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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

Chapter: 27 - 1999 - London - Sherlock Holmes Festival - 3rd Year Alzheimer's



"CHAPTER 27. "






Tower Bridge


(Tower Bridge - Sherlock Holmes Welcoming Cocktail Reception


In September, (19th - 27th) June again visited her favorite city of London. June and Stan were in London to participate in the Sherlock Holme's 1999 Festival. The festival included a number of social events that also included the dedication of a Sherlock Holmes Statue at the front entrance of the Baker Street Underground Station.

Stan and June's flight was via Iceland Air with a stop in-route at Reykjavik, Iceland. The flight was an overnight flight from Minneapolis to London's Heathrow airport. The brief stop in Reykjavik was less than 1.5 hours. This short layover was just enough time to allow for coffee,  a snack and a visit to the terminal gift shops.


(June relaxing - a long day - Sherlock Holmes Hotel, Baker St. London) 


June Berg Sept 1999


 While in London, June and Stan stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel at 108 Baker Street in London. This was June's second such stay at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.

During this visit she participated in the very extensive and activities filled program of the:


"Sherlock Holmes Festival"

The festival  among other activities, included the unveiling of a statue of Sherlock Holmes in front of the Baker Street underground station...

During the festival there was also a Sherlock Holmes reception held in the high walkways of the Tower of London...

Even a special Sherlock Holmes reception was held in the house of Lords...


June and Alzheimer's

June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January of the prior year. (1998). June was given a series of tests by the University of Minnesota's psychology Department following June's first symptoms of short term memory problems in 1997. The University of Minnesota's testing of June resulted in this sad diagnosis and report: “fairly severe recent memory impairment.” The report then went on to conclude: “This pattern of deficits is most consistent with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.” We decided at that time to make the most of the few good years that remained before Alzheimer's would take control of our lives. Getting back to London again was one of our objectives. The Sherlock Holmes Festival was great timing and a God Send!

This was June's and Stan's 9th trip to London. This was a last or final goodbye trip for June to the city she loved and the friends that she cherished. June was never again able to return to London.

It was during this trip to London that Stan noted with a deep feeling of sadness, June's loss of her normal travel independence. It soon became apparent to Stan that June was now totally dependent on him to get her about London as needed. The operation and navigation of the London Underground system was now a total mystery to her. Alzheimer's had taken away her travel independence just as it slowly began to take over the rest of her life.

June was the lady who during their earlier trips to London, taught Stan how to use the London Underground system for transportation. Stan had always used the London cabs, thinking that the London Underground was too complicated and slow. 

June quickly demonstrated to Stan how the Underground was a fast, easy, efficient and thrifty way to get about London.  Thereafter, the London cab was only used for airport transportation. Stan remembers very clearly the day that June walked with him over to one of the street level stairway entrances to the London Underground near their hotel. It is one of those snapshots of life's lessons that are forever deposited in our memory banks. (The same snapshots of memory that are lost forever for the victim's of Alzheimer's.) Stan remembers June calling his attention to the sign by the Underground entrance that detailed and illustrated with color coding the various underground lines and stations. June then took Stan down into the Underground and demonstrated for him just how it was done. June then was the teacher and Stan was the student.  

In preparation for this trip, June and June received an elaborate printed program booklet that detailed all of the Sherlock Holmes events scheduled for the festival. The title of the program read:


"The Return of Sherlock Holmes. - Statue Festival -"


June Berg with Lord Cottesloe, London 1999


(Photo above - June with Lord Cottesloe at the Baker Street Underground Station for the dedication of the Sherlock Holmes Statue and the unveiling of the statue, which can be seen in the background)


It was on a bright Tuesday, 21 September, that June and Stan participated in an evening wine reception in the high-level Tower Bridge walkways. The walkways afford dramatic views over the Thames and central London. The reception was hosted by the London Sherlock Holmes Society and His Honor Judge Michael Hyam, senior judge at the Central Criminal Court (better known as the Old Bailey). Judge Hyam made a formal welcome speech at the reception. The president and the chairman of the Sherlock Holmes Society were additional speakers at the reception. John Doubleday, the statue sculptor was also present.

It was on that Wednesday of the 22nd of September that June and Stan enjoyed a delicious and an elaborate noontime reception held in the Cholmondeley Room in Parliament Building's House of Lords. June and Stan received a formal printed and engraved invitation from Lord Cottesloe for this event. Lord Cottesloe hosted the reception.

The formal unveiling ceremony took place outside the south entrance of the Baker Street Station on Thursday (23 September) of the festival week. June was photographed with Lord Cottesloe immediately after the unveiling ceremony of the newly erected statue of Sherlock Holmes.

June and Stan also revisited the awesome Westminster Abbey. (22 September) This is a massive church with a huge history. The formal name is "The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster. It is of Gothic styling and is located in the Westminster area of London. It is the traditional site of Royal Coronations and the burial site for British Monarchs. The first construction dates back to a stone abbey built on the site at around 1045-1050 by King Edward the Confessor. Construction continued over the ages with the two large western towers built between 1722-1745. In 1579, Queen Elizabeth established the Westminster as a "Royal Peculiar" - a church responsible directly to the Sovereign as it is today.

Until the 19th century, Westminster was the third seat of learning in England after Oxford and Cambridge. It was here that the first third of the King James Bible old testament and the last half of the new testament was translated.

Westminster Abbey received only minor damage in the WWII London Blitz.

Some special times were also spent with  Stan and June's friends the Bruce's. They provided lunch, afternoon tea and dinner as a guest in their home in Bexley, Kent. Gordon Bruce is a noted British firearms historian and author. 

June as usual, was very tolerant of some of Stan's activities involving visits to the Royal Army Museum for weapons inspections and the firearms section of the Forensic Science Laboratory at Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police).


(June with "a" Sherlock Holmes - Baker Street Station)


June with a Sherlock Holmes, London 1999---

Stan recently discovered (October 2009) June's trip diary of her 1999 visit to London. Although there is some duplication in what Stan already had recorded, Stan thought it would be interesting to see what June had noted at the time of the trip.

June was already 1.75 years past her initial Alzheimer's diagnosis but apparently doing very well as is apparent from her diary notes. When one considers the diagnosis of Alzheimer's had concluded that her short term memory was "fairly severely" impaired, these notes are rather remarkable.

While June missed recording the evening wine reception in the Tower Bridge's high walkways, most other events were mentioned and recorded.


"Monday September 20th - Arrived Heathrow Airport at noon. We took a cab to the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street. They escorted us to a very small room. We asked for something better. The room we have now is much better.

 I was beat from the trip. We left at 7:30 Sunday evening and flew all night until 6:20 AM arriving at Reykjavik, Iceland. After one hour and a half we flew on to London and arrived there at noon. We slept most of the day.

 That evening we had a meal at the Sherlock Restaurant. then we decided to walk down Baker Street and ran into a store (Internet Cafe) that we could send email and we did - to Susan and Dan...

Tuesday 21st. After our showers we went down for a Breakfast Buffet. Everything was very good. Stan went to the National Army Museum. 

Wednesday 22nd. Breakfast Buffet. We met June Morgan...we shared a cab. First we all went to the Parliament. We then walked over to Westminster we took a short cut. We took part in a Reception at the House of Lords. After 1:30 we took a cab back to the hotel. We called Gordon Bruce and they will be coming out here to our Hotel. It has been 6 years since we had last seen them...took a short nap. We went to the Internet Exchange on Baker street to check our email. We had our evening dinner at the Angus Steak House. That's about it for today.

Thursday 23rd. We had breakfast in our Hotel. Food is about the same every day but very good. At noon we went to an English Pub called "The Volunteer". We also went to the unveiling  of the new statue of Sherlock Holmes. Many people attended. Not too far from our hotel on Baker Street. Today our friends Gordon and Joan came up to our hotel and visited with us. After a bit we went to the restaurant near by - Angus Steak House. Joan gave me a box of famous teas (Fortnum and Mason, established in 1707, also 5 jars of was getting late, they took the underground home - no charge if you are seniors..(Part of British Retirement benefits.)


 June's Invitation to House of Lords


 Friday 24th. We had breakfast at the Hotel Restaurant. I sent cards to all our children. They probably won't get them in time. (before we return) Stan met his friend Gordon Bruce at Scotland Yard Crime Lab. I went back to our room and fell asleep for a few hours...We had Baker's Street afternoon tea along with a big plate of finger sandwiches, 2 raisin scones, toasted English Muffins. Also served it with a variety of jams, clotted cream and hot tea. We also visited with a very nice friendly elderly lady that sat nearby.

Selfridges Department store is about 3 blocks straight down from our hotel. I bought a nice sweater (off white) for fall and winter.  I also picked up a small gift for Joan. Small Christmas Angel and a small card to send out. We check email most everyday at the Internet Exchange."

June's personal invitation from Lord Cottesloe to attend the reception at the house of Lords is shown above. The invitation has an embossed house of Lords red seal on it

(Photo  of June - Stan  by Gordon Bruce - Greenwich Park


June and Stan London 1999


 Saturday 25th. We took the underground to Charing Cross Station. From there we took the British Rail south to Sidcup. Gordon and Gary picked us up at the station.

Gary who is a teacher has a very nice new car. We went to the Bruce home where Joan had a fine lunch prepared. Gary then drove us all to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

This is the place where the world wide times are measured and begin. From there we could look down at one of the Queen's homes near the Thames river.

We then went back to the Bruce home for tea and cookies...later a delicious meal with Rose Wine.

After dinner, Gary (driver) Gordon and Joan took us to Charing Cross station. From there we went back to our hotel.

We had expected a good nights sleep but "lo and behold," after we were in bed a group of young people kept us awake for several hours.

They were so loud. We heard one lady yell out the hotel window: "SHUT UP!" Nevertheless they kept right on.

Sunday 26th. We had a nice and breezy day today. The day started out with a nice breakfast buffet...cereals, fruits, meats, grape fruit and orange juices, rolls, toast and tea or coffee." 

Earlier in the week, the Bruce's were June's and Stan's dinner guests in London. All had Dinner at the Angus Steakhouse just across the street from the Sherlock Holmes Hotel.

June and Stan, along with the Bruce's, visited the Royal Observatory at Greenwich Park. Gary, the Bruce's son, again provided transportation for the group in his French Citroen Xantia model car. The Royal Observatory is located on the Southern bank of the Thames. This is the site of the Prime Meridian or 0 degrees longitude. Greenwich Mean Time is used for the synchronization of computers on the Internet and is the Universal Time Coordinate.

This is where the Millennium began.  Everyone of course had to stand on the line before leaving. From the Observatory June could see in the distance, the huge new London Millennium Dome as well as the Royal Naval College.


The Bruce's recalled "When Gary took us over to Greenwich Park to see the Observatory, we drove across Blackheath, so named because of the masses reported to have been buried there after the Great Fire of London".

The closest Rail Station for travel to and from Bexley is Albany Park Station. A note from Gordon about the last departure:

 "When we said cheerio to you back at Albany Park station, June gave Joan an extra long hug, which lingered in her mind (Joan) as she wondered if it was because she would not be seeing her again!"


I am sure that Gord is right, June's hug lingered because June knew it would be the last such a meeting between them...

June spent an afternoon shopping in Selfridges on Oxford Street. Selfridge's is considered one of the premium London department stores. June thought the store was rather "pricey".

June's last sentimental journey to London ended on Monday September 27th with a 1PM flight from Heathrow airport to Minneapolis via a short stop again in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Stan's Notes on June and Sherlock Holmes 

While June was not a student of Sherlock Holmes, she certainly knew more than the average person about Sherlock Holmes. She had been to visit the Sherlock's legendary home at 221b Baker Street...she had roamed about Baker Street many times. She was very familiar with Sherlock Holmes home town of London and navigated about it at will.

June had stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker street on two occasions. June was always first in line for a new Sherlock Holmes adventure...Her final contact with Sherlock Holmes was the Sherlock Holmes Festival and her meeting of "a" Sherlock Holmes in person!

While Sherlock Holmes is not known to have ever had a romantic attachment to any women, he did display a great respect and admiration for Irene Adler who he referred to as "The Woman". Probably because she outwitted him in one of the stories.  (A Scandal in Bohemia) June is my Irene Adler or "The Woman" but of course with a romantic connection! Perhaps it would be more correct to say that June was Stan's lady version of a Doctor Watson for and of a lifetime...and what a lifetime that was!


Tower Bridge Ticket



June and Stan Berg's Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Collection

Stan and June put into motion the actions necessary to transfer their personal Sherlock Holmes collection of memorabilia, collected over a lifetime. The Sherlock Holmes collection was donated to the Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes collections. The university of Minnesota's Sherlock Holmes collection is the largest such collection in the world. This will be a gift to the University from the Berg’s as a memorial for June who was Stan's doctor Watson for a lifetime…Stan has been a life long member of the local Sherlock Holmes club at the University of Minnesota called the "Norwegian Explorer’s". (A Norwegian Explorer was a Sherlock Holmes undercover disguise) The Berg Sherlokian collection is rather large…(books, documents, tapes, chinaware, mugs, plates , figurines, cap, umbrella, cane, pocket watch, wrist watch, 3 oil paintings, etc.) Some of the Chinaware were gifts purchased by June for Stan in London during their many forensic visits.  (Stan's note - 7 July 2014.)


On 9 February 2015, the Curator Tim Johnson and Assistant Curator Cheryll Fong of the Special Collections and Rare Books of the University of Minnesota Libraries delivered to Stan an 8 page listing and receipt of all the donated materials in the "Stanton O. and June Rolstad Berg Collection". This collection is currently contained in 10 boxes plus and oversized box (30 cubic feet) and is assigned collection No. scrb 346. The collection is arranged alphabetically in boxes by author or title. The collection is recorded into 2 categories of "Relia" (objects and things)  and "Books". The Relia lists 61 items including 3 oil paintings...the curators accepted an additional item of Relia in the form of a set of 4 Sherlock Holmes drinking glasses making the Relia item total 62. The listed books totaled 97 items bringing the overall collection total to 159 items.

 ---Fong and Johnson 2915


Photo above - L-R - Cheryl Fong Asst. Curator and Tim Johnson Curator, standing in front of the June and Stan Sherlock Holmes collection storage boxes in the "Caverns." 


Today (April 2nd, 2015)  Stan received the March 2015 issue of the University of Minnesota publication called “Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections”…This is a publication of the Curator of the “Sherlock Holmes Collections Tim Johnson…this is also a division of the Special Collections and Rare Books Department of the University of Minnesota Libraries…Julie McKuras is the Editor.

What caught Stan's eye was a short note on Tim’s page called: “An Update From The Collections”…for me the note was a day brightener.....

“In February it was my pleasure to visit with Stanton Berg. Stan, along with his late wife June, donated their collection of books and realia related to Holmes as well as Mr. Berg’s key forensic cases. Thanks to the work of Lucy Brusic and Cheryll Fong, an online finding aid has been created and mounted for the Berg Collection…They may be found by entering the collection names in the search box on the Holmes Collections website.”

Both Tim and Cheryll were visitors to the Berg home on Gardena Lane in February…Stan had been afraid he might have been boring to them as he had many anecdotes and stories of June and his life together forensically and as it related to the Sherlock Holmes collections…they both assured Stan that this was not the case…


Stan and June's Forensic Science Records

On 24 November 2015,  Ms Cheryll Fong, the Assistant Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Special Collections and Rare Books came to Stan's home to pack up all of his forensic science documents from 50 some years work in the forensic sciences…the University will be adding them to their collections where they will be available to others for research purposes…

It was in February when the University first took possession of June and Stan's Sherlock Holmes collections… at that time they also took possession of some of Stan's key forensic cases having a national prominence…

Later in the year Stan asked Ms Fong if they would have interest in his other personal forensic records that reflected the course and development of the forensic sciences from 1950 until early 2004…the year that Stan retired to care for June who then was in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s…these records included documents, programs and papers from the 170 forensic conference that Stan and June had attended over the years…copies of the papers Stan had presented at  many of the conferences and the records of the four international conferences in which Stan had served as a chairman of the conference…most all of these same conferences June had also attended with Stan as his Administrative Assistant.

When the University indicated an interest in having all of Stan's records, he considered this a high honor and feel humbled that they would consider them of value to the University collections…many of the records of conferences are also records of June’s participation with Stan in the forensic sciences…many have her conference name tags and other related documents.

Ms. Fong took a few boxes of the records with her and left 11 other boxes of records that she had packed… for later pick up by the University staff…Ms Fong as usual was most gracious and addition, there are 12 drawers of 3 x 5 record reference cards that Stan created during his forensic years that will also be picked up...(Picked up by University staff on 2 December 2015.)

Stan could not help but breath a sigh of relief in that to him it was a “mission accomplished”…Stan does not make any assumptions about his life now that he is 91 years old (2019)…Stan wanted the world to be able to see the documents that prove June really was his Doctor Watson for a life time in all avenues of his life…and during the key development years of the forensic sciences.

Thank you June and thank you God for an almost unbelievable lifetime!