Smorgasbord – Letters from America 1985 -1987 – Dallas, Unwanted visitors and House Hunting – Sally Cronin

Last week I shared our experiences as we arrived in Houston in the first week of February and faced the challenges of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, extra large portions in restaurants and the search for a more permanent place to live.

Over the next few months I will be sharing those letters (provided I can read my handwriting) as well as a series of articles I wrote on specific events.

This week a road trip, an interesting encounter with a Texas resident and our first experience of realtors.


Dear M & D.

Received your letter and the big packet yesterday thank you, and mail seems to be taking about ten days to come through which is pretty standard. In the apartment complex there are mail boxes and you collect your post from there. Makes sense other wise the mailman would be traipsing all over the place for hours delivering the post.

The weather here is quite warm considering it is only February, but at least it is not yet as humid as they promised for later in the year. Certainly a big difference from the snowy weather we left in Tring only two weeks ago.

We drove to Dallas yesterday which is why this is written on a Holiday Inn letterhead. We shared the driving and I must say the freeway system is pretty efficient. Of course the speed limit is only 55 mph, which is a bit slower than we are used to. However, most of the cars and pickup trucks seem to be doing between 60 and 65. Being a little bit wary of how the system works at the moment we are sticking firmly to the speed limit. I am very impressed with the hire car which is the first automatic that I have driven. It has a very neat feature which is called cruise control.

When you are on the freeway, which is straight and hundreds of miles long, you can set your speed, such as 55 and then press a button and it will automatically stay at that speed unless you touch the brake or accelerator. So you can take your feet of the pedals, and just steer. I don’t think it would be as useful in the UK, as the motorways are so busy you would be forever hitting the brakes. Anyway here it is fantastic.

We are staying north of Dallas so had to come through the city itself. It was dark and all the tower blocks were lit up which was an incredible sight. David was driving and I navigated and it was quite hairy as you are not allowed to go LESS than 45 mph and it was very busy. Cars came in from both sides and there doesn’t seem to be any rules about lanes, so they weave in and out including enormous trucks. It was like being on a fairground roller coaster. Added to the fact that it was dark and I was trying to read the map to find our exit and the hotel, we arrived stressed and in need of a drink.

David has a meeting this morning and then we hope to drive back to Houston in daylight around 3.00 this afternoon. At least I have seen the famous Dallas and although we have not got time this trip, next time we plan to visit Southfork.. I will say hello to J.R. Mollie for you!

Amazing last night to find our waitress was English and came from only 20 miles from Tring in St. Albans.. talk about a small world. She and her husband have been here two years and love it.

We have settled into our executive apartment but are planning to move out in the next month. It is very comfortable and the complex team are very helpful. However, I might have given them something to laugh about.

David was a way for the night last week and it was only our second night in the apartment. I got ready for bed and turned down the covers and just as I was about to climb in, I saw a movement on the beige carpet out of the corner of my eye. I leapt onto the bed and moved across to get a better look. It was the largest cockroach I have ever seen….and then I saw another even bigger… it was huge with great long antenna. There was no way I was spending the night in the bedroom with them and so shut the door and slept on the couch in the living room.

The next morning I popped into the office and mentioned that we seemed to have an infestation of these creatures and they laughed their heads off, especially when I said that I had seen two of them. They said that the whole complex was due to have exterminators in during the week and gave me three small cardboard boxes called Roach Motels. They told me to put a couple under the beds and one in the kitchen under the sink.

Apparently these things live in the walls everywhere and usually disappear when the lights go on. This is not a comforting thought and I am not sure that I will be sleeping well for some time.  I shall be checking out our permanent place a little more thoroughly and certainly checking to see how regularly they exterminate the apartments!

We spent last weekend looking at houses, we don’t want a garden particularly so going for what they call town homes. Although they only have two bedrooms they are ensuite with an extra half bathroom (shower and loo) downstairs for visitors. What is amazing is the kitchen and laundry equipment. Huge ovens and grills and laundromat size washing machines and tumble dryers. Puts my pressure washer and spindryer to shame. Everywhere is certainly very well equipped.

David is going to Kansas on Thursday and Friday so I am going house hunting on my own. The realtors are very good and pick you up, take you around the house and bring you back. You have to read between the lines as they enthuse about everything and it is very easy to get carried along with them. They have an entirely different attitude to business here, you can almost see the dollar signs, neon lit in their eyes when you mention it is a company let. However, I like them, they have an open curiosity which is refreshing. As soon as they hear your accent they are want to know all about England and London.

We are going to have to take a driving test in the next two weeks. Otherwise we cannot be insured on the new car that we have yet to buy. There is certainly a massive selection as there is in everything here in the US. I could certainly spend a fortune without any problem.

Will come back to you next week, after I have entered my 33rd year. Take care and all our love. David and Sally.

© sallycronin 2018

I hope you will tune on Saturday for the first of one of my articles that I wrote about special events.. the first is on the subject of our driving tests…….I would love your feedback as always. Thanks Sally



58 thoughts on “Smorgasbord – Letters from America 1985 -1987 – Dallas, Unwanted visitors and House Hunting – Sally Cronin

  1. Dear me.. you stirred vivid memories of the year I lived with cock roaches in my first apartment. yuck. They were so used to me that they even helped me answer the phone. I was on call for work, the phone rang around 2:30 in the morning and when I picked up the receiver, there was a healthy sized little bugger nestled in the ear piece. I screamed, woke my husband in the process and announced that we were moving! Ah yes, nothing like a cock roach to help you find your voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for reminding me about the cockroaches often so prevalent in high-rise apartment buildings, even if your abode is described as as “executive” accommodation. Was the same in Toronto. Here’s some information you probably don’t want to know: cockroaches, as you say, come out at night and are attracted to the moist areas of the body such as the eyes and nose and, ahem, other areas.
    Am loving the continuing stories of life in a new country and I need to also revisit my own stories of arrival in the “Americas.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord – Letters from America 1985 -1987 – Dallas, Unwanted visitors and House Hunting – Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  4. Ah, cockroaches! Brings back memories of the ones we lived with in Pakistan. Do you know they fly?I think it’s probably at the mating season or something when they take off. Unlike your car, they didn’t have cruise control and tend to zigzag and then crash land. Laughed at the idea of you gaffer taping your pyjamas!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brilliant Sally. A really enjoyable read, you capture everything so beautifully. I liked your description of the freeways, I felt the same when in heavy traffic… it’s frightening as the cars come from every side. I need to ask the house i n the picture is it Tring or in Texas… because if it is an American house it looks very British! Not at all what I thought! Pxxx


  6. Love your writing. I have been on a recent passing through trip to Dallas myself.
    The cockroaches- I can’t stand them either. Especially the missile ones and those that are absolutely fearless and blind- they seem to enjoy running into you.
    And some of them love crawling on you when you sleep.
    It is a cock’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mutual feelings about cockroaches. In South Carolina they are called palmetto bugs, but a rose is a rose is a rose. I spent a sleepless night a few years ago in a shack (just won’t go into details there) in Charleston, SC, watching a cockroach crawl up the arm of a sofa, across the top, then fly to the lamp, drop to the floor and start all over again. It was horrible. Loving the letters, Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love hearing about your experiences in the US. Funny how one takes so much for granted. When I spent time in the UK I couldn´t get over how small everything was. It was like being in a doll house. Even here in Spain, I find things are small, especially closets!! Sounds like a great experience for you. (except for the cockroaches but we get them here in Spain too, a hazard of warm climates)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I grew up in Texas and certainly remember the cockroaches. They were particularly bad in Houston. A new apartment complex would go up, and the roaches would move in before the people.
    We live in Georgia now, and we see a few; fortunately not as many as in Texas. My husband calls on me to kill them, as I’m quite good at it. Being from California, he’s not used to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Music, Food and Spring Bulbs with Guests and Humour. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  11. So enjoyable, Sally. Reminds me of my two cross country trips–one with a girlfriend and one with family. Both were quite different lol. Never saw cockroaches but we crossed through the panhandle. I remember what I thought were cockroaches in Florida that were 3 inches long with shells so hard they crunched when stepped on and had a penchant for walking across the ceilings as night as I prayed fervently they wouldn’t fall off and into my bed. eww–still shiver over that. They told me the were Palmetto bugs but sure looked like cockroaches to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m making my way slowly through your ‘Letters’, Sally, and as always loved this one, reminding me so much of my first impressions of life in the US. Except I’ve never been to Texas…I was obsessed with Dallas and J R, how fun to visit Southfork! I found the 55 mph speed limit infuriating lol, but it did make sense. Cruise control definitely has its perks there, but agreed, not the same here with all the stopping and starting, everywhere now it seems. Realtors are a breed unto themselves, so different to our estate agents here, aren’t they? Ours sold our house and found us the one we bought, so got double commission and happy clients. Mind you, at 6% fees for each transaction, who wouldn’t be? Funny, I was just talking to my mother recently about all the letters we used to write back and forth. I still have a big ‘Rubbermaid’ box full in the loft. I was really moved to read about you finding your Dad’s folder with all your letters to him saved…a wonderful series, Sally, he would be so proud of you. Hugs 🙂 ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I haven’t heard the term “roach motels” in a while, haha! Some people in the southern U.S. like to call cockroaches “palmetto bugs”, as if that somehow makes them less disgusting. (It doesn’t).

    Liked by 1 person

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