independence day:
An Expat Couple's Perspective 1

Ernie and Joan Salisbury have celebrated the 4th of July together 54 times.

Born in London, England, in the late 1920s, Ernie and Joan met while working at a butcher’s shop.

“I finished school and went straight to work the next day,” Joan says. “I was 14.”

“I was 16 and I thought I was one of the boys,” Ernie says with a grin. “She used to call me “son,” which was a bit of a put-down. So I christened her with a bucket of water over the head.”

Soon after their friendship began, Ernie and Joan experienced the horrors of World War II. Many familiar areas of London were bombed beyond recognition. In 1944, Ernie joined the Royal Navy and was sent to HMS Icarus, which was participating in the Battle of the Atlantic. After four years of service, Ernie returned to London, to the butcher’s shop and to Joan.

“I bought her engagement ring for her 21st birthday,” Ernie says with a smile. “We got married the next year. After all the bombing, houses were in short supply. There didn’t seem like much of a chance to get a home, so we moved to Canada in 1953.”

“We made a lot of English friends up there,” Ernie recalls. “They were all in the aircraft industry. When the work dried up, they moved to California. They used to talk to us every week and tell us how nice it was. The sun was shining and they were only a few minutes from Disneyland. So after a while, we followed them.”

Ernie and Joan’s first July 4th on American soil was in 1961, at Huntington Beach, Calif. They attended the local celebration with their little girl, Karen, whom they had adopted in Canada. The family of three grew to five, as Joan had two baby boys, Mark and Paul. Every year, they attended the big parade with their British friends, with all their children waving American flags.

The children grew up and left home. Karen married and had a daughter, but sadly passed away only four years later. In 1990, Ernie and Joan decided to move again, this time to Parker.

“We left because it was overcrowded,” Ernie says. “Parker was very green at that time. There was hardly anybody here. Mark came up and joined us after 10 months. He got married and lives in Centennial. Paul, the youngest one, came up, skidded in his car on the snow and decided he didn’t like it. He’s still in California.”

The couple, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this spring, now have six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in Colorado, California, Missouri and New Mexico.

“It’s very easy to live here,” Joan affirms. “I’m happy with the children being American. My mum thought we did the right thing. And my brother always said he wished he had the courage to do what we did.”

“The USA is a beautiful country. I like the opportunities everybody has. I like the people. They are very friendly and have treated us well,” Ernie says. “We put our flag out every July 4th and watch the fireworks. Listening to the national anthem, I put my hand on my heart. It brings tears to my eyes.”