Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Builder from New Hampshire

Builder from New Hampshire,  on right, in Moscow, 1981
(Also shown are Sam, Mark and John Coulbourn)

                Builder from New Hampshire.  Our cousins from New Hampshire, Nancy and Ron Pomerleau, and their two daughters were visiting us for Christmas in 1981.          
            I introduced Cousin Ron to foreign officials as my friend, a “Builder from New Hampshire”.  In fact, Ron had built many houses, even whole developments, in New Hampshire.  He looked quite prosperous in a fine, dark suit. 
            General Hamm, my boss, invited Ron to ride with him in his limousine to a reception at the Bulgarian Embassy, and KGB watchers must have wondered who this “Builder from New Hampshire” really was. 
            The next day, the Chinese Defense Attaché paid a formal call on me. For NATO and allied officers we would receive such calls in our offices, but for communists we could not let them enter those secure spaces so we had to receive them in our living room.  This meant our maid would serve coffee and little cakes, which was much more elegant than instant coffee in a mug up in our office.
            I invited Ron to join me as the Chinese General made his call.  The General came, as always, with a young Chinese officer who spoke Russian and English— the General spoke only Chinese— and we had a very pleasant visit.  At that time relations were strained between the Chinese and the Russians.
            We estimate that the Russian intelligence people assigned to listen to everything that went on in our living room were really straining to find out the “real story” of who was this “Builder”?

Caviar and pickled herring with the Builder from New Hampshire.  In between the steady stream of Christmastime parties I remember one quiet night at our apartment.  Actually it wasn’t quiet, because our two sons and daughter had a gang of kids in the front of the apartment, sitting around exchanging thoughts. There was Ned, son John’s traveling buddy, and Anne and Sue, cousins from New Hampshire.  The boys had met other foreigners when they went to play a pickup game of basketball over at Moscow University.  There was a Swedish girl, a dedicated Communist, committed to spreading the gospel, even here in the American Embassy.  There was a pretty Finnish girl, daughter of the Finnish Military Attaché-- she was son Mark’s girlfriend.  Also two Italian boys, a Yugoslav, an Australian girl, daughter of Australia’s Ambassador, and an Albanian and a Turk, I think. 
            In the kitchen, our cousin Ron and I sat at the kitchen table and drank vodka and feasted on caviar left over from the various parties we had hosted, and opened a bucket of pickled herring that we had bought in Helsinki. We also had a bowl of pickled garlic, and some Russian black bread.  It was a typical Russian evening, with just two of us Americans enjoying it!  Our wives were visiting in another part of our large apartment.
            Finally, after absorbing enough vodka, we retired for the night.  The ladies came to bed a bit later. When Marty entered our bedroom she said there was a “blue pall of garlic” in the air as she entered.

Swedish Julaften

Christmas Eve with the Swedes.  Our friends Nils and Elizabeth Hellström, (he was the Swedish Naval Attaché), invited our whole extended family of ten to a typical Swedish Christmas Eve.  The Hellströms lived in one of the few wooden frame houses in Moscow, and what a special house it was.  It was built by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, for his residence while he worked with the Russians in Moscow, and then it became a part of the Swedish Embassy.  Nobel first came to Russia from his native Sweden in 1842, when he was nine years old when his father had a plant constructing land mines for the Russian government.
            The Swedish Christmas eve celebration, Julaften, goes back to Swedish peasant tradition.  As guests, we went first to the kitchen, and were introduced to a richly laid Smorgåsbord— pickled herring, meatballs, ham, and much more, and lots of akvavit to drink.  Akvavit has an effect like placing an electric drill in your ear.
            The tradition called for guests to move from room to room, tasting different foods in each room, and more akvavit, and finally a table of rich desserts and coffee.
            We enjoyed that feast, and then left our six young people to join the Hellström kids for a wild swing around Moscow at midnight.  We went home to bed, and with the akvavit, that was enough.

The Personal Navigator has these books and papers for your consideration….

Sweden: Stockholm Med Omgifningar Samt 1897 års Industri-Utställning I Ord Och Bild. 1896 Chicago, IL: Svenska Tribunens Förlag 167 pp. 26 x 18 cm. In Swedish, this book gives excellent view of Stockholm near end of 19th century. Many photographs. Blue cloth on board, gold and black printing, excellent condition. (3643) $16.00. Travel/Picture books.

Towns of New England and Old England, Ireland and Scotland Part I Issued by The State Street Trust Company of Boston 1920 Boston, MA: State Street Trust Company. Printed to commemorate the Tercentenary of the Landing of the Pilgrims, this booklet shows connecting links between cities and towns of New England and those of the same name in England, Ireland and Scotland; contains narratives, descriptions and many views, some done from old prints.  Plymouth and Southampton; photo showing reception for airmen when NC4 arrived in Plymouth, England May 31, 1919.  Andover, MA. Barnstable, MA. Bath, ME. Belfast, ME. Beverly, MA.  Bristol, ME. Cambridge, MA. Chatham, MA.  Chelmsford, MA. Dartmouth, New Bedford, Bedford, MA. Dedham, MA. Dorchester, MA. Dublin, NH. Falmouth, MA.  Gloucester, MA. Groton and Harwich, MA. Norwich, CT. Hingham, Northampton, Sandwich, MA. More.  Many photos and drawings of New England towns and cities and United Kingdom towns and cities for which they were named. 225 pp. 18 x 26 cm. Paper booklet, small chips in lower edge of cover, good. (7483) $44.00. Travel

Travel Diary of Mrs. Harry Worcester, 1954 handwritten by Worcester, Mrs. Harry 1954. West Swanzey, NH: ephemera 28 pp. 10 x 16 cm. Leather "Travels Abroad" Diary: Mrs. Harry Worcester records trip she and husband took from Keene, NH to NYC, thence from Idlewild Airport via KLM Lockheed Constellation first to Gander, Nfld, then to London, then to Brighton by train; Banquet at Strand Hotel; met Mayor Dudley; back to London, tour, then by train to York, touring, visit The Shambles, on to Edinburgh; touring Scotland, then to Glasgow and steamer to Belfast, N. Ireland; train to Dublin; Dun Laoghaire then steamer to Holyhead, and train for  Caernarvon, Wales; Criccieth to Bristol, then London; flight to Chaumont, France; Harry visited places where he trained during World War I; Neuf Chateau, Verdun; Paris, Chalons-sur-Marne; sleeper train to Basel, CH, then Lucerne, Zurich, then another sleeper for Calais; rough crossing to Folkestone, then to London; flight home on KLM Connie to Shannon, Gander and Idlewild.  Green leather Travel Diary (only 28 pages of entries) with unused pencil in loop, very good. (7644) $30.00. Travel/Ephemera

Travels and Researches of Alexander von Humboldt; in the Equinoctial Regions of America, Asiatic Russia, with Analyses. by MacGillivray, W., A.M. 1838 New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers. Small book presents abridged story of Baron von Humboldt's (b. 1769. Berlin) adventures along the Orinoco, in Siberia, Mexico, his studies of people, earthquakes, monkeys and much more. 367 pp. 10 x 15.7 cm. Cloth on board, cloth moth-eaten, but binding tight and pages very good. Overall good condition. (0911) $48.00. Travel/Science/Biography.

Tamales:” a more uncertain pedigree than the sausage, and its effects are serious.”
Truthful Woman in Southern California, A by Kate Sanborn,  1901 New York, NY: D. Appleton and Co.  A chirpy, cheery travelogue of southern California before movies, marijuana and Mexican immigrants.  What to pack on your trip here, round trip from New York to San Diego is $137.  Santa Barbara. Coronado. La Jolla. Los Angeles.
What a tamale can do to you:  A tamale is a curious and dubious combination of chicken hash, meal, olives, red pepper and I know not what, enclosed in a corn husk, steamed until furiously hot, and then offered for sale by Mexicans in such a sweet, appealing way that few can resist the novelty. It has a more uncertain pedigree than the sausage, and its effects are serious.
"Pasadena seems to me as near Eden as can be found by mortal man." 192 pp. 11 x 18 cm. Cream-colored cloth on board with a floral design. Cover lightly soiled and slightly warped. Marginal pencil marks in a few places. Very good. (5344) $24.00. Travel

Tunis and Tunisia Little Guide Book from O.N.T. Fédération des Syndicats d'Initiative de Tunisie ca. 1910 Tunis, Tunisia: Syndicat d'Initiative of Tunis. Tunisia has been under French protection since 1881. History, Climate. As of 1898, according to Sir H. Johson, Regency of Tunis is as safe for tourists as is France itself. Description of Tunis, population 200,000, including 80,000 Moslems, 20,000 native Jews, 42,000 Italians and 22,000 French. Korbous warm springs, famous since Roman times.  Mohammedia, Oudna, Zaghouan, Nabuel & Hammamet, Douga, Bizerta, Utica & Kef, Khroumirie; Tunis to Susa & Kirwan, two days by rail or motor car; From Sisa to Gabes by El-Djem & Sfax; Gafsa & the Djerid; From Gabes to Matmata; From Gabes to Medenine and to the country of the "Ksours".  Tunisia has 2,200 miles of splendid roads, for motoring, even into the real desert. 24 pp. 12 x 19 cm. Paper booklet, worn, fair. (7748) $21.00. Travel

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