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American Diary

American Diary cover image
American Diary cover image American Diary cover image American Diary cover image
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by: Oljan Repic
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Publication Date: April 12, 2020
Book Size: 6" x 9"
Pages: 104
Binding: Perfect Bound
ISBN: 9781648581434

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Book Synopsis
When I told my neighbor and friend Marjan that I was going to America the next day, he answered: “Sure, with a finger on the map!” "No, really, by boat..." I replied; "...that will sail in a bathtub!" he insisted. But in 1962 we really did travel from Trieste to New York, on the historic Italian Line 24,500-ton Vulcania. Since in socialism trips abroad were severely restricted, among other ways by making it impossible to buy foreign currency, we had to borrow significant dollars and marks from my uncle, who was in diplomatic service at the time. Another limitation was that the whole family was not allowed to leave the country. Thus my mother and brother stayed home while my father and I traveled to America. In any case, a postdoctoral salary would not have been sufficient for the whole family to live on for a year in America, and my brother was finishing his university studies in Ljubljana. The trip was a great adventure for me, a 14-year old. I had never seen a ship so big that one would board it from the third floor of the terminal building. This was also the first time I experienced social classes: I was once shooed off the wrong deck. We, of course, had the cheapest tickets, in "steerage", with four bunk beds in the cabin. We stopped at several ports along the way, picking up emigrants in Venezia, Patra, Napoli, Palermo, Gibraltar, and Lisboa. This was like a tourist cruise for us, as we toured the San Marco in Venezia, the ruins in Pompeii, the catacombs in Palermo, and the fort in Halifax. On board, I would order five-course meals and watch a movie every day, both luxuries I had not known before. I constantly wore a "sailor" outfit: jeans, white T-shirt and a party sailor's hat made of crepe paper. In spite of its size, the Atlantic waves were taller than the ship, so many passengers were sea-sick.

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