August, 2012:

AMERICAN ARMY DEPARTING GERMANY By Victoria Giraud

Last year my blog attracted the attention of German university professor Dr. Christian Fuhrer, who teaches and lives in Mannheim. He had seen a photo I’d posted of the Mannheim Officers Club and wanted to use it in a book he was writing Americans in Mannheim 1945-2011. We corresponded and I sent him a few more photos from a scrapbook my dad’s officers at the 521st Engineer Corps had put together for him when he was transferred to another assignment in Frankfurt.

According to a fairly recent Email, Dr. Fuhrer’s book will be out next year. He wrote to give his contributors an update on both the military activity and the progress on the book. I am posting the photo of a 1950s GI drawing Mannheim’s famous Wasserturm (water tower) that will be used for the front cover of the book.

US GI draws the Wasserturm

Dr. Fuhrer was touched by the enthusiastic response from over 300 Americans, mostly former soldiers, to his project. He received over 2,500 photos and will use about 500. Because of all the response he got, his text grew to 100,000 words “about five times as much as originally intended,” he commented.

Mannheim as a military garrison has almost completely disappeared. When Dr. Fuhrer recently drove through Benjamin Franklin Village—where my parents lived for a year—he saw a huge sign “Commissary and Burger King still open,” but noted there were hardly any customers. The housing area will close by the end of September. The chapel and the elementary school closed a few months ago. Dr. Fuhrer noted that Coleman and Spinelli Barracks were still open for now.

I have many dear memories of the Mannheim and Heidelberg area. I met my husband (now ex) there, got officially married under German law in Mannheim-Kafertal, and lived there for a short while.

Nearby Heidelberg military facilities are also closing down and it will be accomplished by next summer. I lived in Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg across from the Heidelberg Officers Club in 1964-65. I was the secretary for the manager of the Officers Club. It’s sad to think of that area as a ghost town.

Author Thomas Wolfe wrote the famous novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. That title is particularly poignant to a military brat. Home changes all the time as your father transferred from one post or base to another. When you’ve lived in foreign countries, you may never go back, and if you do, there are no guarantees that all those various “homes” will be there.

What a switch to have American troops in Afghanistan now instead of Germany! Not a place for military families like Germany was.

MY PROCESS IN WRITING MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE By Victoria Giraud

The cover of my historical fiction novel

Writing a book is a fascinating process, a great deal of it unconscious. During the act of creation, you’re thinking about the story, planning how you’re going to do it, making notes, maybe using index cards for the various scenes. In my case, since I wrote an historical fiction novel, I needed to do lots of research into the 16th century, and I loved the process. The Internet wasn’t the effective tool it is today and I used libraries for most of my research.

When I needed to describe a 16th century ship or the variety of clothing worn then, I headed for the children’s section of bookstores or libraries. Picture books were just the thing. I had to know how my heroine was going to accomplish her daring feat, how she would look, and  how her family home might look. The various Time-Life historical series were also a great help; they always had lots of graphics. I’ve always been a history buff and had attended many a Renaissance Faire where I’d seen Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake in action, not to mention all the hired characters and faire-goers in costume.

It doesn’t take long before the story and its characters take control. You’re living with them in your head, so no wonder. Many authors verify that oddity. Behind-the-scenes, your subconscious and your own past mingle together in the ethers, at least that’s how I explain it. I did a lot of creating while I was swimming in a pool. Water was the best element to get my “flow” going, especially since I was devising a sea adventure.

I finished the book, after five years of creating, letting it lie dormant and then recreating. During one of my last readings/proofing of the book, I began to realize why many of my feelings had come forward, unconsciously, in the book. I had given my heroine a kindly, generous father and three brothers who spoiled her. She needed one brother’s help to fulfill her dream adventure of sailing with Francis Drake on one of his early voyages to the Caribbean.

My stepfather, the US Army officer who raised me, was a very thrifty taskmaster. He saved his charm for others, his strong sense of discipline for the  family. How clever and comforting for me to create an imaginary father I would have completely enjoyed!  What fun to be the heroine who succeeds in her adventure! Plus, interestingly enough, actual history made it easy to manipulate and blend real facts with my imagination.

Being an Army brat has fed my sense of adventure but I can’t compare my exploits to Melaynie, my heroine.  I’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times and the Mediterranean twice, which probably made it easier for me to relate to an ocean voyage.  Melaynie has many of my traits—how could she not! Her feminist ideas were mostly mine, but I wasn’t consciously creating them. All these factors snuck up on me! Or did they?

Tin replica of a 16th century Spanish ship — my hint of creative things to come, purchased 15 years before I started writing my book.

SCHOOL DAYS…SCHOOL DAYS By Victoria Giraud

The majestic month of August has made its fiery presence known, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s almost the end of summer and already the start of school in many places. The kids in my apartment building started school last week; a downstairs high school grad leaves this week for her first year at Barnard in New York City. She’s excited to be living in a college dorm in the Big Apple, where she’ll be able to experience four seasons and be on her own.

Her pending adventure reminded me of my preparations to leave home for the first time for college over 50 years ago! Can it really be that long ago? My dad was stationed at the Pentagon and the family lived in Northern Virginia; the College of William and Mary was only about 150 miles south. My dad drove us all down to drop me off: Mom, Tupper, Darb and me, of course, on that momentous day in September, as I recall. Military fathers such as mine didn’t waste time on sentimental goodbyes; I doubt if my family stayed for more than a couple of hours.

I no longer remember how I carried my clothes, sheets, pillows, blankets, but I imagine they all fit into a metal military trunk, probably with family name and address stenciled on with white paint and left over from our last post in Tripoli, Libya. Military brat indications were usually pretty visible. My dad had insisted in taking me to an Army Quartermaster store somewhere in the Northern Virginia area, and I received very durable white military sheet sets to carry me through my college years. I still remember my college laundry number W-199 in black ink on all of them. Being thrifty and practical, Dad also bought me a military double-breasted pea coat in Army drab color. It was meant to last forever but I felt like I was on the lowest rung of the fashion ladder. My mother, fortunately, was a talented seamstress and I had some wonderful clothes, plus a couple of party dresses, to take along.

Freshman year at William & Mary–me and a friendly dog

 

There was an overflow of freshmen female students, so quite a few of us were housed in Ludwell, an apartment complex off campus. Williamsburg is a small town and was much smaller then. Students weren’t allowed to have cars, with very few exceptions; we walked or rode a bike. At Ludwell we had our own school bus, which we named the Green Machine, to take us back and forth to campus. The two-story apartment buildings were situated around a circular road and surrounded by woods. To get to 8 a.m. classes, and there were lots of those freshman year, the bus had to pick us up fairly early. There were plenty of bus honks and warning shouts throughout all the apartments when we heard the noisy old bus approach.

Five girls could fit into a cozy one-bedroom, one-bath apartment. We even had a kitchen, a very unique advantage in those simpler times. But since eating at the college cafeteria was part of the enrollment package freshman year, the kitchen was seldom used, except by a huge black water bug I can’t forget. I was the fifth roommate so I got the dining room area and the other four split the living room and bedroom. We were assigned alphabetically to the apartments according to our surname. All five of us claimed “W.” And I’m still friends with Diana W, now a “G.”

Being away from home and responsible for myself was heady fare, especially for a girl raised in a strict military family. Williamsburg was a lovely little town, a mix of 18th century restored homes and businesses among the buildings of the second oldest college in the U.S. I had picked the best “atmosphere” I could imagine for my educational experience. Cars weren’t allowed on the main drag – the Duke of Gloucester Street that began in front of William & Mary’s historic Christopher Wren Building and ended some blocks later at the first Capitol.

This photo was taken in restored Williamsburg on one of the many walks good friend Sandy Heagy and I took freshman year.

I didn’t see my parents or siblings until Thanksgiving that year, and I don’t recall giving much thought to missing them.

 

 

 

MAMA JAKE & DADDY ED — MY MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS By Victoria Giraud

Bertha Jake and Edwin P. Motley in older age

My grandparents, known to all the family as Mama Jake and Daddy Ed (a typical form of address in the South), had a happy 44-year marriage filled with the joys of children and each other’s company.

Big families were more a fact of life years ago. Mama Jake came from a family of eleven and Daddy Ed had seven brothers and I don’t know how many sisters. Neither family were Catholic or Mormon, a common reason for large families these days. Family Bibles, testaments to life and death, were stuffed with information on births, marriages and even a few reasons for death. My cousin Nancy passed on a list of Mama Jake’s siblings, most likely from my grandmother’s Bible. Her brothers hadn’t fared so well in life: Henry died of poisoned liquor (I wonder if it was bootleg), John, a lawman, was shot by a bootlegger, and Albert fell accidentally—there were no details on these mishaps. I wondered about cancer of the heart, which befell a sister named Mary; two other sisters died from pneumonia and childbirth.

When I wanted to find out more about my grandparents, however, I knew whom to call: my older cousin, Amy Lee, a Danville native.  In my eyes, she’s the family historian because she was a witness and still remembers those long ago days.

Daddy Ed, who didn’t like sales, handled the books for Motley & Sons, the family furniture store in downtown Danville, Virginia, and took the bus home for Mama Jake’s hot lunch every day. “He never came in the house that he didn’t go straight to Mama Jake and kiss her,” Amy Lee recalled. Another relative has mentioned how kind he was.

Mama Jake not only took care of her husband and family of seven, but she “did everything for everybody” in the neighborhood, including Moseley Memorial Methodist Church, a few blocks away, Amy Lee said. She was also a fine seamstress and known for her silk ties, which she sold.

Daddy Ed never needed to spank any of his children or grandchildren for misbehavior. He didn’t even need words, Amy Lee commented, since, “He could look a hole right through you.”

Besides being the family poet, Daddy Ed loved to entertain by playing his guitar and mouth harp. He had a good sense of rhythm and would sing little songs for which he had created the words and music.

My mother and I lived with Mama Jake and Daddy Ed in their roomy home on the corner of Berryman Avenue for a few years during World War II and a couple of years afterward. My father Victor, an infantry major, was serving in Italy when Daddy Ed wrote this poem in 1944 to my mother, Garnette. I would imagine the poem was for her birthday on July 22. I like to imagine that he sung it to an appreciative family audience as well.

Another year has rolled around,

To find Bertha Garnette still in town.

She has reached the age of twenty-three,

And started her a family tree.

Her baby girl, Victoria Anne,

The finest young one in this land,

She twines herself around our heart,

And with her we would hate to part.

While daddy Victor, over the sea,

Fights like hell, for you and me.

So we must care for Garnette and Viki,

She’s mighty sweet, but also tricky.

How in the world could sweet Sixteen,

Make herself the Major’s queen,

Secure for herself good things in life,

Without the struggles, stress and strife.

But anyhow, we wish for you,

Long life, good health, your lover true,

Your baby grow to love you most,

And Victor come back home as host.

Daddy Ed signed the poem: Mamma and Daddy

DADDY ED MOTLEY – My grandfather By Victoria Giraud

My maternal grandfather, Edwin Pendleton Motley, who was born in North Carolina 12 years after the Civil War  in 1877, descended from old American stock. His ancestor, Joseph Motley, came to the American colonies from Scotland as early as the 1730s.

In 1903 Edwin married Bertha Jackson Seago and they ended up in Danville, Virginia. They had 8 children: 7 of them had fairly long, healthy lives. My mother, Bertha Garnette Motley, was second youngest.

In the studio photo of the attractive young family taken around 1909 or 1910, they looked happy with daughters Inez and baby Louise. Mama Jake, as we called my grandmother, had her first baby in 1904 and didn’t stop until Anne was born in 1926. Whew!

The Motley family, circa 1910

From stories I’ve heard and the poems I’ve read, my grandfather, known as Daddy Ed in the family, was a bit of a romantic. He played guitar, wrote poetry and sang to me as a baby. I wish I had more memories of him but he died at age 70, when I was only 4. I was told that I would run to meet him every evening when he came home from the family furniture store. He would bring me some kind of little gift—a piece of ribbon or some kind of trinket to play with.

The following poem tells something of his loving nature and sense of fun. It describes his first meeting with his future wife, Bertha.

There was a young lady who lived in N.C.,

And this little lady was as busy as could be,

She was here and there waiting on her nieces,

Her nerves gave out and she nearly went to pieces.

Her brother-in-law, the Doctor, sent her to school,

In the State Normal College to learn the golden RULE.

She boarded with Mother Hartsell, whose daughter Grizelle,

Grew to be a fine lady and was considered a belle.

This young lady Bertha, while going to school,

Was forbidden any company by the McIvor rule,

She went with Mother Hartsell on Sunday to dine,

With Mrs. Vuncannon, the weather was fine.

At the table that Sunday, just across from her plate,

Sat a tall, lanky boarder, wasn’t this just her FATE,

She glanced at this soreback from under her lashes,

While he turned scarlet and all colored splashes.

I can just imagine how flattered she must have been to have received this poem. I only wish she had lived long enough for me to ask her questions.

More of Daddy Ed’s poetry in the next blog.

WE WERE THE FIRST “MOTLEY CREW” By Victoria Giraud

Somewhere back in time all names had origins. A Word-A-Day, which I receive as an Email, is a wonderful reference to the roots and definitions of thousands of words.  I doubt  they will ever run out of words to define and explain.

My mother Garnette’s maiden name, Motley, is a good example of meaningful words. Garnette is a feminized spelling of garnet, a semi-precious gemstone that was used for jewelry at least as far back as the Roman Empire. It’s also considered an abrasive and can be handy for sand blasting. I think my mother would’ve gotten a chuckle from these definitions. She was both precious and/or abrasive if she needed to be.

A Garnet Crystal, source of my mother’s name and it’s also my January birthstone

Motley, my mother’s family name, originates in the Middle Ages and means a mixture or patchwork of colors. The court jester was known to wear an outfit of many colors. The word was around long before the rock and roll world heard of Motley Crue.

In his play As You Like It, Shakepeare said “Motley is the only wear.”

The Court Jester wearing a motley outfit.

I grew up knowing and hearing about Motleys, a prolific family in the South, especially in North Carolina and Southern Virginia. My maternal grandparents, Edwin Pendleton and Bertha Jackson Seago Motley, had eight children: two boys and six girls. They all survived except for the first child, a boy, Edwin Jackson Motley, who died at 18 months. My Uncle Penn (Pendleton Koons Motley) was the second male, born right in the middle, with three sisters older and three sisters younger (my mother was second youngest). It must have suited him—his daughter Penny says he loved all his sisters, and in his late 80s, he was the next to last of the siblings to pass on. He left us in 2004 and my Aunt Rosie departed this world in 2007.

In the 1970s, before genealogy research into family history was as popular as it is now with handy Internet information, I received a package detailing a thorough family background search. It was enough to drive my mind around the bend, especially since my ancestor families were very large and the male names are repetitious: Edwin, Pendleton, Joseph, David, to name a few. And the Motleys appeared on the scene in the early 1700s.

Joseph Motley sailed from Edinburgh, Scotland, and ended up in Virginia. Probably for money since most new colonists struggled to make a meager living, Joseph fought with George Washington in the French and Indian War (1754-63), and six of Joseph’s sons fought in the ensuing Revolutionary War (1775-83).

By that time, the Motleys had settled in, bought land, and decided they agreed with the Patriots—they didn’t want to be a British colony. Besides, Joseph had fought with Washington. Since he was a captain in that army, I’m betting he probably knew Washington, who was also a Virginian, and living in a country that was still sparsely populated.

Joseph’s daughter, Obedience Motley, (born in 1768) married John Morehead in 1790, after the Revolutionary War was over. I can’t imagine being named Obedience, but that’s what women were supposed to be in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most American women have grown out of that “obedient” phase!

Despite her name, Obedience was a feisty gal who believed in getting even. When Joseph Motley’s Tory neighbor, a British sympathizer who led a guerilla group, deliberately cut an artery of Obedience’s bedridden mother, the mother bled to death. Some years later, as the story in the researched report goes, this same neighbor was ill and was brought to Obedience’s home for help. She had never forgotten or forgiven the neighbor and poured a bucket of burning hot coals on his head. I’m sure it did him no good, but I don’t know whether it hastened his death or not. I just love the story, even though I wonder why Joseph didn’t seek revenge for his dead wife.

Obedience and husband John Morehead had a son, John Motley Morehead, on July 4, 1796, who grew up to be elected governor of North Carolina in 1840 and 1842. Was it a special influence because of the July 4 birth?

As for Obedience, did her name have any influence on the fact she had a total of nine children?

 

FISHING OFF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS By Victoria Giraud

Southern California is having its first summer heat wave and when it’s hot I think of pools and the very chilly Pacific Ocean. In contrast, the Atlantic Ocean off Florida is like swimming in a bathtub; sweatshirts are not needed for a visit to the beach but towels are necessary for the sweat. Hooray for contrasts, but I’ll take the Left Coast over the Right Coast any day. And that goes for my politics as well!

Thinking of the ocean brings to mind my fishing adventure off Santa Cruz Island a few years ago. I was one of three women — the only one who was single– and nineteen men. This adventure was long before I’d decided to write a seafaring yarn about  Francis Drake in the Caribbean. I’d never handled a fishing pole or even had a desire to catch a fish, but I’d always  loved the ocean. I’ve spent most of my life near the ocean:  Jacksonville Beach, Florida; Tripoli, Libya; and Los Angeles.

The fishing trip was being hosted by Pelican’s Retreat, a seafood restaurant in Calabasas, that had hired me for advertising and public relations.  Owners Bruce and Gert were part of the fishing gang, a gregarious and rowdy bunch of restaurant patrons. After our sporting efforts, we were taking our fish back to the restaurant for a fish fry/grill with all the fixings.

Me and My Fish

 

The large group gathered about 1:30 a.m. in the Oxnard Harbor area, ready to head out at 2 a.m. on the Pacific Dawn for Santa Cruz, the largest of the Channel Islands. By leaving at this hour, we’d get a few hours to snooze before we anchored and the sun rose. Sleeping accommodations were below and consisted of very basic wooden rectangular compartments with a plastic covered mattress pad: room for one or two squeezed together. Since I was a novice and was curious about the ocean views, I didn’t hit the bunk right away and stayed up to see the oil platforms lit up like huge Christmas trees.

When I was married, we’d taken our two kids to explore Anacapa, one of the smallest of these islands, and I remembered the weather along the California coast can change quickly and a calm sea can turn into a roller coaster ride. Being confined to a constantly moving boat for 15 hours made me very thankful for my “sailor’s stomach,” which has enabled me to enjoy ocean ventures.

No time for sleeping late on a fishing excursion, a loud and disgustingly cheery voice called us to breakfast in the galley about 6 a.m. It was chilly and overcast and the anchored boat was rocking, but many enthusiasts in the group had already eaten their bacon and eggs and were fishing. When the sun came out, so did the beer. Thanks to beer and the stronger stuff, there was as much laughter as fishing.

With many capable fishermen around, I had plenty of help with a borrowed fishing pole and the slimy bait. I didn’t participate in the jackpot for largest fish, but as luck and persistence would have it, I caught the second biggest fish on the boat. They told me it was a whitefish, but it looked pink to me.

Another highlight that day was consuming the freshest sushi I’d ever had. Several just-caught fish were filleted and handed out with a slice of fresh lemon to those who weren’t afraid of chowing down on uncooked denizens of the deep. It was delicious and tender.

Warm sun and a calm sea blessed the day and after making an excellent haul of over 300 fish, we headed back to land in the afternoon. We’d carpooled to get there and on the drive home, which was less than an hour, one of the show-offs in the camper in front of the car I was in decided to make his inimitable statement on the crazy day by mooning us. I still have the photo of the fisherman we all dubbed “Dr. Moon.”

MY “Melaynie” ANSWER TO 50 SHADES OF GREY By Victoria Giraud

Sex makes the world go round… Songs, books, movies, art, advertising, the media, not to mention all our imaginative minds and built-in hormones. Women can’t seem to get enough the fairly recent novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven’t read it yet, but I want to remind my blog readers in search of some erotica and romance/adventure that I’ve published Melaynie’s Masquerade as an e-book on Amazon  http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

Read my sample teaser below and see if it entices you to read more by ordering my book. It’s also in softcover.

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end. In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?  He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual.

Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.  Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame.

From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.  The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt.

This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind. Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret.

Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

BACK TO THE STATES & ROCK ‘N ROLL By Victoria Giraud

On July 1, 1958, the USNS General Rose left the port of Gibraltar and sailed into the Atlantic Ocean. Destination: Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City on July 8. There were approximately 160 passengers from Wheelus/Tripoli and about 15 of those were teenagers. In Turkey, I’d documented that we’d picked up 22 more teens, which made a grand total of 37 of us traveling across the Atlantic. That’s quite a party!

The Aft Lounge was essentially headquarters for the large group of teenagers. We played games, listened to rock music: “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Pretty Baby,” and “Purple People-Eater,” and expended lots of energy dancing. As I wrote, we “goofed around,” and if there wasn’t enough to do, we could go to the main lounge and “pester the grown-ups.”

An 18-year-old named Bill, who was coming home with his family from Ankara, Turkey, was interested in me and I enjoyed the attention and the opportunity for a skilled dancing partner. He taught me “his special little dip,” and we spent some time star-watching out on deck. Or at least that’s what we called it! Funny that I don’t remember any constellations…

There was a party for everyone the evening of July 4th. I noted that Bill picked me up for the dance and I wore a “red print, off-the-shoulder dress.” When the lounge proved dull, the teens persuaded the seaman in the control room to put on snappier music. “We livened things up…bopped up a storm, and did The Stroll, which the grown-ups thought was real cute,” I commented. The chaplain, who was a “marvelous” dancer and usually squired my mother, invited me to do the polka with him and we danced for ten minutes! I had discarded my fabulous Italian cork heels from Naples and was barefooted. I felt like the Belle of the Ball.

Our last night on board, July 7, featured a farewell dinner and I saved the menu. The offerings included: Fresh Halibut with lemon and butter, Grilled Beef Steak with Mushroom Sauce, or Baked Virginia Ham with Pineapple Sauce. Besides a choice of potatoes, yams, corn, rice or peas (so typical of American food then), there were salads: Hearts of Lettuce (iceberg, of course), Hard-boiled Egg with mayo, or Cottage Cheese on Lettuce Leaf. Dessert was a choice of cookies, ice cream, fruit compote, Danish pastry or a Chocolate Nut Sundae. Babies had their choice of Pablum, carrots or apricots! We were served coffee, tea, cocoa, iced tea with lemon or water to drink. I was too young and distracted with other interests to notice if there were any alcoholic beverages. To celebrate the end of the cruise, our waiter took a Polaroid–the best in photo technology in those days!

Mom, Me, Tupper, and teachers: Ed, Marilyn and Becky–our table

As we got near New York, a stinky fog rolled in and we started to pass other ships going our way.  One distinct memory was listening to a shipboard radio catching all the latest rock ‘n roll tunes from a New York radio station. We hadn’t heard the current hit, “Charlie Brown,” and it was wonderful to contemplate all the Stateside surprises coming up. Libya and the other countries in the Middle East had been quite an adventure for most of us, but being back home in the USA and sailing past the Statue of Liberty was even more exciting.

I paid no attention to the world news on our souvenir Rose Report. Russia was threatening to withdraw from the UN, the Soviets were set to release nine American airmen whose plane had been forced to land in Soviet Armenia, and Cuban rebels were releasing five American civilian prisoners to be flown to Guantanamo Bay. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was on his way home to talk to President Dwight Eisenhower. Dulles had been trying to discourage France’s Premier Charles de Gaulle from insisting France become a major nuclear power. As the French like to say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

My departing gift from my shipboard beau was a 50-cent piece to buy a banana split when I got to Northern Virginia, where my family would be living. I thought I might see Bill again since his family was also relocating there, but when my dad saw me with a guy’s arm around my shoulders as we pulled into the dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he was on alert. When Dad discovered Bill was 18,  that was the end of that potential romance!

 

 

 

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