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A Manston Connection to a "We Told You So" Emigration by Rosemary Gilbert

The Manston Connection


My story is likely to be one of those "we told you so" reasons.

I had dated an American pilot, based at Manston, for three months shortly before the base closed and his squadron was re-located to France. (My much-older brother had met him and claimed "he's the only decent Yank I've met")..... Well, the pilot and I continued to stay in contact via letters and cross-Channel visits, for a long time. Before he was sent back to the States, he asked me to marry him once he had re-entered university in America.  OK - so I came across The Pond on December 1st, 1960.  Not, I'm afraid, at all what I had anticipated.

I had written to his parents prior to my arrival.  We spent that Christmas with them in Ohio.  Oh, horrors!  "Mother" had too many martinis and asked: "What about all the American boys who died fighting YOUR war?". A couple of weeks later, my fiance and I were in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he was then a student.  The usual procedure - an apartment for me and my quickly finding employment on the University campus. 



Within three months, he told me he was married.  This wasn't the "usual Married Man" tale - but hardly what I'd expected or wanted to hear. Anyway, divorce proceedings were initiated but the matter dragged on interminably due to his wanting a dispensation from the Catholic church before re-marrying. I eventually tired of waiting and terminated the relationship. 

I moved to Dayton, Ohio, where my friend Daphne was living (married to a former "Manston Yank") and started a new life for myself.  Got a terrific job on the local daily paper and was eventually promoted to Feature Writer due to having been a winner in a national journalism contest. I eventually married a reporter who landed a job on the San Francisco Chronicle - later divorced him - and I'm still here!

Except for the "Mother" in Ohio, Americans always have been very welcoming to me wherever I've lived and I made some lasting friendships.  For the record, once "Mother" found out the truth about her son's marriage, she did a turnabout and became a friend to me -- we corresponded for several years. 

My impression of the States when I arrived?  Old-fashioned by UK standards with lots of emphasis on church-going and religion.  I was amazed to realize that YOUNG people were regular church-goers - unlike the scenes in England where the congregations, for the most part, consisted of an elderly spinster with her mother and a few other participants. San Francisco is a very liberal city and considered by many young people at the moment to be the "in" place. 

Hope not too many readers on Simply Whitstable will consider this posting to be "airing dirty laundry" but no point in not telling the truth. As for salaries in the States:  I was earning, when working in London, approximately 19 U.S. dollars per week. When I began employment at the University of Michigan, my salary was $75. per week! --- wealthy at last! 

Have had some interesting jobs in the States - from the newspaper to The Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco, then (finally) eighteen years on, the administrative side of the well-known Cable Cars. Such is the tale of a long-ago "Yank Basher."


Rosemary Gilbert  
San Francisco

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