A place I got to visit for the first time was the Pat Hurley mansion in Leesburg, Virginia, where my grandparents and their family stayed for a few months upon arriving in the United States to establish the government-in-exile in 1942. Here is part of a photo showing the family, August 19, 1942:
A little earlier, June 23, 1942:
Sixty-three years later, I got to visit the place with my cousin Aurora: our photo on the same steps as the photos from 1942 (with my cousin Aurora):
This is the actual home as it is today:
The house was built by a signer of the American declaration of independence; finally ended up owned by the McClane’s, of whom one member, was an owner of the Hope diamond; then purchased by Pat Hurley, a member of the Hoover cabinet; thereafter, bought by IBM but left boarded up for thirty years before finally being bought by a developer and restored as part of a golf club.
Here’s a snippet from my dad’s memoirs, from the time they arrived in the U.S.A. after first escaping to Australia and then going to the U.S.A. by ship in 1942:
After some days in San Francisco, to give us a rest from the voyage I suppose, President Roosevelt special railroad carriage (called the Ferdinand Magellan) was sent for us and attached to a transcontinental train. No one, or almost no one, took a plane then, unless for a special reason. It was a four or four and a half day train ride to Washington. The US government official sent to escort us had an Irish name, I believe, but I have forgotten it. We were to find him in Rome in l950 when the start of the Korean War caught us there and we wanted visas to the States because we were afraid a general war would break out in the East.
The start of a journey has always excited me. We had to drive to Oakland to catch the eastward train there. When we arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, we were met by a group of Filipinos including Lola Charing Schutze, now Jimenez. At the exit to the Station there was FDR standing beside his car and we were photographed in memorable poses. I was so moved my lips were trembling. We were driven to the White House where we had lunch and dinner. At tea we were entertained by President Roosevelt who was a great raconteur. Mrs. Roosevelt kept walking in and out and when I met her in a corridor, she smiled Ã¢â‚¬Å“The mail, always the mail.Ã¢â‚¬Â She seemed terribly tall, as did every one else, which is no wonder since I was only 5Ã¢â‚¬â„¢2Ã¢â‚¬Â. We spent that night at the White House, where I was put in an enormous (to me) bedroom alone. I had the impression it was the Lincoln Bedroom but I may very well be wrong. The following morning we were taken to the eighth floor suite of the Shell Oil Company at the Shoreham Hotel, where we stayed for a time. Then we moved to the Pat Hurley estate in Leesburg, Virginia, about forty minutes from Washington, where we stayed for the summer, until our permanent quarters at the Shoreham, were ready . Before deciding to stay at the Shoreham, we took a look at a Waldorf Towers suite way up – the Waldorf is about 34 stories high. Since my father was terribly acrophobic, the project was dropped and thereafter whenever we went to New York we stayed at an 8th floor suite at the Waldorf. In l937 we had stayed at the Ambassador Hotel on Park Avenue like the Waldorf. Strangely, it took several trips to New York in the eighties before I noticed that our old Ambassador Hotel was gone. I never noticed what replaced it.
During our summer stay at the Pat Hurley mansion, a gleaming colonial mansion with enormous grounds. I took my last horseback ride. I also developed the habit of reading very late. I turned l6, with a large party with our traveling companions. We would go into Washington occasionally, when we would always smell a skunk during the drive. It is a distinctive stench. Finally our suite was ready at the Shoreham and we moved in.