Retirement and trip to Guyana (1973)

Having resumed our normal life after our return from Hawaii, we enjoyed a breathing space for some months before deciding when I should finally retire from the Loma Linda University Hospital pharmacy, where I was employed since the middle of 1967. I had now attained the age of sixty-seven years, and while it was not mandatory for employees here to be retired at the customary sixty five, I felt it was proper to go in deference to the numbers of young men constantly being added to the list of those seeking employment. So I decided that September 1973 would be the final date, and I expressed this intention to the pharmacy director at Loma Linda.
In the meantime I decided to put our mobile home up for sale, take a trip to Guyana where our daughter Marsha and her family, as well as our son Michael and his family lived. Michael had been successful in obtaining his PhD degree in English Literature at Kent University in England, and had returned to Guyana as a lecturer at the University there.
Record player
We even considered the possibility of settling in Guyana if conditions proved satisfactory. With this in mind, we planned to ship sufficient household stuff like kitchen utensils, bed linen and surplus clothing, and all the household paraphernalia which would have been impossible to carry with us on a plane. We even had the turntable of our stereo (Panasonic) changed to 50 cycles so as to accommodate the electric current in the City of Georgetown.
Our mobile home was sold, fully furnished, a couple of months before I retired, but by good fortune we had a friend, a widow, in the same park where we lived who was going on a three month vacation to Duluth, Minnesota, and she was happy to have us use her mobile home during her absence. The arrangement was a very good one, since I paid the expenses involved in ground rent and utilities on her place for the period we used it, saving her this outlay, while at the same time, for just the nominal cost of these expenses, we enjoyed the use of her fully furnished home. I even painted some of the outside of her mobile home, and carpeted her front stairs with indoor-outdoor carpet. Our friends mobile home was also very conveniently situated just across the way from the pool, and since I liked swimming so much, this was very handy.
In order to ship the things we proposed sending to Guyana, I purchased six large metal barrels, and after careful packing I had them picked up by a trucking firm in Los Angeles, and taken clear across to Texas, where they were put on board a ship that sailed for Guyana.
After the Farewell ceremony at my workplace, we had many of our close friends at a reception and dinner at the recreation room of the Reche Canyon Mobile Park. It was indeed a very enjoyable evening.
A few days later we packed our large suitcases and other travelling impedimenta, and motored up to North Highlands spending a couple of days with some friends before going on to Gordon in Paradise.
The journey from Colton to North Highlands took nine hours, and it was a delightful ride through the Mojave Desert to Bakersfield, continuing by freeway past Sacramento to our friends home, which was located in a suburb of this capital city.
When we left North Highlands a few days later, it took two hours driving to reach Paradise and Gordon and his family. We stayed about three weeks in Paradise, and from there we booked our passages to Georgetown, Guyana, via New York. We planned to leave our car with Gordon, much as we would have liked to take it with us. We thought it might be possible to sell it for us after we had left.
During our stay in Paradise, friends of Gordon and Arna, the Scarborough’s, who owned a little cabin cruiser, took us for a ride on Lake Oroville, one of the great man-made waterways in California. We travelled quite some distance up the lake, and had a picnic supper at the foot of a waterfall somewhere along its course.
lake oroville in butte county
Feather falls plumas national forest
Soon, however, the time arrived for us to say goodbye to the American branch of our family, and Gordon motored us down to the Sacramento airport to catch our plane.
Sacramento International Airport
From Sacramento we flew to San Francisco where we joined our trans-continental flight to Kennedy airport. We got there without any incident towards late afternoon, and took the local transport to the Grand Central Station where our good friends Marie & Yulisse were waiting for us. From there we hired a taxi cab and arrived at their home on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx.
Only about four days did we spend in New York and while there, guided by Reggie Stoby, I had the stereo set air-freighted to Georgetown. We had to travel on the Long Island subway while attending to this business, and it took the entire day to complete.
In spite of quite a bit of excess weight, we managed to get by without having to pay too exorbitant a charge, and once again, we were winging our way to the country of our birth.  It was getting dark when we arrived at the airport in Guyana, now called "Timheri". Its name was "Atkinson Field" when I last saw it nearly fourteen years ago. There was a fair amount of people waiting at the terminal to be processed by immigration and customs, but when it came to our turn, there were no problems.
Marsha and her family were waiting for us, and Aubrey drove us home in their car. Before we left California, Marsha had secured a house for us to live in at a rental of approximately two hundred dollars a month, and she took us straight to it, since the trip had left us quite tired. The house was furnished - in a sort of way - and it was just one block away from the pharmacy building I once owned and operated, - "Gilkes Bourda Pharmacy" - at the corner of Regent & Light streets.
The surrounding area was quite familiar to me even after the long absence. Many of the people who lived close by remembered us both quite well, but there was one very noticeable change in the faces of those we had known before, - they looked so much more worn.
Marsha and Aubrey and their son, Ritchie were constantly at our place and we certainly enjoyed having them. Michael lived a little way out of central Georgetown, in a newly built up district known as Lamaha Gardens, and it was not so easy to get to them unless we had a car. Shortly after our arrival we did acquire a "Morris Minor", one of the Nuffield's economy cars. It was a bit awkward at first for me, having to drive "Stickshift", since, for the entire time I was in the U.S.A. the cars I drove had Automatic transmission.
The first impression I got of Georgetown after my long absence was one of great activity. The streets were busier, the traffic greatly increased, and the people were apparently always on the move. As we got around a bit, it was obvious that there was a terrific upsurge in housing construction, as witness the various schemes at Ruimveldt Lodge, along the east coast of Demerara, and in the area behind the Bel Air Housing scheme, which included Bel Air Gardens and Lamaha Gardens. The architecture too, was in keeping with modern trends. In almost every case the former "bottom house" being fully built in, so as to provide greater accommodation.
Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown Guyana
On the east coast of Demerara there was a new University of Guyana. At the top end of High Street, on the edge of the Atlantic ocean was a modern hotel-in-the-round - the "Pegasus". Then in the very heart of the downtown area was the imposing Bank of Guyana building, with a pretty and restful roof garden looking down upon an avenue of shade-filled trees along the Main Street side.
Bank of Guyana
New blocks of flats had sprung up in various parts of the city, all of which were new to me, and it certainly indicated great progress in this direction. Much of the waterfront in the downtown district of Water Street, however, depressed me, as since the numerous fires which razed the greater part of the business heart of the city, many of the firms which were affected had only rebuilt on a temporary basis. Quite a few spots were still empty.
Emma and I renewed many old friendships, and everyone was glad we had returned to the old country.
Before I left California for Guyana, my daughter Marsha had written to say that Lynn Bostwick the proprietor of Evans Pharmacy, had heard of my impending return, and was willing to acquire my services as a pharmacist in his establishment. So after settling down a bit, I decided to call on him and see exactly what the situation was.
When I last saw Bostwick in 1959, his was a small pharmacy, and he was an upcoming young member of the profession. Now, however, his was one of the most comprehensive businesses of its kind in the country, and he carried very extensive stocks in a new building he had erected.
There were, by virtue of my now being an American citizen, limitations on the amount of work I could do, and the money I could earn, while living outside the U.S.A. So it was arranged that I would give just a little part-time service in the pharmacy, and not prejudice the benefits to which I was entitled from overseas.
In my brief stay at Evan's Pharmacy, it was amazing how many people I met whom I had previously known and who remembered me from the days when I operated my own business so many years ago in the city of Georgetown. Among the people who visited the shop during my tenure of office there, was Johnny Adamson, my old boss, who, when I was only eighteen years old, and he was manager of Booker's Drug Stores, gave me my first job, and under whom I served for many years, qualifying as a pharmacist myself, and promoted by him from the smallest branch of the firm to its largest one; then finally ending my career with this large organization, when I purchased their Bourda branch in 1953. He and I enjoyed a little chat together.
I visited many of my former colleagues, going to the homes of quite a few; Henry Cromwell and Curtis Gharles were among those who had already retired from active work. One of the outstanding changes in the rural area was the construction of the McKenzie highway linking Georgetown with the Bauxite City. This road was very well built, and compared favourably with good American roads. I did not travel the whole length of it, but what I did drive on was enough to convince me that it was a first class job.
Another big undertaking which was in course of construction was the rebuilding of the city's sea defences. A new wall and esplanade, stretching from the Fort Groyne eastwards along the northern boundary of the city was in active progress. Because of the low-lying nature of the Atlantic coastline, high tides frequently inundate parts of Georgetown, and much of the east coast of Demerara. The existing wall which kept the sea out was being threatened by the breakers at spring tides, hence the need for this new set of sea defences. It looked like a mammoth job, and the old "Sea Wall", as I remembered it, was now closed to the public, so as to carry on with the work of reconstruction. Heaps of material like sand and stone were piled at various places along the roadway and there was a lot of activity there.
A public swimming pool - the Luckoo pool - was new to me. It was built along the ocean front near to the Kingston end, and I made frequent use of it. Imported food was in short supply in the entire country, as the policy of the government was to make Guyana self-sufficient in this respect. Indeed, the potential for achieving this was certainly there, but accustomed as the population was to depending on imports to satisfy its old established habits, the public was not too happy in accepting the local substitutes in place of the imported equivalents. I will concede that techniques of "know-how", finishing, and proper presentation of local products could stand a lot of improvement, but inevitably, and in time, I feel sure that the country has the possibilities to be almost, if not completely self-supporting.
Chickens on a Guyanese roadside
Many years before I left Guyana, I used to envisage chicken farming on a grand scale. On more than one occasion, I personally raised my own chickens. I visualized the time when it may be possible to offer chickens for sale at a price that would seriously compete with beef, pork etc., and I was truly glad to see that the chicken industry was now an accomplished success, several large and prospering enterprises taking care of all the egg and chicken requirements of the whole community.

After three months of life back in the land of our birth, unfortunately, we began to miss the U.S.A. and to really notice the difference in standards of living between California and Georgetown.
There was, in our Charlotte Street home, the constant battle against rats, cockroaches, ants, flies and mosquitoes. At times we even had incursions of marabuntas, a type of wasp.
It is always so much easier to step up one's living standards than reduce them, and the longer we spent in Georgetown, the more we realized how difficult it would be to re-adjust completely to living there. And that is just where we started to think that a permanent return to our old home town was out of the question.
At the end of five months, we booked our passages back to California. Our friends were very sorry to see us go, and Marsha and Michael and their families were quite unhappy too at the prospect of our return to the U.S.A.
In the evening of one's life, however, it is easy to understand why a choice of conditions embracing peace of mind would be preferred to any other decision, and now, in our late sixties, Emma and I once more made another change in our life style which, only time will tell, and posterity decide, whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do.
We emplaned on a British Airways craft at Timheri airport in a ninety degrees Fahrenheit temperature, but since it was late February, we realized we would be arriving in New York in the heart of winter, so we dressed in rather warm clothing.

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