Coming to America - September 1948
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.