In 1963 Pat, my husband was sent to Paris on business and I went along too. Our daughter Christine was with us. Pat was scheduled to go to Stockholm and since Chris and I had Eurail passes we thought it would be interesting to accompany him. It was Christmastime and as it turned out at the last minute Pat’s assignment was changed to London, but Chris and I decided to go to Stockholm anyway and we did.
From Copenhagen we took a ferry across to Malmo in Sweden and boarded a train for Stockholm. It was an all-day train journey and we passed through acres of snow-covered woods and forests. The train whistle blew and I thought to myself where are we going and what are we doing! Stockholm was dressed for Christmas. There were outdoor bazaars selling Christmas greens and ornaments laid out on long tables for display. That evening we went to a concert in the handsome concert hall. The hall was a little different because the balconies rose in tiers straight up rather than gradually slanting back.
We enjoyed the concert and the next day we were looking for something to do. Snow was at least two feet deep everywhere. The concierge had a newspaper and the headline had something about Linus Pauling. I borrowed it and was able to figure out that Pauling was to be awarded a peace prize that evening at the beautiful cathedral in Stockholm. Obviously the public was invited to attend. Students were particularly encouraged to attend the ceremony and they were lined up carrying flares and were scheduled to walk to the church over a couple of bridges.
We gathered in a beautiful square and our torches were like big ice cream cones that were on fire. Keeping us rounded up were mounted police, and as the horses kicked up the snow it was a dazzling sight. At a given signal we walked across the bridge and up the hill to the church where the ceremony was to take place. We were asked to gather in back of the church and to make a bonfire with our flares. We were told that Linus Pauling would address us, and very shortly he did. His message essentially was that as students we should question authority and never take anything for granted. In the church Christine and I sat in the very back because we had to leave before the end of the program to catch our train for Copenhagen.
A longtime correspondent for the Gazette, Isabel West lives at Long Hill in Edgartown. This piece was transcribed for publication by Marnie Stanton.