James, a Frenchman, who sits with us at dinner, was upset. He was intending to take the train to Compostela de Santiago.
James says doesn’t know why his mother decided to give him an English name. He was born in a small town in Northern France, 100 miles north of Paris, and lived there all his life, until retirement, teaching history in a local school. After retiring, he sold up and bought a flat in Paris where he still lives.
We have a table of 8 for dinner. Liz now lives in Chester and is with her elderly father Anthony. She has not cruised before but Anthony has. Liz appears to be enjoying her first cruising experience. Then there are Ray and Margaret. They used to live in Ferndown, Dorset but to be nearer to children and grandchildren they moved to Bagshot. The table is fun but sadly 5 of them will be leaving on Friday when new companions will arrive.
The daily programme said that we would be arriving in Lisbon at 9.00am on Sunday. I awoke soon after 6.00 to find that we had passed under the 25 de Abril bridge and were moving slowly towards our berth. These were views from our balcony.
As we had a tour organised for the next day, we decided to take the shuttle into Lisbon. This would be a test for Cunard. It was a fair walk to the terminal building. We saw some shuttle buses and alongside an adapted vehicle with a lift. Two ladies in wheelchairs were already in position and there was room for a third. Jane was installed and Kim and I climbed aboard.
Because of traffic we were told that it was likely to be 35/40 minutes to the drop off point in the middle of Lisbon. That meant that if you just missed the adapted vehicle there could be a 70/80 minute wait. I raised this with a local girl in charge of shuttles. She assured me that a second vehicle would be used. We never saw it.
We explored the beautiful squares. Wherever we went there were hoards of tourists. The explanation was that it’s too hot to visit Lisbon in the summer. Although the floor of this square appears otherwise it is in fact flat.
It was a tiring day, but we covered a sizeable area, much of which was new to us.
With Kim reading the map we returned to the meeting point. Guess what. No adapted vehicle. The local girl rang her colleague by the ship. I asked her where the second adapted vehicle was. She said it was on a lunch break! The other girl said it had to go elsewhere to help out.
Sorry to bother you with this but I know that Cunard read the blog and I want them to know yet again how poor their service is for the disadvantaged.
We had to wait 40 minutes before the adapted vehicle arrived. It was the same one that had taken us into Lisbon in the morning.
Some of you will know that I had an hour long meeting at Carnival House, Southampton about 6 weeks ago. It was with the people at Cunard responsible for shore excursions and shuttle services for wheelchair users. I told them how poor the service is and how it should be changed and improved. They clearly didn’t listen to me.
On Friday evening we expected to be leaving at about 4.45pm but for some reason it was 6.30pm before we left the berth. But before that, the magnificent flagship of Cunard Line, Queen Mary 2 slid by on her way to New York.
By the time we were south of the Isle of Wight it became clear that the weather was getting worse. Big waves and big winds. Queen Victoria rides a storm well but by Saturday morning there was substantial movement.
At 12.00 noon on Saturday the Captain broadcast as usual, but the news was disappointing. Because of a serious storm ahead of us we would have to slow down and divert to get round the bad weather. That meant that the visit to Vigo would have to be cancelled.
The weather proved to be much better on Sunday. Very little swell and much more comfortable for passengers getting around the ship. On Saturday night the dining room had been half full because of the storm, with people taking to their beds, but this morning they were out in force.
Yes it’s a strange mix. A 7 day excursion down to Vigo and Lisbon (2 days) and then back to Southampton for a day when most passengers will leave and a new cohort will board.
In Southampton, next time, we will stay on the ship (unless we discover that checklists have failed me and that I’ve left an important bit of kit at home). I think I must have bought everything because as the luggage was being off loaded from the van at the terminal at Southampton docks, the luggage handler asked me I was about to embark on a World Voyage!
We had a lucky break at check in. A certain Mrs Linda C, who we have known for many years, led us to one of her team and we were all checked in instantly.
It is wonderful being back on Queen Victoria. We have sailed on QV for more than half of our 680 days on Cunard ships. But I must now unpack.
Before I started writing my blog I used to write pieces for a blog that Cunard ran called “We are Cunard”. Some of the pieces appear on this blog at the beginning but the photos disappeared when I had to move from blogspot to WordPress.
What I’m trying to say is that back in 2013, Jane and I chose a cruise from Los Angeles and back to LA. 39 nights on Queen Elizabeth. It was almost the last time that we could cope with Jane flying. In those days we used to take a simple folding wheelchair and the airlines could cope, and so could we.
We flew to LA and then stayed a few days in Santa Monica. We boarded Queen Elizabeth on 4 February 2013 and the voyage took us to Pago Pago, Samoa, New Zealand – Auckland, Napier, Wellington and Christchurch. We then headed north to Papeete in Tahiti and Bora Bora. The next stop was Maui and this is the extract from the piece I wrote for Cunard
“Our final call was to the island of Maui. We drove south to Kihei and our driver was keen to show us the holiday homes of Jack Nicholson and Tiger Woods before embarking on a drive through the lava fields. We then headed north through the beautiful homes in Kula before rushing back to the ship from the Tedeschi Winery. Maui is clearly an island with much to offer. We merely scratched the surface but voted to return one day.”
From Maui we sailed to LA before we flew home. Sadly we haven’t been able to return to Maui since then. The devastation caused by fires this week is horrific. A beautiful island destroyed and vast areas reduced to ash and rubble.
One of my American friends, Roger Bialcik (more about him later), wants to know why I have never published the story of the three months that a group of us Brits spent in the USA in 1965.
As we are between cruises and because I feel that there should be a record of the highlights of one’s life, I will endeavour to put the story together. Our grandchildren may appreciate it!
It was 1965. I was in my first year at University studying law. I can’t recall whose idea it was that we should go to the USA during our first summer vacation. Julian Avery, a fellow law student, and I decided to explore the idea. We felt that in the US we would need to work for a time and accumulate enough money to fund a tour of the States during the second half of the trip.
I knew that my grandfather Charles William Hewson had a friend called Hal Kadish who he had met on cruise ships in the fifties. Hal owned hotels in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My mother had exchanged Christmas cards with him after grandfather had died. Incidentally grandfather died from a heart condition while on a Caribbean cruise on RMS Andes and was buried at sea off Trinidad.
My mother suggested I wrote to Hal Kadish, which I did, and he replied indicating that he would be happy to give the two of us work in one of his Milwaukee hotels, the Ambassador, and accommodation in another of his hotels, the Plaza.
By then we had realised that, if we were to work in the US, we would have to emigrate to that country. Julian and I made applications which involved us attending interviews at the American Embassy in London and taking an Oath of allegiance to the American flag!
At some point Nigel Pugh, who I had grown up with in Southampton and who was also studying law, indicated that he would like to join Julian and me. As he had a godfather who was a Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (only 70 miles west of Milwaukee) he would stay with his godfather and do a 6 week course in jurisprudence while Julian and I were working.
At the time Greyhound buses had an offer of 3 months travel anywhere in the US for $99 for 90 days. We all bought tickets on the basis that that would be the mode of transport we would use to tour the US during the second half of the trip.
Julian and Nigel arranged to fly to New York with BUNAC (British Universities North American Club) and I found that the old Queen Mary was leaving Southampton 5 days before and would be arriving in NY the day that they flew in.
My father George Smith was by that time a Cunard Captain and (I only discovered this recently) must have persuaded Cunard to switch him to Queen Mary for that trip so that he was aboard while I was travelling. It was a bonus because I received invitations to numerous drinks parties and other celebrations.
I didn’t get the impression that father was there to check that I behaved myself but perhaps that was his intention! It was a great voyage because in those days many American High School children were taken to Europe by their wealthy parents to celebrate their graduation. There were a large number of young ladies returning to the US on that voyage on Queen Mary. One of them was Susan Moore from North Carolina.
I do remember the arrival in New York. Queen Mary berthed at Cunard’s Pier 90 and I could see Nigel and Julian on the quay as the tugs pulled and pushed us into the berth.
They were brought aboard and after lunch we met Peter Kendall’s parents. Peter (more about him later) was at school with me at Canford, but as his fathers job had taken his parents to New York, Peter had decided to apply to an American university and Cornell (prestigious Ivy League) offered him a place and he had just finished his first year there.
Peter’s parents had agreed to accommodate the 3 of us for the night before we set off for Wisconsin. In the afternoon we met up with Peter who had a holiday job in the British Pavilion at the 1965 Worlds Fair. He had to dress up as a Beefeater every day. Hot work in July in NY.
That night we all had dinner with my father in NY and next day Nigel, Julian and I boarded a Greyhound bus for the trip to Wisconsin via Cleveland, Ohio and Chicago. In Chicago we split and Julian and I set off to Milwaukee and Nigel to Madison. For us it was then a taxi to the Plaza Hotel, Milwaukee where they were awaiting us and within minutes a phone call from our sponsor Hal Kadish. He would meet us for breakfast at 7.30 the next morning!
After breakfast next day Mr Kadish took us in his Lincoln Continental to the Ambassador Hotel and we were soon set to work. I was to clean carpets in hotel rooms and Julian was to wash walls. The other staff made it clear that we must not work too hard – not too many rooms a day. They would be doing the job once we had left they said. So 3 rooms a day was the maximum we were told. A room took an hour but we were employed for 8 hours a day. Inevitably to kill time we had to watch TV for hours on end, hoping that the housekeeper wouldn’t catch us.
The room where we lived at the Plaza was fine. It had a kitchen and bathroom and shower and a TV. We bought in food from nearby stores and would eat breakfast and our evening meals there. The hotel had a great bar where they allowed us to drink (we were Mr Kadish’s boys) despite not being 21, the relevant age in Wisconsin.
Our weekdays were breakfast at 7.00 then out to the bus at 7.30 for the trip across town to the Ambassador for an 8.00 start. Lunch was our main meal. Plenty of choice and the same food that was available for the hotel guests. At the end of the day it was a bus trip back to the Plaza.
As we didn’t know anyone apart from Hal Kadish (who was in his 80’s) and his lady friend Miss Alice, the only other people we mingled with in the early days were people we met in the hotel bar. Some were law students with wives who were doing post graduate courses locally for the summer. Others were older regulars who just wanted us to talk. They said they loved our accents. And they bought us drinks to keep us talking.
But Hal Kadish was incredibly generous. He took us out to dinner every week with his lady friend Miss Alice. We went to the American Legion Club which he said he helped to create, the Wisconsin Club (original member) the Milwaukee Golf Club and others. He was very kind but the journeys there and back with him driving the Lincoln Continental were scary.
Additionally he provided our accommodation in the Plaza without charge and he set up a company to ensure that we didn’t have to pay any income tax on our earnings.
I recently Googled him and initially Kadish Park came up. When I delved deeper I found that a park in Milwaukee was named after Mrs Alice Kadish. So at some point Hal and Alice had married. And my recollection was that when we were dining with them they were very elderly.
After we had been in Milwaukee for about 3 weeks, one evening as we traveled back in the bus after work, a girl of our age sitting just behind us said she had been listening to us talking and was intrigued by our accents. She wondered if we would like to see the night life of Milwaukee one evening! Of course we did. We told her where we were staying and she said that she would call us and would come with her cousin.
Blanche was her name and a week or so later Blanche and her cousin made contact and came to collect us. Her cousin was not the blonde we had been hoping for, but a young man called Roger Bialcik (more about Roger later).
From that night on until we left Milwaukee a month later we spent most of our spare time with Roger and Blanche and their friend Valerie and their families.
They took us to a variety of bars, to the State Fair, to a drive-in movie, to barbecues at the homes of their parents and siblings and there were only 3 days in our last month in Milwaukee when we didn’t meet up with them. Their hospitality and kindness to Julian and me was fantastic.
Before we met Roger, he and a group of his old friends had organised a weekend in northern nWisconsin. Rogers parents had a cottage near a small town called Suring and that was to be the base. It coincided with our last weekend in Milwaukee and Roger invited Julian and me to join them for the weekend.
On the Friday afternoon Roger and his friend Marty collected us from the Plaza and we drove north to Plymouth (inland from Sheboygan). There we picked up Glenn and later Gary. Eventually we reached an ancient bar they knew in a place called Hintz. We stayed there until about 2.00am when we drove to one of Roger’s uncles home.
Looking back my memory is of a mobile home with a log fire burning at one end with a semi circle of young children asleep on the floor with their feet all pointing at the fire. (This was August!). We were served with bacon and eggs at about 2.30am and then we left for the cottage.
Next morning when we sobered up, we found that the cottage was alongside a beautiful lake. We swam and sat in the sun and waterskied. We visited some of Rogers relatives and Blanche’s parents and we then went into Suring and Lasches bar. They were expecting us. They loved England. There were photos of the Queen on the walls and all the girls wanted to meet the Englishmen (who loved it of course).
Many years ago, when Jane had the use of her hands, she digitised all the photos that I had taken during the 1965 USA trip. When we were in Milwaukee I had bought a reasonably good camera. I am telling you this because, since I wrote Part 1, I have found many more of the photos I took that summer.
I have also found a photo I have not seen before of the Captains table on Queen Mary on my voyage from Southampton to New York. My father had invited me to sit at his table in First Class one night and father had taken my dinner jacket so that I was properly dressed for the evening. Before dinner he had a cocktail party in his cabin for his dinner guests and he told the story against himself of capsizing the new sailing dinghy he had bought me and my sister Liz some years earlier.
Before I start the story of the 10,000 mile car trip in Part 3, I will show you a few more photos of those first few weeks working in Milwaukee.
This building was near the Plaza Hotel, Milwaukee. Lake Michigan was just beyond it.
This is Roger Bialcik at the lake in northern Wisconsin, where we spent the final weekend before we set off on the USA tour
And some more photos of the lake
After that interlude we will move to the next instalment which will take us to California and our activities there. Just to remind you, 1965 was the year when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were touring the US. As our hair was longer than the standard crew cut of young US men, there were a number of occasions where we were thought to be the famous musicians. But more of that later. On to Part 3.
On Saturday 21 August 1965 the journey by car began. Peter, Julian and I set off from the Plaza Hotel, Milwaukee in the 1957 Buick and drove the 70 miles to Madison.
We spent that day based at Nigel’s godfathers home. Prof Austin Ranney. We went shopping and each bought a pillow, a blanket and a rectangular piece of foam 6ft by 3ft and about half an inch thick! I’m not sure whose bright idea it was, but we thought that if we were to sleep in a camp site, without a tent, this kit would be ideal as long as it didn’t rain. If it rained we could get back into the Buick!
We were entertained and fed well by the Ranneys and we slept on the floor with our new kit.
Next day we were on our way, aiming west. We had decided that we would drive in rotation, for no more than 2 hours for each driver. We drove for 500 miles that day, but had difficulty in finding a campsite. What we did find, and we regularly used them thereafter, was a roadside park. A lay-by off the main highway, with picnic benches. They were useful, because if it rained we could sleep under them.
We were aiming for the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. We went through or round, La Crosse, Minneapolis/St Paul and Sioux Falls before arriving at the Badlands National Park.
And then we arrived at Mount Rushmore which needs no explanation.
We had travelled from the state of Wisconsin through Minnesota, then South Dakota and into Wyoming. Yellowstone Park was the first major target. The Park is largely in the north west corner of Wyoming but it extends into Montana and Idaho.
The scenery on the way to Yellowstone was stunning – miles and miles of prairie interspersed with small towns. We drove over the Bighorn Mountains at 9,000 feet, through Cody (named after Buffalo Bill Cody), and then some glaciated valleys before arriving at Yellowstone. We managed to rent a cabin for the night.
We spent the next day exploring the Park, the lakes, the canyons and the geysers. Old Faithful is the star of the volcanic areas.
There was plenty of wildlife in Yellowstone. We remained in the car whenever bears approached us.
It was time to move south. The next target was Salt Lake City. We drove through the Teton National Park where the superb Jackson and Jenny Lakes sat amongst the mountain ranges. We then had a long trek down the west side of Idaho, through Alpine and over two 6,000 ft high passes and then into Idaho.
Shortly before we reached Montpelier we found a superb camp site with fire places where we lit a fire and cooked our evening meal. We then pitched down around the fire but we all woke a couple of hours later covered in dew. By 5.30am we were on our way again.
We kept driving south through small townships into Utah and then the larger towns of Logan and Brigham. At lunchtime on 26 August 1965 we arrived at Salt Lake City.
It was hilarious. It was hot. We were hot. We found somewhere to park by the lake and changed into our swimming trunks. People were staring at us as we rushed into the water. We thought it was our long hair (because American men at that time all had crew cuts). We dived in only to find that the lake was indeed salty. Painful to the eyes, nose and lips.
Once we had sorted ourselves out and stopped splashing we found we could enjoy the sensation of being able to raise our legs and arms without sinking. It would have been easy for us to lie on our back and read a newspaper.
After showering and lunch we started the trek through the Salt Lake Desert. We then had a four hour drive through prairie and mountains and more desert before arriving at Elko and then Carlin where we stayed the night.
Next day we circled Reno and aimed for Sacramento.
We were in California!
We decided on a roadside rest area just south of Sacramento for our night stop but it turned out to be a poor choice. Cars were coming and going all night with the young lovers of Sacramento spending time there in their cars.
Next day we ventured into San Francisco via San Rafael and the Golden Gate.
We explored the city and found ourselves in the wrong place at one stage. A man lying in the gutter had clearly been stabbed in the chest. Much blood. But we found our way to Chinatown and we rode a cable car and behaved as tourists should.
We then set off down Highway #1 which runs down the Californian coast. We were aiming for a town named Salinas. We wanted to arrive there the next day. At one point we saw, from a cliff top, a beach with massive waves crashing on to the sand. We decided to stop and we played cricket and football on the beach and we risked swimming. The waves knocked us down and threw us about but it was great fun.
On my voyage to New York on Queen Mary I had met Corky who was a tearaway young Californian from Salinas. I forget his surname. He always seemed to find the prettiest (and the wealthiest) girls on the ship. He said that if we managed to get ourselves to California we should visit him and his family in Salinas.
That evening Peter and I left the beach and went in search of food and a telephone box so that we could speak to Corky and see if a visit the next morning was suitable. Yes that would be great he said.
Peter and I returned to the beach to find that Julian and Nigel had collected piles of wood from the beach and had a great fire going in a little cove sheltered by a huge rock. We ate by the fire and slept by it and during the night if we woke we put more wood on to keep it going.
Next morning we drove to Salinas, arriving there at about 10.00. I rang Corky to get directions to his parents home. Terrible news. Corky had had an accident that night, had driven over a 200 foot cliff and was in hospital. There had been 2 others in the car, one unhurt and the other in hospital as well. The family insisted that we had breakfast with them which we did.
After breakfast, a friend of Corky drove us to Carmel and then to the hospital. Corky was in poor shape with chest injuries, a swollen face and a broken arm. We stayed for about half an hour and were then taken to the home of an uncle (a hard nosed former FBI cop) where we had lunch with 10 of the family. Two large meals in one day! They looked after us really well.
Next stop was Big Sur where there was a large campsite and music and a dance floor but no girls of the right age, so we all went to bed.
The aim next day was to get to LA and drive through it and then on down to Newport Beach. Nigel’s godfather from Wisconsin, Austin Ranney, had a beach house on Newport Beach where we were promised a floor and a couch to rest at night.
All we had was a telephone number. We found a public telephone box, which was being used by a number of girls. On learning that we were English, they invited us to their house on 50th Street. Before we did that we found Austin Ranneys house, showered and changed and went to 50th Street to find 11 girls and 2 chaperones (mothers). We spent much of the next few days on the beach with the girls!
We then heard that a friend of Austin Ranney was happy to have us to stay for the next few days. The family had a beautiful house in the Newport Beach area. I failed to make a note of his name but we knew that he was Vice Chancellor of the University of California – Irvine. I have googled him and found that he was Jack Peltason. The Irvine campus had only just been set up when we were there, but Jack became the first VC and in 1984 he became the Chancellor and then President of the whole of the University of California between 1992 and 1995.
Why this eminent academic would agree to house four long haired young Englishmen I know not. He had 3 children and on the first night the eldest, Nancy and a girlfriend took us all to Balboa Island – a popular rendezvous for youngsters. They were all a little young for us!
The next day we had the car serviced, to ensure that it was ready for the 3000 miles trip across the US. Nancy showed us round the new Irvine campus before she and her father flew to Illinois where she was about to start her first year at University.
The lure of the 11 girls at 50th Street took us back there for the rest of the day, but we said goodbye to them and to the Peltasons and set off for Las Vegas. We had had wonderful hospitality in Newport Beach and a memorable week.
I will now write the story of the journey going east, much of it along Route 66.
We were off again after our interesting week in California. I’m not sure if any of us kept in contact with the girls that we met there. I know I didn’t – we were off to new adventures.
After leaving Newport Beach we drove 300 miles through the outskirts of Los Angeles towards Las Vegas. We arrived there at 2.00am. We had breakfast and cleaned up and then drove down ‘The Strip’ – Downtown Las Vegas. Of course we had very little money so there was no question of any of us thinking of entering these massive casinos
And then we were off in search of a campsite! We found one at about 4.00am a few miles from the Hoover Dam.
Next morning it was very hot and we drove to Lake Mead for a swim and brunch.
I’m not sure that we realised it at the time but Lake Mead is a massive reservoir. We then explored the Hoover Dam.
By now we were on Route 66.
Remember the song?
“Well if you ever plan to motor east
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes to St Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks so, so pretty”
(Spot the deliberate mistake – answers in ‘comments’ please!)
From the Hoover Dam it was about 200 miles to the Grand Canyon, South Rim. It was dark when we arrived and as it was Labour Day weekend we had problems finding a campsite, but we did eventually.
The next morning we explored the rim. The Canyon is magnificent and plenty of photos were taken.
Later in the day we set off again and joined Route 66 heading towards Albuquerque. We looked in at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park.
At this stage, after Arizona, we sped into New Mexico and through Albuquerque. Then it was Amarillo in the northern part of Texas and from there into the state of Oklahoma. During one afternoon after a hard days driving we saw a sign to the Foss State Park.
We thought it was a great find. A large lake with a very good campsite, picnic area and beach.
We decided to stay there for the rest of the day and the night. We swam and later 3 of us were in the very new and clean washroom when suddenly we spotted a large Black Widow spider climbing the wall. We managed to coax it out by throwing water at it. As it moved through the door frame we slammed the door shut and crushed it.
Our plan was to get to Springfield, Missouri the next day. We arrived in Oklahoma City just before noon and spent some time there and had a good lunch.
But we were only 24 hours from Tulsa. Do you remember that? “Dearest darling I write to say that I won’t be home anymore cause something happened to me as I was driving home”. He had met someone else. Gene Pitney sang it.
In the end we were so sad about that song that we bypassed Tulsa! Soon we were in Missouri and arrived in the Springfield area at about 11.00pm. We were on the north side of town and the campsite was to the south so we decided to press on to the Lake of the Ozarks. We arrived there at 3.00am, found a good state campsite and pitched down.
The reason for being in this area of Missouri was that I had met a girl on Queen Mary back in early July. She had been on a European tour with her parents and was returning on Queen Mary with them. I met her on the first day at sea and we spent a great deal of time together during the voyage.
While Julian and I were in Milwaukee, Susan and I corresponded a little and she told me that she would be returning from her home in North Carolina to her college in Columbia, Missouri on the evening of 9 September 1965. By chance we seemed to be in that area at that time!
We spent the day at Lake of the Ozarks. We found a beach and a jetty over the water. There was no one else there but there was a juke box to keep us entertained.
We then smartened ourselves up, on the basis that the four us would be meeting up with Susan and three of her friends that evening. We drove to Columbia College and went to Reception and explained who we were and why we were there.
Sorry they said. Susan and her friends new accommodation block has not been finished and they have all been told not to come back for another week. Great. Another romance bites the dust!
We wandered round the campus and then decided to go into town. We parked near a cinema and 2 policeman approached us. They wanted ID. There was much scrabbling about in bags to find passports, but the police were fine once they realised we were Brits and not the crooks they were meant to be locating.
As a postscript, when we arrived in Washington DC some time later, there was a letter for me from Susan at the Cunard Office. It told me that she had been at Columbia College that evening as we had arranged. Despite being told not to come back for another 7 days she had come anyway, knowing that the 4 Englishmen would be there on the 9 September. She had left messages at Reception but they had been missed.
But back to the tour. We left the Lake of the Ozarks next morning and headed for St Louis
After exploring the City and buying fresh food in the market, we set off in the direction of Louisville. We found a campsite in the Ferdinand State Forest and we amused the regular campers with our camping equipment – foam, blanket and pillow – they were still serving us well! But we all woke at about 1.00am. Thunder, lightning and rain meant that we all piled into the car for the rest of the night.
It was Pete’s birthday that day, 11 September. We stopped for a coffee and a donut to celebrate and then had a long drive through Louisville and then back on our planned route through Lexington and Huntingdon. Kentucky seemed to us to be a clean and tidy state. Large farms all bordered by immaculate white fences.
We were then in West Virginia and drove through Charleston and in fact across the whole of the state before we arrived at the Greenbrier State Forest. We knew that there was a campsite there but we didn’t reach it until 11.30pm.
It had been a very long and hard day. It had rained incessantly and we had had to negotiate the very slow and twisting roads over the Appalachians. And the last 100 miles were in the dark.
After a good nights sleep we set off for Richmond, Virginia and Williamsburg with the intention then of turning north to arrive at the end of the day at the state park on the shores of the Potomac.
Richmond was very quiet as we drove through past the Virginia State Capitol Building .
We drove on to Williamsburg which was packed with tourists. You will know the history. English settlers arrived in Jamestown and established the Colony of Virginia in 1607. Jamestown was the capital but was burned down in 1676. It was rebuilt, but in 1698 it was burned down again and thereafter Williamsburg became the capital.
We then drove up the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown which was the site of the siege and surrender of General Cornwallis to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. The defeat at Yorktown effectively ended the war in North America.
It was 90 miles to the Westmoreland State Park which was a great campsite but it had started to pour with rain. Julian decided he would sleep in the laundry and the rest of us opted for the car, with Nigel curled up on the floor between the front and back seats!
It was still raining when we awoke. As we were going to be in Washington DC by lunchtime and meeting civilised people we showered and shaved. We dug out jackets and smart shirts and ties and then set off on the 90 mile journey to Washington.
That seems to be an appropriate time to finish Part 4. I will be back!
We arrived in Washington just after noon on 13 September 1965. Initially I went to the Cunard office to make myself known to my fathers contact there, Gouveneur E Smith (no relation). He invited us to dinner and offered us a bed for the night which we gladly accepted. We then went to meet the Pooles who Nigel knew. Mr Poole had been the US Consul in Southampton and would have been known to Nigel’s parents, both of whom had been prominent local politicians in Southampton and had both been Mayor of the City.
Nigel remembered that the Pooles had a daughter, Amanda. She was also there. She was lovely and acted as our guide while we were in Washington. The Pooles were very interested in our trip and made us very welcome.
The plan was that Nigel and Julian would stay with them and that Peter and I would go to the Smiths home. We set off to Alexandria and spent the evening with the Smith family. The Americans were incredibly hospitable to four young Englishmen who they hardly knew and who had arrived in Washington unannounced.
It had been agreed that next morning we would all meet outside the White House at 10.30am. Tickets had magically appeared. Mrs Poole worked in the State Department (their Foreign Office). I imagine that she had organised the tickets.
After the tour we walked to the Washington Monument and went to the top. There were fantastic views in all directions.
Mrs Poole (I’m sorry but I don’t know her first name) entertained us to lunch in the State Department. And as we left the building we found a crowd gathering outside. Astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad had heard that we were in Washington and brought the Vice President Hubert Humphrey to meet us.
The astronauts had been on the 3rd Gemini flight between 21 and 29 August 1965 – just a couple of weeks earlier. They were about to embark on a world wide goodwill tour, but it didn’t start out well because they forgot to find us to shake our hands. A breakdown in Anglo – US relationships!
I’m not sure who organised the meeting but there was plenty of security about.
We then walked to the Lincoln Memorial with Amanda Poole
Next it was the Capitol building but it was in session which meant that we couldn’t enter.
That night we had all been invited to dinner at the Pooles. It was a great evening and at about 10pm Peter and I drove back to the Smiths. After some difficulty, we eventually found their house! No satnavs or mobiles in those days!
Next day we said our goodbyes to the Smiths and the Pooles who had all looked after us so well. Our next invitation was to lunch with the Grady’s at a new development to the west of Washington. They too had been US Consuls in Southampton. This was the development
I knew my father was in New York that day on Cunard’s RMS Mauretania and leaving for a month long Caribbean cruise. I managed to reach him on the Grady’s telephone. He was very surprised and pleased to hear from me and was amazed that I still spoke without an American accent.
After a lovely lunch we left the Grady’s and set off for New York and Peter’s parents home in Yonkers. After eating and drinking beer legitimately for the first time in months, we told them the story of our travels. We were late to bed.
We then had 2 days to get our clothes washed, the car sorted out and Pete ready for his second year at Cornell. He and I met up with a Canfordian friend, Richard Dalgleish, who was on a world hockey tour with GB Schoolboys. After leaving him we picked up the car after it’s service and a new tyre.
Next morning we set off for Cornell.
The University is in Ithaca which is in northern New York State at the southern end of one of the Finger Lakes.
Peter showed us round the campus. There were large numbers of freshmen finding their way. Peter had been invited to join the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.
That was a great honour for him. His ‘brothers’ were very pleased to see him. There was no doubt that he had made a big impression on them the previous year. That evening we toured the local hostelries. Rooms in the fraternity house had been made available for us.
The next day Peter had sorted out some ‘dates’ for us at a girls college 20 miles away. A beautiful college slightly further north. It was a fun evening. Lovely girls and plenty of eating, drinking and dancing. They lived in a sorority house off campus but curfew was at midnight and we had to bow out at that time and drive back to Cornell.
Next day we left Peter to get himself sorted out for the new academic year. He had to register and then find himself a job to keep him fed for the year. He had been a great companion on our grand tour of the US and it was sad to leave him.
We headed north from Cornell towards Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Initially we looked over the Falls from the US side but after checking with immigration that we would be able to get back into the US if we needed to do so we crossed into Canada. The Falls were much more impressive from that side.
This from the US side
And from the other side
We then drove off to find a park said to have camping facilities. The Queen Elizabeth Way took us along the south side of Lake Ontario. The Provincial Park was closed, so we carried on until we saw a sign advertising Cabins. A doddery old man said that his sister ran the place and wouldn’t be back until 10.00pm. He couldn’t say whether or not we would be able to camp there. We said that we would be back and went off to find somewhere to eat. We found a large smart eating place – restaurant, coffee shop, golf and bowling alley. We looked very scruffy, but they eventually served us.
It was then back to the Cabin place. The lady said we could camp there and use the washing facilities for the total sum of $2 for all 3 of us. A bargain!
Next day the target was Toronto where the Pratts lived. They were Cunard passenger friends of my father, but when we rang them we found that they were at their summer place further north at Midland, located on Georgian Bay.
We spent the day at Oshawa beach
We sunbathed and relaxed there and ate in a restaurant by the lake. The waitress was from Tottenham!
The target next day was Canada’s capital, Ottawa. It was an easy drive and we enjoyed the city. We found the Supreme Court, which was not in session, and we were allowed to sit on the bench in the Judges seats. We climbed the clock tower in the centre of the two Houses of Parliament and that gave us views of the City and the river.
It was a hot and humid day and we walked for miles.
We then drove 30 miles to another Provincial Park. It nwas alongside a dirty looking South Nation River. We bathed briefly but the water smelt of sulphur!
We found a place to eat and a campsite near Wendover.
Next day we were aiming for Montreal. We found Mount Royal, but unfortunately drove up a road in which cars were apparently banned. A policeman stopped us and said that we had to go back. He said something about going to a police station. We didn’t. He spoke to us in French. Although we all had French ‘O’ level on our CV’s, if we had later been arrested, we would have pleaded a language difficulty!
We decided to find the site of the 1967 Worlds Fair which was being constructed on an island in the St Lawrence river, but access was impossible and we had to give up.
We chose Highway 3 to Quebec. It ran alongside the St Lawrence River.
When we arrived we parked at the Citadelle and walked around it.
The streets of Quebec were quaint. We circled the Chateau Laurier. We ate and we drank here. And we walked for miles. At one point Julian found a drinking fountain. Before anyone could speak he drank from it. As we walked away, two girls burst into laughter and pointed behind us. There was a horse having a drink from that same fountain!
We then headed south. We found a campsite that was open. Most campsites seemed to have closed because summer vacations were coming to an end. The campsite was a good place because we were allowed to sleep in a shelter. It rained all night!
The tour was soon to come to an end. We went south to the border and had no difficulty in crossing back into the US. We then went south through Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut to New York. We had very little time left before Julian and Nigel’s BUNAC flight home and my departure on Queen Mary.
The plan was that we would try to sell the Buick and then pay our share of the loss to Peter. We were led to believe that longshoremen in New York regularly bought cars from people who were sailing to Europe and wished to dispose of the vehicles that had brought them to New York. When we talked to longshoreman it became clear they were only interested in smart newish vehicles where they could make a substantial profit by selling them on. The Buick didn’t fit into that category.
The Kendall’s, who had looked after us once again, took over responsibility for the Buick, and eventually it was sold. I think individually it cost each of us $25. Not bad considering it had taken us 10,000 miles.
That’s the story of the summer of 1965. Peter was into his second year at Cornell. Nigel and Julian flew home and I returned on Queen Mary. Within days we were back at University and launching into our second year of law.
I have been asked what happened to the 4 travellers after the summer of 1965. That will appear shortly as the final instalment. I am pleased to say that they are all still alive and kicking!