The following was transcribed from hand-written travel notes from my mom, Virginia, made during our trip to London & Switzerland in 1986. I found the notes stuffed in a drawer at my parent’s house while cleaning up this year.
It was one of those things that in life gets forgotten, stuffed in a drawer and forever lost thereafter, if not for serendipity.
As I recall, I initiated the trip. For some reason that I can’t remember, neither my dad or my older brother went along with us on this trip. It was only my mom, my younger brother, Barry, and me.
I vaguely remember – out of the blue – telling mom we needed to go to London. It just sparked in me for some reason. I got very excited about it and insisted we go. At the time I would have been about fifteen (15) years old.
My mom took me up on my crazy idea and booked us a flight to Europe. That would be my first international travel experience. I’m forever thankful for my mom for taking us. It opened up a new appreciation of the world to me.
What I remember most about the trip was deplaning at London’s Heathrow airport and smelling the air – and it was déjà vu. Like I had been there before – I’ll write more about that experience later. This post is about my mom’s memory of the experience.
The notes are incomplete – they end about halfway through our trip to London, and I’ve been unable to find other notes. Also, apparently, my mom’s camera was broken during the trip, so no photos of us remain, unfortunately.
The notes begin at JFK Kennedy airport in the futuristic TWA terminal building that was recently turned into a retro airport hotel themed after TWA Airlines. All punctuation, sentence construction left as-is to capture the moment.
July 21, 1986 – Notes
4:30 – Well, we made it to Kennedy. The TWA terminal alone is huge and filled with people – people – people and this is only one of the many terminals here at Kennedy.
Definitely, this is the age of people running to and fro.
How they keep it all coordinated is a miracle itself. All the planes, people coming in, people going out, all the employees – everyone moving about doing something and it all seems to work – Relatively few mishaps, accidents or fights!!
Everything is exceedingly overpriced. The Columbus airport offers a $5 hamburger. After a lifetime of McDonald’s, a $5 hamburger sounds gold plated.
The kids have taken off to see the front of the airport. I can see I’ll be sitting alone a lot on this trip. I really wish another adult was with me. Kids live in a different world.
The plane to London leaves in about an hour – time to write while sitting in a restaurant. Can’t eat because we will probably eat on the plane. Anyway, who can afford it?
I hope I run into some friendly single adults?
Lord, can you hear me?
What’s interesting is the myth of the perfect person.
As you watch so many people of all sizes, colors and ages you wonder which is the way we are really supposed to look and of course the answer is none and all.
The individual uniqueness of each person is essentially a human trait.
However, God can take the same features and come up with so many variations on a [theme] is truly amazing.
Animals, although, also individual, lack such differentiation of difference. It is hard to tell one from another, but people are quickly identified. Few people look like someone else.
Hell, writing is getting very boring –
What to do? One hour at best till boarding time.
In every model type perfect person there are 100 members of a motley crew.
This is my first effort at writing a daily note on our trip to London.
So far, it’s New York, New York with miles to go before I sleep.
Notes on TWA –
Yuk! Any illusions that plane travel is comfortable or pleasant can be ended –
The seats are small and cramped. Little legroom – too many people all stuffed into this enormous sardine can – 400 of us –
No place to stretch out or sleep – Earphones for the movie – bored and uncomfortable – I’m ready to go home.
Kids are holding up very well.
Plane left Kennedy 1 ½ hr late –
Is amazing such an enormous metal object can move through space without falling.
7/22/86 – London, here we are!
What a city! So huge and full of interesting buildings and people, people, people – from everywhere. A lot of them seem to be tourists.
Windsor Castle is a wonderful, stone, huge arrangement – how did people ever build it w/o power equipment? It puts modern architecture to shame.
On one side one can see far away the towers of an ancient cathedral and the 3 towers of a nuclear power plant, which explains England.
The very old and the new in a strange marriage – highways speeding, econy cars racing beside fields of sheep and horses. Eating scones and tea along with someone eating a hamburger. The British Royalty and the punks – the socially in and the socially out living, how beit together. Wendy’s across from old established pub.
Other than driving being absolutely horrendous – scary, fast and confusing. He who hesitates is lost. So far we have made it. Yet I marvel there aren’t more accidents – the British must be excellent drivers – yet most of them seem to be young, and one wonders if they older don’t drop out of driving as soon as they are able.
Thank God for Holiday Inn – I wouldn’t like to have to hunt for a place to stay.
7/28/86 – Sunday
Plymouth – We arrived about 8:00 after a stop at Glastonbury. I was disappointed Joseph was not buried there, although I guess he died there. Evidently figures into the lives of the Tudor ___ of the Throne.
Strange spirits seem to permeate my room and attempt to overcome me with evil as though this whole hotel is filled with them. I pray for the Holy Spirits protection for me and my children. I want nothing to do with their hidden work which they seem to want to force on me.
I pray for wisdom and protection from evil – the battle is the Lord’s.
Still I love London and England. The scenic rural areas are wonderful. The sheep, cattle, and horses are plentiful, the grass very green, and there is much empty space.
I hope I get my camera fixed for tomorrow.
Rainy today – spent several hours walking by the sea, looking for restaurant and a camera shop. Ate in a penthouse – Walked along sea coast at nite. Kids played game machines – tomorrow we move to Merlin Hotel. Cheaper rates.
Gentlemen in restaurant suggested London – Swiss Center –
Swiss Travel and names in inexpensive hotels –
Rainy tonight: lots of rain this summer. Hope it’s nice tomorrow.