The ground was sprinkled white by the time we pulled up to Mom’s childhood home on Wilson Street in Winona. It looked like the coating of powdered sugar from the Embassy commissary that Mom shook to over our Norwegian Christmas cookies.
I spent two years in New York City, Victoria. Then came the second summer, in 1952, when I was home in Winona on vacation. The young man who was to become your grandfather and I met again after having been apart for those two years .. and the rest, as they say, in another history.
At the end of the summer, Nik announced that I would be arriving in New York City in time for the opening events for the Henry Street Playhouse as part of Nik's Henry Street Dance Company.
Mom could not know that her year of teaching dance at Macalester would prepare her for an international life, or that her future spouse was already a fan of the country south of the border......
The big-name teacher that summer was Hanya Holm, one of the pioneers of modern dance who was in big demand as a choreographer on Broadway. I must have more than held my own during those intense four weeks because Alwin Nikolais, one of Hanya's instructors who everyone called Nik, asked me to join his company in New York City when I had completed my year of teaching at Macalester. I was going to the Big Apple!
Paul Taylor and my mother, Nancy Robb Amerson, were contemporaries, not only in age but also in having the passion of dance. She, too, danced in New York City before following her heart (and my dad) back to Minnesota, and, even taught dance while she was pregnant with me.
It was just the four of us again, Dad driving, Mom talking quietly to him, and Susie and I tucked into the back seat, me on the left side, her on the right side, headed off into an adventure. Instead of the Italian blue book country guide, Mom had an American map open on her lap; a hotel guide was at her feet.
Mom and Dad made their protocol farewell calls on the Ambassador and Mrs. Sparks and other senior diplomatic couples. They were fèted at our first “despedida,” a goodbye party routinely thrown by Embassy colleagues for departing friends; the “bienvenida” was the party counterpart to welcome new diplomats and their families into the Caracas Embassy.
From the burgeoning gardens of the Hotel de Ville in Alma, Wisconsin to the splendors of Snooky, Julie and Ruth's flowerbeds along the St. Croix, these images from our mini-Home Leave to Minnesota stay with me....
In South Dakota, where my dad's from, you swim in a crick, you put a ruhf over your head and you set down ruhts. In the Foreign Service, where I'm from, they sent Dad and Mom and Susie and me back to his ruhts every few years to remind us that we were Americans. It was called Home Leave.