Reaction and our life in England (1960)

Resuming my normal duties at Gilkes' Bourda Pharmacy, I could not help thinking about the great wide open world from which we had just returned. My little pharmacy was in good shape, and the locum pharmacist who covered me while I was abroad did a good job.

During the ensuing year, however, the political situation in British Guiana took a rapid turn for the worse, and many small businesses were hard pressed to survive. As previously stated, a lot of unfair competition was permitted by the government then in power, and perhaps I was fortunate that, as a member of the pharmacy board, I could see that it would become harder and harder to operate successfully under existing conditions. The entire country, too, was in the throes of great turmoil, and the party now controlling the destiny of the people openly admitted its communistic inclinations.

The deterioration in government led, ultimately, to a suspension of the liberal constitution granted to the country, and troops from Britain were sent out and garrisoned in Georgetown to see that order and proper government were enforced.

It was at this point in time that I made one of those momentous decisions of my life, greatly encouraged by Emma, my wife.

Our decision was nothing less than a well calculated risk. Of our four children, Gordon the eldest was now past the half-way mark in his quest for an M.D. degree in California. Michael was a qualified pharmacist in the employ of one of Georgetown's leading commission agents, doing detail visits to the doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals in the promotion of the products of Wyeth, British Drug Houses, etc.

Maureen had completed her schooling at Bishops High School, and was employed at her father’s pharmacy, while Marsha was now doing her last year at the same seminary of learning as her sister. And so, after a family council, we decided to put the business and property up for sale, and emigrate to England, with a view of finally settling in the U.S.A. some time in the future.

At this time (1959 -1960) there were no immigration restrictions within the British Commonwealth of nations, and being still a British Colony, there was no problem settling in England. Against the advice of some of my closest friends, I put the property up for sale, and began arranging for the disposal of my stock, fittings and fixtures, which was quite a job in itself. The property, comprising the corner pharmacy and two flats above, (the other two cottages next door were sold a couple of years earlier to help liquidate the loan from the bank after my brother died) were finally sold about the middle of 1960, and in another couple of months we were just about ready for yet another great adventure setting up home in England, and making a fresh start in life.

As I chronicle these events 15 years after they actually occurred, I cannot help thinking, in retrospect, what a blessing it was I decided to do this, but let me not "jump the gun". Suffice it to say, at this point that when I returned on a visit to Georgetown - the city in which I was born - in September 1973, I felt every justification for my decision to emigrate in 1960.

Passages for Marsha, Maureen, Emma and I were booked for Southampton, England and in August, 1960 we flew over to Trinidad to join our ship the "S.S. Colombie", a French passenger liner which was scheduled to leave Port-of-Spain, where we had to wait several hours before our ship sailed. We visited my late brother's widow, Maggie, as well as some other friends.
S.S. ColumbieThe Colombie was a fine ship. It was fitted with stabilizing gear and as a result was very steady. The cabins we were given were comfortable and adequate. Emma and I occupied one, and the two girls had another. The French cuisine was delightful, and I never tasted such omelettes before. There was an open air swimming pool on the top deck, and Maureen, Marsha and I made good use of it.

Our ship made short stops at Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, and then headed straight on for Southampton across the wide Atlantic. The weather was perfect for the first eight or nine days, and we really enjoyed sitting in our rented deck chairs, going to the movies shown on board every day, and strolling along the deck watching the games some of the passengers played. We all proved to be good sailors and none of us really became seasick.

On the morning of the 9th or 10th day however, as I strolled from my cabin along the corridor in the direction of the deck, I noticed that instead of wearing the white cotton suits sailors usually do, all the crew was dressed in black outfits similar to the white ones, but seemingly made of much warmer material. Upon enquiry, I was told that our ship had passed out of the tropical and warmer part of the ocean, and had entered an increasingly colder area. The temperature difference was not noticeable within the ship, but when one ventured out on deck, it was very appreciably colder. The deck chairs were all stacked away, only those in certain sheltered positions being left. Our two daughters were getting their first taste of a climate with which they ware completely unfamiliar. Fortunately for Emma and myself, we had our first experience the year before when we visited the Californian mountains.

In another couple of days we were steaming into Southampton, and into port. We docked quite easily and had not the slightest trouble with the customs in respect of our luggage. Not a single piece was examined; we must have impressed the officials quite favourably. We then boarded our train for Waterloo Station in the heart of London.

The train journey from Southampton to Waterloo was uneventful. We passed through some lovely countryside in the Surrey area, and I remember going by the extensive nurseries of the famous Suttons Seeds, one of the several lines of merchandise I had stocked in my pharmacy in Georgetown.

At Waterloo Station we were met by John Fraser, a friend with whom I had been in touch and with whose aid were hoping to ease our way into this new style of living. John was a Social Worker, and was trained in the technique of seeing that newcomers to Britain made an easy transition to life there. He advised us to leave our heavier pieces of luggage at the left luggage office at Waterloo, taking along just our necessary suitcases and bags to the "Whitehall Hotel" where he had reserved two rooms for us.

By a remarkable stroke of luck, John had also arranged with a friend of his, Commander Rivers, for us to use one of his (the Commander's) houses in Blackheath, which was shortly due to be torn down and replaced by a set of modern flats. For the ensuing two days I was kept busy arranging money transfers to the Blackheath branch of Barclay's Bank, and shopping at Whiteleys, a large Department store, for essentials like beds and bedding, table and chairs, electric heaters and such other necessary articles.

Within three days we had successfully managed the delivery of the furniture from Whiteleys, picked up the heavy luggage from Waterloo station, and removed our belongings and ourselves from the hotel all the way by taxi to our temporary home.

Blackheath is on the fringe of London, and our new and temporary home was within sight of Greenwich Park. It was from Greenwich that the famous Greenwich Time was originally set, but the Park is now used just as a pleasant recreational area for the public. There is also a museum housed there. The name "Blackheath" I was told, has its origin in the period of the Black Death, a deadly disease which visited England in the 14th Century. People died in such vast numbers that bodies had to be buried in large communal graves, and the heath in this area was chosen as a convenient site being at that time somewhat removed from the more populous region.

"Blackheath" is also notorious as a once famous haunt of Highwaymen. The famous, or rather infamous Wat Tyler frequented here.  Perhaps because of its historical importance, the area was now a much sought after one, and lots of retired people who wanted to get away from the hurly-burly of London had settled here.

The house we occupied was a very large brick building, somewhat run down, and arranged in three large self-contained flats, one above the other. We chose to live in the top flat as we considered this the most suitable one. In any case it was just a temporary arrangement, and since we had the use of the place free of charge, we had nothing to lose. The two lower flats were empty, so one can imagine how desolated it seemed at first - just the four of us in this great big house with the wide open heath in front of us; Greenwich Park visible across the heath and the houses on both sides of us also empty.

The beauty of this stroke of luck was that it enabled us to look around a bit before we finally settled, and it also provided a breathing space to adjust to a new life style.  Another source of help was Elsa Fraser, John's sister, a good friend of ours who had been living in England for some time, and with whom we were in constant contact before we left British Guiana. She put us in touch with an employment agency, and both Maureen and Marsha were placed in jobs in London very shortly after our arrival. Maureen got a clerical job at the office of "Exquisite Form" Ltd. while Marsha obtained a Receptionists post at the "White Fish Authority". It required the greater part of an hour to go by bus and train from where we lived to Central London where their work places were located.

Before attempting to find myself a job, I started to look around at houses with a view to purchasing a home of our own. In a large metropolis like Greater London, this was quite a task, and on many occasions I was afraid I would not find the place I was looking for. By dint of going through the classified advertisements in the newspapers, we decided on a property in Wembley, and it was fixed that we would acquire possession in early November.

During the waiting period, in answer to an ad in the Daily Express for a dispenser at a pharmacy in Shepherds Bush, I was engaged to commence work there during the middle of October. My job was to fill National Health prescriptions and the hours were 9.00 am to 6.00 pm with a one-hour break for lunch. Harry Walker, the proprietor, tall blonde and very courteous, was a very pleasant and affable Englishman, and it was good to have such an employer.

I will never forget my first morning at this new job. It was a dull foggy October day, and although I left home at 8.00 am. using a short bus ride to the Blackheath train station, then a twenty minute drive on the train to Charing Cross, followed by another twenty minute ride on the Underground to White City, I still had a walk of about 10 minutes to reach the pharmacy in Bloemfontein Road. In this last bit of travelling I must have lost my way in the many turns I had to make in the thick fog, so I arrived at work on my first day half an hour late. As if to crown it all, this was one of the busiest days I ever had, since there were over one hundred prescriptions to be dispensed.

The transition from living in the tropics all one's life to living in England took some time. We had to get used to dressing differently, and even though it was still autumn, overcoats had to be worn all the time outdoors. As the year progressed, and it became colder and colder with the approach of winter, we did all we could to acclimatize ourselves to our new environment.

Our home in Wembley had six fireplaces but we did not use the conventional heating by smokeless fuel very often. Instead, we installed two gas heaters downstairs and electric heaters upstairs. Later on we put in two electric storage heaters, with time-controlled switches to come on during off-peak hours.

Living in England, it was necessary to be able to do things for yourself, which perhaps, you had never done before in your life.  In this respect, there were lots of 'Do-It-Yourself' shops which catered for this need. There were also regular exhibitions at which this art of self-help was demonstrated. As a result, I was able later on to insulate our attic, using a polystyrene product called Microfil.

Having settled down in our new home, the two girls changed their jobs, Marsha joining Her Majesty's Stationery Office in Central Wembley, and Maureen joining the British Council in a pleasant post. We were now all within forty minutes travel of our various workplaces, and on very direct routes by either Bakerloo Underground or Euston electric train. Our home in Peel Road was just five minutes walk from the train station. Apart from this, there was a regular bus service half a block from our house going in several directions.

This home of ours was, in reality, much bigger than we needed for our immediate use, as there were four bedrooms upstairs, and the lower flat contained four rooms. As a result, we were able to accommodate many friends of ours for various periods of time, on different occasions who had difficulty in finding a suitable place to live. On one occasion we had a family of five spending several months with us.

Our first winter was reasonably mild, and we took it in our stride. Emma was the only one who developed a severe cold and cough, but she finally overcame it and we looked forward to the approaching summer.

Billy Butlin, now Sir William Butlin, operated several holiday camps at various sea-side resorts, and both our daughters and I planned to synchronize our first fortnight's vacation during the coming season to visit one of these mammoth camps at Bognor Regis on the south-west coast.  Butlins holiday camps were really miniature towns, complete with every detail.
Butlin s Holiday Camp geograph org uk 529604
They were built at selected sea-side resorts, and provision was made to accommodate an average of ten thousand people at one time to really have fun. Accommodation was of the type offered at motels in the U.S.A. and there were various grades of these 'Chalets'. Each one was self-contained, very adequate, with bath, toilet and excellent sleeping arrangements. For meals, there were large communal dining halls, very orderly and everyone was served by a waitress. There were shopping centres for every conceivable type of merchandise, a post office, an Olympic-size outdoor heated swimming pool, and a giant size heated indoor one, elaborately decorated, with facilities for the underwater viewing of the swimmers. In effect, part of the swimming pool had a plate-glass bottom.

There was a choice of three ballrooms, for either "Old-Fashioned", "Modern" or "Rock" dancing. One could enjoy tennis, bowling, boating on a man-made lake, roller-skating (skates supplied) bingo, and many more games. Every day you could visit either a Cinema or a live performance on stage. If you decided that this was not exactly your cup of tea, you just did what you liked. There was always the pleasure of a delightful stroll along the sea-shore on which all these camps were constructed.

There was absolutely no regimentation, you just did what you liked of the items programmed and issued to you. Of course, it was necessary to keep within the limits of the camp's regulations such as attending to regular meal hours etc. One delightful feature I recall was the gentle music played to help awaken you at about 7.00 am. Each chalet was fitted with a speaker connected to a central broadcasting room. The music was always appropriate, welcoming you to yet another beautiful day to enjoy whatever you choose of the activities planned. A child-care centre was provided for taking care of small children during the time that their parents may want to go dancing, swimming or taking part in any event that required a baby-sitter. Trained nurses did this job.

And since an Englishman and his pub are inseparable, a very elaborate one called "The Pig and Whistle" was part of the amenities provided. The bar of this pub was unique, in that it revolved around in the centre of the seated customers.

Various competitions were also held comprising such categories as "Most Glamorous Grandmother", "Most Original Costume", "Best Dancer" etc., etc. The price of one week's all-inclusive entertainment, which represented lodging, feeding and transportation to and from the resort, was very reasonable. At the time we participated, the fee was about fifteen pounds. Coaches collected all passengers for the various camps from a central point in London, took them-to their respective sites in about two to three hours, depending on the site of the camp. At the end of the stay at these holiday centres, transportation was again provided back to London.

Following a trend I had developed throughout the years, I now decided to enlarge and modernize our home. In this respect, for an outlay of only five hundred pounds, I got a builder friend who was also a neighbour, to add to the rear portion of our house a tiled shower-room and modern flush toilet on the lower level.

We also updated the hot-water supply by installing an Ascot water heater with multiple jets, followed by tiling the kitchen and redecorating the entire area throughout.

A little later on I re-papered the whole house, one room at a time, having learnt the art by attending one of the "Do-it-Yourself" exhibitions at Olympia. Some time after, but again gradually, I laid down carpeting, complete with underlay in every room, including the hall-way and the stair-way. Out of necessity I learnt to repair pulley windows, to weather-strip doors and water piping so as to help keep the house warm, this being the major problem as regards English climate.

My early experience as a boy gardener came in useful here, for although we had just a small front garden, I made the most of it by a good display of roses and chrysanthemums, with a ground cover of blue and white clumps of alyssums. Along the edges in Spring I grew tulips and gladioli.

There was much more room in the back garden, and for several years I grew my own potatoes, peas, tomatoes and onions…. nothing tastes better than new potatoes, brushed not peeled, fresh out of the ground, into the pot, served hot with a topping of butter or margarine.

Towards the end of our sojourn in Wembley, however, I converted the back garden into a lawn, using selected turf, which I purchased. The soil has to be sifted then levelled so as to provide a proper foundation on which to lay the turf.

Our first holiday at Butlins Bognor Regis camp was so enjoyable, that we decided to visit another of these entertainment centres during our second summer and, we chose the one at Minehead in the West Country, near Bristol Channel.
6229 Duchess of Hamilton steam locomotive Butlins Holiday Camp Minehead 14 August 1974
The setting this camp was even more enchanting than the one we had previously gone to, and driving through the English countryside to reach it was sheer delight. We passed through Salisbury, and our coach stopped for us to admire the famous Druid remains of Stonehenge, a place of ancient worship somewhere between 1800-1400 B.C. On this occasion only Emma and I did the week at the Minehead camp, our two girls deciding they would go together at some future time.

While spending the week here, we joined a one-day excursion to Exmouth and Lynmouth, taking in the Lorna Doone country on the way. Our coach guide was able to tell us many of the highlights surrounding the Lorna Doone story, which has a pretty good rating as a book.

Towards the end of my second year working at the White City pharmacy, I became a little irked by the sameness of the occupation, the lack of enterprise in the proprietor, and the humdrum existence of just dispensing prescriptions. I therefore applied for the post of telephone operator with the London Post Office, and after about one month at three different training schools, I was appointed to the "Euston" telephone exchange in Euston Road, a block or so from two large British Railways terminals - Kings Cross and Euston Stations. Like many large cities of the world, the London telephone service was completely automatic, and male telephonists were really only used during evening hours.

The average working hours were from 6.00 pm. until 10.00 pm. but occasionally a skeleton staff of about three operators would be on duty from 8.00 pm until 01.00 am. the following day. This skeleton staff was further arranged into shifts, so that no one operator was deprived of some degree of sleep. The work involved was mostly of the emergency type, such as fire, police, ambulance, etc., as well as intercepted calls which had to be re-routed. It was fairly easy but responsible work, and the beauty was that it placed you in the category of a "civil servant" after confirmation.

My earnings at this new job were much the same as I enjoyed in pharmacy and the conditions of work were far superior. It was also much nearer home and the electric trains ran past our home and got into Euston in about 25 minutes.

Our son Michael and his wife Joan, who were living in British Guiana decided at this point to come over to England, since Michael wanted to further his education. When they did arrive some time later we were able to accommodate them at 62 Peel Road.

About this time too, Marsha decided to pay a visit to Georgetown B.G. I believe she had left part of her heart there in proof of which it was during this one month visit to her homeland that she became engaged to the sweetheart of her school days, Aubrey Hardinge.

Following these indications given by our children, - Maureen was now going steady with her boy friend Ron Yates - we decided to convert the home into three flats, two above on the upper floor. and one larger one below. The two upper flats shared a bathroom and toilet, but each had its own kitchen and dinette and bed-sitting room. The flat on the lower floor had two bedrooms, a family room with television and radio, a modern kitchen, and the new tiled shower room and toilet we had installed some time previously.

Now that all my days were free, my present job being an evening one, it was a pleasure to be able to roam around London during the day. This great metropolis packed as it is with thousands of years of history going back to the Roman conquest in 55 B.C. really gripped me.

There was so much to see... The Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror shortly after his Coronation in 1066 - I actually walked along the corridor where Sir Walter Raleigh walked for exercise while he was a prisoner there….St. Paul's Cathedral, built by Sir Christopher Wren, the dome of which is second only in size to that of St. Peters in Rome. Westminster Abbey, where British Sovereigns are crowned and many buried, - I enjoyed the "Poets Corner" there - just a walk along the one side of the river Thames on the embankment would be a thrilling experience.… Then crossing the river, say, at Waterloo Bridge, and strolling along that side, returning to the original starting side via Westminster Bridge, under Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Or a quiet stroll through St. James Park, then down Whitehall trying to locate the spot where the scaffold stood, on which Charles 1st was executed.

How could I ever forget those delightful rambles through Regents Park, Hyde Park, passing by the Serpentine. or those care-free cross-country walks across the Meadows which ran from our home in Wembley up to Harrow-on-the-Hill, a name which calls to mind the schooldays of Winston Churchill. Or bus drives through the rural areas, where once we passed by Stoke-Poges, near Slough, in the Churchyard of which Thomas Grey wrote his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard", and where his body now lies buried.

Unquestionably the English countryside is a thing of rare beauty, especially in the summer, and it is so easy to get around by bus or other public transport to such places as Southend-on-Sea, Hastings, Dover, Clacton-on-Sea, Margate, etc.

One weekend we spent at some friends in Blackpool, on the Irish sea-coast of Lancaster, and were able to visit the famous Blackpool Tower. There was a large amusement area there, and the tower is a rough replica of the famous Eiffel Tower in France.

On another occasion we travelled to Taunton in Somerset, and spent that weekend with some other friends. While there we visited the celebrated Cheddar Gorge and Caves. The scenery was perfect and we enjoyed every bit of it. It was great fun to spend at least half a day at a time looking through the British Museum. Here one could see so much that it defies description. I really enjoyed things like taking a close look at the Rosetta Stone, or looking through the clock section in which every type of clock and watch was exhibited.

Following Marsha's engagement to Aubrey when she visited British Guiana for that month, her fiancĂ© decided to come over to England, get married and settle down. So, of the two flats we had prepared on the upper level of our home, we allocated one to their use after their marriage.

Aubrey arrived late in 1963, and he and Marsha were married at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Ealing Road, in Wembley during December. The wedding was a quiet but pretty ceremony. Revd. Porter was a very charming Minister, and there were quite a few friends present at the reception, which was held at a banqueting hall just a block away from the church. The married couple left for one of Butlin's hotels on the sea-coast to spend their honeymoon. In the meantime, Maureen and her boy-friend Ron had become engaged, and they decided to get married in March 1964. Thus, in the space of three months, we lost both our daughters, and acquired two sons-in-law. Maureen's wedding was almost a replica of Marsha's, same church, same minister. The only difference being that Maureen's reception was held at the banqueting room of the Woodbine Hotel, just half a block from our home. After the reception, she and Ron flew over to the island of Jersey in the English Channel for their honeymoon.

It was good to have them still living in the same building with us, and the two flats upstairs were intended for just such an eventuality. Most nights both the girls and their spouses would join us in the family room downstairs to watch television or simply to chat. Michael and Joan had some time ago set up independent house, first in Baron's Court then afterwards in Wembley. Michael was endeavouring to read for his B.A. degree, and was doing small jobs on the side to help out with expenses. They had been married for several years now, and when he and Joan told us they were expecting their first baby we were truly delighted.

And now that our immediate family of four children were all married, and would sooner or later be on their own as separate and individual units, Emma and I started to think of our lives in relation to the altered circumstances in which we were now finding ourselves. I was fast approaching sixty, and in another five years would be on the retired list. As a result of this line of thought, we began a correspondence with Gordon, who was now an American citizen, and a registered M.D. in California, with a view to examining the possibilities of taking up residence there some time in the future. We knew the process was a long one, and the sooner we started the better.

After a number of short holidays in which we visited places like Woburn Abbey, Windsor Castle and some of the South Coast sea-side resorts, we decided to take a trip on the Continent of Europe. To this end, I booked passages for Emma and myself to go on a "Cook's tour to Venice in Italy. It was one of those well-planned tours, all-inclusive, on which we were taken by rail from Victoria Station in London to Dover on the south coast, then across the English Channel by ship to Ostend, in Belgium. There we were put on deluxe coaches and transported through Brussels into Germany using the famous "Autobahn" all the way through this country. We passed very familiar city names like Dusseldorf etc., on our ride through Germany skirted along the border of Switzerland, then through a part of Austria. At this point we climbed through very mountainous country and crossed the Brenner Pass where we saw what seemed to be some kind of fortified area. We then descended into the plains of Lombardy, proceeding on to Lido de Jesolo, situated on the Gulf of Venice, the latter being an extension of the Adriatic sea. In this area grapes were grown in great profusion, vineyards stretching for as far as the eye can see. Our conch driver and conductor humorously referred to the sight as a "terrific display of wine on sticks".

Upon reaching "Lido de Jesolo" we were accommodated at the hotel Metropole. The rooms were very comfortable, and we had our own personal balcony. The food was fine, and the hotel which was on the water's edge, had its private bench, umbrellas, etc.

The tour was a packaged one, and it included not only the transportation to and from Italy, but the hotel and food there for twelve days. The other two days of the fortnight's holiday were spent on the road travelling. It also included a one day excursion to sightsee in Venice, which was just about twenty minutes away by bus, a one-day ride on the Venetian lagoon inspecting the lace and glass-making facilities there, and various other attractions in Lido de Jesolo.

We rested the day after our arrival at the hotel, and settled in for our stay there, but on the next day, we were given packed lunches, and soon after breakfast a chartered bus took us over to Venice for the day.

It was one of the really full days of our lives... We crossed over and visited all those narrow streets in Venice, looked into several of the shops where Venetian Art was on display, and had a conducted tour of the Doge's Palace by a trained guide.
800px Photograph of of the Doges Palace in Venice
We saw the "Bridge of Sighs walked alongside the Rialto Bridge, - immortalized by William Shakespeare in his Merchant of Venice - and had yet another conducted tour of St. Marks Basilica in St. Marks Square.
800px Veneza47 1

Our guide told us that this Cathedral was over 900 years old, and some of the flooring had sunken in parts. The interior was so skilfully done that the reflections from the sun's rays were enough to provide adequate lighting. It was also pointed out that Venice was being undermined by water from the Venetian lagoon, which was the cause of the partial sinking of the floor. In viewing some of the wall murals in the Doge's Palace, we were struck by one painting by Tintoretto in which the eyes of some of the people seem to move and follow us around the room. In another room, one of the characters in another large painting actually appeared to move as you looked at it. A Doge, we were told, was really a Governor or chief Magistrate, who had to be at least seventy-five years old before he could receive the honour.

St. Mark's Square was a gigantic flagstone area, with Art shops, restaurants, and various concerns, built on the periphery. Bands on a raised platform would be playing music all the time, and people were constantly milling around. Gondolas could be hired from a mooring place on one side of the square, and people could be seen going on these picturesque boat rides on the Grand Canal.

Little did I know that our party would climax that day in this, the crossroads of an earlier civilization, with a moonlight serenade in five gondolas, headed by a gondola of male singers and musicians, down and back along this world famous waterway, listening to the beautiful Italian baritone and tenor voices singing such favourites as, 'O Solo Mio'.

Another grand experience on this vacation was a tour of the Venetian Lagoon by water bus. In Venice, one gets around by water bus in the same manner as a Londoner would by public transport. During this trip on the Lagoon, we visited first, Burano, where some of the world's finest lace is produced.

We were shown over the works there, and then were taken to Murano, where we were given a demonstration of the glass-blowers art, and were able to witness several examples of very fancy glassware.  A lot of their products were on sale, and several. of our party bought souvenirs to take back home on their return.

This holiday in Italy will always be remembered as one of the high-lights of our life, and one upon which we can always look back with very fond memories. The journey home was uneventful, but we had to wait a little in Ostend for our trans-channel boat. For the first time, as we approached the English coast, we could really appreciate how discouraging it must have appeared to the early invaders of Britain from across this stretch of water, as they looked up and saw those formidable White Cliffs of Dover.

By now we had become quite used to the idea of being grandparents, as over in California, Gordon had presented us with our second, a boy, also called Gordon, and Michael's first, Mark, was followed by a girl, Cathy. Maureen had added her quota as well in the arrival of Paul, and Marsha followed later with her contribution, Richard. Up to now, we were the proud grandparents of six, four of whom were born in England, and two in California.

Back in Guyana, the country of our birth, things were changing quite a bit too. The country was being granted independence, and we received invitations for a Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving to commemorate this important event late in the Spring of 1966.

Tickets for this service were sent to us, for attendance in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 7th June 1966 at mid-day. Our entrance was by the Great West Door, and the Dedication service was read by none other than an old friend of mine, His Grace, the Archbishop of the West Indies, Allan J. Knight.

This eminent church dignitary resided in Georgetown, British Guiana, in a delightful and quiet corner of upper High Street, known as Bishop Court. I knew him personally, being his director of Ceremonies for one year and then his junior warden for another year, in the District Grand Lodge of British Guiana during his tenure of office as District Grand Master. He had aged somewhat since last I saw him, but was still the charming person he ever was.

We met many Guianese there, some having come over to England specially for the service. Later in the evening we attended a gala reception at the Commonwealth Institute where we were greeted by the High Commissioner for Guyana, Sir Lionel Luckoo and his wife. He remembered us quite well, being one time next door neighbours of his sister Ena when we lived in South Road, Georgetown. We were cordially greeted by him with the familiar "Long time no see".

The display at the Commonwealth Institute was magnificent. There one sees dioramas of the various Commonwealth countries and their exhibits portrayed every facet of the places shown. There were crowds of Guyanese present, and we enjoyed delightful snacks and drinks as well as excellent live music, to which many of the people danced.

Among the old friends I met, was Cyril Grant now known as Cy Grant, with whom I made a memorable 80 mile bicycle ride from our home in New Amsterdam to No. 63 Beach, Courantyne, during the time I worked for Bookers in Berbice. Some time in 1966, late that year, our papers for immigration to the U.S.A. were finalized and after spending an entire day at the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, we were all ready to be admitted into the United States. Before doing that however, we had to re-arrange our families, and this is how we planned it.

Aubrey was an only child, and his parents dearly wished he would return to live in Guyana. By this time, what was British Guiana when we left it in 1960 had now become GUYANA - a self-governing republic, even adopting this new name. So it was arranged that Aubrey, Marsha and little Ritchie would return to the South American life, and to the great joy of his parents. Maureen, Ron and young Paul would go to Eastcote Avenue in Greenford, where Ron and his mother owned their home.

Michael was already on his own, living in a rented house close to us in the same street. In any case he had just taken his B.A. (London) examination at the honours level, and was awaiting the results. If and when he passed, he would still need a couple of years practical teaching, and he was planning to return to Guyana and teach at one of the colleges there.

At this stage we put the property at 62 Peel Road up for sale, and after a couple of months it was sold for what we considered a reasonable price. From the proceeds of the sale we made certain the children would be able to re-establish themselves in their respective homes before we left for the U.S.A. and that being taken care of, we booked passages to fly to California from London Heathrow airport.