This letter was written by my Grandfather. George Edward Lines, almost certainly in 1914, when he is working at Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik , and before July, as Arnold Freeman is as yet unmarried.
I have left out some of what Grandpa called “padding”.
I was sorry those few flowers I sent in the envelope turned up in an indistinguishable condition – I was amused at Mouse thinking one might have been a daisy ! – it must have been a mess. So I have sent you a tinfull from Bellagio i.e. if they arrive at all. There were hundreds of varieties and it would be interesting to know how many different kinds are actually in the tin – you can make a sporting event out of it & have guesses. Mrs Freeman & the Twins knew practically all the names but of course I have forgotten them. They told me that they would pick up if totally immersed in water. The blue ones were gentians. That’s the only tricky name I can remember. Well, I will tell you something about our holiday. Mrs F & Co. having been to München to fetch Daisy & her friend Bessie, they came thro’ Swtiz’d on their way to Italy, and I joined them in the train @ Winterthur1 on Saturday afternoon. There were Mrs F.2 Arnold, Daisy, Dolly & Bessie i.e. 6 of us. We went on to Luzern the same night and stayed there till Monday morning. The Sunday we made an excursion to the Rigi which we climbed (per train). Monday morning we took train through the famous St Gotthard tunnel, with all sorts of curious spirals etc, to Lugano & then by steamer & train we eventually at Bellagio of which the cards will give you a paltry idea. It is very lovely. It would suit you two down to the ground when you have a Continental honeymoon, only you must go about now as later on it is rather too hot they say. It is quite Italian of course and it all adds to the fun having to try and understand the blighters. We bought books on Italian but did not become very expert and when we did get something simple off our chests like good morning for example, it must have appeared to the natives as tho’ we were making a speech. I should very much like to be able to speak it as it has such a musical sound when spoken decently. The Italian names too, I think are very pretty, – Bellagio e.g. You might re-christen Pudding – Susan Bellagio Stevens and Peter, – Peter Stefano Stevens ! They’d be bound to make their mark with them. Well as we did absolutely nothing there’s not much to tell. We systematically lazed, eat and slept. We had brekker abt. 8, before which the girls annoyed the other residents in the Hotel by singing German Volksongs. After that & brekker, we got our lunch from the hotel & sloped off with it from abt. 2 miles, sat down & read aloud in turns (Shaw’s, Cashel Byron’ Profession), eat lunch, more reading & then back to tea by the lakeside to the tune of a violin & mandoline orchestra & Italian songs. The whole effect being very agreeable. Most of the time as you (at least Mummie) may imagine the ladies did that incessant needlework which goes beyond my comprehension. I suppose it corresponds w/smoking & is certainly a greater evil. After tea the usual programme was a stroll to shake tea down & prepare a vacuum for dinner. The said stroll inevitably passed thro’ the shops, whose owners we exasperated by looking but not buying, at any rate for the next few days when as you can guess those who had money (i.e. all except me) wasted it on all sorts of Italian oddities of unquestionable worthlessness for numerous grandchildren & other kith & kin. Then came dinner which was rather jolly owing to the homeliness of the hotel and the sense of humour possessed by the waiters & Arnold. After dinner we usually retired to one of our bedrooms and read aloud and did needlework (i.e. the ladies). The Freemans are all very keen on reading and its certainly not a bad way of passing the time. In any case the taste for reading is useful when one is old & a nuisance to everybody else. Arnold had to return to England on the Thursday owing to his girl’s mother begin very ill4, so I had 4 ladies to chaperon which not being much of a cavalier, I’m afraid I’m not great shakes at. I wished you had all been with us it would have been like Stoke3 again. Perhaps we shall be able to have another holiday together one of these days. I much prefer the Stoke type of holiday. I’m absolutely fed up with hotels very quickly. I’m rather afraid I shan’t get any more time off before Xmas as when I asked for the week they gave me to understand in a rather condescending fashion that no holidays are, properly speaking, allowed in the first 2 years !! but that if I had a week I must consider it as my holidays this year! However if I can manage Xmas I will. Thank goodness I’ve only got 17 more months here. I think I should go mad if I stayed longer, and I certainly shan’t do the latter. I rather hope Dee & Win4 will pay me a visit during the summer. I could weekend w/them. By the bye I read an official lookg. document a few weeks back re the lost letter. It gave small consolation however. There was a lengthy statement to the effect that “There was no trace of same in the British Postal Administration”. You can picture for yourself the whole of the G.P.O. turning out drawers etc, and telegraphing the whole world over, in a tireless search.
- Winterthur was the headquarters of SLM, where Grandpa was working
- Mrs F. – Edith Freeman, widow of George James Freeman, and mother-in-law of Grandpa’s sister, Mary Freeman (neé Lines).
- I think this says “Stoke”, but it could be something else, e.g. “Stope” I think I have seen a reference to walks along the “famous daily climbs up the cliffs at Stoke” which Grandpa took with the Stevens family, so presumably near Bristol.
- Winifred Lines (1890-1983), Grandpa’s youngest sister. Dee was Edith Lines (1880-1957), Grandpa’s eldest sister.
- Arnold Freeman’s girl was Edith Nora White (1882-1975), who he married on 11th July 1914. Her mother was born Martha Cullum around 1851 and died around May 1914.