ALIVE 0816 Pages 3-30.p24

Alive_Aug2016

AND THEN I WROTE . . . TRAVEL: BROADENING, FUN, AND OCCASIONALLY PROFITABLE EDWIN COHEN This month my lovely bride and I will celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary by taking a ten day cruise to Alaska. When the travel agent asked what we looked forward to the most, we both replied, “Being pampered.” Both of us have had some physical problems this year, so we simply want to rest and have our needs taken care of. This will be our twenty-eighth cruise. People travel, of course, for a variety of reasons: relaxation, sightseeing, aiding those in need, seeing other cultures, and simply for bragging rights at cocktail parties. Remember the couple who return from a trip to Europe and tell about having dinner with the King and Queen of Sweden. When asked how it was, the wife replied, “He was nice, but she was a bit haughty.” On their next trip they insisted that they had dinner with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and his wife. The answer again, “He was nice, but she was a bit haughty.” She lost all credibility after visiting the Pope in the Vatican. My wife Shirley and I are people watchers, as well as sightseers. We’ve met some delightful folks over the years, and, yes, we have met a few whom we would not describe as delightful. We have been on tours that we adored, just as we adored some of our “on our own” explorations. We both enjoy cruising and those gigantic ships are really quite inexpensive resorts: lodging, food, entertainment, transportation, shore tours, shopping (for Shirley), recreation, and classes all for $100-500/day per person depending on the accommodations, the cruise line, and destination. Vacations, touring, and cruising, however, are even more fun when they are almost free, free, or even include getting paid. I personally have been fortunate enough to have had eleven such experiences, nine with “the Boss.” After teaching for two years, I decided it was time to try my hand at professional theater, specifically, acting. I tried it for several months to no avail and decided that I did not want to continue that lifestyle in order to become an “overnight sensation” after twenty-five years. I, therefore, enrolled at U.C.L.A. in order to pursue an M.A. in theater. The classes I took were marvelous, but I did not like the regimentation of the performing area. I acted in two plays and, without realizing it, happened to be in residence at the university at the proper time to be eligible to tour the Orient with a show from the school sponsored by the U.S.O. and the Department of Defense. We performed at bases in Southern California, then flew in military cargo planes to Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Wake Island, Guam, and Hawaii. We averaged one or two shows a day for about six weeks; flew around 45,000 miles; and we were paid the magnificent sum of $7.00 per day from which we had to pay for our rooms and meals. Most places did not charge us, so I came home with a camera, a tape recorder, and a few—very few—dollars in my pocket. I also came home with incomparable memories, pictures, and stories with which I have bored family and friends for over half a century. After I abandoned the career that never was, I returned to teaching high school in the Southland. Four rather successful years later, I read about a organization which had campuses all over western Europe. They taught classes in language and culture and toured in the countries where the language was spoken. Teachers who recruited eight or more high school students could accompany the students as “chaperones” and receive the trip free. I tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit students for a Spanish program. (Why Spanish? I have no idea.) When that failed, I recruited four students for one of the French programs and four other kids from the area who had signed up on their own were assigned to me, giving me my eight and the free trip. After a few days in Paris we went by coach to the mountains in southern France at Villard-des- Lans where we were housed in a school for French students with respiratory problems during the regular school year. High in the Alps, the views and clean air (we were from the L.A. area) delighted us. Because I had rather extensive residence camping experience, I was named assistant principal


Alive_Aug2016
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