9 August 65 : Entering cowboy country : Kansas, USA

…Tony has returned to America to resume his travels after his first trip home to Britain, to attend his sister’s wedding…

Monday 9th August 1965


Dear Family,

Well, as you can see, I arrived safely after a very enjoyable flight. I must admit that a wave of nostalgia got hold of me as I flew off, and I felt very depressed for a while. I think the trouble was that two weeks at home was too long, and I got too used to the security and happiness and home comforts. However when I saw Colin I was fine again and raring to go.

I’m afraid your sandwiches were rather a nuisance, as I was given right royal treatment at Dublin. Being a ‘transfer’ passenger seems to give you special treatment. They were looking for me when I got off the Bristol plane and I had an air hostess all to myself, who took me to check in for the New York plane, and I was then ushered into the very plush restaurant and given a free 11/- lunch. I had another very good meal on the plane, and another before we landed. So I carried your sandwiches around and finally ate them for supper.

The flight was great. It was clear most of the way and we went over Newfoundland and Labrador, and I could see these quite plainly. We then flew down to New York. I had an old Irish man next to me. He looked about 90 and he kept ‘crossing’ himself all the time. As we taxied out onto the runway and were going about 10 miles per hour – (he had his eyes tightly shut) he said “Are we in the air yet”?


1965 06 The viewing platform at Bristol Airport in the 1960s
The viewing platform at Bristol Airport in the 1960s
JFK Airport 1960s
John F. Kennedy International Airport in the 1960s – Tony previously described this amazing airport in his letter home HERE


About halfway over the Atlantic he suddenly tugged my arm and said “Look – land”. I was rather amazed to say the least – and we finally realised what it was. He had opened his eyes and looked out of the window and seen the edge of the wing!!!

We arrived 5 minutes early and Colin was there to meet me, with his parents, and we then went for a drink (coffee) and a chat. We looked at my photos, and talked about the wedding, and then I went back to Colin’s room at the YMCA where I slept on the floor on Colin’s airbed.

(NOTE: While Tony was in the UK, Colin’s parents, Mr and Mrs H, had been visiting New York with their local Methodist Church group.)

The next morning we met the H’s for breakfast and then went back to see them off on their way to Washington, but unfortunately one of the coaches didn’t turn up, and they were delayed two hours. It was a pity as they have had bad luck with transport. Their plane over was delayed for seven hours – the original one had engine trouble and they had to wait for another to be flown in from Germany!

Still, they have enjoyed their stay in New York and especially to have Colin as their guide. Mrs H seems to love America and was most enthusiastic. They finally left for Washington, and we had some jobs to do before we could leave. Colin bought a camera, which he has been threatening to do for ages, and I had to cash some checks, and we finally left New York at about 1:30 pm, so we had a very late start. We set off for Chicago on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and drove solidly through the day and night – but we had loads of trouble with our roof rack which kept slipping.


img306 laundry day near Kabul
Colin and the beloved VW campervan


We then hit some terrible storms and just missed two tornadoes. Still, by sleeping in the back alternately we could keep going almost through the night, and made up for our very bad start. In fact we have now made such good progress that we are now dragging out our journey as we don’t want to arrive at Mrs Smith’s late at night, and will now arrive early tomorrow morning.

(NB: Tony and Colin had met Mrs Smith, a ‘little Welsh lady,’ on the SS Queen Elizabeth journey to America. She’d insisted that they visit her, and they’d happily agreed.) 

So far we have driven through Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas – and are almost at the border of Colorado. We are following Routes 80 and 24 to Colorado Springs (if you are looking at the map) and have been through Omaha, Nebraska.

The scenery has been quite nice although a bit repetitive – all farmland, with mile after mile of flat fields stretching to the horizon. I have never seen so much corn in all my life. What on earth they do with it all I shall never know!!


img151 on the road somewhere in America.jpg
On the road in America


As we entered Nebraska towns got fewer and further apart, and several times we almost ran out of petrol – and today in Kansas has been even worse – it’s absolutely desolate. We go for mile after mile and then come to a huge grain elevator and a few shops – and that’s the town!

Earlier we passed through prairie country where the cowboys still ride the range and we saw many a ‘western film’ scene – cattle around the water hole, and cowboys mending fences. It’s so uncommon to see a car in some of these places that they all wave and say “Hi.” It’s very hot, in the 90’s – which the locals say is a ‘cool spell!’

To be continued… 

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