I didn’t read about how to name a blog, and interestingly when I search on the topic now, there is scant information. All I know is that when I thought about naming The Travel Belles, my two grandmothers kept popping in my mind. Thoughts and images of them as the young women I never knew that I have stored in my memory thanks to family photographs, were intrusive enough that I knew I had to pay attention.
When I look back on the time I was fortunate to be able to share with each of them while growing up, I see that on the surface they couldn’t have been more different. Pull away a layer of curtain and I see they had more than a few things in common, including wicked senses of humor and fierce independence.
One grandmother took her first Transatlantic voyage in 1927 at age 17. She told me colorful stories of things like Bolshoi ballerinas she could see pirouetting along telephone wires that connected us. She recited nursery rhymes and poetry to me, even though I thought some of it was really weird. She faithfully sent me postcards from her travels, and an occasional telegram when telegrams were already obsolete. To this day I believe the Queen of England, in spite of those crown jewels, glass coaches and white horses, had nothing on her.
The other grandmother eloped in the middle of the night in 1930, leaving behind a large family in rural Virginia to marry a journalist and live in Charlottesvile. I was awed by her talent for quick witted commentary with perfectly timed delivery on topics covering everything from The Newlywed Game to The Beatles (those crazy “long-hairs” were “something on a stick”) to the minister’s wife. I learned how to look at things from different angles from her, and to not ever make assumptions about people and how it felt to laugh so hard that my stomach hurt and tears squirted out my eyes. She took me on me on walks around the block as magical as any trips I’ve been on. We walked at dawn and dusk and most memorably during snowfalls at night around urban Richmond. Her one and only airplane ride was when my father was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma when I was three years old. Until the day she died she referred to cars as “automobiles.”
One of my grandmothers taught me this nursery rhyme. Upon hearing it as a child, I found this idea of “rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,’ rather glamorous, and through this far off place called Banbury Cross was first aware of “other places.” There was much more to the world than I could see, and I wanted to see it:
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes
*Click to read about the history of Banbury Cross the nursery rhyme here and Banbury Cross the town here. Truth be told until five minutes ago I thought it was an intersection in London. As with many places I start reading about, now I want to go there. Also revealed by a Google search, “Banbury Cross” is quite the common name for suburban subdivisions across the country. No doubt many of them include cul-de-sacs.
Is there someone besides your parents who had a big influence on you while you were growing up? Or is there a place you heard about when you were little that you would someday like to go?
Welcome to The Travel Belles. May you have rings on your fingers and belles on your toes, and music wherever your life takes you.