Welcome to the next post in the series Letters from America 1985 -1987 that I wrote home to my parents in the UK. My father kept them all in a folder and on his death they came back to me with a note to publish them.
Last time my parents arrive and are given a warm welcome by friends as we introduce them to cocktails and Mexican food.
My parent’s visit – Part Two – Rennaisance Festival, Anniversary Party and nearly lights out!
After the welcome party we had a day of relaxing before taking my parents to one of the spectacular events held every year in Texas. The Rennaisance Festival was started in the mid 1970s, on an abandoned strip mining site at Todd Mission about 50 miles Northwest of Houston. By the time we visited in 1985 with my parents, the festival had grown considerably, and was packed with great stalls selling crafts and food, as well as parades of street performers dressed in medieval costumes. Thankfully not an overly hot day and we did take plenty of opportunities to sample iced tea and delicious BBQ.
My father loved his food, and he made a beeline for the turkey drumsticks on one of the stalls, and despite evidence to the contrary… he is not being greedy, just holding David’s drumstick so he could take this candid shot. He does however look like the cat who got the cream, whilst my mother was trying to retain her ladylike demeanour whilst chomping down on this outsize snack!
It was quite a long day, and as I look at this photo, I realise that my parents at the time were only a year and two years older than I am today! We enjoyed our time there, but unfortunately the rest of the photographs from the day, including the parade are somewhere safely packed away in the attic.
The rest of the week saw us pottering locally as David was away, but it gave Mollie and Eric a chance to relax, enjoy the pool and for my father to experiment with making his own Chi Chis…
We also were invited out to dinner at our friends Bill and Sylvia and my father definitely approved of Sylvia’s cooking.
It also gave me time to prepare for our 5th anniversary party on the Friday night. Most of our friends were coming with assorted courses organised between them. We had got into the habit of sharing the menu between us so that no one person was landed with either the cost or the labour, and it worked really well. It also offered us the opportunity to sample different dishes we might not cook ourselves. David arrived back on the Thursday and after a last shop for the starters we were providing, beer and wine we were ready to go.
I managed to get a quick shot of David and my parents before the guests arrived.
Because of the number of guests we had a menu that either involved a fork or a spoon and as you can see the place was packed with seats at a premium.
The complex was keen that people were not disturbed after 11pm, but after most of the guests had left and my parents had gone to bed, David and one of our friends decided to go for a run to clear their heads, whilst three of us opted to sweat it out in the hot tub in the recreation area just outside our block. Although November was a little nippy at night, it was pleasant enough sitting chatting on the side of the hot tub with our legs dangling in the water, whilst we waited for the others to return from their run.
Suddenly I felt movement over my thighs and up my back. I immediately reacted by jumping into the middle of the very hot water up to my waist which resulted in the most agonising stinging across my upper body. The reason for my panic was a severe allergic reaction to wasp and bees stings as a result of a childhood encounter with jellyfish.
When I was seven, and living in Malta, we kids used to swim at the naval station lido, jumping and diving off a wooden raft, attached to four oil drums for buoyancy. We could also dive under the raft and come up under the decking into an air gap between the drums.
Great fun until a swarm of jellyfish had the same idea. I got very badly stung and diving back and out into the clear water, I started swimming to shore screaming my head off. There was a hessian covered plank that was used to haul yourself out of the water and onto the rocky shoreline. Unfortunately, as I swung under the plank before hauling myself out, I met up with the rest of the jelly fish who were clinging underneath. My screams had alerted one of the naval fitness instructors who doubled as lido attendants. He came running with a first aid kit luckily, along with my mother, wondering what mischief I had got myself into this time.
This was long before the epi-pen(epinephrine) but I seem to remember being given an injection of adrenaline fairly quickly, which my mother told me saved my life.
Back to 1985, and within a few minutes, it was clear that I was going into anaphylactic shock and my friends with me recognised my attackers as fire ants and got me out of the tub and onto the path. My husband and other friend arrived back thankfully at that point. Nobody had mobile phones in those days and a rush up to an apartment to call an ambulance would take too long. We had also all been drinking, were dressed in either bathing costumes or running gear. Except for our friend Monty, who could not drink and despite being in his bathing costume, had his house and car keys on the side of the hot tub. His car was parked close by next to our block, and with David and the others holding me up, we piled into the car and we raced out of the complex onto the main road. Monty knew that there was an emergency centre about a mile away in one of the strip malls that was open 24 hours, but by the time we got there two minutes later, I was in a critical condition.
David tells me that one of our friends dashed in and returned with a gurney and doctors who raced me into resuscitation. This is where it gets a little weird, because I do clearly remember watching the activity from above, as they pumped me full of epinephrine and tried to keep me breathing.
Once I was in the clear, they wanted to keep me for a few hours to make sure that I would not have more problems. Our friends went home, and David stayed with me until I was discharged about 7.00 in the morning. Although not having any means of identification or credit cards they had treated me anyway, which I am eternally grateful for, and David returned later that day with details of our company health insurance.
My lower legs and back were not a pretty sight as the bites developed, and I felt incredibly sore and tired. We went home, and I went to bed and left David to explain to my parents what had happened,downplaying the details.
I had anti-histamines to take for a period of time, and it was recommended that I rest for several days. However, we were booked into the Marriott in San Antonio from Sunday to the Tuesday on a very special surprise for my father, which was to visit The Alamo. My parents knew that we had planned time away, but not where, and were all for cancelling the trip, but I was determined that a few fire ants were not going to ruin things. By Sunday morning I was still groggy, but I covered myself in calamine lotion, and took some pain killers and we headed off. I slept the entire 200 miles, except when we made a short stop for coffee, and then went straight to bed on arrival at the hotel. Thankfully by the next morning I was much improved, and eager to take my father on his adventure.
P.S. The exterminators were called in to deal with the large fire ant nest that they found under the decking of the hot tub on the Sunday morning, and there was an upside to my attack that night. That day, a children’s party was going to be held in the recreational area, and the kids would have been in and out of the tub for several hours and things could have got very much worse.
Next week – San Antonio, the Alamo and the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed… see you next time ..thanks Sally.