Separated from others?

White tie and tales
Apr 15, 2016

Separated from others?


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #18
Rite of Passage Six –Early Tumult–
(1950-1951) Age 16-17 years old

Q: In your teens were you separated from others by your family or economic circumstances? Did this exclusion drive you to ‘succeed’?

I grew up as an only child in the hotel business in Europe. My parents were the general managers and we lived on the premises. It is sometimes referred to as a “Champagne lifestyle on a beer income”. The Roebuck Hotel, at Wych Cross in Sussex, was on the border of  Ashdown Forest and we had no close neighbors who had children. For all of these reasons I grew up as a solitary child without friends of my own age…that experience was reserved strictly for school.

White tie and talesMy parents were more anxious than I about this separation from others and set about equipping me with an opportunity to find some friends. My accent helped, being the generally accepted BBC announcer standard.

My clothes were selected to help me ‘blend in’ and I managed, somehow, to attend the right events such as the local ‘Hunt Ball’; which was white tie and tails.  I never made it and it was not for the want of trying. Sooner or later, it became known who my parents were and the ‘class level’ of my day took over. I did not belong.

So…what about now?

I overcompensated at that time for being socially sidelined by deciding, since I was in a ‘servant class’, that I would aim for the top and win a place for myself amongst these ‘others’ by succeeding! I did this over many years not just for myself but also for those fellow ‘servants’ with whom I worked; in fact for the industry as a whole. To reach for the top meant that I became driven to absorb everything I could about fine food, wine and superb service. I am now aware of the need to nourish myself and those I love and to do what I can to serve in my community.

Success is no longer reaching for the top…but rather taking the time to nourish at the grassroots level and to try to do that well!

P.S. This week I read Treena’s poem Strangers


  1. Patti Jean Meehan Says: 1:21 am

    Yes leaving home at 21 for California left me on my own. I was driven to succeed and never ask my parents for help as that would have been admitting they were right.

  2. Leslie B Says: 7:26 am

    Hello my friend. I love reading your posts, as they have so much meaning for me, and others, judging by what I read of their comments. Their comments and your posts also show me that my feelings and experiences are not so unique, and here I thought I was! Comparing my childhood with yours, I must say that the only differences is that you were English and I was raised “American”. In America, we don’t overtly think about “class status”, but it is there nonetheless. I quickly learned in grade school that if you did not have the status of wealth, you were not worth much. My Syrian heritage didn’t help matters. As a result, I too became a loner. “Seeing” how money affected the actions of people, I became very jaded towards “wealth” and wealthy people. I chose not to go in that direction, and as a result, I had no desire to push myself towards “success” and “status”. Unbeknownst to me, God evidently had other plans, and it wasn’t until I came to Skagit County did I realize what those plans were. This is where I finally came face to face with Him, figuratively speaking. Enough said for now, but know that YOU and Treena had a great influence on me, as did your Galloping Gourmet series, which I dearly loved. Thank you for putting yourself out there for all of us.

  3. Graham Kerr Says: 5:00 pm

    RC…As usual your questions are both convoluted and amusing, such that warrants a personal answer, if that is possible?

    The Top is anywhere that is clearly above someone who has achieved in the same field of endeavor. It is pure ‘recognition’ by others and less to do with relative ability to do more excellent work. It is, mostly unrewarding effort that can disappear as fast as it comes leaving human wreckage in its wake through failed personal relationships.

    My understanding of grass roots are found in what some call St.Augustine grass. It is planted in clumps, in tropical climates, and sends out runners over the surface that ‘thatch’ in layers with other ‘clumps’. It needs, as a result, less water and less mowing but a little can go a long way. Unlike Pampass grass it doesn’t draw attention to itself.

    So, how do I reach out with my ‘capital/influence’? I respond to what is on my limited horizon and try to do less harm in all that I do. If I can ‘thatch’ with someone else and, as a result, cover some sun-baked dirt and provide shade…then I am well
    satisfied. But, if I find myself ‘stretched thin’ by going beyond my reach then the result will be ‘shallow’ and short-lived and this I do my very best to avoid.

    I do hope that I unearthed a little of what you wanted?

    Upstreaming, very much on purpose…

  4. Lynn Severance Says: 11:16 pm

    I grew up in a military family with both parents and two brothers. We moved almost every year. Sustaining friendships was difficult because of the consistent moves but making friends in our new neighborhoods and at school made each location an adventure. Within my family’s dynamics I felt very isolated. There were never words of encouragement or acknowledgement of a job well done. I can’t be certain I recognized that lack until a couple of teachers during my high school years drew me out and I discovered I had a “voice” and some gifts! I enjoyed school but never felt I worked for accolades. I simply loved learning and doing my best while feeling isolated. It seems strange but that is how I felt! What emerged from this background was a carefully God- choreographed succession of steps that led me into teaching – teaching young children. My gift of encouragement (ironically never given to me within my own family) was waiting to erupt to brighten the lives of my students, others, and even myself during these ensuring years.

  5. John Kairis Says: 6:08 pm

    This post comes at an appropriate time. I too am concerned about the solitary child but not for me. A line in your post sunk in for me but I’ll comment on that later.

    I am concerned for my grandchild. She will be three next month. She has spent most of her life so far with only adults. And, earlier this month something happened that family time will be only with Mom. Dad cannot see her unless supervised by the authorities. No need to cover why here.

    Being a solitary child has been good in one way for her. She is highly educated. She is well above other three year olds in the basics. The “Nanny” is a female relative who values knowledge, manners, happiness, respect for others, and God. Our relative raised two very talented, intelligent, and successful people. She has shared these traits with our Granddaughter and I am eternally grateful. A nanny is involved because our daughter owns her own company and dad has his own career. My concern for our Granddaughter is interaction with others her own age. We will see how that goes this summer. She has been enrolled in dance class, swimming lessons, and Montessori school for the next few months. I plan to make sure my wife and I are involved as well.

    The post also had me think back and wonder how much my dad passing away at a young age (I was 15, he was 42) and the feeling of being alone impacted my success. I say a feeling of being alone because I felt lost. I say this because I became driven by the desire to better myself from our blue collar factory town environment and succeed at doing more than he attained. I have. I was not an only child, there were four of us. I’m number three. With my oldest sister’s passing last year I have come to recognize I’m nearer to death as well (I’m 62, she was 69). I accepted mortality when our youngest daughter died at 19 (18 years ago) but did not think death was near For me until now.

    The “Great Recession” hit us hard and all the financial success is gone. I am now in a job that is way beneath my abilities and I’m struggling to find something equal to what I had from an income and job satisfaction viewpoint. I interview for jobs similar to my previous career but the process stops when they meet me and recognize my age. You can hide a lot in a well written resume but wrinkles and grey hair can not be hidden in person.

    This line in your post stood out to me – “Success is no longer reaching for the top…but rather taking the time to nourish at the grassroots level and to try to do that well!” Maybe it is time for me to do the same. Redefine my version of success and find happiness in another endeavor or just by being me. Thank you. I will ponder this.

  6. RCMSHIVETTS Says: 2:01 pm

    Mr. G.K.—Written At 1:32pm 04/17/2016 while listening to radio and the song, appropriately,”ALONE IN THE MORNING”
    You wrote:
    I grew up an only child without any close friends with parents who were ‘on duty’ when everyone else was ‘off’. As a classic loner I decided to aim for the top of my profession (or trade?) where I would remain a relative loner.
    It’s different now and I’m so grateful for the change…I am now aware of the need to nourish myself and those I love and to do what I can to serve in my community.
    Success is no longer reaching for the top…but rather taking the time to nourish at the grassroots level and to try to do that well!
    My answer: Where is the top now? Please be concrete/specific with an illustrated reply. Are the grass roots deep or shallow? Is simplicity an absence of spiritual warfare?
    It has been written that the three post-modern horrors of North America are global worming (of dogs?), political cam-pains, and terrorism by religious teachers (both pre and post-secondary). How do people avoid the risk of being humans with these dangerous creatures in the air, on land, and over the
    This is given that the word “capital: may indeed be a metaphor for elapsed time of life and individual emotional stasis. As a conservative senior citizen, how do you invest your capital, anti-aging nutrition, and prayerful calm with your selective activism?
    As the body politick says: “We want to know!”

  7. Peter Jones Says: 7:16 pm

    I grew up effectively as an only child too.
    Watching your “Galloping Gourmet” show was one of the few moments of happiness I had as a child.
    I want to order “Flash of Silver” and would very much want you to personalize it to me.

  8. Jean N Sozio Says: 2:48 pm

    Alone in a crowd. I am the youngest of 9 – born 32 years from the first and 11 years from the last – a “change of life” baby. My parents had built a new home and along came me (“New home new baby”). I had great parents but knew them not long enough due to their “elderly” age. I lost my dad at 6 from leukemia – he was 61. I lost mom at 25 due to cancer – she was 72. I shared home with my parents and next in line brother until I was 12 and he got married. From 12 – 17 I lived alone with my mother – until I got married. I had no grandparents, aunts/uncles, or cousins as my parents emigrated here from Italy leaving my father’s family of 11 siblings whom I never knew. My maternal grandmother died the year before I was born and my maternal grandfather died the same year as my dad. I had a huge extended family from my 4 married brothers and 1 married sister. I had 21 nieces and nephews when I was born and now am a great great great aunt (and no wrinkles). My mother, being a widow, and I were always the guests of one of my siblings for holidays but I missed having any at home with her. I missed that family bonding and home spun memories of doings at home. My mom worked as a seamstress and during summer vacation from school I was a latch key kid doing chores. My mom’s passions were cooking and gardening – those I also maintain today. So I did become a loner – and an over achiever. I was popular in grade school because I was the tallest in my class and liked to make kids laugh. Later on in High School my mom allowed me to choose to be studious rather than work at a job thus I developed a confidence in my own strength and vision for my future. I was very mature for my age. Perhaps this just became natural as not having any distractions and being an observer of those older around me. I envied their famliness. As fate would have it, my husband and I were unable to have a family of our own and thus I have come full circle. It’s just the two of us – always the guests at holidays. We both love hospitality and hosted friends often until illness has prevented me from socializing. We just hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in 43 years! We have recently been blessed with new neighbors who have a young family and have adopted us as “bonus” grandparents. We are so happy. The Bible tells us “He makes all things beautiful in His time”.

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