I’ve travelled very little in my life. That’s probably why I remember in detail the few trips I actually have taken. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to … I did! Circumstances … like money, for one, often prevented me.
This picture, taken with a Kodak Instamatic, is from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 1978.
Even though it’s that long ago, I remember this trip very well!
My Mum, who was sixty five at that time, had nothing against travelling, but she always seemed to view the preparation too big an obstable to overcome and it was difficult to persuade her to go anywhere.
My job at this time, had a lot to do with travel arrangements … not my own … and I had a close cooperation with the local travel agency. Also, it was my class mate who worked there. One day, she and I were sitting there … at her office, chit chatting, browsing flights to the US … different air liners, checking out what in-flight movies they were showing et cetera … just for fun. Eva, my class mate said to me; ‘why don’t you just book a flight for your mum and yourself and just GO!’. She knew how much I wanted to. At the spur of the moment I did it!!! I don’t remember exactly how long time beforehand it was, but in any case it would give us both ample time to make the necessary arrangements. It was a flight with SAS [Scandinavian Airlines], from Stockholm to JFK and then Eastern Airlines [which no longer exists], from JFK to Daytona Beach.
Then I went home and told my mum what I’d done. I also told her that in case she wanted to cancel this trip, it would cost her 300 Sw. Crowns. That did it!!! LOL She’d just refuse to waste 300 Crowns, so now she had to go!
(To make a little more sense of my actions, I must add that her half-brother and his wife lived in New Smyrna Beach, out side Daytona Beach.)
Now the big cleaning started! She was always cleaning, but this was special. Windows washed, every closet emptied and washed down … there wasn’t a corner of the house that she had not gone over. All this hysterical cleaning frenzy was in case something would happen … that she wouldn’t come back again. Nobody would be able to think or say afterwards, that her home wasn’t clean. I tell you … she could have left with one day’s notice and it would still had been clean enough!
The day, in May, finally arrived, and we drove down to Stockholm/Arlanda Int. Airport. That was about four hours’ drive, left the car on the long-term parking lot and eventually boarded the flight. I remember we were offered champagne during the flight and I managed to convince my Mum to splurge a little so she actually had a glass!!! The one and only she’d had in her whole life.
We touched down on Kennedy Airport after an eventless flight and it was time to go through the customs. My Mum had bought a new purse for this trip … it was huge, and had a countless number of little compartments. Since she thought her passport was a really important document, she had put that in some well hidden pocket in this bag. In the line-up to go through customs, she couldn’t find it. She searched and searched … it was nowhere to be found! She didn’t speak one word of English, which made ME feel sort of … responsible. I felt how I was breaking out a sweat — this was my first trip abroad too — we had to step out of the line, to continue the search. Turned out there was a small compartment hidden underneath a, sort of, pocket, and there it was. I knew it was there somewhere … it hadn’t gone missing all of a sudden, but it was a stressful situation.
So we went though customs, where the friendly officer called us Ma’am and asked if we had any schnaps. That was all, and we took a bus to Eastern Airline’s terminal [which is no more, it was demolished in 1995].
The world felt bigger back then, and I still remember the feeling of awe … that I actually was in the United States! Had to call my uncle and aunt down in Florida to confirm our time of arrival. This was an ordeal in itself, because I didn’t know how to handle the phone! First of all, I didn’t have any change so I had to go and get some. Then I had never been confronted with a phone booth where I got to an operator … a live one! Eventually, I got through to my aunt … turned out there had been some misunderstanding about the time, because in the letter I’d told the time in the 24HRS system instead of the AM/PM.
Anyway, we boarded the Eastern flight, it went down in Jacksonville first, to pick up people but we didn’t have to get out, and we landed safely in Daytona Beach in the middle of the night. The feeling when I stepped out of the aircraft and down on the tarmac I will never forget. The compact darkness combined with the heat and humidity … I was not prepared for that at all! The thick wet blanket that was thrown over me …. I had no idea it could be like that!
My uncle and aunt were there to meet us, and this was part I of this story.