Saturday, September 20, 2008

Letter 9: Hotel Victoria, Cannes

[Letter 9]

Hotel Victoria Cannes, FRANCE
November 18, 32

Dear Folks

In my last letter I did not say much about our trip to Menton, Monte Carlo etc. because part of the trip was during the rain and so, though were were thrilled by the wonderful views, we decided then and there that we must take that journey again, in perfect weather.

On November 11the dining room and the public halls were decorated with the flags of many nations in honor of Armistice Day. There were rattles and other noise-makers on the tables. We seated the six children at a special table for dinner and they had a hilarious time. I was the only man at a table of nine. A desire for wine was natural on such a festive occasion and so two of the ladies had large bottles of champagne on the table. We abstained.

There are quite a number of husbandless ladies here and it is hard to tell which are widows, as those who have husbands rarely mention them. Three old British ladies have taken Dora's fancy. They are very bright and humorous and can really carry on a very intelligent conversation. A retired American actress is another guest at the Victoria. One hears French, but more often English. Some of the people have been here for months. Many of them spend every winter away from America. Mrs. King is here with three children and a governess. Mr. King supplies the funds. The children go to French public schools.

As we expect to stay here quite a while, I shall give you a detailed statement of how we spend a typical day. Marcus wakes up at about six but stays in bed till about seven when I also get up. By about 7:45 we are dressed and ready for a half hour of French which Marcus studies (at present) from "Le Livre Rouge" presented by Corinne Daniels. We does remarkably well. At about 8:30 we go down to breakfast. Dora takes the French breakfast of coffee, rolls, butter and confiture (jam). Marcus and I have eggs, oatmeal and cheese in addition. Nearly all the other guests have the French breakfast served in their rooms. I forgot to mention we have fruit every morning, too.

At about 8:50 we saunter out of the dining room into a sunny parlor where we glance over a copy of "The Daily Tribune" and so get the news of America and France. Then Marcus gets his arithmetic and other books. Our room has been made up in the meantime. He puts in at least an hour of work under Dora's direction. Then we all trot to the beach, where Marcus plays with Barry McKenna while Dora reads or takes one of her numerous walks and I either sketch or study French. The sun is brilliant. Marcus and I both wear sun-glasses. People go strolling by with or without dogs and every little while the news-vendor sings his wares: "Paris-Soir, le quatrieme edition!" At the right one sees the old town of Cannes, houses huddled on Mt. Chevalier--my favorite sketching subject. The beach is a real beach.

A little after noon Dora begins to tell the young man that it is time to get ready for lunch. He puts on his shoes and stockings and we start back to the Victoria. We pass through its beautiful garden, about half a square block in area, and go to our rooms to wash up. At 12:30 sharp, the gong for luncheon is heard and down we go. It's a pretty dining room, with flowers and baskets of fruit. Service is prompt. There are from five to 9 hors-d'oeuvre to select from. They are delicious. In addition there is a slice of honeydew melon. Then follows a fish course or some meat delicacy, and then the main course with several vegetables. Then several varieties of cheese are brought and the dessert. We conclude with a basket of fruit--grapes, apples, pears, figs (ripened, not dried), nuts. So many of the dishes are new and so tasty. Even potatoes come on in such new and appetizing forms. Egg-plant, the other day, was sliced in small thin slices and simply melted in one's mouth.

After luncheon we take a walk through some unexplored part of the town, or take a little ride or go to the board-walk (of concrete) again. At four Dora prepares a "tea" for Marcus consisting of hot cocoa, rolls and a bit of fruit. I munch a few nuts or a piece of cheese. Then we all read a bit and a little while later stretch out and read in bed or nap. Dinner isn't until 7:30. This has some advantages, as we need never hurry back from a long trip, and there is also time to rest up before the meal. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 4:30 I take a French lesson across the street. Mademoiselle Pommier thinks I am a very apt pupil and talks about me to others. Have no fears-- the lady is somewhat over seventy! Marcus writes his diary or enters words in his French vocabulary. At seven Dora patiently answers "Wear your blue suit," and we all get ready for dinner.

We walk or ride down at 7:30 and scatter "Bonsoir" right and left to all the waiters who greet us. We examine the menu card with interest, for almost every day there is some new picture at the top. Soup comes on instead of hors-d'oeuvre and once more we enjoy something different every day. Every vegetable is fresh. I wonder if they know what a tin can is. Among the trimmings that we get here are: mushrooms, chestnuts, stewed celery, French beans. Everything comes in hot and the plates are warm.

After dinner Marcus has a few minutes to talk to the other youngsters. At 8:30 he goes to his room. All the other children stay up later. We chat, write post-cards, read or take a short walk and then turn in early.

As we have settled down to a quiet existence here, I expect to write you all only twice a month, about the first and fifteenth. This letter goes out on the eighteenth, which a few of you know is my birthday. With kindest regards,


P.S. Dora or I will write you a line between letters so that you will hear from us at least four times a month.

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