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Yes, I was Murdered ... and It was Great
Life in America changed dramatically after World War II. More Americans became better educated as returning soldiers used the GI Bill to go to college. Americans became affluent enough to travel. By the time I graduated from college 50 - eek! - years ago, passengers were whisked from the U.S. to Europe in a few hours.
My generation had opportunities of which our ancestors never dreamed, and our children and grandchildren have even more. My family found it mind boggling that I could get on a jet plane and fly off for a summer in Brittany.
The only Knightstown people I knew who went to Europe were Mike and Jenny Schatzlein, owners of the greenhouse. Mother never went as far away as even New Castle or Indianapolis by herself. When she was nearly 80, however, she amazed us all by being brave enough to overcome her fear of heights and airplanes by flying home from Georgia all by herself. "How ever did you do it?" I asked. "Closed my eyes and prayed!"
My grandsons' generation take for granted what we considered special. These days, couples and their guests think nothing of flying off to "destination" weddings at far-away places such as the Costa del Sol. I can hear in my mind's ear my frugal mother moaning, "Oh the expense of it!" She fretted when I said that I was going to take a train and spend a few days in Paris by myself. "For goodness' sake, be careful in that wicked place!"
Kathleen Maddinger Angelone, one of my Irvington friends, was much more daring than I. After her sophomore year, she lived in Paris for several months even though she didn't speak French. Instead of renting a university-approved place, she took a 12 x 20, one-room walk-up above a rowdy Algeria bar that didn't have the best cleanliness. The apartment had just enough room for a bed, a couple of chairs, a table and a galley kitchen with appliances that dated from the 1940s. She shared a toilet, the stand-up French variety, in the hall. There was no shower, so she had to ride the Metro to a public bathhouse.
The first time that I experienced that kind of toilet was in a tavern in Brittany. It was literally a "water closet", a little room built like a shower with tiled walls and floor. Obviously designed for males, in the center of it there was a hole in the floor with raised blocks on each side for one's feet. Need I say more? Stupidly, I stood inside and pulled the flush chain. That taught me to stand outside and reach in and pull the chain.
"It certainly wasn't what I led my parents to believe or what they would have wanted for their daughter!" Kathleen said. I was acquainted with her father, who was a prominent Indianapolis judge. "He would have had a conniption if he'd found out how you were living!" I said to Kathleen. "It would have been nasty!" she replied. She allayed her parents' worries by describing how she was living in the same chic Arrondissement (Ward) as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were world famous for their elegant lifestyle and apartment.
People worry too much. Neither Kathleen nor I was knocked on the head, and mother's airplane didn't crash. A few years ago, I mentioned to a colleague that Bill and I were going to rent a car in Rome and drive up the coast of Italy and around to Nice, France. She was appalled. "Don't you know that some American tourists were stopped on a Italian highway and shot a month ago?" "If I'm murdered over there, tell everyone that I was having a wonderful time when I cashed in my chips!"
One of Kathleen's adventures for which I envy her was rafting down the Colorado River. I shall have to add that to the list of things that I shall probably never do, such as skiing. The main thing that I must do now is to try to consolidate the rich experience that my life has brought to me and to seek whatever new experiences that I can achieve. I must follow Thoreau's advice:
"Be the Lewis and Clarke of your own streams and oceans; explore your own high latitudes . . . Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels of thought."
More to come about the adventurous Angelones.
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