Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

53 Years and Counting

On December 20th, 1955, the Denhams arrived in the Virgin Islands. You can read about that momentous occasion here, under the blog titled "Arrival."

In those days it wasn't a matter of getting your household shipped and your family getting on a jet and being at the new destination in a day or so.

We traveled on the Pasadena, a freighter. It took three weeks.

This is her, riding high in the water on her maiden voyage in 1918.

I don't remember a whole lot about the trip, but I do remember a few things. Plus there are family stories.

I was pretty seasick the first 3 or 4 days, probably during the time it took for us to sail from Sacramento, where we boarded, to San Diego. I remember the first thing I ate was a Danish.

In San Diego the ship took on cargo and the passengers (there were twelve of us) were allowed to go on shore leave. We took the opportunity to go to the San Diego Zoo. The only thing I remember from the zoo are the penguins. They had a long slope they slid down, splashing into a large pool at the bottom. Along the side of the slope were little stairs. They'd waddle up the stairs to the top of the slope and slide back down, over and over and over and over....

There was a single woman on the ship, I believe she was older. She had a little bear about four or five inches tall. It had jointed arms and legs. She kept a ribbon tied around its neck. Every day she changed the ribbon. She had a different ribbon for every day of the year.

I remember the man, probably a steward, who walked through the passenger cabin area with a little xylophone to announce meal times. I'm sure if I heard those notes again I'd recognize them.

Because there were only twelve passengers we all sat at the captain's table for every meal. There was linen and everything. The grapefruit were terribly sour and I smothered them in sugar.

I'm sorry to say I have no memory of going through the Panama Canal. Erva is fortunate in that regard. She was nine at the time and those four years make a world of difference.

We stopped in Curasau, which I don't remember. And 1970 when I traveled there with my senior class, the city of Willemstad seemed hauntingly familiar. It was almost disturbing to me. When I returned home I told the family about the experience. It was then they told me we'd stopped there for a day. Because it was a "foreign" land the passengers were not allowed shore leave. So the imprint I had, that strange haunting memory, was acquired from what I saw from the ship as we were docked in the harbor.

Then on December 20th we arrived in St. Thomas and that's when the story of my life really begins.

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