Smorgasbord Letters from America – Texas 1985-1987 – 100 degrees, Key Lime Pie and Adverts

We are now in mid-July 1985.. the weather is hotting up and we are getting excited about our trip in September to Hawaii..

12th July 1985

Dear M & D,

Thanks for your latest newsy letter, sounds like you have been pretty busy between debating societies, trips and visitor. I am sorry that Ethel has not been well and I am sure that the wet weather you have been having has not helped. There are times when I wish we were closer to be any help when things are not going well. It is tough being thousands of miles away and feeling helpless.

We had a quiet weekend, playing tennis and relaxing. Last night was the first meeting of the new residents’ social committee and we have got some plans together for the next few months. Seems that I will have a few duties to perform, especially when it comes to shopping for events, as I am one of the few people not working.  That’s fine and very happy to do it as the parties bring the whole community together, and we have a lot of fun. I have extra time on my hands now that the little girl I was looking after is in kindergarten. The main parties take place once a month and there is one scheduled for during your visit. I am sure it will be something to write home about to the grandchildren!

On the home front we have bought a VCR, as we both find the long advert breaks annoying. It seems like every ten minutes for ten minutes. It is so irritating when watching a movie. And often you are in the middle of eating your dinner, when you are confronted with recommendations for Preparation H for haemorrhoids or graphic images of acid reflux. Now we record programmes that we want to watch, then play them back, fast forwarding through the ads.

I have had some photos developed and including one of me and my friend Debby who I play tennis with. She is great company, and with David away such a lot it is very comforting to have her and the others here who have taken me under their wings.

Everyone is excited to meet you. I do have the habit of referring to you Mollie as the Duchess, and for some reason our friends are under the impression that you are a Duchess.. so don’t let me down. However, the tiara is probably best left at home as they are a little more casual here!

Tonight we have a birthday party for our German friends. There are eight of us with four nationalities which is interesting, and as everyone is bringing a dish with them, it should be a veritable feast. The weather has been very hot and muggy at 100 degrees, and thank goodness we have air conditioning, otherwise it would be unbearable. None of us really want to eat stodgy food at the moment so steak, salad, jacket potatoes, loaded (as they say over here) with sour cream, cheddar and bacon bits (I will be good tomorrow!). There will also be Key Lime Pie that you won’t find in the UK, but is light and delicious (well that is what I tell myself). One of the advantages of having people come to us is that the leftovers stay in our fridge!  Not for long…….

David is home this week but goes to Chicago on Sunday for six days. We have decided that I won’t go, as we are saving money for our holiday in three weeks. We are getting very excited as Hawaii has always been this exotic paradise that you feel you will only ever see on National Geographic or Magnum P.I ( you won’t have seen the series but you can watch when you are here).  It is still nearly 4000 miles from here, but because it is such a popular holiday destination there are plenty of flights available. We are flying to Los Angeles, staying overnight and then flying across the Pacific the next day.

Not a great deal of news this week but counting the days until you arrive.

love from us both Sally.


Thanks for dropping by today and hope you have enjoyed the latest episode… Sally



Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985-1987 – Hanna Barbara Land, BBQ and Lilo races

It is now July 1985, and the weather in Houston is very hot and muggy. The pool became the centre of entertainment in the evenings and the weekends as everyone stripped off and cooled down.

July 16th 1985.

Dear M & D,

Just back from the airport, David is off to Dallas and then Kansas, putting together another order, and won’t be back until Thursday.

Despite the fact that lovely Vicki has now left, I am still very busy, playing tennis, swimming and aerobics. The little girl that I have been looking after will be over later this morning and we are reading Black Beauty at the moment. I am enjoying sharing the story as it is a lot of years since I have last enjoyed.  It has been fun looking after her and tomorrow I am taking her and two others to Hanna Barbara Land, which is like a mini Disneyland. Three toddlers… will I survive?

I got your last letter yesterday and was pleased to hear that the flower festival went well. You will need a rest when you to visit Mollie. I have checked on the weather for November and it is a bit mixed. Temperatures around 70 mostly with some cooler rainy days, but people say it is usually lovely. You will be pleased to miss the 95 degrees and the 95% humidity would be unbearable without air conditioning. I am learning to live with it but when you walk outside the apartment or out of a shopping mall, you are soaking in sweat by the time you reach your car. Not a good look…..

Just to let you know in advance that when you fly over you will need to fill out an immigration form before you land with passport details and home address etc. You will also have to put us down as being financially responsible for you during your visit (you have waited a lifetime for me to say that haven’t you!). I am enclosing David’s business card so you can use those details and also a dollar bill in case I forget. You will need that for the luggage cart to take you through to customs where they take your luggage off you, and send it down to baggage reclaim for you to collect.

I am enclosing a lock of hair to show you the effect of sun and chlorine. It gets blonder by the day and is now quite long again, by the time you get here it will be the same length as when we got married.. If I have not had it all chopped off because of the heat and swimming every day!. The weight continues to come off although I have a medical condition called ‘lack of self will’ specifically when it comes to chocolate milkshakes with lashings of vanilla ice-cream. I am working on it.

As I have not much to report, I will finish this letter after the weekend.

July 20th….

We went off to Hanna Barbara Land as planned and there were thousands of screaming children and stressed looking mothers. Every one was hyped up on sugar and my three charges dived straight into the mayhem and had a great day. When Hailey’s father arrived to pick her up I was ready for a gin and tonic or two! I don’t get paid as I am not allowed to work here but it helps keep me occupied. But her father kindly brings us a bottle of spirits or wine from time to time…

Tennis is great fun and I am getting my form back. Debby still beats me but I am working on it. We play at 8am. before the heat builds up and the storm clouds gather in the afternoon. Then back to the complex and an hour’s swimming to set me up for the day. David has bought a racket too and we are going to play when he is here. He is either in the office or on a plane, and apart from a daily swim he feels he needs more exercise.

One of the weekend activities is lilo racing in the pool.. sometimes as a solo or if you are really good friends as a double act. Debby and I are really quite good at it. It gets a little rowdy and people do not play by the rules so getting to the end of the pool is quite an achievement especially if the lilo sinks due to the number of boarders. You can end up with more than when you started.

Vicki and Kelly kindly left us their Barbecue kit, and David has been practicing on our friends. It is a little smokey but does the job and it reminds me of the days when we would go up to Ceres and have a braai with those delicious boerewors sausages. Happy memories. We keep on our balcony but it is light enough to carry downstairs into the central area where we can sit around the tables with friends and enjoy the food and company. Everyone brings something, a salad, wine, beer or dessert so nobody has to bear the cost of everything.

We decided that as we are going to be here for at least another six months, that rather than spend 100 dollars a month renting that we would buy our own furniture from a second hand store. We are pretty sure that we will be here until the end of 1986 at least and we could save 1000 dollars.  I went over yesterday and bought two matching settees, a six seater dining room set, a king-sized bed, two singles and a computer table for David to put in the spare bedroom rather than the dining room table. We have to move the machine every time we have someone over for supper so it makes sense.

Anyway, this should keep you busy until the next letter when I will be reporting on the Hawaiian Lua this weekend..

love from us both  Sally and David.

©Sally Cronin 2018