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MUCH OF THE action in vintage radio hero Paul Temple’s Conrad Case takes place in Bavaria. So, despite more than a little anachronism, I turn to my Baedeker’s Southern Germany. No matter that Francis Durbridge’s Paul Temple detective tale dates from 1959 and this particular Baedeker’s dates from 1910.
As I’ve noted before, “What was worthy in 1910 and still extant is all the more worth seeing today.” Or, in this case, in Paul Temple’s 1959. Here are tidbits gleaned from the Baedeker’s and from listening to Paul Temple and the Conrad Case.
Paul and Steve. Paul Temple is an English mystery novelist whose wife, nicknamed Steve, accompanies him in real-time crime solving.
This time around, their pal Scotland Yard chief Sir Graham Forbes introduces them to Herr Wilhelm Brechtshaft of the Munich Police. It seems that Betty Conrad, daughter of a Harley Street psychiatrist, has disappeared from Welden School, a posh finishing school for girls, in Bavaria’s Garmish-Partenkirchen.
One of few clues is a particularly artful swizzle stick, “the kind you’d have in a Gin and Italian, perhaps,” Brechtshaft says. He notes that the Alsatian-dog swizzle stick is unique to the Hotel Roemer, an inn some 20 miles from Garmish-Partenkirchen. (Note, Welden young ladies are restricted to a 5-mile radius from the school, except when with their parents.)
Temple is initially reluctant to get involved, but one thing and another inveigle him and his wife into a trip to Bavaria. She says (not the first time in the Temple series), “Here we go again!”
Bavarian Motoring, c. 1959. Next thing we hear, Paul and Steve are motoring in a Bavarian rental car. “I must say,” Paul remarks, “these German roads are wonderful. This car goes like a bomb.”
“Was it expensive?,” Steve asks. “Yes, it was,” says Paul, “I shall charge it up to Sir Graham.”
There’s never any per-diem mentioned in the Temple series, but any good shamus knows about expenses. Paul doesn’t mention the car’s specifics, but given it’s 1959 I like to think it’s a Goertz-styled BMW 507.
Bavarian Motoring, 1910. Baedeker’s notes, “In populous districts and after dark the speed-limit is 9 M. (15 Kil.) per hr.; otherwise there is no limit, but driving to the public danger, whatever the speed, is an offence. Lamps, brakes, and horns are imperative, but foreigners are not required to carry number-plates.”
By the late 1950s, urban speed limits had been raised. Autobahnen were unlimited.
Hotel, 1910. “English travelers,” Baedeker’s notes, “often impose considerable trouble by ordering things almost unknown in German usage; and if ignorance of the language be added to want of conformity to the customs, misunderstandings and disputes are apt to ensue.”
Baedeker’s continues, “The reader is therefore recommended to endeavour to adapt his requirements to the habits of the country, and to acquire if possible such a moderate proficiency in the language as to render him intelligible to the servants.”
The Temples’ Travels Based at Garmish-Partenkirchen. At one point, Paul briefly visits Innsbruck, Austria, on what turns out to be a wild goose chase. He doesn’t drive; he takes the train on this 59-km (36.5-mile) trip. Because of the terrain, the route is anything but “as the goose flies.”
In their motoring around Bavaria, the Temples take several drives to the Hotel Roemer, the Ober-Ammergau inn with the Alsatian-dog swizzle sticks. It’s run by Fritz Gunter and his Scottish wife, Joyce.
On one visit, Paul orders a Gin and Italian, primarily to get a swizzle stick as evidence. On another, Joyce Gunter offers crucial advice.
The rest of the Conrad Case takes place back in England. But I’m confident the Temples would have made good use of their Baedeker’s Southern Germany, likely a more recent one than my 1910 edition. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021
Important translation: Alsatian-dog = German Shepard to those of us residing on the left side of the pond.