England 40 Years Ago — February 21, 1981

Guest writer! John’s mother wrote this on Hotel Sofitel stationery.

Dear family in Stony Brook,

Here we are situated in a very lovely French Hotel in Cherbourg, France. It’s about 5:30 p.m. French time which is one hour earlier than Greenwich time which is six hours earlier than Standard Time. We have just returned from a very interesting trip through Normandy countryside. What a delightful area! There are many, many old farms here, apparently occupied by several generations. They are all made of brick or stones cemented together. The farmers were out cutting down the hedgerows which break up the fields into small plots. Our main objective was Utah Beach where Dad landed on D-Day. We walked on the beach, climbed up and down the dunes and looked at the remains of the gun emplacements which were partially dug into the dunes.

It was a peaceful scene today as the tide receded. The shore was lined with shells (sea) all so different from June 6th, 1944. We saw the monument erected in commemoration of the 4th Division. There were a few landing craft there as well as a half track and a landing craft — all left over from the war.

Dad with the monument to the Fourth Division, landing at Utah Beach 6/6/1944

We stopped in a little restaurant across the street from all of this where, after much grunting and gesticulations we made our wishes known. Between the proprietor’s little knowledge of English and our equally little knowledge of French, we made out fairly well. She was so anxious to please, and we were so hungry — equally anxious to please. We had cheese or ham sandwiches on French bread.

This is a church in Normandy that we saw as we drove around

We were met at the airport by John, Anne and little John. It was so good to see them. The only one who has changed is little John. In the afternoon, after a good nap, we went with Anne to pick up the girls at school. They both have grown and look fine also. We had afternoon tea when we returned home followed by dinner later. We saw the girls’ rooms and some of their treasures. Lisa has taken some pictures which she was anxious to share with us. John C. went to the office after meeting us, so he came home a bit later for dinner. Their house is very nice — giving them plenty of room. The girls and I toured their garden, seeing the fish pond and tennis court. We also did some bird watching, which is always so much fun.

The weather is not like NY when we left on Wednesday. There were occasional snow flurries on Wednesday with cooler temps — just barely above freezing. In spite of this there are a few flowers in the garden. It’s an interesting country. There will be so much to talk about when we return home.

We hope you get this letter before we return, but at any rate you will know we have been thinking about you.

Much love to each one of you from us all.

Dad and Mom

15 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — February 21, 1981

  1. This is the second time in two days that someone’s post has me tearing up and feeling emotional–not a bad thing at all. We so often lose touch with our emotions and feeling those re-connections to other places and times is very meaningful for me. Thank you (and John’s mother) for this informative and beautiful post, and the wonderful pictures.


  2. How wonderful that all of these snapshots in time were preserved for all of us to enjoy! So touching that your father-in-law, a D-day survivor, got to return to the Normandy beach where history was made.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your in-laws looked like they had a memorable time and some nice memories to share when they returned to the States. How nice for them to get away for the visit with you and your family and to see the sights.


      1. My friend Carol that lives in New York, lived in China for four or five years. Her husband was an engineer for GM and was transferred there, so her mom and sister came to visit. Carol did not speak the language but they had a driver (courtesy of work), so there was no language barrier as he traveled to sites with them.


          1. Yes, they had a wonderful time. Carol and her husband had lived in Michigan then the transfer came through and since Carol didn’t work while living in China, she had plenty of time to go sightseeing with them.

            Liked by 1 person

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