The Best of California Trivia
by Marc Fiddian

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The Best of California History by Marc Fiddian
 
Product details
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Raccoon Tail Books (2018)
ISBN: 978-0-9876128-8-5
Trim size: 210 x 148 mm
 
Synopsis   
DURING this writer’s initial visit to the United States in 1970 I was helped by the organisation Meet Americans at Home, which arranged visits for people from overseas with American residents. The arrangements were made in various cities, often with a different name such as the International Hospitality Centre, and the aim was to match the visitors with Americans who had similar interests or occupations. In my case I was directed to someone involved in the media or with a passion for history. An advertising agent and his wife in Philadelphia invited me to spend the evening with them and 11 years later they told me the reason they entertained overseas visitors was to help educate their three children. Hence I was quizzed by the youngsters and explained the differences between Australian and American life. I realised I could be of some interest if I told them about the platypus, koalas, kookaburras, kangaroos and gum trees, along with lesser known places such as Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. I pointed out that while Australia was approximately the same size as the United States the population was not much more than Pennsylvania. From memory I suggested to the eldest girl she make a list of the animals, birds and islands I had mentioned and look them up in an encyclopedia. On reflection it seemed I had to sing for my supper, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Another interesting match was in Los Angeles where the co-ordinator matched me with a middle-aged man named Felix Karalius, a Lithuanian who had lived in Melbourne for seven years. An engineer, he had left Melbourne in 1956 after living in Waratah St, South Oakleigh, and also at Montmorency. Mr Karalius was kind enough to take me to dinner at his favorite restaurant, The Islander, and his company was both relaxing and illuminating. Having travelled widely in the United States before arriving in Los Angeles, this was a rare occasion I had met an American resident willing to speak of the defects rather than mention only the virtues of the nation. In this case he spoke freely of the United States as he saw it and how Americans regarded money as the be all and end all of life.

For Mr Karalius, his meeting with me was laced with nostalgia; he obviously, deep down, had fond recollections of Melbourne and my presence revived those memories. A couple of times he said: ``I’m glad to have met someone from Melbourne. I’ve enjoyed your company this evening.’’ The common denominator here was Melbourne and it seemed my host derived as much pleasure as I did.
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