Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letter 12: Hotel Victoria, Cannes

[Letter 12]
Hotel Victoria
Cannes, France

December 31, 32

Dear Folks,

Long life and health to little Martin Klein who arrived December eight to bring joy to David and Dorothy. The first news came from David. Bertha's letter mailed the same day did not get here till four days later. Dave's letter made the trip in ten days. The time varies from nine to fifteen days, depending on whether you just catch a boat. Usually we get a lot of mail on Saturday. December 17th we received a dozen pieces, December 24th we got thirteen. Yesterday we received Bertha's letter telling us about the baby's name. Also there were letters from Si Abrahams and the teachers in my school. They praised the Christmas card I painted for the school staff. The principal had put it up on the bulletin for them all to see.

People are beginning to write a bit more. Nearly all the Ladies of Dora's Sisterhood to whom she wrote have answered. We heard from Genevieve Lane and got a card from the maid, Lannie. We were favored with two letters from Fan Schwietzer.

Since last writing you we have taken three interesting trips. One of these was to Biot. This is a small hill town, reached by special bus from Antibes. The auto was an old affair with a couple of seats added between seats, that is the aisle also was used. Every time some one had to get off we had to get out into the road and then re-enter. Biot is a walled town with streets running up and down and all around. They are very narrow and have no sidewalks. The houses are small, dark and very old. Some give the effect of tunnels. The lower floors have almost no light or air. And yet, right outside the town, some times only a hundred yards away there are tremendous open fields. Why is that? For the young people like Leonard [Dora's nephew Leonard Lurie] I might say that in the fourteenth century when this town was built, people never lived in isolated farm houses as they would not have been safe from robbers or enemies. Hence they lived in walled towns as close as possible to each other or protection. A hill was very good, because they could see the enemy and repulse the attackers more easily. Light, air, frequent bathing (for common people) is a comparatively modern idea, you see.

Another trip was to Antibes and Cap Antibes. It is here that "Jimmy" Walker is resting and writing. We went there with two of those nice British ladies. Cap Antibes is a long peninsula. It is a charming place. The hotel has wonderful bathing facilities. There are pools and diving boards galore and the panorama is superb. Antibes itself has those very narrow streets and a very busy market. The place is a riot of color--vegetables, meats and clothing. Part of the old wall is still left at the sea. Here I painted some views showing the houses huddled together behind the fort. Young, un?????? soldiers are forever marching hither and thither.

The price trip of the fortnight was to San Raphael, about 2 miles from Cannes. We left at ten in a luxurious bus. The road is called the Esterel Corniche. It is cut right into the side of the mountains. Hence it winds very much, many of the turns being very sharp. But it is an excellent road, banked and walled wherever necessary. I had previously arranged with the driver to stop the car where the views were best, so that I could take some moving pictures. He did so, and I took two lovely panoramas. I hope they turn out well. One looks car down from the road to the villas surrounded by green and finally to the sea itself, with its wonderful colors. Rough rocks jut out into the blue water. These are the "roches rouges", the strange red rocks. Too bad my camera does not show colors. At one point where I took a view the red stones rose vertically from the dark green growth, far above our heads.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We lunched on the beach walk and then explored the town, which however was nothing very unusual. We should have gone on to Frejus where there is an old Roman amphitheatre. The return trip showed us the Esterels with a different lighting; also the distant Alps, slowly turning pink and then as the sun dipped, turning to a light blue-lavender. It was a great treat and Dora especially was delighted with it.

And now a word about our Chanukah celebration, which, like broad-minded citizens, we combined with Christmas. Marcus went window-shopping for days. Then he went out with Dora to get my gift and with me to choose Dora's. Dora and I were still deciding on the 24th. Finally we were through and the exchange of gifts was a joyous event. Dora had long before seen and admired in a winow across the street, a fine old topaz ring. One day she said to me, "You know that ring--well, it's gone!" Whereupon I answered, without blinking an eyelash, "serves you right, for not buying it right away." That ring was then in my pocket. It just fit her finger, too.

Christmas dinner here was a fine event. A great many additional guests were present, so that 140 people sat down. All the gentlemen wore dinner jackets. The entire dining room had cotton snowflakes--thousands of them--in a realistic snowstorm effect. There were balloons and noisemakers and fancy hats. The dinner, of course, was a chef's triumph. It was a very festive occasion and Marcus had the time of his life. He was allowed to stay up to 9:30 that night. Why, we didn't get out the dining salon till nine.

The Parisian lady was called away on business to Naples. She may return later. But the Swiss couple and the Anglo-Belgian couple are nice and gave Marcus fine stamps. The three English ladies have just left for Monte Carlo. On Tuesday Dora and I treated them to Tea at the Malmaison [pictured]. It is called Tea, because four of us took coffee. It was very pleasant talking to these bright, refined, traveled women, while the orchestra played softly.

Goodbye, 1932! I hope 1933 brings happiness to all.



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