C Emlen Urban’s Letters


1st Letter

Wednesday, Feb 14/34

Dear Rathfor

when we left new York last saturday it was very cold- aura below zero. All water supply pipes of the “Roma” were frozen solid and we could get no running water until the following day.

The sea has been very rough for the last three days but our ship is doing fine. Mother and I are doing well but Miriam had to stay in her stateroom most of yesterday.

We are on a fine boat and the cooking is excellent. We have three musical concerts daily- dancing from 10 to midnight. a fine library, moving pictures each afternoon! A daily newspaper, gymnasium and plenty of sports on board.

There are quite a number of priests on board going to Rome and to Palestine. Mother and I attended mass on Sunday morning in the ships beautiful social room. We will land at Madeira Islands on Saturday.

This letter will be dropped off at Couta, Morocco, from which place it will be sent over to Gibraltar and then picked up by the “Rex” and brought to New York.

Love to you and Marie,

Papa and Mother.

Saturday February 17th

We are now anchoring in the harbor of Funchal, Madeira at 7:30 am. The weather is cool with a slight drizzle.

Our voyage across the Atlantic was very enjoyable, except for a few hours when Miriam felt a little sea-sick.

We leave this evening for Couta, Morrocco. Couta is pronounced “Chew-Ta” in English.

Saturday, Feb 17th-1934

My dear Rathfor:

We have first returned to the “Roma” after being on a trip through the city of Fuuchal, Madeira.

It was a most interesting experience. A mountainous island, highly cultivated, flowers everywhere. we brought armsful of them back to the ship.

We drove through the port of the city by automobile and also by a sledge driven by oxen.

It was here that Empress Zeta, of the House of Austria, was exiled after the world war.

This place is so celebrated for Madeira lace and also famous for it’s wine.


We leave at 6:00 PM (This evening) for Ceuta (Cheet-a) Morocco.

Tuesday, Feb 20/34

Dear Rathfor:

We arrived at Ceuta, Morroco, yesterday morning. It is quite a large city, clean and prosperous looking.

but the most interesting place to visit is Jet-Turan, the capital of Spanish Morrocco, 41 miles away from Ceuta.

We engaged a private car (a cuillis-Knight) and made it in one hour and a quarter over the mountainous roads of clean, smooth macadamia construction.

at the Morocco capital we visited the school for Moorish Boys and Girls.

Were surprised to see what fine work these small children do in metal-wood-leather-tiles, weaving etc. Walked through the narrow shopping streets of the business section; saw the sultan’s palace, beautiful parks etc.

We were in the country of the cut-throught “Riffs”,-Hilly, with old forts everywhere the moors fought the spanish- very little (unreadable) is cultivated- exactly unlike madeira.


We are now in the mediterranean, headed for naples. Sea is smooth but the air is a little chilly-


Feb 21-1934

Dear Rathfor:

All day yesterday the mediterranean sea was smooth as a table, and the sun shone brightly. it was my birthday and when we went into the diningroom for dinner in the evening we were surprised to find a fine birthday cake for us on the table with candles and all the trimmings.

It is cloudy and cool today.

Tomorrow morning at 7:00 we land at Naples. We got radio news on the ship today that there has been a very heavy snow storm in New York; also that congress is investigating Chas. A. Lindbergh regarding flights he may have made out of air mail contracts etc. We have all been very well and are enjoying the cruise very much.

There are people from York and Reading on the ship; perhaps I may have told you this before.



Sunday Feb 25th

Dear Rathfor:

We had a wonderful day yesterday in Athens.

The ancient temples were most interesting and far surpassed my expectations as to their size, beauty of form and fine location. We had a very intelligent guide who wanted to show us everything and explain all of the ancient wars which the greeks had with their neighboring enemies, but mother got very tired of climbing around the ruins for five or more hours and we had to go back to the boar.

I find that wherever we land in the mediterranean the country is mountanous. Athens was surrounded by mountains capped in many places with snow, and looked beautiful.

Our greek guide quoted some famous writer as saying that “if in the time of the Greek Golden Age, Greeks had not so persistently fought among themselves, today the world languages would be greek and world culture would likewise be Greek.”

Tomorrow morning we land at Istanbul (Constantinople) Am using a Turkish stamp on this envelope.



Feb 28, 1934

Dear Rathfor:

Our ship reached the Island of Rhodes this morning. we went ashore by teuder and were unsurpised to find one of the most interesting as well as one of the elecenest old cities we have visited anywhere in our travels. the island is overuled by Italy.

The extensive ruins of the old fortifications of the crusaders are marvelously interesting. We leave at midnight for Haifa, Palestine.




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