Category Archives: Armchair Travel

What Did It Cost to Travel in Belgium & Holland in 1954?

Traveling in Europe in 1954 may sound cheap to us now, but to Rusty and Kit who were on a budget of about $5 a day, spending $4 ($2 each) to stay one night at the Hotel Astoria in Brussels was expensive. According to the girls, their room was magnificent, and they didn’t complain about the price in their letters home. When they discovered that their Amsterdam hotel charged $2.50 per person, however, they switched hotels, finding another one with rates of $1.50 each, including breakfast.

Since breakfast was included in the price of their hotel rooms, the girls spent their food money on lunch (75 cents in Delfzjil) and dinner ($1.10 for a meal at Amsterdam’s Moderne Cafe). Snacks included carrots, grapes, tomatoes, and bread all for 35 cents.

Other expenses included museum entrance fees, new walking shoes for Kit ($3.98) and a ticket for a piano concert in Amsterdam for $1.10 each.

Read more about the travels of Rusty and Kit in The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.

Bruges 1954

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Eating in Paris

When Rusty and Kit arrived in Paris, buying and eating food in Paris, whether from a patisserie or in a brasserie or a café was a novelty. They documented the food they ate as well as their dining experiences in their letters to family back home in the U.S. Rusty wrote:

Everyday you meet people in the parks or walking down the streets who have a small loaf of bread; they just tear off pieces and eat it as they go. Wonderful!

Here’s a description, in their words, of what they ate in France:

For breakfast: eggs, bacon, French bread, coffee.
For lunch: always French bread, fruit, brie, tomato, a French pastry or patisserie.
For dinner: ham sandwiches, onion soup, French steak with green beans, salad, French fried potatoes and a peach. And for dessert: café au lait.

Kit and Rusty in Paris

From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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How to Make French Onion Soup

The French onion soup Rusty tasted in Paris during The Tucker – Tyler Adventure was so good that she talked about it years later and told friends going to Paris that they must stop at La Pergola, a restaurant in Paris, for a bowl of their French onion soup. Rusty wrote:

The dinner was quite good, particularly the onion soup; magnificent flavor – many onions, thick crusty top and wonderful cheese – the best I have ever tasted anywhere!!!

While I don’t have the recipe for the onion soup Rusty ate during her first visit to Paris, I found this recipe online for a “classic French onion soup” adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Classic French Onion Soup recipe. I made it the other night and imagined myself sitting at a table at a cafe in Paris, listening to “La Vie en Rose.” Oh, and this recipe was by far, the best French onion soup I have tasted anywhere!

French Onion Soup

To learn about the travels of Rusty and Kit, read The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.

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Kit and Rusty Visit Normandy in 1954

Before docking in Southampton, England, the Queen Mary stopped in Cherbourg, France, long enough for Rusty and Kit to disembark on the Continent on September 13, 1954. After dreaming about it for a year (or longer!), the two young women were finally in Europe.

Although the girls had certainly read about and seen footage of Cherbourg, they were impressed by the destruction still remaining almost 10 years later after the War. Located in France’s Normandy region on the northwest coast of France, Cherbourg was occupied by the Germans from 1940 until June 1944. The battle in Cherbourg began on June 6, 1944, when Allied troops landed on the beaches east of Cherbourg, but it wasn’t until June 27, 1944, that Cherbourg was liberated from the Germans.

Though over 10 years had passed, Rusty and Kit saw signs of the battles as they traveled by train through Normandy. Rusty wrote:

And in some beautiful farm, one building would be lying in crumbled stone with perhaps one wall standing, and we realized that here had been War. Bombs. Men slipping through the beautiful countryside to throw hand grenades at a building harboring the enemy. Fear. It sent chills through us.

From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler and edited by Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

Photo from PhotosNormandie and Storm Crypt licensed by CC 2.0.

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What Did People Eat On Board the Queen Mary?

When Kit and Rusty sailed on the RMS Queen Mary back in September 1954, they discovered that meals on board the British ship were of British cuisine.

They wrote home about their breakfasts of orange juice, bacon and eggs, currant scones, and coffee; the tea and sandwiches they ate for lunch; and bread and butter, cookies, biscuit, and hot cup of tea they were served for afternoon tea. Rusty wrote:

Our lunch call was past due so we then hurried down and had luscious meal: (sauerkraut juice, carrots, broccoli, liver, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, ice cream and coffee) –

Both Rusty and Kit described their first dinner on board the ship. While Rusty ate roast beef, squash, green beans, fruit cup, fresh fruit (orange), and tea that first night, Kit wrote:

Had roast beef, string beans, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding for dinner to-night, but it wasn’t half as good as Hampshire House last night with exactly the same thing. The British certainly do cook their meat to death!

Check out this menu from their last dinner on board the ship on September 12, 1954.

signed farewell dinner menu

From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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On Board the Queen Mary

“Almost 20 years after her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, two young women boarded the RMS Queen Mary and headed to Europe – no Let’s Go travel guide in their hands, no Eurail Pass, no backpacks, and no phones.” So begins Rusty and Kit’s adventure to Europe on September 8, 1954.

Rusty on deck

It really must be true. Kit and I just came down from the Promenade – the wind nearly blew us off!!– (overboard, that is!)

On board the Queen Mary, the girls made friends with Brits and Americans, danced on the swaying ship, watched the moon and the sun rise, and snuck from Tourist Class to Cabin Class.

From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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How to Get a Job in New York City

How do you get a job in New York City? Especially when you’re an actress? In 1952, Rusty found a job as an NBC Guidette (or “Page” as they’re now called) by interviewing at an employment office.

All dressed up, in matching hats and shoes, Marialyce, Evelyn, and Billie Ann went to an employment office. “We asked, ‘How do we get a job? What can we do?’ The man [in the office] looked at us, turned around in his seat (trying not to laugh), got out his phone and called NBC,” Marialyce said. “We went to NBC to become Guidettes.” It was at NBC where someone nicknamed Marialyce “Rusty” for her deep reddish rust-colored hair. …

As an NBC Guidette, Rusty took tourists on tours of NBC studios. “We had all sorts of sound effects we used,” Rusty said. “We’d show them how to make the noises of horses clomping.”

Guidettes

From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.

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