Memoir Byte: The Old Fur Coat in Rome #Terrorism



Memoir Byte: The old fur coat in Rome


27 December 1985, Rome, Vienna

Four members of the Abu Nidal Organisation attacked an El Al counter at Rome Airport, killing sixteen and injuring sixty-seven people. A similar simultaneous attack at Vienna Airport resulted in two deaths and forty-seven injuries.




Fur coat in Rome
December 1985 – Pescara, Italy




On the day of the full moon on December 27th, 1985, I was on an Alitalia flight from my hometown in Toronto headed for Rome. I was going to meet up with my then boyfriend who was already there and was to meet me at the airport with his brother who would then drive us to Pescara on the Adriatic coast where the family lived, approximately a 2 1/2 hour drive away from Rome. I’ve always been a stickler for following rules and being on time. And I promised my dad I’d call him as soon as I landed.

Being the end of December, it was winter in Rome just as it was was back home, only not nearly as wintry. I wore my long silver fox fur coat, my pride and joy coat I’d treated myself to with a small inheritance I received from my grandmother a few years prior. I was excited to be spending New Years in beautiful Roma where all the beautiful people dressed immaculately when strolling the streets and cafes. I’d already been to Rome once before and fell in love with the ambiance of the country, the people and the shopping!

Nine hours later we landed. I was excited to get off the plane and see my boyfriend and begin our adventure. But many minutes had passed after we landed in the middle of the tarmac at Fiumicino International Airport,  ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Airport. Not a peep from the airline staff or pilot. Nobody yet suspected there was anything wrong until a good 20 mins had passed then the natives began getting restless, including myself. Everyone peered out the windows to see what the hold up was, yet there was nothing unusual to see. It wasn’t until passengers, including myself, began bombarding the stewards with questions when the plane was getting stuffy and we just wanted to get off.

A good hour had passed until we learned there was a bombing inside the airport. We were kept on the tarmac for approximately 3 hours before we were released. I was feeling quite anxious as I was walked from the plane, worrying that my father –  the worry wart, had possibly seen the news, or maybe he hadn’t, but nonetheless I was concerned because I should have called him 3 hours prior to inform him I’ve landed safely. I could sense my father’s worry deep within my intuitive gut. I visualized him listening to the news – he was a news junky, and hearing about a bombing at Rome airport where his daughter was headed, while not hearing a word from that daughter for hours after he’d expected her to land.

I was happy to be comforted in my boyfriend’s arms after the ordeal and just wanted to get out of the crazy airport. We still had a 2  hour plus drive to Pescara before I knew I’d get to a phone. Too nervous to enjoy the beautiful country sights on the drive, or to stretch my ‘try to understand Italian’ thinking muscles, and not to mention it was now early afternoon after landing in the morning which was still the middle of the night on my body Toronto time and hadn’t slept on the plane. I remained tired and anxious and filled with a stomach full of angst, quiet.

At long last we arrived at the flat and with feigned interest at all the familial introductions and greetings, I just wanted to scream just take me to your telephone. Finally, my nervous fingers were dialing my dad. And then the floodgates opened up. The sound of my father’s voice had unleashed all the emotions and pent up anxiety in a stream of sobs I’d contained for hours. My father did the same. It took us both a few moments before we could actually converse with words between sobs. And as I had gone through my own journey of worry and a nagging sensation of urgency to call my father all the while stranded until I could get to a phone, I learned about the panic my father lived through.

My Aunty Sherry had seen the breaking news when the terrorists bombed El Al at Rome airport. According to my father, she’d seen many bodies sprawled out on the ground in the airport – some dead, some taking cover, and then she noticed a young blond woman wearing a long silver fox coat lying on the ground as the camera quickly panned over.

My aunt had called my father in hysterics alerting him to what she had just seen and was eager to find out if he’d heard from me yet. But he hadn’t. And two of the most important people in my family life panicked and prayed together that the blond woman in the fur coat wasn’t me lying dead in a Rome airport. All their anxiety had come through to me as the hours passed while I waited to be able to make that call. And God was good to me that day.

Some things we just never forget.




Memoir Byte: – Reminiscences of the 70s and 80s – Fun and Fearless


I was recently invited by an old family friend to join a nostalgic Facebook group – Willowdale in the 70s. The group is based on the suburb I grew up in Willowdale, Ontario and it’s a fun page taking a look back at the days of our teenagedom growing up in the 70s. So many fun and nostalgic posts on ‘remember this?’.  As a memoir writer one can see how attractive this invitation was to liaise with people who grew up in the same era and area together, and many who went to my same schools.


Willowdale 70s Greg Melanson
Thanks to Greg Melanson for creating and sharing this image


Whodathunk how much fun it is to laugh and commune with others who’ve experienced the same things in a time back in school days from looking at images of swings lifting us high toward the sky where the swing posts lifted up out of the ground the higher we went as we reached for that sky, to contraptions of yesteryear – all great conversation starters and a feeling of comradery with others who lived the same. It’s amazing how a single photo of a simple step stool or plastic wrapped couches can stir up so many memories.


girl on a swing


What a gift to be able to grow up as a teenager in the 70s and to be able to spend my 20s – the 80s, lost in some of the best music of our times, big hair, shoulder pads and fearless freedom.  A time when we didn’t lock our doors , and cars left running for a quick hop into the local convenience store. Everything is locked now, even our cars as we fill up our own gas tanks.

The brazen girl of the past got me through so much in my younger years. I was unstoppable, daring and not afraid of much – a glaring opposite to how the years have changed me to a more cautious person rather than my old tossing caution out of the window. This group reminds me of those days when working in an office became unchallenging, and I went from a desk job to a salesperson traveling around my province by car, alone, despite weather conditions or distance. I traveled to towns that sometimes weren’t even on a map – and Ontario is no small province. Heck, I even blew the transmission in my first car from the over-spinning tires from my many daring accelerations when desperate to get out of snow piles with no aid in sight.

Wow, I shake my head just remembering some of the crazy things I’ve done. I know I certainly have lost some of the chutzpah I used have back then to get by in life. Traveling to Greece alone for a 3-month sabbatical from life was just another brave thing I did as a young woman of 25 in the mid 80s. Where did I get my gumption? And where has it gone?


cherish the past


But I digress, there’s just something warm and fuzzy about revisiting the past with a page full of images of gizmos that no longer exist, save for the things we kept or passed on to youngsters, or those that have yet to ever be opened, collecting dust in the back of a storage shelf; gifts which once brought us so much joy. And the people, the people who were all there, felt the same pleasure, heroically did the same stunts on their banana seat bikes, played with their Easy Bake Ovens and never wore watches or had cell phones when we played outside. The darkness setting in and the street lights coming on was our clock, letting us know it was time to retreat to inside the house until tomorrow. So many tomorrows as we look back on yesterday.


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye


Memoir Byte: Missing – Where is my Family and Furniture?

I was 6, walking home the 3/4 mile walk from school. We’d recently moved into a new 3 bedroom backsplit. Our house was situated on a cul-de-sac  where new homes were still for sale, and some were still being built. In order to shorten the walk to and from school, I’d learned a new trick – cut through old and grumpy Mrs. Hankowitz’s backyard to shave off a 5-7 minute walk around 2 streets.

I discovered some neighborhood kids taking this short cut so I joined in, only I feared the old woman seeing me and yelling like a banshee to GET OFF her property. It seemed Mrs. H who lived with her already adult children didn’t appreciate children or just didn’t appreciate children stepping on her grass and using her backyard as a gateway and shortcut to public school.

This one day in particular, the weather was nasty and I ran most of the way home to get out of the wind and pouring rain. Dashing through the final stretch past Mrs. H’s backyard, I headed directly for my front door and stepped inside. I stood for a moment in the front hallway as a chill ran up my spine. Where was my mother and my younger siblings? WHERE DID ALL OF OUR FURNITURE GO? At first I was stunned by what I was seeing – or not seeing in my house. I quickly ran into the kitchen, only to discover our kitchen appliances were gone too. I sat down on the empty linoleum floor and began to cry my little heart out. I don’t know how much time passed while I sobbed, but I do remember thinking really hard as to where did my family and all of our furniture go, and why did they leave me behind? I cried and cried, wondering what had I done so bad that my family abandoned me, then I finally stood up and proceeded to dash up the few stairs to the bedrooms for a last search for my family.

I entered my parents’ master bedroom first. Again, I found no sight of anyone or any furniture, and noticed that even 2 walls were missing. All that stood was some wood framing. Once again I plopped myself on the dusty floorboards and began to cry. As my mind wandered to some very dark places and I rattled my brains trying to figure out where I should go for help, I heard a clanging noise. I followed the noise into the master bathroom ensuite and found what turned out to be a plumber, banging away on some pipes. He must have heard my crying over the clanging and stopped what he was doing.

“What’s the matter little girl?” asked the plumber. I managed to tell him, in between sobs,  this was my house and everybody left me, adding, they even took all the furniture. The plumber smiled and told me that nobody was living in this house yet because it wasn’t finished. I was in the wrong house!

Wiping away my streaming tears I thanked him and darted back outside to have a look at where I was. I’d never realized the house next door to us was a replica of my house one driveway over, then I made a mad dash for my own front door.

The fear of the whole event had me crying all over again as I ran to my mother with a face laden in tears and I proceeded to tell her what happened to me while gasping for air in between my continuing sobs. I told her how I thought she took the family and moved away without me. She had a few chuckles and hugged me just for a moment, telling me she’d never leave me behind, she loved me.

I don’t know if she thought the incident warranted chuckling at, but looking back, I also don’t know why a mother with such strict rules about riding my bike off the cul-de-sac had no quams about letting her little girl walk herself to school and back alone at age 6.

Just another memory that gives me pause.


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye