I had two visits to the United
States – once as Noel Short and I were returning to Australia from Noel receiving his OBE from the Queen. we flew into John F Kennedy Airport in the roughest landing I’ve ever experienced. I thought the Pan Am Boeing aircraft was going to disintegrate as the whole aircraft shook alarmingly as we landed. Then we had the spectacle of the New York taxi drivers honking their horns and jeering at us as we hauled our suitcases from the airport terminal to the New York Sheraton hotel. They evidently thought we should have got a taxi and maybe they were right.
Anyway we successfully booked in to the hotel and I remember there was a bar opposite the (dry) hotel called “Pat’s Bar” which served almost warm, weak beer in what looked like miniature glasses. I told “Pat”that we came from ‘Orsralia’ where they served real beer in schooner glasses. He suggested we buy a jug of beer instead of the usual small glasses which he was obliged legally to serve with the jovial comment “You Australians”!.
Back home, our social writer for the Sunday Telegraph, Ethel Hayden had written to the Director of Tourism for New York whom she knew and he arranged a tour of Manhattan Island by bus and then one by water on a boat for me. A really great experience. I was particularly intrigued by Chinatown New York! The land tour bus operator refused to go into The Bronx, saying the Negro dominated area was too dangerous.
The Tourism Director had a big office overlooking Central Park. He also arranged two Broadway shows (one was Sugar Babies starring Mickey Rooney for which I had a front row seat! I remember having to squeeze into my seat alongside two huge ladies who both had behinds the size of a double-decker bus! He also arranged for me to be a guest at the RCA Music Hall’s anniversary spectacular which featured a special display by “The Rockettes” – a spectacular display by these special dancers.
I visited Times Square where I had one of the worst hamburgers I have ever eaten.
From New York we flew on to New Orleans staying at at the famous Monte Leone Hotel in the French quarter and visiting Bourbon Street and having a famous Pink Gin. We saw the spectacular graves which have been known to rise up as New Orleans is below sea level. Then we flew on to Los Vegas and stayed at The Golden Nugget Casino hotel. I remember the great amusement of the young croupier at one of the tables as I proffered a $1 bet at the roulette table.
The best thing about the Golden Nugget Casino for me was the McDonald’s hamburger restaurant around the corner.
Next we flew over the huge and magnificent Hoover Dam which supplies water for Los Angeles and San Francisco, landing at LAX (Los Angeles Airport. staying for a few days at Disneyland Motel visiting Disneyland at Anaheim and meeting Mickey Mouse and friends.
We had to endure the big group of Hari Krishnas going through their noisy routine with their trumpets and tambourines (all very illegal so I was told) It was here that I met what we dubbed as the “Cat Lady” on her way to Australia via Tahiti for a few days holiday.
We had a one day, one night stop at Tahiti and I remember visiting the white sand beach imported from Australia. The Capital, Papeete was none too impressive being very dirty, untidy and smelly. Margit Elbow (the Cat Lady) and I got along famously sitting alongside each other on the Qantas flight. In Sydney I helped Margit through Customs and we parted company but not before she had invited me to visit Los Angeles. She was the private Secretary to the Export Manager for Universal Pictures and Lived in Granada Hills. I took up the invite at a later stage but that’s another story.