Coming to America - September 1948

lilod(NoCal/8)June 1, 2011

Leaving Germany - Meeting the Statue of Liberty - Not exactly a cruise

Finally it all came together: All the paperwork - all the vaccinations - finally permission to get properly married - finally orders: Get yourself on the train to Bremerhafen and report to the USS General Muir for Departure to the US.

I was glad that Duke and I were traveling together, this did not always happen and I was sure it was easier that way. Maybe it was, but my illusion of Duke, Baby and me in a stateroom together was exactly that: an illusion.

I was installed in a small cabin, a bunk for me, a crib for Joann, Duke had to report for assignment below deck, where all the troops were supposed to be. We were allowed to see each other on deck as long as it was daylight and as long as we deported ourselves "properly". That meant a quick hug was ok, no kissing and no hand-holding, if couples sat on deck-chairs, covered with a blanket, hands were to be visible at all times.

Reasons not given, but hinted at: the large contingent of troops quartered below deck without their "American" spouses or girl friends, who were properly waiting for them in the US would get upset to see some of their comrades having female companionship with former enemy aliens. It was obvious the Commander in charge did not approve of fraternizing with the (former) enemy and tried to make it as difficult as possible.

We cabin passengers were required to dress for meals, had tables assigned to us in the dining-room, there were two seatings, I was in the second one, something I liked at first, but it didn�t turn out to be so great.

Those of us with babies needed to report early in the morning to the dispensary to receive baby-bottles and clean diapers, turning in the used ones of both items, that made it necessary to get up pretty early and there was a time-lag before the second seating meal was served. I got pretty hungry in between times and usually had a candy-bar to tide me over.

It worked pretty well until the General Muir ran into a hurricane, the Captain kept the vessel at the edge of the storm, but it was a rocking time just the same and my stomach did flip-flops. I had to go to the dining-room for meals, because Joann needed to be fed. I would stick her into her high-chair, dip a spoon into the repulsive looking pureed whatever and hold in her general direction, turning my head to avoid sight of the slop and get sick. There were several days of that. The Commander suspended the restriction keeping spouses away from the cabins, because so many women were so sick, they needed help Cabin doors had to be left open, though.. It was no help for me, Duke was sicker than I was, stuck in the hold, having the bottom bunk in a stack of four, lots of guys sick, must have been awful. Then they put him in sick-bay, I wasn�t allowed to go see him and we were approaching New York.

Was I worried? Yeah a little.

Last night at sea, we had passed the storm, ocean as flat as a sheet, shimmering under the moon, the last dinner was especially nice. Next morning we passed the Statue of Liberty, they released Duke from sick bay, everything was packed, papers were ready, we pulled into the berth and disembarked, funny to be back on solid ground.

The adventure was over, a new one was to begin.

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lilod, it looks like we came to America seven years apart and our journey sounds alike, storms and all.
I can't imagine what it would be like to take care of a baby during your/my ocean trip. More power to you.
We, the ship, (my mother and I) also passed the Statue of Liberty into the port of New York.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 7:35PM
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Lilo, thank you very much for giving us a peek into your life as a young wife and mother and the beginnings of adventure in America. What a brave soul you were to come to a strange land so far from home and all you knew that helped define you.
(Have you seen the beautiful little movie titled
'Sweet Land'? Your stories are somewhat similar)

I can only speak for myself, but I'm pretty certain everyone here would be very interested in more about your early days here.
Hopefully, there will be a next chapter(s)?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 10:48PM
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Lilo, thanks for posting your story,I enjoyed reading it and would love hearing more. You were so brave!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:49PM
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I was blown away by this yesterday when I read it. I had to digest it. I still don't have the words. You are one fantastic lady Lilo!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:18AM
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Your collective thoughts and experiences are such a good read and should be put together in book form. A history from a fresh point of view.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 10:31AM
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Lilo, I add my thanks to you for sharing your story. I agree that you were strong and brave. Please share more.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Thanks for sharing. Your story is fascinating. Tell us more!


    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 4:05PM
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