Caroline Withall

Senior Writer

Caroline is a historian, passionate about telling the tales of ordinary folk. A proud Liverpudlian, she studied history at Cambridge University. She became a solicitor, latterly as a Director of Legal, but returned to study her first love, obtaining a doctorate from Oxford University. Her research, inspired by her port town roots, led ultimately to a fellowship at the National Maritime Museum. She is now writing a book based on that research, The Forgotten Boys of the Sea. See www.carolinewithall.com. She enjoys piano, dancing and activities with her family.

As a Story Terrace writer, Caroline interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

The American Dream

As a child of the 1980s, the U.S.A. represented the endless opportunities of the outside world that I was beginning to consider making my way into. My thirteen year old self was obsessed with all things American and desperately wanted to take the pledge. Most of all, I just wanted to have a full-size locker and attend a prom.

Our family holiday to Florida in 1989 was to be one of many visits to America over the years, with some fabulous first experiences. Flying on a jumbo jet was an awesome start, as the Yanks would say. Visiting the home of the space race, NASA; this was the era of space shuttle discovery, so to see the launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building come alive from the television set was mind blowing. And of course, there were the theme parks… Americans do everything supersize. The first time you enter Disney World, it is an assault on the senses – the smell of popcorn, hot dogs and fries, the bright colours, joyful faces, the celebration of old time America as you enter and look down Main Street, U.S.A. towards Cinderella’s castle. Even the most hardened sceptic could not fail to feel a spark of anticipation and wonder. Nothing prepared me for the wave of emotion I felt 25 years later, wandering through the gates again, this time with my daughter. The familiar sight caused me to instantly well up at the memory of my teenage self and that amazing family holiday. A cycle of unbridled happiness repeated through the generations.

It was not just Florida’s many attractions that left their mark on me. So too did ordinary occurrences. The food – huge breakfasts of pancakes, the taste of freshly squeezed orange juice, ridiculously sized meal portions and mega buckets of coke with ice. Driving on a freeway in an authentic American car, a Dodge Dynasty. Incredible levels of friendliness and enthusiasm, epitomised by one of the funniest moments of the trip, our first drive-thru McDonald’s. Commonplace now of course, but in 1989 it was a huge novelty to drive up and speak our order through the intercom. When my Dad had finished ordering the voice replied “Are you guys from England?” When he replied in the affirmative, they asked where from. The response to Liverpool was a priceless “Oh Wow, say, do you guys know the Beatles?”!!

Get in touch today to work with Caroline!