Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1993 - June - London - Dusseldorf
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:16
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
In August 1993, June flew to London's Gatwick airport for a week long stay at the Radisson Grafton Hotel. This was June's seventh (7th) trip to London. The Grafton was a restored Edwardian hotel. While the rooms were small, "High Tea" in the afternoon at the hotel was a special treat.
(Photo below right is June in Trafalgar Square, London - 1993. The Nelson Column base is at left of June with Lion statue at right.)
This time while in London, June visited Westminster Abbey and did some shopping.
As usual some time was also spent in Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. A visit to these two historic public areas of London was as it always is, a very interesting and enjoyable experience.
Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus are only about 6-7 blocks apart and are in an easy few minutes walking distance of each other. When getting directions from a Londoner, it is their custom to refer to walking time rather than walking distance. The response usually given is that a certain location is "an easy 5 or 10 minutes walk from here." Grandma June has always found Londoner's to be very helpful, courteous and accommodating on giving directions. I recall the first time I asked a middle aged English gentleman for directions, he not only gave me the directions but insisted on personally walking me to that location.
Trafalgar Square is located in the heart of and is in central London. It is adjacent to the street named the Strand and within a few blocks of the Strand Palace Hotel where Grandma June stayed during her first visits to London. At the center of the square is Nelson's Column which stands guarded at the base by four lion statues. Nelson's Column is also surrounded by fountains. The Column is topped by a statue of Horatio, Viscount Nelson, the British Admiral that commanded the fleet at Trafalgar. The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) a British Naval Victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The present configuration of the square was completed in 1845. The square is a favorite tourist attraction. The square has become a social and political location for both visitors and Londoner's alike.
Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus are always pleasant and entertaining places to visit and June has visited both locations on each of her eight (8) trips to London.
(Photo below right - June is leaving Piccadilly Circus at the south-west corner by the Shaftesbury Memorial and Statue of Anteros.)
Trafalgar square is also inhabited by large numbers of pigeons. Vendors at the square sell cups of bird seed/food to the tourists in order that they might feed the pigeons.
If one permits it, the pigeons in their excitement to get at the food will land on ones head, shoulders and arms. During one of Grandma June's visits in 1972, this very thing happened to Grandma June as she was literally inundated with pigeons. Grandma June thought it was all great fun and was laughing and having a good time.
The Charing Cross Rail Station is located very close to Trafalgar Square. This is the rail station that Grandma June uses each time that she travels to Bexley, Kent to visit the Bruce's. There is also a Charing Cross subway station close at hand.
Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction in Westminster area of London's West End. It dates back to 1819 when it was used to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly Street. It was a circular open space at the street junctions, hence the name Circus, a Latin phrase for circle. With changes over the years it now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street and Glasshouse Street. It is a major traffic intersection which has resulted in Piccadilly Circus becoming a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction as well. Charles Dickens Jr. in 1879 described it as "Piccadilly, the great thoroughfare leading from the Haymarket and Regent street westward to Hyde Park-corner, is the nearest approach to the Parisian boulevard of which London can boast." The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus was erected in 1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. The monument is topped by Alfred Gilbert's winged nude statue of an archer, sometimes referred to inaccurately as Eros after the mythical Greek God of Love. The statue was intended to be an image of Eros twin brother Anteros. Gilbert described Anteros as portraying a "reflective and mature love, as opposed to Eros or Cupid the frivolous tyrant." The statue has become a London icon.
There is a phrase "It's like Piccadilly Circus" and is commonly used in the UK to refer to a place or situation which is extremely busy with people. It has been said that a person who stays long enough at Piccadilly Circus will eventually bump into everyone they know. It also has a WWII connection in that "Piccadilly Circus" was the code name given to the Allies D-Day invasion fleet's assembly location in the English Channel.
June has used the London subway many times over the years without fear for her safety. However, during this trip to London, her use of the system had some frightening moments.
While returning to the hotel on the subway, a strange little man started following June. He got close enough to her that he started intentionally bumping up against her. June tried to appear calm and not show how frightened she really was. As she started up the steep escalators to the surface, the man was close behind. On reaching the surface subway entrance level, she ran over to a lady security guard. The guard called for a male London Police back up. When the man saw what was happening he quickly turned and ran, leaping over the metal subway gate as he escaped from the premises. The Police escorted a shaken June back to the hotel. The incident has caused her to become very wary of the London subway system.
A delightful day was later spent with the Bruce family. The Bruce children had by this time, all grown into adulthood.
Their son Gary (now a schoolteacher in a nearby school) had just purchased a new French Citroen car. Gary is a fan of the French Citroen cars and purchases a new one on a regular basis.
The new car with Gary as the chauffeur, drove the family and Grandma June down to a southern coast park for a picnic. The location was Beachy Head along the beautiful white chalk cliffs at the edge of the English Channel at Eastbourne. The cliffs were just above the Beachy Head lighthouse.
(Lower right photo - stunning view of Beachy Head to include the light house below. Picnic area is just to the right at the top of the cliff. Picture by June.)
Beachy Head is the name of the tallest chalk cliff in all of England and is located on the South Coast close to the town of Eastbourne in East Sussex County. This magnificent cliff rises to a height of 530 feet above the sea level below. Because of it's height it has also become a notorious suicide spot. (Estimated at 20 per year.)
The Beachy Head is a popular tourist area because of the favorable climate and the natural beauty. It is approx. 1.5 hours train ride from London. It was the grassy area on top of the cliff that June and the Bruce's had a picnic lunch. This area afforded a dramatic view of the coast line to the east and west of Beachy Head as well as out to sea.
The light house below Beachy Head is called the "Beachy Head Lighthouse" and was constructed in 1902. It replaced the original lighthouse located on top of Beachy Head. The old lighthouse was replaced because during inclement weather it was frequently shrouded in mist and fog and could not be seen. The present lighthouse was automated (unmanned) in 1983. The light can be seen from about 25 sea miles away.
Geologists say that the chalk cliffs on the south English coast were formed in the late Cretaceous period 64-100 million years ago when the area was under the sea. During the the Cenozoic Era the chalk was uplifted. When the last Ice Age ended, the sea levels rose and the English Channel formed cutting into the chalk to form the dramatic cliffs along the Sussex Coast.
The most popular WWII song refers to the beautiful white chalk cliffs. The song "There'll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover, Tomorrow, Just You Wait and See" was made famous by Vera Lynn in a 1942 recording. (Also recorded by Connie Frances, Bing Crosby and others.) The song's lyrics looked to the day that the war would be over and peace would reign once again over the white cliffs of Dover. Dover is an English town just a short distance east of Beachy Head. At the time the song came out, British and German planes were having daily dog fights in the skies over Dover and Beachy Head.
Note: The lyricist of this celebrated song who improbably put a blue birds over the white cliffs, was an American who did not know that there were no bluebirds native to England.
(Photo below right - June with the Bruce family having a picnic lunch on top of Beachy Head Cliff on the coast near Eastbourne. )
The following week June flew to Dusseldorf, Germany via Lufthansa Airlines. While in Dusseldorf, she stayed at the modern SAS Hotel. A handy streetcar line in front of the hotel, gave June easy access to the city.
While in Dusseldorf, June took part in a tour of the city. June marveled at all of the new modern bridges across the Rhine. June was a little taken aback to find out that the reason for all the new bridges was because American bombers had destroyed all of the Dusseldorf bridges in World War II.
June also spent a day visiting the castles of the lower Rhine. Another day was spent in an excursion to the nearby city of Cologne. At Cologne she saw the famous Cologne Gothic Cathedral that was completed in 1880 after 634 years of construction. At the time, it was the tallest structure in the world, standing 515 feet high.
June was in Dusseldorf because of the 13th International Meeting in Forensic Sciences sponsored by the International Association of Forensic Sciences with meetings at the University of Dusseldorf.
The University of Dusseldorf was founded in 1965. The university was named after the German Poet and political thinker Heinrich Heine, who was born in Dusseldorf in 1797.
Officially the University is called "Heinrich-Heine-Universitat Dusseldorf."
The University has Faculties in Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Economics. The enrollment is approx. 18,000.
(Photo lower right is June on the campus of the University of Dusseldorf in August 1993.)
The University historically goes back to 1907 when a medical Academy was founded in Dusseldorf. In 1962 the State of North Rhine-Westphalia took over the responsibility of the Academy from the City of Dusseldorf. In 1965, the State Government decided to transform the Academy into a University. The Conference meetings were all held on the University Campus grounds.
Dusseldorf city is the capital city of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is considered the economic center of Germany. The city is located on the Rhine River. The first record of Dusseldorf dates back to 1135 when it was a village called Dusseldorp. In 1288 the Sovereign Count Adolf V. Berg granted the village town privileges.(Sounds like there are good Berg's all around the world.) The population of Dusseldorf at the time of Grandma June's visit in 1993 was approximately 574,000.
One of the native sons, and a poet Heinrich Heine (referenced above) said of Dusseldorf: "Dusseldorf is beautiful. If one remembers this town from afar and happens to have been born there one gets a peculiar feeling."
Emperor Wilhelm II however does not give Dusseldorf any ringing endorsement and said of the city: "Apropos of Dusseldorf, I do not like to go there. The inhabitants cheer artists more than they cheer me."
This conference gave June the opportunity to meet and visit with people from all over the world.
One evening during a banquet at Dusseldorf University, June was seated next to a young couple from Japan. In visiting with the young Japanese lady June was surprised to learn that the lady was a doctor. June told her she looked young enough to be a teenager. The lady was delighted. She later sent June a Christmas card in which she wrote following her signature, "the teen aged doctor."
(Photo below right is June and I with a lady doctor from Japan sitting between us. "The Teen Age Doctor.")
The Japanese were always well represented at the various international forensic science conferences. At this conference at Dusseldorf University, the official "List of Participants" shows 107 delegates from Japan. The United States had 109 delegates. Russia had 28 delegates.
On her return home, June first flew to Amsterdam where she caught a connecting NWA/KLM flight to Minneapolis.
On the plane from Dusseldorf, June met a young girll who was wearing a "Vikings" cap. Grandma assumed she was from Minnesota and started talking with her. Much to June's surprise she found out that the young lady was a German exchange student from Dusseldorf who was coming to Minnesota. The young lady student thought that wearing a "Vikings" cap would help her to fit in. To Grandma's further surprise, she found out that she was to be a student at Grace High School, just a block from June's home. June immediately invited the young lady to to stop by when she could – and she did.
The young lady stopped by to visit June June on two occasions. She was also June's guest for dinner one evening. June later exchanged Christmas Cards with this young lady after her return to Dusseldorf. Very recently she contacted us to advise us that she had continued with her higher education in Germany, earned her degree and was a practicing attorney specializing in antitrust law. This young lady added a personal note:
"From time to time I kept on thinking of her (June) for short moments - she must have been a very special person, because I hardly knew her and still thought of her from time to time during the past years."
(Photo below is June with the young lady student from Dusseldorf, Germany - Fall 1993.)
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. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on:
June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on: