The question came up the other day, as to what was there in my son Eddie’s upbringing that led him to a life and career of exploring and mountain climbing, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as creating the Company, Tusker Trail, which has given untold pleasure and excitement to countless people.
How does one explain how one gets the insatiable desire to do “way out” things like exploring and mountain climbing?
Well, I may be a bit presumptuous, but I do have a few ideas about it.
First of all, there is the basic ingredient, DNA, which, without question, was imparted to Eddie from me, his father. Without this particular strain of DNA, Eddie would obviously have gone down another garden path. He would have acted out another play. In short, the antique saying, “I am what I am” is 1OO% true.
Also, along with my DNA there had to be traits of my character and upbringing that gravitated from me to Eddie.
My story is that my mother passed away when I was six, and my father for various reasons, was unable to care for me. So, I was cast adrift so to speak. I was placed in an Orphan Home in 1926, where there were 220 other orphans, about evenly divided between boys and girls.
So, I was literally on my own for the next 11 years, until 1937, when I was 17 years old. I was always interested in physical development and fortunately became a pretty good athlete, traits which Eddie inherited from me and subsequently developed.
The Superintendent at the Home was a man with a Victorian background and ideals, and ruled the place in a like manner. To be sent to him for punishment for an infringement of the rules, was the ultimate in punishments.
Another fear equally compelling, was the fear of being adopted. None of the kids wanted to be moved out to strangers to live their lives with them. However, in the 11 years I lived at the home, not one kid was ever adopted. My fears were for naught.
When I graduated from the Orphan Home at 17, I decided it would be better for my development if I lived elsewhere. I could see that so many of the graduates continued to use the Home as a crutch after departure. Whenever they had a problem, they would use the “After Care” Dept. to help them solve it. I wanted to go my own way and take the knocks of life on my own.
Consequently, I decided to hitch hike to Los Angeles to visit my aunt and hopefully, she would take me in for a while, which she did. I became good buddies with her son, my cousin.
The “short stay” I envisioned living with my Aunt, stretched out to seven years. That is, until 1944 when I was drafted into the US Army. Needless to say, I like to think that it was my entry and subsequent actions in the Army that ended the War, but that’s another story!
So, the War ended, and I was given a “dream” assignment! I was stationed in Paris for one year – one whole year! The culture Paris had to offer – the Mademoiselles, and the silk stockings all stood me in good stead. I thrived on living the life there. It all went into the pot to make me what I am, and from which Eddie also benefited.
Soon, all too soon, I returned home to the U.S.A. to pick up where I had left off. But, things were different now. I had no idea what to do with my future. I had $1000 which I had gotten on the Black Market in Paris. I returned to my aunt, but this time there was no ‘room at the inn’, nor was the business my cousin and I had planned, going to get off the ground.
So, I dug into my ill-gotten nest egg, and boarded a Freighter for the 30 day non-stop voyage to South Africa to visit my sister in Johannesburg. There I met Evelyn, who, after an interesting and exciting courtship, would become my wife, and who would become the mother of Eddie.
In fact, I had major passport difficulties with the South African Government, and was subsequently exiled and lived in Swaziland for two years, before I could obtain the necessary permit to reside in South Africa.
While in exile, the courtship of Eddie’s mother was conducted by phone, mail, and an occasional illegal border crossing.
So, on April 30, 1952, Evelyn beget Eddie, and we believe we instilled in him the love for exploring and mountain climbing, which through his company, Tusker Trail, has given many people the adventure of a lifetime.
I suggest to you, dear reader, to take my advice and take a hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro with Tusker Trail and experience the thrill of a lifetime. And don’t forget to bring an extra pair of socks!