There were other more exotic experiences like leaping over fires to celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri (the eve of the last Wednesday before Norwuz, the Iranian new year's day). I had been riding home just after dark in an orange cab when the driver suddenly turned down a dark side street with several fires burning in a line down the middle of it. I tensed, thinking something was amiss and worried about being detained after curfew again by police, and that maybe I was about to be kidnapped and secreted out to some remote desert location to be held for ransom of some huge amount to be paid only in American dollars. The driver sprang out of the cab and proceeded to run and leap over each of the small fires, turned around and nimbly leapt over them all again, then urged me to do the same. I did and we laughed and cheered one another as more people arrived to leap over the fires. An enjoyable but simple, impromptu cultural event I've never forgotten. But as much fun and adventure as I had in Tehran, I never forgot my friends in Sayre, longing to return to spend my senior year in high school there with them. I stayed in touch with our grandparents and the Williams family via airmail letters carefully penned on ultra-light, pre-printed and postage-paid blue paper that folded up into its own envelope, dreaming of the day I would return and hoping Jimmy had come home safe and sound.
In early spring of 1973, my parents agreed I could return to Sayre to finish high school, probably thinking I would be safer in the USA as my teenage wildness peaked than I would be in Tehran, and they were right.
Around The World & French Atomics~
We departed Tehran in June, taking a circuitous route around the world through Bangkok, Singapore, Sydney, Hawaii and San Francisco before landing at Will Rogers Airport in OKC and driving back to Sayre. The trip home had been more leisurely than the trip going to Tehran. We enjoyed a few days in Bangkok seeing sights and taking a river ride in a long canoe-like vessel with an outboard motor driving a propeller at the end of a drive-shaft about five feet long (that saved having to include a rudder on the boat for steering). But we picked up a bug of some kind in Bangkok and were sick for two days at the end of our stay, vomiting frequently and prodigiously until our poor bellies were thoroughly emptied.
We paused in Singapore only briefly on the way to Sydney where we finally started to feel better again and could get up and out to enjoy that beautiful capital city, its people and strange marsupial creatures down under. While in Sydney we found out our planned stay in Tahiti would not be permitted because the French were testing their new nuclear bombs on some atolls out in the French Polynesian islands someplace too close for comfort there, so after a brief stop in Fiji to pick up passengers and fuel, we went straight on to Honolulu. Freaking French warmongers. I've never understood why so many nations decided they absolutely had to have a world-killing arsenal of A-bombs.
As our almost empty Qantas jetliner taxied out for take off from Sydney International Airport, I donned a set of those cheap surgical-rubber-tube headphones airlines sometimes provided in individually sealed plastic bags for passengers to use to listen to looped, canned music piped out acoustically (rather than electronically) through hollow tubing to a little hole in one arm of each seat. After enjoying the thrill of my first takeoff in a 747 Queen Of The Skies, I stretched out across my empty row of seats and snoozed all the way to Fiji, enjoying strains of Bread's Guitar Man (one of my favorites), America, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Cat Stevens and other popular rock artists of the era as we raced behind the Sun toward the International Date line to finally arrive back in the continental states in San Francisco the day before we left Sydney.