Tag Archives: greyhound bus

Interconnections and new horizons.

‘Life is like climbing a tower:    the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.’   William Lyon Phelps. 

One of the many paintings taken from sketches made during the twelve years I lived and worked in Wales.    Large watercolour/gouache.

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It was April of 1996, when my daughter Christie and I were standing on the steps to the American Embassy in London waiting to get Christie a replacement passport.     It suddenly occurred to me that thirty years earlier, in January of 1966, I had been in exactly the same place waiting  to pick up my visa to visit the United States.

In that moment I was able to look back in time at the younger me with detachment and compassion and at my daughter with a sense of wonder.

In 1966, I had no idea what a huge adventure I was about to embark on – So many experiences and changes were to occur that I could never have been creative enough to imagine, including the birth of my two children in the United States.

Tangible evidence of two major changes that were to come.   My son Jarrod and daughter Christie….This was taken in my Westtown, Pennsylvania studio in 1978:)

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So why the United States?      In 1965, after finishing art college, I married my first husband in London.         As a young boy he had visited family in the States,  and having loved the experience, wanted to return.      We agreed on a two year visit.

On January 28th 1966 we set sail from Southampton on the SS United States liner.      Our final destination was to be Key West Florida.

The SS United States liner in 1966

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After what was one of the roughest crossings on record – causing me and just about everyone else aboard to be sea sick….we arrived in New York Harbour on the 3rd February.     As we glided under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, I had no idea that one year later, I would be returning to New York  where I would be living in a cottage on Staten Island overlooking the Harbour.

The Verazzano-Narrows Bridge – spanning the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn.    

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After disembarking onto the shores of Manhattan we took a yellow cab to the bus terminal and then a Greyhound bus to Miami.     From there my husband’s uncle drove us to Key West, the most southern point of the United States.

A greyhound bus in 1966

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Still feeling queasy from the Atlantic crossing, several weeks later I was to find that I was pregnant.    On 10th September 1966 – almost exactly nine months after setting sail, my son Jarrod was born in the brand new Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As time moves on I believe more and more in fate.    Had I known that I was pregnant prior to leaving the UK – I would never have travelled at that time.

Jarrod about three months old – Florida. – 1966

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I have begun the process of  writing my autobiography which has given me cause for much reflection.

Yesterday, I met with a friend and we talked about how I would tackle the  book.    The answer is that each chapter will be a vignette, a stand-alone story.       For example, in this blog I have given a very brief overview of this particular period, when in reality there is so much more to tell.

During the past fifty years since I made that journey – not only has my life changed in ways that I could never have imagined…..but our world in general has changed almost beyond recognition.

As I continue to climb the tower of life, the horizon continues to expand and for that I am extremely grateful.

I close with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life –     watercolour. 

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A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 photos – 5 day challenge – Arriving on another planet in 1966

I have been selected by Tish Farrell Writer On The Edge to participate in the 5 photos – 5 days challenge.    Challenge rules:    Post a photograph each day for 5 consecutive days and tell a story about each photo.    The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.    Each day I must nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge……and so here we go…….

This is a true story.    

This photograph was taken in June 1966 in Key West, Florida.       At the time I was six months pregnant with my first child, Jarrod, who was born on September 10 1966 at the brand new Holy Cross Hospital in  Ft. Lauderdale.       

I was  just a few months shy of my 21st birthday.

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So how did I arrive in this place.

On January 28th 1966, after completing art college and marrying in the UK, I set sail from Southampton, England to New York on the SS United States Liner.     

I was with my first husband who had relatives in the United States.     The plan was to stay for a two year visit and then return to the UK.      I remember very clearly when going to the American Embassy in Berkley Square for three days of medicals, interviews, etc. that the man interviewing me kept insisting that I take a Green Card.    I kept insisting that I didn’t want one, because I only planned to stay for two years.    In the end he won. – Point being that if you were English and passed all requirements green cards were given freely in those days. 

The five day Atlantic crossing was one of the roughest on record, and so I spent most of my time with many others on a sun deck with buckets!      Even though there were thee life boat practises I decided that death would be easier…and so stayed strapped in my birth…….

I will always remember going up on deck as we sailed under the newly constructed Verrazano Narrows Bridge which connects Staten Island with Brooklyn – into New York Harbour.    It was February 3rd 1966 and a frigidly cold morning.      Having left a post war, still rather muted in colour England, looking over at Manhattan Island, my first impression was one of chaotic colour….bill boards, yellow taxies, etc. 

As planned, we  took a Greyhound Bus all the way to Miami, where we were to be picked up by my husband’s Uncle, who was then to drive us to Key West.       It was one big adventure…..and although I had travelled quite extensively around Europe by that time…this felt like landing on a different planet….totally alien to anything I had ever experienced before.   

There are so many stories within this story, but for now, I will continue to give an overview.     

Upon arriving at Miami Bus Station….(what a culture shock that was)…..we found the Uncle had not yet arrived, and so a State Trooper, (complete with gun and jack boots), quickly seeing that we didn’t fit in….sat us in a Dobbs Cafe in the Bus Station…and told us not to move until we were picked up.   

The drive from Miami to Key West was fascinating – from stopping at my first ever Howard Johnson’s and being told to pick from 30 flavours of ice cream and then going over the Seven Mile Bridge (single bridge at that time)  – which connects Knight’s Key to Duck Key….all the way to Key West, the most southern point in the United States and only 90 miles from Cuba…..

We were staying with my husband’s cousin, who was a captain in the then active Marine Base on Key West.    His wife was in charge of a group of volunteers helping Cuban Refugees coming in on small boats….

Whilst there, we helped out with the volunteer programme,

Along with many Cubans still fleeing to Miami, one incident that stays very clearly in my mind, was the plight of an English couple who arrived on a small boat with a few things sewn to the inside of their shirts.   They were two of many ex pats who had lived very well in Cuba until the revolution.      

This couple had owned a small sugar plantation, along with other assets.     Shortly before they fled – Castro had landed on their property in a helicopter assuring them that they had nothing to worry about.       Two days after that visit, all their bank accounts were frozen and the land was confiscated.

Me and Jarrod shortly after he was born – November 1966  

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We stayed in Florida until January of 1967, when my husband and I drove to New York with jarrod who was then four months old….and that was the beginning of a whole new adventure…..

This was the time when the magical hummingbirds were beginning to hover. P1160411

A Bientôt

A Journey is a person in itself; no two are alike……

‘A Journey is a person in itself;  no two are alike.    All plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless.   We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip;  a trip takes us’    John Steinbeck.   

New England apples…..

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I have just visited dear friends and family in the United States.    A trip which has taken me to a new level of love and understanding in my life.     A trip that also warrants my writing several posts.

The View from my window in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  Image

 

I first visited the States as a young woman in 1966.    My first husband and I set sail on the United States Liner from Southampton on January 28th 1966.    On February 3rd we sailed under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.   We then took a Greyhound Bus to Miami, Florida, where we were picked up by my husband’s Uncle and driven to Key West.   The plan was to stay for two years.      

A very long story, and twenty eight years later, in 1993 I returned to the UK/Europe.   I am currently living just a few short miles from my place of birth in London.   

Ipswich, Massachusetts reflections. 

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Reading Steinbeck’s words at this time of my life, I realise that I have reached the beautiful stage, where the ‘trip is taking me’.

This past spring I had a life long block removed.      What it was and how it happened again warrants much more time than afforded in this post, but let it suffice to say, that it has freed me at last to relax, and enjoy wherever the trip of life leads. 

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This adventure began with a flight to Boston, where I was picked up by family members, and driven to Ipswich, Massachusetts…..a lovely New England town.       Interestingly the property where I stayed (and I had been there once before) was purchased by my niece and her husband from a family member of one of my dearest friends in Stonington, Connecticut.   Pure coincidence, some might say:)

A wonderful place to dig for clams. 

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After a blissful few days in Ipswich, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to spend the week with some of my dearest friends…..they are also family to me.      The main event was to be the wedding of Catherine and Kevin – and oh what a wonderful event it was. 

I attended the wedding of Catherine’s parents in 1977…..yes, we go back a long way. 

When I arrived at the house in Gainesville, Georgia, which sits on one of the large lakes which dot the area, imagine my delight to find that the hummingbirds were still in residence. 

The veranda where the hummingbirds visited me every day.

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I would sit on the veranda, and wait for the humming sound and click as quickly as possible. Image

Amazingly they left for their long flight south right after I flew back to the UK.    

Along with seeing family, friends and lots of beautiful animals and birds….I also got to paint several watercolour portraits.     I will write much more in further blogs during the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, wishing everyone peace, love and may the magical hummingbirds be with you. 

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A Bientôt