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Stories and Stovies
Six Happinesses


This is kind of, sort of, a food related memory. One of my favorite movies as a young girl in Dundee was 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.’ (Believe me, I knew my movies because Friday night for my mother and me was movie night.

In Dundee, the pictures were always double feature, with a newsreel and trailers/previews which I loved then and still love now - I guess it's the thrill of anticipation waiting for that next great movie -- and, oh boy, have I got a ton of movie memories for you -- the food we took in, my mother working as an usherette at the Vic, the thrill of my Granny getting free passes to go see 'South Pacific", getting thrown out of "Island of the Blue Dolphins' because when I went to see that as a teenager I wouldn’t stop singing the theme from "Flipper" -- but those will have to wait, won't they?

But back to the kinda sorta food memory -this movie is based on the true story of Gladys Aylward who was a lower income Englishwoman (see, I do have an English hero) but she was from the North of England. Gladys wanted to go to China as a missionary but because she was uneducated and poor she couldn't get any sponsorship from the British missionary societies. So she worked as a scrub woman and a maid and saved her money in order to go to China at her own expense.

She was a remarkable woman. The story of her life and her adventures is called 'The Small Woman" and the movie about her life, starting Ingrid Bergman, who was Swedish, is named after the inn she established as a missionary headquarters. I'll tell you her story in another book – maybe called something like 'Wee Johnny Norie's Bedtime Stories.’

This memory is in this book because this woman that I admired so much came to our school, the Harris, the year before I left to talk to us in an assembly. We had a science teacher who had been a missionary in China with her - I can't remember his name, only his nickname. Behind his back we called him "Holy Joe." This teacher arranged for her to come to our school. For some reason, and I have no idea why because I was such a dud in science - still am - Holy Joe liked me. When I learned she was coming to our school, I talked to HJ and he arranged for me to meet her.

That was a highlight of my secondary school years. I was old enough to be thrilled by this tiny little woman, and young enough to still have some of my childhood toys. I gave some of those to her to take back to China and was thrilled when she accepted them.

I still remember that meeting in the Rector (Principal)'s office and I hope you like this story. I hope you will always have memories of your heroes. I hope you get to meet your heroes and find them to be everything you think they are. I hope you have a belief in God and Jesus Christ. I hope my children love their dad. I hope they get to meet him some great day, and get to know that he truly is everything wonderful thing I said he was.

A Little Taste of Chinese Food

A Little Taste of Chinese Food – sort of

John was never big on Chinese food, he liked Italian. His year in the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club was not a good one, and certainly not the time or place to learn to appreciate Oriental cooking. So we never really learned how to cook Chinese style. Still haven't. So my recipes for Chinese or Japanese revolve going to the Abacus Inn for dinner or to Kyoto Bowl for a teriyaki lunch.

The best I can offer in this section is to run down to your local grocery store, buy a rotisseried chicken or two, a bag of pre made up oriental salad (you know, the bag of lettuce and snowpeas and noodles and package of soy dressing), a can of mandarins and a can of pineapples. Take these home, add bite sized pieces of the chicken (of course, I'm eating the skin and pieces of chicken as I go) mix in the mandarins and pineapples and there you have a Chinese chicken salad.

(I expect to hear from all you cooks who read this as to how I'm going to improve on this).

Anyhow, when John was off station and went to Hong Kong he did go to dinner at the Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong. He said the fish soup was interesting with the eyes stating up at him. (I inserted the menu up top - thought you'd like to see an authentic Chinese menu from a very famous restaurant in Hong Kong.)

Another, little story here: Hong Kong is where John got my first Viet Nam year jewelry – he bought me a little piece in each port they went to for Rest and Relaxation (R&R) - the Mikimoto pearl necklace and bracelet and the ear rings that I converted into pearl rings for my older daughters, and pearl drops for the younger.

This is also where John discovered the "Happiness Together" symbol. He loved that because it was the symbol for marriage. He sealed every letter he sent to me from Viet Nam with a stamp he had made of it. He also had the gold necklace and chain it's on especially made for me. We considered that our sign.

He had a velvet photograph album made up for us with that Happiness Together symbol on it and for many, many years I kept our wedding pictures in that. We still have it, by the way, and I think of that as a family treasure.

So, my family, when you think of John and me think of Happiness Together. That's all we ever wanted.

Happiness Together symbol


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