Tag Archives: 1981

Doug Wants to Chase Somebody

[Virginia]: Every year, the seniors would go on a senior trip. There were all four of us seniors. There was only four of us. Two of us decided we would go to—there was a New Tribes base that was in a town a ways away. And they did let us go, but the other two seniors’ parents wouldn’t let them go because they were too afraid to let them go, which, as a parent now, I wouldn’t let my kids go. I would be like, “You’re staying with me!” At the time, being me, I stood up in the—we had meetings at the base so they could update them as to the what was going on and everything. And I stood up there and I said, “Guys you’re missionaries! You’re supposed to trust the Lord!” And that was my, I was kind of, I was mad because the other two kids couldn’t go. Their parents wouldn’t let them go with us.

[Heidi]: Those people wouldn’t trust the Lord.

[Virginia]: I know. I was like, “Come on!”

[Kathy]: [laughter; can’t hear]

[Virginia]: But anyway, then Chet got killed and of course that was very traumatic.

[Heidi]: Did that end the hiding?

[Virginia]: Yeah, then Dad was back.

[Heidi]: How did they figure that was the end of the crisis?

[Virginia]: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t remember all of those details.

[Kathy]: I just reread the book. It’s called. . . .

[Virginia]: Oh, yeah. I knew Chet. I took care of his kids during conference.

[Kathy]: Called to Die. It’s very good if you want to read about the whole experience.

[Marcia]: Who wrote the book?

[Kathy]: Steve Estes.

[Virginia]: And someone said, who was it I was talking to? Oh, Jim Suderman. He said he kind of took, . . . or was it Jim? Anyway, he said they kind of embellished a little bit on that, in that book.

[Kathy]: It tells the story very well.

[Virginia]: Yup. Anyway, so then I graduated, and then Doug paid for you and Bruce and you were already down there for my graduation, right? Weren’t you in Colombia for my graduation?

[Gail]: [can’t hear] I don’t think he paid for my trip to go down there.

[Virginia]: No, I paid for your trip to go down for Doug’s graduation.

[Kathy]: No, I went down for your graduation.

[Virginia]: I think you were already—weren’t you already there because Allan was there?

[Kathy]: [can’t hear] Bryant College. Allan and I came—that was the summer we got. . . .

[Virginia]: Oh, Doug paid for everybody. I think, that could. . . . Oh, you didn’t?

[Kathy]: No, because we flew. Actually, Chet Bitterman’s sister’s, oh, no, Brenda Bitterman’s brother flew the plane down with the New Testaments. We flew with him from Dayton, Tennessee to Loma Linda in a little plane.

[Eric]: Where was I all this time?

[Virginia]: I don’t know.

[Kathy]: You were probably, I think you were in Peru.

[Virginia]: This was ’81.

[Eric]: Oh, we were still, we may have been, if this was ’81, we were still in the States. We had just gotten married.

[Virginia]: I don’t know, but I know that he paid for you [Gail] and he paid for Bruce and Brenda to come down. And they had Brett. Was it Brett?

[Bruce]: It was Brandon.

[Virginia]: Brandon. So, anyway, so they came down and the reason I brought that up was because then when I traveled to Bogota before I left, then—Doug had always said, you know, Bogota was notorious for pocket, you know, people that pick pockets and people stealing purses and whatnot. He used to say—you know, tough guy, as you all know—“I just wanna put money in my pocket. You know, I just wanna have the chance just to chase after somebody and grab somebody.”

[Kathy]: Egg somebody on.

[Virginia]: Egg somebody on.

Anyway, I had gotten this purse for my graduation gift. And we were in the taxi. We were in a taxi and I guess he and mom and I were in the back. Dad was up front with the driver. Well, I was sitting on the left hand side and I just happened to look up and there was a guy standing there. And I’m thinking, “I wonder if I should lock my door?”

Next thing I know, somebody’s knocking on the opposite side of the taxi. The guy that I had been looking at opened my door and pulled my, took my purse off my lap and started running.

Well, Doug had his chance. He and dad got out and they pursued those two guys and they. . . .

[Kathy]: Didn’t they go in opposite directions?

[Virginia]: Opposite directions, so Dad was going one way and Doug was going another way. Doug was so mad that he did not catch that guy. He was so furious with himself that he didn’t catch him, but Dad caught the other guy, the guy that did not have the purse. And they did take him to court, but—it’s just really weird—so the purse was taken, but somebody found it. They guy had gone through it. Didn’t find the money because I had the money in a pocket and he didn’t see it.

Because it had a letter—and this is another story I’ll go into—I had a letter from a couple in Houston, who I ended up going to work for. They had my address. Anyway, somebody called the group house and said, “We found this purse.” It was kind of cool. I still have that purse ‘til this day because of the journey it went on.

[Kathy]: So they took what they wanted, what they could get in haste because Doug was chasing them. Then they, in case they got caught, they just dumped the purse and kept going. So Doug didn’t catch them, but then the purse was returned.

[Eric]: So had Doug not been chasing them, they would have had more time to go through the purse. He would have found the money.

[Kathy]: Oh, yeah.

[Virginia]: Yup. I think he found the pesos, but he didn’t find the American money. There was American money that was still in there when I got it.

story told by Virginia (Lee’s daughter) with interjections by Bruce, Eric, Kathy and Gail (Lee’s kids), Heidi (Steve’s daughter) and Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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  • Who else has pick-pocketing stories that you can tell us?
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What’s That Port City of Morocco?

[Bob] We took a train from Paris to Gibraltar [in August 1981]. We were going over to Morocco to see friends. And about the border of France, it was nighttime. It was very interesting though. I was sitting in this train and all of a sudden the car went straight up in the air.

[Polly] And you could feel it.

[Bob] And you could feel it. And I said, I know what they’re doing. They’re changing the wheels for a different gauge railroad between France and Spain. So they put it down eventually. And then we got into Spain. Boooring. Boring!

[Polly] It was so boring. And then we came to one of the cities.

[Bob] Madrid.

[Polly] Madrid.

[Bob] Oh, boy. Here’s a city I can look at. It went right under a tunnel the whole time we were there.

[Polly] We thought we were going to see something. Didn’t they know we haven’t seen Spain?

plain in Spain[Bob] It was just like Arizona. It would be like going on that railroad in Australia. It goes a thousand miles and doesn’t curve. For a thousand miles it goes as straight as [ ].

[Bob] I thought I’d never see anything and then we got to Algeciras.

[Polly] Which is the closest city near where the Rock of Gibraltar and the Straits of Gibraltar are. Anyway that’s where the big rock is. Or across from there. And we had to cross by ferry. You know, when we go, we don’t really know what we’re doing. We don’t know the language. But we go anyway. Especially with Uncle Bob. “Honey, it’ll all be taken care of!” And I’m, “Mmmmm, how are we going to do this? Where are we going?”

Abdul, Nadia, Houda, Nouza Filali-Ansary Family, Quincy, 1980[Polly] We were planning to meet and go over that route and go to Morocco. That was our plan. We had met this couple—and they had two little girls—as an exchange student in Boston. They were studying, or he was, at Boston University, many, many years ago [1980]. They kept saying, “Why don’t you come and visit us when we go back home to Morocco?” We were host family to them and took them a lot of places. And really, though they were Muslim, they would come to church quite regularly and everything. It was the music. They loved the music.

[Bob] They even said it was just like being in the mosque. And I said it couldn’t; it couldn’t. I could have choked him.

[Polly] That wasn’t such a nice thing, but I think he was trying to be. . . .

[Bob] Yeah. Trying to be cordial and all that.

[Polly] But anyway, by the Lord’s providence and so on, we were given a gift at our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary time [Aug 25, 1981] and we were able to go. We did go to Europe with the Gordon College Alumni Tour. And then we took off on our own. That’s why we were in Paris heading for [ ].

Ferry between Algeciras, Spain and Tangier, Morocco[Polly] Well we got—jump ahead now to Algeciras—and we really knew we were planning, when we got on the ferry, somehow we would be met by our friends on the other end, Abdul and Nouza in Morocco. But the ferry, it was so confusing: they would give you a ticket in the best English they knew how to communicate with us with no Arabic. Anyway, we were given the wrong tickets. This couple who knew some English. They were actually a French couple, but knew a little bit of English. No, a Moroccan couple, that was. We met a French couple, too, but that was. . . . Anyway, they were able. They said, “Oh, this won’t get you where you want to go.” So they helped us.

[Bob] Exchange the tickets.

[Polly] In that part of the world—and we may have this happen somewhat here and you probably have had it in your travels—but over there if you are given a number, a gate number where you were going to go out of, where the ferry was going to go out of, and all of the sudden they changed it. Well everybody—and I’m not kidding—everybody just jumps over you like a herd of cattle. And you’re going to head for the next one, but it doesn’t matter whether your luggage is there or you’re there. And so everybody—and literally that’s what happened to us—so we’re kind of swept along by this crowd, not knowing. . . . And this couple, young couple really helped us. They were wonderful.

[Polly] So we got on the ferry OK and had to show our passport at least seven times. But, you know, this was just part of that world. Got to, what was the port of Morocco that we came to? Not Casablanca. Oh, isn’t that awful. Not, no Al Jazeera’s the news.

[Bob] No. It’s very well-known. When you think of Morocco, you think of the city. Besides Casablanca.

[Polly] It’ll come.

[Bob] It’ll come.

[Polly] It’ll come. That’s all right. One of those senior moments?

[Polly] And anyway, we got there. This couple guided us. Well, we never met the couple we were supposed to meet.

[Bob] They weren’t allowed on the pier.

[Polly] And so, as a result, we ended up eventually, without, I’ll cut through a lot of the details. We stayed overnight in a motel. They helped us get us. . . .

[Bob] Not a motel, Honey. Remember the fellow we met? He heard us speaking English. He was, he had worked in the United States.

[Polly] No, no, no. This was. That’s when we got on the bus. This was not. . . . In the port city where we landed, we stayed in. . . .

[Bob] Stayed in his house.

[Polly] Later, Honey, in Rabat. Remember? When we took the bus ride? But this was the first thing.

[Bob] I know. Hotel. Small hotel.

[Polly] Small hotel. Anyway, and then we said, if we couldn’t find our friends, we would make our way back to Paris, then to Belgium and home. That’s where our tickets were, tickets for Belgium. And this couple said, you know in Eastern, or Mid-Eastern—whatever—hospitality, you do everything you can.

[Bob] You can’t do that. That would be a great insult.

[Polly] That would be an insult . . .

[Bob] . . . to go home . . .

[Polly] . . . to them.

[Virginia] To not try to find them?

[Bob] Not to try to find the couple that weren’t there at the port.

[Polly] The host family.

[Bob] Tangier!

[Polly] Tangier!

[Bob] You wait long enough, it comes to you.

[Polly] Yeah. And so they really impressed upon us that it would be almost our duty, I guess at that point, to take a bus to Rabat, which is the capital city, where the friends lived.

[Bob] And then look them up there.

[Polly] We did.

[Bob] That’s what we did. Yup.

[Polly] We found them eventually. They found, we found them.

[Bob] We found them.

[Polly] Amazing. Amazing.

[Bob] On the bus, we were talking, speaking obviously in English. It’s our best language.

[Lee] Your mother’s tongue.

[Bob] My mother’s tongue, yes. And a fellow from behind us came up, a young fellow. He’d been working in the United States and he was going home.

[Polly] Actually, he’d been studying in San Francisco.

[Bob] Yeah, San Francisco.

[Polly] Aziz was his name.

[Bob] So we said, “We don’t know where we are going. We don’t know how to find our folks.”

[Polly] “We don’t know what we’re doing.”

[Bob] And he said, “Oh don’t worry about that. There’s plenty of room in my house.” But then we got to his house and he couldn’t get it. It was all locked up. So he tried going up the gutter outside and then that collapsed on him. Anyway, his mother finally came home. And he was like the prodigal son back home again and they were all dancing. We were dancing. We slept in the mother’s bed.

[Polly] They insisted we stay overnight with them. Interestingly enough—you know the Lord does provide even when we were so ignorant we didn’t know what we were doing—but this family knew the name of our eventual hosts that we were trying to get to and were known by this other family that we had just stumbled across.

[Bob] They knew a sister or something and so they called the sister and the sister called the family.

Nouza, Houda, Abdul Filali-Ansary[Polly] And she actually drove us to the home of our eventual host family. Then we spent a bunch of maybe four or five days, but by the time we got to them it was more than half in.

[Bob] And they told us all the things we had missed that they had planned to do when they met us at the port.

[Virginia] What happened with that? They just weren’t able to get in.

Bob and Abdul[Bob] They weren’t able to get on. We drove right by them. They were sitting in the car but we didn’t know it. You see what happens there, an awful lot of Moroccans go to Europe and work. And then they have a month off, like they do in France. They go back home. Then they have to go back again. And there was a two- or three-day wait, sitting in the cars to get on the ferry. You know, it’s first come first served kind of thing. But they were in all that crowd. It was terrible, terrible. No restroom facilities. I mean it was just awful.

[Polly] Eating in the streets.

[Bob] Yup. Yup. Eating. Eating anything they could eat. That was the part that was very interesting. But then we got in the house. Now he had been working for the government for over a year, but couldn’t get a telephone. He says, “We have the wires out there in the yard, but they wouldn’t hitch them up.”

[Polly] And we tried and tried and tried, that was the other thing.

[Bob] Call them from all over Europe.

[Polly] But there was never an answer. We had a phone number, but never an answer because the phone wasn’t hooked up.

[Bob] Once we got there, we had a good time, except Polly got desperately ill. Sick-sick-sick-sick-sick.

[Virginia] Was it from the food?

[Bob] Yeah.

[Polly] Yeah. And I ate everything. I mean I tried to eat everything, which was probably not a good idea.

[Bob] We’d be eating at an outdoor restaurant and cats would run out over your feet. I mean up on the tables.

[Polly] They’d be up on the tables.

[Virginia] Oh no.

[Bob] I got sick, just for part of a day, but she got really, really sick.

full transcription of a story told by Bob and Polly (his wife) to Virginia (Lee’s daughter) and Lee and Ken (Lee’s second husband) during a visit to California in January 2004

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Do you remember the month and/or year that Polly and Bob visited Morocco in this story?
  • Do you recall other events from this trip?
  • I recall Bob telling a story about being unable to find his and Polly’s way back to the ferry after visitting Morocco. They were sick, or one of them was, and a woman beckoned them to follow her and led them to the ferry. Does anyone else recall this story? Can you retell it for us? Was it on the same trip or another one?