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Across the pond with Rex Wailes: Sunday in Philadelphia

Extracts from Rex Wailes’ 1929 diary of his trip to the USA and Canada. Part 19.

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Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church


On Sunday the 26th. I went out to Dr. Oberholtzer’s house by the 9.30 a. m. train. He met me at the station in a very old car full of rattles and shakes, which he drove very badly. After breakfast we went off in the car to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church to hear some Professor of National Science from Edinburgh University (I quite forget his name) preach. The church was very modern and up to date and had a packed congregation. The hymns were chiefly Church of England ones, and thank Heaven they didn’t use the rhymed Psalms. All the congregation sang lustily and I upheld England with as good a bass, as I could muster. The Preacher was excellent, probably because he is a layman! The text was “Science and its relation to Religion” and the discourse was very well set out.

I had been invited to dine with a family of the name of Pierce, who gave me an excellent lunch. They know the Canadian Rockies well, and go there every two or three years. Mr. Pierce, who is now blind, told me to travel by day from Vancouver to Sicamous, stop the night there and then on to Field. From there to Lake Louise and to spend one night only at Banff. I have since altered my ticket, the wretched clerk at the C. P. R., New York, having made a thorough mess of things.

The Oberholtzers called for me, and took me to a Mr. Hoffmann’s place, nearer the town, for tea. The house stands in its own large grounds and small farm right on the edge of the town, and the land will be worth an enormous amount soon. Mr. Hoffmann bought it by wireless from an Oasis in the Sahara – said the green of the oasis made him long for it. He has made most of his money in “real estate” so Oberholtzer said. After going round the estate with a party of others, we had tea. Tea cup would be the best description, for it was a huge bowl of tea, with lemon and orange juice mixed in, and ice and fresh strawberries floating round in it, sweetened of course. Excellent on such a scorching day as this was. The heat started on the Thursday and was at its best on the Sunday.

At the Hoffmann’s, I met my first Westerner. A lady with a drawl t – h – a – t   l – o – n – g, who was very intense though drawling and obviously interested in the Britisher.

Tennis at the Philadelphia Cricket Club

The Hoffmanns were charming, and on leaving the Oberholtzers, took me to the Philadelphia Cricket Club for supper. Their “cricket clubs” have tennis, squash and five courts and golf courses and football fields. Cricket is going out they told me, killed by golf, tennis and the “ball game” (base-ball). But the clubs flourish. We had supper on the terrace outside the club house, drove back in the twilight and I got on the train just as the dusk fell. Philadelphia is a fine place, and I want to go there again one day. The people are nice too, and very proud of the English connection.

The Vendig Hotel is poor and noisy. It will be the Adelphia, if ever I go there again.