On August 30, 1971, our son, Cecil Rhodes Gibson III, was born. With both parents being Chemical Engineers, we called him C3 (as opposed to propane)!
I know one gets a bit of a warning of impending events when you’re pregnant for nine months, but I had never been around a baby ever. I was completely overwhelmed. I know there’s some sort of theory that a woman has inborn maternal instincts but I evidently had missed out on them somewhere along the line. Good friends that had lived across the quad from us at Fort Bliss, drove down from Washington State to visit in a wildly painted VW bus, which they would not let them park at the KOA just north of El Paso. I guess suspected hippies were still considered too “out there”. But they did get to our house and stayed for about a week — thankfully.
Then Cecil and I were on our own. Fortunately, I was breastfeeding so that was sort of an automatic response and I got a lot of books read for the duration. Thank goodness for Mary Lou Cameron, whose husband Don worked at ENPG with Cecil. I could never have gotten through the first few months without her. I would show up with C3 in the morning, she would open the door and welcome us in and the world seemed good.
All seemed well and C3 and I had managed to develop a sort of pattern, when Cecil came home and announced that we would all be moving to Frankfurt, Germany next week. Cecil would be working with Lummus in Frankfurt on a coal gasification project. This was during the time that everyone was concerned about running out of natural gas.
The flight to Frankfurt was a bit stressful since C3 cried and screamed the entire time. Lummus had gotten us a small apartment with a playpen for C3’s bed. Which worked beautifully the entire time we were there.
While we were there, I learned a new way to iron Cecil’s shirts. No way to fit an ironing board into the apartment with all of us. BUT, if I washed the shirts in the bathtub and rinsed them and plastered them to the tile bathroom wall when they were still wet, they would stick to the wall and dry out perfectly ironed. It might have appeared a little strange to find shirts stuck to the wall in the bathroom, but it worked.
In a wonderful twist of fate, I met a friend for life over in Frankfurt. Her name is Ina Sinclair and her husband, Alan, worked for Lummus. She was German and he was English. Ina spoke perfect English and had even worked as a simultaneous translator between German and English. They had an apartment not far from where we were staying and Ina lent me a wonderful truly sturdy stroller that I used to go all over Frankfurt with C3 in encased. I didn’t have much success in learning Germain, but could just point as ask for “zei hundred grummes” (200 grams) of whatever. I never really found out what I had ordered until I got home and opened the package.
Ina was a wonderful friend. She took me to the Ballet and the Opera and opened a whole new world to me. Alan was impressive in his own right. Quite a large and voluminous man, he would come stomping out into the kitchen in his dress shirt and his underwear shorts to clarify some plan about dinner. He would always reassure me that he planned to put some pants on before we left.
Then, too soon, we had to return home. It had been such a wonderful experience. On the way back to El Paso, we stopped in New Jersey to see my mother and see how she was doing on her own. She had moved to a larger apartment, upstairs in the same building, and had had a marvelous time re-decorating. Including displays of “objects d’art” on the floor all over the apartment. Well, what a discovery for a one-year-old who had been cooped up on an airplane for the last eight hours. I couldn’t get him up off the floor quickly enough before mother became almost apoplectic. Understandably, we didn’t stay to visit for that long. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that found dealing with a small child to be such a learning experience.
Stay tuned for more Continuing Saga . . .
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