DECEMBER 4, 1947
GENEVA—When I took off from New York the other day, there was promise of clear going all the way to Geneva, but flying weather at this time of year seems to be a trifle freakish! On our arrival at Gander, Newfoundland, around 11 p.m., we ate a midnight breakfast and then, at about the time we should have taken off, we were informed that we would be "delayed." In the course of the next few days, that word "delayed" was to figure largely in everyone's vocabulary!
Finally, our flight was called and we happily boarded the plane. The trip across the Atlantic was long, but all went smoothly. About 8 o'clock in the morning, we were given a second breakfast. Somehow, I had it firmly fixed in my mind that we would reach Shannon Airport, Ireland, at 2 or 3 o'clock. But the day wore on.
I forgot about lunch as none was offered to us. Suddenly, one member of the party announced that he was feeling somewhat odd, and then it occurred to me that it was a long time since anyone had eaten. A rather harassed-looking stewardess offered some warm milk.
At last, around 7pm, we reached Shannon, where we were told that the flight wouldn't proceed until the following morning—Sunday. In some ways I was rather relieved for, even with a night's delay, I thought I would still reach Geneva in plenty of time to prepare for the first meeting of the Human Rights Commission on Monday morning.
Shannon Airport's lounge and dining room were pleasantly warm and cheerfully furnished. We had a good dinner, and when they offered to take us to a hotel, we all looked forward to a peaceful, comfortable night. The airport is an international piece of ground, and everyone asks, "Where is the town of Shannon?" The nearest town is some miles away and rejoices in the well-known name of Limerick!
Some members of our party, despite our long flight, wanted to start off to "see Ireland." But various difficulties prevented a sightseeing trip, and most of us were content in our little clean rooms with good beds, warm blankets, plenty of fresh air—but no heat!
* * *
I awoke in the morning to dense fog and found that our flight was again delayed. By afternoon the energetic members of the party went off on a tour. They came back hours later, full of adventure, having seen an Irish farm and been invited to an old castle for tea.
Again we were told that we would be delayed until the following morning, and so the evening pattern was a dinner at the airport and then back to the hotel. There, most of us were glad we had brought all the warm clothes we could lay our hands on.
I passed the time reading Rep. Sol Bloom's Confession of Faith. This is a courageous document for a public man to write, and many men should take courage from it. I'd also been given a little Christmas story by Rockwell Kent, charmingly illustrated. I recommend it for consideration when you find yourself thinking of Christmas with a jaundiced eye because of the multitude of "things" which are allowed to cloud the spirit of Christmas.
During the evening, an Irish girl came weeping into the hotel because her sister and little 3-year-old nephew were going to the United States and she had just bade them goodbye. I tried to tell her that the "States" seemed far nearer to me than Geneva—or even Limerick for that matter, with the fog so thick that you could hardly see your hand before your face. But I am afraid I was of little comfort to her.
The next day, as we went through the airport, I saw a stewardess leading a 4-year-old boy by the hand. He was going to the States all by himself—an orphan leaving his native Frankfurt for his future home in America.
* * *
Finally, at 1 o'clock, it was announced that our plane would leave at 2. The day was beautiful. We were told that Paris was enveloped in fog, so that we couldn't land there, but that Geneva had plenty of ceiling.
It looked as though our troubles were over, and we embarked hopefully. But in less than half an hour, we were back on the ground—the radio compass didn't work. However, we didn't have to leave the plane, and at 4.30 we were really off.
We saw land as we flew over the southern tip of England and then saw the coast of France, but after that, darkness descended and there was little to see until we landed at Geneva around 9.30 to find a light covering of snow upon the ground.
Monday was over and no formal meeting of the Human Rights Commission had been held because there was no quorum—for I was not the only one held up in the journey to Geneva!