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Grandma's Passport photo

Friday, July 25, 2014

3 - Val J. Peter Travel Bureau Letter - 24 March 1936


Click here to read story from beginning

Story so far: Grandma was trying to figure out how she would make her way back to Czechoslovakia so she could see her siblings. She found an ad in the newspaper for an economic trip to Germany for sightseeing and the Olympic Games.
Apparently the newspaper ad prompted Grandma Cecile into action. She must have sent in her request for a reservation, along with a question about cost for a 12 year old child. She received this reply from the Travel Agency in early April. The envelope was stamped Omaha, Nebraska, March 31, so it would have been April by the time the letter arrived in Stayton, Oregon, where Grandma lived.  

The child in question was my late Aunt Betty (Beitel) Silbernagel, who was 12 at the time. Recently, while discussing this trip, my cousin Marilyn (Silbernagel) Pursley, one of Aunt Betty's daughters, told me that Grandma had asked her if she wanted to go along. Aunt Betty turned her down. The trip seemed to go too far away, to a strange and foreign land and would last too long. It was just too scary for 12 year old Betty. 

The letter was translated by Al Haunold.


Letterhead[see above]: Val. J. Peter Travel Bureau

1307 – 1309 Howard street

Omaha, NEBR.

24 March 1936
Frau Alois Beitel

Rt. 1, Box 207

Stayton, Oregon

Beginning of the letter

Dear Mrs. Beitel:

We thank you very much for your letter and reservation for our company's spring travel on May 30th and we reserved a cabin for you. The trip leader will take care of everything for you so that you have no problems to get to your home country. Mr. Georg Hack is also Austrian, coming from Vienna and is planning to visit his mother and sister who live there.

Children up to 12 years of age can travel for half price on the railroad, but on the ship the age limit is 10 years. Thus the whole price for your daughter would be $185.50

Please get two passport photos and bring these photos and your citizenship papers plus one witness to the office of your local judicial district office so that he can initiate the application for your U.S. Passport and send it on to Washington. The passport can be mailed from Washington directly to us because we have to obtain the German and Czech visa (immigration permit) for that passport and have it certified.

Please send us your down-payment of $10.- and in case that your daughter should travel with you, which we sincerely hope, $20.-, otherwise the ship's company would not be able to definitively reserve the cabin. The steamer will be sold out a few weeks before departure.

We would be glad to provide you with additional information. Please write to us at your convenience.

With German Greetings

Val J. Peter Travel Bureau

per:(hand written signature) Val J. Peter
the signature

Two items worthy of note. First, if you noticed the handwriting around the typing in the picture of the beginning of the letter above, that was Grandma. 
She ran out of pages in her notebook for the diary and resorted to writing on scraps of paper. The entire back of the sheet of paper was filled with her handwriting from near the end of the trip. She finished her entry on the top of this sheet of paper. 

When I first started putting the letters together, I did not have this one. It was only recently when my cousin Marilyn Pursley loaned me the original notebook that I found the letter inserted into the back of the notebook. Perhaps you could call it a case of the last almost being the first.

The other item of interest is the signature "With German greetings". My friend Al Haunold, who did the translating, added a personal connection to this mysterious phrase. This is Al's explanation of how the expression came to be:
"I thought of something that I should have mentioned to you when I translated the letter from the travel bureau in Omaha, He ends the letter with the words: "Mit deutschem Gruss", (with German greetings)..... I remember from my father (who was opposed to the Nazis and when they took over Austria on March 13, 1938 and he lost his job - a school superintendent) that correspondence then was expected to end with Heil Hitler (Hail to Hitler) which of course he hated. Thus people found a way around the nearly mandatory Heil Hitler with the phrase "Mit deutschem Gruss", at least they did not have to gag .... My father finally was given a teaching position a few months later since they needed teachers, while younger teachers were inducted into the army to prepare for the invasion of the Sudetenland (German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia where your relatives probably lived then.)
Al's ending comments about the invasion of Sudetenland are chilling, as they are a reminder of what loomed on the horizon only a few years after Grandma's visit to her old homeland - WWII.

Story to be continued...... 
To read Post "4 - Grandma's Passport 7 April 1936", click here

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