My Life as an Army Brat

My first memory was mom telling me to sit in our rocking chair so she could take a picture of me. I was not yet two years old and surprised I can remember that far back. We were living in New Jersey and about to move back home to Opelousas, Louisiana while dad would go overseas for a tour of duty in Giessen, Germany. I later learned we would move many times because of dad being in the Army.

Fort Dix, NJ

Thru our years of moving, each place we lived held a special place in my heart. Leaving friends behind was the hardest. It was like my best friend was an illusion of all my good and special friends rolled up into one. Fortunately, due to the Internet and Facebook, re-connections have made with some of those friends. And in some cases, I became friends thru social media with peers that lived at a place at the same time as us. There is something about military brats having a connection even if we didn’t know each other. We knew what it was like to move and leave friends behind and as a result within a day of moving to a new place we usually had made at least five friends. Our major connection was the commandry we all shared.

It was always good to go back home as it meant being with our maternal grandparents Emilian (Papa) and Louise (Momo). Papa was a farmer and lived and worked on a local farm owned by the Boagni family. He also raised cattle and pigs and often shared the fruits of his work with his extended family.

One of my memories on being back at Momo’s was digging through a pile of clothes looking for a two-piece outfit I had worn the last time I was there. Momo was clueless what I was looking for, but I did end up finding the outfit and had Momo put it on me. This is another instance of a memory of me being just under two years old and still surprised I remember things from when I was so young.

Opelousas, LA

While living at Papa and Momo’s on the farm, there seems to have always been so much to do. At times Papa would take us to pick eggs, showed us how to milk a cow, along with other things from farm life. And they often had visitors which was always fun. When it was time to cook, Momo would often go outside, grab a chicken to use it for the evening meal. When Papa would bring in corn, beans, and whatever items from his crop from the farm, there were usually others around to help to can or bag the vegetables. One of Papa’s favorite meals was to eat rice and milk. I loved eating that too as well as rice and eggs cooked together, which I add a touch of hot sauce to pep it up.

Blackberries grew along the bob-wired fence along the shell road where they lived, and Momo helped us pick the berries. She would wash some of blackberries, sprinkle sugar on the berries for Glenn and me to eat.

Opelousas, LA

Momo was a great cook and liked to bake. My favorite was her homemade cupcakes with chocolate frosting. We liked to say her cupcakes were world famous because her cupcakes were so good! I never asked Momo for her recipe, which I now regret. The taste of her cupcakes has never left me, and Glenn says the same.

Regarding Momo’s cooking, there was one time though, as story goes as it was before my time, she mistakenly put chocolate frosting in her gumbo instead of roux. Imagine the look of those eating the gumbo when they took their first bite!

Glenn and I got chicken pox when we were two and three years old while living with Momo and Papa. There were chickens all around the farm, which I though we got chicken pox because we were around chickens. To keep from stepping in the chicken poop, I would tip toe around the yard.

Port Barre, LA

Momo and Papa, more so Momo, would spoil Glenn and me. They got to have us around for an entire year instead of the short visits they previously had with us. And they knew after that year, we would be moving away again, somewhere probably far away. There was always a flood of tears when we moved away or left from being home for a visit.

Momo loved taking us downtown to buy us something. It may have been clothes or toys, whatever we wanted. She didn’t drive, so either Papa or mom would take us downtown. Mom worked at J W Low’s, a 5 & Dime store downtown so we often went in there to shop. I recall Momo, as do most grandmothers, showing us off to her friends we would see downtown. She took Glenn and me hand in hand from store to store. One of my memories was going in what I think was a leather or saddle store next to Tot ‘n Teens on Main Street. She was looking for something for Papa for the farm. When we lived away, she would buy clothes for us to mail to us. And when she would write to mom, Momo usually enclosed a dollar bill for each of us.

When either living or visiting in Opelousas, mom and /or my grandparents brought us to visit family and friends. Being so young, when I saw them again a year or two later, I would usually have to be reminded of their names along with what their connection was to me. Momo loved talking about family, which is something I take from her. As a young girl, I would look thru the dresser drawer where Momo kept her photos. So many times, I would ask Momo who were in her pictures. Momo instilled the knowing of family to me which helps me when I do genealogy research.

While dad was stationed overseas, Mom often took pictures of us to send to dad. And when we lived away from Mom would take pictures of us to send to Momo. Before mom passed away, she gave me her and Momo’s photos. In staying tuned to today’s times, those photos have been scanned which easily allows me to share online. There weren’t as many photos taken then as are taken today nor are those photos as clear and sharp as the ones today, but still priceless to me as those photos are part of my life, usually of simpler times.

When Dad returned home from his assignment Giessen, I recall he stooped to my level in Papa’s shell driveway to talk to me. I asked Dad if he was back from Germany. Although Dad was now home, it was only for a short visit for him as it was time for us to move again. We headed to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for Dad’s next assignment. I barely remember the long drive to Highland Park, Illinois which was next to Fort Sheridan. Most of what I remember on the long drive is stopping at a motel to spend the night. I can still see me sitting on the bed in the hotel and remember dad going out of the room for ice.

When we got to Highland Park, we moved into an upstairs apartment above a house. We had to use the outside stairs to go in and out of our apartment, however sometimes I would sneak out from our inside door and peak down the inside stairs where our landlord lived. Once when I did this, I fell down the stairs. Never did that again!

Our apartment was about five blocks from beautiful Lake Michigan and mom took us there to the beach. Glenn and I played at the beach and the waves. I recall mom taking photos of us there, but if she did take pictures, I have not been able to find the photos. It might be she lost the film, or the photos didn’t come out well. The important thing is I can still see it in my mind.

Fort Sheridan was also just a few blocks away and Dad said he often walked to work to leave the car with mom. The briskness of the area along with the houses were so different than back home, but of course it was much colder in Highland Park than it was in Opelousas. Wherever we lived, it felt different. Not better or worse, simply different.

Highland Park, IL

For Christmas that year, two of my presents were a toy piano and a large doll. I never learned to play the piano; never learned to play a musical instrument. The doll was as big as me and I would sleep with my doll. She had a short haircut with her dark hair. I don’t remember the doll after we left Highland Park so I must not have had her long however she is a fond memory of my childhood.

An older couple lived in a stone house next to us. When their grandchildren would visit them, they would come out to play with Glenn and me. The girls were anywhere from three to five years older than me and would get flowers to put in my hair. Some of my treasured pictures were ones that mom captured of me and those girls.

Highland Park, IL

I remember watching the show Kids Say the Darndest Things with Art Linkletter. Strange that I don’t remember much about Glenn in the apartment but remember us playing outside. The neighbor’s grandson would let us play in his little pool. I have a picture of the three of us in the pool from the summer we lived there.

Dad’s sister Verna and her husband, Don and their three children along with dad’s brother Joe and his son drove up to Highland Park to visit with us. Our apartment was a small two-bedroom apartment. I don’t know where everyone slept, but they all must have managed to have a place to sleep. Although I don’t remember, I am sure I was happy to have cousins around so we could play together.

Recently while driving to Michigan to visit my stepdaughter Colleen, my husband Larry and I side skirted and went to Highland Park to see the house where I lived. It was what I remembered, but smaller. As I looked around the lawn between our upstairs apartment and the stone house next to it, I envisioned Glenn and me playing outside and playing with the children outside. Since my memories of there had grew dim through the years, being there again after all the years brought my memories alive and vivid again. It was enlightening.

Before we knew it, we moved back home to Opelousas while dad was stationed again in Korea; this made it his second tour there. This time we didn’t live with our grandparents, instead mom rented a house for us which was near our grandparents. We still spent a lot of time with Momo and Papa both at hour apartment and at the farm where they lived.

Opelousas, LA

When we lived away, Momo would roll up the daily newspapers after she read them, tied the newspapers together and mailed to mom. When mom saw her friends in Opelousas, she knew what had been going on while she was away. Today I laugh and call that the Twitter of its day.

My grandparent’s good friends, Saul and Darlee treated us like their own grandchildren, who we called Papa Saul and Momo Darlee. They lived behind a small grocery store they managed, and later owned. When we were visiting with them, they usually let Glenn and me go into the store and get whatever snack we wanted. There were many visits, gumbos and cookouts with them. Momo has several photos of them with Papa Saul and Momo Darlee taken during their times together.

A fond memory of mine from my younger days was mom stopping on the side of the road to get a cat tail plant or a sugar cane stalk for Glenn and me. And going to Richard’s Big Burger for ice cream cones and eating an apple with bar-b-que potato chips.

Opelousas had an annual Yambilee parade and festival which was to celebrate a major crop in Opelousas – yams. Going to it was a treat. Parades, fair rides, cotton candy and candy apples were what I looked forward to most … and I loved watching the majorettes twirling their batons. Knowing how much I loved the twirling of the batons, either mom or Momo bought a baton for me which I practiced with but never came close to mastering.

Opelousas, LA

The Cuban Missile Crisis was happening around the time dad was to leave Korea. Due to the crisis, he had to wait a while before leaving. Once he left Korea, his next assignment was Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Mom and dad rented a duplex apartment in Barling, next to Fort Chaffee. We lived on the left side of the duplex. Glenn was now in school and for the first time, I had mom all to myself. She would often do soft boiled eggs for me peeling off the top part of the egg and setting it in shot glass for me to eat for breakfast.

This was the time when the song “Let the Little Girl Dance” by Billy Bland and “Peppermint Twist” was out. When we went to the Noncommissioned Officers (NCO) Club at Fort Chaffee on Sundays, dad would play those songs on the jukebox, and I would dance and twist on the dance floor … I had the whole floor to myself. We would also have BBQs and swim at the park in Fort Chaffee with friends of mom and dad. I often played with my friend, Susie, who lived next door to us.

Mom and dad became close friends with a couple, Joe and Gussie and their daughter Barbara who lived about two blocks from us. When Joe and Gussie decided to have Barbara become Catholic, they asked mom and dad to be Barbara’s Godparents. After we left Barling, we saw them again several years later when we returned to the states from Germany but hadn’t seen them since that time.

Fort Chaffee, AR

One day our duplex neighbors had a family visit with them. I was outside when they arrived, and the mother and a child went inside. The father was carrying his daughter, who was about my age. I asked the father why was he was carrying her, and he seemed angry that I asked. I don’t recall what he said, however the girl had disabilities. That was my first memory of being around a child with disabilities which in later years helped me when my own daughter was born with disabilities.

It was while we were living in Barling that President John Kennedy was assassinated. The television news showed the same scenes over and over.

Recently Larry and I went to Barling and to the duplex where I lived years ago. The woman currently living there let me in to look around the apartment. It was much smaller than I remembered. The brick wall on part of the inside was painted white and there were changes in the small kitchen. I hadn’t known our address from when we lived there but found it checking out the area with Google maps and found our old duplex using my limited memory of the area. It was a feel of awe being where I once lived and thought I would never see again.

Next, Larry and I went to what was then Fort Chaffee, which is now privatized. The chapel where I made my first communion is still there which is now a wedding chapel. Larry took photos of me on the steps of the chapel just as he took a picture of me in front of the duplex.

While living in Barling, Dad received orders to go back to Giessen. He worked at the Army post office and was in familiar territory since he had been there a few years before. This time we got to go with him which meant he had a three-year tour as opposed to a one-year tour. We had to wait about four months before we were able to join dad at Giessen which was due to not having military housing available for us. We spent four months wait living at Papa and Momo’s house before we could all go meet dad in Germany.

Before we left for Giessen to meet dad, I recall mom taking our car to be shipped to Germany – our 1962 white Chevrolet station wagon which we would learn would be huge compared to German cars. We traveled a lot in that station wagon sightseeing and camping around Europe. I truly got to see so much, so much more than if I grew up in one place.

When it was time to meet dad in Germany, mom’s cousin Daniel and his family brought us to the airport in Lafayette. Every time I go to that airport, I think of the time we left from there to go to Germany. I can still feel the aura when I stepped out of the airplane door in Frankfurt, Germany and the sky was dark and gloomy. The aura I felt was not due to our travel to there, it was due to me as a little girl being scared being in a new place. And we had to go through the processing in when we got to Germany, something I don’t remember experiencing before.

We first lived in a basement apartment in Giessen until we got temporary housing in the Marshall Housing Area on the Army post. Coal was used to heat the apartment which we purchased at a local coal yard. We were in the basement apartment for about two months when we got temporary housing on the fourth floor and the apartment had eight bedrooms! The temporary housing used to be maid quarters (housing) which is why these apartments had so many bedrooms. Glenn told me recently when moved from the basement apartment to the temporary housing on Halloween. We later moved to permanent housing on the second floor with only three bedrooms. 

Giessen, Germany

Like the other kids we loved sliding down the bannisters – from fourth floor to the first floor! In the housing there were two, three and four-bedroom apartments. All apartments looked the same and the military issued furniture was all the same which left little for creative regarding décor. Mom was a neat person and was minimalistic which is the same for me.

Our Christmas presents along with much of our clothes were ordered from the Sears catalog. We would get candles that dripped assorted colors down the side of the empty wine bottles which we used to hold the candles. Mom taught us how to make Christmas trees from catalogs, then we spray painted the catalogs turned into trees for decorations. We baked cookies at Christmas including making spritz cookies.

Mom would make cream puffs often but instead of using vanilla pudding would use chocolate pudding – yum! She would often make the cooked chocolate pudding and pour it hot over vanilla wafers – it was delicious.

Frankfurt American Airport, Germany

Mom and dad’s friends Bob and Elaine from Fort Chaffee were also in Giessen. Elaine was on the airplane with us on the flight to Germany. We visited often and Elaine showed me how to crochet, which I still love to do. When it was time for Bob and Elaine to leave, we took them to the airport in Frankfurt. We brought many families to the airport in Frankfurt when they left Germany. After both Bob and dad retired, they visited each other a few times.

Bob entertained Glenn and me with the invisible ball trick. He would reach into a small paper bag to pull out an invisible ball, throw it into the air, then catch it in the bag in which we heard a thump sound. Being young children, we were amazed. It wasn’t until we were older, we realized Bob and snapped his fingers on the bag which made the thump sound. It seemed silly we hadn’t realized he made the sound happen.

Dehart and Ingrid, who are German, became friends of mom and dad and they like to do things with Glenn and me. They had a 3-wheel car and took us swimming. Glenn and I had to take turns sitting on the floorboard as there was barely room for three on the seat, but neither of us minded. Dehart and Ingrid were always nice to us, and I admired Ingrid’s beauty. I found an old post card Ingrid had sent us when she visited Italy. She signed only her first name. If I knew her last name, I would try to look her up online with the hopes she is still alive and remembers me.

Dad took me to my first day of school for first grade in Giessen. It wasn’t until about a week later the class he brought me to was second grade class, so I had to move to the first-grade class. My teacher’s name was Ms. Curran and if you didn’t behave, she would dig her fingernails into your shoulder. She did it once to me and never had to do it again. Aside from her doing that, I liked her and school. 

A boy from my class, Richard who had blonde hair, had a crush on me and asked me to be his Valentine. He came to go to our apartment to meet me so we could walk to school together on Valentine’s Day. First grade with a crush, I felt special!

My first-grade class was in a metal building behind the chapel which was in Marshall Housing area where we lived. Next to school and the chapel was Chapel Hill. Glenn and I both had snow sleds and we learned to maneuver our sleds in numerous ways. It was so much fun and so many of the children in our housing area were also sledding. It is one of my greatest joys and memories as a child.

My second-grade teacher’s name was Ms. Droweski, who we called Ms. D. My class was in a metal building by the Junior High. Ms. D was tough, and I don’t recall her giving anyone any slack. In the junior high next door was a seventh grader who used a wheelchair. She had no arms and only one foot. She ate and wrote with her foot. I was in awe at her ability to use her foot in those ways. Seeing her also helped prepare me later for having a child with disabilities.

My third-grade class was in the main elementary school and my teacher was Joan Lawson. I loved her. One of the things I remember Ms. Lawson asking us whether we would rather have dessert first, then our food. We all choose dessert first. She then asked wouldn’t it be better if the last taste in our mouth would be the dessert? We all agreed, then she said it was the same as with homework. Best to do our homework first so we could then enjoy playing without the dread of doing homework afterwards. This was something I always remembered when deciding what to eat/do first.

We listened the American radio (no American television) to music and to stories like Our Miss Brooks. We played outside every chance we got; playing marbles was one of my favorites along with playing on the playground equipment. When mothers came home from grocery shopping Glenn and I were among the other children asking if they needed help getting their groceries out of their car and into their apartment. Most families shopped once a month when payday came so there were usually a lot of groceries to bring in for them. And we would get a dime for our help.

Giessen, Germany

Glenn and I read a lot of comic books and soon learned other children went from door to door to trade comic books. Once we finished reading our comic books we would trade with other children. We had so many children to play with, mostly outside. The post exchange (PX) and commissary (grocery store) and movie theater were within walking distance. We went to the Saturday matinee at the theater almost every Saturday. The Beatles’ “Hard Days Night” was the first movie I remember seeing there.

While living in Giessen, mom and dad took advantage of all the many places to see. We would often take drives on Sundays to unfamiliar places when we were not at the NCO club playing Bingo. The area was stunning and beautiful! Many castles to see and we visited many of them. We also went to Bavaria where the Black Forest is and to Chiemsee. King Ludwig II had Herrenchiemsee which is a castle on an island within Lake Chiemsee. We visited many other castles, towns, restaurants either on day trips or for vacations. We also went to the park where there was a swimming pool where we swam and had BBQs.

While touring areas of Germany, we often camped with tents at campgrounds. We often had Vienna or Polish sausage for snacking. Occasionally we stayed at guesthouses which had feather beds. Dad bought each of us a wool German Fedora with a feather pin on it. Each place we went, he would buy a pin from that place for our hats. We also each got a pair of German Lederhosen and since I was the only girl at the time also got a German Bavarian style dress. My grandchildren Jack and Maeve now have these things from my childhood and hopefully will pass on to their children.

Europe

Mom and dad became antique clock collectors while we lived in Giessen. A big grandfather clock which is now at my house along with one wall clock, a small grandfather clock and many wall clocks. They kept the grandfather clocks, a wall clock for them and one for each of their four children, gave one to their parents and siblings and sold the rest of the clocks.

Several months before we left Giessen a couple with five children moved in on the floor below us. Ironically, Josie was from Opelousas – how ironic! She and mom had a lot to talk about, especially since they knew many of the same people. Years later Josie’s brother Bobby became a judge in Opelousas.

We left Giessen two months shy of the end of my third grade and went back home to Opelousas while dad went for his third tour in Korea. We flew into McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and made the long drive home to Opelousas.

Movie prices in Opelousas were shocking for me – seventy-five cents. We paid fifteen cents in Giessen to for the movies. Glenn and I both would get skin sores within twenty-four hours of returning to Opelousas… any time we returned to Opelousas. The sores stayed with us until we left Opelousas. No one could figure out why this happened to us. We finally outgrew this when we were twelve – thirteen years old. Our sores prevented us from being able to get in to swim at the park swimming pool. We finally told the lifeguards of our plight and they agreed to let us in to swim.

It was time again to move and this time we went back to Germany, but this time to Hanau. I was back in familiar surroundings and with children who knew what it was like to be the new kid. Within a day we had friends. We lived in the Sportsfield Housing Area across the highway from the Army post. The next-door neighbors were Spanish and showed mom how to make tamales. I got my first record player and heard the word marijuana for the first time. We walked to school, walked to the AYA (American Youth Association) walked to the movie theater and to the chapel for Sunday Mass on the Army post. Everything was close by for us.

Hanau, Germany

My best friend in Hanau was Cathy however it was only a few months after we got there that her family moved. We wrote to each other for a few years and lost touch with each other until 1999 when I got on the Internet and found her. We still communicate with each other and have visited with her and her husband many times since then. Funny how I found Cathy again; I knew where she lived but could not remember her married name. After trying to remember her married name, I looked down on my floor and in the corner of the floor was a tiny picture she had sent me of her son many years before. On the back of the picture was his name! How the picture got there in the corner of the floor I will never know. It must have divine intervention. I then searched online and found her address. Afraid she wouldn’t remember me after all those years, I wrote her a letter instead of calling her. A few weeks later, on Mother’s Day she called me saying she just got my letter and that they had just buried her mother. She called my letter divine intervention.

A few months shy of the end of my fifth grade in Hanau, dad was transferred to Worms, Germany. His transfer brought him out of working in the post office and now going around Europe inspecting Army post offices.

Worms (the W is pronounced as a V) was absolutely the best! It was small Army base and we lived in a small military housing area named Thomas Jefferson Village. The end of my fifth grade and all my sixth grade was at Worms Elementary School which was about three blocks from our third-floor apartment. While in Germany we lived in a long apartment building with three floors with three stairwells (all the buildings we lived at in Germany were long buildings with three stairwells). The Army post was small therefore the junior high and high school were at a neighboring Army post in Mannheim. Glenn went to school there by bus while Kevin and I went to the elementary school in our housing area. Our sister Lori was born while we were living in Worms.

Shortly after we moved to Worms, we attended the Spring Festival. I always loved the riding some of the rides at fairs, particularly the bumper cars. Dad insisted I ride on the camel and elephant that were there. Interesting rides.

With part of my sixth-grade class, we had a ski week at Chiemsee. We learned to ski half a day; the other half was supposed to be school however we went sightseeing instead of school. Skiing wasn’t kind to me, but it was an adventure. We toured Herrenchiemsee with this being my second time touring it.

Ski Week Class at Chiemsee, Germany

The Army post was about a five to six block walk from our apartment. There was an old tunnel we passed thru to get the post where we went to the chapel, the movie theater and where dad worked. First time we went to the theater, the man at the ticket counter recognized Glenn and me from the stairwell where we lived as he lived there too. From then on out, Curtis let us in the movies free when he was there; we still had to pay for our refreshments which was good with us. Glenn and I both babysat Curtis and Bertha’s son Curtis Jr, and mom and dad became friends with them. Often, I babysit for other families too. Recently I met Curtis and Bertha’s daughter Chantelle (who was born after we left Worms) on Facebook and I exchanged stories with her.

Being older, now eleven and twelve, there was more for me to do … going to the AYA, baseball, softball, hayrides and football games. The AYA at Worms gave us lots of things to do. There were dances, bingo, pinball machines, pool tables and hanging out. The AYA also had buses pick up the kids to go roller skating in Ramstein and Glenn and I went often. The bus ride there and back is what I enjoyed most. We had comradery and singing on the bus to and from Ramstein. Life at Worms was such fun!

When attending dances at the AYA I learned a line dance. The name of it forgets me, but it is the only line dance I ever learned or even try to do.

Worms, Germany

My circle of friends in Worms mostly consisted of Claudette, Deanna, Dianne and Jane. After we left Worms, Dianne had sent me a care package full of gummy bears (this was before these were in the US) and other German candy. I have reconnected with Claudette and Jane as well as with Mike from my sixth-grade class and with Rose whose father Thomas was stationed with dad in Worms and in Vietnam. I would love to reconnect with Deanna however have not been able to find her. Unfortunately, I’ve learned Dianne is no longer with us.

Dianne, Jane and I would go to the German store by our apartment, buy German cigarettes and smoke on the side of our apartment building. We would go to a nearby creek, go to the sauna room (I recall an older lady in there warning us about getting bat wings on arms when we would get older) and go to downtown Worms. A monument for Martin Luther is in downtown, and still today I am in awe of being at the monument. My feeling of awe had little to do with Martin Luther, but with the size of walking thru monument (it contain statues of Martin Luther and his men). And I loved the ice cream there.

Dad received orders to leave Worms for Vietnam. It was so hard to leave Worms. We were supposed to be in Germany for three years, but dad’s assignment was shortened due to his new order for Vietnam. At the time, the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” was out and that became my “theme” song when we left Worms. I hated that once again I was leaving my friends behind.

The month before we left Germany, we went on vacation to Switzerland and Italy, camping at all the places we visited. We traveled up mountain winding mountain roads; one place it took an hour to go twelve miles because the road was so winding. In Italy we spent three days camping by the beach. Glenn and I got sunburnt so badly our skin blistered. We were on our way to Rome, but due to the pain of our sunburned, we cried to go back home. Dad turned around the 1967 Pontiac Bonneville and headed back home but had to make a stop at a campground before getting home. I must have caught the eye of Nemo, an Italian boy at the campground as he came over to meet me. He, Glenn and I ended up playing cards.

When living in Germany, we visited many of the countries in Europe. France, Luxemburg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Austria with Switzerland being my favorite and Austria being my least favorite. Although Austria has its own beauty, it felt gloomy and for some reason I was afraid while there. Places I would have liked to have gone to were England and Paris, but we never made it there (Dad went as part of his work). Berlin was also on my list of places I wanted to go to, but dad didn’t have the clearance for us to go there.

Our schools in Germany were American, and we had a teacher who would come in to teach us German. I did learn some German, however, was never able to have a conversation in it. Our field trips were usually great, one being going to a mountain to walk the trail up it. And to the Frankfurt Zoo and a boat ride on the Rhine River. On the boat ride, I had my first introduction to an artichoke from Dianne.

Mom didn’t want to go home to live in Opelousas while dad was in Vietnam. Instead, she wanted to move to Ocean Springs to be close to Keesler Air Force base. Plus, we had family living there. We lived near the beach which was close enough to walk to and school was within walking distance. I spent a lot of time at our cousins’ house plus cruising the beach with them.

Our cousins would often pick me up when they would go to Edgewater Mall which was always a treat for me. It meant going over the bridge over Biloxi Bay, which for some reason I was afraid of going over it. Several years ago while there, I made it a point to walk across the bridge. It was a new bridge that had been built after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed the bridge that was there.

Ocean Springs, MS

While living in Ocean Springs, we would go back to Opelousas to visit, usually for a week at a time. Most of the time there was spent visiting with family and friends.

After Dad returned from Vietnam, his last military orders were to Fort Knox. Shortly after getting to Fort Knox, he became tired of being in the Army and retired about eight months later after being in the Army for twenty years. We then went back home – to Opelousas.

The summer at Fort Knox is what I call my coming-of-age summer – it was magical for me. It was that summer I had my first boyfriend, Ric. And again, I surrounded by military kids, it was what I knew and loved. We lived in Pritchard Place housing area which was across the highway from the gold vault. My best friend that summer was Pam who is the same age as me. She was there visiting her sister, Theresa and family for that summer. I missed her when she went back home so I went with Theresa and her family a few times to visit with Pam in Indiana before we moved from Fort Knox.

Many of the kids in Pritchard Place hung out throughout the day and into the evening. During the summer there it didn’t get dark until around 9 p.m. There was a tree next to our apartment where many of us sat, sung and hung out.

West Harrison, OH

We would often walk to the small PX (post exchange) and chapel located in Pritchard Place. Glenn was driving by then, so we also got to go places on the post. To the movies, the bowling alley and even went to the Patton Museum. It was all great!

It was always good to meetup with an Army brat friend from the past. Sometimes in the military we would see and go to school with kids we knew in other places. Glenn came running home in Hanau to tell us Cindy, a girl we knew in Giessen, was in Hanau. While at Fort Knox, a guy Jesse who I knew from Hanau was there. I also saw and talked to him at a football game in Worms after leaving Hanau. Then he was in Fort Knox when we were there. And although I did not know Robert, he had been a boyfriend of my friend Jane in Worms. Robert was in my study hall in Fort Knox and I let him know Jane was my friend.

Opelousas, LA

Living the Army brat life was one I was glad I got to experience. We lived in many places, met different people, visited places and ate different cuisines.

Upon Dad’s Army retirement, my time as an Army brat was officially over, but not truly over as it has always stayed with me and been a part of me. After his Army retirement we went back home to Opelousas, this time for good. I was now home at the one place that was a constant in my life.

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