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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Two: Europe

Sunday, October 7

Bob explained it to his mother something like this:

"You have asked who or what is Klebs. Well, Klebs is an institution. He is a physician and a philosopher and lives here on Lake Geneva in a beautiful chateau and has a terrific library. You get into awful arguments with him about the deepest problems in ethics, and if you don't clean up the slate at night he pulls you out of bed early in the morning to discuss it some more."

Bob is not far wrong, but he should have added that the discussions are as often in French and German as they are in English, and that their keenness wakes you up in the morning quicker than a cold shower. The dog Tony speaks four languages, and is not too bad at the rest.

We have been here over a week, although Bob is now at the Riviera on a visit to his aunt in Mentone. His return was postponed by a telegram which suggests suspiciously that the attractions are not limited to the scenery and his aunt! To me this is one of the grand spots of the earth, and since it is not the first visit, it is particularly easy to drop into the serene productive life which goes on behind the high wall that shuts the establishment off from the rest of the world. Mrs. Klebs, of whom I'm very fond, has made us most comfortable, and when we gather for lunch or dinner there are usually some of their close friends from nearby. Between times there is the rare privilege of snooping about in the adjacent cottage, the walls of which are virtually made of book shelves, which contain what is probably the greatest working library in existence for the study of the medical and scientific incunabula, the subject of Dr. Klebs' bibliography. His task is tremendous, with descriptions of some 20,000 items, and he has been at it for many years. It is now nearly ready for publication, and some of the trial sheets are at hand.

A year ago I sat on the same bedroom balcony on the third floor and planned the details of this trip. It is the little circular balcony which "Popsy" Welch used to choose by preference, and smoke his cigars one after another throwing their butts to the grass lawn below. Whenever he was scolded he maintained that it improved the quality of the grass, but that was only his opinion, because the scars still remain. As with the other bedrooms of the house, there is an adjoining library and in this I found many of their books on travel and early exploration: Marco Polo's Journey, an excellent history of the earliest travels of the Greeks, and of Alexander's expedition to India, and much else. One day, while I was watching the lake, the doctor came up, and speculated on the cause of the long irregular streaks which could be seen across its surface; streaks which came back in the same area even after the wind had blown them temporarily away. Dr. Klebs maintained that there must be an enduring pressure difference beneath the surface of the water, but to me it seemed as though the only constant feature of a large body of water is difference of temperature, and the moving mass of air which was roughening the lake must be rising across these smooth light streaks because the water was warmer there. It held the threat of a serious argument, but Klebs suddenly remembered that Spallanzani had once spent some time in Geneva and thought that somewhere he knew of some letters in which S. had discussed the same phenomenon, so off he went to look them up.

Many letters from home, including a long newsy one from the Chief, full of notes about New Haven, remote control, hypophysectomized macacs and, of course, inquiries about his former pupils. I have got off an article on Labrador, but cannot claim to have worked very hard. The days have been spent in pleasant relaxation, which was never more welcome than after the last six weeks of moving about. Only on one day have we touched the field of medicine; a tour through the surgical clinic of Professor Jentzer and lunch afterward at his home. My brother Rudolph, who was returning from the Tyrol to England passed through with Ann and Mrs. Jones the day after we arrived, and we had the pleasure of a few hours with them before they started along for Oxford, where Rudy is entering his third year of medicine. We have met many charming people, including the Ernest Schellings, the Hentsches, the Dunants, Jacques Barbey, and Professor and Mrs. Albert Jentzer. The Schellings (delightful people!) had us all for dinner, and are frequent visitors here. I cannot begin to tell of the delightful experiences from one day to another, and it is with a good deal of reluctance that we pull out tomorrow for Locarno, where we have located Professor W.R. Hess, now on holiday.

The plane is ready for another long service use. On Monday it was taxied down a half mile to a wooden float behind a garage in the town of Nyon, and with the aid of Ober (Klebs' chauffeur), garage men, and half the town, we did the routine 20 hour check. Since then it has rested quietly in the front yard. The bise has sprung up today, and while it promises us clear weather with a strong north wind, we cannot be too sure about the take off conditions, for the lake is big and does not give much shelter.

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