“Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.” – Neil Young
That song has always reminded me of my Dad, who sadly, died far too young…but he was still my old man. During my hiatus from blogging, I spent a lot of time thinking about my life, and reflecting on my choices, and my passions, especially riding motorcycles. I wondered what made my experience different from those who try it, and find it’s not for them. All this reflection naturally took me back, to my upbringing and childhood, and ultimately, to my Dad. My mom; well that’s another story, for another time.
Soon, I will start sharing some of our previous motorcycle travel experiences, in words and pictures. And until my hub and I are free to travel when and where we want, I will start with this post to share some insights about how I think my passion evolved. It may or may not stir similar feelings in you about your passions, but I hope it does.
My upbringing was slightly unconventional, at least by the standards of most of my American peers. I spoke Italian and German before I spoke English, and didn’t set foot in the US until I was almost seven. I had been to dozens of countries by the time I was six years old, and vacations in Beirut or Mallorca were commonplace. But, I am getting ahead of myself. A little family background is in order.
My mother is a German immigrant, whose surviving family picked their way to safety through the rubble remaining from the Anglo-American bombings in World War II. In her 20s, she married a GI and moved to the US. They lived on various Army posts, and were married six years when he died of a heart attack in Korea. She was working in an office at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma when her husband died.
My father was that fairly rare species, a native Floridian. He was born in Fort Lauderdale, and grew up in Miami, as an only child of older parents. His family owned a resort hotel on the beach, until the depression took it all. His father died relatively young, his mother and widowed aunt took off on a world cruise, and Dad made his own way after high school. He loved the sea, and worked for a time as crew on the fabulous yacht Sea Cloud, owned by Palm Beach socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, which was the largest privately owned sea-going yacht in the world at the time. He learned a trade, becoming a radio operator, which later led to an Army Commission in the Signal Corp.
The early 1950s find my father in Lawton, Oklahoma as well. Boy meets girl at a base insurance office, he sweeps her off her feet and they elope to Vienna and get married. Dad takes a job with a global communications company, working on an Army base, and they spend the next five years living on the Mediterranean in Livorno, Italy, enjoying life as a young married couple.
Side note: My dear husband, reading my draft, keeps repeating “He’s a spy! Communications, yeah, right, Ha, ha!” Apparently, his first wife’s father was actually a spy, and he must now believe that all wives’ fathers must be spies????
Still with me? Part 2 can be found here…