My name is Patricia Jane Savage ‑‑ Maguire, Maguire was my maiden name and I was born in Seaford Delaware in 1942, March of 1942, and my parents were living in Milford, Delaware, but there was no hospital there, so I went to Seaford and in those days after you had a baby, you stayed in the hospital for two weeks, a long time, times have changed a lot. And my father was working for the Dupont Company, down in Seaford, Dupont being a new company, and they had just invented nylon, and so it was the big thing, and in Seaford they had the first nylon plant and my dad was a foreman down there, and my mother and dad were living down there and we
moved there for awhile, my dad was an alcoholic, and started drinking at the age of 14, when he was an alter boy, and was really a full‑fledged alcoholic by time was he was 14 or 15 years old and he and my mother met in high school, my mother was a year older, 15, my dad was 14 and they went together until they were 25, when they finally ran away from home, because my father came from a good Irish Catholic family on one side of Wilmington, Delaware. [My grandparents were] Both immigrants, both came across to Ellis Island from Ireland, uneducated, unskilled, as most of those Irish people were, came to Pittsburgh first and then a lot of them migrated down to Wilmington and worked in steel mills along the ‑‑ in Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania and down into Delaware. And very ‑‑ very religious, lived within the Irish community, as they all did.
And my mother on the other hand came from a good Presbyterian grandfather was a minister, my great grandfather lived to be 96 years old, my grandfather was one of the first photographers in the United States on the east coast, and a lot of the pictures in my house that I can show you upstairs are pictures that my grandfather took. He owned a studio. And I have all his glass plates, I have all the plates, or a lot of the plates that he did. So it was not a marriage that was very blessed. And they ‑‑ neither of the family would let the other one marry. So my parents ran away to Alexandria, Virginia, and got married there with the man that was up on the telephone pole, fixing, and Charlie that cleaned the parish church, the parish house, married them. 25 years later, exactly, after we traveled all over the world, Sim and I were married one block away from where my parents were married, in Alexandria, Virginia, it was amazing, and so by the time my parents got married, my father was already a full‑fledged alcoholic, and he continued to drink.
I was born during the war, he continued to drink through there, and when he drank, he never lived at home, he always stayed away. And then finally I think it got so bad that my parents moved down to Marietta, Georgia, and worked in the bomber plant where they were making the bombers, for the war, my mother worked as a secretary, my dad worked on the line, making the planes, and he ‑‑ at the end, he had been fired from 13 jobs in one year, and my mother moved back with my grandmother and I guess divorce was what was going to happen, my father disappeared for a long period of time, and a the last time he came home, somebody called my mother and said, he’s in the hotel, he’s dying, you better come, my mother went to the hotel, my father said I’ll never drink again, and he never did. He joined AA, which was a very new group in 1942, and he was one of the first to join an AA group and he never ‑‑ he was one of the very few that never turned back, he never had a slip where after two years, he said okay, I can handle this. So my father was in AA from that time until the time he died, he was very instrumental in starting AA groups all over the world, and so I don’t ever remember seeing my father drink, and it was never a part of my life, I don’t have any recollection of him drinking,
except a picture that was taken of my mother and dad and I in Hawaii, when my father was still drinking, sitting on a beach and my dad has a beer can. And for a long time, I couldn’t figure out why that picture fascinated me, and it was because I had never seen my father drink.
So ‑‑ with you during those years, I lived with my grandmother in Wilmington, Delaware, and I had a ‑‑ a glorious time with her. My mother worked and my grandmother and my great grandfather took care of me. It was a lovely existence and I have I have wonderful memories of ‑‑ of those two people taking care of me. And then I think my dad sobered up and came back and then ‑‑ well, actually what happened was my dad got a job ‑‑ the Army wouldn’t take him because he was an alcoholic, but the Army would let him work for them, helping the Japanese to set up their factories after the war, so my father went to Japan and Korea and the
Philippines to help them set up their nylon plants, nylon was new, they wanted to set it up, daddy had lot of expertise, and the wonderful stories my father tells about being an alcoholic over there and how ‑‑ all the terrible things that they did and so forth and so on, coming back to ‑‑ coming
back from Japan to San Francisco and having all these trunks filled with things that he had collected for my mother and I, dolls and kimonos and statues and everything else like that, getting off the ship, stone drunk, going to a hotel, leaving all the stuff there, going out that night, getting drunker and waking up the next morning and not remembering what hotel he had checked into. And they never, ever saw those things again, because they could never remember where my dad had checked into the hotel. But I don’t have any ‑‑ I don’t have any memory of that.
My first memories are of when my father was in Japan, they finally decided the problem was so bad at that they would send him to Hawaii for ‑‑ to get help, and to work in Hawaii, so my father moved to Hawaii with another man, they had an apartment, it was right after the war, you see, this was 1947, and there were no places to live, and these Americans were over there and wanted to send for their families and didn’t know how, they couldn’t find anyplace for them to live, so finally my dad’s roommate said I found a place to stay, I’m getting my family over here and my father got drunk that night and he said if he can bring his family, I can bring my family, so he called my mother, and said, come on, you and Patty come on, so my mother quit her very lucrative job in those days as a secretary and packed my things and her things and we went to San Francisco and she called him. And he didn’t remember calling her. So we went to Hawaii without anyplace to live and we lived in the barracks ‑‑ we finally got a place to live. But my earliest memories are of Hawaii as a little girl of 5 years old and my father says you don’t ever want to go back, because when I lived there, there were only ‑‑ the Royal Hawaiian, which is a very old hotel, still there. So I remember Hawaii very briefly, then we came back to the United States again and I started first grade in the United States, and that ‑‑ then that was the beginning of living overseas. In the first grade, I remember having my tonsils out, I remember there again living with my grandmother. And then the first place we lived was in 1949 we went to a little town ‑‑ my father was working for the British. If you remember, Germany was divided into four
parts, the Russian, French, American and British, and my father had a job with the British working with their refugee program, and helping refugees that were coming across the border from places like Estonia, and Lithuania and places like that, and we lived in a little town called Lemgo, L‑E‑M‑G‑0, and it’s ‑‑ it’s in the British sector and it’s near Hanover if you look at it on the map, Hanover and Castle being two towns that were totally destroyed by the Americans and the British, totally flattened. Castle was bombed during the day by the Americans and by the British at night and they left nothing standing in this town. It was as big as Portland. And we lived in a little town called Lemgo, which is famous for burning its witches at the stake in the 14th century, and the main part of the town was all 14th century buildings. We lived on the outside of this little town in a lovely house that we occupied, we were the occupier, and this was ‑‑ we lived in this house, the couple lived in the basement, and they were in their ‘70s, on a dirt floor, and we lived in their house with all of their belongings, and that’s what it meant to occupy a country.
And my ‑‑ my friends that I played with, I went to a German school, my friends that I played with next door were a brother and sister on the top level of the house next door and a daughter on the second level, both of whom were waiting for their father’s to come home from the war and they never came. They all ‑‑ both fathers had gone to the Russian front and obviously had died or frozen to death or whatever, and a they ‑‑ when we left, they had never seen their fathers again. They were Germans, they were all Germans, and I often wonder to this day what happened to them. As I said, I went to a German school for awhile and then I also went to a British school, both of which were the old school, long ago, in the dark ages, and it was right after the war, where discipline was used, you were beaten, your hands were slapped to God, you jumped up when the teacher came to the room and stood at attention, it was ‑‑ it was very different and it was very hard, it was very hard. And the British schools were the same way. It was ‑‑ it was ‑‑ but it was nice, I liked living with the British, they’re so civilized. You know we had tea every day at 5:00 o’clock and we had nice friends.
Then we moved to Hamburg, which is one of ‑‑ in the northern part of Germany on the sea up there, one of the biggest shipbuilding and seaports up there, and we lived at 15 Obde Strasse, I still remember the place of this, and the things I remember about that place is many, many Christmases of my life have not been traditional like they have for other people,- hotel rooms, on the beach, places like in Greece where we didn’t have Christmas trees so all the Americans took brooms and we drilled holes in them and we stuck branches in them it, just different things that we did, and that ‑‑ we lived in a hotel room and we had a little Christmas tree on the table. Then we moved to 15 Obde Strasse, my mother had ‑‑ they had ‑‑ she had two miscarriages, she could never seem to have a second child, so at that point, we proceeded to adopt a little boy, and his name was Hans, and he was about 4 years old and he had flaming red hair, his father had died during the war, his mother felt she couldn’t take care of him, there were hundreds and hundreds of orphanages all over Europe where these kids were put, they didn’t know what else to do with them. And ‑‑ but they were very unorganized, all the details hadn’t been worked out, so we had this child for six months, he was part of our family, and when we got our orders to go back to the states, the mother wouldn’t let us take him. He said you may keep him, but you can’t take him out of the country, which that was part of the things they hadn’t worked out yet, you know, they ‑‑ and we couldn’t dispute it, so after having this child for six months, they took him back, and so I ‑‑ that’s a very vivid memory. So actually for the rest of my life it was just my mother and dad and I, we never had ‑‑ I had never had any brothers and sisters.
Then we came back to the United States, always when I say we came back, with the exception of one time, we always came back for just a very short period of time, maybe three
months, maybe six months, maybe three weeks. Our destination was always Wilmington to see both sets of grandparents, and then we were off to some place else.
So the next place we were off to was to Berlin, Germany, we were there from 1950 to ‘52, we did come back to the States maybe at that time we were back for a year, then we went to Berlin, and that was a wonderful experience for me, I remember that very well, we lived in an absolute mansion. Part of the joy of living overseas or being overseas is living a different life‑style then you obviously would live in this country. Everybody could afford to have a maid, you know, cleaning woman, cook, because it was $20 a month, you know, it was a different life. Some places you lived in you went with all of your furniture, all of your possessions, because you were going ‑‑ they had no housing, so they would find housing for you as they did in Berlin, this house was owned by a general from the Nazi regimen and it was humungous. We had a grand piano in the living room which was nothing, I mean the room was so big, it was just absolutely unbelievable. There, however, we had what we called quarter master furniture, so all you were bringing at that point was ashtrays and books, some lamps, things that made it yours, but the furniture, the linens, all the pots and pans and all the china and silver were supplied for you in these houses, and there we might live in that kind of house, then you might go to a post where that was total ‑‑ total, and you just brought little things. Then you might go to the next post where it would be partial, let’s say they would only ‑‑ they would allow you 3000 pounds, because they were going to give you the basic furnishings but they weren’t going to give you any linen or china or pots and pans or lamps or anything else. Or you would go to a place where it had to be all of your furniture, and sometimes you hadn’t seen this furniture in 10 years, it had been in storage somewhere for 10 years. So it was like Christmas, seeing all these things that you hadn’t seen in all that time. So from each place that we went to, depended on what kind of a post
it was as to what ‑‑ whether you were going to have this kind of furniture or not.
And ‑‑ but like when we went to Recife, Brazil, it was a very, very humid climate, and things that we had for years, like my great grandmother’s sofa, began to disintegrate in front of our eyes, because of the humidity, so my parents had to take one room of the house as other Americans did, turn it into a dehumidified room and put everything of value that was disintegrating into that room. And then you’d by things in South America, we bought a wonderful dining room and chairs, all the chairs are down in my basement now, because as you took them out of South America into a dry climate like the United States, they would begin to shrivel up and dry because of the dry climate. So, you know, ‑‑ so most of the things that we had came from the different countries that we lived in.
So when we moved to Berlin, there in Berlin I went to an American school, there were Army ‑‑ always Army sponsored schools, your teachers were mostly Americans but lots of times nationals, but there I did go to American school, we were in Berlin for two years, then we came home to Washington, D.C., for awhile, maybe for a year, and then we went to one of our favorite places of all, which was to go to Athens, Greece, for two years, and this was really a dream come true for my mother because she was an archeologist, and to be ‑‑ to go to Greece in 1955, the only reason you went to Greece in 1955 was you were either interested in antiquity or you wanted to go to the Aegean and sail the Aegean Sea. And usually only wealthy people went there and chartered boats, or you went to see, and when I ‑‑ when we lived in Greece.
I haven’t been back there in a long time, but I understand now that the Acropolis is closed to tourist, but when we lived there, we climbed all over it. And one of the ‑‑ the ‑‑ Athens is the home for the 6th Fleet, and one of the great excitements of our lives was the fleet would come home about every three months and when we heard that they were come, all the Americans would climb the Acropolis and we would stand up there and at sunrise watch the American fleet come into ‑‑ into Athens and it was a wonderful thing and we would go up there on Easter and have our Easter sunrise service on top of the Acropolis, I mean I think about it now and I think God, how romantic, you know, and of course we could have cared less at that point, I mean we just ‑‑ you know. It was a wonderful, wonderful time to live in Greece, because it had not been discovered by tourists.
And we lived this wonderful idyllic life, always outside, lived in the first place we lived in was a big huge old house with marble floors, the kitchen was in the basement, it had a dumbwaiter, and my mother and I had ‑‑ used to have to carry all this stuff up and down the stairs, and Greece gets cold in the winter, I mean like 40 degrees, no heat, no heat, and these marble floors, man, we thought we were going to die. The second house we lived in was a brand new little house, all on one floor, which was very lovely, I think we were the first people to live in it, and it was a lovely house, typical of those countries, they had long doors that led out into patios and then all through Europe, a lot of places, they have wooden shades that you pull down and they’re wooden slats and the slats can either go all together or you can just let them stay a little a part so air can come through, and we ‑‑ every room had ‑‑ had a terrace, all the way around the house, and every room had these things.
And one day I was at this the house, there are a lot of gypsies in Greece and they’re very scary. One day I was sitting in the house and these shades, it was a very hot day and shades were open just a little inch and then a shade, an inch and a piece of wood and all of a sudden I saw this
man coming with his baboon, and the ‑‑ and they would come up and beg, and the baboon could smell you inside the house, so this baboon would go to window and shake, all his fingers would come through, his claws, would come through and he’d shake and shake and try to find me and find what room I was in. I mean ‑‑ you know, it was ‑‑ those countries are very backwards and we as Americans forget what it’s like to be in those countries, where they don’t have the traditions that we have and they are ‑‑ some of them are still very much in the middle ages. I mean when you go to Turkey and places like that, you are really stepping back into time, when you go to Iran and Iraq, people don’t realize that you’re stepping hundreds of years back into time and their mentality is that way, that’s why they treat their women that way, it’s just not ‑‑ it’s just not like living in the states.
And so that’s what it was in Greece, it was a very wonderful, romantic time and my parents lived on the golf course and I lived at the swimming pool and –and it was –it was a wonderful time, it was really a glorious time, we call it the golden ages of the McGuires. And my mother –my mother was in heaven because she was always digging and finding all kinds of archeological things, it was a good time, before anybody had been there.
And then, let’s see, from Greece we went to Frankfurt, Germany, we were there for a summer, that’s right, my father got assigned to Frankfurt for the summer, and so we drove from Athens, Greece, to Frankfurt, by car. And in order to do that, we went up through the north of Greece, into Yugoslavia, drove the length of Yugoslavia, into –into Trieste, into Italy and then into France. And we had to get special permission to drive through Yugoslavia, obviously it
was an iron curtain country, we had to get special permission. We had a black Chrysler, I remember that so well, and we had to carry gerry cans, 5 gallon gerry cans in the back of this car because there was no gas, there was absolutely no it was, and at times, 50 miles before Belgrade,
and 50 miles after Belgrade was a very good highway, the rest of the time, we were driving in little teeni dirt roads, because cars were almost nonexistent.
And one of my memories is of driving along a dirt road and running into a few thousand sheep and stopping and talking to the sheepherders, talking, communicating with the sheepherders, and having them be hypnotized by this car and the seats that had ‑‑ were soft and cushioney, and they kept touching the seats like this and talking and then sitting, and bouncing up and down on the back seat of our car. That was one thing that fascinated me and the other thing that fascinated them was my father’s ballpoint pen and my dad would click it and then he would write and they’d laugh and then they’d write and they’d see it come out, they weren’t writing anything, but they’d make a line, they’d laugh, then they’d write some more and so my father gave them the pen. Oh, you know and then got some more pens, everybody had pens, but they couldn’t write anything, they were totally illiterate, but they were drawing and oh, but little things that ‑‑ that made you remember that.
Then I remember when we got to Yugoslavia ‑‑ or when we got to Belgrade, we stayed in some awful hotels, just ‑‑ just ‑‑ you can’t imagine how awful they were, one was a place called Scop, and the rest of ‑‑ when I grew up, every time my father and mother and I wanted to say go to hell, we’d say go to Scop, because we got into this hotel room and there was one light bulb down like this like in a communist movie and an iron bed and when my mother pulled the sheets down, the bugs just went everywhere, we all slept sitting up with our clothes on, it was ‑‑ you know, but when we got to Belgrade, we stayed with a family, and Eisenhower had a heart attack and all they could ask was how was Eisenhower and how was Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. And one of the things I had to do which broke my heart was give them all my movie magazines, my mother made me give them all my movie magazines that I had from ‑‑ that I had gotten from the PX, the American store, I had to give them that, but I have vivid memories of going through Yugoslavia and how that was.
We spent the summer in Frankfurt, we went back to Greece, came back to the state’s then went to Frankfurt for a year or two. Yes, went to Frankfurt. And they ‑‑ there was a very Americanized way of living, which a lot of Americans experienced, a lot of Americans in those days really hardly knew what it was like to live overseas. We had PXs that were totally stocked with everything we could want from clothes to perfume to film to everything you could want, we had commissaries, which had all the ‑‑ all food shipped from the United States in case lots, it was just like going into a Shaw’s, it wasn’t that big but it certainly serviced us, and we had what we call classic stores, which were your liquor stores, and ‑‑ and it was always in a compound that usually had ‑‑ in Frankfurt, which was one of the largest, we had an American theater, we had bowling alleys, we had barber shops and commissary, PX, classics, laundries, almost just like American ‑‑ a little American village.
And in Frankfurt, we had very large housing units, we lived in a place called Hicoc, which was for generals or colonels and above, everything was supplied for you in the sense that you had all your furniture and pots and pans, I can’t remember if you had linens or not, then they had large quarters for people that would have been master sergeant or something like that, and very large American high schools and elementary schools, very large, and in Frankfurt High School, where I graduated, then we traveled to different places, but I graduated from Frankfurt High School, it was a dorm school and by that I mean, there was quite a large dorm story system, and the kids came, they either came for the year, like you would go to college, they came from Turkey, England, all over Europe, and they would come just like you would for college, you went home at Christmas or whatever. We had kids that went home only on the weekend that might have been maybe two hours ride, Bonn, Germany or something like that and then we had kids that went home during the day, that went home maybe an hour’s ride every single night and then those of us that lived in Frankfurt, so it was a big system and it was just ‑‑ and it was kind of hard on those kids that lived in Turkey or other places, it was hard life for them, to be so far away and maybe in the 8th, 9th grade, and to live in a dorm situation. Those teachers, there again, were all
Americans or some nationals that taught us, but it was as big a high school as South Portland high school, and it was one of the larger ones.
And by this time, my father had become what they call an admin officer or administration officer, it was his responsibility to take care of the post, he took care of the car pool, if you ‑‑ when all of the luggage, all the furniture, all the apartments, anything ‑‑ all the embassies or ‑‑ you could either be working in an embassy or a consulate or the state department, depending ‑‑ each post, depending on where you were, with we lived in Greece, it was called a Consulate, it wasn’t big enough to have an embassy. In a big place like Frankfurt, you had an embassy but you
also had the American State Department unit there, because it was such a big place. So that was what my dad was doing, more or less taking care of the post, on the State Department side of it, not the Army side of it.
Then from Frankfurt we went to Rome and lived in Rome for a year in a lovely apartment where my father was working there again, as an admin officer, and there again, I went to the American ‑‑ what they call an Anglo American school, which was ‑‑ and this is what I did in Greece, I went to an Anglo‑American school, which meant that it was bilingual and the teachers were really from all over the place and a lot of Greek kids went there and in Greece, now I
understand the American high school is huge, but when I went there, it was in an old villa and with the chandelier still hanging down and beautiful mosaic fireplaces and school desks, I mean, you know it just –and little quonset huts outside, I mean it was a very, you know, different
From Rome we came back to the states for a little while and then we went to –I guess –I guess we went to Frankfurt, you guess that’s where I graduated from. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I think that’s right. I went back –and it was nice for me. By that time I had been —
by the time I reached Frankfurt High School, I had been to 19 schools by my sophomore year, because sometimes it was only for six months, I’d come home, we’d be home for six months,
I’d be in one school, I went to school out in California, Anaheim, California, for six months, I went to school, lots of times in Washington, D.C., at a number of different schools, schools in Wilmington Delaware, if we were going to be home for three months, they had to put me in school, so it was a lot of schools. But –but the nice part about it was when I lived overseas, we were all in the same boat, we were all foreign service or Army or Navy brats, we had no –there
was no distinction. We didn’t –as I remember, care whether your father was a staff sergeant or a colonel, they didn’t care whether you were in the State Department or the Army or the Navy, it didn’t ‑‑ it honestly didn’t make any difference whether you were black or white or ‑‑ that ‑‑ I never learned about that until I moved back to the this country, as an adult. Granted there were very few blacks, but there was just no distinction, we didn’t know any better. And that was because we were all moving constantly, and we didn’t move together, somebody came in and you made best friends with them and six months later, they left. There were no time for cliques, there was no time for groups of people that didn’t like other groups of people because none of us were there that long. And so ‑‑ and it was fortunate, we all ‑‑ I think that’s one of the reasons that I make friends easily, that I don’t have a problem with that, it was because we just didn’t know that. You were in one school and you know, it was like everything else, oh, I’m going to leave here, I’ll never find friends like this again, crying, crying, crying, it will never be the same again, and three months later, you’re now living in Frankfurt, you’ve got all new friends and you were going to write to these people every single day of your life and you did it for the first week.
So we were always moving and changing and learning to a department, very quickly, because one ‑‑ one time I was in a Greek school and I was making straight D’s and the next time it would be an American school making straight A’s, there was absolutely no consistency as far as that. And the only consistency in my life was my mother and father. We went to every single post we ever went to with a happy heart. That was the name of the game. Oh, gosh, I don’t know what it’s going to be like. No, we went, it’s going to be wonderful, a new experience, isn’t this going to be great, my mother was a very special person, this is a self portrait that my mother did, of herself, she never finished it, her eyes weren’t that green, her hair wasn’t that red, but that looks exactly like her. Each one of these pictures, of course this doesn’t help the tape recorder, that were done on these walls were done by my mother and these are all different places that is we lived in, the top one is France, the one ‑‑ the other two are Africa, South America, Greece, on the other side, Bavaria, the living room up there is my two dogs being I have to tell you about my two dogs, some of the things that are in that picture are in this house.
My mother was the world’s most wonderful tourist and the world’s worst traveler, she came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she was a little town girl, it was very hard for her as my father climbed the ladder of ‑‑ of the foreign service, you must do a lot of entertaining and carrying on and it was difficult for my mother to do that, and she ‑‑ she worked at it constantly, but the best thing she did was when we moved into a new post, my father went to work, I went to
school and she made that house very quickly the home that my father and I expected. The same ashtray went from ‑‑ every place we went, this ashtray went, every ‑‑ you know, so it always looked like home and she very quickly made it that way, so that was the stability that I had, and then – and then I just had to go out and make new friends and adjust to a new school and ‑‑ and it wasn’t a burden, you just did it, there ‑‑ I mean I didn’t think, oh, this is awful, this is terrible, and so I think it made me be a very flexible person.
My mother and father and I were extremely close, we were a very close family, always from the time I was a little girl until both of them passed away, I was very close to both of them. And so it made it nice, we traveled easy and we did, you know, did those kinds of things easily. So, now ‑‑ I have a wonderful story about the time that I was born. My father was drinking and he found out that I was a girl and he ‑‑ they came out, you know how they do and tell you, Mr.
Maguire it’s a girl, but in those days you couldn’t see your wife right away, I mean you had to wait, so my father went out and celebrated. And my mother waited and waited for him to come to the room and he never did, until the next day, and she was pretty upset. And when he came in, I was just like a little Ape, I was covered with black hair, all over my face, my arms, it melted away, you know, within the first day or two, it does, but daddy said I was fire engine red with hair that came all the way down here, everywhere. And he just looked at my mother and said don’t worry, Mary Jane, we’ll give her a good education. And my mother started to cry because I must have been so ugly.
And the only other thing that I can remember about when I was born was my mother said that in those days, it was during the war and she had two outfits to wear the whole 9 months she was pregnant and so she had my dad bring this wonderful suit that she had been waiting to get into and of course she couldn’t get into it, so she had ‑‑ she cried all the way home because she had to be in one of these maternity dresses all the way home, all the way home. Yup, that’s what I remember about, that they would give me a good education, and they did. Well, they didn’t, really. I did terrible in college, absolutely terrible.
[The transition from one school to the next] Was almost impossible, it was almost impossible, and I think that’s why your grades fluctuated, because when you were going to a Greek school, of course you were ‑‑ you were learning the language and you were ‑‑ you were trying desperately to get all the information through a new language, and what they were teaching you was totally different than what they might teach to an American in the 3rd grade or the 5th grade, there was absolutely no comparison at all. And there wasn’t even comparison from an
American school to American school. And so it was a hodge ‑‑ it really was a hodgepodge of learning. And the struggle for me was ‑‑ and I think my mother felt was it was the inconsistency in grammar and language. I cannot spell, I can barely spell my own name and I don’t know whether that comes because in those formative years of let’s say first, second and 3rd grade, I was really ‑‑ I started out in American school in the first grade, but then, you know, I was in this German school in Lemgo, I was ‑‑ it was just, you know, so I really ‑‑ unlike other people have difficulty pronouncing phonics, I don’t see things like other people see and it may come from that, because both of my parents were excellent spellers, that wasn’t a problem. So I think it did have an effect on my education. But in the long run, I wouldn’t trade it, you know, I wouldn’t trade one day of it. I just wouldn’t trade one day of it.
I have wonderful memories of being in Berlin the first time in 1950 to ‘52, I was there when they blew up Hitler’s chancellery, I ‑‑ you know, spent much time over in East Berlin, walking around and seeing East Berlin, my parents ‑‑ then I graduated from Frankfurt High School and my parents moved to Berlin, again, for a second time, from 1960 to 64, and I went down to the university in Munich to go to school, and at this point, my grandmother, on my mother’s ‑‑ my mother’s mother had come to live with us, and she had been with us my senior year in high school in Germany or ‑‑ or in Frankfurt and moved to Berlin with my parents, where she died of cancer there.
But the interesting thing about living in Berlin was we ‑‑ we were there when the wall went up, and I ‑‑ I can remember it as clear as day, I was home from school, the phone rang, my father was the duty officer that night, and we were used to phone calls in the middle of the night
because my father was starting a new AA group of Germans, but anyway, he got up out of bad and he said “Damndest thing, something is happening down at the Brandenburg Gate, the Russians are putting up some kind of wire or doing something down there and I’ve got to go see what it is.” And so my father got up out of bed and went downstairs and that was the beginning of the Berlin wall, with the huge bales of bobbed wire started that night. And my mother and I went down the next day to see what was going on and then we ‑‑ we were in Berlin as they began to build the wall. And that was the last time my father ever went in to East Berlin, because the agreement was that you could — the four powers could cross over the border without any — just looking at the passport, now they wanted to take my father’s passport away from him and he ‑‑ he would not allow them to do that, but that as protocol, he just couldn’t allow them to do that, so he never went back in.
My mother and I went in a number of times after the wall went up and we would go back into East Berlin and go to the museum. When Berlin was divided, the Russians got all the culture, the Americans got all the industrial stuff, so the ‑‑ the wonderful things to see were in East Berlin. Of course they had never been repaired and it was like walking into a ghost town, it was ‑‑ for me it was like walking back into 1940 ‑‑ in the 1940s, the way the woman dressed, they had fixed up the main streets in East Berlin with facades and the front of the buildings looked great, but if you walked around to the back, there wasn’t any, and I think it would still be in parts of Berlin like that today. It was a very interesting ‑‑ probably the most interesting time in my life.
I was also in Berlin when Kennedy died, when Kennedy came to Berlin, my mother and dad met him, when he came and said, “Ich bein ein Berlin,” which means I’m a Berliner. And he was just absolutely loved by the Germans, and especially the Berliners. When he died, the city went into deep mourning, and they pulled out their black arm bands, which they had not worn since the war. If you lost someone in the war, you worn a black arm band and they pulled these out and one of my father’s jobs as the admin officer was to go down into the basement and get these huge condolence books that every embassy had just in case this ever happens, and
they bring them up with pens and they brought down this huge picture of Kennedy and the Germans lined up for three days, they closed down all the movies and beer halls, for three days and they stood in line, four abreast, to sign these condolence books that were then sent on, you know, wherever they were sent, you know, supposedly to the White House where I’m sure Jackie read every name, but I mean ‑‑ you know, I don’t know what happened to them, but they were ‑‑ and I was living ‑‑ I can remember that very well, living in Berlin then.
And living in Berlin, one of the interesting jobs that I was ‑‑ I was fluent in German, so when ‑‑ of the wall went up, and the reason the wall went up was of course the East Germans were going over the border at something like 2000 a day, and they were going to one of three refugees camps that we had set up and the one that I worked in was called Marionborn and the Germans would come over, they would seek asylum, they would quickly take them to one of these camps, they would decide quickly whether these were political refugees or not, if they were political refugees, they would separate them very quickly and try to get them out of the country within 72 hours, Marionborn was one of these political refugee camps, and I worked there at night, 1 worked in the nursery, and during the day, I was a translator for all the American Undersecretary of Navy and all these people that were coming through these camps. And I would
translate for them by day and at night, we would take care of the kids in the nursery, and it was a ‑‑ a very active place because they had these planes that were flying out constantly, so they would come in and say we need these two children, wash them, bathe them, feed them, and they will
meet their parents and we’re going to send them to Canada, try to get them out of the country as quickly as possible, so that was my ‑‑ one of my jobs during the summer that I was there.
Then of course the Wall went up. And I had many, many German friends in Berlin, and one of the couples was an older couple, that I had befriended, it was their son that I knew, but they were ‑‑ they were in their ’70s, and the wall went up and then it was the following year and a half later, when they opened it up for one day for Easter, it was ‑‑ it was awful, because it was from sunrise to sunset, and people stood in line ‑‑ people stood in line for 24 to 36 hours to get a pass to go over, for 24 hours, and this older couple was too old to stand in line, so we took turns standing in line, I stood for about four or five hours, and got them passes, so that they could go over and see their relatives, some times were the only time ‑‑ they knew they’d never see them again, and they never did. This guy ‑‑ this man saw his sister and she died very shortly thereafter.
So it ‑‑ it’s hard for people to understand what it is like to take a city like Portland and put a wall right through the middle of the city and never, ever be able to see the people on that other side of the city again. And there were a number of places in Berlin where you could ‑‑ of
course the wall was very high, and you couldn’t see over it at any point, and the West Berliners built platforms, where you could stand up on top of the platform and look in, and they would use those platforms until the East Berliner ‑‑ until the East German guards got hold of what they were
doing, and one of them was a place where two streets came down, and met like that [in a v], and I ‑‑ I was there one time with a friend, you’d climb up to the platform, watching another couple stand over here, who had gotten a letter from this couple over here, who was her sister saying we have a new baby, we want you to see it, come to the platform at 10:00 o’clock on Sunday, we’ll walk down the street, we’ll be bouncing a red ball and we’ll turn around and go up the street, and that’s is exactly what happened and we watched them as this woman just bawled, seeing her sister over there who she couldn’t call to, because the woman would have been shot instantly, just like that, and watching them come down, they took the baby out of the stroller, they played with him for awhile and then three or four days later you’d hear that platform had been ‑‑ you either dismantled a platform or they’d build a wall higher. And in those early days when the wall went up, we went a number of times to watch bodies hanging there. They would try to climb over the wall and the Germans would shoot them and they’d leave them there, to show you what was going to happen to you, and then the Americans or the Germans would complain loudly enough that they would finally take the bodies down. A lot of tunnels being built, some very successful, where they would get hundreds of people through before it was discovered, others that never made it, so it was a very interesting time to live in Berlin, and to see all that was happening.
So when the wall came down, it was a very emotional thing for me last year when it came down, I wished so, and my father ‑‑ I kept saying to my dad, what will happen, and he said one day it will just crumble, and that’s exactly what happened. I mean when this wall came down and I saw those people at night, I could hardly believe it. It just ‑‑ I just couldn’t believe that was happening, because, you know, there’s a whole generation of people that grew up there, having never, never ‑‑ they never knew any other way.
And — but I can remember Berlin before the wall went up, I remember driving back and forth and going into East Berlin and Berlin must have been one of the most fantastic cities in the world, before the war. Paris, London, Rome and Berlin. They must have been so cosmopolitan
in the 1930s, it must have been just ‑‑ if you had money, it must have been a real good way to live, a really good way to live. And the only thing that I kind of remember about that, and this ‑‑ this has gone ‑‑ my children will never experience this or my grandchildren, was the days of the
luxury liners, and I traveled on ‑‑ on a large majority of them, and those days are over forever, and I was on the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary, the Constitution, the Independence, the Andria Doria, which sank, and the Christopher Columbus, I was on a lot of those that was such
an elegant way to travel in the 1930s, and even in the 1950s when we did it, it was the most elegant way to travel. You were on the ship let’s say for 7 to 10 days and you dressed formally, every night, and your bed were turned down and there were fruits in your room and flowers and you had your own wine stored and you had ‑‑ I mean it must have been just ‑‑ I mean it was paid ‑‑ the State department paid for us, but I can’t imagine ‑‑ and even then I think it was losing some of it’s posh, but I think in the 1920s and 30s, it must have been a glorious way to travel and a glorious time to live in New York, it must have been, and those ‑‑ you know, those cities. But I ‑‑ I never saw any of those cities before the war, but I can imagine, that it must have been really good, really good. [My best friend Linda] And I went to high school together, we’ve known each other since we were 14 and 15, her father was in the Army, he was a colonel in the Army, he was in the Corp of Engineers and he’s the one that designed Kennedy’s grave, the flame, the eternal flame that’s there, and she was on the other side of the continent from me, she lived in Okinawa in the Philippines and Japan as a young girl and did most of her growing up in that ‑‑ in the
Orient. And then we met at Frankfurt High School. Then they went to Kaiserlauter, which is in the southern part of Germany, he was stationed there and then he came to Frankfurt, so I’ve kept ties with those people. About six years ago we had a Frankfurt High School reunion, which was fun, and people came from everywhere in the United States, and that was fun, because there is a certain bond that we felt as Americans that I don’t think other high school kids felt, because we ‑‑ we were such a unit, and so that was fun, and so there are about four of them, that I keep in touch
with, but as the years go by, you know, you lose touch with people, especially if everybody is traveling and going to a post every two years, it only takes a few years before you’ve lost touch with that person. And sometimes you wish you knew where a lot of these people were, it’s too bad.
Well, you know, in the American schools, it was very similar to this, there was a yearbook, there was cheerleading, there was football, it was exactly like an American high school. In a European school, it’s exactly the opposite, there are no school activities, there is no
sports, you may have clubs, the Europeans are big on having clubs, a soccer club and it can ‑‑ but it’s not connected with the school, the schools in Europe are very different, they don’t have any activities, you go to classes and that’s it. There ain’t no yearbook, and there’s not any Latin club
or, you know, I was ‑‑ I was on the year club, I was in every theater and play, I was in every dramatics, all through high school and all through college, that was my focus, was whatever theater group they had. I was in every chorus, always a chorus, never solo. So some places, there again, that was different, some places very Americanized, like Frankfurt, just exactly like going to South Portland high school with the same kind of groups and organizations, radio club, you know, whatever, then the next school you went to was a Greek school where woman were seen and not heard and you didn’t do anything or, you know, ‑‑ and it was a very secluded life. Very strict. Speak when spoken to. And not a lot of school activities.
Well, I think it might have been [hard to adjust], I don’t think I ever knew any better, dumb fat Irish man as they say. I just did whatever they ‑‑ I mean I don’t have recollections of being desperately unhappy. One time I remember being desperately unhappy in my school life or life was between two posts, we lived in Anaheim, California, for six months and I went to the American school there, the American school, I went to the school in Anaheim, California, and I was laughed at and really ridiculed, they used to call me queen of Yugoslavia, because I had lived overseas, they thought I was being, you know, I thought I was some kind of princess or something, and of course just ridiculing me because I was different. And it was a very painful
experience for me. I didn’t fit in at all, I tried to, but southern California is laid back and the kids were very cruel and very critical. And I remember that as being very painful for me. Very different from European schools or other American schools that I had done gone to. I just ‑‑ I ‑‑ it was the first time I ‑‑ my feelings had ever really be hurt and I didn’t understand why, I didn’t think I had done anything to warrant that. But it’s ‑‑ it comes from people being critical of things they don’t know and understand, it’s the story of our life, I mean just because I had lived overseas I must have thought I was some kind of queen of Yugoslavia, that sort of attitude and I didn’t understand that, I just hadn’t done anything, so I remember that as being quite painful.
We came back (to the United States] every two years. If you’re in the Army or in the State Department, you usually come back for what they call home leave every two years and it usually lasts for a month or two months if you’re going to return to the same post that you’ve been to. If you’re changing posts, it could be longer, it could be three months to six months or whatever.
But the last time ‑‑ my parents were in Berlin, I came home, I lived with them from June until I ‑‑ and then all the way until January, until January, and I worked ‑‑ I actually kind of worked for my father in Berlin at something they call green week. It’s put on in Berlin for all
countries to come and bring their newest innovative ‑‑ innovative things in a huge exposition, and the Americans was to bring, da ta da, frozen food, that shows you hold old I am, this was 1964, and frozen food was in the United States in a big way, but the Europeans had ‑‑ they didn’t have a clue what to do with it. They ‑‑ first of all, the Europeans still to this day are used to shopping on a daily basis and now they ‑‑ they all have refrigerators, I’m sure, but basically they shop from day‑to‑day, they go down to the market, meat, vegetables, you know, so forth and so on.
So we were going to bring ‑‑ I had been hired to ‑‑ to work there mostly because I spoke German and because this would be between Americans and Germans and I worked down there, it was hysterical, and the problem was that the Europeans would buy a box of frozen peas and even though you would say you have to put these in the refrigerator, they would walk around the fair grounds for eight hours, and then go home and put it on their kitchen table for a few hours and then leave it out overnight and then eat it and they were going to get sick, so we had to fill all these frozen ‑‑ or cases with boxes of empty ‑‑ empty boxes, because we couldn’t let them take them home.
But the interesting thing about that, that was in 1964, and one of the things that we were doing was taking frozen foods and putting them in this thing and heating them up, and this box was a microwave, and none of us even knew what a microwave was, and so that the Germans could then sit down at this little restaurant and eat it. So I worked for this green week and then my parents were transferred back to the states and we came back and I lived with my parents in
this temporary quarters for a little while and I ‑‑ it’s the first I knew the game was up, I knew I wasn’t going to live in Europe anymore, that I was going to have to become Americanized and live in this country or go back and live in Europe forever, I had to make that decision.
Obviously I was going to come back and live in this country, but I thought the best thing that I can do is get with an organization that has connections overseas. And my best friend Linda, who I just talked about, was working for the Peace Corp and the Peace Corp was brand new. I mean brand new, just a few months old and she said come to work for the Peace Corp, so I did. And I got a job as an administrative assistant or secretary, whatever you choose, for the Thailand desk in Bangkok and I ‑‑ I worked in Washington and I ‑‑ I worked there for two years and just was the secretary for all the trainees and all the people that were going over and did all the correspondence between Bangkok and ‑‑ and it was in the days when Sergeant Shriver was, you know, Kennedy and Sergeant Shriver and, it was every decision you made was a new decision, it was a wonderful time to be with the Peace Corp. I would have liked to have gone overseas, but I knew I couldn’t do that. And so I lived in Washington on Pennsylvania Avenue and worked for the Peace Corp and it was a real good time, it was.
I also before the year before I lived out in San Francisco for awhile by myself, I had a boyfriend out there that I followed out there and I lived out in San Francisco for awhile, but I loved living in Washington, it was a lot of young people, we knew a lot of people on the hill, a lot of Congressman’s aids and so forth and so on and it was during that time that I met Sim, when I was working in Washington for the Peace Corp. He had flunked out of Princeton and was living at home and taking some courses trying to get back in to Princeton, which he did. And it was during that time that I met him and started dating him and then went back and forth to Princeton for a year or two before we got married.
[I met Sim] On a houseboat. I was at a party on a houseboat on the Potomac with a naval cadet and I was with another old friend of mine from Germany and she and Sim met on the steps and kissed and hugged and carried on and hadn’t seen each other from high school and I instantly disliked him, instantly disliked him, but then he kept calling the apartment to talk to her and she wasn’t there so he and I began to talk and, you know, started to date and that’s how‑‑ he was much younger than I was, two and a half years, so at first I really wasn’t interested. I was more interested in older men. So that’s how I met him.
Sim was born and raised in Alexandria, lived there all of his life, on his mother’s side he comes from a very, very wealthy family, there were five children and Sim’s grandfather was an architect and designed a lot of the buildings in New York City and up along the Hudson, big homes along the Hudson, retired at a very early age, sent two daughters, one daughter to Wellesley, and one to Hollins and three boys to Princeton, retired when he was 50 and traveled all over Europe and took the family all over Europe.
Mrs. Savage comes from a lot of money. Mr. Savage is exactly the opposite, comes from down in Virginia, Franklin, Virginia, a little teeni town, it’s a pulp mill and peanut town, lived in the same house all of his life, it was built by his great grandfather, very poor ‑‑ very hard hit by the depression, 15 people living in the same house, that type of thing, and they met in Baltimore and then moved to Alexandria and Sim and Derek, his only brother, were born there, and so Sim was born and raised there, went to St. Stephens School where Christopher and Peter went and then his sophomore year went to prep school in Connecticut and then went to Princeton from there. A very sheltered life.
A very, very Episcopalian, very traditional, very ‑‑ my family, my mother and father and I were kissy, kissy, lovey, lovey, a lot of carrying on, his family is very straight and very ‑‑ don’t show emotions or any kind of holding of hands in public or anything else like that, so he and I are very different in that respect, we were.
Sim did everything that was expected of him, he did exactly what each generation before him had done, and he was expected to go to prep school and go to Princeton and graduate and put on a three piece suit and get into business or banking and that’s exactly what he did. It never dawned on him, he wasn’t unhappy doing anything that he did, he went to all the debutante balls, he was that society of Alexandria that did all that kind of thing and was very happy doing it, it just never dawned on him that wasn’t something he wanted and it was much later in life when he really decided ‑‑ so what happened with us was that we met and we went together for two years, I commuted back and forth to Princeton or he came down, and we got married in between his sophomore and junior year with the blessings of his parents, they were very pleased that we were getting married. My parents were in ‑‑ my parents were in Africa or was that before Peter was born, that was before Peter was born, my parents were in South America, in Brazil, and they came home for the wedding, we were married and then moved to Princeton and spent our last two years there. And I worked for Gallup Poll and I was a secretary for the vice‑president of Gallup Poll and Sim went to school.
And then when we got out of school, we ‑‑ Sim interviewed, as everybody does, and got a job with Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh and we moved to Pittsburgh and with we lived outside of Pittsburgh and quite frankly I could have lived there for the rest of my life, I absolutely adored it, and I think what I adored about it was that we lived in a little town called Sweekly, very, very wealthy, little cute little Camden or ‑‑ type of Falmouth or Yarmouth type of town, lots of money, and it was the only time I can ever remember living in a little town where I could walk down to the center of town and you ‑‑ I guess I was so used to living in a different place every two years in a big city, that this was a very American to me, this business of walking in to town and going to the grocery store and seeing the same people again and stopping and standing and talking to them and going to their houses and I loved ‑‑ I loved it. But Sim really was not thrilled with Mellon and wanted to move back to Alexandria, so we lived there, Christopher was born in October and we moved in January, and we moved back to Alexandria, and we lived there until we moved up here. We lived there for 17 years. And maybe even longer than that. And about two miles away from Sim’s parents and Alexandria is a very social place and Sim’s parents are very social and very involved and we also got involved, and I ‑‑ my boys went to the same school, private school Sim did, St. Stephens, and I loved it but Sim really began to change and really realized that this wasn’t what he wanted, he didn’t want to live in a big city, he was tired of the crime, he was tired of all the things that were going on and he kept saying there’s got to be a better way of life, there’s just got to be, and he had gone up to camp up here in Maine as a young kid and we had come twice to Sugarloaf to ski during the years, in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and so it was a matter of wanting to move to New England or move out to the Rockies, which we love, because we are very outdoorsy people. And the economy and such was better in New England and Sim had headhunters looking for him and the job came in Portland and that’s how we came here.
And it was a big move, it was a big move for him, it was one thing for me to move, I moved all my life, I’m a gypsy, I’m just like my father, I can hardly wait to go, I can hardly wait to go anywhere and it never bothered ‑‑ I don’t have ‑‑ a home is where I am at the time. I never lived anyplace for any length of time until we lived in Alexandria for 17 years, so that’s why it was hard for me to leave, but what was hard for me to leave was my friends, it was not hard for me to leave anything else but my friends. And for men, who I don’t feel ever have those kinds of close friendships, it was no problem for Sim at all. So it was a good move for us. There was nothing negative about it. And I tried to make it the same way my mother would always make it, a very positive attitude. I mean you know not what’s going to be bad, what’s going to be good. And so Sim’s parents still live in Alexandria, Mr. Savage is 83 and both of them are ‑‑ are remarkable. Sim last one brother, married, lives in Baltimore and both he and his wife are lawyers and he works for Johns‑Hopkins University. And so that’s how we got here.
I had two boys, Christopher is 23, Peter is 18, both born ‑‑ Peter born or Chris born in Pittsburgh, Peter born in Alexandria, not well, Christopher is the older one, and up until the age of about 14, he was absolutely perfect. Not perfect, but a great kid, fun to be with, laughing all the time and just reminds me very much of my father. And therefore continues the saga of my father, he’s 25 very much a gypsy, loves to drink and party. And so at the age of 14, that began to get him in trouble and for the next let’s say five years that he was at home, it was a real struggle, it was a –it was –it put a terrible strain on our marriage, on my family, on the relationship, at times it made us a totally dysfunctioning family. He would drink, there was a lot of episodes in hospitals, a lot of episodes at police stations, just a lot of getting in trouble. And
there didn’t seem to be any end to it. You know, it started when we were in Virginia and it certainly continued here at South Portland, and then as he would go away and come back
and live with us for another six months, it was another six months of being out all night and us worrying all night and being in trouble and trying to get him out of trouble and paying fees and paying lawyers and paying doctor bills and hospital bills and having him never quite get his act
together. And –and I’m not sure that he still does, you know. He’s a very independent wild kid who needs to get his act together.
And Peter, my younger one, is exactly the opposite. He was very much of a momma’s boy and very whiny when he was a baby, we couldn’t stand him, we thought he must be adopted, because he couldn’t be our kid, whiny, whiny, sniffly, sniffly kid, who all of a sudden when we moved here just changed his act. He’s almost too conservative. You know, it’s fine now, but what will he be like at 58 years old. He just has a very mature and has a good head on his shoulders. They couldn’t be any different. And I think Chris is me and I think Peter is Sim. And, you know, so there you are.
But I think basically the four of us have always had a pretty good time and tried to have a good relationship, exactly as my parents and I did. I can’t say that’s the case with Sim and his parents, he is more distant with them but I was extremely close with my parents and I’ve tried to do that with the boys, I’ve tried to be very close to them, a lot of hands on, feeling, kissing, hugging, telling them I love them, that type of thing. I think I’ve given ‑‑ I think from my travels and from being like that, I’ve given them both of them feeling of independence. I think ‑‑ I’d like to think I gave both of them a good feeling about themselves or self‑worth, but I can’t say that’s true of Christopher. I think that Chris does not feel good about himself and I think that’s what makes him sad. Having been a preschool teacher for 15 years, I think the things that I have learned are that the most important thing I could give these children by the age of 5 is a feeling of self‑worth and to like yourself, because if you don’t like yourself by the age of 5, you’re going to spend a lifetime searching for it and trying to make your self feel good. If you already feel that way, no matter what happens in your life, you’ll always know that you are a good person, you may not be too smart or beautiful, but you’re basically ‑‑ I mean I like myself, I think I’m nice
person and I can’t say that Christopher feels that way and I think that comes from a number of years of different things that happened in his life. A learning disability that was dwelt on and so he began to feel that he was dumb, getting in trouble too many times and getting slapped down too many times and so I think the sad part to me is I don’t think he feels good about himself, I think he feels better maybe now than he did last year, but he’s one of those people that’s going to spend a lifetime trying to feel good about himself, whereas Peter already feels good and he knows, you know, that doesn’t mean that awful things aren’t going to happen to you in your life and you’re not going to handle them very well, but I think I’ve given my boys both a very ‑‑ both of them are very happy and have a very positive outlook on life, that is not always true of Sim, and ‑‑ but it is true of me. And that’s the one good thing that I think I’ve given them, is a very positive, always laughing and joking and seeing the brighter side of things. And as was my father, the same type of thing.
From my father, just like I said (gave me] A very positive, happy outlook on life, always loving life constantly, it gets a little boring after awhile. I’m not sure about my mother. I wish I had all my mother’s qualities. My mother was very much of a lady, very feminine and I’m just like my dad, I’m just not. I mean, you know, I’m just not. Certainly I am in a way, but not the way think of my mother as being. She was lovely as mothers of the ‘50s were lovely. Just ‑‑ I can’t explain it anymore than that they were just lovely people. She didn’t have my temper. And I think I get some of my mother’s artistic ability, not that kind of artistic ability, but an eye for things that ‑‑ that my mother had, an eye for how ‑‑ you know, colors and things like that.
Well, when Sim and I got married, I worked as a secretary for awhile and then when Christopher was born I didn’t work at all. And I didn’t work after Peter ‑‑ I didn’t work from the time Chris was born in 1969 until Peter ‑‑ and Peter was born in ‑‑ in ’74, and in ‘77, when Peter
was two and a half or three, he went to a preschool. I had not worked a day during that period. And they had a substitute list of parents when teachers were sick and I put my name up for the fun of it and they started calling me and I would go in at least once or twice a week because a teacher was sick and then all of a sudden we had a teacher out for an extended period of time and I came in, and at the end of the year, they asked me if I would want to teach the next year. And you have realize that this was 16 years ago, when preschools were just preschools, and you didn’t need a degree, you didn’t need nothing, you just needed to be in there. And so I really started out from the ground up.
I had the one year olds when I started, one to 18 months, I had eight kids and I had an aid that came in and helped me change diapers and I absolutely loved it. They had to finally say Patty, you have got to go to an older class, you’ve been here long enough, I was going on to my third year, I just loved having them, and so I was one of those kind of people, I mean I ‑‑ you know, if I had to do it today, I couldn’t, because I don’t have a degree. I took lots of teaching course ‑‑ you know how you do, I took lots of courses, I was always taking some course, but it certainly wasn’t toward anything, I mean I wasn’t trying to get my teaching degree nor would I do it now, because there’s no money in it, in preschool. People keep saying when I — why don’t you go back and get your degree in teaching and — because making $4000 a year ain’t my idea of heaven. I mean if I’m going to teach and that’s why I finally left it. But it was ‑‑ it was the best times that I ever had.
And I learned a lot about human nature, it was and it was a perfect thing for me to do with a family that was growing, I had off all summer, I had off every vacation, I had off ‑‑ you know, it was just ‑‑ it was a wonderful thing to do that way. And I just think that I loved it more than anything. I loved being with children, it’s my favorite thing to do, the last well maybe eight years of that time I taught four and five year olds. And I ‑‑ and I really felt I made a difference. I don’t think people give that age group enough credit for how important it is to establish things at that age. I felt that I helped a lot of parents, new parents, who had never had children before, who don’t have any common sense, and the first reflection of how you’re doing as a human being is how your kid is doing and so you have ‑‑ you have to handle these parents with kid gloves, and ‑‑ and it was a learning experience for me, to do that.
So I think they were some of the happiest years for me, were the years that I taught preschool, I loved doing it, and I thought I did it well. I thought I was good at what I did. And it was because I loved and because basically I loved to get down on the floor and play with kids and I know what it’s going to be like to be a grandparent, because you are locked in a room with kids with no phones and no wash and no house to clean and nothing to do and you can enjoy
these children for what they are. And ‑‑ and parents don’t have that luxury, because when they’re at home, especially a working mom, they’ve got 5000 things to do, plus love this kid, oh, please, and I ‑‑ that was the joy that I experienced, was to see what these children were capable of doing at that age. So I missed ‑‑ I do miss, I miss that.
And I ‑‑ and I ‑‑ there are parts of it I don’t miss. I don’t miss the planning for it, but I miss the day‑to‑day activity of it. [Life is] WONDERFUL [without the kids at home]. Well, wonderful and very different. I can remember my next door neighbor who I saw just a week or so ago saying she couldn’t wait until Francis went. She just couldn’t stand her, I can’t wait until she went. And I thought what a terrible thing to say, because Christopher and Peter were still quite you young, but when we went through all this terrible business with Christopher, I couldn’t wait for him to leave and it has only been in the last ‑‑ I mean honestly, the last few months that I can even think about him coming home, because he brings such electricity to this house. And I thought, you know, God provides, he said this kid needs to leave because he’s grown up and so quite frankly, we thought that the same thing would happen when Peter left, but it hasn’t been. Sim and I have both missed him very much, because he was ‑‑ it was just all of his activities and friends and things like that. So we do miss him, but there’s another part of us that Sim and I like.
We ‑‑ you know, we have our own hours, we don’t have to wait up for anybody, and it ‑‑ it ‑‑ it’s brought a new freshness necessary to our marriage. I mean I just think it’s the next stage. We just have each other to worry about. Kind of when we first got married and all those other
pressures are just gone. And so we seem to be enjoying each other more than we have in years. Because we get along very well together. And it is the stress of family that ‑‑ I run by my heart and my emotions and Sim runs by his logic, and see we would butt heads a lot, usually he was right, but that ‑‑ you can scratch that part from the tape, I don’t want him to hear that usually he was right because he was going by logic and I was going by what my heart was telling me and when you’re dealing with kids, it’s not like dealing with anything else, it’s not like dealing with business or each your own parents or anything else, it is dealing with the most important thing in your life. And so it’s been ‑‑ it’s been a lovely time for us. And that’s almost why I kind of resent the hours at Bean’s, because we want to be together. We waited a long time to get here and then I’m working all the time or when he’s not, I am.
I am a very unambitious person. I really am ‑‑ I have no ‑‑ I never have been ambitious to do anything other than have a family and ‑‑ I have been hysterically happy doing what I want. No outside ambitions to be a career woman and be some mega, mega, mega, it’s just not that important to me. I love being good at what I do, I would love to be – I loved being a good preschool teacher, I’d love to be a good team leader for 10 years but I have no desire to be a supervisor of nothing. I ‑‑ I can see where I could be a team leader, that’s just about as much as I would want to do. I’m just not.
Sim is another question. He needs to find what it is he wants to do. He does not want to be a banker. He wasn’t wanting to be a banker for a long time and the move to Maine was the midlife crisis, let’s do something else, and it was all wonderful except he should have gone to something totally different. I would love ‑‑ if I were to fantasize, it would be that we ‑‑ either stay here and build a log cabin out in Montana and Sim runs a fishing school, another fantasy I’m always collecting go log cabin is that we move out to the mid‑‑ to the Rockies and we build a lodge and we have bed and breakfast type thing and somebody cooks of course, it’s not me, and ‑‑ and we have all these clientele that come every year and we’re about 20 minutes from a wonderful downhill and we cross country ski and downhill and then in the spring and summer, we ‑‑ Sim teaches fly fishing and does boat trips and so on and so forth and then we have all fall off, and it’s this wonderful lodge with beams and I’ve designed it all of it and everything else like that that’s one fantasy.
And the other thing is I guess the most important thing to me is that Sim would find something that he was desperately happy to do. I don’t care what it is, buy a business, do whatever, and that’s what we do. And then I’d be happy doing whatever I would do. I mean I could make baskets for a living or do some other kind of ‑‑ I like to do a lot of handy work and I could open an antique store, but nothing major. I guess travel. If Sim and I could do anything in the world, it would just be to travel, if we had all the money ‑‑ if money were not on an object, we would just live here in this house and then take off for Australia for six months and then come back and then go to Japan for two weeks and that’s what we’d really like to do, that’s our favorite thing to do is travel.
I have a list, Sim has it upstairs, of things that I want to do. I want to go ‑‑ I want to go on a raft trip down the Colorado river, 10 days, major, big, major. I want to go to the Far East, I’ve never been to the Far East before. Lots of things that I ‑‑ I think I might want to go ‑‑ I think I might want to go bungee jumping or jump out of a plane. I think I want to do that, I’m not sure. I want to go to Alaska and see grizzly bears. I would like to go into the wilderness again, Sim and I have been into the wilderness twice on horse back in Montana for 10 days each, which is an incredible experience, to go into the wilderness where you see no other person on horse back and fend for yourself for 10 days, I’d like to do that again before I’m too old to do it. Go back into the Rockies again, travel out to Washington and Oregon where I’ve never been, see it all has to do with travel, everything I’m talking about has to do with something ‑‑ but I also have these fantasies, I do these crazy ‑‑ and these are things that I can never have.
Just once in my life I would love to feel what it must feel like for let’s say Michael Jordan or Larry Bird to fly through the air and put that basket in there, I’d love to know what that sensation feels like. I’d love to know what it feels like to jump off one of those jumps when they do it at the Olympics, one of those ski jumps and fly through the air. I mean I know I’ll never do it because I want to do it ‑‑ well, I mean I want to feel exactly what Larry Bird feels when he does one of these things or to make a touch down, I mean you know to run the length of the field, what must that feel like, those are things that I’ll never feel, you know, do a triple sowkow at ice skating. I’ll always have those fantasies, I have about just 10 of them, just saying I want to be the very best and I just want to feel like that. Sim and I ski and I would love to know what it feels like to ski like my son does. I would love to know how he skis those bumps and those moguls. I would just like to be inside his body one time when he’s in competition and he’s doing well so I can feel what it must be like to be the very best or be able to do some of those things. Those things I’ll never feel, but that’s okay.
I enjoyed the interview with Patty very much. I believe that she enjoyed the time too. She enthusiastically shared many experiences of her life. I envy her, she experienced more in her childhood than I have in my lifetime. How incredible it must have been to grow up in Europe. To experience that culture and to live in that culture is something that most of us will never do. She can still speak German. She lived in Berlin when the Wall went up. She was part of an unbelievable era in history. I also sympathize with her because she did not have any of the consistency that I grew up with. She never lived in the same house twice. Friends would come and go. Her family was the only thing she could count on.
I respect the fact that she did not work while raising her children. I think that a parent should be with a child through the formative years of childhood. Patty would agree. I also respect the fact the she lives to be happy, not to have things but to enjoy life and the things it has to offer. I hope that my life will be as full and happy as hers.
When I reread Patty’s story, I found that her development fit in well with Daniel Levinson’s theory of Seasons of Adulthood. Patty’s Early Adult Transition was deciding whether or not she would live in the United States or Europe. She decided to move back to the United States and she began working for the Peace Corp. Upon Entering the Adult World, Patty married Sim and moved away from the Washington D.C. Area. She had already separated herself from her parents. This transition and making a new home, is a major change in a young person’s life.
Patty and Sim started Settling their family by moving back to Alexandria. Patty stopped working to raise her family. She became involved in many community and family activities.
Patty’s Midlife Transition began when she started substituting for the preschool that Peter was going to. It did not take long before Patty started teaching full‑time at the preschool. She liked the schedule because anytime the boys had time off from school so did she. She believed that it was time to do something more with her life now that since the boys were in school.
At the time of Entering Middle Adulthood, Sim was having a mid‑life crisis and moved Patty and the kids to Maine. Patty enjoyed the move. She was able to resettle the family and herself quickly. She started working at another preschool and enjoyed the change in lifestyle. At the time of Patty’s Age 50 Transition, she stopped working for the preschool. This was a big change for her because she had taught for 15 years. She has refocused her career at L.L.Bean. She has worked as a Sales Representative and has recently accepted a position that requires more responsibility. She does not have any higher career aspiration. She intends to enjoy time with Sim now that the boys are away from home.