Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you remember when a MARS bar was 8¢ ?

Do you remember when a MARS bar was 8¢ ?

Back in 1969 my father sent my mother, me and my 3 sisters on a transatlantic voyage from New York to Rotterdam. My father owned his own travel agency, and because of that, we were able to make many trips to Holland over the years. This trip was very special! July 1969 is when this all took place. We drove to New York all together from Toronto. I remember vaguely staying in a hotel, with a really small room, that had the view of a brick wall.

Before driving the next day to the dock where the magnificent Dutch ship was resting, the S.S. Statendam, we stopped in at Howard Johnson’s for lunch. Only my lunch consisted of a giant (American size) banana split, oh well, at least there was SOME fruit involved. I remember receiving this really cool gift at Howard Johnson’s of a model kit of the Apollo 11 that I had to put together. Yes, score! That was really neat!

We made our way to the ship and settled into our 2 room suite, with a small porthole that was at water level. I guess you figured out, were where not up in 1st class! We dropped off our bags, and then made our way back up to the poopdeck. There we could look out at all of south Manhattan’s glorious skyline. The ship was starting to move, and thousands of people starting throwing colorful streamers out too standing friends and family members that were left behind. The ships horn blew, man that was loud! And now the ship was moving through Upper New York Bay and there before our eyes came into view my first sighting of the Statue of Liberty. Yuup, it does really impress you! Even a small 9 year old girl. I very much understood the meaning behind the land of the free, the home of the brave.

New York had a very, very dark cloud hanging over it, and although we didn’t feel any rain drops on our heads on the poopdeck, we knew that New Yorkers were getting a total down pour! We went inside to sit in one of the many large lounges, and there on the black and White TV, we where able to witness the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and seeing and hearing man’s first step onto the Moon! Yuup it was July 20th, 1969, and as we passed by the Statue of Liberty, the first man landed on the moon! Wow… talk about a REAL monumental moment! “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

My 2 younger sisters and I scurried off to start discovering this new, huge ship. My mom was pretty cool about us running around alone, she really trusted us and any ways, where could we go? We were on a ship, can you really get too lost? We made a B-line to the snack shop ( of course) to see what treats we could (live) choose from for the next 2 weeks. (indeed this voyage would take 2 weeks) We found it, quite close to all the other stores and services, like a hair dresser, and barber, and a small clothing store, and the ship hospital.

There we discovered the MARS bar! And it was only 8 cents! How appropriate, we have just witnessed the first man landing on the moon, and we found another great planet, MARS! And only 8 cents away! The rest of our voyage consisted of finding loose change around the ship to feed our planetary needs. This was not an easy task, because spare change was at a premium, as you really didn’t need to walk around with your wallet or purse, because every thing was pretty well free. So after cleaning out my mom’s purse of all it’s loose change, we started searching in the couches and lounge chairs for change that had fallen out of people’s pockets.

Back to my Apollo 11 model kit, I had become the nightly baby sitter, as my mom and older sister would venture out of our private cabin at about 9pm to watch a film or a show that was on in the main lounge. The smaller room that my older sister and I were bunk-bedded in was at the front of the cabin so I was able to see if any of my other 2 sisters would be able to sneek out ( for a late night stroll to MARS) As I sat on my top deck, I slowly started to assemble my Apollo 11 lunar lander. It took me about a whole week to finally finish it!. It was very intricate, and detailed. But then again, this is the memory of a 9 year old. Maybe after all, it was pretty easy. But with my anal tendencies, even back then, I didn’t want to make a mistake, and ruin it!

Here are some fun facts about the MARS Bar

* It was invented (or discovered, I like better) in 1911 in Tacoma, Washington, USA
* By Frank C. Mars ( yuup the MARS Family )
* The other Mars family members are: M&M's · Milky Way · Bounty · Snickers · Twix · and Skittles


Aaron, your friendly neighbour said...

Wendy, this is an absolutely great story! I hope you can fit this into the book somehow...

Wendy Limbertie said...

oh.. ya.. all of these blog entries, are a prelude, or set up to my enventual book contents!