Travel Journal of Richard F. Gretsch, summer, 1926
[On stationery engraved: “On Board S. S. ‘OLYMPIC.’”]
Friday, June 18, 1926
Saw Ann to day and everything seems to be fixed up. We came on board ship at about 11 and sailed a few minutes after 12. Nearly didn’t have a stateroom because Sandstedt didn’t send the reservation thru to N.Y.
Saturday, June 19, 1926
Sea seems to be quite calm and I didn’t miss a meal. A fellow by the name of William Glazier a junior at Yale sitting at our table. Pop was sore because Sandstedt sold him a cabin so low. We had to keep the port holes closed.
Sunday- June 20, 1926
Went to church service in second class library. The sea was rough and I didn’t eat any meals, although I didn’t miss them, either. Mother asked Dad if
he didn’t have any misgivings about leaving the key to the wine cellar home where the boys could get at it. She said not that our boys would touch it, but some other boys mite suggest it. Good old dad answered, “The ship mite sink and then who will look after them.
Monday, June 21, 1926
Sea again calm and everyone is feeling fine.
Tuesday, June 22, 1926
Good old diary, I wish I could trust my feelings about everything in general with you, but someday somebody mite see you. The sea is still calm, we sighted two ships to-day.
Wednesday, June 23, 1926
Next to the last day on board the boat and then Paris. The sea is as calm as a lake, and there is a full moon. Went over to second class cabin to-day, but there was nothing there to attract attention.
Thursday, June 24, 1926
Sea again calm. My gosh, but after 11:30 this boat is wose than the U. S. Last night about 12 some of the boys decided they wanted a drink, after trying every bar and nite watchman on the ship, we found a stewart who had some stuff he was trying to smuggle into the states. He charged us regular bootleg prices. After about for a couple of hours in one of the boys cabins, we went up on deck where there was one boy stretched out cold. After watching the dawn and listening to one boy philosophy on women (a boy from Northwestern) I finally hit the cabin about 4 o’clock. There was Mother wide awake waiting for me. She knew darn well what time it was because the lite was streaming in through the port hole. Pop didn’t say a word, mother was angry, I told Dad that I was going to say up all nite, to-nite, he didn’t seem to mind, however I will have to get some sleep, between now and then if I am going to do it.
Dad said something about he wished he had brought
the car along. I told him that there was one thing I was glad of and that was that the car and I were on different sides of the Atlantic.
To-nite it is again wonderful with a full moon and a calm sea.
By the way diary, I won $10 to-day, in the hat pool in the second class cabin.
[On stationery: “HOTEL MONT-FLEURI
21 AVENUE DE LA GRANDE ARMÉE PARIS”]
[N.B.: several addresses in Paris can be found in Charlotte’s address book:
Gustave Solomon, 8 Rue dUzls. Paris, second floor,
Mrs. Wilma Schultheis, 9 Place des Voses, Paris, France,
Mr. Von Doren 51 Rue Lepio, Paris, France,
Madame Paul Fontaine, 39 bis Rue Greneta, Paris, France,
Ernst Levy, 15 Rue d’Uzes.
dresses near Rue Monmarte, Alice Heber, 10 Rue Royal.
dresses Pinct. near Magellan church,
shoes, Alice 32 Del’opera.
These addresses supply some hints as to what the family was doing and whom they visited.]
Friday, June 26, 1926
The folks woke me up at seven this morning to get ready to get off the steamer, we did not get off until 11 o’clock and then it was a seven hour ride to Paris by train. It sure seemed strange to me the way they served meals on the train. What a funny city Paris is. The taxi drivers certainly are crazy, the city seems quite beautiful but the hotels are very old. Went for a walk thru Coney Island [NB: a spot in Paris] by myself.
Saturday, June 27, 1926
Got up and went to the office with Dad. The office is nice enuff, but the building is rotten. This afternoon I went shopping with
Mother, I bought a derby, a cigarette holder, a student’s cap, a blazer, and some socks and ties. Money ran out so I had to stop. Went to the Follies Bergers to night with the folks. Some of the scenery is quite beautiful, but I don’t think the Chorus’s are trained as well as in the states.
Sunday, June 28, 1926
Went to church with Mother this morning first to the Chapel for English speaking Catholics and then to the [blank space] which is a very wonderful church. In the afternoon we went to the “Grand Prix” the King and Queen of Spain and the President and [Prime Minister] Briand of France were there.
Monday, June 29, 1926
Started to go shopping this morning
but all large stores in France are closed on Monday Mornings. Went shopping this afternoon and then went to Hell to-nite. Just wonderful lighting effects. ( Please note: it is interesting that the young Richard Gretsch would notice the lighting effects of the Paris nightlife as later, his career would focus on lighting and electricity.)
Tuesday, June 29, 1926
This morning I went down to the office with Dad had lunch went back to office, went to American Express to have some contracts typed. Looked up Jim Rudy. Went for a walk to-nite, lost our way and had to ask.
Wednesday, June 30, 1926
This morning I went to the Tomb of Napoleon and to the Eiffel Tower
it certainly is a wonderful structure. This afternoon I took a Cooks tour to places of interest in Paris. To-nite, Bill and I had dinner in a typical French Restaurant, then we went to the “Theatre des deux Ames [Amis?]” After this we went to Heaven. And from there to the Moulin Rouge. I was with one of the best looking girls I think I have evry been with last night and oh my.
Thursday, July 1, 1926
Went to the Palace of Versailles today.
Friday, July 2, 1926
Went to Fontainebleu to-day
Saturday, July 3, 1926
Went down to the office with Dad this morning and went to see some business men for him. Received the news of Bill’s graduation today, also a letter from Pete. To-nite there is a dance at the Carlton, it is a Collegiate Dance with American Orchestra’s it starts at eleven and runs to five. If I had anybody worth taking I would probably go.
Sunday, July 4, 1926
Nothing extra happened to-day, went to the Ball Tabarin to-nite.
Monday, July 5, 1926
Went shopping this morning, didn’t buy anything and
this afternoon went to the reception at the American Ambassador’s House. Went to a show to-nite and got gypped out of some money by a taxi driver.
Tuesday, July 6, 1926
Went to the office to day with Dad and came home about 11:30, I guess I was looking for mail but there wasn’t any. To-nite I went to see the “ Midshipman”.
I forgot to mention that on Sunday last while returning from the B. T. Dad was walking ahead and a woman came up to him and asked for a cigarette. He said that he doesn’t smoke cigarettes. Then she asked him to buy her a drink, Mother, was just coming up then and Dad said No, my wife won’t let me drink.
[On stationery: “HOTEL MONT-FLEURI
21 AVENUE DE LA GRANDE ARMÉE PARIS”]
Wednesday, July 7, 1926
I have skipped a couple of days and can’t remember anything exciting happening.
Went to the Mr.Fontaine’s house for supper and then to the Moulin Rouge.
[N. B. The address of Madame Paul Fontaine, 39 bis Rue Greneta, Paris, France, is found in Charlotte’s address book.]
Dined at the Pavillon Royal to-nite. One of the pro dancers asked mother to dance and she looked greatly shocked.
[On stationery: “HOTEL ‘REGINA’ BADEN-BADEN”]
Saturday, July 10, 1926
Last day in Paris, no mail from Home so I wrote a letter to Mother and I signed it Bill, she believes that it is from him. Left Paris at 4 o’clock and we arrived at the StrassbouRg at 12:30. Here we put up at the Maison Rouge.
[NB: Text of letter Dick wrote to his parents as his brother Bill Gretsch:]
July 1, 1926
Dear Mother& Dad,
It is now almost two weeks since you went away, and it seems as if you have been gone for two or three weeks.
As you already know I graduated from school the other day, and I therefore will not go to summer school.
The weekend that you left, I went up to Elka Park with Uncle John and I had a very fine time and I probably will go up and spend a month or so with them again. The rest of the summer I will spend at Camp Harlem.
Grandpa is well and has been away for a week.
Fred is fine and seems to be enjoying [????] at the office, altho he has been spending two or three afternoons a week at the golf club and he has gained five pounds, Regards to Dick, love, Bill
[NB: A copy of this letter is in the possession of GES, given to her by Uncle Dick in 1996.]
Sunday, July 11, 1926
Went to see all the wonderful clocks in the Cathedral to-day.
Monday, July 12, 1926
Tried to do some business here, but with the Franc so low as it is practically
impossible. Hired a car to take us to Baden-Baden. We got thru the German Border without our passport visé. It cost us about $10 for the car to go the other way it would have cost $25.
[N.B.: Amy von Gerichten Doecke, a second cousin of Richard’s father, lived in Baden- Baden and died there in 1935. She was born in California and was the daughter of Carl Peter von Gerichten and Florentine Timm. Dick does not mention if the family got together with this cousin.]
Tuesday, July 13, 1926
Telegraphed Fritz Hortluclse [sp.?] for his address to-day and he wants to be sure and be there by the dance on Thursday. Met some Americans from Montclair by the name of Robinson to-day.
Wednesday, July 14, 1926
Mr. Koch sent his car over for us today and we went thru is [his?] Harmonica Factory, it is very surprising how in a small town, far
out in the woods, how they have all the labor saving devises [devices?] possible.
Thursday, July 15, 1926
Stayed at Mr. Koch’s left last night went to the Hohner factory this morning, and left at 10 o’clock for Heidelberg. Here I met Fritz Hortluclse [sp?] and went to a dance with him. There was a group of girls from Virginia there, Fred has a bad case on one of them. (Boat like Venice.
Friday, July 16, 1926
Got up at 7 o’clock and went to watch a “ Mensur” those boys certainly pick out a pleasant amusement, one boy was
practically losing his chin (?), etc.
[N.B. Mensur is an academic form of fencing practiced by student organization.]
At 9 o’clock we went to the University to hear a lecture on art. We then went thru the students prison with its pictures all over the walls. Went swimming in the afternoon and tonight we went to the movies. Had supper in Fred’s room and what a sleigh ride we gave his landlady. Fred told me that he is going to take the maid out.
Saturday, July 17, 1926
This morning rite after Breakfast, we discussed that the Borreros [sp?] were stopping at the same Hotel. We had been sending post cards home to each other. Dad then took us to Mannheim. Where we had dinner To-nite Fred and I went out on a party and nearly broke up the town.
[NB: On this day, July 17, 1926 Erika Roessler was married in Göttingen to Herbert Bobs. Erika was a second cousin to Fred Gretsch Sr. Her mother Dolly von Gerichten (born in San Francisco in 1867) was a first cousin to Friedrich Gretsch. Did this Gretsch family know about this family wedding so near by? Richard does not mention it in his diary. Just a few days after the wedding Dolly von Gerichten Roessler died in Rolofshagen in Mecklenburg, upon the estate of her daughter, Erika. (See Gerichten Family History by Georg Kling).]
[NB: Hertha Gretsch was also traveling in Europe at this time, perhaps, she met her cousins and also met with her brother who was traveling in Europe with his wife and son. Richard makes no mention of this in his diary.]
[On stationery: Hotel Europäisher Hof Heidelberg]
Sunday, July 18
Left Heidelberg this morning, and took the train to Markneukirchen , but when we got to Plauen we decided to stay there over nite.
Monday, July 19
Arrived Bad Elster about 11 o’clock. Dad and I took the 12 o’clock bus to Mark. Which isn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. To-nite I went to see a little of the nite life of Bad Elster.
[NB: In Charlotte address book, three entries for Markneukirchen:
Mrs. E. Kuenzel (sp?) 8 Actenfabrik, Markneukirken (sp), Germany.
Frau Alfred Kuehne, Markneukirken (sp), Germany,
Kuour and Strokl, Markneukirken (sp), Germany]
Went to Mark to-day, to-nite I went to the Movies.
Mark again, Dancing to-nite bought a monocle to-day and with my Derby hat I was quite an attraction. Dad broke the monocle.
All these days in Mark are practically the same.
Monday, July 24
The Serovers left to-day and to-nite Dad and I went to a Folk fest given by Kinzels [Kuenzel?] to the Employees.
Received first letter from Bill.
[NB: This is probably the same Kuenzel family that Charlotte mentioned in her address book.]
Tuesday, July 27,
Again I have left some days slip by.
Thursday, July 29
Today, Dad and I went across the border to Graslitz [Kraslice in present day Czech Republic] on the way back we got a ride in a mercedes with a compressor which had gone 45,000 miles. He went 60 miles an hour on a muddy rode with plenty of curves.
Friday, July 30,
Stayed at Bad Elster to-day and went
to meet Mr. Gumpert at the station.
[NB: Charlotte’s address book supplies three different Berlin addresses for Herr Gumpert:
Mr. Max Gumpert, % Frau E. Alexander, 122 Kurfuerstenstr, Berlin, W 62
An arrow points from Frau Alexander’s name to this address—Bomberger Str. 61 Pension Pollnow, Berlin W.
Herr Max Gumpert, Culmbackerstr. 11., Berlin W. 50, Bei Dv. Markmeld (sp?) Charlottenburg Berlin, % Mrs. Gumpert.]
Went to a wonderful party to-nite lasted until about 5 o’clock champagne a plenty
Sunday, August 1
Spent most of this day trying to get over the affects of last nite. And to-nite Henry and I had a farewell bottle of champagne. Went tea-dancing this afternoon and dancing again to-nite.
Monday, August 2
Left Bad Elster for Leipsig [Leipzig].
Tuesday, August 3,
spent the day sight seeing in Leipsig.
[On stationery: Conrad Ubl’s
Hotel Bristol, Berlin, Unter den Linden]
Wednesday, August 4
Left Leipsig for Erfort and then on to Eisenach.
(Kruspe French Horns were manufactured near Eisenach, Germany. The company was founded in Erfurt in 1834. Gretsch and King Slatter both distributed Kruspe French Horns in the U.S. Most likely, Fred Gretsch stopped here with his family to meet with the manufacturers of this instrument.)
N.B. Eisenach was also the setting of Barbara Duden’s 1991 historical study, The Woman Beneath the Skin. In this book, Duden looks closely at the medical diaries of Dr. Johann Storch who lived and worked in Eisenach in the mid 1700’s. The Woman Beneath the Skin sheds new light on how women’s bodies were considered and treated in this period. Her work opens new questions into how women’s bodies are understood today by the medical profession.
(To find my grandmother visiting this town To find my grandmother visiting was enchanting.
Thank you Uncle Dick for making note of this short visit to Eisenach.)
Thursday, August 5
Left Eisenach at 6 p.m. for Berlin, where we stayed at the Bristol.
Friday, August 6,
Went with Dad to see Mr. Roehr. Berlin is certainly a beautiful city but it is a fary way from Broadway.
Went out to Potsdam to dance and met a
couple of girls from Chicago, one of whom has asked me to call on her when I go out there. I have also promised to take her to a show when she arrives in New York. Went to the opening of a store here to nite.
Went thru the Kaisers palace with Dad. Met Ruth and if I get thru with the folks early enuf to-nite I will call her up.
Took Ruth to a movies to-nite, but the evening sort of went flat. I will probably try to make up for it in N.Y. Learnt that her father owns the 12th Street store and that they came over on the presidential suite on the leviathian.
Tuesday, August 10
Did nothing but bum around to-day and went tea dancing at the Esplanade.
Left Berlin this morning arrived Kopenhagen at about 7:30 p.m. Had a nice trip started in a taxi which broke down, however. The trains went rite on board the boats.
Thursday, August 12
Took a sightseeing bus to-day and went out to see the scene of Hamlet. [Kronborg]
Left Copenhagen this morning by boat for Oslo. We are still on board boat as we do not reach Oslo until tomorrow morning.
Saturday, August 14
Arrived Oslo this morning and went to the Grand Hotel. Couldn’t get our trunks out of customs because of the perfume in them as there is prohibition in this country.
Sunday, August 15
Had lunch to-day up on a hill which overlooked the whole of Oslo and its harbor.
Monday, August 16
Left Oslo this morning and took train to Karlstad which is a very beautiful but dead town. Tomorrow we leave for Stockholm
Tuesday, August 17
Arrived Stockholm to-day which is a very interesting town being almost entirely
[On stationery: GRAND HOTEL & GRAND HOTEL ROYAL Stockholm]
formed by islands.
Tried to sell instruments to day with a little but not very much luck. Went to one of their resort places for supper to-nite. They certainly have very beautiful places here. Tonight again I had had a very interesting experience.
Went to see the buyer of musical instruments for the department store today. Went thru a museum and went out to the flying field.
Took a bus ride around the city
Embarked on a steamer to-day for the canal trip.
Some very attractive Italian girls on Board. The sea got sort of rough at times.
Monday, the 23
Gee but the lake sure did toss. Practically everyone was sick. Arrived Gottenberg [Göteborg] this evening, Town not so hot.
Stayed in Gottenburg to-day and sold a few instruments.
Left Gottenburg this afternoon at 2:30 and met a fellow on the train from Dayton Ohio by the name of Jack Ohmer Jr. He is selling taxi meters in Europe. A Cornell graduate.
Tried to sell musical instruments to the Norwegians to-day and Dad had a little luck. Also saw the “Viking Ship”
[NB: Sailed home on “Frederik VIII” from Copenhagen to New York, Thursday, August 26, 1926.]
Transcribed by Gretchen Elsner-Sommer, Ann Arbor, Michigan, January, 2009. This document was edited in October of the same year and notes were integrated from Charlotte’s address book, also added was the fake letter “from Bill” and various historical information. Notes indicated by hard brackets [ ]. Words, place-names, and personal names are presented as transcribed.
Thanks to my Uncle Dick for agreeing to share this document. Also many thanks to his daughter, Stacy Gretsch Murphy for copying the original documents and sending them to me.
N.B. A Xerox of the original diary can be found in Charlotte Sommer Gretsch’s binder. (10/2009)
At the time of this trip Katie Gretsch von Hellerman, was living in Dresden. Katie was the Aunt of Fred Gretsch Sr., a younger sister of Friedrich Gretsch. If Fred and Charlotte did not visit her on this trip with Richard, it is likely that they visited her before, either with Fred (2 years earlier) or with Bill in 1925. Charlotte had Katie Gretsch von Hellerman’s address in her address book, 1 Reissigenstrasse, Dresden, Germany.
It is also probable that on one of these two previous trips Charlotte purchased her Dresden china set with her engraved initials.
This is the same set which was in the possession of Dick Gretsch in the late 1990’s. In that time period, Dick’s daughter Molly Gretsch Lynch distributed these same dishes to all of Charlotte’s grandchildren. Katie Gretsch von Hellerman, Fred Gretsch’s aunt who was living in Dresden when Charlotte and Fred visited in the early 1900’s, might well have gone shopping with Charlotte and helped her select her china pattern.