Dave's 1967 Euro Trip

Way back when Dave was a youngster, his father had determined that he would go to college. Father Sam grew up in a broken family in the 1930's, not a good combination. To put food on the table he dropped out of school in his senior year and started trapping muskrats at the Montezuma Wildlife area northeast of Waterloo, NY. (For those youngsters out there reading this who don't know about the Big Depression you should do so. You can't imagine how tough things were in the 1930's.)

Though not a High School grad, Sam was an avid reader and self-taught student of history (especially the Roman Empire). He was also very interested in European Politics which led him to meet a Belgian pen-pal through the Parker Pen Pavilion at the New York World's Fair in 1964-5. This relationship led to Sam and Wife Sophie traveling to Belgium in 1966, the first time since the war Sam had left the continent. This friendship and his strong belief in education set in concrete any question of Dave's educational future.

Since Dave was interested in communications through his ham radio hobby, he decided electrical engineering was the way to go. Fortunately he discovered electric power engineering along the way but that's another story. Sam made a deal - when Dave was accepted to college, Sam would buy him a plane ticket to Europe and provide some funding. Dave bought the book "Europe on Five Dollars a Day," and did it!

Though Dave had really never been anywhere, he was a typical 18 year old, invincible and unafraid. A few weeks after graduation (the shortest in history - but that's another story) Dave was off to Europe. Fortunately, Dave studied German in High School for four years and his teacher Runhild Wessel was a strict one. So was well prepared in that respect. Back in 1967, the budget airline was Icelandic. They offered relatively cheap fares from New York City to Luxembourg via Iceland albeit on a turbo-prop. Dave landed in Luxembourg and promptly bought a Gitane bicycle equipped with side pannier packs. He set off on a 320 mile bike tour across the German Eifel mountains (not so unlike the Ozarks actually) staying in youth hostels at night. This tour included stops at the Nurburgring, Bonn, Koln, Aachen, southern Holland and Belgium, where he was hosted by the same Belgian pen pal.

Following a week there, he took off on the trains using a month-long Eurailpass. This blitz rail trip included Brussels, Paris, Bordeaux, Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva, Rome, southern Italy to visit family in Cosenza, back to Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Munchen, Bonn (including going to the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring). Then back on the train to Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Bergen, and back into Germany. After the Eurailpass had expired, Dave decided to hitchhike a little bringing him to Hannover. He then bought a train ticket to Berlin - remember Berlin was surrounded by East Germany back then. Arriving in West Berlin he decided to take a trip through the wall into Communist East Berlin. This was the only scary moment of the trip when returning through Checkpoint Charlie. (If you want a reasonably good feel for what it was like back then, go rent the entertaining movie "Gotcha" starring a young Anthony Edwards. His border crossing was also challenging.) Dave hitchiked back to Luxembourg and flew home.

Two weeks later he was in Potsdam, NY enrolled as a freshman at Clarkson College of Technology (later Clarkson University).

Pictures to come.