Monday, March 26, 2012

Letter - to David's Mother - Carmel, California - 5.8.1970

Dear Mum,

     Oh dear what a debacle, it seems the International Date Line beat us, as Tuesday, 10:30am your end is Monday 6pm this end *  - so we were out seeing some friends at Pacific Grove.  I blame myself, for not checking closely, and blandly assuring you Tuesday 10:30am Aust. =  Tuesday 6pm Carmel.  But it doesn't, so;        However I hope Keith was communicative - he later seemed pleased to have had the chat.  (He is as undemonstrative as any Amphlett, very like Colin (Keith's younger brother) as I remember him, in manner, if not in interests.) 

     While we socialized in Pacific Grove that night, the E A R T H    T R E M O R   hit us ---  I thought at first it was just a truck passing, then as it increased I had visions of the truck trying to get through the walls of the house (wooden), then things started falling, we bounced up and down, the cat screamed and rushed outside, then in about 10 seconds, it was all over.  Everybody came out of their houses, to see if anything has collapsed I guess, swapped notes briefly and that was it.  Pennie didn't like it one bit, I found it rather exhilarating, real Luna Park stuff! **

     Thanks for your many enclosures - Canberra Times cuttings, rowing notes and Brussels letter; therein lies a tale, you said in your latest typed letter that the tram roll arrived ages ago, and you were sure you'd told me: you did indeed, in the Brussels letter!  So I got information and confirmation in one mail bag, but not before I'd sent off an appeal to S.P.E.R. for another one if they possibly could, and yesterday came a letter from them saying they'd forward another, and maybe the first one had gone astray in the post, but that they had sent it!!  So expect another mysterious round parcel.  I only hope they are the priceless originals I gather them to be! ***

     Keith and Virginia were staggered, as were Pennie and I, by the visage of the new A.G. (David's younger brother) in the Iron Man Race - what a hero, as the phraseology of Canberra High in the 1950's would have it.  He's certainly become a redoubtable all-rounder, definitely the success story, I feel quite unequal by comparison.

     Pennie and I are lately proud owners of yet another car --- we got a 1961 Falcon Station Wagon for $225, in excellent shape, to use as a mobile home during September when we plan to see Canada ( as far as Vancouver) Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, etc. and any other Western States that sound interesting.  We thought of renting a V.W.  camper, but at $680 a month, down the drain, we reckoned to do it far more cheaply this way, especially as we can resell it for nearly as much (we hope) before we leave.

     Our hopes of a reservation on the 'Himalaya' on (October 24th, were dashed - she is booked up already, but we are on a waiting list for cancellations, and Aileen Drury's excellent travel agent is working hard on our behalf to obtain alternative transport, leaving about the same time, maybe a Matson Freighter.  Will let you know the outcome, and estimated date of arrival in Australia of course when something crystallises.

     Went to Ann Blinks at Santa Cruz yesterday, she is super as you know and their mountain retreat (they have another, bigger house in Monterey) is a dream.  We had Charcoal broiled chicken and corn on the cob for lunch, then swam in the 40ft pool, overlooking pine-covered mountains, canyons, and in the far distance the ocean.  She apparently was a shadow of her real self when in Australia, due to thyroid inactivity, and according to Virginia is now her former power-house self after going onto thyroid pills recently.  She swims every day, frequently belts 50 miles to Monterey to see her sheep and of course does a lot of woolen milling and instructing in same.  Lawrence (husband, who wasn't there, he currently works at the Uni in Monterey) has a Harpsichord, or rather a virginal I would say, which he planned to learn, but never got around to it, so Virginia has her eye on it.  I was thrilled to see one, and am so taken I actually feel I could learn to play one, despite my most un-musical career (as a maker of music that is)  Maybe we can look forward to family flute**** and Harpsichord recitals.  This one was built fairly recently in the U.K. and cost the Blinks $700, second hand, which isn't so cripplingly expensive as I would have expected.

     Maybe by now you've viewed 'Tabitha' the Rodds did a fabulous job of taking delivery, getting her going etc.  --- I hope they had enough out of the £80 I sent to cover all expenses - luckily though a vast number of necessary phone calls which Mrs Rodd made were courtesy of the P.M.G.!  Maybe you can arrange a clandestine run around the block, if it appears advisable.  Don't for heavens sake tell her about our Falcon - she could take it very badly!   Keith of course has financed all our operations in the U.S. - I hope the eventual sale of the Falcon, after some restorative work on the paint, will return some sort of profit which we can employ as spending money, to pick up particularly a good tape recorder in duty-free Fiji, if our final home-travel booking includes a stop there.

     Pennie is currently involved in a huge programme of knitting and sewing. She produced a cardigan made of Icelandic wool, in a real Fair-Isle pattern for Virginia (at the latters request) and it surprised all by the excellence of it's production;  she has also altered several of Virginia's made but never worn skirts, etc.  to her own requirements and they look great, the materials being very attractive ones.  She is now tearing up an old cardigan, straightening the wool by wetting and drying, to re-knit it into a jumper or skirt, she doesn't know yet.

     Pennie and Virginia get on fabulously, swapping tales of woe about their ghastly husbands.  Virginia suddenly told Pennie yesterday why no children.    She was 5 months gone, almost all of it spent in bed and had to have a hysterectomy to save her, but says she was greatly saddened at the time, although now not at all regretful.  This was as we sat by the pool at Ann's, Virginia herself swimming and me jumping in and out of the water, appearing not to listen.

     We are gradually becoming one big happy family on the Peninsular, the friends I mentioned in Pacific Grove, we met at the house of the Falcon's former owners.  They (not the Falcon sellers) are young marrieds, she of an Australian mother, and recently resident in Woollahra, and he the son of Frank Meyrose a hunting pal of Keith's.  Virginia had been trying to arrange for us to meet them for weeks, when of all coincidences they turned up just as we took delivery of the Falcon, quite unaware who we were.  They are about to go touring to Canada, in their V.W. camper bus.  We also called the other night on the Bells, who own the Austin Taxi in Carmel, and had a lovely time chatting about life in the U.K. and earned their gratitude by fixing up their meter so it worked, with all the trimmings like the 'For Hire' sign going on and off appropriately, as to the position of the meter flag.

     Well we are nevertheless dying to get home and begin life in Australia, so to speak, and are eagerly awaiting results of the travel agents hunt.  This is all, so as to leave some room for the enclosures.

     Much love, David.

P.S.  Thanks for the family letter - I'm sorry Andrew feels left out of communications, it's just that I guess we feel any letter to Dominion from us is directed to all Griffiths' - to send letters in quadruplicate would serve little purpose - we have a colossal correspondence, what with U.K., U.S.S.R., U.S.A., and all our friends in Australia.  So to mollify feelings I guess this should be headed 'Dear Dad, Mum, Andrew and Julia.' and read as such!

Christmas (K&V) suggestions:  Australian Food Hamper, including tins of Arnotts Biscuits.  Yes Kangaroo belt for Keith, also, SAGO, he loves it and can't get it here.  Or even moleskin trousers for Keith, same size as Dad or A.G. or average of the two.  Virginia loves mine.

*  Those were the days  LOL  trying to work out a time to call someone overseas, you had to make a date and a time but as you can tell by the above incident you have get your times correct.

**  What David omitted here was that our friends, Doug and Sandy Meyrose, had some marijuana and had passed one around, I'd just had my first and only puff when the earth shook   LOL 

***  They are indeed!  And much loved by everyone in our family.

**** David's young sister was learning to play the Flute.

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