15 Fried Everything

by admin on October 26, 2011

Morning dawned on a beautiful day.  Harold couldn’t help thinking that the Good Lord Himself must have had a hand in the outcome of their predicament.  He surveyed the opulence of the room and thought surely he must be dreaming.  Reality set in when the two boys began wrestling on their bed, playing Cowboys and Indians, though they didn’t really know what that meant.

Ida struggled to get the boys dressed and ready to meet their new found relatives.   Harold retreated to the private bathroom.  There he took his shaving soap and brush from his kit bag, turned on the hot water, and began to lather his face.  He was just getting accustomed to shaving with this newfangled doubled edged razor.  Quite a change from the old straight-razor days he thought.  A few minutes later he had rinsed his face and dried off with one of the softest towels he ever felt.

Harold and Ida gathered up the boys and headed down to the Grand Dining Room, having no idea what today would bring.  Fortunately there were a large number of guests in the dining room.  This provided a distraction for the boys and hopefully would preclude any more awkward silences with Samuel and Charles.  Harold spotted the Dunwells first at a large table for six near the windows at the far end of the room.  Samuel and Charles rose to meet their guests as smiles and handshakes were exchanged by the men.

Harold spoke first, “Alex, Michael, this is your great grandfather Samuel and your great uncle Charles.”  “Hello, sirs” the boys said in unison.  Each boy extended their small hands for a grownup handshake.  Samuel was beaming.  He never had grandchildren and these boys were delightful.  Charles, also, was charmed.  He and Laura had tried for years to have children but it was not to be.  Ida looked at the sight as a great feeling of relief came over her.  Caught up in the moment Samuel and Charles took turns giving Ida a warm hug.  All her fears of awkwardness vanished with a smile.

Gesturing toward the chairs Charles motioned for everyone to be seated.  A waiter brought glasses of water and extra menus for the two newly arriving adults and two menus with Cowboys on them for the youngsters.  Harold and Ida ordered a traditional English breakfast.  Fried everything.  Fried bacon, fried eggs in bacon grease, fried tomatoes in bacon grease, fried bread in bacon grease.  A real heart stopper by today’s health standards.  The boys were happy with Quaker Oats (or porridge as it was known back in England).  Ida even indulged them and let them have maple syrup drizzled over the top.  Samuel and Charles opted for bacon, eggs and coffee.

Conversation started slowly, mostly about their rooms and the grandeur of the hotel.  It didn’t take long, however, for the boys to capture Samuel’s attention.  Soon he was engaging them in conversation about their journey across the ocean and across the country.  Alex, at age 9, was the most conversant.  Michael, at age 4, just seemed more interested in how the furniture was constructed.  (These were early signs of the interests that would shape their future in their new homeland).

The Binghams had made the journey to America on the Queen Mary, which was still being used as a U.S. Troop ship following The War.  Not being the moneyed class they were relegated to a cramped cabin three decks below the water line.  Just like the Titanic, immigrants were locked out of the stairways leading to the grandeur that was reserved for the well-healed travelers on the upper decks.  (In an ironic twist Mike and Mary Bingham would reunite with younger brother Bob on the deck of the Queen Mary in 1985.  Bob was attending a trade show and was staying aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California where she had been converted to a floating hotel.  Mike and Mary had been in Los Angeles at a machine tool convention.  The three of them dined on board in an atmosphere that their parents could only have dreamed of 38 years earlier).

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