Cruise Journal, Part II

James L. Buckley


Another passenger was an American soldier in Salzburg — this was after the war. I say, “I bet you met your share of Nazis.” “Oh, we had a whole pen of SS men,” he says. I’m sure it could have been larger.

His least pleasant duty involved the transfer of East Europeans to the Russian zone. He stood around the trucks with a gun, to make sure no one escaped. These people knew what awaited them. They would probably have been better off trying to escape, regardless.

A sickening episode in our history.

In George Town, Grand Cayman, I see a Domino’s Pizza outlet. I feel a little pang — not because I’m hungry, but because this chain started, I believe, in my lil’ hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich.

I’m way out of town, on a walk. Not sure how to get back to town, exactly. A couple is pulling out of a gas station. They give me directions. The lady says, “Would you like a drop-down?” — would I like them to drive me to a particular point?

No, thanks. But I’m delighted to know that expression! A drop-down.

Onboard, a couple tells me about their children: committed left-wingers. “Frankly, we don’t want to spend Thanksgiving with them. We’re dreading it.” Because they will be gloating.

Which is a lousy thing to do (on anyone’s part).

One afternoon, Kathryn Lopez talks to Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, onstage. She asks them about the “war on women,” which Republicans are alleged to wage. (What a stupid lie. Not just a lie, but a stupid one.) (The Left must be attracted to the alliteration, in part: “war on women.”)

Norman points out that there’s more like a war on boys. If they act like boys, society wants to drug them. Etc.

It so happens that, the day before, I rode on a tender with two boys sitting across from me. (A tender is a boat that ferries people from a moored ship to the shore.) They were redheads, certainly brothers, splashed with freckles. Ages probably 14 and 12. They spent the whole ride jabbing each other, physically and verbally. They were having a ball.

And I was having a ball watching them. Why would anyone want to drug them out of their boyness? I mean, really? Even their parents and teachers at their most exasperated would not want these boys zombies and neuters, instead of what they are, naturally.

Norman and Midge talk about the importance of preaching to the choir. The choir needs to be preached to — oh, does it. The choir needs consolation, reassurance, fortification. I am one choir member grateful for the preaching!

A friend of mine tells me about his grandmother (age almost 100). She refers to CNN as the “Noticias Comunistas.”

Did I mention that the lady is Cuban?

I have another friend onboard, born in Cuba. When he was an adolescent, he attended a summer camp on the North Fork of Long Island. This was before Communism, of course. He eventually became a counselor at that camp. The owner — a Republican, says my friend — doubled his salary every year, because he was such a hard worker.

My friend wanted to be part of this country: “If you worked hard, you could get ahead. There was nobody blocking you. There wasn’t nepotism. No one cared what your family background was — they just cared about what you could do. When I was 18 years old, I had married men working under me. Think of that!”

It’s amazing what Americans have taken for granted, for so long . . .

Have you had enough of “Cruise Journal”? I haven’t (for better or worse). I’ll have a final installment tomorrow, with notes on tropical life, a great scholar, and much more. Join me if you like. Hope you’re getting your pumpkin pies together . . .

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.