The Portugal Years: Year Five – That Crazy Summer of 1983

Bethy and "Tommy" on the day he left to go home.
Bethy and “Tommy” on the day he left to go home.

On June 30th, 1983 we found ourselves catapulted into year five of our Portugal adventure. About mid-summer, one of my former students came to visit us. Tommy (name changed  to protect the guilty) kept the classroom lively for me when I was his teacher.

Once he tried to scam his mother. Tommy failed a Social Studies test on Thursday. He had until Tuesday to get a parental signature that they had seen it. So, he hid his failing test and took his study sheets home. He persuaded his mother to him help him study for the test all weekend.

On Monday afternoon I got a phone call from his frustrated and weeping mother. It mystified  me. She kept saying that she had studied with Tommy all weekend for the test he took that day. I had no idea what she was talking about. I repeated several times that I never gave tests on Mondays. Then the truth struck me. It took me 15 minutes explain to Tommy’s mother and for her to understand  that he had totally scammed her. We will pull a curtain of charity over the succeeding events.

Shortly after Tommy went back to the states, we set up Harry’s “single” bed for Bethy. She was almost two years old, and was going to sleep in a big girl bed. Then, the night terrors began. She woke up in the middle of the night screaming. Harry dashed down the hall certain something horrible had happened to her as she slept.  When she saw her daddy, Bethy told Harry that there were lions in her bed. Harry tried to reassure her, and eventually she went to sleep.

This happened several times a week. I was not a fan of the lions. Finally  Harry, in a moment of inspiration, asked Bethy to show him where the lions were. She pointed to the top of the high headboard. He reached up and  “grabbed” all of those lions. He held them as he ran down the hallway, opened the door and yelled out into the dark of the night: “You are bad lions. You get out of here and don’t scare my Bethy anymore.” After that when she woke up scared he chased the lions again, and she soon grew out of it.

Bethy with her doll on the varanda
Bethy with her doll on the varanda

The Portugal Years: Year Four – Oops!


Bethy on the veranda with her baby doll.
Bethy on the veranda with her baby doll.

Toddlers! They are endearing, aggravating, interesting and busy small people. It is so important to say what you mean and mean what you say to them; they tend to be pretty literal creatures. One day I was walking down the hallway and she held out her doll for me to hug. I mentioned to her that her doll looked like she needed a bath.  I went on my way to put clothes away. On the return trip down the hall, I heard water running in the bathtub. Bethy was leaning over the edge of the tub preparing to give her doll (a soft stuffed one) a bath. In fact, she had several dolls in there waiting for a baths. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “You told me the baby needed a bath.” Oops!

Bethy loved to play “Catching Bethy” with her daddy. Harry always sat next to the door to catch her when she ran by.  He usually caught her, but a couple of times she overshot her mark and landed on her face. Oops! [See photo above.] It never slowed her down, though.

The door on our flat locked automatically when it closed. It was a great safety feature, but woe to you if you got locked out. One morning around the time I had become visibly pregnant for the second time around, Bethy and I went to the grocery store. She still needed some help climbing the stairway to our home, so left my groceries at the bottom of the stairwell and shepherded Bethy up and into the house. I put her little bag on the counter, and set the keys by it. I told Bethy I would be right back and headed down the steps.

As I climbed up the second time, I heard the door slam shut and Bethy giggling. After I gave her instructions, I confirmed that she was too short to pull the latch. When she realized that I could not get in and she could not get out, she started to cry. Oops!

Fortunately, I had left the shuttered windows off the veranda just slightly open. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to climb up there. Just then, the landlady’s maid came downstairs. She took in the situation and went and borrowed a ladder, climbed up and over the railing, and opened the door for me.

The Portugal Years: The Fourth Year – The Car

Our Renault 4 - photo taken from the varanda of our apartment.
Our Renault 4 – photo taken from the varanda of our apartment.

While we were in the states, we got permission to raise money for a car. At this point, we lived some distance from team members who had vehicles, and some places Harry needed to go did not have a convenient bus stop nearby. So, he looked around, talked to people and we ended up with a Renault 4. It is bigger on the inside than you might imagine, and it was economical to drive. It had, as did most cars in Portugal, a manual transmission.

I had some experience driving stick shift, but I’d never seen the likes of the Renault 4. The gear shift was on the dashboard! I tried to learn how to shift it, but never really succeeded.

Harry customarily parked on the sidewalk as you see here. It kept the car safer. Across the street was a farm where they grew the best potatoes I have ever in my life eaten. A small river helped with irrigation. It was a wonderful neighborhood, and a great place to live. I loved it.

Bethy loved to help Harry wash the car.
Bethy loved to help Harry wash the car.