My First Trip Abroad by Vincent Price | The 1928 journal begins here…

Vincent Price in 1929On the 5th of September 1928, a young 17-year-old Vincent Price arrived back in St Louis, Missouri following a two-month tour of Europe, where he got to lay his eyes of the classic masterpieces of the artists he so admired for the very first time, and explored the sights and the amazing nightlife of places like Monte Carlo and Paris with his fellow travelling companions. You can read all his adventures now from the start, by following the link below (or clicking on the photo).

My First Trip Abroad by Vincent Price | The adventure starts here…
My Trip Abroad by Vincent Price

Goodbye Europe | 25 & 26 August

Le_Havre_1928_postcardDATE August 25th
PLACE Paris
I waited until this last day to buy me a present from mothers money & boy I go what I wanted. At 4:15 we left Paris for Harve arriving there at 8:30 we got on the boat [1] at 11:30 gee what a day. I want to go home but I love Europe. Lord may I come again. Good bye Europe.

Le_Havre_TSS_Tuscania_1920sDATE August 26th-Sept 3rd
PLACE At Sea RMS Tuscania
The boat rocks everybody seasick with the exception of those like me with cast iron stomachs.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 25_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
TSS TUSCANIA[1] According to theshipslist.com, TSS Tuscania was built for Anchor Lines by Fairfield Shipping in 1921, weighed 16,991 tons and featured six turbine engines capable of 16 knots. Cunard chartered the ship between 1926 and 1931. It was then sold to Greek Line in 1939 and was rechristened Nea Hellas, becoming a troop ship during World War Two, and ferrying post-war immigrants to New York. In 1955, it served as the TSS New York until 1961 when she was sent to Japan to be scrapped. For more information on the ship, check out this tribute page.

A WORD FROM VICTORIA PRICE
One of the most significant events of my father’s youth was his 1928 trip to Europe alone, when he was just 17 years old. It had been his dream to see the Continent and the works of the Old Masters, and he had saved his money for years (and gone to summer school to improve his grades) in order to be allowed to go by his parents. That trip changed his life, and gave him the goal of creating a life in the visual arts for himself and for others. I am so grateful that Peter has created this website to share this momentous experience in my father’s life with his fans and with art lovers who may not know the true passion Vincent had for the arts from a very young age! I think you will find reading this journal a wonderful journey yourself.’ Victoria Price

Vincent Price Last Entry

‘I would that this map would determine only a small part of my voyages, that I might explore into unknown places’. Vincent Price’s final entry in his 1928 journal.

Vincent’s diary entries end here. I do hope you enjoyed this journey back in time to 1928.

France | 24 August 1928

DATE August 24th
PLACE Paris
Our last whole day in Paris I spent as usual in the shops trying to get some few presents for more people. Went back to the junks shops after lunch & saw 3 small etching for which I played 6c [ed.note: six centimes] & then some other small ones. Tonight we went to the Casino de Paris I am bound to see Paris even if it breaks me. This was a great show very clever. Then we went to Pigalle a good club where you dance on numbers & win dolls maybe. Next to the hotel to get some addresses & then we saw Paris.

casino_de_paris_1928We went to a place called ‘Paradis’ & there lay before you Paris. Smoke as thick you could hardly see, an acordian wailing some wild tunes & Nigros dancing with whites both ways. Girls try to pick you up, but you say “J’ai une femm” & then they go saying “Quelle dommage!” buts its Paris. After this we went to a place called ‘Florencés’ entirely run by Nigros & now all Americans & Florence [1] her-self came & sang to us ‘Just Bill’oh Boy such dancing. That’s good by Paris night life, Cab 6am.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 24_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
florence_jones_1928[1] Florence Emery (Embry) Jones (1892-1932) was the first African-American woman to rule the Paris jazz world in the 1920s, captivating audiences at Eugene Bullard’s Le Grand Duc and at Louis Mitchell’s club in Rue Pigalle. Mitchell renamed his club, Chez Florence in 1924. To read a 1927 article from The Times click here. For more about about the importance of black jazz performers in Paris, check out Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris jazz story between the Great Wars by William A. Shack.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

Vincent Price on Paris, the Louvre and Ethel Barrymore

I Like What I Know (1959)In 1959, Vincent Price recounted his life-long passion for the art world in I Like What I Know. In these final extracts from his visual autobiography, Vincent reflects back on his first time visiting Paris during a hot August in 1928…

‘For my money, the most exciting thing about Paris was the boat ride across the channel. I hated Paris then, though I’ve learned to love it. I’m sure it’s not a city for the very young. At sixteen (even at six feet one) you’re too young to night club and too hungry too enjoy the paradise of French cuisine.’

‘At sixteen I resented the French for having torn down the Bastille, for burying Napoleon in a sarcophagus which gave you no idea of his size; for killing King Louis and Marie Antoinette; for having perfected champagne, which gave me my first hang-over; and for their language, which even the children could speak and which had me so confused that no matter what I ordered on any menu, it turned out brains.’

‘I’ll admit the Louvre was impressive, but I missed the clutter of the British Museum and I missed the kings. I would have forgone its treasures gladly, if those golden sovereigns still held sway. And after the Elgin Marbles, the “Winged Victory” looked much too fussy – as if she were in a hurry to get out to lunch – or like those chiffony leading ladies who always come on stage, no matter where they have just exited, by floating down the stairs. She reminded me of Ethel Barrymore, without her head (which was the best part of Ethel, because that’s where her voice lived), making an entrance in the play, The Constant Wife.’

‘I’ve had to eat my opinions, which always taste worse than words, but I hated Paris. The whole effect was a forced laugh, and I only learned to appreciate it years later when my own laugh was a little forced too, and hers seemed more familiar.’

I Like What I Know is due to be reprinted in late 2015 and will be available to order during the Vincent Price London Legacy Tour in November. More details to follow.

France | 22-23 August 1928

folies_bergere_1928DATE August 22nd
PLACE Paris
Free day to Layfette Gallerie to buy some more presents. Then home for lunch. Afterwoods I took in all the junk shops along the Seine. Tonight we went to the Follies Bergere [1] which were ruder than Moulin Rouge, and not nearly as well put on. Then to the Cafe that has all the walls fixed up like hell [2]. To a place the taxi driver suggested to us the Gyptsie [3] which was tough as heck real Paris life. Next to a cafe in Montmatre that had two orchestra’s a Spanish & American (L’Abbaye). This place broke us so we came home.

Cafe_L'Enfer_ParisTHE FIREMAN OF THE FOLIES-BERGERE (1928)
This 8-minute short film starring Josephine Baker was filmed the same year that an impressionable teenage Vincent encountered the raunchy Folies-Bergère. Baker – who like Price hailed from St Louis Missouri but was five years older than him – had become a hit on the Paris club scene with her infamous banana dance in 1925. One could only imagine what would have happened had the two St Louisans met on 22 August 1928? Ooh! la! la!

rivoli_postcard_1928DATE August 23rd
PLACE Paris
Another free day. Went walking down to the old junk boxes again & along the rue de Rivoli where a group of good shops are. In the afternoon we went around doing nothing in particular. Tonight we went to the Paris Opera house a thrill of a life time. Thaïs playing and with that marvellous opera house staging in it was wond-erful beyond description. Met the mother of our conductor & his wife refined people & very charming.

Here is a YouTube video featuring a piece from Jules Massenet’s 1894 opera Thaïs, based on the 1890 Anatole France novel of the same name.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 22_August

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
folies_bergere_thumb[1] The iconic Folies-Bergère building in Paris got a big makeover when Vincent Price visited the infamous revue show in 1928. The 1869 building’s original 1872 façade was replaced with a magnificent art deco fresco by the sculptor Pico, while seat capacity was expanded from 930 to 1679. The show started life as the Folies Trévise until 1918 when manager Paul Derval put revealing costumes on his mainly English chorus girls and added outlandish decorations. It was such a success it changed musical theatre forever.

Cafe L'Enfer[2] Le Café de L’Enfer was a Hell-themed café located at 53 Boulevard de Clichy in Pigalle, Paris. One of the premier themed nightclubs of the Belle Époque era – the others being Café du Bagne (Café of the Penitentiary) and Cabaret du Néant, where guests would be served drinks in imitation skulls and dine amongst coffins – L’Enfer operated next door to Le Ciel (Heaven) from the 1890s until 1952.

[3] Gypsy

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

Vincent Price on Reims Cathedral

I Like What I Know (1959)In 1959, Vincent Price recounted his life-long passion for the art world in I Like What I Know. Here is an extract from his visual autobiography in which he recalls his visit Reims Cathedral in August 1928…

ON REIMS CATHEDRAL
‘I loved the Rheims Cathedral, mainly because it had been bombed. Only the first dollars of the Rockefeller money had been spent to start to restore it, and it was still a shambles. But somehow you could see how it had been when those legions of artisans, so many centuries before, had worked on it to pile it there. There is always something really religious about a church being built. Of most churches, I feel that when people have finished working on them, they often have finished worshipping in them as well. They seem to sit and contemplate what has been done and thought before. We were told how long and how much love it had taken to build it, originally, and I was pleased to see that loving going on again. I remember a stonecutter, copying a postcard of a figure, which had been destroyed, and inside, in the great nave, the sky came in. The sun was bright without that sieve of roses to strain through. It was a skeleton of faith, something essential and historical, but still new. I loved Rheims, too, because it was the only French city I saw that wasn’t half hysterical with hurry. The smiles seemed genuine… and I found a menu without brains.’

Reims Cathedral WW1I Like What I Know is due to be reprinted in late 2015 and will be available to order during the Vincent Price London Legacy Tour in November. More details to follow.

France | 20-21 August 1928

reims_1920s_postcardDATE August 20th
PLACE Paris & Rheims
Today we got up at 5:16 breakfast at 5:45 leave at 6:15 to Rheims & the battle fields [1]. We drove thru Meaux, Dormans the famous ? Woods [2], to the American cemetary where 4000 boys are buried then to Chateau Thierry [3] and Rheims we saw the Cathedral [4] & the reconstructed parts of the town. Much devastation still visible. Then onto 108 Hill where 5000 French were instantly killed, past the Hindenburg line & Back to Paris. Grave yards all along the way. Saw Richtofen’s plane in a heap in an old field [5].

Again from the Oklahoma Historical Society, this home movie footage from 1928 covers much of the same ground as Vincent’s tour group. From 14:44, you can see the same battlefields that Vincent visited the same year. Turn down the sound down while viewing.

paris_1928_postcards

louvre_1928_postcardDATE August 21th
PLACE Paris
Tour of the city today went to the chapel of St Louis & it was very beautiful. Then to Notre Dame which is historical as well as beautifully interesting. Saw Eiffel Tower & Trocadero. The Tomb of the unknown soldiers. After lunch we went to the Louvre* where we saw Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory & The Gleaners. There, too, were millions of paintings by every artists. Tonight we went to Moulin Rouge & I have seen such a beautifully costumed show. The scenery was just as gorgeous as the girls not at all risqué.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTE
1925_Reims_Field[1] The battlefields between Reims and Verdun were much visited in the 1920s and 1930s with wrecks of tanks like these ones close to Fort La Pompelle becoming tourist attractions post-war, remaining littered in fields until they were scrapped by the Germans during their occupation in the Second World War. This 1925 photo comes from Paul Reed’s WW1 Photos Centenary Website.  Read more here.
[2] The Belleau Woods Monument (read more on the American Battle Monuments Commission website).
[3] You can read more about the 1918 Battle of Chateau-Thierry here or from the Wikipedia page here.
[4] You can read about the reconstruction of Notre-Dame of Reims from the official website.
[5] Read more about Manfred von Richtofen aka The Red Baron here

COLORSLIDE TOUR OF THE LOUVRE
* In 1962, Vincent narrated an audio tour of the Louvre for Colorslide Tours, a collection of recordings about European travel and art. You can view it here in two parts.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

France | 18-19 August 1928

paris_opera_1928DATE August 18th
PLACE Avignon to Paris
The longest Ride yet 12 hours. Cool and pleasant so bearable. Staying at good hotel at Paris except that its on an awfully dark stretch. We came along the Rhone valley passing through Lyons.

Malmaison postcard 1928

Malmaison postcard 1928

1928 postcards of Versailles

1928 postcards of Versailles

DATE August 19th
PLACE Paris
Rise up early & go to Malmaison & Versaille. Malmaison was very interesting & so was the latter. Marvelous ceilings & murals by Le Brun & beautiful Gobelin tapestries. Fountains not in play but gardens magnificient. To the Hamlet where Marie A had her private home. Back to the Litre [1] in Paris. We went to a circus that night, but Lucy & I stayed in Luna Park & did all the slides [2].

Luna Park in Paris (1923)

Luna Park in Paris (192o’s)

This home movie footage from 1928 shows scenes from Malmaison, Versailles and Paris. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Turn the sound off or down before watching.

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTE
[1] The 4-star hotel Littré opened in 1924. Picasso, Matisse and Scott Fitzgerald have also stayed at the hotel, which is located between Saint Germain des Prés and Montparnasse. In 1952, soldiers from the US Air Force took over the place following diplomatic instructions, and introduced jazz and Rhythm ´n´ Blues into the place. In 1967, the hotel opened up to the public again.

[2] Vincent had a lifelong love for amusement parks and rides, especially rollercoasters. In the 1970s, he also narrated the documentary America Screams about the country’s fascination with coasters.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.

Vincent Price on Pisa’s Leaning Tower, artless Monaco, and romance in Nice

I Like What I Know (1959)In 1959, Vincent Price recounted his life-long passion for the art world in I Like What I Know. Here are some passaged from Price’s visual autobiography in which he looks back on leaving Italy for Monaco and Nice in August 1928…

‘We were nearing the end of Tour 22. The train sped through Pisa, where we could see the Leaving Tower lean, and through Genoa, where we could see boats that reminded us that before long, we’d be on one and on our way back home. And pleasantly enough, the tour gave us the seventh country in the form of that minute monarchy, Monaco. It represented the complete escape from the world of art. There’s none there… only the amazing ingenuity of man’s triumph over a hill, rising out of the sea. He had covered it completely with as mad an assortment of houses of pleasure and peace to be found anywhere on earth.’

‘Finally, two days in Nice, and then to Paris, the boat, and home. I spent those two days in Nice not in the pursuit of the beautiful (though she was very pretty), but in the study and exploration of the human body. Since I had dedicated myself to the world of art, I could hardly do better than to study seriously art’s greatest course of inspiration – the female form.’

I Like What I Know is due to be reprinted in late 2015 and will be available to order during the Vincent Price London Legacy Tour in November. More details to follow.

France | 16-17 August 1928

monte_carlo_1928DATE August 16th
PLACE Nice
Morning free. Went swimming & had lots of fun. Then to Monte Carlo after lunch & I won 100 francs. More fun. Had a date with Helen Ruth Loll and went dancing again. Monte Carlo was marvelous though it was very much out of season.

avignon_postcard_1928DATE August 17th
PLACE Nice to Avignon
Dull ride from here to there & arrived at Avignon at 3:00. We were rushed into a rubber neck bus & went to the Pope’s palace. Interesting, but tame to Rome. Rotten hotel & rotten dinner. Too tired to move afterwards. Saw the famous bridge of Avignon across the Rhone. Went through Marseillaise [1] going along the coast of the blue Mediterranean.

marseilles_1928

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

Vincent Price Travel Journal 1928 (reproduced courtesy of Peter Fuller)

EDITOR’S NOTES
[1] Marseille not Marseillaise, which is of course the national anthem of France.

[sic] Although Vincent misspells words in his journal, we have kept them as he wrote them.