Tag Archives: Marcia Duncan

The Bogota Bomb

[Virginia]: I was the end of my seventh grade year, the end of your [Kathy’s] junior year, and Doug was in between. So that was real tough for us because having been born and raised in Peru to leave and go to a new country was really hard. They were like family to us because we didn’t know all our family, our biological family, you know, extended family. So that was very tough, was to be uprooted and move to another country.

[Heidi]: Can I just interrupt and ask, was that because you parents [can’t hear] in Peru and they tried to [can’t hear]?

[Virginia]: They were going to be shutting down, the government was. They had a—I don’t know; you could probably explain better—they had a lease with the government or something.

[Eric]: There was a lot of conflict at that time. People in the universities and so on were criticizing SIL as being—what were they saying, that we were mining uranium?

[Virginia]: Oh, gosh. Weird.

[Eric]: There was a lot of opposition by Catholics, who were against the Evangelical police, and people in the university, who were leftist leaning. At that point, the government started to close down our operations. Right around that time, then, they did a reversal, but Dad and Mom had already made plans to leave.

[Virginia]: They had already assigned them to Colombia.

[Heidi]: So were there a lot of kids you’d grown up with that were leaving, too?

[Kathy]: Some were, but we were. . . .

[Virginia]: Dad [Will Kindberg] had just finished the completion of the New Testament.

[Eric]: Right.

[Virginia]: And I think he’d done some of the Old Testament, at least portions of the Old Testament. It was pretty much done at that time, so I think that’s why they had already assigned him to move.

[Kathy]: And they needed new translation people or something in Colombia.

[Virginia]: Yeah, so then since he’d already been assigned, even though then the government decided that Wycliffe could stay, we just continued onto the plans over there.

[Kathy]: Dragging our heals in the grass.

[Virginia]: Yeah, it was really a hard time to move. We docked in Barranquilla or Cartagena, I don’t know? Do you remember?

[Kathy]: We went to Cartagena.

[Virginia]: Was it Cartagena? And then we, I guess, flew to Bogota. And there had been a lot of guerrilla activity against Americans or foreigners in Bogota. So there had been bombs that had been placed in different foreign places. I don’t know if it was businesses or just residences.

[Kathy]: It was like bank and university and places that foreigners went to.

[Heidi]: Frequented.

[Virginia]: Anyway, my dad had been talking about this, these occurrences, with one of the other missionaries who had picked us up at the docks.

[Kathy]: No, it was the airport.

[Virginia]: The airport. The airport. Anyway, when we get to—we had like a group-house in the capital because when would come from where we were out in the middle of nowhere, they would fly to Bogota. There was, like, a group-house where we would stay. And we got there and my dad had gotten out first, or one of the first people to get out of the car. There was a box sitting there by the door.

[Eric]: Cardboard box.

[Virginia]: Cardboard. I don’t . . . oh, I was talking to somebody. I wasn’t sure.

[Kathy]: It was a little—it looked like a transistor radio. It was only very, you know, it was just a little package with a little thing sticking out of it that clued him when it started to spark, he realized it was a bomb.

[Virginia]: So. . . .

[Heidi]: Did you guys drive off or what did you do?

[Kathy]: No. We didn’t. It was like ten seconds about.

[Virginia]: Well, Dad just jokingly said—he picks it up and says, “What is this, a bomb?” And then it started to spark, so he put it back down.

I was in the back of a VW Bug, in the little well, in the very back because I was the smallest. I saw it and somehow I got out in time. It was only a matter of seconds that it went off.

[Kathy]: It still . . . the man who was in it just started yelling, “It’s a bomb! It’s a bomb! Run!”

[Virginia]: So Kathy, I think you were with me. We ran across the street, which was a narrow street. Doug ran down the street. It knocked him over. It caused all the glass from all the buildings for blocks to shatter. And it fell on our heads and I had glass in my head for a long time. I remember feeling my head.

[Eric]: You actually got behind the car across the street. And mom was behind the car and got knocked down, too, I think.

[Kathy]: She was in the middle of the street and it knocked her over.

[Eric]: And the shrapnel, go ahead, you finish the shrapnel.

[Virginia]: The shrapnel—there was a kick-plate at the bottom of the door, which was metal, and pieces of that metal went into the group-house. And there was, like, a bodega, where they, people kept their winter coats and stuff, and it went through the door. One piece even went, went through the door, went through the wall of that bodega, went through clothing, and stuck into a 2×4. I mean, so the glass was pretty, pretty, um. . . .

[Kathy]: It was meant to kill anybody in that house and it would have if anybody was in the lower level, but it was midnight and nobody was down in that lower level.

[Virginia]: And there was one lady who had just had a caesarian section or a DNC of something. She’d just had surgery. Just at the right time, she was in her bed, she rolled over and the glass fell. That was Lush.

[Kathy]: Oh, Edna Lush.

[Virginia]: Edna Lush. Anyway. . . .

[Marcia]: And your parents never wrote anything about this, did they?

[Kathy]: Oh, yeah, Dad.

[Marcia]: I don’t ever remember hearing this story.

[Virginia]: Oh, yeah.

[Kathy]: The story gets better and better every time.

[Steve]: I understood the tone of it.

[Mary Lynn]: I’ve heard it differently, too, multiple times.

[Virginia]: So that was my introduction to Colombia, was that. It affected me for a long time. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t be around fireworks for many years. My husband will attest, I had nightmares many years after we were married, which would have been—I was twelve and ten, probably twenty years later, I was still having nightmares, so it affected me in a really big way. My question was—and my dad wrote, he did some memoires—and my big questions was, “You know, if they hate us so much, why are we here?” You know, not understanding, you know. Anyway, I was only twelve, so I didn’t understand much.

[Kathy]: It was scary after that because, too, because they kept threatening, and we had to stay in Bogota to do paper work. Remember that?

[Virginia]: No, I don’t remember that.

[Kathy]: They kept having other threats and then they had suspicious people driving by in cars.

[Virginia]: Oh, I do remember. That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. So that was kind of scary.

NB: A State Department document on WikiLeaks dates this bomb to the week prior to the report of Friday, August 6, 1976. As to the context for this and other bombings in Bogota that week, it reads:  

MORE TERRORIST BOMBS EXPLODED IN BOGOTA WITH U.S. PRIVATE FACILITIES AMONG THE TARGETS. FOLLOWING THE FAILURE OF THE NATIONAL SALARY COUNCIL TO AGREE TO NEW MINIMUM WAGES THE GOVERNMENT UNILATERALLY MOVED TO IMPOSE HIGHER LEVELS. THE LATEST PRICE INDEX INCREASE INDICATES THAT THE GOC’S INFLATION TARGET OF 15 PERCENT FOR 1976 IS NOW AN IMPOSSIBLITY. THE POLITICAL SEASON HAS BEGUN WITH FORMER FINANCE MINISTER AGUDELO ADDED TO THE LIST OF POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. PRESIDENT LOPEZ TOOK ADVANTAGE OF A JOURNALISM AWARDS CEREMONY TO DEFEND THE NEW PRESS LAW. MAJOR GENERAL VALDERRAMA TOOK OVER AS DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL POLICE.

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

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.)

  • Virginia wins the last brownie. But Virginia and Kathy, can I ask for a few more details. Were the threats specific? Did they just want Americans to leave? Were they trying to scare the US or the Colombian government into giving them something? Was it mere terrorism? Did you go to the hospital that night? Did the mission provide counseling then or later? What kind of comfort did your parents take/offer you? Did they seem scared? Did they consider leaving?
  • You talked about lasting nightmares and your visceral reaction to fireworks. (I don’t do well with fireworks, either.) Looking back, are there other things—positive or negative—that you take away from these threatening and dangerous situations?
  • You spoke of not understanding because you were twelve. What do you think you would have understood if you were older?
  • Marcia didn’t remember hearing this story in 1976, but others do. What did you think, Gail and Bruce and Eric? Steve?

Kathy and Virginia’s Dad Lets Them Dance

[Virginia]: I was born in September of ’63. So I was born in Peru as well and lived in Peru until I was at the end of my seventh grade year. Then we took a ship, an Italian ship liner, from Peru up over the western part, up north, through the Panama Canal into Colombia. That was kind of interesting, wasn’t it Kathy?

first-class-ballroom-ss-raffaello

[Kathy]: Yes.

[Virginia]: We had never danced before and we got on the ship and they had a dance every night. And so Kathy. . . .

[Kathy]: These guys kept hanging around because Virginia’s so good looking. They were like, “There’s gonna be a dance. Can you guys dance with us?” And we’re like, “No, our dad won’t let us. No, our dad won’t let us!” And they kept asking and asking and finally we were near dad [Will Kindberg] and they asked again and he said, “Yes, you can.”

[Virginia]: So that was kind of interesting: our first, first exposure to dancing. And, of course, didn’t know how to.

[Kathy]: Crossing the equator was a big, a big event while they were having this dance party.

[Virginia]: Yeah.

[Marcia]: What was the name of the ship? Do you remember?

[Virginia]: It was Italian, but I don’t. . . .

[Kathy]: It’s an Italian liner, but it was the last time it was going to run.

[Marcia]: You don’t remember the name of the ship?

[Kathy]: But I don’t remember the name of it.

[Marcia]: Because we crossed the ocean on two. . . .

[Victoria]: Raffaello?

[Steve]: Raffaello.

[Marcia]: We crossed the ocean on the Raffaello and also the Cristoforo Colombo.

[Steve]: It’s the Titanico.

[Virginia]: Yeah.

[joking and laughing; can’t hear]

[Gail]: That was in, that was in ’76. . . .

[Kathy]: You flew out.

[Gail]: I’d already left. Yeah.

[Kathy]: And you had already left. We were moving to Colombia and that was the cheapest way to move us and all of our stuff. Oh, and then we had the bomb as soon as we got this boat to dock.

NB: The Raffaello was indeed withdrawn in April of 1975 and sold to the Shah of Iran in 1976. In 1983, it was torpedoed during the Iraq-Iran War. 

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

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.)

  • What else happened on that ship? How long did the trip take? Did Doug travel with you? Tell us about dancing for the first time.
  • If Gail had already flown out, where did she go? Where was she?
  • What do you recall of your parents during that sail?
  • Who else has crossing the ocean in ships stories you want to tell us?

Park Street Church Supports Every Odd Child

Park Street Church as seen from Suffolk University Law School, 9.28.2012, courtesy of David Bruce[Eric]: Yeah, I went to Moody, Moody Bible Institute, planning to go—so one year at the King’s College and then I wanted to transfer to Moody. That was when I joined Park Street, actually. Between Moody, I mean, The King’s College and Moody, I had to be a member of a church. Up to that point, I wasn’t one, so I asked Dr. Toms if I could become a member. They kind of took me on as an unusual case because they don’t normally accept somebody so quickly. But since they had supported me since I was a baby—they support the parent plus every other child. And so. . . .

[Stephanie]: Really?

[Eric]: That’s the way they did it for our family.

[Stephanie]: Every other child?

[maybe Heidi or Kim]: That’s just demented.

[Stephanie]: What, in the world, does that mean?

[Eric]: Since my mother. . . .

[Steve]: No. What he means is every odd child.

[Stephanie]: What does it—? No. I really want a serious answer. What, in the world, does that mean? Like, the rest of the children don’t get supported, too bad for them?

[Mary Lynn]: Isn’t that weird?

[TJ]: Is that when they get sent down on a raft in a whirlpool?

[Kim]: I guess the others [laughter; can’t hear].

[Eric]: The reason was because they didn’t support. . . . They supported my mother, who was from Park Street, but my dad was being supported from another church. And so they supported every other child, along with my mother. I don’t know why it was arranged that way, but that’s the way it was.

[Marcia]: I think part of the idea was that they didn’t want to give full support to the whole family because then, if for some reason they couldn’t follow through on that—correct me if I’m wrong—you didn’t have any other support out there.

[Eric]: Right.

[Marcia]: You couldn’t have any other support out there. Which is very interesting because, you know, in the late ‘90s, they went to a full-support system, in which they started supporting everybody—

[Eric]: Full time.

[Marcia]: —full time, so that they could have you when you came home on furlough. They could have you there within their church, because they just felt like everybody was doing a cameo appearance, you know, and people didn’t know the missionaries. It was a lot harder for them to raise money to send out missionaries. So their whole idea was if the missionary can work in the church when they’re on furlough, then they will become better known and all of that.

[Steve]: That was post-Kindberg.

story told by Eric (Lee’s son) with interjections by Steve, Stephanie, Kimberly and Heidi (Steve’s daughters), TJ (Kathryn’s son) and an explanation by 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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  • What other funding models did missionaries in the family pursue?
  • What other churches supported Lee and Will Kindberg’s work as Bible translators with SIL?

Lee Treats Marcia’s Fever

Steve wasn’t here and before I even got down to South Carolina, I knew I had malaria. So I said to Dawn, “Do you have enough Fansidar?” She had been out to visit us and she had the Fansidar, so I took the appropriate dose and so I felt better, but it didn’t go away.

It seemed like I went through this period of time where every few weeks I’d wake up on the weekend and just have this low-grade fever and feel awful and then it would go away. This went on and on. We finally went out to visit your mother [Lee], Eric, in Arizona and while we were out there, I got sick again. She got me into the clinic there.

[Steve]: Was it Arizona?

[Dawn]: It wasn’t in Arizona; it was in Texas.

[Steve]: It was in Duncanville.

[Eric]: She worked in both places.

[Dawn]: That’s where she was.

I thought she was in Arizona.

[Dawn]: You’ve visited her there since then.

She was in Duncanville?

[Dawn]: But you were in Duncanville, at that time.

Well, whatever. Anyway, they did a test and found that I had the other strain that just lies low in your liver and then comes to life again. I’d been, for months, carrying this thing around and finally got the proper medication. Once I took that, that was the end of it.

[Dawn]: She had to go to Wycliffe to get it.

[Steve]: Reoccurring malaria that was serious. You have had it?

[Gail, etc.]: Dad.

[Steve]: Will?

[Eric]: I don’t think any of us siblings had malaria more than once or twice.

[Steve]: Well, that was a different strain and that strain has a tendency to reoccur. The strain that the kids had—we all had, have had it.

We all had it.

[Steve]: That is called falciparum. That can kill you, black water fever and all.

It’s the most deadly.

[Steve]: But once you treat it, it’s done. Until the next time you get infected with it.

Anopheles mosquito

Anopheles Mosquito

[Gail]: From a different mosquito?

[Steve]: With a different mosquito.

[Stephanie]: Before Kim and I left for school, though, Kim was getting sick every couple of weeks. I remember. She was so anemic.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Dawn and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters) and Eric and Gail (Lee’s children); transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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.)

  • Where did Lee work in Arizona? Was there an SIL clinic there, too?
  • Besides testing blood and providing the requisite meds, what else was the Wycliffe clinic in Duncanville equipped to do?
  • What’s the name of the reoccurring kind of malaria?
  • What kind of malaria did Will have?
  • Did Lee and her clan take anti-malaria prophylactics?
  • Who else has had malaria or taken meds to prevent it? Raise your hands.

 

Not Our First Case of Malaria

Malaria[Stephanie]: We inaugurated our time there [Ben Lippen High School] by getting malaria the first week of school.

[Marcia]: Mhmm.

[Voices]: Awwww!

[Kimberly]: That was the other thing we had gotten there. But then I didn’t have any US diseases or colds or anything until the chicken pox came around. So, yeah, we did better between malaria and chicken pox.

Quinine

Quinine

[Marcia]: I know. I think the school was in an uproar because they had this one, you know, Stephanie came down with malaria and they, the pharmacist filled the prescriptions incorrectly, so they gave her too much of one kind of medicine for her body weight. She had a reaction to it. She was a mess. But I had talked to the doctor on the phone and said, “You know”—they wanted to give them quinine—I said, “We never give them quinine.”

She said, “I have to give them quinine according to the CDC protocol.

[Kimberly]: Was Dad [Steve] . . . ?

[Stephanie]: Dad was still in Brazil.

[Marcia]: Dad had not come back yet. He took. .  . .

[Stephanie]: He had gone to Brazil for a conference.

[Marcia]: OK. So you [Steve] were going to come and meet up with us, but you weren’t back yet. I came down and put the kids, put them into school and went over and was at Elizabeth’s house while that, during that initial time. Anyway. . . .

[Stephanie]: We were also not supposed to be leaving school during the first month. That was part of the complication. My mom wasn’t there initially because we weren’t supposed to leave school or see our parents for the first month, oh and leave campus.

[Marcia]: Anyway, I talked to the doctor on the phone, but she told me she had to give them quinine. I just felt that that would be problematic. But anyway, the medicine also was, because it was switched around, it was the wrong amount. So she ended up in the hospital.

I told them, “You know, we’re not used into going in the hospital for malaria. It would really be better if she could just stay at the school and not be in the hospital, but she ended up in the hospital. So then I ended up going over there and staying with her in the hospital.

And then Kimberly got up one morning and had a headache. She went to the nurse and she said, . . .

[Kimberly]: “I’ve got malaria.”

[Marcia]: “I’ve got malaria.”

So the nurse said, “A-ha! We’re not taking you in to that hospital!”

The hospital in Columbia was a teaching hospital, so Stephanie had had every intern in the place come down to see this rare case of malaria.

So the nurse, who had lived overseas and knew a little bit about malaria, said, “OK. We’re going to take your blood first. We’re going to get it tested.” Sure enough, she had it, but by then they’d figured out how to give the dosage right. And didn’t you stay in the dorm and get better?

[Kimberly]: I stayed in the dorm.

[Marcia]: Took your medication and got better.

[Kimberly]: I got better. I still had the ear ringing and [can’t hear].

[Marcia]: Anyway.

[Kimberly]: Anyway, I was over it in, like, a week or less. Steph was sick for about two weeks and had a worse case than I had.

[Marcia]: So it was not our first case of malaria. We had had malaria a lot in Angola.

[Heidi]: That’s the shortest malaria.

[Kimberly]: Well, no, I mean I got really good at it in Jamba. I could diagnose it quick, right. This was the whole thing. I could have diagnosed Stephanie and treated her myself and she would have been fine.

[Heidi]: Better off.

Fansidar

Fansidar

[Kimberly]: We didn’t have any Fansidar around. We didn’t have Dad around, so that didn’t work out.

[Marcia]: Well, and I remember that your house-parents had said to me something about you having. . . .

[Stephanie]: They were trying to dose me with blueberries [? word unclear].

[Marcia]: And I said to her, I said to the house-parents, I said, “If she’s not better by Monday”—or whatever—“you have to start thinking malaria.” Because we knew the symptoms.

[Kimberly]: Because [can’t hear] we got home, right? Wasn’t it right after we got home?

[Dawn]: It was hardly two weeks.

[Mary Lynn]: Were you a few hours away that you couldn’t go to them?

[Marcia]: I don’t remember why I didn’t drive over there and take things into hand. I don’t know.

[Stephanie]: Well, I think initially it was kind of like a question of whatever. I mean maybe the house-parents were questioning what I was sick with. And there was this whole rule about not seeing your parents for the first month. I think they were just trying to help students, like, get through that rough patch.

[Marcia]: Because it was a . . . yeah.

[Stephanie]: School hadn’t really officially started yet. Kim and I were there because they were having an MK program for MKs. School hadn’t started. It was a dorm for us and the house-parents. There was a lot of back-and-forth. Part of it was [unclear].

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife), Kimberly, and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Dawn and Heidi (Steve’s daughters) and Mary Lynn (Lee’s daughter-in-law); transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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.)

  • What were those house-parents’ names?
  • Where was the malaria-knowledgeable nurse when Stephanie got it? Why didn’t she intervene then?
  • What was the conference in Brazil about?
  • What weird diseases have you had in your travels? Where and why were you traveling? What happened?
  • Anybody remember the childhood diseases stories for the eight? Dad? Lee? Betty?

They’re Twins, They’re Girls, They’re Identical

We came back and we lived in Waltham [Mass.] for a year. Steve a year of internship at what was then Waltham Hospital [now Boston Children’s at Waltham]. Then he did residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, where he had done that externship.

It was during that time that I got pregnant again, and so we were pretty sure that—we found out we were going to have twins. That was kind of unexpected. It did come from my grandmother; [she] always used to tell me that she had a miscarriage that would have been twins if she had carried them to term. My aunt always wanted to have twins and never had them, but my cousin did have twins. She had fraternal twins and our twins are identical. They say that that isn’t so much a part of your heritage as fraternal twins are. At any rate, we followed the twin tradition.

My mother thought we should have a boy in the mix, so when Steve announced—and we thought we would, just because that was most—statistically that was most common. Then we had two girls [Kimberly and Stephanie]. He called up my mother and said, “Guess what? We have two girls!” And she said, “Oh, no!”

[Dawn]: Did she?

[Heidi]: Yeah.

[Dawn]: I love it because she came outside and she said, “Your mom had two girls.” And I said, “Oh, no! I wanted a brother.” And she scolded me!

[Stephanie?]: She had done it herself.

Anyway, so then we moved. When Dawn and Heidi. . . .

[Victoria]: How many years between you [Dawn and the twins]?

[Dawn]: Six.

Dawn is six years older than the twins and Heidi is two years older than the twins. The twins were 14 months and Dawn was in second grade—is that right?—when we moved out to South Dakota?

Steve Duncan Girls, 1982

Heidi, Dawn, Kimberly, Stephanie, Christmastime, 1982

[Dawn]: Yup.

Heidi was. . . .

[Heidi]: Toddling.

Not in school yet. And we lived in South Dakota for five years [1977–1982] and then we came back to the East Coast, raised our support and went to Angola. Dawn was in seventh grade and Heidi was in third grade and the twins were in first grade when we went to Angola [1983].

Then gradually they all—I homeschooled them in Angola. Dawn left in tenth grade to go to Ben Lippen School and Heidi wanted to go sooner because she didn’t want to do all the work that Dawn was doing in school.

[Heidi]: She had to do homeschool in ninth grade and it was just like uuuggghhh.

[Stephanie]: That was back when homeschooling was in its infancy and you had no options except the University of Nebraska.

We had University of Nebraska, a high school course from the University of Nebraska.

[Stephanie]: GED, basically a GED course.

Heidi went off when she was in ninth grade to Ben Lippen. Then we came home on furlough and lived in Sumter, South Carolina, for four months in a colleague’s house when the twins entered school. They weren’t too keen on being at Ben Lippen, but we said, “Try it.”

[Kimberly?]: [can’t hear] We were like kicking and screaming.

We said, “Try it.” We were on furlough. We stayed there until Christmastime and then they came home with us for Christmas break. Then they went back and stayed.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with interjections from Kimberly, Dawn, Heidi, and Stephanie (Steve’s daughters) and Victoria TJ Ramey’s wife; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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.)

  • Which grandmother was it who had the miscarriage?
  • I’m thinking Heidi went to Ben Lippen in 1988 and Kim and Steph went in 1990. Is that right?

Marcia Did Not Teach Burlesque in Italy

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

Cristoforo Colombo took Marcia, Steve, and Dawn to Italy, 1970.

We did go to Italy.

I didn’t learn Italian ahead of time.

In fact we went separately. Steve flew there. He flew ahead to find a place for us to live and some work for me to do because I was going to be “putting hubby through,” so to speak. I had a trunk full of our household goods and at that time it was cheaper to go across on an ocean liner and take your trunk than it was to fly. So he flew and I came later.

I learned a little Italian on the ship. I was on the Italian lines. I met up with him in Italy there and then I took some Italian lessons when I was there. Basically we learned Italian from just living in the culture.

I remember. . . .

[Heidi]: The ship came into Venice.

No.

[Steve]: No, that was the second ship.

No, that was the second time we went back. The first time it came into . . . um.

[Steve]: No, uh, the other side of the peninsula.

[Heidi]: Florence?

[Steve]: Florence, no, um.

[Heidi]: I mean, um, Genoa.

[Steve]: Genoa.

Genoa! We came into Genoa.

[Heidi]: And then you trained across.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[Heidi]: To Padova.

Yeah. We did a lot of train travel in Padova.

[Eric]: While he was in medical school, you were working?

So then he found me a job in a Berlitz school, teaching English. So I taught English in a Berlitz school.

[Bruce]: Burlesque?

[Steve]: Burlesque?

Burlesque?

[laughter]

[Heidi]: Mom did burlesque to bring in the money.

And I learned a lot of, you know, I learned a lot of Italian teaching English, just because of the way the Italians would speak English. It helped me to learn how things were said.

[Heidi]: Twenty-six years later, I moved to Italy and lived in Venice and taught English in a Berlitz school and learned some of my Italian.

[Virginia]: Are you serious? Oh, Heidi, that’s awesome.

So after three years in Italy, he took an externship at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton. Came back for a period of six months. I came ahead. I was six months pregnant with Dawn. I came ahead and Dawn was born in the States at that hospital, Saint Elizabeth’s. He was not—were you here for the birth? You were back by the birth time. OK.

Then we went back to Italy and the second time we went back together in a ship. That’s when we went to Venice. On our way there, we stopped in various ports. So we were in Malaga, Spain. We stopped and visited Pompeii and we were in Naples and visited Pompeii.

[Steve]: We stopped in Sicily.

We did. We stopped in Sicily. And then we went up the Adriatic and stopped in Greece.

[Steve]: In Greece. We went to Greece.

We stopped at Piraeus. And then we took a day trip to Athens. And then we went over to Venice.

That gave us a chance to see a lot of places in Europe and when Dawn was baby, we traveled—when we had vacation times, we had a little VW Bug and traveled to various places, to visit places in Italy.

[Heidi]: You went to see Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

And we went to Austria also because we had met a couple on a ship—he was Austrian and she was American. They invited us to go to Austria to visit them at Christmastime, so we did a few things like that.

[Kimberly?]: Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley.

[Steve]: That was up in Switzerland. We had gone also, among other things, we saw where The Sound of Music was designed in Salzburg.

[Victoria]: Yeah. In Austria.

They lived in Salzburg, so they took us around to all the sites in Salzburg.

We traveled to Switzerland several times and met up with Aunt Betty and Uncle Harley there and Sandy and Debby. They would get apartments for missionaries in various places in Switzerland where we would have vacation time. So we would drive through the fog out of Italy, because it was usually very foggy at Christmastime.

Then I can remember one time when we were driving up in the mountains in Switzerland. Steve was not feeling good. Did you ask me to drive? And I was like. . . .

[Dawn]: Dad was in the back seat.

Dad, he would look out the window and see that it was a drop-off like this and he just closed his eyes and hoped we didn’t drop off.

Anyway, so we had a lot of good memories from those years. We were there for six years. Came home in 1974.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with additions from Steve and Heidi (Steve’s daughter) and interjections from Virginia Gorman, Bruce Kindberg, and Eric Kindberg (Lee’s children), Dawn Harrell and Kimberly Duncan (Steve’s daughters), and Victoria (TJ Ramey, Kathryn’s son’s wife), transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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.)

  • Any other Smith and Steve Duncan family stories from those Christmastimes spent together that you’d like to tell?
  • Would someone please tell the flaming fondue table story?
  • Can someone relay the peanut butter story? Didn’t Harley and Betty come to Italy for that story? What was the context?
  • How about going to France to help build the camp one summer story?
  • Sandy? Debby? What do you remember of those intersecting times?
  • Why would Betty have stayed behind in France at Steve’s graduation? Children? Other duties? Finances?
  • Any other stories from the ocean liners? How about the diapers-in-the-hold story from the second crossing?