Around the World - Take Three

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June 6th 1964
Published: June 13th 2011
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Third RTW

Following the spring semester at Dalat it was time to go back to the States for a year furlough. This would be our third time around the world, but by commercial jet (Boeing 707’s or DC-8s) this time.

We flew from Bangkok to Beirut, Lebanon, which was before their civil war. The city was similar to any wealthy touristy city along the French Riviera. We took a day trip to Byblos, a Phoenician city founded in 5000 BC, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. We enjoyed touring the archeological sites.

From Beirut we flew to Jerusalem, the eastern half of which was part of Jordan at the time. We toured all the holy sites and then crossed through the Mandelbaum Gate, which was the only crossing between Jordan and Israel. The crossing could only be in one direction as no one was allowed to go from Israel to Jordan. We didn’t have our passports stamped, so that we could go to an Arab country at a later date should we so choose.

We visited the sites in east Jerusalem, including the zoo, which had only animals found in the Bible, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, which was profoundly moving.

From Tel Aviv we caught a flight to Vienna, Austria. We stayed at an older grand hotel. My parents bought me a green felt Tyrolean hat with a feather cockade. We walked all over town to see museums and palaces and then took a tour to the Vienna Woods for a day.

From Vienna we flew to Copenhagen, Denmark. We toured the town to include the Little Mermaid, but spent most of our time at Tivoli, an amusement park.

Then we were off to Oslo, Norway. My Dad’s ancestors on his father’s side originally came from Norway in 1870. We toured the City Hall, the Viking Ships Museum, and the Kontiki and Fram Museum.

We then flew to Stavanger and stayed a few days with family friends. Stavanger was a quaint fishing village before oil was discovered in the North Sea. We then took a hydrofoil to Bergen. It rained the whole way so we didn’t get to see much of what is supposed to be dramatic scenery.

At Bergen we flew directly to JFK Airport in New York City, to be welcomed by my grandparents. An early stop was with the mission doctor who was a specialist in tropical medicine. Examining missionaries and their children from all over the world gave him some practical experience even though his office was in New York. He was the doctor who identified the Lassa hemorrhagic fever virus. Fortunately, none of us had anything more exotic than intestinal parasites of various sorts.

The New York World’s Fair was on at the time. We spent several days there visiting all the national pavilions and those of large American businesses. My favorite was the GM exhibit which showed the future, along with all their latest cars (a family friend bought the Cadillac that was on display). The Ford exhibit included the new Mustang. A cousin from Canada came to live with us while she went to college across the state line in New Jersey. She had a new red Mustang!

That summer we visited Dad’s uncles and aunts and cousins on Long Island and New Jersey. Then we went to the family farms of western Pennsylvania, where I enjoyed riding tractors and using a .22 to hunt ground hogs with my cousins.

Then it was on to Toronto, Canada and Glen Rocks camp to spend time with my Mom’s side of the family. Glen Rocks Camp, located on a lake in the Canadian northern woods, was always a highlight of returning to North America. I won the shuffle board and ping pong competitions, and enjoyed swimming and canoeing. A friend of the family was an engineer. Canadian engineers wear an iron ring, which is given to professional engineers in the “Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer” ceremony developed by Rudyard Kipling. This was the first time that I considered becoming an engineer.

We drove back to Nyack, where we lived at Groff Cottage on Terrace Drive. Our family occupied the top two floors and fellow Dalat student Kay Joy’s family was on the first floor. Across the street lived my dorm parents from Dalat, Uncle John and Aunt Esther, and their son David who is a close friend. So I was surrounded by people I knew!

I was a freshman at Nyack High School, about a 30 minute walk down the hill and across town from our house. I did well as Dalat School had prepared me more than adequately for school in the States. I joined the high school cross country team, and ended up with a JV letter. I also became a newspaper delivery boy with about 40 customers scattered over about two miles on the hillside. That was my first paying job, if earning two dollars a week trudging two miles in rain and snow with a heavy bag could be called a paying job. It did teach me responsibility and fortitude!

We would visit my grandparents in New York City. My grandfather was assistant treasurer for the mission, with offices across from the St. James Theater on 44th Street. Our first visit he gave me coins that he had saved from his time in China in the 1920’s. Some were Chinese silver dollars from the Sun Yat Sen revolution, but many were ancient coins; round with squares cut in the middle. That was the beginning of my coin collection, joining my stamp collection. My grandfather also took us to see the Mets and Yankees games.

Meanwhile, back at Dalat School over Easter weekend of 1965, the U.S Air Force sent four C-123’s to Dalat to evacuate the school. It seems that the U.S. Embassy was getting nervous having 100 or more American children going to school in the middle of a war zone. I missed that experience. All our things were left in storage at the school. I tried to find our stuff when I visited the school in October 1973 without success…so my bike and all my Dinky cars were lost!

Our year was done and it was time to go back to Thailand. We flew from JFK to Colorado Springs to visit with a family who had been stationed in Korat with the U.S. military advisory group. He was now stationed at Fort Carson. They took us to the North Pole amusement park at Pikes Peak and other tourist sites in the area. (Note: Now I am retired about eight miles from there!)

We then flew to Hawaii and stayed off of Waikiki Beach, where we enjoyed the sights of Oahu…Pearl Harbor, the Punch Bowl War Cemetery, Hanauma Bay for swimming, etc.

From there it was on to Hong Kong. We stayed on Nathan Road in Kowloon, and took the Star Ferry to the island of Hong Kong. We went up Victoria Peak where we had a great view of the harbor. We also did some duty free shopping, not that we had much money.

Finally we arrived back in Bangkok, where Dalat School had been evacuated to. The school occupied the old American Club on Wireless Road where I almost drowned as a child when I fell into their fish tank. It was very crowded with three triple bunks per room. The air conditioners didn’t work very well. And when it rained our class rooms on the lower floors flooded. Also snakes would drop out of the trees onto us as we passed beneath.

Dalat was legally part of the International School Bangkok. Most of what I remember of that fall semester was joining the ISB track team. I ran the 400 meter relay in a track meet at the National Stadium. Our school had maybe 60 kids in the high school compared to 1500 kids at ISB. At our track meet the Dalat athletes won 19 of 23 events.

My parents were assigned to Korat again, but just for one year. So over Christmas vacation I returned to Korat. The military was even a larger presence. My parents continued hosting Bible studies for the servicemen at our home. I remember a sergeant asking me what I planned to do with my life, expecting me to reply “Be a missionary.” Instead I told him that I was going to be a civil engineer.

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