24. May 2013 · Comments Off on Voyage · Categories: M. 16 years

SSCleveland1951SS President Cleveland in Hong Kong

After all the fond goodbyes and promises to write, and final warnings for visitors to disembark, we are on our way.   The tugboats sound their horns and release our ocean liner.

The ocean is the color of ink.  Now I know why there is a blue called navy.  I spin around on the deck and all I can see is the navy blue sea and the sky.  It seems as limitless as my future.


There are about twenty students on board.   They are not all strangers.  My cousin Pat is also traveling to a college in New York.

In no time we students have formed a group.   We are on a slow boat with stopovers in Japan and Hawaii.   We will be together for weeks.

Pat&Doreen1953Pat and me in Kyoto



John comes aboard in Japan.   He is an American who was visiting his parents in Japan.  He is a senior at Dartmouth.

waikiki Beach1953Waikiki Beach

D&ORCH~FxOrchids in Honolulu

Voyage53b copy

One last photo – Farewell!

Golden GateGolden Gate Bridge

23. May 2013 · Comments Off on Friends in Need · Categories: M. 16 years

Most of us have left the ship and gone off with relatives and friends.   I sit on one of my trunks on the pier.   John sits on the other trunk.  He plays his guitar and sings The cat came back ‘cause he wouldn’t go away, one more time.  He is running out of songs.

John C

The TWA agent who was to meet me and take me to my flight has not shown up.  John tells me I should have my trunks shipped while the shippers are still here.  I had no idea.   He ships the trunks for me.

It is after five and the pier closes at six.  I have nowhere to go.  John goes to a phone booth and calls all the hotels nearby that he knows are okay.  There are no vacancies.


Simone walks by, alone.   She is among the last to disembark.   She and I shared a cabin.  She is from Tahiti.   All she needs is a taxi to her hotel.

She has a reservation for a hotel room, but it is a single.   Wait, she says, her brother gave her a phone number in case of an emergency.   It is for a couple from his college days but it has been eleven years since then.  Maybe they are not even at the same address.

Simone calls them, and they not only are there but invite her to stay with them.  She will give me her hotel reservation!

While we wait for Simone’s friends, a priest comes along.  His name is Father Waters.  Oh, he is here just in case someone needs help, he says.  He is glad I have a hotel room after all.  He will come for me tomorrow at check-out time and take me to a women’s city residence.  It is run by the same order of nuns as my teachers.  He is sure they would love to fuss over me and get news about their sisters in Macau.


22. May 2013 · Comments Off on Good Guys · Categories: M. 16 years

Simone’s new friends drive us to the Drake Wiltshire.  John checks out the room to see if it’s okay, as though I have a choice.

drake wiltshire

He takes me to dinner.  He is at the Hotel Plaza, just a short walk away.   Their dining room is elegant.   I’m glad my sister advised that while traveling in the U.S. I should wear the tweed suit with matching hat because “it can go anywhere.”

hotel plaza s. francisco

This is the first time I am out alone with someone, but I don’t think of it as a date.   There’s a bit of chivalry to it.

Still, without his guitar I get to know a lot more about John.   He is at a college in New England.   Next year he is going to Harvard Law.  He wants to practice international law.   He cares about the world.  He is a Protestant, an Episcopalian.

He is a Jimmy Stewart type, I think, charming and gallant, doing the right thing.   I’m so lucky he is here with me.   But he is not my type of heartthrob.   Blame the stupid cupids.

John Derek is my type.  The ship’s doctor has that kind of smoldering good looks.  Girls were swooning.  We pointed him out to one another as he stood off by himself, smoking a cigarette and staring at the sea.  During the whole trip, he never gave any of us a second look.

The next morning, John calls and says there is a TWA agency nearby and he will take me there.

Union Square

This agency happens to be the right one.   The agent is apologetic although it is not his fault that he didn’t show up yesterday. Whoever did my bookings gave him the wrong date for my arrival.  He shows me where it says that I am arriving today.  He was going to meet my ship this afternoon.

On the other hand, he has me booked on a flight departing at eleven tonight for Chicago.  There I will connect to a flight to Cincinnati, arriving in the morning.

I know that even if I make my way to Cincinnati, I have to wait in a hotel lobby for someone from my new school to come and take me to the school.   It is out in the country, in Loveland.   If the TWA man is the only one who was given a wrong arrival date, by mistake, then the school would be expecting me today, not tomorrow.  No one will be waiting for me in Cincinnati.

Someone will come for me only if the school was given the same wrong arrival date.

The ship’s arrival date is printed on its itinerary.  How likely is it that the same slip-up or typo was made in separate notification letters to two different places?  I won’t know until I get to Cincinnati.   Do I even want to know?  I feel a chill.

John is leaving for his flight shortly.   The glowing letters of recommendation from the British consul in Macau and from Mother Paulinus that I carry with my passport are useless.   I still have some money.

What the heck!

I ask the agent what it would cost to fly first class.   Well, he says, it’s a red-eye special and the plane is not full.   He upgrades me to first class for a nominal fee.

I should have thought of that, he says, they’ll take good care of you.

Father Waters takes me to the nuns’ city residence for women.  It is just as he said.

Maybe it’s the city.   The nuns seem worldlier than our teachers in Macau.  They admire how well tailored my suit is.  They feel the soft English wool.  They want the latest buzz about Macau.  They feed me the most wonderful California fruits and warn me not to expect anything as eye popping and delicious in Ohio.

bowl of fruit 2

They show me around the residence.   They are very proud of the sunny, cheerful rooms.   They say if I come back I would stay in a room just like those.

After dinner Father Waters returns, drives me to the airport and makes sure that I get on the right plane.

TWA stewardess



21. May 2013 · Comments Off on The Sleeping Hand · Categories: M. 16 years, The Beast

Flying is still an occasion.  People expect to enjoy themselves.  Even on this red-eye flight.

When we are at cruising altitude the upbeat stewardesses serve champagne in crystal glasses.

After they have collected the empties they bring soft lap blankets and little pillows.  Then they dim the lights.

I am dozing off.  I feel something land on my lap like a dead fish.

I glance at the man next to me.  He is as old as Uncle Pedro.  His head is back and his eyes are closed.   I know his hand is not asleep.

I take his limp hand and place it firmly on his lap.

He is pretending that one hand does not know what the other is doing.  He knows that I know.

It does not happen again.

sleeping hand1

20. May 2013 · Comments Off on House of Joy · Categories: M. 16 years

After we land at the bustling Chicago airport the stewardess picks up my suitcase and walks with me to my connecting flight.    Thank you, good guy agent!

Gibson Hotel

It is early morning, and I am at the Gibson HoteI lobby.   There is no one waiting for me.  I choose a seat near the doors where I can be seen, and I wait.

Before I start figuring out what to do next, a young woman comes into the lobby.   She is Mary, from Grailville.  She is smiling.

So, there have been two identical slip-ups.  I wish I could just forget about it.

Mary doesn’t ask me about my trip or says much else.   She is still smiling as she takes the window seat on the bus.   It’s as though she knows something to smile about, but she is not telling.

I take the seat next to her.   The bus is almost empty.   Through the many windows I can still see the city streets and then the country roads.

Mary took a window seat, but she does not look out the window.  She keeps her eyes down.   There is no book on her lap.   Is she meditating?  I’m not sure, but I sense that she does not want to be disturbed unless I have something important to say.

I take in the glorious views of the countryside and the small towns that I’ve seen only in the movies yet are so familiar.

We get off in downtown Loveland.  Another woman is waiting to drive us the short distance, about a mile, to Grailville.

We pass a wooden sign with the school’s name on it.  We pull up to the building I saw in the brochure.

It is called The House of Joy.House of Joy1