My Trip to Europe


| November/December 1961



A man and his wife

A man and his wife in Czechoslovakia hauling rye bundles, their wagon being drawn by cows.

120 W. 12th Street, Schuyler, Nebraska

In July 1960, I started out for an ordinary vacation and visited Europe for nearly five weeks. I left home by Union Pacific train to Omaha then by Milwaukee to Chicago, where I loafed most of the day then in the evening I proceeded to O'Hara International Airport where I boarded a Boeing 707 Jet Airliner for Frankfurt, Germany.

Our plane took off at 9:50 p.m. and landed in Germany 9 hours later. The flight was advertised as nonstop, but due to the runways in Chicago at that time being too short for such a large plane, it was necessary to take off with a partial load of fuel, so a fuel stop was made at Gander, Newfoundland, for about three-quarters of an hour, then the flight resumed.

Harvest was in progress in Europe when I got there and so was wet weather, as we left the plane in a light rain. After several hours, I took a train from Frankfurt to Mannheim to visit a correspondent who works as a Service Engineer at the Lanz works. I visited with my friend and toured the factory most of the next day. I saw the newest in tractors and combines and also some old machines which they keep for display. In steam, they have one portable engine and one large traction with a rear-mounted affair such as we know as a rototiller. One huge thresher is on the lot, then a variety of their tractors and other items such as binders, potato diggers and tillage tools.

The next stop was Nurnburg, which was also the last day of freedom for the next 17 days. Nurnberg is now a beautiful city and especially at night on the main streets with their lighted shop windows and various neon signs. From Nurnburg, I proceeded to Prague, Czechoslovakia, which is behind the Iron Curtain and when I saw that Iron Curtain, I wished I had never been so bold as to undertake that part of the trip and the next 17 days were punctuated with worry as to whether I'd get out of that formidable stockade without a lot of trouble.

The first display consisted of three rows of barbed wire fences, the rows spaced about 3 feet apart. The wires are mounted on porcelain insulators. The outer rows of posts are about 5 feet tall and the center row about 6 feet. Guard towers are located at regular intervals and they are manned by soldiers. About mile further is a band consisting of 6 or 8 rows of concrete pyramids closely spaced and about knee-high and these are strung tip to tip with barbed wire, then I understand there are land mines. The aforementioned is enough to convince anyone of the viciousness of Communism.