My best friends, Mary MacMillan (Mac) and Mary Goodbody (Goodbody or Goodbod) and I went to Europe together on a trip arranged by Dr. and Mrs. Goodbody’s trusted travel retainers at Bristed Manning Travel Service Incorporated. I still have the itinerary. We sailed from New York on the SS Statendam on June 26,1968. We were not yet in our twenties, and the trip was planned to address that deficiency. Everything was nailed down, including transportation and hotels ~ all of which had been thoroughly vetted as appropriate places for nice American girls.
In all, we visited London, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Florence, Ravenna, Venice and Dublin. Our lack of language skills didn’t bother us as we mostly talked with other Americans we met along the way. This was not the only way we missed a good deal of the opportunity of a life time: in Paris we went to the Louvre three times when it was closed, and otherwise played three handed bridge and drank citron presse in our hotel room We spent some time in the gardens outside the Louvre taking pictures of the statues with our handbags hanging off of their outstretched arms. We made it to the Orangerie, to several cafes and restaurants, and finally, to the Louvre. I am sure we saw less than 10% of its bounty.
In Nice a young man probably named Jacques Marc took a fancy to Mac. We called him Chalk Mark. In both Florence and Venice I was sick enough to call a doctor for a problem which would end a year later in a kidney operation and 30 days in the hospital. I still have the prescription from Dr. Mario Neppi who use his ear (pressed to my breasts) as a stethoscrope. Goodbody had to kick him out of our room.
In Ravenna, Mac and Goobody tried to open a tomb. In Florence, we saw Leonardo’s David but did not make it to the Ufizzi. A wealthy American man (we never questioned anyone) took a liking to me and bought me a pair of Celine real alligator leather shoes — the nicest shoes I have owned, before or since. He and his friend, Mac and Goodbody and a girl we had picked up along the way got a horse and carriage one night. Under my window, they played guitar and sang “Gloria.”
In Venice, we pretty much saw its charms because it is virtually impossible not to. To a teenager, a gondola ride is sort of like going to Disneyland.
Since then, all of us have been back to Europe, together or individually and we have dutifully visited museums, Monet’s studio, and heard Carmina Burana in a chapel at Notre Dame. But none of these things — all of them artistically profound — come close to the crazy trip we had to Europe when we were young, and too stupid to appreciate anything but each other.
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Gloria. Circa 1955.
Gloria. Circa 2012.
Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.