30 April 65 : Hitting the US headlines : Bristol – Virginia/Tennessee, USA

This continues the letter dated 29th April 1965, which began:

Dear family,

Friday 30th April

The drive down today was out of this world. I have never seen such lovely scenery. The road wound through hills and lakes and forests, and the day was clear and hot (up in the low 80s).

We have seen nothing but mountains all day, and at the bottom of them rolling farmland and beautiful farms, and quaint little typical American small towns. All along the roads everything is in blossom and the whole effect is very memorable.


Tony’s postcard, caption: GREETINGS FROM THE MOUNTAIN EMPIRE OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA This beautiful region, also known as the “Highlands,” is an area of picturesque valleys set among the mountains. This scene is typical of many such views in this area. The “Highlands” roughly comprises the area in Southwest Virginia from Roanoke to Bristol, and from Bluefield south through Tazewell and Richlands to the Tenn. and N.C. lines and west to the historic Cumberland Gap area.


We are having trouble with the language down here. They once again speak very Southern and we can’t understand them, and they can’t understand us.

Last night I had a typical American meal of pancakes (they are not like our pancakes but more like your little pancake things that you make) and here we pour syrup over them.

I asked her about four times if she had any raspberry syrup to go with them, and she (the waitress) just couldn’t understand me. So I asked her what flavours she had – and believe it or not she started the list with raspberry!!

She said from the way I spoke that she thought I came from either Sweden or Germany, or possibly Holland. The laugh is that she thought Colin came from New York, and probably Brooklyn, which made him really mad!!

Bristol VA TENN The Twin City
Tony’s postcard; caption: BRISTOL, VA. – TENN. “THE TWIN CITY” Home of Patton-Crossiwhite Post No. 6975, Veteran of Foreign Wars and almost on the State Line is the Famous Rebel’s Retreat Auditorium, and the Beautiful Merrimac Club Room for VFW Members.

We arrived in Bristol at about 4:30, after having made terrific time along the Mountains Interstate Highway.

We caused a sensation by signing in with our Bristol, England, addresses and were welcomed warmly. This Bristol is a very nice place and nestles in between two very high mountain ranges.

It’s very warm and the pool is very inviting. We may delay our departure tomorrow and spend the morning at the pool. We act just like a couple of millionaires – within minutes of arrival we were stretched out in chairs alongside the pool, in the sun.

We phoned up the Bristol TV company, and they were most interested and promised to send someone along to interview us, as it would make a good story. So we shall have to wait and see if they really do come.


Tony’s postcard, captioned: Above the Timber Line in THE BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN EMPIRE of SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA. Scene on Whitetop Mountain (El. 5,520ft) 10 miles from Chilhowie; 8 from Damascus; 18 from Marion; 20 from Abingdon; 64 from Pulaski; 20 from Independence; 38 from Galax; 46 from Tazewell; 48 from Richlands and 41 from Wytheville.



Well, we had a phone call to go down to the studios and we had to be there by 8 o’clock. We went down and gradually became very embarrassed by their tremendous hospitality.

We were there a long time, and during this time met the President of Kiwanis (equivalent of the Rotary Club) and he was also the city Judge and owned the cinema, and is quite an important person in the town. Two years ago he had to look after the mayor of Bristol (England) when he was here on a visit.

He went away and came back later with two books of the City, which he had had specially engraved with our names – and also a letter giving us a lot of contacts down in Alabama, (one of whom is a personal friend of Governor George Wallace of Alabama). We also met another fellow who was a personal friend of President Truman.

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We were interviewed and filmed for the 11 o’clock news tonight. We were then shown over the studio, and they even interviewed us again, and videotaped it, and then showed it to us a few minutes later. In this there was a bit of fooling about, as it wasn’t going out over the network. They couldn’t do enough for us, and it was all we could do to get away in time to see ourselves on the television.

When the news came on – they mentioned a few highlights of the news, and they mentioned us, and then a few minutes later did a very long piece on us with a lot of film of us and a spoken commentary. He explained about our trip in great detail, and mentioned a few of our funny stories. We were amazed as to how much time they gave us and decided we must be quite important!!

Coming home from the studio we passed a car going down the hill without anyone in it, and it eventually crashed into a filling station – after hitting down a post. No one knew where it came from, so all in all it’s been quite an evening!

To be continued… 

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