She came in the form of a jovial housewife from Shrewsbury – and I never knew 14 days could go by so fast!
It took her 17 hours to fly here from Manchester, England – but that included a four-hour layover in Philadelphia and another three hours in Minneapolis where she had to take off her shoes and be fingerprinted.
She didn't look like a terrorist to me!
We had met the Petcheys in Clarinda, IA, at a Glenn Miller festival, and we've been friends ever since. we have visited them in Shropshire County, and they have enjoyed the badlands and the Black Hills with us. But nothing will compare to Joan's stay in South Dakota this time.
She and Phyllis giggled like young school girls as they exchanged stories about grandchildren – and lots of other things, too. The conversation ranged from Paris Hilton (ugh!) to the many-hatted queen (a notable difference). Phyllis and I had seen her (not PH) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she was still a princess. That's how old we are!
We learned a lot of British words, like bonnet for the hood of a car, a boot for the trunk, serviettes for napkins and loo for a toilet, etc. The latter was good for a few scatological remarks. I wore my hearing aids so I wouldn't miss a thing.
We remembered lots of details of our times together, but we couldn't recall the dates, like the time in California when we went to see Paul Tanner, a Glenn Miller trombonist and bon vivant, whom we had met in Clarinda. Phyllis's diaries solved a lot of memory problems for us.
We were in a quandry about how we would entertain her for two weeks, but that turned out to be no trouble for us. After all, South Dakota doesn't have many old castles or cathedrals to show her – but we do have Hutterites!
She, Dee Pillar and Phyllis toured the Maxwell Colony and ate lunch in the dining room. It was difficult to explain the Anabaptist sect to her, so we sent her to find out for herself. Incidentally, Dick Pillar made all the arrangements and was the chauffeur for the gals.
Apparently, Joan and Phyllis had a ball. they toured Sacred Heart Monastery with Sister Rosaleen Dickes; saw a performance of Singing in the Rain (they let me come along for that); visited the Shrine to Music Museum in Vermillion (where Joan learned about "brown paper bag" lunches); attended a couple concerts in the park; ate hot dogs courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce; and saw less than one-half of Les Miserables at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Minnesota before the lights went out (but that's another story).
A special highlight was a five-course English meal – complete with a luscious meringue with fresh raspberries and whipped cream – prepared for our family by Joan, who told Phyllis to "stay out of the kitchen when I'm cooking."
We introduced her to some of our friends at a house party. that included grandson Sam (who tickled her), son-in-law Pat (who picked her up at the airport), daughters Jan and Jill and her friend Pete. It was a gala affair!
But it's all over now, except for memories. And we won't need Phyllis's diaries to recall the visit!
Joan has to go home to sew a costume for her daughter's medieval wedding, which finishes up – after a coach ride from the church – with a festive party, complete with a roast pig on a spit.
She promised to send us photos of the picturesque event in case we don't get there. It's doubtful because I'm not going to England again – until they build a bridge across the Atlantic!
© 2007 Robert F. Karolevitz