Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1984 - June in Oxford - London
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:15
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Main Entrance Gate's to Christ Church College Campus, Oxford University.)
In September 1984, after a seven-year absence from the international travel scene, June once again visited England. She arrived at Gatwick airport (Tuesday morning 18 September) on a Northwest Airlines direct flight from Minneapolis. June was visiting England in order to attend the Tenth Triennial Conference of the International Association of Forensic Sciences being held at Oxford University. June was also looking forward to visits with her friends the Bruce's in Bexley, Kent.
From Gatwick June traveled by motor coach to the Oxford University Campus at Oxford, England. While at Oxford, she resided in the student housing. The first several days were spent at Christ Church College, one of the largest, best known and revered of the Colleges in the University. It is also the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Oxford. (Established in 1525.) Living at Christ Church was described as "a rare opportunity, which for most of us will never recur."
June's reservaton folder reads: "Welcome to Christ Church. Your accomodation is in Peckwater (Quadrangle) Staircase 4, Room 5. On the reverse side is a plan of Christ Church showing the quads, buildings, staircase numbers, and some other useful detail. Most staircase numbers are painted by entrances and room numbers will be found inside...Please return you key before leaving". The official emblem or seal of the 'Christ Church" was at the top of the folder. The folder also noted that the Peckwater Quadrangle where June was staying, was constructed in the 18th century.
(Photo below right is the Christ Church Dining Hall where all of June's meals were taken.)
The last few days at Oxford were spent at Queen's College, one of the oldest of the Colleges. (Established in 1341.)
All meals during the University stay were included and were taken in the College dining halls.
Each morning started of bright and early with a pot of hot tea delivered by a friendly room lady. While June does not like cream with her tea, this delightful little lady insisted on "just a little bit."
Afternoon tea and scones were also a daily fun routine at a small café overlooking High Street in Oxford.
June was invited to and attended a formal reception by the "Forensic Science Society" at the University Examination Schools in the East Writing School. June received a formal printed invitation from "The Council". The reception was on a Thursday evening the 20th of September 1984.
June also attended a very special reception on Friday evening (September 21st.) at the Town Hall Assembly Room, hosted by the City of Oxford. June received a formal printed invitation to the "Civic Reception" that contained the emblem or seal of the City of Oxford.
The official week of activities at the conference was ended on a Monday evening September 24th, 1984. This was the time of the official conference Banquet that June attended. Again June received a formal printed invitation to attend the banquet. It was sponsored by President Professor Stuart S. Kind of the International Association of Forensic Sciences and was held at the Christ Church Oxford.
The last few days of June's trip to England were spent in London at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street. This was June's 6th visit to London but her first stay at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.
(Photo below right is June at the front entrance to the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.)
June’s first meal at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel shortly after arriving was Chicken Kiev. This was probably the most delicious preparation of this popular chicken dish that June had ever enjoyed. When it was served, the waiter warned June that a large amount of butter had been captured internally and was under some pressure. Cutting into the chicken could cause the hot butter to spurt out when released. Cutting into the chicken did indeed release a large volume of hot butter onto June's plate. The serving was literally awash in butter. The Sherlock Holmes Hotel Chef’s rendition of Chicken Kiev became June’s standard of excellence for comparison when ordering Chicken Kiev at other times and other place's. It would be 15 years (1999) before June again stayed at the Sherlock Holmes hotel during her 8th and final visit to London. At that time, chicken Kiev was no longer on the hotel menu much to June's disappointment.
The hotel dining room/restaurant was called the "Ristorante Moriarti" (Named after the notorious Napoleon of Crime (Professor James Moriarty) from the Sherlock Holmes Stories.) June received a small "keepsake" menu from the restaurant. The small menu folder contains the outline of the bust of Sherlock Holmes both on the cover and on the inside center of the menu.
The Sherlock Holmes Hotel is located near Regents Park and the famous Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Grandma of course used this opportunity to visit the Wax Museum.
(Photo below right is June at London's Trafalgar Square.)
London Hotels: During June's eight (8) visits to her favorite city London, she stayed at five (5) different hotels. Her first three visits (1972, 1973 and 1974) were all at the Strand Palace Hotel on "The Strand" .The Strand was a comfortable old hotel in a convenient location for traveling about London and very close to the Charing Cross Station. (The rail connection for travel to the Bruce's at Bexley.) The pattern was broken on June's fourth (4th) visit in 1975, due to the Strand Palace being fully booked. That visit found June at the Piccadilly Hotel just off of Piccadilly Circus. When June again returned to London in 1977, her stay was at the Embassy House Hotel. This hotel is located in the Knightsbridge district of London and on what is called "Embassy Row." It was also conveniently close to "Harrods." (The Bruce's were very helpful to us in securing these nice accommodations.) It was the year 1984 that marked June's first stay at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. In 1993, June was a guest at the Radisson Grafton Hotel. This is a restored old Edwardian Hotel. The rooms were very small but the afternoon "High Tea" was very special. (Tea, finger sandwiches, scones and french pastry.) June returned for a final goodbye visit to London in 1999 when she again stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. (June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's the year before in January 1998.) While we think of Rotary Club meetings in hotels, restaurants and other public places as being an American Tradition, that is not so. June noted a "St Marleybone Rotary Club" meeting notice mounted near the front entrance of the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. All of the hotels featured an excellent and tasty "full English breakfast" every morning as a standard part of the accommodations.
While I was busy one day at the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) Forensic Science Laboratory, June used that time for shopping.
Some time was also spent re-visiting an re-exploring familiar places like Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, shops on "The Strand."
Again, some special times were spent with the Bruce family in Bexley, Kent before departing for home.
(Photo below is June with Joan Bruce in the Bruce home in Bexley, Kent.)
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:
Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II.
You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available. June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, the breadth and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008.