Today, March 13, 1967, my family and I first set foot on the shores of this United States of America after a fairly uneventful trip over from England.The reasons for emigrating were several but I remember that the one that finally pushed us into making the decision to move was probably the least important.
I received a letter from my Mum, who had come over just after WWII to marry a GI she met in England and it went something like this. “Well, it is 8:00 am and the temperature is already making its way up to 80 degrees. It’s going to be another beautiful, warm day. I can have your apartment ready in a couple of weeks and Hermie, (her GI Husband) said you can have his old car”. We were just coming off three weeks of non stop rain and it was miserable and cold as only the English weather can be and my Morris Mini car was developing a slipping clutch among other things and I turned to my wife and asked what she thought. Six months later and we were getting off the ship at New York harbor on the famous Pier 11.
We traveled over on the Queen Mary, almost the last voyage that beautiful ship made. Shortly after, that grand old lady was taken out of service and retired to a dry dock in Long Beach, California to end her days as a luxury Hotel. On our trip, the crew outnumbered the passengers.
For most of the voyage, the weather was fine and although the ship had stabilizers, it did tend to rock and roll a bit especially below decks. It was a bit disconcerting to walk up or down the stairs (and there were many of them) only to find that the next step had either dropped away or had risen up to meet your foot. Very strange sensation.
We did run into a storm on day 6 which blew us off course causing us to dock 12 hours later than scheduled. The food was fabulous although the only ones to enjoy it were my step-son and myself. The others in the family, three girls and my wife, just couldn’t get their sea-legs and spent a lot of time between the toilet and the bunk. Oh yes, we even brought over our Cocker Spaniel who was in a kennel on the top deck.
We drove up to a little sleepy town in the Mohawk Valley, named Fort Plain in Upper State New York about 200 miles from the city where we would spend the next ten eventful years and many adventures and stories later. My Mum had sent me a picture of the house in the winter just after a snow storm. I looked at it and thought how pretty it looked with the wind making a huge snowdrift that went from the ground to the top of the roof on a two-storied house completely blocking in the garage doors. It never occurred to me that someone would have to dig a way out to get the car out or to do anything else, or that it would get cold, very cold and that winters lasted 6 months of the year.
That night, as though the weather was there to welcome us, it snowed thirteen inches of wet snow. I had never seen that much snow in one place and had to wonder just what we had let ourselves in for. It was too late for any regrets as we were well and truly, lock, stock and barrel committed to making a go of it. All of our worldly possessions were with us in trunks, and suitcases and there was no going back.
That was 43 years ago. I spent ten years in New York State and after the marriage failed, some of which was caused by wife’s homesickness for her family in England, decided that I needed to be somewhere warmer. By that time, I had re-married a younger woman so when the opportunity arose, we happily packed our belongings into a U-Haul truck and made the long drive to Austin, Texas. No one told me what a 100 degrees feels like not just occasionally but day after day for most of the summer but I have to say that I much prefer the heat of an Austin summer to the cold of a New York winter.
In truth, the move to Texas was an immigration in itself with the only difference that we didn’t leave the American shores or get to pass the Statue of Liberty.
Now at age 77, three wives and six kids later, I live quietly alone with my five dogs and two cats spending my days working in the garden or writing in my blog. I have a lot of stories to tell with new ones almost every day and many of my earlier years have already been posted in this blog. I personally have no regrets in the move from England to the U.S. although I can’t speak for those who made the trip with me, my wife and the four kids. I’m sure they have their own opinions on the subject.
I wonder what the next adventure is in store for me? I plan on living an active life till I’m 120 or so. Just as long as we don’t get thirteen inches of wet snow here in Texas tonight.
Still plenty of time to see lots of changes…