Smorgasbord Letters from America – Houston – June 1986 – June 1986 – Kittens, sit ups and water volley ball!


When I was given the folder of my handwritten letters to my parents when my father died in 1996, I was amazed that he had kept them for ten years. But so pleased that he did. We tend to remember the major events, and we had plenty of amazing experiences in those two years of living in the United States, but it is easy to forget the everyday…

By this time in our time in America, I was speaking to my parents much more frequently by telephone each week, but I was still writing two or three letters a month.

19th June 1986.

Hi M & D,

Thank you for your letter which arrived this morning and so pleased you are happy with the new arrangement to the flat.. it sounds great and looking forward to seeing them on my trip home in September.

This has been a busy week with one thing and another including an upping of my training. If I am going to keep up with a 15 year old for three weeks next month, I need to get in shape. I mentioned that I would like a six pack to my trainer at the gym and she promptly had me on the floor doing 300 half sit ups.. I actually meant a pack of beer!  I also make the mistake of saying I would love a 36 – 26 – 37 figure but I reckon I will have to steal one.. In any case I have hit my latest target and here I am with a little way to go yet.

Earlier in the week David had some business visitors and we took them to Pappasitos of course, and they were intrigued when the guitarist came over and asked after Mollie! You made a lasting impression there.

As you know Sutherland went missing several weeks ago and despite some sightings he has not returned. Walter was obviously devastated but he has gone out and got a kitten. Very sweet and its name is Farley, after the author Farley Mowat. He is coming over to us regularly when Walt is on a long shift and we have been training him to a cat carrier so that we can take him back and forth safely.. He loves it but I am missing one table mat and two clothes hangers.

David seems to be coping with his cat allergy which is just as well as Farley follows him everywhere and is on his lap at the first chance. When David is at work, I find myself fighting for the pen when writing, and oops here it goes again. Farley will not be able to roam as Sutherland did, as we don’t want to lose another.

Sonia and I have been in touch with instructions for Emma on arrival at Houston, but she will also have an escort from the plane through customs and immigration. I am sure that Emma is more than capable to handling it herself but want to make it as stress free as possible. I have booked the beach house in South Padre for four days and Debbie and I will enjoy the break too. We get back the day before she travels home so she should be lovely and tanned.

We also have tickets for a James Taylor concert

Last Sunday there was a match with another apartment complex water volley ball team and I was playing for the boys.. this week at least the injuries were fairly minor, one bloody nose, 1 mild concussion, and one black eye (mine). One of the members of the opposing team spiked the ball across the net onto my face, it bounced off and one of my teammates hit it back and we won the point. Some justice after all. We played for four hours and I was wiped out but I do enjoy and it is great exercise. A little make-up around the eye should conceal the bruise. David was not impressed and suggested I might play for the girls team instead… I pointed out that they can be even more vicious!

Tomorrow Debbie is intelligence testing me at Sam Houston University in front of her professor. She is taking a summer class towards her private counselling licence, and it should be enlightening. I am not sure that I want her to tell  me the results. She is a great friend and I shall miss her very much if we have to leave here next January.

A week on Saturday we are going to New Braunfels near San Antonio and are renting rafts to float down the Guadalupe River (including the rapids). We have two condos with eight in each and as David is in Austin until Friday, he will drive to meet us. Apparently it is another of those experiences we need to get in before we leave Texas. I am sure that they make half of this up just to see us (me) petrified.

I will give you a full report if I survive…

I hope this has been more legible than usual, having been typed on the word processor on David’s new computer. Much as I have loved being here in Texas and taking full advantage of the freedom to travel around America and enjoy days in the sun, I am ready to go back to work. I have not been out of work since I began that part time job at weekends and holidays when I was 14. I intend to get as familiar as possible with David’s machine so that I can be up to date with new technology if we come home next year. If we do stay it will be on a different basis and I will have a visa that enables me to work, and being able to understand computers will be great.

Anyway.. before that more fun to come and I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity….take care and love from us both.

S & D.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the latest news from Houston (1986) and will join me again next week for an update… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA – Birthday, New Car, Galverston and Houston Zoo – Sally Cronin


Somebody recently asked if I was going to repeat the series of Letters from America 1985 -1987 that I had written to my parents, as they had missed many of the earlier ones. I then realised that it was two years since the first post went out and there are some newer readers to the blog who might be interested in reading.

Last week I shared our experience of taking the Texas driving test with some unforeseen hiccups!

Birthday, New Car, Galverston and Houston Zoo

My first birthday in Houston was my 32nd on February 13th and a lot of things came together around that time as we found both our new home for the next two years in the Chancellor apartments, Parramatta Lane. Here is my letter to my parents announcing the good news and sharing a photo of our new car on February 23rd 1985.

Dear M and D,

Just dropped David off at the airport on his way to Kansas, We now have a new car, a Mercury Marquis which is a 3.8 litre version of the Granada and is pretty swish. Very easy to drive and has all the bells and whistles including the cruise control that I told you about in one of my earlier letters. I wondered why you could see drivers on the freeway with their bare feet hanging out the window.. now I know!

As you can see from the above address we have found an apartment. We move in on Saturday. It has two bedrooms with bathrooms en-suite and a large living come dining area. It also has a balcony overlooking a wooded exercise area with the pool opposite. It is on the second floor and quiet.. Having been in this temporary apartment for the last month right next to the children’s pool and play area, it made us realise that it might be a better position away from the public parts of the complex.

This place sounds quite swinging (in the nicest possible way). They are having a Hawaiian Evening soon which made David’s eyes light up!!! However, he is fairly resigned to the prospect, as it will give us a chance to meet our new neighbours. (I will have to go out and buy him a brightly patterned cotton shirt to wear.. that will really make his eyes light up!)

With George Washington’s birthday yesterday, we had a nice long weekend. On Saturday we went exploring up to Lake Conroe, north of Houston. We discovered a wealthy resort on the lake with enormous houses and a marina. We would have given our eye teeth to rent one. They are about 3,000 a month or more but fabulous.

Sunday we went to Galverston, south of the city, on the coast. We walked miles along the promenade, full of machos on rollerskates! It is obviously the pick up place…. We had lunch in a hotel on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico, I had a shrimp platter which turned out to be huge king prawns. Nothing like the tiny things we call shrimp in England.

Yesterday we went to Houston Zoo, the sun shone and it was about 75 degrees and beautiful. It is free to go in and we spent three hours walking around the park and were very impressed with it all. We followed this with a belated birthday dinner and after a very hectic weekend I was in bed by 10.30. No stamina at 32.

David is away now until Friday but has left me the new car as I need to buy things for the apartment. It is unfurnished, but when we walked around their show flat, I mentioned that I would like identical set up for our apartment. They are being very obliging and transferring it all across to our new place. Normally it would cost 180 dollars a month to rent the furniture but I managed to negotiate it to 105 dollars. I am obviously getting the hang of things!

Thank you for the photographs and everyone looks in good spirits (whisky and water no doubt) Once we are moved in I will invest in some photo frames.

Will write again in a week. Love from us both as always.

©Sally Cronin

I hope you have enjoyed this adventure and look forward to your feedback. More next Tuesday.

Smorgasbord Letters from America – 1985-1987 – Trip to Seattle – Mountains and State Park


This week are first trip to Seattle, long before the long-running series Grey’s Anatomy and certainly after the still clammy warmth of Texas, it was a shock to the system to feel the autumnal chill and all the rain. As I type this up it is hard to believe that my mother at the time had just turned 68 years old, just three years older than I am now.

9th of October 1985 – Marriott Seattle

Dear M and D,

I hope my birthday card arrived safely Mollie and that you had a wonderful birthday. I am sure that you enjoyed your dinner dance and weekend away. A great way to celebrate and we have organised a welcome combined with birthday party with all our friends when you arrive. We have scheduled for a couple of days later so that you are over your jet lag.

As you will see this is written from the Marriott hotel in Seattle. As usual we managed to have a few hiccups getting here, with delays at the airport and then waiting to get our hire car. We arrived eventually at midday rather than 10.00 a.m, but we drove to the hotel and dumped our bags before heading for the mountains. David’s first meeting is not until tomorrow morning and we want to take full advantage of our short time here.

Whilst San Francisco is my favourite city so far, this has to be the most beautiful state we have seen next to Hawaii. Of course it is the right time of year being autumn, the trees are magnificent and the scenery breathtaking. Back in Houston the weather is still quite warm and muggy and I am still swimming every day. Here is it cold with snow on the upper slopes and I had thankfully dug out my winter clothes that have not seen the light of day since we arrived in Texas in January.

We drove about 150 miles and ended up in a state park. It was amazing to watch salmon and trout cleverly evading the solitary fly fisherman up to his waist in the freezing water. They did say that we might see bears but thankfully we were the only spectators. We also found a shop selling the most beautiful semi-precious stones that you can scoop out of a barrel and buy by weight. A natural reminder of this amazing place rather than some of the souvenirs also on display.

David’s meeting is over by lunchtime hopefully leaving us another four hours to explore Seattle before heading to the airport. Certainly a place that I would like to return to at some point and spend more time in the wilds.

Your visit is getting closer and perhaps in your next letter you could confirm your flight number and arrival time. It can be a little confusing on arrival as there are a number of stages to go through – Immigration, collect baggage, go through customs, deposit luggage again and then go downstairs to pick it up again.

I will be waiting for you when you have been through customs. We can then go down together to reclaim your luggage.

In my next letter I will enclose David’s business card and our home address as you have to fill in a form on the plane. The immigration people will ask you the length of your stay, whether it is business or pleasure and where you will be staying. They will also ask to see your return ticket. I will enclose some dollar bills for the luggage cart from immigration to customs. I will send several as they are notorious for not accepting some bills that might be torn or damaged.

It is all very straightforward really but less stressful if you are prepared. Get that over with and we can get on with enjoying ourselves. All our excursions are planned and booked and one of the treats that I am looking forward to is going to the Renaissance Festival which I have heard is spectacular. Also Daddy… hopefully we will fulfil one of your boyhood dreams…

A week on Friday I am flying to New York to meet up with David and his boss in the middle of their grand tour touching base with their potential customers. Another iconic city to add to the wish list and I am excited by the prospect of seeing the Empire State Building etc.

Well that’s about it for now, under four weeks to go and we are looking forward to seeing you both very much.

Take care and all our love Sally and David. X

©Sally Cronin 2018

Thanks for dropping in and hope you have enjoyed our Hawaiian adventure…All the letters are in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/letters-from-america-1985-1987/