Derek's Travels

The 2nd Journey

The 2nd Journey: U.S.A.
by Derek Bickford-Smith

My second series of visits to the U.S.A. in 1993 started with an adventure in that I discovered that as I had stayed awake on the flight over, I had been awake for 36 hours and was still driving to my first call!
Of course, I immediately felt very tired, so as it was a lovely sunny day, I pulled in to the side of the road and walked into a field and went to sleep. I woke up refreshed and went to the car and realised that I couldn't hear the engine. I should say that I was and am almost stone deaf without my hearing aids - there was disaster before I had begun! But luck was with me as I remembered admiring a clump of weed in that field where I had laid down and there was my tiny hearing aid!.

City of Norwich, New York
Meeting Mayor Marge ChomyszakHaving recovered from that incident, I travelled on towards the City of Norwich, New York. My outstanding memory of that visit is of being instructed to stop at a village outside Norwich and to telephone the Police Station - where upon two vast police cars roared up, sandwiched my small dirty red car between them and made a much heralded light flashing entrance into the city and to the home of the Mayor - Marge Chomyszak who gave me a very warm welcome!

Presentations made during the visit...

Presenting the Norwich UK coat of arms
Presenting the City of Norwich UK Coat of Arms to Mayor Chomyszak.
Presentation to Marylou Stewart
Presentation to Marylou Stewart when she was Chairman of that most impressive Chamber of Commerce.

Norwich school children.Amongst some five opportunities to talk on my own Norwich with slides there was one class of children who had extra excitement in that my slide projector decided to create a fire!
Later that day when given the opportunity to talk to The Rotary Club, a sheaf of letters was delivered and these were from each one of that class - some sympathising and hoping I would not get into trouble and one with Lateral thinking saying that it was hard to imagine the English population of 52 million people on such a small island "It appears that no one has room to lie down!".
When one realises the age of those children it is evident that Norwich NY has some very useful citizens in the making!

Norfolk, New York
Vicky Brothers and her LibraryThe overall contact arrived via Vicky Brothers and her management of Hepburn Library - in fact as the result of my self-invited visit. I was very impressed to see a map set up in the library with an arrow showing where the UK Norfolk and Norwich are and there was Vicky showing some visiting children where this 'foreigner' lived.

I stayed with Vicky and her family whilst being given a tour of Norfolk - The mills, the museum, the administration, and some of those vast and impressive water control works on their international rivers. I met Supervisor, Church potentates, school teachers and politicians from amongst the community when entertained to a most enjoyable dinner. In some small recompense I was allowed to present a short talk on my own Norwich City and Norfolk County communities and received the inevitable question as top where in this world they might be.
There was an excellent contrast to this question when talking to the community of Norwich in the same state of New York. I mentioned Norfolk NY and there again the question was raised as to where it might be! a mere odd hundred mile away! This is yet another justification for my research and joining all our communities into this remarkable 'World Family', the largest such family of namesakes internationally.

Probably the main celebration is that of Labor Day when everyone gets into the act.
From left to right... Church, Museum, Church, and Council.
Charmers all and some sing!

East Norwich, New York
Our story of this research for all the communities in the world named either Norfolk or Norwich really begins here in East Norwich with Dorothy Horton McGee. Her response to my first enquiries and her invitation to speak to my mission in 1993.
Dorothy took an immense risk in that we had never met before and I would like to think that it was justified - save for the fact of my deafness not allowing me to hear the British National Anthem so that Dorothy had it played again after warning me!

East Norwich, NY presentation
Supervisor & Mrs Lewis J.Yevoli, and on the right Dorothy Horton McGee at the presentation of my first ever Citation.

East Norwich NY 1910During my visit, Paul Moreno gave great encouragement in promising to send the book on The History of East Norwich, and suggested to his School Principal that a student project on all these namesake communities could of constructive interest.