I went back home to Rochester, New York last weekend to celebrate my younger sister’s 65th birthday. While there I was also given the task of looking through boxes of my Mom’s memories that have been living in the basement for over 20 years.
What came to my attention was that both my Mother and Father were travelers. How did this happen so many years later? Some photos and a journal.
First, I will share this picture of my Father in Cuba from 1935.
To paraphrase an article from Reuters, it seems that Sloppy Joe’s was one of Havana’s most famous pre-revolutionary bars and a former haunt of American tourists and film stars like John Wayne, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable.
Sloppy Joe’s Bar was founded by Spanish immigrant Jose Garcia, who capitalized on the U.S. Prohibition era from 1920-1933 when American tourists flocked to Havana to drink and gamble to their heart’s content. The bar was nationalized along with most businesses in the early 1960s after Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces took power and languished until it closed in 1965. It reopened in 2013 after a 6-year renovation that was committed to an historical renewal.
Among Sloppy Joe’s most famous attractions was the bar itself, stretching 60 feet. It was immortalized in the 1959 movie “Our Man in Havana”, starring Alec Guinness and based on the novel by British author Graham Greene – one of Sloppy Joe’s former patrons.
Parts of the original bar were preserved and restored to original splendor. So I guess my Dad was sipping his cocktail at this famous bar. If I had known I would have recreated the scene during my own trip to Havana last year where I was able to see firsthand the results of the restoration projects.
Now for my Mother. Here is a photo showing her going abroad on the S.S. Statendam for a European Holiday.
What I also came across was her journal from this trip. How wonderful to see her handwriting and to read what she had to say. She focused on the history of each postcard photo. How different my entries were from my trip abroad at the age of 13. As I read my journal there are more comments about the cute waiters than the history of the sites I was seeing. Different era, different age?
I also found out that my Mother’s ancestors owned a chateau in France. Ooh la, la.
Here is some website information on this chateau that is actually still there.
“Another of the ‘non-A-list’ chateau of the Loire Valley that we feel is well worth a visit, especially with kids. Plus, you get the bonus of a pretty small town.
When you enter the town of Langeais you are immediately taken by its chateau’s preposterous position slap bang in the middle of the town centre. It’s a powerful building (well actually two) with its drawbridge and its towers with their machicolations (sticky-out bits for dropping things on your invaders!).
Kids will love the working drawbridge, well the ones with imaginations, as it evokes images of knights and castles. The walk along the ramparts will also delight them. Plus, they have a good garden and playground to run around in.
My point in sharing some of my family history is that I came away from the weekend wondering if the love of travel is in the genes. Clearly both my Mother and Father each had their own travel experiences. I got the bug after my adventure to Europe at 13 to go on “tour” with my Aunt and Uncle. I guess I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity if my parents hadn’t had their own love of travel and understood the benefits it brings to one’s life. As it turns out their generosity was the beginning for me of an eventual lifestyle and career.
Is it innate or do you need to expose your family to the joys of travel to see the wonders of the world we live in. Having “guided” many families in planning successful and memorable legacy travels, I will have to say that if you love to travel, why not share this love on a family “reunion” trip. I guess my next family trip needs to be a visit to our Langeais Chateau!