A TALE OF TWO UNCLES
<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/lifes-a-candy-store/”>Life’s a CandyStore</a>
my ideal 24 hours when I was six years old.
A TALE OF TWO UNCLES
When I was six years old in May 1948 we still had post war food rationing in England and the hardest hit commodity of all was sweets and chocolates, or candy as the Americans call it. I was fortunate in having an Australian uncle and aunt in Brisbane who sent us food parcels, and an American uncle in Hollywood and another American godfather in New York who did the same. So I wonder what my perfect 24 hours would have been?
Well, for a start I would have insisted that my seven year old sister and I both had passports and could travel, under air hostess supervision, on our own. My Australian passport and her British passport might have raised eyebrows as we checked into the earliest flight possible at Heathrow to visit our famous film star uncle in Hollywood. We would have gained eight hours in one sense which would have given us more time and let us count eight of our 24 hours from the moment the plane took off at 8.00am as part of the day. It took ten hours with two changes to get to LA in those days, but even so Uncle Brian would have met us at the airport at 11.00am California time.
I would have insisted we were stuffed with sweets and chocolates when not asleep on the plane and on arrival would have got our US family to make up boxes of our favourites candies and posted them back home. Lunch time would have been a real delight as we toured the film studios and enjoyed joking and play acting with many of the stars whom we already knew from their visits to London. Peanut butter and Coke would have been high on the lunch menu and by the time we had to catch our 3.00pm flight to New York we would have had a great time, especially with the kids of our family we had never met.
The five hour flight to New York would have included a bit more sleep and it would have been about nine at night there when my godfather, Walter Cronkite, and his wife Betsy met us. They stayed with us a lot in England during the war and Walter and dad worked in tandem covering all aspects of military news, my Australian father for British United Press and the English papers and Walter for United Press and the American journals.
Knowing our time differences they would have given us a slap up meal and a party with their friends. But first an evening drive round New York would have left both of us wide eyed with wonderment at such a young age. However, the one thing I know they would have done is shower us with presents. Cowboy outfits, real jeans, a lot of other kids clothing, that too was still heavily rationed in England, and made sure we never forgot our visit to their home as they had spent so much time in ours.
My real 24 hours would have run out around three in the morning New York time, so the flight home the next day would not have counted. But I can’t believe Betsy would not have made sure my sister and I had a tour of the New York shops the next day before catching our flight home.
Well that never happened, obviously, but I did make several trips to the States later in my life and Uncle Brian came back to England for a few years when I was eleven. Also Uncle Walter, as the whole family called him, always made a point of keeping a day free to see us whenever he was in London or Paris where we lived until 1967. But my greatest memory of him, and the reason why he would have to figure in any really great 24 hours, was what he did in Vietnam in 1969. I was there for more than three years as news editor of the main British News agency, and the day after he arrived to do a US television special he came round to our office and put everything on hold for four hours while went we out to lunch, just the pair of us, to catch up on family gossip. As you can imagine my rating amongst my colleagues rose considerably from then on.