Post 5 — The Decision

The Broquets were not big travelers. Larry had spent some Army time in Germany at the end of World War II and Jean had taken a cross-country bus trip to California, but that was about it. Their family vacations were the typical throw-all-the-kids-in-the-back-of-the-station-wagon kind to places within a few hours of Detroit.

“Guess what we did,” Chrissie bragged to Debbie, Davey and Dawn. “We got to tour this big cereal factory in Battle Creek. They gave us little boxes of Fruit Loops and they were free! It was the best vacation ever!” They saw the tulips in Holland, rode the Boblo boat in Detroit, and actually left the country once to drive through the tunnel to Windsor, Canada. They bought some cheese and came home. It took about an hour.

The possibility of an adventure like the Samoan project was irresistible to Larry. As a geography teacher, there were places on his maps that he had always longed to see. Samoa had never been one of them, but it was certainly a good enough place to begin. He also knew that his teacher’s salary would limit any opportunities for his four girls to see the world as well. Although the chance that he would even be considered seemed remote, he filled out an application and then assumed he would never hear from them again.

Two days later, he got a long distance phone call from Vernon Bronson, telling him that Larry Broquet was exactly the kind of person they wanted for the program and by the way, could they leave next month?

His wife was taken aback by the suddenness of the whole thing. “My God, Larry, when I said yes, I didn’t think they would actually choose you,” exclaimed Jean. With a solid offer on the table, what had seemed in the beginning like a great adventure was now a life-changing choice, not just for themselves but for the future of their children as well.

“How can we leave Harper Woods?” said Jean. “We grew up here, all the family is here. What will they think if we leave? Will the kids be able to go to school? Will it be safe? How much will you be paid? And what is your mother going to say?!”

Both Larry and Jean had lived their entire lives in and around Detroit and most of the extended family members had never left the comforting, if somewhat suffocating, circle of relatives. Their entire social life revolved around the family. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries—the guest list always remained the same. Even the location was fairly constant; Larry’s parents, Harold and Tracy Broquet, lived next door and had a basement that was made for parties. The grandchildren and cousins learned to shoot pool in the cool dark and ran through the haze of smoke that hung in the air, while the ladies prepared copious amounts of potato salad and ham. The men drank beer and played pinochle in their shirtsleeves and skinny ties, and everyone knew everything there was to know about everybody else. The parties were interchangeable, but the good times and the feelings of belonging could not be dismissed.

September 4, 1964
The people have all been very nice and we have the beginnings of some friendships. After being firmly entrenched with familiar people, I had forgotten how difficult and slow it is to start new contacts of any meaning. Most of the people I have met so far are seasoned travelers and are crazy about the place. Maybe since it is my first trip anywhere I have a different view. I like it, am prepared to dig in, however as far as traipsing all over, I don’t know. They make contentment at home and enjoyment of old friends and relatives seem like a personality defect.

Jean

But Larry was certain that they could make their parents and siblings understand that leaving meant opportunity, not rejection of them and the hometown lifestyle that had been working fine up until then. Well, fairly certain.

“Jean, there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered but it comes down to one fact: this would be the adventure of a lifetime. How can we say no?”

The contract would be for two years. They took a deep breath … and said yes.

Selection from The Samoan Fales, Act One, Scene One

(original script by Larry Broquet 1966)

Mother: You don’t care about us at all. You’re only interested in yourself! Go ahead! Be selfish! Drag your family off to God knows where! But before you do, have you thought about what your MOTHER is going to say? (she storms offstage)

Father: No, I’ve been too busy thinking about what YOUR mother is going to say!

Father: To go, or not to go — that’s the question. Maybe Mary’s right. I’ve got a good job; the house is almost paid for. I’ve got security, why, when I retire, I’ll get 48 dollars a month—for life! Hah! How much life will there be after I’m 65? But, do I have the right to take my family off into the unknown—the wilderness? (studies atlas) Hmmm. I didn’t know there were two Samoas. There’s Western Samoa, became an independent nation in 1962. And there’s Pago Pago! Gee, I wonder what John Hall and Dorothy Lamour look like today. (rises, begins to pace)

That’s how America was built, by people taking their families off into the wilderness. Were they better men in those days? (flexes his muscle –wiggles stomach) Don’t answer that question!
(Father paces)

 

Father: Decisions, decisions. How does a guy make a decision that will affect his entire family? (turns on radio and flops in chair) If only I could find something to help me make up my mind. (radio blares out news report with all the bad things happening in the world)

Father sits in chair with stunned expression during news—leaps to feet shouting—

That’s it! That made up my mind! Mary, Betty, Bobby! Pack up! We’re going to Samoa!

Larry writes, directs and sings in the 1967 production of The Samoan Fales. He also borrows liberally from his life to write the script. See Today’s Word of the Day for more information.

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2 Comments to “Post 5 — The Decision”

  1. Love the photo of Black Diamond cheese.

    Like

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