It was my honor to be a part of the Manalapan NJ High School Easter trip to Switzerland in 1971. My ninth grade language teacher, Herr Schmidt, thought everyone should see some part of Europe and said so on the first day. To my ears, a reasonable proposition.
To my parents, not so much. But a winter of delivering papers and shoveling driveways convinced them I was serious and would only require a signed permission slip.
The result was a near sleepless week in an exotic locale surrounded by Americans I barely knew and foreigners I could never hope to understand. A determined fourteen-year-old with the language skills of a German toddler. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, not a thing. Armed with three rolls of film, a borrowed Instamatic and an ability to say either “Good Morning” or “I’m sorry” in three different languages I saw Switzerland. And I loved it. Every minute of it.
But I didn’t go back. At first I couldn’t, then it was no longer exotic enough.
Last month we arrived in France with two weeks of plans and three weeks before our flight home. New friends invited us to visit Italy during the unscheduled week. We accepted with barely a thought for our transit of Switzerland.
Until I ran into myself. There is a picture of me on the shore of Lake Lucerne that has survived the forty one year trip from Manalapan, NJ to Moraga, CA. In it I am the size of a man with the face of a boy. An anything is possible smile sits under eyes that see nothing but blue skies ahead. A well-intentioned and arrogant young man with one cleared hurdle to his credit and no future in meteorology. He and I have much to discuss.
None of which should get in the way of your Sunday morning visit to Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. A place where memories come alive.