Sunday, December 24, 2006

John and Mary Ann

[Editorial note: Whoops. I wrote this article months ago but it seems that I never pushed the PUBLISH button. Sorry John and Mary Ann. Better late than never.]

In 1966 Libby and I moved to Schenectady New York to work for the General Electric company. A few months later another young couple, John and Mary Ann Undrill also move to Schenectady to work for General Electric Company. Our two families became fast friends and contemporaries for life. Our children call the Undrills Uncle and Aunt, and the Undrill's children call Libby and I Aunt and uncle. That's how close we have been.

So it was a special treat for the four of us to be able to get together for a week of fun onboard Tarwathie. The working plan was for them to drive to meet us in Urbanna Virginia, then we would sail together down through North Carolina to Elizabeth City or to New Bern.

Then reality injected itself. The same Saturday morning when John and Mary Ann were en route to meet us, the starter motor on Tarwathie died. There was no chance of getting a mechanic on a Saturday. I feared the worst case, that it might take weeks to get a replacement and that we might not be able to sail at all.

As things turned out, Urbanna was a singularly nice place to find oneself stranded. We stayed there from Saturday morning to the following Wednesday afternoon. By that time, we and the Undrills knew almost all the people in the town. Diane the dockmaster, Gary the boat builder, Roger the sailor, the people at the hotel, and at the crab house, and the gift shop, and the library, and at Moo's Restaurant. We managed to have quite a bit of fun.

The Four of Us At Moo's

Each evening after dinner we had a Scrabble match with the four of us. Scrabble was new to the Undrills, but after a single game they caught on and we had great fun. It's not hard to have fun with people you like.

Eventually, the engine got fixed and we sailed away to Deltaville and then to Norfolk. Below is a picture of John at the soldier's memorial on the Norfolk waterfront.

We left Norfolk headed for Elizabeth City via The Great Dismal Swamp Canal. I knew they would enjoy it because everyone likes sailing up and down that canal. As luck would have it, just as soon as we cast off the dock lines in Norfolk, a great rain deluge hit us. Below is a picture of the huge aircraft carrier we passed just after shoving off. Our visibility wasn't much better than the cameras. It was a miserable morning. Luckily though, later that morning the rain stopped and the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day.

Below you see Mary Ann and Libby at the Rose buddies wine and cheese party in Elizabeth City. The canal really was fun for everyone, and so wasn't Elizabeth City.

All in all, it turned out to be a really nice week. We met some wonderful people, we saw glimpses of southern culture, we did get some great sailing days, we saw spectacular sights at the Norfolk Navy Yards, we had two lovely days in the Great Dismal Swamp, and a very nice day's drive back to Urbanna to wind it up. I repeat, it is easy to have fun with people that you like.

Libby and I thank you John and Mary Ann for enriching our lives for a week. We suggest making this an annual affair.

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