Friday, April 20, 2012
On a ‘cool, slightly overcast’ Friday, March 23rd, 1956 -- the Italian freighter, Eugenio C, set sail at 8 p.m. from Dock 5, in Brooklyn, New York heading to Genoa, Italy.
Among its passengers were a Central Washington State daily newspaper reporter and her photographer husband, Phil and Dean Spuler.
Following their April 8th arrival in Italy and a few days spent with friends on the Riviera; they boarded a train in Chamberey, France bound for Milan, Italy.
(photo of the Spulers departing France)
In Milan they purchased two Lambretta scooters, (earlier versions of the one pictured here),
that would carry them on a year and a half journey through Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland and Ireland.
But their story really doesn’t begin nor end with this journey . . .
Phil and Dean Spuler
Phil (who never used her given name, Phyllis) and Dean had met in the late 1940’s while students at San Jose State College in California; both worked on the campus paper, the Spartan Daily. Times were tough, money scarce. Romance bloomed, they married and began their careers at the paper now known as the Yakima Herald-Republic in Central Washington State.
It was at that paper, in the early 1980’s, that as a ‘cub reporter’, I worked with -- and became friends with -- the Spulers. They were the seasoned professionals and as such, mentors, in a newsroom bursting with several other near college-age journalists. They’d returned to the newspaper at the conclusion of their European adventure (and stayed until their retirements).
Their European Adventure
It was never clear what had sparked their desire to sell most of their belongings and head to Europe. Perhaps inspired by writer Ernest Hemingway who had returned to Paris in 1944 or Julia Child, of cookbook fame, who arrived in France four years later. . .they never said. Regrettably, I never thought to ask.
Their travel budget was $5 a day and that included all food, lodging and travel expenses. They stayed in youth hostels and rode their scooters in both good and bad weather.
Their travel journals tell of spending the winter in Paris where they enrolled in a French language school, and spent time exploring art galleries, sidewalk cafes, and attending plays and operas.
Spring found them in Berlin. They returned to the United States the summer of 1957 on a small Italian passenger ship.
Their Love and Legacy
Our friendship grew over three decades and during that time their travels – although shorter and more luxurious than their Europe trip – included cruises and excursions to foreign lands. They drove “dune-buggies’ through the desert surrounding their Arizona retirement community until age and health slowed them. Then, they told us, they lived vicariously through our travels.
Prior to their deaths – now, a few years ago – they set forth their wishes to help other journalism students at their alma mater, San Jose State University. Since then we’ve had the pleasure of working with the university to make that happen: Each year two scholarships are available to journalism and photojournalism students. They endowed an annual symposium.
Author’s note: I wrote this post after returning from a whirlwind campus tour of the media and journalism department at San Jose State University this week. Joel and I attended the 4th Annual Spuler Ethics in Media Symposium, we visited the college newspaper and magazine. We met inspiring and enthusiastic professors and students.
Our two-day visit concluded with meeting this year’s journalism scholarship recipient; a soft-spoken, dedicated young man, Francisco Rendon, former editor of the Spartan Daily paper and now a contributing writer to it.
When we asked of his future plans. He told us he’ll be writing for an organization in Israel. Travel and writing. . .we know Phil and Dean Spuler would be delighted!