A Tribute To My Wife, Charlotte
At the end of Chapter One we were getting ready to depart Lahore, Pakistan after a two year assignment there. It was January 1967 and we were a family of four: Myself, my wife Charlotte, our son Charles, 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, and our daughter Sandra, 6 years old and in the 1st grade. We had sent our eldest son Joe to his grandparents home in Fairhope, Alabama in August 1966 to finish out his senior year in high school. He was 17 years old. The four of us departing Pakistan were looking forward to a long vacation visiting some major cities of the Far East before reporting back to Washingon, DC for a new assignment.
Our Visit To The Taj Mahal In Agra, India.
Having lived in Lahore, Pakistan for two years we had been not very far from India for Lahore was very near the border of India. And not very far beyond the border to the east lay the Indian capital city of Delhi, and near Delhi was Agra where the Taj Mahal had been created. We could have visited the Taj Mahal by driving our own car on a week end trip from Lahore except that the border was always closed due to the military dispute between the two countries. All our travel in Pakistan was from Lahore to the west. However in 1967 airline travel from Lahore to Delhi had been started again. So we got reservations at a famous old British hotel in Delhi and made the short airline hop the first segment of our trip towards the U. S.
At the hotel we hired a car and driver for a day trip to take us to the Taj Mahal. Viewing the Taj Mahal from a distance its beauty is seen to be in its design and shape and especially in the shimmering whiteness of its all white marble material. However, as one gets close to the structure a new feature adds to its beauty. That is, the white marble is seen to be covered all over with inlaid semi-precious stones. The workmanship to accomplish such a large piece of jewelry is marvelous to contemplate.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
At a workshop near the Taj Mahal we purchased a small white marble plate which is inlaid with semi-precious stones in the same pattern as the Taj Mahal. Possession of the plate is like having a portion of the Taj Mahal itself.
We had been told that the Taj has a special beauty at night when seen bathed in moonlight. It so happened that the moon was full during the time that we were there on our visit, so we made arrangements with our driver to take us back to the Taj that night. That night we simply sat on a bench and drank in the sight of the Taj Mahal in the moonlight.
The story of the Taj is given in the Internet's Wikipedia as follows: "In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for his construction of the Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
"Should guilty seek asylum here, Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin. Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, All his past sins are to be washed away. The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes. In this world this edifice has been made; To display thereby the creator's glory.
"The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement." (Quotations are from Wikipedia.)
Shah Jehan was succeeded as Emperor by his own son, Aurangzeb, who found it necessary to put his own father under house arrest and confine him. However, he confined Shah Jehan in Agra Fort only a short distance from the Taj Mahal, a Fort with every window on one side looking out on the sight of the Taj Mahal. That Fort was open as a tourist attraction when we visited the area and we were able to walk through the hallways and look out the windows to the beauty of the Taj as Shah Jehan had done. When Shah Jehan died his son had his body entombed next to the body of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the Taj Mahal.
Our First Visit to Bangkok, Thailand, January 1967.
Our flight landed in Bangkok at 11:20 AM on 22 January 1967. I remember this detail because it is recorded in my archives. All else must be from memory. I remember as we (all four of us) walked around in the tourist area of Bangkok that a young man, whom we guessed was a college student, walked up to us, and in perfect English, asked if he could lead us on our tour of Bangkok. He was indeed a college student, and we were happy to have him show and tell us about the things we were seeing, mostly temples and statues of Buddha.
We must have called Parker Henderson, missionary of the church of Christ in America, from our hotel room for we received an appointment to meet his wife, Donna, the next morning to go on a Klong tour. I think we must have met Parker and Donna Henderson in the U. S. some time before. Donna was escorting other tourists as well as ourselves. We did not know at that time that we would be sent later to live in Bangkok for three years and would get to know the Henderson family very well. Parker had lived in Thailand for many years and was one of the few Americans who spoke the Thai language fluently.
"Klong" is the Thai word for "canal." These canals serve as streets over a great part of the city of Bangkok for the land is only a few feet above sea level. Much of the commerce of the city is done from canal boats or from boats tied up to buildings on shore. We saw all sorts of merchandise being exchanged, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition we saw people washing their clothes in the klong while their babies and animals were swimming in it. Klong life is a mode of family life in Bangkok. We bought a few trinkets for souvenirs, especially temple rubbings which could be used for wall hangings at home.
We only spent two days in Bangkok before we were off on the next leg of our journey home.
Our Visit to Manila, Philippines.
I especially wanted to show my family some part of the Philippines since I had spent so much of World War 2 there. I had only visited Manila once during the war, and I was not allowed to go ashore at that time. The first few weeks of World War 2 we heard much about the attack of the Japanese on Manila and how the Americans withdrew to the fortified island of Corregidor. The last stand of the Americans and Filipinos against the forces of the Japanese was from the island f Corregidor. So we especially wanted to visit Corregidor.
Our flight arrived in Manila at 4:40 PM on 25 January 1967. From our hotel we called the American missionary (can't remember his name) and visted his home and met him and his wife the next day. Then we were off on our jaunt to Corregidor Island. At that time they had a new type water vehicle to ferry the tourists to Corregidor. It had a large engine amidship which generated a column of air which lifted the boat up almost out of the water. Then the vehicle could skim across Manila Bay at great speed. It had a Filipino Captain who kept us informed through a loudspeaker. This particular day there were among the tourists a large number of Japanese men who had probably been soldiers in the conquering Army of Japan in 1942. Americans and Japanese were visiting an old war scene together. The Filipino Captain was occasionally making dispairing remarks about the Japanese men who had once been his enemy. Finally one of the Americans asked him to forego his remarks about the Japanese. The war was over.
We wandered among the old rusted gun emplacements and into the tunnel in the mountain where once had been the base hospital. Sandra and Charlie climbed among the gun emplacements. We saw the old war scene at close hand. We departed Manila at 9:40 PM om 27 January 1967.
Our Visit to Hong Kong, China.
We arrived at Hong Kong at 11:20PM 27 January 1967. I remember the runway on which we landed was really right in the middle of the city. There were city buildings on both the left and right hand sides of the runway. Also the runway had a little hill in it which made the pilot's handling of the aircraft somewhat tricky. He had to apply the brakes shortly after the wheels of the airplane touched down. The stewardesses had not had time to secure the galley and we were sitting close to it. When the brakes were applied the galley practically flew apart. The drawers came open and the trays with old food on them fell out on the floor spraying us with their content. No one was hurt. Later we learned that the airplane was brand new and this was the first time this crew of stewardesses had worked together. Incidentally, the Hong Kong airport has now been moved completely out of the city with an extra smooth and long runway. (We had been suspecious of this airplane because a part of the armrest for my seat had come apart in my hand when I first sat down after boarding. So much for a brand new airplane.)
Hong Kong is another international shopping center. In those days tape recorders with seven inch tape reels were very popular. I had taken one of the best, a Sony, with me to Pakistan. We had used it primarily to listen to classical music as well as to record some of the music we made in our own house. One of the young American doctors at the local Lahore hospital who had treated me for Typhoid, heard we were leaving Pakistan and asked if he could purchase my Sony Tape Recorder. Since I later could pick up another, I agreed to sell him my Sony tape recorder. Now in Hong Kong, another world shopping center, I thought this might be a good time to get my new tape recorder. I found a shop which sold Akai tape recorders, which I considered to be better than the Sony. So I purchased one.
It never occurred to me that I might have trouble taking it aboard the airplane at a midpoint on our journey to Tokyo. I arrived for the flight departure carrying my new purchase which was quite large as tape recorders go. As I entered the aircraft the stewardess asked what I thought I was going to do with "that." It was too large to fit in the overhead compartment and also too large to fit under my seat. I had to think fast. The flight was only about half full. There were many empty seats. "I thought I might put it in a seat and fasten a seatbelt around it," I said. She accepted that solution. I was gratified.
Right next to our hotel in Hong Kong was a Park called Tiger Balm Gardens. It was uniquely Chinese, reminding me of an American comercial park except the motifs were all strictly Chinese. It was supposed to be advertising Tiger Balm products which were known around the world. Especially I remember several exhibits which depicted the horrors of hell in the hereafter. I don't know why they were depicted, but they were certainly memorable.
Sandy and Charlotte in Tiger Balm Gardens
I will write more about Hong Kong when I find my notes.
Our Visit To Tokyo, Japan, February 1967.
Our aircraft landed at 1:50 PM in Tokyo on 30 January 1967. We immediately went to the Old Imperial Hotel because I wanted to stay in the guaranteed earthquake proof hotel, having been designed many years ago by American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Actually plans were being made to tear down the old hotel. But on this date it was still open for business. It was famous for all its nooks and crannies formed by girders coming down at all angles within the hotel, girders inserted to make it impervious to earthquakes.
Old Imperial Hotel, Designed Earthquake Proof By Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Tokyo business district was lit up at night by more wierd shaped neon signs than we ever saw in New York City. We walked through the hopping/business district looking for a place to eat. There were many restaurants with their menus in the windows (in the Japanese language). We looked in the window of one restaurant which had the patrons doing their own cooking of strips of meat over open flames from a little burner in the middle of each table. We decided to try that restaurant. We could not converse with the Waitress and she did not seem inclined to give us any kind of instruction. We probably should have ordered something else to go with the meat. But we just watched other patrons to see what they were eating. We cooked and ate our meat (which was very tasty), paid our bill and departed.
The next day was Sunday so we telephoned an American missionary, Brother Bixler, the son of O. D. Bixler whom we knew in Chicago during the war. Brother Bixler and his wife picked us up the next morning in their car. There were a number of Japanese men and women at the worship service. Our family and Brother Bixler's family were the only foreigners there. I remember the different way they partook of the "fruit of the vine." Instead of dispensing it in small glasses, they provided spoons, and each Christian dipped a spoonful of the "fruit of the vine." It was a very effective way to a dispense the "fruit of the vine."
Street Scene in Tokyo, 1967.
We departed Tokyo for Anchorage, Alaska that Sunday night after most of three days in Tokyo.
I wanted to show my family something of Alaska where I had spent two years of my more than 4 years of World War 2. We were surprised to see icebergs floating in the Bering Sea as we approached Alaska. Our landing at Anchorage was smooth. We got a room on an upper floor of a downtown Anchorage hotel. From the upper room, on a clear day, we could see Mount McKindley quite well. And we did see it in all its grandeur.
We learned that Anchorage had grown considerably during the 23 years since I had been there. It was now a rather big city instead of a small town. The little landing strip, which was almost down town during the war, was turned into a city park. We visited a tourist show which exhibited movies of Alaska. But we were anxious to get on to the "lower 48" so we only spent one night in Alaska. The next day we took our flight to Chicago where we were to be received by Charlotte's girlhood friend and family, Marge Zini.
Our Visit To Chicago.
During our flight to Chicago the pilot let us know that it was snowing in Chicago. In fact, he informed us that some flights were finding it necessary to divert from Chicago as a destination and land elsewhere. He said no more about what we might do. We flew on to Chicago. As we approached the Chicago airport (I'm not sure it was called "Ohare Airport" in those days) and began to let down for the landing we looked out the side windows and could see nothing but grey snowfall. The "ceiling" out the side window was "zero!" But we set down smoothly and braked to a stop. We still could see no airport building. We had landed in the midst of a terrific snowstorm. We later learned that we were the only flight that had landed there that day.
Of course there was no one at the airport to meet us. They had been told that the Chicago airport would take no flights that day. We retrieved our baggage which formed a huge pile. (We were returning from two years abroad.) Then we looked around for a taxi. The taxis were having a hard time driving through the deep snow. We wanted to go to a side street address in the residential district of Chicago. Many taxi drivers were reluctant to try to accomodate us. They didn't want to get stuck on a side street in the deep snow.
We finally found a driver who said he would try to deliver us. But he warned we might not make it. We had no trouble for most of the journey on the heavily used streets. But when we got to the residential neighborhood, we found the side streets impassable. Finally we got to a point about one block from the address of Marge Zini. The driver said he could go no further, so we unloaded our baggage to the snow covered sidewalk. And Charlie (my son) and I began carrying each piece of luggage the last block to Marge's house. We finally got everything into the warm residence to the joyful welcome of Marge Zini and family (her son and husband).
The next day the sun shone brightly although it was very cold. Most of the streets got plowed so that people could get around in their cars. We found a used car lot for we wanted to buy a car good enough to take us the rest of the journey (We were headed next for Fairhope, Alabama where my parents and our son lived while finishing high school. After that I had to head back to my job in Washington, DC).
We found a good used Ford station wagon at a nearby car sales lot and purchased it. It served well its purpose and we used it for four years until the State Department sent our family on another foreign assignment. After a few days with Marge in Chicago, we loaded up our new used car and set out for Fairhope, Alabama.
Our Reunion In Fairhope.
I have no memories of the trip to Fairhope but the reunion with my son, Joe, and my parents was joyous. Also living in Fairhope was my nephew, Richard Perry and his wife and family. In fact they had built a house right next door to my parent's house. Also living in Fairhope was June Staggers, the daughter of my cousin Daisy who was partially raised with the Perry family in the 1930s. Across the Bay in Mobile, Alabama lived my Uncle Roy Perry and his family. Coming to Fairhope was like coming home. One afternoon we had a big get together of all the relatives.
It was now time for me to report back in Washington, DC, to find out what would be my next assignment. I already knew that they wanted me to work for a while in the Washington office. So, more than likely, we would want to buy a house in the Washington area. I asked my parents if I could leave my family with them in Fairhope while I got back to Washington to locate a house for us to live in. Then I would drive back and get them. That became the plan. Charlotte cautioned me not to buy a house with more than one floor. I started my lonely drive to Washington, DC early one morning.
The drive was almost uneventful except that in Virginia I was stopped for speeding. Undoubtedly I really was speeding. The trooper said I was going 77 MPH. He told me I could pay a fine on the spot or be taken in to court (and possibly to jail). I paid the fine, which wasn't much, but all money was "dear."
In Washigton I got a room at a small hotel near the State Department and reported for work with my Office, the Office of Public Safety, Agency for International Development. They debriefed me concerning my past assignment in Pakistan, then put me to work at a desk in the Office of Public Safety. It was clear that I would be working there for some time and that I would need a house for my family. So, in my spare time I went house hunting. I wanted to find a good house as soon as possible so our family could be together.
Our Life in Reston, Virginia
Luckily there was much advertizing about a new living area in Virginia, very near to Washington, DC, called Reston. It was to be an ideal new town with business area as well as residential area. The area was completely wooded and contained four little lakes. It was unusual in that such a large area, more than 1,000 acres, remained undeveloped as close as 20 miles from Washington, DC. An area of Reston called Lake Anne Plaza was first being developed. There was so much in the news about Lake Anne that I had to go see it first.
I fell in love with it. The entire portion of the town called Lake Anne Plaza had mostly been completed and now the residences were being sold. Because of the high quality and low cost I looked at a residence in a town house cluster almost within sight of Lake Anne. I ended up buying a three story townhouse at 11575 Maple Ridge Road. (I remembered that my wife, Charlotte, had cautioned me to get a house all on one floor. But this was different. I knew she would like it.)
The following advertisement describes some of the unique things about how Reston was being designed and built. "The careful planning and zoning within Reston allows for common grounds, several parks, large swaths of wooded areas with picturesque runs (streams), wildflower meadows, two golf courses, nearly 20 public swimming pools, bridle paths, a bike path, four lakes, tennis courts, and extensive foot pathways. These pathways, combined with bridges and tunnels, help to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic and increase safety at certain street crossings. Reston was built in wooded areas of oak, maple, sycamore, and Virginia pine." The Lake Anne area illustrated all of these points. In 1967 we were to be pioneers in the new town of Reston.
In the 2000 census it was found that the town had developed four areas like Lake Anne and had a population of 56,407 people. It had its own new elementary schools, gas stations, churches, art galleries, museums, restaurants, senior citizen's fellowship house, and shops to buy everything needed for life in Reston. No chain grocery or department stores were allowed in Reston. (Of course every possible kind of store was available in some of the shopping centers which grew up in the area between Reston and Washington, DC.) We enjoyed four years of life in Lake Anne (until 1971) before we were sent on a new foreign assignment.
Winter on Lake Ann in Reston, Virginia
We had our household furniture and effects sent from their storage facility in Utica, New York where we had left them in 1965. We had our shipment of Pakistani effects shipped to our new address. And we finally had the whole family together in Reston. I recollect that it was probably March of 1967 before we got settled in Reston. Sandy was entered in a Reston elementary school, Charlie was entered in the high school in the nearby village of Herndon, Virginia, and Joe, although he only had a few short months before graduation from high school, was also entered and graduated three months later from Herndon high school. We could not bring ourselves to leave Joe in Alabama with his grandparents when we were, as a family, back in the U. S. Joe was very happy to accompany us from Fairhope, Alabama to our new home in Reston.
Transportation over the 20 miles from Reston to the State Department Building was a problem. For the first few months I drove my own car and used a rented parking place about four blocks from my office. Later, the new citizens of Reston started their own bus line (only one bus at first) to deliver us to government jobs in DC. The bus let me out and picked me up on schedule just one block from my office.
Upon considering the establishment of our home in Reston we immediately identified our family with the church of Christ which happened to be just starting in nearby Herndon, Virginia. It was meeting in the Library building of the village of Herndon. The people who had gotten this church started were Richard Lyle and his wife, Evelyn, who had been attending the relatively large church of Christ in the village of Falls Church, Virginia. (I remembered many of the members of the Falls Church Village congregation from the time before World War 2 that I had lived in Washington, DC.) The new Herndon congregation, not having a full time preacher yet, called on me to deliver Sunday morning sermons about as often as I could find time to produce them. Richard and Evelyn Lyle became very close friends as we labored with the group to get the Herndon church of Christ established.
Sometime during 1967 I found out that the most friendly Pakistani Police Superintendent counterpart that I had worked with in Pakistan, was invited to come to America to attend a special Public Safety Training Course in California. His name was Zafar Quereshi. It so happened that he would nding a week or more in Washington, DC. When he arrived I learned e had brought along his wife. Her first name was Surreys and she had been a riend to my wife, Charlotte. They needed a place to stay while in Washington o I asked them if they if they would stay at our house. They seemed to be delighted that I had asked them.
We had only a very small third floor guest bedroom at our house but the guests had the run of the house of which the entire second floor was devoted to a huge all purpose family room. So I think the Quereshis had a good time with us. Zafar, a Muslim, seemed happy to go to a Christian church class with me and entered into the discussion of Bible passages along with everyone else. Surreys helped Charlotte learn some of her favorite Pakistani recipes. When they left, we saw them off at the airport.
Mr and Mrs. Zafar Quereshi, On Visit To Washington.
Christmas Letter for 26 December 1967
11575 Maple ridge Road
Reston, Virginia 22070
26 December 1
As usual we are late in greeting you. We have heard from most of you. Thank you so much for your letters and cards. We wish we could see you and visit for a spell. Please plan a visit to Washington, DC in 1968 and stay with us. We live just 18 miles from the National Capital in a most interesting place in itself, the new city of Reston.
What an exciting year it has been for us! As the year opened we were still in Lahore, Pakistan, getting ready to come home for “leave” when we learned that we were being reassigned to the “home office” at the State Department building in Washington, DC. Realizing that we might never get back to the Far East again we visited as many places we could on the way home.
The exquisite beauty of the Taj Mahal cannot be described in word or in pictures. As we gazed at it we marvelled at the height of achievement that man the creature has demonstrated. And we thought what unbelievable things mught be accomplished by man should he commit those talents to a working partnership with the Lord.
The splendor of the temple treasures committed to the “god” Buddha caught our eye in Bangkok. We travelled through the busy canal thorofares by motor launch in early morning, purchased bananas from a woman vending fruit from a canoe. The Thai people we met were very energetic and enterprising.
Viet Nam looked very green and deceptively peaceful as we passed over at 30,000 feet in a Swissair Jet.
In Manila harbor, along with a group of former Japanese soldiers, we took the hydrofoil to Corrigedor Island. It lies there just like it was when we retook it in 1945, shattered dock, ruined barracks, great gaping holes in the armor plate of the gun emplacements. Both Japanese and Americans shuttered at the horror of the memories that came flooding back but looked with eyes of new found compassion on each other.
Hong Kong, the shopping center of the world, is really two cities in one. We saw the modern city of luxurious hotels and shops loaded with every material thing one can imagine. Nearby is the great refugee center with masses of people living in unimaginable squalor.
Finally we landed in Tokyo, prosperous, modern beyond our expectations, with heavy freeway traffic, interesting shopping in the Ginza shops, a room in Frank Lloyd Wright's creation, the old Imperial (earthquake proof) hotel.
On each of our “stops” we met members of the church of Christ or saw evidence of their work. The efforts can be likened to “a little leaven.” But, if we continue to expand our efforts, surely the Lord will see that the “leaven permeates the whole lump.”
We have not had a dull moment since we got back home, either. First there was the search for a new house, arrival of our furniture from storage (months later the arrival of household effects from Pakistan), new schools for the children. Charlotte spent the summer anticipating, experiencing, and recovering from an operation. She is fully recovered now. We took Joe to Nashville to enter him in David Lipscomb College in September. Charlie is now a sophomore in high school and the tallest member of the family. Sandra is in the second grade, a blue Bird, and the most “active” member of the family. We are glad to be back in the U. S this year where we can see Joe during the holidays and FM's parents in Alabama from time to time.
We worship with a lively, growing, new congregation of the Lord's church in Herndon, Virginia. F. M. has opportunity to preach as often as he has time to compose a new sermon. We are blessed with every opportunity.
Best wishes for the new year. Love, the F.M. Perry family.