“There are 364 days when you might get unbirthday presents, and only 1 for birthday presents. you know.”
Helen and Harry had an especially memorable year at Essex. There we were offered rooms at Stansted Hall, about 12 miles from the college. This was a castle that dated from the fourteenth century and belonged to the Earls of Essex. It still had a moat, a long driveway and gate house, and extensive gardens. Our rooms were on the third floor—formerly the servant's quarters—and you had to be careful not to hurt your head on the enormous beams that held up the ceiling. The castle now belonged to Lord Butler, who had been a recent candidate for Prime Minister. He gave it to the University to be used as a residence for visiting professors and their families.
At that time there was a special deal whereby you could buy a car in England, drive it for a year, and then take it back to America duty free. On this scheme, I purchased a sturdy vehicle, a left-hand drive Volvo station wagon. After it arrived, I used it to navigate every day, sitting on the wrong side of the car over the 12 miles of hilly, narrow, and bending road from the University to Stansted Hall. We brought the car back to Madison where it performed admirably in our frigid winters but cost a small fortune to repair.
A Professor Hill from Canada was also visiting the University, and he and his family lived in a different part of the castle. They had three children, Caroline, Simon, ...