You are leaving a city and country you have been in less than two years and don’t know all that well. You are about to board an airplane to fly across the Atlantic but have never before flown. You are flying to a city which you have only heard of. Television has yet to be born,so you have never seen a video news report of the city you are going to, and of course, there is no such thing as the internet. You are 16-years old. It is 1947.
Young George Trofimoff was experiencing this excitement and mystery of the unknown but with the positive feeling of freedom, having escaped the German draft at the end of WWII. A Quaker family, the Butterworths, who lived in the West Hartford community of Sunset Farms had agreed with the Paris Friends organization to accept George in their home when he arrived in America.
In his layover in Amsterdam, George decided to reaffirm his arrival by sending a telegram to the Butterworths. The Paris Friends organization had already done this. Unfortunately, between George’s halting English and his lack of familiarity with the cable form, the telegram made it sound as if he was going to arrive on Christmas day, the 25th of December. Actually, he was arriving on the 12th.
This caused consternation in the Butterworth home. Christmas day celebration was planned, friends and family gathering and a feast to be served. Nevertheless, Paul Butterworth made a separate plan to spend Christmas day driving to La Guardia International and then returning home with George.
On December 12th, George arrived at La Guardia with his almost empty bag and checked with the information desk to see if someone was there to pick him up. There wasn’t. After a couple of hours of having that lonely, sinking feeling that something was wrong, he decided that he was going to have to get to Hartford on his own. At the information desk, he was told to take the shuttle to Grand Central Station and from there the train to Hartford.
Arriving at Grand Central Station, George was told that the train to Hartford had just left, but there were more trains going to Hartford from the Pennsylvania RR Station, which was nearby. New York, La Guardia, Grand Central Station, this place was huge, exciting but a bit confusing. Not knowing which way to go, George saw a taxi stand and entered one of the waiting taxis. He told the taxi driver to take him to Penn Station. The taxi driver gave him an odd look, turned on his meter, and started driving. After driving around several blocks, he drove up diagonally across from Grand Central, parked and said “Penn Station”. Welcome to New York.
Fortunately, the Friends had given George some money for his trip, and he had saved some from his work in Paris. He had about $50. The cab driver took $5, and as it turned out, the ticket to Hartford was about $5. Soon, he was on his way to Hartford.
I write of George’s life in my book: “Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying”.