My first trip to Maryland was in 1939 when I was 10 years old. I was never an assertive child and when Margot returned from her year away I complied without question to the decision that I go away for a year. The day that I left made a deep impression on me. I was scrawny little underweight child who mother had decided a permanent would improve my boringly straight hair.
Well…the result was pretty hideous, all kinks and fuzz. I resembled a grey-fuzzed dandelion seen at the end of summer. I was taken to the train station by the entire family and fearfully boarded the B&O railway train. The pullman facilities were fascinating to me; and the porter was attentive to my needs. Two “elderly ladies” who I realize now, were about 45 years old, took me under their wings. They taught me new card games and invited me to join them in the dining car. There, among the white starched table linens, interesting china and silver and cut flowers in a small vase and finger bowls, they told me stories of their adventurous lives. I recall one woman telling me she and decided to try out all of life’s challenges. The last one was mountain climbing which she intended to start soon. She told me that life should be full of challenges and not be afraid of potentially dangerous activities.
That night was memorable. Sleeping in the upper bank with the sounds and swaying of the train’s passage through the night was soothing and sleep was not hard to come by. Next morning, after a lavish breakfast, we arrived at the station in Baltimore. I was helped from the train by the porter and stood on the platform waiting for someone to greet me. Soon a uniformed chauffeur came up to me and asked if I was Miss Annette (there! now you know my first name). I admitted that I was and was whisked away to the waiting car. Where, I wondered, were Aunt Burt, Uncle Hugo and cousin Arle?? After a short ride to Thornton Farm in Riderwood, we arrived and I was greeted by my relatives who were entreating guests and couldn’t meet me at the station.
My first impression of Maryland was that of lovely green hills, horses, post and rail fences, large country estates and a terrible homesickness. I had never met my Aunt and Uncle or cousin before this and I began to wonder why I didn’t turn down the invitation to leave home for this “interesting experience”.
(Today is the 29th of January 2004 and I just had a telephone conversation with John who asked if I had finished my autobiography.. I said “oh, no!” He reminded me that Jane would be 11 in ten years (the same age as I in the story so far) and that I would be 85!!! Egads, I said, and hung up the phone to take up this tome again…)