Friday, July 6, 2018

The Aftermath 1969

I went to Europe with one large suitcase.  A very large suitcase.  Unpacking at home was mostly film rolls and souvenirs.  There was the painting I bought in Paris carefully carried all over Europe, all the small gifts I purchased and lots of rolls of slides - over 400 exposures.  The decision to use slide film was economics.  It was much cheaper to develop.  I never considered that the slides would fade away over the years.

My mother and Shar's mother got to be friends while we were gone.  When the men landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, we were all at Shar's house celebrating my mother's birthday and watching TV.  Once the slides were developed we had slide showing parties for our friends and family.  In August, Shar and I would visit her family in southern Ohio for a big family reunion.  And then it was over.

We were both working at the same hospital, though in different laboratories, and on the Monday when I returned to work a co-worker asked how my weekend was.  I said it was great and that I had spent it with Shar's family in Ohio.  Within a few hours Shar was in my face yelling at me about how could I tell someone about her family.  WTF?

I asked her what she was talking about and she said she knew that I had told about the weekend to the co-worker and I had no business doing so.   Well, I had no idea I could not tell someone where I spent my weekend, so I went around to ask what was said.  The co-worker said that he just said he heard that we had a great time.  He said he would go and tell her that was all I said.

Well, have you ever known someone who could not admit they made a mistake?  That was Shar.  She made up her mind that I must have disclosed some awful family secret.  We never spoke again.

Shar eventually went to London to bring George to the US.  They got married (I of course was not invited).  Once she got pregnant she left working at the hospital and I totally lost track of her.

I never really thought much about her until one day in 2014 I was online looking for a book for Charlie on Amazon.  I was reading reviews and there was the book reviewed by Shar.  Her last name was Greek and very distinctive, so I figured there was only one.  I googled her and saw that she lived in the area still.  What did turn out to be odd, was that when I considered doing this series, I googled her again only to discover that she had died in 2014, likely not long after my first google.

In that same August, I met the man I would eventually marry, have three children with and then divorce.  I left work at the hospital in 1977 shortly before it became part of the Detroit Medical Center and the City gave up control.  In 1986 I returned to school to get my MBA and in 1988 was appointed to my job in West Bloomfield.

And that Dodge Charger I bought in 1969?  My husband convinced me to sell it sometime around 1978 and get a station wagon.  Oh how I wish I had stored it someplace.  Mine was blue, but....
Dodge Charger R-T (Gibeau Orange Julep)
What a car.....

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Places We Might Have Seen

So, before I get around to discussing what happened after the return home, let's talk about the places we missed seeing on our itinerary.

First, let me say that I have often wondered what would have happened had I stayed on by myself and finished part of the trip.  Well, I'll never know.  It would be thirty years before I returned to Europe, instead spending all of my vacations in the USA and Canada.

We were supposed to be in Europe until the first of August.  The places we missed and when I eventually saw them go like this:

I went back to Vienna in 2005.  But when I did go, I also visited Budapest, Hungary and Prague, Czech Republic.  Those last two cities were not on my original agenda.  I loved Vienna, especially seeing all of those palaces of the Hapsburgs.  Here is the Belvedere Palace, just another home away from home:
Leaving Austria, our next stop was to be Germany.  First up was Munich.  I finally visited in 2013.  Here is the Town Hall in the Marienplatz, slightly more ostentatious than any Town Hall I worked in:
The highlight of this country was to be a trip to see Neuschwanstein Castle.  It was worth the wait.
Next up would have been Heidelberg to see the ruins of the castle there.
I have never gotten to Mainz, but I have been to Cologne to see the cathedral.
My map shows us planning to go to Berlin, a city I would love to visit again, but not when they have a long holiday weekend celebrating their reunification.  Ugh!  The crowds and traffic....
From Berlin it was onto Hamburg.
From there we were to travel by train and ferry to Copenhagen, Denmark with further stops in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway.  I have yet to visit any of these countries.

Back on the continent there was a scheduled stop in Brussels where I visited in 2016.  Again, during a festival.  I need to start planning better.  Here is the Grand Place minus the stalls that were set up.
We had a round trip ticket to Paris, so that would have been the last stop we planned.

I only had $131.26 when I returned home out of the original $1200 I took with me.  That comes to a little more than $17 a day, including souvenirs.

Obviously, I would have had to write a check at American Express to get more Traveler's Checks if we stayed  and finished the trip.  But since I returned, I had a down payment for a 1969 Dodge Charger when I got home.

I also had a letter from the City of Detroit asking me start start work immediately.  I had put my request in before I left saying that I would be available in August.  So, I went back to work as soon as we could process everything.

I hope that those of you who followed me on this rehash of my journey enjoyed the trip.  Maybe it will even encourage you to travel if you have never done so.  I married someone who had no interest in traveling to Europe, which is why it took me so long to get back there.  I'd leave in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose.  Well, in fact it has over the years. 

Next up, the end of a friendship.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 3, 1969 London, England to July, 4 Detroit, Michigan

Shar and I left Vienna and flew to London together on Qantas Air.  I still remember the stewards in their tuxes serving tea from carts with silver service.  Oh my.

In London, Shar headed home and I stayed to find George.

First I had to get to a hotel.  Not so easy as there was a transit strike.  No busses or underground.  The line for taxis was long and folks were sharing.  I do not remember where I stayed other than that all the restaurants in the area served Indian food.

I had George's sister's phone number and I was able to reach her and explain who I was.  She invited me to her home.  That meant finding another taxi.

George and I met and I explained what had happened.  He and I went out to a pub in the area.  Believe it or not, this was not just a ship board romance.  George eventually came to America, he and Shar married, and when I read her death notice from 2014 I saw that they were still together with their children and grandchildren.

The next day I flew home, July 4, 1969.  Detroit was in the midst of a horrible thunderstorm.  Our plane had to circle for nearly an hour before we could land. 

I had sent my parents a telegram telling them when I would arrive. Unfortunately, my father had gone fishing in Windsor, so my mother had to call a Windsor relative and ask them to go to the river to find him and tell him to go to the airport.  Somehow it all worked out and he was there when I arrived.  On the way home, not only were the roads flooded, but so was our basement when we arrived.  What a welcome home! 

Expenses for the last two days were $75.87.  Flight arrangements, taxis, hotels, meals.  It was an interesting end to my trip.

Aftermath to follow.