Category Archives: Europe

What Rusty and Kit Ate in Denmark?

As Kit and Rusty traveled through Scandinavia in October 1954, only the food in Denmark appeared worth writing home about. They were so stunned by the dramatic scenery, their letters focused on the sights. About Denmark, however, Rusty wrote:

Then we had smørrebrød (ø in Danish is pronounced something like “or”) which Denmark is famous for. It means sandwich, and some cafes in Copenhagen had 179 (and more) varieties!! They are all open-faced – and the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted! Americans, I’ve decided, are very foolish to put a slice of bread on top – it kills the flavor of the filling!

They had sandwiches of roast beef and onions on dark bread with fried egg on top; ham on rye with vegetable mayonnaise salad and cucumber slicse; dark bread with curry mayonnaise and oodles of mushrooms.

Here’s a postcard Rusty wrote to her mother in South Dakota:

Denmark Hotel Leidersdorff (1)

Leidersdorff postcard

 

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

 

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What Did It Cost to Travel in Scandinavia in 1954?

Rusty and Kit didn’t record much about the prices of lodging or food in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. We do know that a night at the Hebron Mission Hotel in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, cost each of them 75 cents. Breakfast for two (two glasses of milk plus two buns) set them back 9 cents total.

Imagine how expensive it must have seemed to have to pay $32.50 each to cross the North Sea on board the SS Leda or to pay $16.50 for a Norwegian ski sweater, $2.50 for a pair of gloves, and $1.50 for socks?

Here’s a postcard Rusty sent her mother from Copenhagen:

Copenhagen

10.1.54 Copenhagen

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

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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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Three Coins in the Fountain

When Rusty and Kit arrived in Rome in November 1954, one of the first things they did was visit the Fontana de Trevi or the Trevi Fountain. Jane Powell was there having her picture taken, and Rusty and Kit each posed for the camera, throwing a coin (or two or three) over their shoulder and wishing.

Rusty throws a coin and a wish into Trevi Fountain.

Rusty throws a coin and a wish into Trevi Fountain.

According to legend, if you throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the waters of the fountain, you will return to Rome. That tossed coin is an offer to the Goddess of the Waters, to please the goddess and to beg for a safe return to Rome. Why is the coin tossed over the shoulder? Because if you see a god or goddess with your human eyes, you could turn into a pillar of salt. The second coin tossed into the fountain is a wish for romance, and the third coin tossed is a hope for marriage.

What did Rusty and Kit wish for when visiting the fountain, just a few months after seeing the movie “Three Coins in the Fountain”? And how many coins did they throw in?

Only they know for sure. But Rusty did find a job, an apartment, and even (or especially) an Italian romance in Rome.

And did they return to Rome? Rusty returned within the month, but after leaving Rome in 1955, she never returned, content with her memories. Kit did return, years later, for a visit with her husband.

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

In response to the Daily Post’s writing prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain

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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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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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Classic Movies to Watch from the 1950s

What movies did Kit and Rusty possibly see in the early 1950s that might have inspired or influenced them before their trip to Europe? While I was writing and editing The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, I decided to go to the movies.

1950s movies

Rusty’s letters home were often sprinkled with the names of the movies Rusty and Kit saw while in Paris or Rome or even on the Queen Mary. Rusty wrote to her mother:

We walked down steps then to the very edge of the Seine. Remember in An American in Paris when Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron danced at nite along the river? And they came down the steps leading to the street, to this wide cobblestone way beside the Seine? – There we were!

I discovered that a lot of the “classic movies” I’d already seen were filmed in the 50s. Movies like Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland (1951), Singing in the Rain (1952), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954).

So I watched the movies that Rusty and Kit wrote about: An American in Paris (1951) where two friends fall in love with the same woman in Paris; Roman Holiday (1953) where a princess falls in love with an American newsman in Rome; and Three Coins in a Fountain (1954) where an American young woman falls in love with an Italian prince in Rome.

Next time you’re looking for a movie to rent, consider traveling abroad in the 1950s and view one of the movies Rusty and Kit watched.

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

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Writing a Travel Memoir

I knew my mother had written letters home from her trip to Europe in 1954, but I had never seen them. In fact, I had no idea they still existed. Until one day in 2007.

With plans to rent a slide projector so that we could look at Mom’s slides of her trip, I asked her what it was like to be on the Queen Mary. I was looking for the details, and she referred me to her letters. Letters?! What letters? Much to my surprise, my mother’s letters were in a box in the next room waiting to be read. All 69 of them.

I began reading them out loud. Written on airmail stationery, in black or green ink (Mom’s favorite color), the letters were written to my grandmother back home in South Dakota. I stumbled over the words, squinting at her writing, and promised to type up the letters so that she could read them on her own.

TTA Letters

As I typed up the letters a month later, I was captivated. The letters were full of life and personality and included details of the people she met, the food she ate, the places she visited, and the unplanned events that just happened.

The following spring, I showed the letters to Mom and her friend, Kit. In 1954, Kit and Mom (or Rusty as Kit called her) traveled for 3 months together, from New York to Europe, calling their trip, “The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure.”

As I watched the two women in their 70s giggle at their memories, I began taking notes. I learned that Kit’s families had saved her letters as well, but it wasn’t until 2010, that I approached Kit’s daughter with the idea to put the letters of their trip into a book.

The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler, with their daughters, Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft, will be published soon. For the next several weeks, I will include a few background details about their trip, extras that weren’t included in the actual book, and I’ll let you know when the book is available.

It’s 1954. Pack your suitcase and get ready to travel to Europe with Kit and Rusty aboard The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure!

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