"THE American boys arrived yesterday. They were a bunch of athletic-looking specimens, loaded with tennis rackets, golf bags, and a pile of suitcases and trunks numerous and big enough to hold equipment for any sport." From this news item in a Danish paper anyone might have gathered the impression that here was a crowd of Americans with nothing but athletics ahead of them. They actually did take part in almost the whole range of American sports and a few of which they had never even dreamed.
Who has ever known of boys in America using bicycles for daily trips from place to place in towns and cities and in the country, at day and night, and in all kinds of weather? Imagine them transferred to a city with eight hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom two hundred thousand owned and rode two-wheelers, moving in competition with thousands of automobiles, horse wagons, pushcarts, and pedestrians, and to live with families where every single member owned and rode a bicycle---fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and even grandfathers and grandmothers, and where there were spare ones for their American guests. Of course, they would enter into the game and make it their daily sport. And my, what a sport of thrills and spills! Just listen to one boy's report:
"All agog with "excitement, we hastened to the garage, and there we found two long-hoped-for chariots. Our hostess carefully and painstakingly explained the traffic rules to us, and we set out for down town and all points west. We kept close to the curb, stopped when the signs were against us, put our hands out for turns, and rang our little bells on the handlebar as well as any Copenhageners; and soon, after one or two close shaves, we arrived by some miracle at our destination, well and happy, and parked our bikes as fastidiously as any autoist parks his car. Our business attended to., we went down a nice little street, narrow and full of automobiles, and turned a corner while the turning was good. Have you ever had a big burly Danish traffic cop pop up on you in front of your bike? Well, then you will know how it is to go through your knowledge of Danish, starting with the good old standby, 'Taler de Engelsk, Officer?" (Do you speak English?) and have the feeling that in a few minutes you will be locked up behind iron bars. Suddenly you get the bright idea of pointing to your coat lapel with your button, which says AMERICAN BOYS ABROAD, whereupon you see the cop grasp the word American, shrug his shoulders, and say in Danish: 'American boys on bicycles, that is hopeless.'"
And what about being invited to a formal luncheon by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, in one of his seven castles; covering the ten miles of country road there on bicycle, and being caught in a rainstorm, with everything about you soaking wet? Great sport, you bet! Almost as great as another not so common, to be sure, but just as thrilling---to be making social calls by horse and buggy!
Nothing, however, compared with a sport which has died out in the States, or is known only in the remotest corners away from civilization---walking. It was like being put back a century, to the days of their grandparents, when the boys found people using their legs for transportation and expecting others to do likewise, and moreover expecting to have especially good walking partners in athletic-looking American boys! "Our host asked us if we would like to go for a short walk and we politely accepted, but upon return we had to be honest and tell him that we liked---the first mile!" reported a boy. The other three miles were never discussed, but they were never forgotten; nor were all the miles which were covered by hundreds of other boys on "short" walks.
Rowing was easier on them, though this also could be overdone at times---as by Hank Persons, who went for a boat trip with a couple of girls and boys, among them the son of the Swedish Crown Prince, on a duke's estate in Sweden. After a while, Hank put down the oars and said: "Well, prince, it's your turn now!" and took a back seat among the girls, while the prince in true democratic fashion brought the boat to the shore.
People abroad expected the boys to be athletic, as did a Danish count who invited two boys to be his guests, but under the condition that they play tennis and, moreover, good tennis. Though no athletic requirements were made in the selection of the boys, it was a pleasure to send to the count Bob Rodahaffer of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Howell Chickering of the Tower Hill School, Wilmington, Delaware, who combined gentlemanliness with good tennis. It was a still greater pleasure to get this report from the castle: "The count and the countess are charming people. We are having a wonderful time," and with the postscript: "We licked him!" This was "civilized" sport, surely; and so were scores of tennis matches on courts at other private homes.
It was only natural that people abroad would expect the boys to be expert cowboys, coming as they supposedly did from the country of the wide-open spaces, and that one estate owner should supply a dozen of them with bareback horses, only to discover that a New York, a Philadelphia, and a Detroit boy hardly knew the difference between the front and the rear end of a horse and found the bare back the trickiest part of the whole animal. Motor biking seemed more in line with their natural inclinations, and some of them discovered that winding Scandinavian country roads offered as risky a course as any in America, and that traffic cops were just as unappreciative of road racing as their American colleagues.
It was a blow to their athletic pride that basketball was played only by girls, and a disappointment that lacrosse had not yet come out of the Canadian woods to Scandinavia; and that, since the North Pole was further away from there than commonly expected in America, there was no chance for hockey other than field hockey. It surprised them considerably that what looked like good golf land should be wasted on gardens and farms, let alone pastures for lazy cows, when it could have been turned into fine links for busy golfers. It was a consolation that Copenhagen's only golf club invited a team headed by Bob Hutton of Thayer Academy, one of Massachusetts' champion junior players, to play on its course in the Royal deer park.
The soccer players discovered that soccer was the game abroad. What a surprise that no girls played it, when Americans were used to looking upon it as a sort of sissy's pastime. Here it was a man's game and, of course, they were willing and ready to enter into it; so soccer matches with Danish teams were arranged in Aarhus and Vejle. They went on the field in high spirits and quite confident, because they had players on their teams from American soccer centers like Philadelphia and Boston and from several "prep" school varsity teams. It was almost pitiful to see the Danish boys pass the ball among themselves as if there were no opponents on the field. So the games were cut short when the score proved that to the Dames soccer meant real business. Practically everywhere abroad they watched matches, and some of them saw a group of English boys at Château Lerchenborg in Denmark play around with a soccer ball as if it were glued to their toes, and heard how this game had been learned from the British by all of Europe to be played everywhere by hundreds of thousands. But nothing about it could create any American enthusiasm. It was and stayed---just soccer.
And gymnastics---that was something corrective for those who were not born right or did not know any better. Little did it matter that they saw both boys and girls, just ordinary farmer boys and city girls, perform exercises and stunts which would have brought in big money if they had been shown on the American stage. Nor did a forty-five-minute program which would have exhausted the hardiest athletes and which was so perfect that it looked almost professional change their attitude. It was just gymnastics.
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They noticed that the Danes took to athletics for more than mere winning. This was apparent in a tug-of-war to which the local Aarhus champions challenged them. When those champions took off their coats and stepped up to the rope, everybody saw that their average weight was in the vicinity of two hundred pounds. The American "heavies" averaged about fifty pounds lighter. Nothing loth to make the try, however, they seized the rope and were about to pull when a great shouting arose from the grand stand, where the spectators were protesting loudly. Finally, after much yelling and laughter, the champions put on their coats and withdrew, to let their places be taken by volunteers whose weight did not exceed that of the boys. Those Dames insisted on a fair contest! The tug-of-war that followed brought everyone to his feet yelling with excitement. In the last seconds the Danish boys, pulling desperately, gained the victory by a scant three inches. A mighty American cheer was given to match the sportsmanship of the Danes.
Track fared better in their estimation. In that they felt on common ground, and wherever it was possible track meets were arranged. Of course, it had to be taken into consideration that they were not touring Europe in training or to break international records. It was just a matter of having a little athletic recreation. It was not much fun in Gothenburg, where a rainstorm poured down enough water to turn the track into a swimming pool; but in Vejle the sun and enthusiastic spectators saw Arthur Neu of Newark Academy break the one-hundred-dash tape and the relay team give the Danes stiff competition. In Aarhus, Stanton Keith of Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts, was honored by Aarhus Stif tstidende, the leading paper, with a beautiful silver cup, presented to him as the best American in the meet. All good recreation and all good fun!
More fun was to come and also more silver cups, this time in swimming. We are not referring to dips in public waters, such as at Wannsee, near Berlin, among countless Germans in one-piece or half-piece bathing suits, or in the lukewarm natural swimming pools in Hungary where, after all, it was mostly a matter of loafing in "comfy" chairs on the terraces in the hot sun with pretty Budapest girls for partners. We leave aside also the Blue Danube---by the way, only one who is color-blind can ever be made to believe that its waters are blue. Nor are we thinking of countless swims in northern seas. We are talking of the famous swimming meet when Harold Sloat of the Weaver High School, Hartford, Connecticut, won the first prize in fancy diving before two thousand spectators at Helgoland in Copenhagen and Kip Behrhorst stared down from the high diving board and told the crowd that he was willing to try anything once. He was thinking less of the height than of how a warm-blooded human being would feel in the element of a cold-blooded northern codfish. It was there also that Angus Gordon pressed his two hundred pounds through the waves to finish first in the hundred-yard dash and the relay team of ten fellows brought the water and the spectators to the boiling point in a hot fight with ten Danes. It was a memorable meet and lively, too, according to the Copenhagen sports reporters. As one said: "The two thousand spectators seemed to have a good time and to divide their attention fairly evenly between the athletic and the vocal performances. (This referred, of course, to the inevitable American cheering section.) Several of the boys were good swimmers and obtained good scores, although their condition couldn't be first class after extensive traveling." Considering that more than thirty of the boys took part and met some of the best Copenhagen swimmers, the whole meet was a credit to the athletic condition of the boys and to Handelsstandens Gymnagtikforening (The Business Men's Gymnastic Union), whose guests they had been on this occasion.
One swimming feature never got into the newspapers. It was the attempt of Charles Burger, of Harrisburg Academy, Pennsylvania, to swim across from Sweden to Denmark. It was arranged in regular style with an accompanying boat, and all paraphernalia and his Danish host in the boat. However, he got cold feet before he reached the Danish shore---and no wonder!
So far, so good; but what did all these minor activities amount to? After all, they were just a little recreation, and the boys were very honest when they clamored: "We want sports!" They missed something. Before going abroad, they never imagined that any country could get along without America's national games. Some smiled at the idea---it just could not be possible; while others took the Dane seriously who confessed that Denmark had not yet reached that stage of civilization and that all other European countries shared its ill fate!
They had prepared themselves for such sports, and the reporter was right in his statement about their suitcases. They were piled with bats, balls, mitts, masks, headgears, padding, and shoes. Crossing the ocean, they organized teams and practised. Unfortunately they lacked a cage, or they would not have supplied the mermaids of the Atlantic with so many stray balls. They could not believe that no opponents could be found abroad, so they sent a cable to Copenhagen that they were willing and ready to play any congregation of players in baseball and football.
Actually, there was not a soul to play against. Opponents or no opponents, however, they had to play, even if only among themselves. Consequently there was not a city, town, or village with a patch of green lawn which did not witness a game. Wherever two dozen fellows stayed long enough to permit it, games were staged and, what is more, a crowd was on hand to watch. Hundreds, even thousands, flocked to the local stadiums. In Vejle the teams, headed by a band and followed by swarms of citizens, paraded to the grounds. In Bornholm they came in motorcars and on bicycles and on foot from all over the island. At Ollerup, near Odense, the farmers and villagers left their daily chores, and at Sorø Academy the whole student body and the town population was on hand. In Aalborg many a favorite native amusement was given up in order to find a place on the field, and in Aarhus even the King took time to watch them. In the city of Oslo the game drew a big crowd. In Gothenburg a terrific rainstorm could not prevent the grand stand from being fairly well occupied, and the stadium of Stockholm, even on a Monday evening, saw a crowd of three or four thousand Swedes file through its gates. The amusing thing there was that the game had originally been planned on a field of minor importance, but the newspapers gave the event so much front-page publicity that it was moved to the most prominent athletic ground, the Olympic stadium. The Copenhageners actually turned out in two successive years. These two Copenhagen exhibition games were in every way typical---typical of how clever the Danes were in putting on a show of the ability of the boys to enter into an unusual affair, and of the true attitude of people abroad towards baseball and football.
At the first game the sports manager of B. T., the smartest afternoon paper, which put it on, was well aware of the job of drawing a crowd of city fans who were used to their national game of soccer. So he played a trump, and the boys could boast that this was the first time they had ever been on an athletic program the headliner of which was an international movie star. It is difficult to decide whether the six thousand people were there to get a glimpse of the ever-smiling actor and hear his "Hello, folks!" over the microphone, or to see sports. Judging from the array of lovely ladies in the grand stand, you would say that the public hero did the trick. Again, judging from the bleachers, you would say that the crowd was not there for any soft smiling stuff, but was set for something with a kick to it. At any rate, the boys in the locker rooms were quite excited about having to play before so many. They almost forgot that they were in a foreign country and with a crowd who did not know a thing about what was going to happen except that baseball was to be played. This was told in a very carefully prepared printed program. It said, among other things: "The game is called baseball because it has four bases. There are nine players on each team," and it continued in just as elementary terms. Moreover, the leader spoon-fed the crowd through the loud-speaker like a class of kids. He knew that it was all Greek to them. "And here they come---the baseball players!" he finished and all eyes turned towards the entrance. Broad smiles went over all the faces, and a big husky fellow in the bleachers laughed right out and said: "My, that's a scream. They look like a circus. Look at those funny pants! Gosh, I would give a dollar for one of those caps!"
Batter up! Mr. Fremont Loeffel, physical director of Tower Hill School, Wilmington, was ready as umpire. The game began, and with it all the yelling and razzing. Balls flashed back and forth, batters hit and missed, catchers kept on talking to pitchers, and in the stands there were six thousand people not grasping what it was all about. One lady got a little bit of it, though, as she said to her husband: "They throw balls; isn't that nice?" But the fellow in the bleachers kept raving aloud to all his neighbors of how good the players were. There was just one thing which he did not seem to get. "It looks O.K. to me," he said. "But I don't see why those fellows with the masks are having arguments with those other fellows all the time." That is what he got out of the catchers' stimulating talks to their pitchers. "However," he concluded, "it is all right, this game. If they only gave those batters a big spade, they wouldn't miss that darn ball so often!"
Everything in the field was true American, but everything in the stands was just as true Danish. No talking to the players, no kidding, no "spirit," until a voice roared through the air: "Get a basket, get a basket!" Thousands of eyes turned to the place where the voice had come from and spotted a returned Danish-American immigrant from Iowa. He had not been able to stand the strain of the deadening silence and had been caught by the ball game. He saved the day for the boys---one baseball fan!
An unexpected display of pitching talent occurred in Tivoli, the Copenhagen amusement park, where there was a stand filled with cheap crockery and chinaware hanging from wires and reposing on shelves. For a nickel one was given three wooden balls the size of a baseball and three shots at the china ten or twelve feet away. The Danes bought balls, aimed carefully, threw, and nothing but the balls would drop to the floor. Once in a while a plate would crash from sheer luck. It meant half a penny's worth loss to the owner; but what did he care, so long as his nickels piled up? Good business, sure profit! Just come along, folks, get your shots! What a chance for a bunch of ball players! Bowls, soup tureens, and platters flew in small bits about the place, and no ball went over the plate---but right through it. In no time the noisy owner was silenced by grief. The proverbial bull in the china shop would have seemed a peaceful lamb in comparison with this wild gang.
The Americans' ability with the balls amazed many Danes, and a number were eager to learn. Two Connecticut boys, both from the Loomis School, Hoyt Ammidon and Milton Burrall, turned out as coaches for fifty enthusiasts. It amused Hoyt and Milton to see them duck in horror of the fast balls, but soon stand up and use the mitts and throw, .not very fast or very accurately, but well enough to have been unwelcome customers in the Tivoli china store. It would take a long time, however, to turn them into ball players, and no opposition could be expected from them. It would have to come from real Americans, and finally they were found. The cabled challenge to a baseball team had found its way to the General Motors assembly plant at Copenhagen, and its American and Americanized employees turned out for a game. Now there was real work to be done on the mound by Arthur Sondheim of the Brookline High School, Massachusetts, whose curve balls had troubled many batters around Boston and had not diminished in effectiveness abroad. This was a real ball game from start to finish, with "Slide, Kelly, slide," and leg-stretching in the seventh inning. But the six thousand spectators were not there. To be quite frank, baseball was lost on the Danes as well as on other people abroad, and they probably never would come to care for it. They found it too complicated and too uneventful. It seemed a boresome mixture of cricket and a certain local game for girls. They heard that hundreds of thousands of fans spent afternoon on afternoon at ball games in America and they said politely: "They must like it!"
Baseball a flop---there was just one chance left for the big sports, and it must be a sure hit. How could anyone help liking football? Possibilities for public favor looked very promising. Sports reporters were eager to get advance notices, and they were gladly given out by the athletic leaders, who were aware that this was the first time that football was to be shown in Scandinavia. One notice said: "Football is played only in the United States and it is entirely unlike soccer and rugby." People knew that; they wanted to know what it was like.
So the reporters peeped in at places where the teams were practising, and the next day their readers would get accounts which did not leave them very much wiser. Who could explain football on paper?
It had to be seen to be appreciated; but this was a tricky word to use because who could know how people would take to it. How would they take to something which suddenly came to light from, for instance, the African jungle---something fierce and wild? And that football was fierce and wild was well known from reports from America, with lists of fatalities, and minor accidents such as broken legs and dislocated joints. From those stories innocent Scandinavians were placed in the same position as the young Dane who, on his first visit to an American preparatory school, saw two healthy-looking, well-built boys on crutches and said to the headmaster: "Isn't that a pity; will they ever recover?" and he replied: "They will be all right next week. They played football yesterday." The young Dane was innocent, but apparently football was not. Exhibition games were given all over Scandinavia, and everywhere with about the same results as in Copenhagen; so it is fair to sum up the various happenings in an account of one game there.
A mass of people flocked to the City Stadium---men, children, and even women---all of them attracted by the promise of a spectacle, the sport which made grandfathers, business men, and young girls in America leave home Saturday upon Saturday in cities, towns, and villages. Who would not want to leave even a good Danish home for one afternoon's show about which the newspapers carried the headline: "There will be real fighting today!"
The teams were getting ready in the locker rooms. Here were about thirty players from American colleges and schools, and among them two or three captains and a string of others of almost equal reputation. On one side were those who had been entertained in Swedish homes and on the other side those who had been entertained in Danish towns; so naturally one of the teams was called the "Big Swedes" and the other the "Great Danes," and they were both set for the Battle of the Century. There was fight in the air. It almost smelled like America. They entered the field with people gazing at them, and one lady could not help saying: "Isn't it a shame how they have disfigured the boys? How terrible they look!" She was disappointed with their clumsy paddings on legs and shoulders and the ugly headgear over their curly hair. They had looked so attractive in the streets and at parties, and now somebody had ruined their appearance!
The boys could hardly wait for the kick-off. It was not so much the beautiful silver cup which spurred them on. It was genuine team pride, the determination that the "Big Swedes" were not going to put anything over on the "Great Danes" and vice versa. Captain Clyde Austin of the Peddie School, New Jersey, and Captain Dave Behrhorst of Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, fought, and their men fought as hard as if they were on the old campus. Mr. Clayton H. Ernst, the referee, had a double job, to referee the game and to run around and whisper into their ears that they must remember that they were not back home in the athletic jungle of America, but far away in a peaceful country with people whose nerves were not used to standing even the sight of physical torture. Because that is what it looked like when a Big Swede bore down on a Great Dane and the whole bunch piled up in a tangled mass. The innocent spectators looked relieved that no ambulance had to be sent for, and they even smiled when they saw the teams gather shoulder to shoulder in two circles, stick their heads together and---well, no Dane could make out what they were whispering about, but they were probably telling stories!
The game was as hard as could be and had remained scoreless for a long time when Mr. Ernst must have noticed that the spectators began to yawn. He had experience from a football game in Copenhagen the previous year, and he now took on a third job by telling the two teams that something spectacular had to happen or the crowd would probably go home and consider the whole afternoon wasted.
This changed matters, and the spectators suddenly saw a couple of long end runs, daring individual interference, and a sixty-yard dash for a touchdown. It stirred them for a while, and Mr. Ernst whispered a few more things like that to the players, who generously gave the spectators several more runs for their money. Whatever they did, however, the crowd wag bored, because no ordinary Dane understood a single bit of what was happening on the field and stayed on just out of politeness. They actually had to read the papers next morning to find out what had taken place and they got it all right. They were told that the "Big Swedes" had won the game and the silver cup, but a couple of papers were more specific. One said that it had looked like a free-for-all in somebody's backyard; another that it looked like organized suicide; but they all agreed that football was boresome beyond words. They could not get over the many stops in the game, the lack of grace of the players, and the emphasis on brawn. There was no doubt, however, that the players had shown courage and the utmost disregard for any physical danger. But how they could get any pleasure out of scraps like that---well, you probably had to be an American to understand it. But the boys had enjoyed it. They had felt right at home on the field and a special letter added considerably to their satisfaction. It came from Journalistforbundet, the Newspaper Men's Association, which had staged the Battle of the Century, and it thanked the boys for having netted a considerable amount of money for philanthropic purposes.
All abroad agreed that the football game gave an interesting insight into American college and school life, a glimpse of what constituted the athletic daily bread of thousands of active students and enjoyment for millions of American spectators; but it is a fact that the Danes would have considered their time practically wasted but for one feature of the exhibitions, the cheering section. Maybe it was not quite fair of the leader to emphasize this phase of the great game of football. His only excuse was that he knew the athletic crowds as he knew his own pockets, and he hated to have the people submitted to a strange and incomprehensible spectacle without getting a little fun out of it. All the boys off the field entered into this spirit and helped him save football shows from eternal contempt in Scandinavia. They had a hard job, however, since the crowd was entirely unacquainted with organized cheering. They sat and looked as an American once found the English at a cricket match, where not a word was said and only once in a while a few clapped their hands in applause of a good hit and, as he said, "The ladies took out their pocket handkerchiefs and waved." The silence was getting on his nerves, and he just could not stand it, so he said to his wife: "When that fellow makes another hit, we will show them a little real American enthusiasm." And he rose and burst out in a regular Rah-Rah-Rah! with three "Englands" on the end, and then he left. If he had remained, the Englishmen would probably have sent for a nerve specialist.
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But no one was supposed to leave here, where the boys were playing primarily to give the Scandinavians a little glimpse of regular American athletic life; so before long two cheer leaders succeeded in forming two sections, one for the bleachers and one for the grand stand, each with their special cheers, and one in competition with the other. It was not easy for the grand stand leader, facing sedate business men and society women, whose reserved tongues and restrained lips did not obey so readily the call for Rah-Rah-Rah, U. S., U. S., U. S. A., Danes, Danes, Danes, or whatever quaint cheer took his fancy. The bleacher leader fared better with good-natured, "wisecracking" Copenhageners, and before long real organized enthusiasm roared over towards the grand stand, and soon society people there showed that they were good sports and let reserve and restraint give way to good spirits and fun. It must be remembered that it could only be fun. There was no athletic appeal to them in the game itself. Their attention was centered upon the energy and antics of the cheer leaders.
It is no wonder that the cheer leaders became the favorites to such an extent that in Aarhus two of them---Delano Boynton of Tower Hill School, Wilmington, and Abbott Abercrombie of Pawling School, New York---were presented with silver cups for all the fun they had afforded the crowds. Nor is it a wonder that one of the newspapers wrote that it was great fun to hear a football game!
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THE trip of 1930 would have been just a fine tour of seventy- five boys and adults through Europe but for the fact that it started out with honorary hospitality. This became the background upon which they viewed their experiences and which colored their memories.
For the first week abroad the boys were entertained all over Denmark, individually or in pairs, on thirty-five different estates and big farms, in many cases miles apart on the mainland and on different islands; but on all of them there were nothing but Danes---Danes in the families, Danes around the estates, and Danes over the whole countryside.
Following the hospitality life there was a four-day program of excursions and sight-seeing to Copenhagen's wealth of attractions. There was first a Turkish bath---a trifle, to be sure, but worth a great deal after cold swims in the waves of the Baltic, occasional dips in small ponds in the interior of Jutland, or the daily wash-up on Danish farms, where six meals a day were more common than hot, and cold running water. There was a delicious luncheon at the Royal Yacht Club, and from its windows the view of the constant movements of yachts and steamers in and out of the harbor. The panorama from the Round Tower over a maze of old-fashioned gabled houses brought back the memory of three hundred years ago, when it had loomed like a skyscraper. A picnic luncheon in the shadows of the walls of Frederiksborg Palace, its renaissance beauty reflected in moats recalled the days when Danish kings had enjoyed similar picnic parties in surroundings. which were worthy of royalty, but which now were open to a beauty-seeking democracy. A visit to the International People's College at Elsinore afforded a little glimpse of the educational life which within half a century had made Denmark a country where even the farmer is an educated person, and which attracted foreign students to learn the methods of successful adult education. It made it a perfect day to finish with a good dinner at a beach resort on the Sound, to the tunes of modern music, and to retire to a hotel where the presence of a throng of American boys left the maids under the impression that they were employed in a college dormitory. A fraternal spirit was created the evening the group was entertained at a supper dance by the Danish boys who had been in America and wanted to express their appreciation of hospitality there. The Danes had a chance to refresh memories of their visit to the States and their knowledge of slang, and the Americans to chat about home towns which might have been visited by the Danes. Of course, the presence of girls and the dancing did not encourage deep discussions, but prompted the Americans to suggest that the next visit from Denmark, should be from girls---and the girls agreed.
A Sunday service in the Roskilde Cathedral, the Westminster Abbey of Denmark, was out of the ordinary tourist round of experiences; and so was an informal garden party, at Holsteinborg, one of the oldest castles, as guests of Count and Countess Bent Holstein. Boys interested in politics had a chance to increase their knowledge in conversations with the Count, a bold free-lance in the Danish House of Representatives, but apparently just as proud of his skill as an expert farmer. A stop at the four-hundred-year-old Herlufsholm Boarding School made the boys think of teachers' age-old efforts to make students enjoy what is supposed to be good for them.
After the stay in Denmark followed a two weeks' swing through Europe. It began with two hours by ferry and eleven hours on a Swedish sleeper, which was a novel experience to American boys seeing for the first time separate compartments with three berths, one above the other. The sleeper landed them in Stockholm. Nobody wonders that they liked its beauty and a boat ride to the pretty Drottningholm Palace, in its seclusion of forests and waters; but that they enjoyed an opera performance was one of the incidents which made their leader become firmer in his faith that refined boys are receptive of cultural influences in spite of the common belief that their musical requirements are satisfied by barber shop harmonies. If for no other cause, the visit to the Swedish industrial exhibition would have made the stay in Stockholm an educational success.
The boys' interests and inclinations were as varied as the make-up of Europe, or they would not have taken to Berlin like fish to water. It could not be expected that they would be much absorbed by the details of the historical statues along Siegesalle, for they were outside their natural sphere of knowledge; nor would they rest in awe before the monuments of victory for the German armies---quite the contrary. They reminded them of America's fight against Germany in the World War and their idea of Teutons as they had formed it in their childhood, when the supposed brutality of the Huns had been broadcast over the entire world even to the remotest villages in the States. They were surprised not to find any brutality in the streets of Berlin. "Why, the Germans aren't brutal at all," one said, "they are very kind." History, world problems, and theories did not impress themselves upon them nearly as much as the busy city life, the rush of traffic, and the efficiency of the people. Visits to big department stores caused the remark that they were just like America. One boy bought a silver spoon at the famous Wertheim store. It was marked with a "W," and it did not put him in the ridiculous dilemma of the American lady who had attended a party in one of the former imperial palaces and upon returning to America produced a silver spoon marked with a "W." It was her result of souvenir-hunting, and she was proud of the possession of a spoon which, as she bragged, had belonged to Emperor W. Too bad, but it had been rented for the party from Wertheim's!
The boys preferred the sights which aroused their admiration for mechanical skill. At the top of the mighty Radio Tower they discussed wave lengths and electrical power, and at the Tempelhofer airdrome they compared giant German passenger planes with Ford trimotors, as if they had never known other means of transportation. They belonged in the midst of broadcasting and modern machinery and were stirred by the German atmosphere of efficiency. They moved easily, however, from one extreme to the other, and in the evening threw themselves into the Gemütlichkeit in the restaurants, where gay, happy Germans drank their beer or sipped their wine, proving that the desire to celebrate is not the same as the necessity to get drunk; otherwise, hundreds of families would not have spent a whole evening each over a bottle of wine.
From Berlin came a long jump by sleeper right into Bavarian environment. What was a tourist attraction in Berlin's restaurants was life to the natives in their beer gardens in Munich; and to watch them in the Royal Brew House was to observe the daily doings of happy southern Germans, to whom beer is what water is to Americans.
The chief European attraction of a decade was the Passion Play, and anyone who could get a seat went there. Of course, there were some who preferred a sojourn on the beautiful Starnberger Lake, where the unfortunate Bavarian King Ludwig in a moment of madness had taken his own life. However, the boys who spent two days in the village of Oberammergau would not have missed it for anything. Imagine being met at the railroad station by a porter in low shoes, stockings without feet reaching just below the knees, leather shorts, a white shirt and embroidered suspenders, a brown felt hat with a funny feather, and with beard and curls like St. Peter! And all over the village there were dozens of other St. Peter-like porters and coach drivers, and throngs of village boys of all ages in the same attire. Mingling with the villagers and their women with long, flowing hair were thousands of tourists from all parts of the world, and all of them with minds fixed on the Passion Play. This was a long and sometimes boring performance, a revival of childhood memories of Biblical history and the high points of the life of Christ. The sincere spirit of the village actors and actresses at times lifted one to the highest level of emotion, and at other times one was lulled half to sleep by the monotonous singing and recitation of the ever-passing choir. One almost pitied the cast, drenched on the open-air stage by the constant rain. While the audience was sitting comfortably under cover, they carried out their devotional duty of putting life into a passion story which means consolation to millions of people.
The play was over, and fortunately the sun came out. It threw rich colors over the green mountains and the white, gaily painted cottages, reviving the spirits of all. You suddenly realized that the cast, the choir, the porters, the coach-drivers, the women and boys and girls, lived and worked in Oberammergau, and just for the summer every ten years opened it up to the wide world. They turned their houses into living quarters and eating places, and you found out that what had been apostles, disciples, Christ, Herod, Pilate, and Roman soldiers on the stage were regular citizens, with occupations from cobbler to butcher, from carpenter to baker. In their cottages they talked, ate, drank, and even took out their fiddles and guitars to accompany their native folk songs. The boys were not slow in letting the villagers hear some of their favorite songs in return. In the market place village band struck up its lusty tunes and, headed by a gay group of American boys and accompanied by a medley of cosmopolitan visitors, it paraded through the streets to everybody's delight.
The village customs were so catching that, upon departing, half-a- dozen boys equipped themselves with Bavarian national costumes. On the train an American lady caught sight of them and, not recognizing their nationality, asked if she could take their picture. "I have always wanted to have a photograph of a real Bavarian in his native, costume, but I have never had the opportunity until now," she said. In his best slang one produced a "Yah, Yah," very similar to the German word for yes, and this Delaware boy's picture is now being exhibited by the lady as a true reproduction of a genuine Bavarian native.
The rush of traveling was brought to a stop for a day on the banks of the Rhine. The vine-covered hills and the gloomy walls of castle ruins added to the peacefulness of the gently flowing river. It seemed hardly believable that this stream had ever been the barrier between the peoples of Germany and France. However, high up on the cliff the Niederwald monument, the gigantic statue of Germania, the symbol, of the ever-watchful German guard on the Rhine, spoke its sinister language. On a quiet summer day, however, no one here would think of war. The whole environment breathed peace and happiness. Even the old Rheinstein Castle perched high upon the rocks with its turrets and iron-barred windows rested calmly among shrubbery and trees, brightened by richly colored flowers. Of course, according to the legend, the beautiful but treacherous Lorelei combing her golden hair might be disturbing the peace, particularly the peace of heart of emotional fishermen, who would get caught on the rocks in the river. Traveling tourists, however, were more inclined to get stranded on the terraces overlooking the calm stream and, with a glass of wine, forget that there was anything but peace on the Rhine.
The World War made Paris the Mecca of Americans, or, to put it in plain words, you cannot go to Europe without seeing Paris. It may seem embarrassing for an educator to admit that as petty a motive as that prompted him to take his group of boys there, although he wanted them to see it also by way of comparison with other capitals. Why not continue with confessions? To the boys Paris became just one of many places---a little different in some respects, a little better in others, and a little worse in a few. The view from the top of l'Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées, the surge of traffic around the monuments of the Place de la Concorde, the simplicity of Napoleon's Tomb, and the complete panorama of the city, with the winding Seine, from the top of the Eiffel Tower, were all different from sights in any other European city. The motion-picture theaters were a little better than other continental show houses, because they gave more American pictures. And what was a little worse? Unquestionably business conditions, as the boys would express it politely when taxi drivers got furious because they did not extract a tip as high as the fare; when storekeepers set special prices because they dealt with Americans; and when theater ushers stood by with outstretched hands. In addition there were the traditional sights---the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Madeleine; the street life and the loafing in restaurants on the boulevards and in Montmartre; the vaudeville shows and the shopping. But these struck most boys as rather similar to things in other European capitals, perhaps not even as interesting, because there were so many American tourists in Paris.
And what about feeling intimate with the places and people? That seemed difficult under the conditions. Moreover, if you had a little bad luck, not much personal good will could be expected towards the native population. If, for instance, a couple of over-conscientious and too verbose custom house officers went through every piece of your baggage on your entrance to France, it would not be conducive to good will and, as one of the boys said: "I was perfectly willing to go to war with France, any time, and when I met the taxi drivers in Paris, I had another good reason to start a fight." It is interesting how small and trivial things can change your attitude one way or the other. When this same boy had associated with half-a-dozen young educated Frenchmen for a couple of days, he summed up his experience in the words: "These boys are very different from other Frenchmen. They are very nice; they seem just like us." The amusing fact is that the very same French boys also had come to the conclusion that the boys were very different from American tourists, and remarked: "They are just like us."
A trip to the battlefields was a reminder---a very vague reminder, to be sure, of what millions of men had gone through, as was the visit to Versailles of how statesmen of a few countries had tried to decide upon the future welfare of all nations of the world. In the Hall of Mirrors they had drawn up the Treaty of Versailles and had laid down the laws by which the world should be ruled. The statesmen who had taken part in the deliberations were mere names to the boys, except Woodrow Wilson, through whose vision the countries had united in the League of Nations in the hope that international cooperation would take the place of fighting. Woodrow Wilson was not merely a name; he was the personification of an ideal.
The tourist program was drawing to a conclusion. Two weeks on the move had satisfied the boys' traveling needs and they were ready to leave Paris on the soft cushions of railroad compartments. Nobody objected when French officials by an error had slipped first-class instead of second-class cars into the train. A night on the luxurious German sleepers was not bad, either; but the best thing was the following evening to step out on the platform of the central station in Copenhagen. "We are back home in Denmark," they said, and they did not conceal their delight when they gathered at a farewell party to which they invited their Danish hosts. The happiness of meeting again was mutual. The boys' appreciation of being looked upon as homecoming sons and the families' gratitude that the boys would not want to leave Europe without seeing them again, reawakened a spirit of intimacy. It found expression in the banquet speeches and its truest expression in intimate chatting and talking. The following morning the host families saw them off on the Atlantic steamer and returned to their estates and farms all over Denmark, just as the boys returned to their towns and cities in the States; but the friendships stayed with both.
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