Letters From New York

24 April 1966
Room 1508, Hotel Excelsior
45 West 81st Street
New York City

Dear Mum & Vince,

Don't be alarmed! I'm not writing this "in flight" but rather on pinched paper [Pan American stationery]. As Joan would have reported in the card we all travelled well and are slowly settling in to our new environment in New York. The standard of accommodation on the trip over was quite good though what we have here leaves something to be desired as, due to a foul up, we're somewhat cramped for room. We have two twin bed bedrooms with a convertible double bed lounge in the lounge room; a kitchenette and a bathroom/toilet - one room less than we'd anticipated. We're in a heavily populated part of Manhattan only some 30 minutes by train from the U.N. but, because of the lack of space for the kids to "express" themselves we're hunting around for new digs.

I reported at the U.N. last Thursday afternoon (after arriving here late on Wednesday evening) and haven't done a tap since. I expect that things will start in earnest tomorrow. I received quite a reassuring welcome and was fast put onto a number of Australians already working there (indeed, there's a young married Aust. couple - with three children - living here in the same hotel who have been here only a week longer). We've seen very little rain - mostly overnight stuff - and, though fair, the weather has been quite cool out. The Americans make a big thing of home heating but we find it a bit too much and so stifling as to require the opening of windows despite the external cold. What with the transition between times and the alternating temperatures we've all experienced some difficulty in getting to sleep - particularly the kids.

First impressions of New York are not very favourable - it's teeming with people of all colours and creeds and what we've seen so far is filthy. We're learning all along the way, however, and - though we're not over-endowed with income it seems that with care and attention we'll make out OK. Rents are fantastically high - though one is trapped all the time into comparing costs against Aust. equivalents. Eating out is most expensive - as we learnt on the way over - and the normal serving is enormous, generally being trimmed with superfluous trimmings. Tea is generally made from individual bags, rather than bought in bulk. There are many familiar brands of foods available and the television has many of the home programs running strong.

We've completed a fair bit of sightseeing in our 9 days thus far and, despite our confinement we're bearing up pretty well. Everyone travelled very well and Joan - bless her - is doing marvellously. We've been lucky in having one Australian family here take us under their wing spending all Friday afternoon assisting us to find more suitable accommodation. The net result was that we have some prospects of moving into better, yet cheaper, accommodation early next week in an area which is adjacent to the U.N. School, the Catholic Church and a good shopping area with considerable area for the kids to play. The biggest single disadvantage is that it is unfurnished and we will have to improvise for some weeks until our effects arrive in mid-June.

You might tell Margaret that, although we were not able to get to see Bro. Evaristus at Santa Monica personally, I did speak with him by 'phone and he readily remembered [his] visit with Vic. He asked that he be remembered to them. We had a wonderful afternoon at Disneyland and, in San Francisco, experienced a ride on the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf.

That seems to be all the news for the present; my purpose is to assure you that all is well and that we're not yet in the throes of depressing homesickness. Certainly we're all missing you but there have been so many new things to do and see and much organising in process to have too much time on our hands for meditation on what might be. In only two days I've not, of course, been able to formulate an opinion of the prospective or actual worth of the U.N. More on that later.

Till my next note,

Love and Best wishes from Bill

P.S. Joan and the kids send their love.

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