Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tel Aviva

 We flew from Rome to Tel Aviv, or as Talula called it "Tel Aviva".  We stayed at a modern hotel on the Mediterranean Sea.  It was after dark when we got to the hotel.  I went down to the beach and put my toes in the water.  I went back inside and found a TV in the lobby.  It was showing live Watergate hearings from the States.  It was great to see a bit of home.  Someone had given Mr. Vivian a large basket of fruit, which was put in our room.  Grapefruit, Oranges, Bananas, Dates, and more.  It was more fruit than our group could eat. 
 The next morning, we left Tel Aviv to tour the northern part of Israel.  We went to Haifa, Joppa, Nazareth, and other places.  We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  They told us that we were going to have "St. Peter's Fish".  We found out what that was.  Some boys would catch the fish; throw it in a pot of boiling water; and then the restaurant would serve it.  No scaling.  No deboning.  No cutting off the head.  It was like being in dissecting class in school.  They gave you a knife and a fork and said "eat".  Imagine seeing the eyes staring at you, while you ate the fish.  It was gross.  And to top it off, you could see the boys catching the fish with a gasoline slick on the top of the water from their boat.  I was so turned off by this sight that I didn't eat fish for about 30 years after that experience.  Now, I eat fish a lot.  Go figure.
 After lunch, we got to Nazareth.  We saw the places we were supposed to see, and then got back on the bus.  We still had our large basket of fruit.  There were begging children at every turn, and we had been told not to give them any money, but the tour group decided that we would give the fruit to the kids.  We stopped the bus near a group of playing children, and asked them if they wanted the basket of fruit.  A riot started, and all we saw was a lot of chaos and dust.  When it was all over, most of the kids had gotten some fruit, although one boy just got the grapefruit's peel and was showing it proudly.  The grapefruit had exploded in the melee.  The incident touched my heart as some people have a lot, while others have very little.  But, those who have very little can get excited about something seemingly so small. 
 We toured some more and got to our place for the night, which was a kibbutz.  They sold Brandy Candy there, which was a hard candy with brandy in the center.  I bought a box, and went through the whole thing.  I got a buzz from it, and it seemed easier to get past Mr. Vivian than the wine in Rome.  The girls and I looked for Brandy Candy along our trip.  Sorry, Mr. Vivian.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


 By the time we started our tour of Rome, the jet lag was virtually gone.  We could actually appreciate what we saw.  There was a sign in the Sistine Chapel not to take pictures, as the flash would damage the paintings.  Of course, someone did, and they almost arrested us.  Some words were exchanged, and they allowed us to stay.  We saw the Vatican, the Forum, Paul's jail cell, Peter's bones, and a lot of fountains.  For lunch, Sandra, Talula and I wanted to eat in an authentic Italian restaurant, so we went there, and the rest of our tour group ate somewhere else.  I had never had wine before that day, but we all drank some with our meal.  After lunch, we all ate a bunch of breath mints and stayed away from Mr. Vivian, as he would not have approved of us drinking alcohol.  Some of the older ladies on the tour could smell the wine, but they didn't tell on us.  We all appreciated that.
 The rest of our tour of Rome was uneventful, although Mr. Vivian wondered why we stayed away from him.  That night was another story.
 One thing that I had learned about Sandra was that she never talked about death.  If I would bring up that subject, she would always change the subject.  I was in bed asleep, when the phone rang in my room.  Mr. Vivian was also asleep.  I answered the phone, and it was Sandra.  She sounded very scared, and told me that she was afraid she was going to die, and I had to get to her room right then.  I knew there was a problem, so I lied to Mr. Vivian about why I had to leave for a while.  I put on some clothes and headed over to her room.  When I knocked on the door, there was a scared voice on the other side asking who it was.  When I identified myself, the door opened.  Sandra and Talula were shaking.
 Sandra explained why they were so afraid.  She had just taken a shower and found she needed more towels.  There was a few buttons in the room to call hotel staff.  One was for a maid; another for the front desk; and another for a bellboy.  They thought they pressed the button for the maid, but instead it was for the bellboy.  A knock came to the door, and they opened it.  Sandra was naked, and the bellboy's eyes just about popped out of his head.  Talula slammed the door.  They were afraid he was going to come back.  After I calmed them down, we decided to play a trick on the bellboy.  So, we put together a plan.  I was to hide in the bathroom and zip down my pants.  They were to call down to the front desk and apologize for their rude behavior to the bellboy, and then invite him back up to their room for some fun.  When he would knock on the door, they would open it.  When the door opened, I was to flush the toilet and come out while zipping up my fly.  We would then tell him that we were going to have a foursome.  He would get embarrassed and leave.  It seemed like a good plan.  It was implemented.  I was in the bathroom.  He knocked on the door.  They told him to come in, and I came out.  The bellboy's face turned red, and he ran away.  We had a good laugh.  I told them not to open the door for anyone until the next morning.  I went back to my room.  Mr. Vivian asked what the problem was, and I just told him there was no problem.  I went back to sleep.
 The next morning, we were to leave around 10am to go to the airport for a flight to Tel Aviv.  We were to gather in the lobby at 9:30 to start to load up.  We all at wake-up calls for 7:30.  Mr. Vivian and I got ready and packed and headed down to the lobby.  One by one, the other tour members were there too.  But no Sandra or Talula.  I called up to their room, and Sandra very sleepy answered the phone.  I asked her why they weren't downstairs.  She asked me what time it was, and I told her 9:45.  She said something, and then the phone went dead.  To get them back for how they treated the bellboy the night before, the front desk failed to give a wake up call to their room.  They threw on some clothes and got down by 10.  When they got downstairs, they looked over at the front desk, and the staff just smiled at them.  We were glad to get out of there.  We never told Mr. Vivian what had happened as to why they overslept.  It was just better that way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


We left London to fly to Rome on our next stop on our European tour in July, 1973.  So little time in London.  The flight was to leave just before noon from Heathrow, so I wasn't able to eat anything before we left.  The plane was from BEA, and it was like a train with wings.  Some of the seats faced one another.  I was unfortunately facing the back of the plane.  We took off, and the flight crew passed out ham sandwiches, which didn't look very appetizing. 
 Suddenly, the plane hit an air pocket and dropped something like 8,000 feet in two seconds.  I began to hyperventilate.  My heart was racing.  I couldn't breathe.  The others around me called a flight attendant.  They gave me a barf bag and told me to breathe into the bag.  That didn't help.  A steward brought a blood pressure device.  There were two doctors on board.  They gave me some pills.  I don't know what they were, but nothing was happening for the better.  They laid me down on a row of seats and continued working on me.  The decision was made for the plane to continue to Rome.  The diagnosis was that I was having a heart attack.  The doctors and attendants continued to work on me for what seemed like an hour.  I still had no color in my face, and I was feeling very faint.  The doctors wanted to keep me awake for fear I would go into shock.  I was also very cold.  They had blankets around me to try and keep me warm.  Nothing was working.  Then, out of the blue, a little English elderly lady about two rows back told the flight attendant to "give him hot tea".  The doctors didn't think that would help, but they had exhausted everything else.  The attendant brought the tea, and I began to sip it.  Slowly, my blood pressure came back.  My color came back.  I started to feel better.  Thank God for that little, old lady. 
 We landed in Rome.  I felt fine.  Everyone was asking how I was.  I felt fine.  Especially since all those pills they had thrown into me started to take effect.  I started floating down the sidewalk.  I felt more than fine. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015


 For the next several stories, I will relate some things that happened to us in Europe.  The trip lasted 3 weeks, and covered 9 countries more or less.  It was a life-changing experience in so many ways.  These stories do not mean to criticize any country or its people.  However, they are true, as I remember them.
 First a little background.  The trip was put together by Anderson College and was hosted by Mr. Vivian.  There were four college kids on the trip, and we all got History credit for the trip, provided we wrote a paper upon returning on what we had learned.  There was one high school student on the trip.  The rest were mostly current or retired school teachers.  Besides Mr. Vivian, I was the only male on the trip.  There were 16 of us all together. 
 We left Greenville on Thursday July 5th and landed in Charlotte.  Then, it was onto NYC.  We left New York and flew via PanAm to London.  The meal on the plane was duck.  The movie was "The Thief Who Came to Dinner".  I suppose it was a good movie, starring Ryan O'Neal, but it was around midnight, when it was shown, and I didn't get a lot out of it.  We landed in London around 7am their time.  I was exhausted from the flight and jet lag.  My stomach was acting up, so I looked for a sandwich shop in downtown London to get a grilled cheese sandwich to calm my stomach.  I found a restaurant and asked them for a grilled cheese.  They told me that they didn't know how to do that.  I explained how to make it, but they didn't understand.  They made me a quiche instead.  Not quite the same, but it was pretty good.  I left the restaurant and was roaming around the area.  An American came up to me and asked me where the US Embassy was.  Of course, I didn't know.  But, using my great British accent, I pointed him in a direction.  He asked me if I was an American, and I told him that I had been living over there, but I was from Kent in southern England.  He bought the story, and he went the way I had pointed.  I found out the next day that I had sent him in the opposite direction.  Oh well.  Sorry, buddy. 
 The next day, we toured London.  We saw Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the Tower of London, the Olde Curiosity Shoppe, and lots more.  I asked the tour guide if he could point out two special spots--Savile Row, where The Beatles had their offices, and the Ministry of Defence, where James Bond worked in the movies and books.  I got to see those two places.  We took a lot of pictures, which was good, since the jet lag was still on us.  Mrs. Sitton dropped her camera and broke it.  She had to buy slides and postcards after that.  During the trip, she had to buy another suitcase to hold all of the pictures.  After we got back from the tour, we had a little free time.  I walked over to Hyde Park and hung out with the locals.  I got back to the hotel, and Mrs. Sitton asked me if I wanted to go to the British Museum.  We took the tube to the museum and got there 30 minutes before closing time.  We didn't get to see much, but I did get to see the Rosetta Stone.  That night, we went to see the play "The Mousetrap".  It was good, but our bodies said sleep.  I found out later that one of the actors in the play later went on to play "M" in the James Bond movies. 
 One thing about the food.  Yuck.  I just assume never to eat bean soup with pepper again and not get water until after the meal.  My mouth was on fire.  One other thing about London.  The English were very nice, but our hotel was filled with Pakistani workers.  Not to put them down, but I don't understand their language.  But to be fair, they probably didn't understand us much either.