|Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen, Wales|
In TIT post 10/7/2013 Aunt Carolyn described her arrival in Wales, in the small town of Mold where she would be teaching in the grammar school for a year. The piece below describes her living situation during her year of teaching there.
|Carolyn T. Arnold, about 1954|
So my year in Wales drew to a close. My home room presented me with a large bouquet of long stemmed roses–not very practical since I was leaving the next day–but Muriel enjoyed them. Pictures were taken, goodbyes were said. I felt I had left a bit of me in Wales, and I know that more than a bit of Wales remains in me.
After I left Wales, all American teachers were asked to report to Dr. Ford of the English Speaking Union in London for a final interview. Dr. Ford had received a good and generous letter from Mr. Joseph Jones, Headmaster. I was glad I had been able to please him.
Previous to leaving Mold, I had received an engraved invitation from the Queen Mother to attend a garden party at Lambeth Palace, London. In a group meeting following our interviews, we were informed of the courtesies and procedures. We were told a British citizen would curtsy with eyes lowered before the Queen Mother and then touch her hand if she extended it. We were not to initiate conversation but could speak with her if she spoke first. We, Americans, could do as we liked about the curtsy, but Dr. Ford showed us how to do it. I decided that since I was a guest in the country, I would follow the custom. I hope the Queen Mother did not smile while I did my best maneuver. Other dignitaries were present, and we did not meet them individually. The Queen Mother’s ladies-in-waiting stood nearby. The Lord Mayor of London was recognizable by his robes and gold chain of office. Many others gathered about the lawn. It was an extraordinary experience.
The following day all exchange teachers were invited to a cocktail party given by the American Ambassador. At the party, we met Lady Astor–American born. She was often an embarrassment to the British for she was outrageously outspoken. I had just an exchange of pleasantries.
On our final day before departure, Lady Churchill invited us to a reception. We all were instructed to line up at the foot of the stairs. Then, when one’s name was called by a steward in a splendid red uniform at the door, to proceed up the stairs. Finally, my turn came. After the door was closed, he announced in a stentorian voice, “Miss Carolyn Arnold.” All that was missing, I thought, was a trumpet. I advanced alone down a long room to meet Lady Churchill sitting in a chair at the far end. That was the longest walk I ever made; I was the center of all eyes.
I often think of my experiences in Wales and my friends there. I have returned several times to renew acquaintances. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that came my way.
All text and photos, copyright Caroline Arnold. www.theintrepidtourist.blogspot.com