13 May 65 : Fun and fear in motel pools : Gadsden, Alabama

Thursday 13th May 1965

Dear family,

As we haven’t been doing much this week except working I haven’t really got a lot to write about. We have been dashing about all over the place doing jobs, and lots of them in un-air-controlled places which hasn’t been too pleasant.

The best time of day is around 4:30 when we fall into the pool. I’m sure this is the only thing that keeps us going through the day.


1965 05 05 Holiday Inn of Gadsen Attalla
Tony’s postcard of their motel in Gadsden, captioned: Holiday Inn of Gadsden-Atalla. 801 Cleveland Avenue, Atalla, Ala. Ph: JE 8-7861, AC: 205, TWX: 205-481-3270 100 Units – Swimming Pool – Patio – Restaurant – Air-Conditioning, Free TV, Meeting and Banquet Rooms to accomodate 276 persons.


Today we have had the day off. We have been waiting for a shipment of catalogues to arrive from Philadelphia, and discovered this morning that they haven’t even been sent yet – so our boss, who has been with us since yesterday, has gone to Atlanta in Georgia to fetch some.

He gave us the choice of going with him (a round trip of 200 miles) or going to the pool – so obviously we are in the pool.

Due to the fact that I have been so much in the water lately, my swimming has improved immensely and I can now beat Colin easily in a breaststroke race, and I have always thought he was a good swimmer.

The other day at another pool he was standing on the top board of the diving boards, and was obviously very scared, so I bet him a dollar he wouldn’t jump in. To my amazement he leapt through the air (after about 5 minutes of false starts) so I had to pay up. He’ll do anything for money!!


1965 05 13 - 16 photo of letter
Tony’s letter home covering 13th – 16th May 1965


The people down here are so kind that at times it is very embarrassing. We have been eating at a ‘family style’ place all the time we have been here and ‘Ginny’ the owner has been telling everyone every night all about us, and we have made quite a few friends – she even phones people up and then asks us to talk to them.

The other night we were talking to a married couple (about your ages) and they invited us to their home, and we spend the whole evening with them and their two daughters and we had a great time.

There are lots of dangerous snakes down here and we have seen lots on the roads having been killed by cars. It is very dangerous to walk in long grass.

We stayed at a very nice hotel on Sunday and Monday nights. It was at a place called Guntersville and this is a large resort area for fishing and boating etc, and our hotel was right on the edge of the lake and had a floodlit golf course and a boat marina. It was very nice there and we had a good time.


Tony’s postcard of the Guntersville motel, captioned: VAL-MONTE MOTOR HOTEL on Guntersville Lake, Guntersville, Ala. Commanding views of lake and mountains. Coffee shop. Olympic-size swimming pool. Wading area. Sand beaches. 95 slip yacht basin. 18-hole golf course. with 9 holes lighted for night play. All weather tennis court. Free TV. Telephone in every room. boating, skiing. golf driving range. Lighted family picnic area. Scenic tours of lake available.


This morning we were at the barbers and he told us that there was an Englishman in the town (about our age) so as usual we were handed a phone and told to speak to him. We went to see him and he was a young fellow who has been here 5 years.

He came on a vacation and stayed, and thinks it’s wonderful here. He is a commercial artist from Newbury, and has somehow managed to retain his English accent. His father lives in Australia and he gave us his address and advised us to go and see him.

To be continued…

Note from Tony:  One day during our work and travels with SKF, there was an incident which I didn’t mention in any of my letters home, probably not to worry our families…  

As some background – when Colin was a child, he pushed something into his ear, probably a bead. When his parents couldn’t remove it, they took him to hospital where a student doctor pushed and probed and managed to remove it. Yet in doing so, he badly damaged Colin’s eardrum and left him completely deaf in that ear for the rest of his life.

On our travels in America Colin and I loved all the motel pools and did an awful lot of swimming, especially when we were ‘down south.’ We developed a game where we would throw our room key (which usually had a big heavy metal tag attached) into the deep end, then on the count of three, we’d dive in and race to retrieve it.

But on one occasion, as I dived down, doing a breast stroke action, I felt my elbow hit the side of Colin’s head. I took little notice but when I surfaced with the key, I saw Colin at the side of the pool, clutching his ear and yelling in agony. I thought he was just fooling around, then realised he really was in agony.




It transpired that my elbow had rammed water into his good ear, and burst his only working eardrum. As you can imagine I was traumatised – was my pal now going to be completely deaf? I took him to a hospital where they confirmed the burst eardrum.

Thankfully, they explained that the hole in the membrane would eventually heal up and that this could be helped by putting something over the hole to speed recovery, something for the membrane to ‘grow over’.

They inserted a piece of what looked like tissue paper into the ear and sort of glued it over the hole in his eardrum. Sure enough, several weeks later the piece of paper fell out of Colin’s ear, proving that the hole had healed up. Colin was greatly relieved – and as you can imagine, so was I.

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