How a boy from a one-room schoolhouse on the South Dakotan prairie became a Foreign Service officer

"Here I was on July 4, 1955, expected to assume duties as Press Attaché and Information Officer, American Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela - after only two months of practical orientation in Washington, preceded by five years of corporate public relations, a BA from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, courtesy of the GI Bill, and roots…

Here’s What Surprised Me…

My mother, Nancy Amerson, was part of a group of friends on Cape Cod that met each month under the moniker of "Stitch and Bitch." Some of these women also were part of Mom's book group, which operated a little differently than the "Oprah bookclub" model: rather than all reading the same book, each participant…

A Bookstore on Every Corner

The last time I traveled to the Northeast, I took along a library book. It didn't keep up with me: someone at the Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires got a good read, and the Palm Beach Country Library System got a new book.  Ever since, I've packed a book I've already paid for. Before our recent…

Just a Sunday Afternoon

Transplanted from the Northeast to South Florida, we luxuriated in the freshness of spring when we visited Paris and Amsterdam in May.     After the hustle of checking the sights off the list in Paris, it was heaven to wander through the Jardin du Luxembourg along with every other combination of families on a…

My Mother, the Gardener

Photos, Giverny and Amsterdam, by author, May 2018. My mother's garden at my parents' "terminal house" (a term coined by a couple who, like Mom and Dad, had called many places home) was plowed under and sodded over by the decidedly off-Cape people who bought the Brewster, MA place after Dad died unexpectedly.  Losing him…

Celebrating the Fourth in Caracas

At 2AM July 3, 1955, my parents and I, a 8 month-old, arrived at the seaside airport down the mountains from Caracas. It had been a marathon: driving up to NYC from DC, where they'd had two months of orientation training, leaving the car at  loading docks, and taking our 10 pieces of luggage to…

La brutta figura

Behavior matters,especially when you're in a Foreign Service family. After Dad's initial four years in balmy Caracas, we moved in 1959 to Milan, where there were strict rules governing how things were done.  Although Dad’s job at the USIA office required my mother to be available for after-hours socializing and cultural events, finding a live-in…