Those were the days…

After traveling up and down the east coast our parents heard the cry “westward ho” and we started chasing sunsets instead of sunrises. It was also around this time we ditched the station wagon and traded her in for ‘big-red’, a behemoth GMC suburban that would become our mode of transportation for many years as we crisscrossed our way across the US. These were the days before mandatory seat belts and child safety seats…but what about a plain old seat to seat to sit on? We were scheduled to hit the road when our new chariot was delivered but the backseat was backordered. Our parents were not about to let a little thing like an actual seat for the kids to sit on stop this trip, no sir, who needs seats – you kids can roll around with the camping gear, it will be fun!

These were the days of road trips; we didn’t fly  and I don’t remember our friends flying either. I am not even sure when I took to the air for the first time. I’m thinking it was probably sometime in the mid 70’s when I was in high school, possibly when I was sent home from the Smokey Mountains but that is a story better left for another day. Back then gassing up the car cost about 30 cents a gallon and a night spent in a cheap motel on the side of the road ran between $6 (when Motel 6 truly cost 6 bucks) and $15. Road trips were a family tradition.

kidsIt was in the backseat of big-red that the three of us perfected the art of bickering and whining with an occasional all out brawl thrown in for good measure. “Mom, he’s touching me” was a running complaint as we barreled across the never-ending flats of Nebraska. We didn’t have the diversions parents so heavily rely on these days – no video games, no DVD players, no iPods. It was old school back then. We had books, coloring and AM radio when a station could be pick up and hours upon hours watching the world whiz past our window (if it happened to be your turn at the window). Mom and Dad were ensconced in the front seat, perpetually half tanned with respective arms draped out open windows. No a/c back in those days either, that would be for sissies along with seats and seat belts. More than once dad was forced to pull over and threaten to leave us on the side of the road if we didn’t settle down. It doesn’t take long for kids to realize how empty this threat is…I wonder why parents continue to employ this method of control?

On the long haul days (think Nebraska) stopping for lunch became the highlight and us kids would be on the lookout for billboards letting us know how many more miles we would need to travel before he hit the next Stuckey’s. Dad would groan when we spied the bright yellow sign and in chorus we began our begging. We can’t stop at Stuckey’s we will be stuck there forever our parents would cry but in the end we usually stopped. Once that teal blue peaked roof was spotted our giddy stuckey's 2anticipation hit full tilt. We couldn’t care less about the food this establishment served it was the shelves and bins filled with tchotchkes we hoped to spend hours perusing. Miniature Indian drums, tomahawks, plastic snakes and animal of every variety, polished stones and cheep jewelry sat alongside their world-famous pecan rolls (which we never tried). This was kid heaven and as a bribe for behaving once we climbed back into big-red and hit the road again spare change was doled out for a shopping spree. If allowed we would have spent the afternoon there speculating on how to best utilize our new-found wealth, ensuring we left with the best possible trinket our money could buy.

Back in the car we would quietly play with out new treasures until our full bellies, the gentle roll of the car and the warm afternoon sun lolled us to sleep. More than once I remember waking up bathed in sweat laying in a patch of sun blaring through un-tinted windows. Groggy and parched one by one we would lift our sweaty heads to peek out the window to see how far we had gone while sleeping, always hoping we were close to our intended destination. As we went further west, off the interstate and further away from civilization our attention turned from I spy a Stuckey’s to I spy a dear, or an antelope, a bear or a moose. This became a competitive sport as the child to first spied the elusive wild animal was treated to a highly coveted plastic replica upon our next stop at a Stuckey’s or similar shop. I wonder if tucked away somewhere in a box of childhood memorabilia lays nestled an odd assortment of small plastic animals; I believe there is.

As I write this the whisper of a long forgotten tune grows louder and louder as I remember my moms voice singing along to the radio….”Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…” and I am once again 9 years old, ensconced in the comfort of my family, rolling around the back of a seat less big-red suburban.

Stumbling upon Shangri La

We returned from Mexico and nursed dad back to health. It was a long haul but he fully recovered.  I remember a list of prohibited foods he was not allowed to consume, I am not sure if chocolate was on that list, but I distinctly remember making chocolate chip cookies sans the chips which I ate out of the dough to spare dad any ill effects. I am sure this simple act of kindness on my part was the turning point in his recovery. By summer he we were ready to hit the road again.

There are definite benefits to having parents that work in the education system. It may not be the most financially lucrative field but that drawback is far outweighed  by the delight as a child to having ones parents available to play when you are. I was quite old when I realized most families did not get to spend months on end traveling like vagabonds but are instead allotted a week or two in the year to stag a trip to Disney.  We spent the early 60’s exploring the east coast from the cold wind-swept northern beaches of Nantucket and Provincetown down to the moss draped plantations of South Carolina. Not having obsessive/compulsive parents who dutifully logged  the miles, route taken and stops taken in the trusty station wagon chronicling each local with photographs I am once again left with just scattered memories of Boston, NYC, the Great Smokey Mountains and the magical sand dollar beach on the shore of South Carolina.

Some of my favorite travel memories are of those stumbled upon quite by accident; often en route to a final destination with no real agenda or schedule in mind.  That was the case with the Sand Dollar beach. We mostly camped in those days and were looking for a place we could pitch a tent. I believe it was mom that suggested we check out this campground. Not being campers of the trailer-variety nor keen on the KOA scene it was often hard to find our version of Shangri La but this came close. Miles of white sandy beach lay beyond the tree-shaded camp area. Gently rolling waves and shallow warm water going out for what felt like miles where we would spend the day diving for sand dollars, paradise. It was kid heaven and probably pretty close to perfect for parents as we were entertained for hours and worn out by all the activity. I also remember the fogger truck that ambling through the campsite as dusk descended spewing clouds of DDT to keep misquotes at bay. While a common practice in the 50’s and 60’s my only memory of playing in the DDT fog is at the Sand Dollar Campground.

It was supposed to be a one night stand  but instead we ended up staying a week. I have done many google searches hoping to find pictures other than the grainy home movies we have of this bit of heaven on earth. This vintage postcard The Sand Dollar Camp Ground Isle of Palmsas well as someones home videos posted on YouTube from ’73 are the only remnants I have found of the Sand Dollar Campground on the Isle of Palms outside of Charleston, South Carolina. After a few emails with the gentleman who posted his memories on YouTube I have learned the sad truth I suspected all along, the place no longer exists. Part of me wants to know what type of development could engulfed my Shangri La while the other part is happy to learn there are others out there that have equally happy memories of paradise. Our own Shangir La can not be so easily erased from our hearts.

Dreams of Mexico City 1968

Often the first sense assaulted upon arriving in a foreign land is smell. Each place exuding its own distinct odor; tropical plumeria and gardenia to the not so sweet smell of industrial waste, auto exhaust and burning trash. Stepping off the train into Mexico City my first memory is of burning eyes and a smell that to this day I simply cannot find words to describe but would recognize in a moment if it were to drift past my nose again. My sinuses did adjusted; but I challenge anyone to accurately describe  in words the scent of a developing country in the mid 60’s.

Although I  don’t remember I am quite sure I had stayed in a hotel prior to this trip just as I am equally sure I hadn’t called one home for a two-week stretch. I remember this one as enormous and white with the highest ceilings I had ever encountered. It felt grand to my young sensibilities (although grand was probably far from reality). We also had our own driver upon arriving which felt very fancy indeed having come from a life not use to such things. I don’t remember if he toted us around every day but I do remember heading out into the country side to visit a small craft village where we were outfitted in hand-woven wool ponchos. And of course for a day spent at Toetihuacan wandering the Avenue of the Dead whilst begging our parents permission to clamber to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun because we were sure we were old enough and capable of the assent. Alas we were only allowed to venture up the puny little side pyramids. As a parent now understand their wisdom; we probably would have gotten half way up and started whining about being too tired to continue and they would have had to haul our lazy asses back down.

Avenue of the Dead
Avenue of the Dead
Pyramid of the Sun
Pyramid of the Sun

I remember our hotel room faced the busy boulevard below where I would look out the window and see a girl my age sitting on a worn blanket with her mother and brother selling Chiclets gum and begging. I don’t know if I had ever seen anyone begging let alone a kid my size. I remember the soaring height of our hotel room because the helium balloons we got at the fiesta on Christmas Eve came lose from their tether and floated to the ceiling where they could not even be retrieved by dad as he stood on a bed. We waited days for them to slowly loose their grip to the ceiling and drift back into our hands. On the last day of our trip I gave the girl on the street my balloon and my few remaining pesos.

I have come across so little documentation of this trip. I have found a smattering of grainy home movies of us kids running around the zoo at Chapultepec Park and Toetihuacan, mom in the background looking like a model, so mod and hip, as if she had stepped right off a magazine page. Several years ago while watching this video, seeing mom dressed in a short Merrimeko dress (which she probably sewed her self) and the twiggy bob hair cut I was struck not by just how amazing she looked but I also wondered if Victoria Beckham has somehow seen these old videos and was trying to imitate my mom. Honestly, Victoria Beckham looks like she was copying my 1968 mom minus the bitchy attitude face which I don’t think anyone other than Victoria can pull off.

I asked dad why I couldn’t find any photos and he reminded me there are boxes of slides somewhere that may contain pictures from that trip. Hell I’d forgotten about those and the evening slide shows we used to have. Does anyone take slides any more? I have yet to be motivated enough to hunt down these slides and figure out where to find a projector and instead turn to Google in hopes of finding clues as to what Mexico City was like in 1968.

1968 is often referred to as the most pivotal year in modern history. The unrest was not limited to the United States as protests sprung up worldwide. The Vietnam war was in full swing and 1968 was perhaps the bloodiest year in that war’s history with the Tet offensive and slaying of innocent civilians in many other massacres. Civil rights disturbances and anti-war demonstrations took place on university campuses around the globe. Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy were assassinated, we sent the first manned Apollo rocket ship into space, the Wizard of Oz was televised, and we elected a new president amidst riotous conventions. Olympic games were held in Grenoble, France and Mexico City. And just meer months before our arrival there was what was described as a massacre and ‘blood bath’ of demonstrating students in Mexico City. Perhaps the fact that we lived just a block from the University of Illinois campus and were used to seeing Walter Cronkite showing us nightly the unfolding unrest taking over the world that my parents didn’t give a second thought of taking three children into a potentially volatile area.

I remember thinking Christmas was much more exciting in Mexico. It was a P.A.R.T.Y complete with carnival rides, mariachi music, dancing, pinatas, fireworks and fire crackers, food and drink. It was a mad celebration on Christmas Eve that went on all night. On Christmas day we saw miles of the pious on their knees slowly making their way  to the Cathedral Metropolitana. According to my diary we spent Christmas day at the zoo.

I think the funniest family memory from this trip was the Mexican’s fascination with our hair, in particular my youngest brothers. We were 3 blonds heads in a sea of black hair but Paul’s hair was beyond blond, it was white and fine. Strangers would come up to him and touch his hair all day long. Boy did he get pissed, and he had a temper! He was baffled by the fascination with his hair. The low point of the trip was dad coming home with hepatitis. It was bad, I remember him bed for what seemed like a good month watching him turn yellow and then watching the yellow gradually recede. As we were all exposed to dad we were treated to gamma globulin shots which really pissed off my brother Eric;  after receiving this epic shot the Dr said…oops, I think you may already have hepatitis too (although his was not nearly as bad as dad). Gratefully both fully recovered.

I think in many ways the trip to Mexico moulded me into the adult I have become. The excitement of exploring new culltures, their people and traditions, even the adventure in just getting to your final location left me with a longing for more such experiences.  Up to this point we had been told there are people in the world that are less well off than us but nothing tends to adhere to the eight year old brain better than seeing with your own eyes that true poverty exists outside the comforts of your own life.I don’t think an up close view of  poverty was our parents intent but I’ve often wondered if children wouldn’t grow into more compassionate adults if they witnessed this  first hand. Besides the memories I hold in my heart I also left Mexico with a few souvenirs in hand that I have to this

Traveling the Rails

Our adventure by rail from Chicago to Mexico City is my most vivid early travel memory. At least the part that wasn’t muddled by the fog of Dramamine. I distinctly remember mom telling us she didn’t want us getting motion sick on the train so we had better slug down a spoonful of this vile elixir. Never mind that we had been riding the train for hours with no ill effects, the first night brought out a bottle for which I only remember the single dose. It wasn’t until I was a parent myself that I realized her true intentions: hoping her crazy hyped-up children would finally go to sleep so she could rest as well. I guess if I was facing the prospect of traveling 3,400 miles on a clank-ety train with three small children ages 4, 6 and 8 I would probably have looked to the local pharmacist for assistance as well.

Some 45 years later I can close my eyes and  see my little-self on the platform at Chicago’s Union Station surrounded by soot speckled trains hissing puffs of steam and smoke. The smell of diesel so thick it is etched permanently into my nostrils, better enabling it to be recalled so many decades later. By the 1960’s  the last vestiges of glamorous train travel had faded in America but travel in Mexico was an entirely different story.

I couldn’t tell you the exact route that was taken heading south but according to my travel journal we passed through St. Louis. Looking at a map I assume we traveled through Texas as this appears to be the most direct route. I have always thought of Texas as one of the few states I have never been in but if my assumptions are correct I passed right through  and have zero recollection of the adventure. Sorry Texas, you left zero impression on this 8-year-old. I do know as kids we were pretty bored with trains and according to my notes I spent a good deal of my time looking for other little girls to either play with or perhaps I simply wanted confirmation that other parents subjected their kids to long days on a train headed to foreign lands with parents that didn’t speak the native tongue.

Of course I don’t know where we crossed the border stepping back in time and got on that enchanting Mexican train. The first glimpse of magic began at dinner when we were herded in mass to the dining car which was decked out in crisp white linens, sparking crystal and gleaming silver. This was the very car where I enjoyed my first taste of Toblerone and imagine my surprise to find out this was a Swiss confection and not Mexican! I believe my budding love affair with chocolate  began at the moment I ate my first triangle.

The real wonderland began when we were shown back to our seats which we would never have found without the help of the porter as the entire car had been transformed. Heavy velvet curtains now formed a tunnel behind which we found bunk beds with their own little lights and cubbies to stash our treasures. For three kids that had never slept in bunk beds this was heaven. I remember wanting to stay up and savor the experience but the gentle swaying of the train rocked me quickly to sleep behind the heavy velvet curtains. This train also moved much slower then the American trains and dad would take us out one at a time to stand in the open air between the cars and feel the warm Mexican sun on our faces and watch the world go by. I was on one other Mexican train in the late ’70’s and the experience was far different, but that story will be saved for another day.

As I can’t find a single picture from the trip to Mexico I have included this shot taken in St Louis about 2 years prior to the epic train trip. I recently asked my dad what possessed them to drag 3 kids under 8 to Mexico City. He said it was a combination of wanting to escape the cold Illinois winter and they thought Mexico would feel more “European”, what? I told him I could find a single still pictures from that trip only some home movies and he reminded me he had boxes of slides I could go through. Why did people take slides? For which he reminded me how much fun we use to have dragging out the side projector, and screen along with a bowl of popcorn. I guess I have slides to review…

Pictures, movies and memories

Each time I sit down to transfer a memory from the past, committing to paper my travels through life, I also reach to the top shelf in the spare  bedroom closet to riffle through the boxes of memories looking for proof of the past in the form of old photographs. Amongst the boxes on the top shelf also sits a small brown suitcase (vintage ’70’s and once belonging to a much larger set) stuffed with ancient fading dog-eared photos, some so old that even the few remaining people who might possible recall names, places and dates have long forgotten the faces staring out. Pawing through literally thousands of photos one would come to believe we hardly ever left the confines of our home let alone traveled to far-flung corners of the globe. Instead I find snap shots of birthday parties, first communions, an array of Halloween costumes as well as the requisite bare-naked-baby-on-the-bearskin-rug shots but not one shot of us standing before the ancient Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan or skipping down the Avenue of the Dead. 

It gradually dawns on me why there are so few still photos of  our travels. Sometime in the mid 60’s my father abandoned his bulky Rolleiflex (oh how I wish we still had that one!) so that he could capture our every movement on Super 8. In fact, on the floor of the very closet that houses the small brown suitcase sits a battered cardboard box which at one time held 1/2 gallon jugs of Almaden Mt. White Chablis now straining to contain an overflow of home movies. Never mind that it has been literally decades since we have owned a  functioning movie projector this box has crisscrossed the county in overheated moving vans, spent years gathering dust in garages far from climate controlled, finally landing in my closet. Mom had become the chronicler of everyday moments with her Brownie Instamatic, dad the movie maker while I became the journalist committing our travels to paper.

We returned from Europe the summer of ’63, adding the third and last child to the mix in 1964 (from the math it doesn’t appear mother smuggled another child into the country). Our family was now complete and the adventures would resume. I can say from a child’s perspective having a parent in  academia was pretty ideal, not sure how it is from the adult perspective but we thought it was a great deal. Christmas and spring vacations off not to mention long summer breaks beckoning travel and adventure. Living just a few block from the university campus most of our friends enjoyed the same parental perks. No one thought it the least bit odd that families would often disappear for months at a time.

We spent the next few years learning to camp, exploring the east coast from Martha’s Vineyard to the Great Smokey Mountains. During this time we also learned our mild-mannered professor dad could cuss like a sailor who’s been out to sea too long. Trying to get the pop-tent set up was to say the least, trying. It is my understanding this new fangled self-erecting pop-up tent was supposed to make camping hassle free. Simply get yourself inside this deflated tent and either push or pull the lever situated in the top center of the dome until the tent magically erected itself. I can’t say for sure whether the lever was pushed or pulled as we were kept far off to the sides with our little hands over our ears so as not to hear the offending language coming from the deflated tent with dad trapped inside. Large swaths of my childhood was spent traveling from coast to coast camping but in 1968 my parents got the wild hair to hop a train with  tow-headed children in tow and head to Mexico City for Christmas…

Voyage Abroad!

My first ‘official’ voyage abroad occurred a mere 2 1/2 years after being smuggled into this country. I am now legally allowed to come and go. My son was issued his first passport in second grade, it was his own passport, not some weird group passport my family had in the 60’s. What the heck…a group passport? My mother was not issued her own passport as a married woman but placed simply as a first name in the space provided for ‘wife’ above the area designated for ‘minors’. The older I get the more I recognize her slow simmering feminism. With each episode of Mad Men I watch I wonder if it was really that bad; was her life prior to ‘wife’ as a bank teller spent being chased around a bosses desk with random unprovoked slaps to her rear end?

This 1960’s passport disallows visits to China, Korea,Viet-Nam, Albania with the hand written addition of Cuba made by some US government worker. All are communist countries but why not Russia, the USSR? This was the cold-war era, fear ran ramped and US citizens were allowed free access to the Soviet Union?  Mom’s 1959 passport was ok with Cuba but not so cool with Hungary. Reading through the gibberish, travel tips, etc, now included in current passports I cannot find one restriction relating to any specific country. It may not be particularly wise to travel to certain places these days but feel free to go! I leave  shortly for one of the previously banned countries, Viet-nam, and my first visit to a communist country, previous or current.

Our voyage abroad in ’63 was truly a voyage. The 4 of us embarked from NYC on the Cunard R.M.S. Queen Mary in the dead of winter. From nestled somewhere deep in the bowels of steerage I am told tales of my father sneaking the two of us through first class lounges upward until we braved the deserted decks of this grand boat. Just my dad and a 2 1/2 year old in tow while mom stayed below with my infant brother.  What was my mother thinking allowing such reckless, I could have been swept overboard in the rough January sea! I have no real recollection of this trip but rely on second-hand tales; the ones told again and again until they feel as if they must be your own, the fabric of our  personal history  woven into memories.

For as long as I can remember it has been the story of our arrival that stands tall. Dad bouncing me around in his unbridled excitement until I coated him in vomit. I recently quizzed Dad about this trip and his enthusiasm 50 years later still shined bright. He explained “If we hadn’t been so excited to be going back to Europe we would have waited for warmer weather.” Being use to the comforts of American life they hadn’t given much thought to the lack of central heat in Paris winters. Germany was evidently a bit better but they quickly decided they needed to skedaddle to the warmer climate of Italy, just in time for my brother to take his first steps in Naples.

We were not  off on a two week vacation to Europe, nope this was a 6 month jaunt. Mom had told me one of her greatest concerns was making sure I was solidly potty trained. There were Pampers back in the day but she didn’t want to deal with two sets of diapers and potty training while traveling. The thought of 6 months on the road on another continent with 2 kids under 3 would send chills down the spine of most women. It doesn’t sound like they had much of an agenda as well, just freewheeling from country to country. Dad spent his days sketching street scens like those of Saint-Germain-des-Pres (recently framed and given to me as Christmas gift) while mom was probably trying to figure out how attach leashes to two rug-rats as she wandered museums.Saint-Germain-des-Pres '63

I believe this was the trip that firmly cemented moms commitment to not raising her children on wonder bread, margarine (oleo as grandma called it) and  tuna casserole. At the ripe age of 51 I can happily say this last American concoction has never crossed my lips! We were instead raised on steady diet of Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, and salad Nicoise. Recipes painstakingly followed  from her well worn and much loved copy of  The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Childs. This now sits on my bookshelf. Some families pass down bibles, this book, broken spine, dog eared and splattered with food  will be passed though generations along with her love of good food. The aroma of wonderful food and good memories practically ooze from the page.

St Augustine said “The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page.” I will forever be thankful my parents opened this book for me, letting me know the world was bigger than my back yard. Although I may not remember this trip I believe a foundation was laid. This was to be the beginning of many more adventures to come….

The Cape

The cape has hung in the spare bedroom closet the past decade along with other items mom passed along to me. Whether for safe keeping or in hopes I will single-handedly resurrect past fashions I am not sure.  I don’t remember the specific day mom gave me these discarded items but I am sure it was with a shrug she told me she was cleaning out her closet and wondered if I wanted these ‘old things’ collected through her travels: a dress purchased in Mexico city in the 60’s, a leather skirt from Spain and this reversible cape purchased in London when labels read Burberry’s not shortened to Burberry as they do today. I wish when she had handed me these pieces I had asked for the story each one held.

I use to play dress up in this cape as a child. With the plaid wool lining kept well hidden from my pray, the black rainy weather side was perfect for dashing about the house as Count Dracula. I love how objects can unleash memories. I close my eyes and picture my mother in her black heals, iconic bob hair cut styled to perfection, the scent of Shalimar swirling in her wake as she heads out for an evening with dad, this very cape draped over her shoulders. This cape hung forgotten until this past fall when I started eyeing capes  in magazines as the latest fashion must have. Keep something long enough it must surely come back into vogue!

It is oddly warm and rainy this winter, not at all like a typical January, this feels more like early March. I decide to venture out in the cape, take it for a spin, see if I still feel like I am playing dress up in my mother’s clothing. Yep, sure enough, I do. Does everyone who slips on something that belonged to their parent feel like an impostor trying to fill impossible shoes or is this just me? Why do we hang on to clothing collected from markets around the globe long after there is any hope we will wear them again? Along with the items left by mom that hang in the spare closet hangs an ill-fitting leather jacket I purchased in Italy in a style long since fashionable with very little hope I will ever wear it again…so why do I hang on to it?

Smuggled into the USA

What makes some people want to hit the road while others are content venturing no further than their own backyard? What would compel a perfectly normal woman to put a pack on her back and head off to the other side of the world where she neither understands nor reads the language? What would make an otherwise average 50-something-year-old woman do such a thing? Sure I know people are out there doing far crazier things than I but it is not these people I seem to have difficulty understanding, but rather the ones content staying home or repeating the same vacation again and again. What is it that leads one to wanderlust?

I guess I would have to go back to the beginning; back to when I was smuggled into the US by my mother. I wish she was still around to ask if she knew she was bringing an undocumented citizen back into the homeland. I came across the three passports issued during her lifetime tucked safely away in a firebox where she kept her ‘important’ documents. The first issued just a month before her marriage bearing her maiden name and a studio portrait. It is my opinion a passport is the most important document a person can possess; these are the papers that expand life’s possibilities and deepen our understanding of humanity.  I simply cannot imagine tossing an expired passport in the trash. Our passports holds the record of the places we have seem, lives that have touched ours and the dreams we have realized. Memories of what happened between the birth and death certificates.

Sure I knew my parents had spent the summer of ’59 traveling Europe on their honeymoon but I guess I hadn’t give much thought to my beginning forming on another continent. There is the eew factor when one thinks about your parents and conception…eew…but I was curious so I pulled out a calculator and looked for the closest possible visa stamp date that would correspond with my eew date. Calculations completed and the answer is Brussels (Bruxelles).

OK, so I was barely a bean in my mama’s belly but shouldn’t I still be granted dual citizenship? Some reward for starting life in another country? I didn’t leave the US with my parents on that prop plane but I most certainly was there for the return trip. Perhaps this fact simply explains the fact I like the sprouts named after this town or that I have an insatiable appetite for chocolate. Or, perhaps it was the seed that started my desire to travel.

Mom and Dad somewhere on their honeymoon – perhaps Paris?