By Jan Morris
Clean from her winning scoop reporting the 1st ascent of Everest in 1953, Jan Morris spent a 12 months traveling around the usa, via motor vehicle, educate, send and aeroplane. In herwords a "period piece", Coast to Coast describes an American id markedly diversified from this present day. In her really good prose, Morris documents with exuberence and interest a time of innocence within the US - while tv was once in its infancy, the massive Mac had no longer been invented and the preferred track of the day was once "Chattanooga Choo-Choo".
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Extra info for Coast to Coast. A Journey Across 1950s America
The trees were thin and nasty; away over the marshes was the chilly line of the sea. Among all this desolation the oysterman lived, on the edge of the Bay, in a house with a shingle roof, painted a greenish yellow. When I reached this homestead across the snow I looked in through a window and saw an antique American interior. The house was built in the seventeenth century, and had a profusion of beams, niches, crannies and fireplaces, and a flavour of smoke and old-fashioned food. Against this honourable background (as I peered through the window) the oysterman and his family moved with dignity.
Watch the lights, now‚” says the policeman from his horse, and instinctively you turn and offer him a diffident farewell wave, as an astronaut might bravely gesture to the last workman on the launching pad. Sure enough, there is a cosmic flavour inside the place, when you have shown your pass to the guards at the gate, proved that your bag contains no bombs or phials of poison, and crossed the wide empty plaza to the entrance. You sense a sort of insulating miasma forming around you, as though you are being sealed in protective cellophane, and the moment you step inside the revolving doors, to see the great golden pendulum swinging from the ceiling, you feel hermetically removed from the very atmosphere of New York.
Their dresses, coarse, black and heavy, reach almost down to their ankles, and their aprons are spiritually white; their black stockings are the ultimate antithesis of nylon, their shoes noticeably lack peep-toes or high heels; their cloaks are all-enveloping, their bonnets virtuous, their hair is parted in the centre and plaited demurely round the back of the head to form that crowning token of respectability, a bun. There is nothing doctrinaire or forbidding, however, about the small talk of the Amish; they are most pleasant people to meet in the street, and speak readily enough of their beliefs and taboos.