1-5 THE HOMEWARD STRETCH
As we went across the southern Atlantic, we were long enough into our trip that we began to forget where we were from and where we were going. It was just experiencing the now, taking one day at a time in our island community. The Southern Baptists found out that we were people just like everyone else and there was quite a lot of mixing, particularly with members of the opposite sex.
Bill was first attracted to a girl named Madelaine who wanted to learn to dance and got Bill to teach her. Madelaine didn't want her chaperones to know because they considered it a deadly evil, so they danced on the back deck in Second Class. The chaperone still found out and gave Bill a long lecture about corrupting young girls. This seemed strange to me because Madelaine was older than Bill. By the time we were in the South Atlantic, Bill was spending more time with Madelaine's sister, Ann. Bill told me that Ann was interested in Shakespeare, and that they were reading some of his plays together. I looked at a couple of the plays, but they looked pretty stuffy to me.
The young men did a good job of maintaining the blackout and we had no sign of a raider on the way over to South America. It did get warmer again and we went back to sleeping on deck. The trip was getting to be a lot longer than had been planned for and the people who ate in the regular dinning rooms began to complain more than ever about the food. The radio officer was still very friendly and seemed to have an endless supply of canned pineapples and other fruit. When we had been in Mombasa, he had introduced us to fresh mangoes which we had never tasted before.
Only about 20 per cent of the passengers had visas for the United States, so most of them were going to leave the ship at Pernambuco or Trinidad. So when we got to Pernambuco, the dock was a mess as several hundred passengers were getting off with all their steamer trunks and suitcases. The through passengers were asked not to go ashore until later. We were in port for about three days and had plenty of time to sightsee. This included going out and swimming at a beach which was very clean and a lot of fun.
Then we left for Trinidad which was only a few days trip. That close to shore everyone felt safer and relaxed the blackout. Before we got to the port, we received a radio message telling us to be careful, that there was a submarine around which had sunk a ship coming in just a few hours ahead of us. I'm not sure we were on the same course as the sunken ship, but we didn't see anything. Trinidad was hot and dirty. I think we only went ashore once. All the rest of the passengers who were not going to the United States got off there, no doubt to go to other countries of South America.
The next few days on the way to New York, Bill and Edward Dewey spent a lot of time listening to American stations we could now get on the radio, listening to the World Series. Baseball for them had been an occasional sand lot pickup game, but nothing like the major leagues. I think that the last game in that year of 1941 was played the day before we arrived in New York. They were so excited because something unexpected happened in the last inning. I'm not sure if I ever knew and if I did I don't remember. You will have to look it up in the record books. I do think it was between the Dodgers and the Yankees.
As soon as we arrived, everything changed. People who had been good friends for three months, suddenly became strangers as they prepared to take up their separate lives. The ship's owner wanted to charge extra for the longer than expected trip, but people just laughed and ignored him. After all, the loss of fresh water which delayed our ship in getting away from Mombasa was his fault as well as the crew striking for warmer clothes. The latter caused the long delay in Capetown.
The Dewey kids headed for Auburndale , Mass. where there was a Congregational mission home for kids whose parents were abroad. Muffin had gone there when she came back to finish high school, but she was now going to college in Kansas.
In those days the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions had representatives in most major cities even though their headquarters was on Handcock Street in Boston. They had a representative meet our ship and, I believe, put us on a train to Washington. We visited with Dad's brother, Uncle Frank and his wife, Aunt Eunice. They helped us get new clothes. Bill's had mostly been ruined by sea water that got into his cabin, and I hadn't had much to start with as I had left Gaziantep traveling light.
Next, they put us on a train for Kansas. However, there were no through railroads so we went first to Chicago where another American Board representative met our train and took us to breakfast. Then she took us to another railroad station across town and onto a train to Kansas.
The previous time we had been in America on furlough, we had stayed at Grandmother Well's house on North Holyoke. She had died a few years before, so arrangements had been made for us to stay with our other Grandmother, Grandmother Myers, who had remarried and now was Grandmother Green. She lived on North Arkansas Ave. Grandmother Green met us and took us home to a house we had not seen before, one just north of North High. This would be very convenient for Bill but I would have to walk about a mile to junior high school. We had only missed a week or two of school, so we didn't really miss much of our education. We later found out, as friends wrote to us, that the folks who had gone on the other ship via Australia arrived in San Francisco within several days of when we arrived in New York.
At grandmother's I had the front bedroom. Bill shared the attic with an older cousin, Marvin Cook, who was working in Wichita in those days.
I remember we were news, arriving from a foreign country, and a news team came out to the house and took our picture in the living room. We were also oddities in the two schools we were going to, and in the first few months were asked a number of times to tell the other students about ourselves. On Sundays we had a standing invitation to take the bus over to the College part of town where after going to Sunday School and Church, we had Sunday dinner at Aunt Alice's. Grandmother went to the Presbyterian Church near her home, and our step-grandfather Green would have a small Seventh Day Adventist service on his front porch with another friend. The latter was, of course, on Saturdays.
This was the routine we settled into until the coming of World War II to the U. S., two months later. We heard from our friend, the Radio Officer of the S. S. Kauser, that a few trips after its first arrival in New York, when he was not on it, it was sunk by a German submarine.