We traveled on through the black forest.  We followed a river back up to its source at the top of a pass, where we got out and threw snowballs at one another.  Then we followed the trickle of snow down the other side of the pass until it grew as waterfalls from melting snow tumbled over the rocks alongside adding more and more to it until it was a rushing river on the other side of the mountains.  In the  valley, we saw and visited the picturesque town of Oberammergau, the site of the passion play that was performed every ten years.

The bus took us through Lichtenstein, where we had the best meal on the trip, good sausage and trimmings.  By the time the trip was over, none of us could look a Wiener Schnitzel in the face.  Almost every meal was breaded veal, boiled potatoes and peas and carrots.  If we tried to order a glass of water and said the German word for water, wasser, we were brought sparkling mineral water. There was never any ice to be found.  Alas, we had to drink wine and beer.  The beer was one Mark a for a half liter, 25 cents, American.

In Austria, we could look out of our hotel room at a lake across the street bordered on the other side by mountains with puffy clouds hanging half way between the surface of the lake and the peak of the mountains.  We shopped in Switzerland and finally ended up at the airport in Belgium.

When we arrived in the airport in New York City, the plane had been delayed long enough that we missed our flight to St. Louis.  The airline gave us vouchers for a meal at a very nice restaurant in the airport while we waited. I had a huge steak about the size of what we used to call an arm roast.

It was either at the Washington airport when we were on the way to Europe, or in the New York airport on the way back that we ran into a family with a large and very friendly dog that we took time to pet.  The family the dog was with was Bobby Kennedy, his wife and children.  This was in 1966, between his Brother John F. Kennedy’s assasination and his own in 1968.

Finally, we landed in the St. Louis airport.  We had cut things too close as we managed our limited dollars very carefully but apparently not carefully enough.  The cost of the shuttle ride from the airport back to our apartment was $6.00.  We didn’t have that much.  We were stranded.

Hilton and Trudy Oswald came to our rescue.  They were a cute, older but very energetic couple who had come along on the trip with us.  We had hung out with them sometimes, especially since Hilton could speak German fluently.  They piled our luggage and us into their old Mercedes and drove us to our apartment.  It was not too far from their home.

The next week in St. Louis it was about as hot as it had ever been.  We never lived anywhere that was hotter and more humid than St. Louis.  There was a strong smell of yeast in the air constantly from all the breweries.  That week there was a temperature inversion.  The pollutants were kept from blowing away.  The air was yellow.  The temperature was 106 degrees for six days in a row.  Our apartment was, of course, not air conditioned.  We would open the windows of the bedroom, as well as the ones in the living room to get a cross breeze.  We slept in our underwear.  We would lie on our backs until they were adequately sweaty.  Then we would turn over and let the air movement very slowly dry the wet side, while the other side got sweaty.

Now there is the matter of the rent.  We had left enough in the bank to pay that first month’s rent when we returned from Europe.  The bank that before we left for Europe had told Mary Ann there would be no job waiting for her when we returned, did have her job available.  With both of us working full time, we were able to get back on course, paying the rent and saving for school in the fall.

We had very little money in those years.  We were dirt poor, along with all the rest of the seminarians, especially the growing number of those who had gotten married.  I don’t know that we felt poor.  Wonders could be done with hot dogs and creamed corn or macaroni.  Popcorn was cheap.  When we wanted to party after classes on Friday, one couple would bring the limes and the tonic water, the other couple a bottle of cheap Gin and we would relax with Gin and Tonics.

Mary Ann was able to earn a little extra money by babysitting for a couple with a toddler.  The parents got a pretty good deal.  We had one car, a gray 1956 Chevy with stick shift.  Mary Ann refused to learn to drive a stick shift.  That meant that the parents got two for the price of one, which was 75 cents an hour.

One time the parents of the toddler asked Mary Ann if she would be willing to babysit their son at the grandparents’ home.  She got the directions to the house and we headed out searching for it.  They were confusing directions, but we managed to find it.  It was a huge house on many acres of land.  There was an airplane sitting in an area beside the lane that led to the house.

We had been instructed to go to a room over the garage.  The room was outfitted as a playroom.   When we had mentioned the name of the Grandparent’s to someone, they wondered if it could be the J. S. McDonnell who owned McDonnell – Douglas aircraft.  It was!  He had been on the cover of Time Magazine not long before.  At that time, his income for one year had been $90,000,000 (yes, 90 million).  This was in the late 1960’s.

That number is relevant to what happened when the grandparents returned, and it was time to settle up.  I can remember Mary Ann and I standing beside the cooking island in the kitchen as we totaled the bill for the four hours.  At 75 cents an hour, the total was $3.00.  Mrs. McDonnell had a $5 bill.  She waited until Mary Ann searched her purse and billfold, and I searched my pockets for what seemed like an eternity to come up with the $2.00 in change.  No wonder he had $90,000,000.  He kept every penny he earned.  At the risk of being very politically incorrect, did I mention that McDonnell is a Scottish name.

As the story continues, the Vicarage (Internship) from Hell comes next.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.