The U.S.A. as our new home (1967)

We used a TWA north polar flight which went via O'Hare Airport in Chicago. This was the only stop our plane would make before its final leg into Los Angeles.

800px Trans World Airlines Boeing 707 331B Gilliand 1

On take-off, we winged our way past Ireland, then across the open north Atlantic, coming in sight of Greenland before approaching the eastern Canadian sea-board. After touching down at O'Hare Airport we were inspected by Immigration and Customs, and following a little wait we emplaned for the final flight across the width of the U.S.A. and down the western coast to Los Angeles.

It was dusk as our plane crossed this exotic city, with its twinkling signs and millions of lights, its freeways with intersections formed in perfect clover-leaf patterns, its mountains, its desert and its seascape.

From the air it was a panorama of sheer beauty and brilliance. Gordon and Arna were at the airport waiting for us, and he drove us home to his new house in Cottage Street, Loma Linda. It was quite a modern house, four bedrooms, two baths, family room, front reception room, modern kitchen, double sink with garbage disposal, dishwasher, heat and air-conditioning, detached garage of the two car type, and large front and back lawns with a fair attempt at landscaping. The house had a rock roof, that is to say, over the close boarding, there was some sort of asphalt treatment, on which was stuck small pieces of white rock over the entire surface. It looked quite pretty. The district, entirely residential, was a new one, and there was ample evidence of lots of other houses in process of construction all around.

Before we arrived in California, Gordon had been making enquiries in respect of finding me suitable occupation. A new medical complex was being constructed nearby in Loma Linda. - Loma Linda University Medical Centre and I was promised a job there when it was completed some time in July. It meant being idle for three months.

In the meantime, therefore, I kept busy doing as much around the house as I could, such as gardening, helping to erect a chain-link fence around the house, enclosing the garage and back lawn. When this was finished, I took a little job of operating a dish washing machine at the Heritage Gardens Convalescent Home, on Barton road.

Just before we had left England for California, Gordon had been offered and had accepted, the position of medical director of Clinica Stahl, an Adventist cottage hospital in Peru, which meant that Emma and I would be all alone in his four-bedroomed house for the three years he would be overseas. He did not actually take up the appointment until mid July, so we did enjoy his company and that of his wife, Arna and the two children, Lucia and Gordie for a couple of months after our arrival.

During the month of June, I took the entire family to Disneyland. To truly describe this place would require a large volume just for that purpose, so I will simply give a sketchy idea, and highlight some of the features which attracted me most.

Disneyland is an extensive amusement area in Anaheim. The whole arrangement is superbly elaborate, and is divided into four sections, each one a little community in itself. These sections are: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland. It boasts its own hotel and restaurants, and attracts several million visitors each year. At its entrance is built a full scale replica of "Main Street, U.S.A." modelled after an American town of the 1950's.

The whole elaborate and fantastic outfit was conceived by the late genius and film producer, Walt Disney, and was opened to the public in 1955.

My favourite feature, perhaps because of my background was "Pirates of the Caribbean", in which you are taken by boats to an area on which you sail a darkened sea, and where life as lived by pirates is depicted. You pass by a battle being raged between these buccaneers and the ships they pillaged, with vivid displays of gunfire, burning ships, roistering groups of sailors and the women they stole. The entire scene is so realistic that you image it was actually taking place and not just a show. As you travel along in the boats the spray from the artificial waves sprinkle on you.

Another splendid show was the submarine ride. These are really miniature subs which travel along below the water on guided rails, passing many underwater sights such as strategically placed trunks of sparkling treasure, and the hulls of sunken ships. There are mermaids - live girls dressed as such - that dot the route taken by the submarine, and everyone is able to see through the glass portholes in the sides of the vessel as it goes on a carefully charted course, passing under very realistic waterfalls as it surfaces.

Anaheim tips disneyland submarine full

Then there is the simulated rocket trip into space, all very elaborately and realistically done. It takes many visits to see all of Disneyland. I have personally been there four times, of at least half a day each time, and I have by no means seen all of it.

There is an electrified railway called the Monorail which takes you on an elevated ride over the whole area above the amusement park. The Matterhorn peak is here duplicated in rock, and little cars on rails run through it, finishing up as a water splash at the foot of the mountain. Cable cars also run through one way, coming out the other side.

Real mountain climbers ascend all the way to the top dressed in colourful Alpine costume, giving the show an air of authenticity.  And that ride on a miniature but real steam locomotive through primeval forests (all artificially created), viewing animated facsimiles of pre-historic animals in their native habitat.

Disneyland attracts visitors from all parts of the world, and I do believe it must be one of the most elaborate forms of entertainment to be found anywhere.

Gordon left for Peru around the middle of July 1967 and we were so lonely that we began thinking of a way to overcome our solitude. We finally decided it would be a good idea to get Ron, Maureen and Paul over from England to spend some time with us during the early summer of 1968.

It further seemed like a splendid plan to try and encourage Aubrey, Marsha and Ritchie from Guyana to join the party, and have a real housewarming in California. The Cottage Street home with four bedrooms was certainly large enough to accommodate everybody.  By-carefully co-ordinating vacations, departures and arrival times, it was finally decided that Ron, Maureen and Paul, Marsha and Ritchie (Aubrey could not make it) would arrive simultaneously at the Los Angeles airport, where we would meet them and bring them home.

Eventually however, the English branch of the family arrived one day in advance of the others, so it involved making two trips to the airport. Milly Nilsen, one of our good friends was most helpful in taking us there on both occasions, since I was still not too conversant with freeway travel, especially in the very busy areas we would have to go through.

When Marsha and Ritchie arrived on the day after Maureen, we had to wait at the airport until two o'clock in the morning, because of a delay in the plan's schedule. We were indeed grateful to Milly for her patience and help especially since it meant that she had to encroach on her Sabbath day of worship, (she is a Seventh-Day Adventist.)

We enjoyed the re-union with our two daughters and their families, and the two girls, who had not seen each other for over 2 years were very happy to be together again. Their two sons had grown quite a bit, and we settled down to spending as happy a time as their short holiday with us would allow. They arrived in May 1968, Maureen and her family would be with us for a month, but Marsha and her little son could not stay more than seventeen days.

As a result, we planned a tight but fun-packed schedule for their stay with us, and it included two trips to Disneyland, (one was an evening show to see the fireworks display) and a whole day at San Diego's Sea World on the Pacific coast, where the U.S.A. borders on Mexico.

Sea World displays a variety of sea life, and among its shows was a delightful underwater ballet done by young women and dolphins, and viewed by the public through the glass sides of a huge tank in a darkened room, with only the tank being illuminated.

This was an all day show, in a most colourful and picturesque setting, and it featured a whale show, several dolphin shows, a Japanese pearl diving exhibition, and many remarkable aspects of sea life, in which carefully trained animals performed to the delight of the crowds of spectators who daily visited this unique and enterprising form of entertainment.

We took them to Lake Arrowhead, a resort high up in the San Bernardino mountains, and the highlight of that days outing was a thrilling speedboat, ride over the vast expanse of the lake with the motor roaring, and the water spurning a billowy foam in our wake.

On several occasions we went motoring in the mountains, and one memorable day was spent in Riverside park, a large park with a great big lake, fringed with giant shady trees. Here we rented a motor boat, and spent some time cruising on the water.

We certainly enjoyed this visit of our children, grandsons, and son-in-law and the time came all too quickly for them to return to their separate homes. Marsha and Ritchie were the first to leave, and with Ron driving our Chevelle, we took them to the airport and tearfully saw them off. A couple of weeks later, it then became my turn to take Ron, Maureen and Paul to Los Angeles, and we were really sorry to see them go. The children were certainly happy to be able to enjoy a holiday with us, and we in turn, were delighted to be with them even for a short time.

I used my second vacation since employed at Loma Linda University, for a trip to Santa Rosa where a friend of ours, Jackie Peters, lived. This was the summer of 1969 and Emma and I left by car, travelling first to Santa Barbara where we spent the night. From there we went on to San Simeon, and took in a tour of Hearst Castle. Hearst was a newspaper millionaire and his fabulous castle, now donated to the state, is a classic example of the collectors art.

Continuing our ride towards Santa Rosa, which is in northern California, we stopped at the Monterey peninsula, and did the seventeen mile scenic drive along Pebble Beach, which is a famous golf resort of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. The route along Pacific freeway No.101 was very spectacular, and the area in the vicinity of Big Sur was truly awe-inspiring. We afterwards crossed the Golden Gate bridge and later in the afternoon reached Santa Rosa, where Jackie lived in a large mobile home.

We spent nearly one week there, and visited the petrified forest which was close by. On two separate occasions we drove down to San Francisco where we rode the cable cars, visited Chinatown and took a Bay cruise lasting about two hours. This cruise started from Fisherman's Wharf and took us under the Golden Gate bridge, passing Alcatraz, a former convict island, and continuing to the Oakland-San Francisco bridge and back.

On the other occasion, we drove into Redwood City, much lower down the Bay area, and here we spent the day at Marine World, a modest replica of Marineland, which I have previously described, and which we had visited in 1959 during our first visit to the U.S.A. This was a very pleasant vacation and we both had fun. Our return home was by a different route, spending one night in a motel in Earlimart.

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