Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD
(1910 - 1995)
By Car from New York City to Miami and
The American Public Health Association held its yearly meetings
at the beginning of May, for one week. Since my husband was the editor
of the American Journal of Public Health, he had to attend all
the sessions, from the very first to the final one. This rigiorous
schedule was necessitated by the fact that many of the lectures would
be printed in the Journal. I rarely was able to accompany my
husband, because I was unable to have released time from work. But
in 1961, the meeting was held in Miami and George and I decided to
travel to there by car, and on our trip visit some southern cities
as well as Civil War battle fields.
Two days before we left, I went Downtown [Manhattan] to refurbish
my summer wardrobe. I went to Altman’s, a fashionable department
store at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue [Now the Graduate Center of the
City University of New York.] Looking at some light blouses suited
for southern weather I placed my handbag on the counter and turned
to a mirror holding up a blouse against my body, while a salesperson
looked for additional items to show me. When I turned around I discovered
that my handbag was missing, and I saw a woman walking rapidly towards
the exit. Before disappearing through the entrance, she turned around
and our eyes met and I knew that she was the thief. Not only did I
lose my favorite handbag, money, my driver’s license which I
needed for our trip, but also all my charge cards, including my American
Express card. The saleslady gave me a dollar so that I could pay my
fare home and packed up a blouse for me. When I returned home I immediately
called the stores at which I had charge cards to inform them that my
cards had been stolen. However, I could not replace my driver’s
license. Thus, my husband would have to do all the driving.
The next afternoon, after work, we departed. On the way to Washington,
we stayed at a motel situated on the New Jersey Turnpike. The following
morning we set out in earnest for Miami. We wanted to take three days,
which would give us enough time to sightsee along the way. Among our
planned stops were Civil War battlefields; we decided to leave visits
to towns, like Charlestown, for the return journey. It was surprising
how many small battlefields there were the farther south we drove.
What really amazed us was the proximity of the battle lines, sometimes
only the width of a road or a narrow river separated opposing sides.
And nearby there were cemeteries. Did these young soldiers really know
what they were fighting for? The Southern army fought for their way
of life, their present existence, but did the Northern soldiers really
want to give up their lives to free slaves so that blacks and whites
would be equal?
The last morning of our trip we got up early in the morning so that
we would be able to reach Miami by early afternoon. But when we hit
the road we found a row of truckers in front of us. The road was narrow
and we could not pass them. So we settled behind the last truck which
was open and had long tubes extending out of the back that swayed back
and forth. As we approached that truck, we realized that the tubes
were actually three elephant trunks which turned in various directions,
apparently to catch morning breezes. The trucks carried an entire circus;
they were travelling from one circus ground to another. We followed
them sedately, until they turned off at a town, where apparently they
were scheduled to hold a show.
We arrived at Miami Beach and settled in at the Hotel Fonntainebleau
in a room overlooking the ocean.
Two days later we got a telephone call from my daughter Susan. A parcel
had arrived for me containing the contents of my handbag, with even
the smallest most insignificant items that had been in the handbag:
hairpins and a soiled handkerchief. Even my driver’s license
and credit cards were included, but my wallet and money were missing
and of course the beautiful handbag.
On our way back we stopped in all the historic cities; but I will save
my impressions of them for another report.