. It’s rather crude compared to our Pullmans—still, not too bad. Altogether different, though. Seems funny to us. We have a private compartment. There are no sections—all private rooms. It has private wash basin, but no toilet. All use the same public toilet—both men and women.
“Mother has seen some of those French farms we’ve heard of—house and barn for livestock all in one building. The ground is covered with snow—has been, all over, since we landed at Southampton. We are to arrive at Basel about 8:10 a.m. There are no railroad folders, timetables or maps. Those are luxuries only Americans enjoy.”
I have quoted the letter at some length. Most books or articles about foreign travel do not mention many of these little things that an American notices on his first trip abroad. I felt those reading this autobiography might find it interesting.
The Vision of the Future
A portion of a letter written on the train next morning may be interesting—and prophetic: “The English tell us that we Americans are just now starting to go through the stage of development they did 200 years ago—that we are that far behind the times. They really think they are ahead of us! They are smugly ahead of what they suppose us to be—yet they know nothing of America, actually. I was particularly impressed by their pride. They feel they are superior, morally, to all people of the Earth. Yet it is quite apparent that their morals have hit a toboggan slide since the war! They are surely a long way from realizing their sins, nationally and individually, and of repenting of them—and they don’t even dream, and would never believe, that they are to be punished and conquered, and then rescued from slavery by Christ at His Second Coming—so as to bring them to salvation. In some manner, I know now that I must warn them, and will, but it will be difficult—no use of radio there, as it’s government owned and operated. Yet they must be warned.
“I think it can be done by purchase of advertising space in newspapers and magazines, getting people to write for the Plain Truth. I’ve been making plans, while in London, for our coming campaign to reach England. The newspaper reporter said the advertising idea could be used. We will have to either send Plain Truths across, or have them printed in England, which is what we undoubtedly will do—a European edition. The college over here will probably become a European headquarters for carrying on our work all over Europe. We must reach Europe and England, as well as America! Our Work is just starting! I see, more and more, why we have been simply led into taking this trip, and why the way opened so miraculously and suddenly before us at every turn. Before the coming atomic war, we have much work to do.”
As I wrote then, the prophecy has been fulfilled. The college was established some years later than I then expected—it was established in Bricket Wood, near London, instead of in Switzerland.
General Eisenhower and Channel Invasion
On Thursday, February 27, I had written this to our children at home: “Today I tried to purchase a pair of gloves. It is cold, around freezing, and will be colder in mountainous Switzerland. I walked almost the length of Bond Street, stopping in all men’s clothing shops on the right side of the street proceeding north, and on the west side of the street returning south back to Piccadilly. Finally, at the last store, I found a pair of dark tan kid gloves. I engaged the shopkeeper in conversation. Why were gloves so scarce, in so cold a winter?
“He explained that a large percent of everything manufactured in Britain is exported. I asked why. ‘Because,’ the merchant replied, ‘England would starve otherwise. We must import nearly all our food, and we can’t get a credit exchange to enable us to buy food in foreign countries unless we export to those countries an equal value in manufactured products.’ You can buy ‘made in England’ gloves, luggage, leather goods, china, woolens, etc., easier in the United States than here.
“After finally finding a shop that had a pair, I didn’t get my gloves after all. After he had removed the price tag, he couldn’t let me have them because I had no ration book.
“This morning we finally spotted some lemons in a fruit and vegetable shop. My liver really needed some citrus juice, after the kind of food we had been getting. Quite a crowd was queued up before the stand. After standing in line 10 or 15 minutes, I asked for a dozen lemons. The woman asked for my ration book. No ration coupons, no lemons!—and only half a pound to a customer, then! I’m starving for fruits, juices and leafy vegetables. You don’t realize what we have to be thankful for, on America’s Pacific Coast. We have the best of everything in the world—and yet we grumble! What we are seeing here is next best. Every other country (except Switzerland) is worse right now.
“As we were leaving the lobby of the hotel this evening, the hall porter, who looks more like an impressive, important business executive, told us this hotel (the Dorchester) was General Eisenhower’s headquarters prior to the Channel invasion. Marshall, Patton, Bradley, and all our top generals stayed here. They were all well liked. This porter saw a lot of them, talked to them, and arranged many things for them. He said they were quiet, but simply oozed with personality, and he rated Eisenhower as the ablest, strongest personality of all, even over Marshall, and thinks he is one of the strongest men in the world. …
“Do you know, the Channel invasion that defeated Germany might have been planned in this very hotel! It could have been in this very room where I’m writing. When the invasion zero-hour came, the porter said Eisenhower and all other top military men came down one morning smiling and happy, and said they were off for a two- or three-day rest in the country. They were good actors—appeared happy. They said they could throw off all restraint and heavy responsibility a few days, and get in some needed rest and a vacation in the country. They were not a bit tensed up. No one suspected a thing. They didn’t check out of the hotel. They left their things in their rooms. If any Nazi spies were in the hotel, they would have been thrown completely off. Then next morning—bang! The great invasion smash was on—and doom for Hitler! No one in this hotel suspected anything was up.”