September 17th, 2014:

LUNCH IN GEORGETOWN WITH MY FATHER

After meeting Col. Victor Hobson at the Pentagon, I had to tell someone. It was  a momentous event and no one knew what I’d been up to. When I got back   to the Reiner’s Alexandria home where I had been staying for a few days while I went job hunting and father hunting, I debated on what to do. I couldn’t afford to call my mother in Germany; my frugal stepfather would never accept a collect call. First, I opened up my portable typewriter and wrote a letter to Mom, a letter I’ve kept all these years.

Since I still needed some human feedback, I went in search of Mrs. Klara Reiner; her daughter, Rita, was my friend from high school. I had lived with the welcoming and hospitable Reiners the previous summer when my parents and siblings left for Mannheim, Germany, where my dad was assigned. I knew Klara Reiner would be the ideal substitute mother for me; she exuded kindness, warmth and understanding. Since her own family had immigrated from Eastern Europe when she was a young girl, Mrs. Reiner was familiar with family upheavals. She was delighted with my news and encouraged me to do all I could to get to know this side of my life.

When I met Victor at the Pentagon a couple of days later, he drove us in a small, well-used Studebaker into historic Georgetown in the District of Columbia. We ate lunch at a posh place called the Four George’s – white tablecloths, small, quiet and elegant rooms served by obsequious waiters. I was charmed and felt like a cherished new daughter while we caught up on each other’s lives. He shared some of the highlights of his Army career and told me something of his personal life with his wife and daughters; I related my life so far and where my family had traveled. He seemed to be pleased that I was not involved seriously with a young man. He did not explain his concerns, but I was sure he was thinking back upon his own life and my creation.

Since we were enjoying each other’s company so much, he suggested that I come and meet his family that evening instead of waiting until Sunday. I agreed, and after he had called his wife to tell her, he drove us to his home, a two-story suburban brick house in Northern Virginia.

I was embraced with open arms by the gracious and stylish Migia, who treated me as a long-lost daughter. Her Italian simpatico reached out to welcome me into her family. My two new sisters acted as if I were a newfound and important relative. A quiet intelligent Susanna, at fifteen almost as tall as Victor and resembling him as well, was large-boned and blond. Marlena, thirteen but still a tomboy, was small and olive-skinned like her mother, and possessed Migia’s lively, spontaneous personality.

We spent the evening together at a local restaurant, which included some hillbilly fiddle music that reminded Victor of his Alabama roots, and made plans to get together again that Sunday. Sunday’s event turned into a wonderful three-day visit; I stayed until I was ready to return to college.

 

Getting his Star

Getting his Star from a 2-Star General

An unusual coincidence occurred the day before I returned to William and Mary. Victor received the happy news that he had been promoted from full colonel to brigadier general, a coup for his career. My new sisters and I had a great time discussing all the privileges they would enjoy as the family of a general when Victor was assigned the post of Deputy Commander of Ft. Dix, New Jersey. And I was invited to join them during my college spring break.

Victor gave me the highest compliment of all when he told me his high honor and promotion had come about because of me. I had been his lucky charm.

Marlena, who is a college art professor in Virginia, remembers the night her father came home with the news that he had another daughter. “I was thrilled we had a half sister,” Marlena said and added, “Susanna was perplexed. I’ll never forget what she said: ‘I feel like we are in Hollywood!’”

 

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