Happy New Year! 1942
by Ann Mulloy Ashmore
|McCain Library and Archives|
University of Southern Mississippi
1942 New Year's Card
“The Statue of Liberty greeted us through the morning mist,” Hans recalled. It was a cold, crisp October day in 1940 when the ship bringing the Reys to New York from Rio de Janeiro sailed past Lady Liberty. Fifty-four years earlier, on another foggy October day, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, with these words: “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man's oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.”
But in 1940, “our sister Republic” could only remember with longing the sweetness of liberty and freedom. Crushed beneath the boot heel of the Nazi war machine, the fires of Liberty’s torch no longer gleamed on the shores of occupied France, a fact Hans and Margret Rey knew only too well. Since June of that year, they had been on the run. First, escaping on bicycles as the German army marched into Paris. Later, avoiding a narrow brush with authorities on the Spanish border on their way to Lisbon, and passage to Brazil. As Louise Borden has written in The Journey that Saved Curious George, ironically, it was the pictures of the loveable monkey that Hans carried in his knapsack that saved the day.