11 Jan 65 : On the road again, luxury living, scandalous affairs : Albany, USA

Albany, New York State

Monday 11th Jan 1965

Dear Mum, Dad, Carol, Nigel and Kipp,

Well, I am now in Albany, New York State, and it is very much colder, and there is snow everywhere. We drove up last night through a raging blizzard but miraculously arrived safely.

We had a very good day last Saturday. Herb came around at about noon and we took all the things we didn’t need for this trip up to Vi’s, and then we went down to the diner and had lunch with Vi. We cooked our own lunch and Herb finished off the film in his cine camera by filming us in the diner.

I had phoned the girl I had met on the boat earlier this week, and she had invited us to her parents’ home for dinner, so we naturally accepted and Herb and Vi drove us up there for 6 o’clock.

It turned out to be a beautiful house in a very nice area, and Vi and Herb were invited in for a drink – and Vi made us go hot and cold all over by getting slightly merry, and saying rather dubious things, to what turned out to be a deeply religious family!!

She also had to say goodbye to us for six months upon leaving, and chased Colin around insisting upon kissing him!!

We have got used to her by now, and she doesn’t shock us at all – but I can imagine she could have shocked you two (and I imagine she did too) but nevertheless we think she’s great and prefer her approach to anyone stiff and starchy.

Anyway I was very relieved when she and Herb left, and we sat down to dinner. They had laid on a typical English meal and had lamb (about half a lamb by the look of it) which is quite rare over here. The father said grace which went on for about five minutes, and included a long passage about us and our travels – so we should be well looked after from now on!!

We had a very pleasant meal, and talk afterwards, and then went to a drive-in movie.

Another girl had joined us for dinner, so we had a foursome, and went in an English Ford Anglia like yours, and I hate to say it, but it seemed ridiculously small and very uncomfortable after all the giant cars we have been used to in the last three months!!

The drive-in movie was great. It’s like a football field covered with posts. On each post is a speaker and a heater, which you pull into your car and hook onto the windows.

At the end of the ‘field’ is a HUGE screen on which is showing the film. There is a slight ramp near each post so that the front of the car is slightly raised – and the whole thing is great. In a big car you can sprawl about, drink beer, eat, or do what you like.

We saw three full length new films for $1 which is good value.

We came home on Saturday night to find that I had left a tap running, and I had flooded our kitchen and the water had run through into the bedroom below.

The landlady wasn’t a bit concerned as there wasn’t much damage, but the landlord who is a misery and a money-grabber kindly asked me for $10 to compensate for the fact that his wife had to mop up the water.

I had no option but to pay, as it was my fault, but all that was there to prove it had happened was a damp patch in the ceiling. Still, luckily I can afford it now so it’s not too bad.

One Sunday we woke up at 10am to find thick snow and more still falling. There was already about four inches and plenty more to come.

Herb picked us up and took us to the station to catch the 1pm train to New York.

We had a pleasant journey on the train, travelling with two of the girls we worked with at Lit’s in Philadelphia. We didn’t see much scenery as most of the time it was snowing a blizzard.

We arrived in Newark and met Roger*, our boss for the next few weeks, and drove to Albany. He is very used to driving in snow and ice as most of his area is in the north, but he almost scared us to death by tearing along at 70 to 80 miles per hour through heavy snow. He reckons it’s safe as he has snow tyres (special tyres for snow conditions) and he’s probably quite right, but we still weren’t convinced.

Anyhow as you can see we made it – and we moved into a beautiful motel.

It’s a first class place and at $16 a night it should be. We each have a huge double bed, the usual TV, swimming pool etc, etc – but all super deluxe.

We have been given instructions by Roger that when we are working on his area we are ALWAYS to stay at first class places. As you can imagine he didn’t have much trouble in persuading us to say yes!!

On Wednesday we are going over to Syracuse in his car, and then we are going down to New York City for a few days – and this time instead of a cheap room we shall stay at the Manhattan Hotel!!!

I think I may go in and see Schultzy (at Saks) and wear my new lightweight sports jacket, and tell him where I am staying – just to see his face fall!!

(NOTE: Dad and Colin worked as shop assistants at New York department store Saks when they first arrived in America.)

We’ll probably then join Roger in Boston, but from then on we don’t know. It will be great to go back to New York and have someone else’s money to spend.

Today we have been going around with Roger and have been meeting people, but haven’t as yet done any work – but we should start tomorrow.

Last night we were joined by his ‘woman’ and went out and had a slap-up dinner on him (or rather the company) which was very nice. He is unhappily married (three children) and she is divorced (two children) and their respective husband and wife are going out with a married woman and a married man – and so it goes on!!

We were amazed when we had it all explained, but to them it’s all very usual. Nearly everyone we meet is either separated, divorced or has been married several times. Whereas at home it’s an embarrassment, here they talk about it quite cheerfully. It’s all very strange.

You were asking me about Pat and Tony. They’re doing very well indeed. He is saving $100 a week, and a few days ago he clinched a deal on a house, and is moving in March.

It’s near Verna’s and according to Vi it is a beautiful house. It’s similar to Verna’s house apparently, and if this is correct, it is a lovely house. They have bought all the fitted carpets, the curtains, the cooker, fridge, washing machine and dryer, and will buy all their furniture by March. They are paying $13,000, having knocked it down from $15,000 which makes it a real bargain.

Tony and Pat like it here but say that they will return in five years. But I think if you stay that long here, you will never return.

I have just heard the weather forecast and tonight’s temperature may go down to 7 degrees F which sounds pretty cold!!

To be continued… 

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(NOTE: Roger is not his real name!)


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