Jim and Betty Watson's European Vacation

"Jim and the Colosseum!"

In the Spring of 1951 James D. Watson was living in Copenhagen pursuing his post-doctoral studies and attempting to sharpen his skills in biochemistry. In The Double Helix, he details a trip to Naples, where he famously met Maurice Wilkins and observed his X-ray diffraction photograph of DNA. Watson also notes how his sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Watson, met up with him in Italy. He was hoping that she and Maurice would hit it off.

"Maurice had noticed that my sister was very pretty, and soon they were eating lunch together. I was immensely pleased. For years I had sullenly watched Elizabeth being pursued by a series of dull nitwits."

Alas, it was not meant to be. Maurice went back to London, while Betty continued to travel Europe -- visiting Paris, the Alps, Germany, Brussels, and finally meeting up with Jim in Copenhagen. The following photographs, from the James D. Watson Collection, document her 1951 trip. Included are Betty's captions, which were written on the verso of the photos. Notice how she highlights both the beauty of her surroundings, and the great destruction caused by the conflict that had so recently wreaked havoc across the continent.

"The Eiffel Tower and 'me'"

"An artist at work. Montmartre, Paris."

"The view from our apt [in Paris]. The old two story building around the street dates back to around 1730. The mound in front is an air-raid shelter, a grim reminder of the past and future."

"The Cathedral and Town Hall in Munich. Both only partially destroyed. Note the gentleman with his very typical leather shorts and white ___ ___ knee socks. Also, colorful suspenders!"

"Florence and the River Arno. The famous Bridge of S___ is still standing, but the others were destroyed during the war. M____, alas because of ___ are the background hills."

"Rome. In the middle are the ruins of the Forum."

"Venice .. the Grand Canal .. The C___ [Rialto] Bridge."

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