Letters Home: On Our Way
On Our Way is the first of a series of art quilts inspired by letters our parents wrote home. In 1959, our parents took two little girls to Abadan, Iran. The letters share their experiences and lives, through the lens of what they wanted to share with their parents.
March 6, 1959
Riverside Guest House
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I will first say good morning. It is now just 10 AM and we have been here almost twenty-four hours. This particular letter is being made in two copies, with the start by Herb. Who knows who will finish and just what time.
To start backwards, we have already missed breakfast this morning, but are invited for coffee at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Smit. He will pick us up in about a half hour. He holds the job of Asst. Head, Planning, Engineering and Development, the division I will be working in. They are Dutch, and are here for the Royal Dutch Shell group. They have one daughter about seven years old.
Enough of that. Yesterday morning when we arrived, an Iranian member of the Travel and Reception group was standing at the bottom of the gangway waiting for us. As we were being ushered into the terminal building, Mrs. Smit stopped Weezie and introduced herself. We all sat and relaxed while all the baggage was accumulated. After about 20 minutes I was called into the customs office and asked to open a bag. I chose my large two-suiter. The customer officer peeked in one side and saw loose cigarettes and motioned to shut the bag. I was then asked about cigarettes, liquor, shot-gun, radio. Particular questions were raised about the typewriter. However, I guess we looked okay, or something. We had cleared customs. Total time, five, maybe ten minutes. We left the airport before our plane. The Smit’s brought us to the Guest House, our Iranian greeter came in separately, and a truck brought the baggage.
We have just returned from our morning coffee and a visit with the Smit’s. It was very lovely and they are the most gracious hosts. Their daughter and Bobbie get along nicely together even though neither could speak the other’s native tongue. After returning to the Guest House, we had lunch and relaxed a little. The children have now been put in their room to relax a bit before we continue our activities for the day. We plan to attend the tea this afternoon; dinner is from 7 – 9, so we hope the kids will nibble.
Now to backtrack and start from New York. We, of course, boarded on-time, 4PM. However the plane had to sit and await take-off for about 45 minutes.
It was a little rough while going north along the New England coast. Over Newfoundland it became very rough. The “Fasten Seat Belts” was flashed on and the crew stopped serving dinner. Then the fun began. Apparently the coke was too much for both children. Yes, we had them both sick at the same time. Weezie had Bobbie and I had Lynn. Neither of the children ate any dinner, but otherwise were fine. Weezie and I ate heartily and enjoyed Champagne (an excellent brand, but I can’t remember) and Bordeaux wine. The main course was headed by Filet Mignon, also excellent. As we finished, liquor was served again, Weezie complaining about no Creme de Menthe. We had too congenial a ground in the after cabin. One other American and three Dutch. We all proceeded to make a party of it and ended up with less than two hours sleep. Needless to say, we really dragged as we left the plane in Amsterdam.
As we left the plane, we were met by a representative of KLM and ushered through customs, all of our baggage was checked to see that it was there and sent on our way to the office in Amsterdam. There we were given our Hotel reservations, chits for meals, and for the taxi to and from the Hotel. We never were able to find the name of the street for our hotel. However, it was located just off Must Plein, and we could look out our bedroom window on one of the canals. It was very pleasant. On Tuesday afternoon, we all took a nap for about an hour, then a boat ride through the canals. The boat ride was very interesting. At dinner both girls complained of being tired, so they were put to bed about 7:30. I awakened them about 10:30 the next morning. Weeize and I went to bed early and skipped the night life. We both were just too tired to even move. Wednesday morning we walked around Amsterdam a little and did some souvenir shopping. This took about an hour and a half, thence back to the hotel to get ready to leave. We got out to the airport early, then started to spend real money. To this time we had spent less than $10. I purchased a Bolex BL8 movie camera, twin lens turret, but only with one lens. We will undoubtedly have someone else purchase the second lens for us at a later date. Cost for the camera, $142. Then we proceeded to purchase a Voighlander BR 35mm still camera which is quite simple to operate. With the Flash attachment, cases, film, etc. We managed to spend a total of about $250 for everything we got. The still camera alone was only $59.
The trip down from Amsterdam was very pleasant. The Constellation has just 12 deluxe seats. Again we were in the first row behind the galley. Drinks were served as soon as we were aloft. At Frankfort Main, we had an hour to look around the duty-free shop and have a drink. Weezie purchased a small Stein that is really quite attractive for a total of $1.90. Again I forgot to purchase flash bulbs so we did not get any pictures on the plane. Next, another gorgeous dinner was served, Champagne, Bordeaux, Filet, etc. Next stop Rome. Again an hour in the terminal building. I proceeded to sleep most of the 5 hours from Rome to Cairo. Weezie found that she could not sleep the entire time. Cairo is a horrible dingy place. And at 5 AM, I’m sure it looked worse than it actually was. Beautiful leather goods, jewelry, etc. were available there, but no purchases were made. By this time, both of our kids were really veteran travelers. No problems on the flight down here. We arrived at the Abadan airport rather promptly. It was just 11AM when we touched down. From there in has already been covered.
While I have been writing this Weezie has been washing out a few things for she and the girls. She has not finished so will see if she has anything to add to the Hand’s travelog.
Not much to add, but a little. Thanks to all the pills the kids and I had a great trip. In Amsterdam I saw only two women with stockings on — seemed strange to me. Here in Abadan all but Herb are seeing our first palm trees. The trees and flowers are beautiful and the weather is terrific. We need sweaters, but no coats. The Dutch beer “Amstel” is out of this world, and the food is very good. Coffee has been terrific every place but in Cairo, it tasted like it had been boiled for an hour and then re-heated two days later.
All for now but we’ll write again soon.
Love from all of us,
Weezie and Herb (mostly)
Letters Home is a collection of letters written by our Mother (mostly) and our Father ( sometimes), that chronicles their life overseas, with two, then three, then four young girls. The letters were written to their mothers and are full of daily life, unique challenges, and humor. As we live in uncertain and challenging times, it seems fitting to share.
Browse through more Letters Home and the art quilts inspired by our parents adventures.