THESE notes will end the series of impressions which superexpress travel covering many thousands of miles in some 10 weeks allows. I hope, however, to have the opportunity of writing a more considered article or two on America today. There can be no more important subject in the free wordl at the present time. From the travel point of view the last ten days of the tour were the most exciting and frustrating. America is fine when all goes well. It gets a little hysterical when things are going badly. But to the last and best of the American scenery: From Austin. Texas, we flew to Alhuquerque and thence by car to Sante Fe. capital town of New Mexico. Though the Gulf of Mexico country afforded all the excitement of being semi-tropical. it was the famous Rockies to which we' were really looking forward. Having escaped snow throughout our journey. we were delighted to see the ever-thickening snow carpeting the immense desert expanse under the. low-flying plane. Gradually, the endless mountain range came nearer. the snow. etched with dark rocks, glistening in the sun. Actually the Rockies do not look so very high as the land gradually rises to 7.000 ft. Yet. Baldy Peak (12,623 ft.) reared its snowy head above the range as we flew into the cup where Albuquerque and Santa Fe
Beautiful Santa Fe
ALBUQUERQUE. despite its name, is a normal American town, but one which has kept intact a Spanish and Indian quarter as well as a charming raftered airport tilled with Indian carpets and other unusual tourist goods. Our Santa Fe host. having shown us the old quarters with ancient brown convents and churches and attractive coloured tiles telling the story of the town's foundation, surprisingly took us to an English "pule". In the centre was a roaring log lire, and " Scotch " ran freely. The place wee crowded with wealthy-looking citizen,. Bill Albuquerque does not compare with the gem of the America we have seen: invisible Santa Fe. I say " invisible" because the town is so devised as to greet the traveller with the odd Iow golden or pastelshade house against the wooded background of the mountains. Our host. a man of civic influence in the capital, explained that with out civic compulsion, the Woolworths. drug-stores, supermarkets have all been persuaded to adopt the same type of Spanish or Mexican architecture. Only the heart of the city with its Cathedral and town hall is built up, but even so with a unique charm. This is a dream country and it is not surprising that people from all over the world come here to retire.
I WAS asked in Santa Fe (loca
tion, by the way. of Willa Catha's novel "Death Comes to the Archbishop") to give a talk on Church Unity. but it was only later that I discovered that the (Catholic) Archbishop was to be present and among the audience a number of Episcopalian and other Protestant clergymen. No wonder I was nervous. but a sense of charity must have dominated the evening for I was charitably left with the impression that all went well. How glad I was, however, to eel back to my host's beautiful house and garden and to talk to .NAr. Harold Butcher. an old correspondent of the CATHOLIC I [FRAUD, who started his journalistic life in Wallasey. and gradually during his life moving nearer and nearer to Santa Fe. where he is now settled. His has been a choice which many of us might well copy.
Nature or man's comfort SANTA FE was the most wesierly town we visited. our next stop being in Denver. some hundred miles north-east. Change of temperature, the snow and fatigue were now laying us rather low, but liner weather and brilliant snow, and plane and mountains rising to over 14.000 to set 'Is up for a two-day stay in the great convent of Loretto Heights above Denver. Strangely. the Americans do not seem as interested as Europeans in the beauty of nature. When we were being chiven around. the conversation turned almost exclusively to the new housing estates of the faet-growintt city. what incomegroup lived in what quarter. and the rising wealth of the negro population. Meanwhile the mountains. fifty miles away, called to us, hut we only got as far as Boulder at their feet. where the University of Colorado is situated. Surely few universities in the world are so happily placed for beauty end sport.
Troubled Return ele111,N eamc the trouble. In
iet-flight from Denver to Chieago. the captain announced that icy rain was falling in Chicago airport, and we had to fly on to Detroit. Splendid news we thc tight. From Detroit there are plenty of planes to Toronto. Alas. Detroit airport was filled with anxieties passengers wondering what next. After more than an hour. our plight was considered by harassed officials, who said they could not take us straighl to Toronto as the airport (Windsor) WLS across the river in Canada. We should have to fly to Cleveland and thence to Toronto. But the plane to Cleveland had to he de-iced, and that meant losing the connection at Cleveland despite the captain's assurance " We shall he leaving immediately, in a few n tiles ". This meant staying some 24 hours in a motel near Clevelatid airport. The moral of all this is that if we had been a ilowed to take a taxi from Detroit to Windsor, the cost to the airline would have been a few dollars. The official way. with meals and hotel. cost it over 540! 1 suppose officialdom in all coun tries le equally tinimeginetiye. But one had hoped that Ameriea would have had higher ideals, especially as snow and ice are normal flying hazards in this country where flying has practically reduced the passenger trains to bankruptcy,
H"to end'? My hosts in Toronto have just shown me the publicity leaflets of Forest Lawn, the Hollywood cemetery satirieed in Waugh's " I heLoved One ". To end with this is very unfair, but the conspiracy to hide the truth of the human condition as something falling far short of the American values goes deep. It explains away among other [hinge the present bewilderment and sometimes hysteria about the possibility and closeness of man-made universal disaster. This is something that scandalises and hurts. Hence the fact of death (for a price) becomes " through great religious art an inspiration to every visitor and a comfort at time of sorrow . . . the tradilLonal site for the year's most significant religious and secular ceremonies. such as Mother's Day services and the Holy Week Pilgrimage " . . "Already a Mecca for schoolchildren and patriots of all ages. the Court of Freedom will. upon eompletion, he a national shrine to our American heritage, unmatched in beauty, inspiration and enduring significance " with "The Wee Kirk o' the Heather " (" where Annie Laurie lived and loved ")
. . . The Little Church of the Flowers " (where "flowers bloom and song-birds sing") . . . "The Church of the Recessional" I" to bridal couples the ring ofAldyth
offers a charruirig ritual") . and "The Church of the Hille n+ not only a sacred resting place for the departed, but a peaceful. sunlit peak of spiritual beauty which will for ever be of service to the living ").