Pat's the person who tortured me until I agreed to join this blog tour, so I'm glad she's here!
THE DAY I ALMOST MET TOM BROKAW
Pat Browning on a camel!
President Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party Chief, showed up in Vienna in 1979 to sign the SALT II treaty. Guess who else was in Vienna? The timing wasn’t planned, but there I was.
Cover of Time magazine, Europe edition, 25 June 1979
Vienna just happened to be a stop on my TWA Getaway Tour “The Dalmatian.” Our tour hotel was the Hilton, where the world’s movers and shakers were staying. I actually walked up to the pressroom on the mezzanine and looked over the handouts. There was no one about, but the room itself was intimidating. The vibes were heavy, man, heavy. I left without sampling the handouts.
Alas, my brush with the famous consisted of chatting with a woman who rode in the elevator with Tom Brokaw. It was like the old song “I danced with a man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales.”
Vienna remains one of my favorite cities, although I’ve only been back once. I remember it as elegant, with a history going back to the Roman Empire when it was Rome’s eastern outpost. It has a long and tangled history, a subject for another time.
Vienna photo from Wikipedia.com
For some reason, the people I met on my travels never made it into my fiction with one exception, a character in my WIP who is based loosely – very loosely – on a tour guide I sat with in every café in Vienna and Paris, with Antwerp thrown in for good measure. He shows up on Page 68 of METAPHOR FOR MURDER, when Penny learns that her live-in lover wants to start a dude ranch:
“Something else to mull over. Living happily ever after, with horses in the corral and Watt’s first wife and her tony friends clinking drinks around the fireplace in the parlor. Too bad I didn’t have an ex-husband to round out the friendly, fractured family.
“Puck. The name floated up from my sub-conscious like a dead body. Puck had been a close call, a flaky tour guide whose Viennese charm hadn’t traveled well, a souvenir my globe trotting parents picked up in Europe. They called him Puck because they couldn’t pronounce his real name and he had convinced them he desperately wanted to attend an American university.
“What he really wanted was to visit California. Toasted himself to a dark brown in the September sun. Turned morose when early November fog set in. His Christmas present from my parents was a one-way plane ticket home. God only knew where he was now. Probably playing his zither for tourists in the Wiernerwald. Poor Puck. Lucky me.”
All grist for the writer’s mill. Stay tuned …
Alice, thank you so much for hosting me today! I hope your readers enjoy reading my post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Thanks for joining me today, Pat. I loved your blog and your pictures! You've lived a much more exciting life than I.