Today Mary Allan shares her memories of moving to England.
In the 1970’s my nine-year old son and I and moved from the States to England with my new husband who worked there. I sent my furniture earlier by sea, and we flew to London. I had visited the United Kingdom many times as a travel agent, sometimes alone and sometimes as a group escort. We stayed in London a few days to rest up, and then drove to Yorkshire, one of the most beautiful parts of the country. My husband had bought a small house for us in Hornsea, on the North Sea.
I enrolled my son in the local school, arranged my furniture discovering that American TV’s don’t work in England. We went shopping, and I found that I should bring my own bags for groceries…we bought some and I returned to fill them up. I discovered that the meat department didn’t know how to cut up a chicken for American-fried chicken. I showed them how, and several days later saw a sign in their window, “We sell American-cut chicken for frying”
Travel clients meeting me for the first time greeted me with, “Say something in American!” I worked up, “Apple pie, hot dogs and baseball.” They cheered and life was easy.
Being a tourist and living in a country are quite different. My father, a Canadian, was a chemical engineer and I went out of the country with my parents often, but I didn’t have to participate in daily living. I learned where and how to shop for food – a wonderful, outdoor food center in the town of Leeds. They had foods I’d never seen brought in by boat from abroad. It was an education I loved. Clients at the office were kind leaving small, welcoming gifts on my desk.
They asked me to appear at their clubs and organizations and lecture about the United States and other places I had been in the world. I did so happily, and business boomed at the travel agency. The word spread, and I felt like a celebrity. My life had changed. I discovered the fascinating town of York and the York Minster (church), and we visited my relatives across England and Scotland. The four and a half years went quickly. My husband lost his job. My daughter was being married. We returned to America and the dream ended.