I am writing up a series of letters my grandmother, Esther, sent "home" to her siblings in North Dakota as she traipsed around the world working for the State Department as a working woman before it was chic. Letters were chosen over phone calls because long distance calls were expensive, and it was sometimes difficult to hear well at a distance.
This letter is the next letter I have from Esther by date.
Air Mail Envelope postmarked Sep 6 1961 - U.S. Army Postal Service A.P.O. - 7 cents stamp
USOM K - APO 301
San Francisco, Calif.
Miss Jennie Efraimson
Perth, North Dakota
Dear Jennie, Dad & Rudy & all:
Since this is a trip report, I'm going to put a few carbons in so I won't have to repeat myself so many times, and add the personal notes at the end.
I took Friday off on annual leave in order to take advantage of the Labor Day week-end trip to Sorak San (san is mountain) on the East Coast of Korea. But it rained that day -- came down in buckets really -- and our plane from the south did not get in at all. They were about to cancel the whole trip but asked us how many would go if we left Saturday about noon instead so since several of us had no other plans, we said o.k.
So we left on the 12:30 plane Saturday and it takes only an hour to get to the East Coast but then we had a three hour bus ride up to Sorak hotel. First we saw a Buhdist temple, then took a ride on a boat with a dragon-head at the prow. These were just a short distance from the air port and then we really got underway. I have had some rough trips in my time -- like the time we went up to Sterling King's cabin in West Virginia and had to hunt for stones and logs to repair some of the bridges in order to get across - but never have I seen anything like this trip. The road was very rough all the way and the bus spat and sputtered like it would never make it up each new hill and we crossed dozens of little rivers with no bridges. At one point the water was so deep that it came up into the bus, and the floor of the bus was about two feet off the ground. There was a fellow on a bicycle crossing at the same time and we could only see the top of his bicycle -- he wasn't riding it though.
Well, I thought it was absolutely fantastic until the next day when we went on a hike and had to cross some streams on foot and then I realized that they had no worry about sinking into mud. The bottom of all these streams are stones of various sizes.
But that wasn't the worst of it -- it had rained hard there too the day before and parts of the road were very slippery and at one point the rear end slipped off the road into a little gully (sort of a drainage ditch) and they had quite a tie getting it out. On the way back it was a little drier and the streams were not quite so deep, and we had gotten used to it anyway, but we did break a rear axle. They had an extra one along and changed it very quickly -- less than half an hour. [WHAT!!! Can you imagine?] There was a mechanic along, in addition to the driver.
We got to the hotel about 7:30 and it was quite nice. No electricity -- just kerosene lanterns and candles -- but the beds were good and they did have running hot and cold water. We had steak for dinner and all retired early.
The next morning after breakfast we started off on a hike to see some places of interest but I got tired after the first 15 minutes and decided I'd rather go back and read, so did. The others went on and got back about 12. They also went on another hike in the afternoon but Ruth and I stayed home, had a nap and played scrabble. After dinner that night we walked down to the village and bought a few soveniers and went we got back, played some HEARTS. [stet] Yes, I finally had to succumb to hearts as we couldn't find enough Bridge players. That day was sort of foggy all through but Monday morning, when we had to leave at 8 dawned just lovely. I took more pictures then.
So we coughed and rattled our way back to Kwang Nun (the airport town), had time to kill so had some coffee and got on the plane about 1:00 p.m.
One of the most interesting sights on this trip was the fish drying. We went through all sorts of little towns along the edge of the ocean and everywhere you saw these fish hanging on lines -- like clothes lines. They looked like about five or six strand barbed wire fences -- I draw you a picture here:
They were attached to the lines with wooden pins or sticks. As you can imagine, the smell was terrific.
The hotel where we stayed seemed to have about the only telephone in town and they would get calls for many people and just holler down the road and I guess the message got passed on because in a little while somebody would come running up and go to the phone. Instead of "hello" they say "Yo bo shay oh!" There was a movie outfit up there making a movie and one of the people who got calls was the star actress. She was quite pretty. Also saw the male star and he looked rather fierce.
I was disappointed that there was no place to swim and I guess it would have been too cool anyway. We wore slacks and sweaters. But it was 93 when we got back to Seoul and rained again in the evening. Ruth had to get her hair done so I fixed us a Chinese dish for supper and baked an apple pie; we watched a couple of TV shows and I played records and read till about 11. Ruth and a few of the others got a little stomach upset but other than having a little longer of the usual morning sneezing, I was o.k. Ruth still feels a bit under the weather but I feel fine today. There were about 10 Americans and 4 Koreans on this trip.
Well so much for that.
Belated birthday Greetings to Rudy.
Happy Birthday to Dad & I might as well say Eino & Martha too (isn't Martha's in Sept. also?)
Our letters from Larry are being returned so don't know whats happened. Maybe he's been moved. Hope to hear soon.
All my mornings are taken up with Korean classes--then lunch so I'm pretty busy in the afternoons. Just had to take time off to tell you about this trip, tho.
Love to you all,
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