IMGP9216 (1)

Women’s Stories of Successful Aging

Kay Dilger Metcalfe: Written Reflections on Aging

A Momentous Moment (Fall 1999)

This piece from the collection entitled “Reminiscences” illustrates Kay’s independence and agency as a young woman who traveled to France to continue her study of art and design. Viewing the coastline of Europe from the deck of the steamship Champlain was a “moment that changed [her] view of life on this earth.”

It was quite unexpected. I was about 21 years old, having had the usual schooling plus several years of college courses including history and geography. It was depression time so it behooved me to continue my education by living at home in Scarsdale, N.Y. I chose an Art School in Manhattan. It was a three year course which happily and maybe providentially included the opportunity of attending for a semester at the school maintained in Paris, France.

By great good fortune on a gray February day, I and ten of my classmates boarded the Steamship Champlain amid the usual going-away frivolities. It was a great trip. We students were under the aegis of the Purser who on the last night on board suggested that just before the sunrise, we arise early to go out on deck and watch the European coast emerge. We went. The sky was gray, the water was gray but then a thin dark gray line appeared along the Eastern horizon. This approaching land was called Europe and it was real and no longer the mysterious area to be known only on the pages of a geography book.

This moment changed my view of life on this earth. History was exciting! Now the meaning of “Past is Prologue” will be in evidence forever.

Kathryn Metcalfe