When I was 9 years old my father was transferred to Paris in December of 1953. The arrival of thousands of US dependents into post WWII Europe was well under way but still a bit chaotic. No schools were built yet in Paris, so I was in an elementary and high school in an old downtown building not far from the Bois de Boulogne. Infrastructure In France was still partially collapsed and the beautiful Paris buildings seemed grim. But it was Christmas, and teachers did what teachers do, and pulled off the miracle of a Christmas concert. I don’t think I had ever been to a concert before in my life. This was the first time I heard the 12 Days of Christmas, with all the accompanying hand movements and it was so unexpected, funny and fresh for me. Completely delighted.
“Navy 824” is all of the address that I can remember of Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, that was my home from 1954 to 1958. My dad received orders for this island in the Pacific, and we headed there in 1953, driving across the United States from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Since concurrent travel was not authorized for dependents, we had to wait until quarters were available. My brother and I were enrolled in public schools in San Francisco while awaiting word that we could proceed. In early 1954, the family followed when quarters on Kwajalein became available.
I was a student at the high school (both Maison Fort and Foret D’Orleans) in Orleans, France during my father’s Army service. We arrived when I was in the 6th grade in 1959, and stayed until May of 1962. Honestly, they were the best years of my life as far as being in an enchanted place, and loving the country where we were stationed.
I think the years I was there 1959-1965 were the fullest and most solid. The school seemed to be well organized and we didn’t want for much.
It is really hard to describe the mini culture that made up the school, of note was the collective nature of being “foreigners” in another country, living on a military base and all the rules that went with that, the efforts to make this a “normal” American high school experience, the sticking together as children of military, the obvious class distinction between enlisted and officers’ kids, the differences of living on or off the economy, and, of course. the microcosm of the various housing areas.
My family and I moved to Orleans in the summer of 1959. I was a student from 8th through 10th grade. The friendships I made there are still sustained today. A group of girls all started together and many left at the same time at the end of the 10th grade. I will always consider OHS my high school and have many fond memories of “the 8th grade girls” as we now call ourselves. We lost touch over the years and were ecstatic to find each other again at Dave’s first reunion in Washington DC…no one wanted to sleep we just talked and talked. My husband and I have been to most of the reunions since then and he has been added as an honorary member of the OHS family.
We were stationed in St. Nazaire, France 1956 through 1958. My dad was the Company Commander of the unit that ran the Army Port facilities in St. Nazaire. We lived in Pornichet about 50 yds from the beach. I attended the two-room school house where the principal taught 5-8 and his wife taught 1-4. We were the first pickup for the Army school bus and the last drop off. That made for a long day, but we didn’t care.
I was in Yoyogi School with Mrs. Fields for first grade, Mrs. Peck for second grade and Mrs. Gallagher for third grade. There was a water fountain marked “colored”. We went on a field trip to Hiroshima. There was a Japanese teacher who came in and taught us some Japanese characters and songs. We went to school on a bus. I still have the yearbooks from those years.
Orleans American High School. OHS. I graduated with the class of 1957, having arrived in Orleans in the early winter of 1954. We came back to the States on the USS United States in July of 1957.
There were essentially two OHS schools in the span of years from its opening until it closed in 1967: the old school and the new. It became the new OHS after it moved to an actual high school building. The old OHS, the only school I knew, was on the second story of an office building. The library was one room, math was another room, etc. There were outside stairs to the main entry.
I was at OHS 1955 to 1958. Started the eighth grade there, ninth and 10th and part of the 11th. We arrived in the summer of 1955. We lived at Combleux in a small hotel until Dad found a house on the other side of Orleans at a point in the road called Fourneau. It was on the main road from Orleans to Blois. With our school out at Maison Forte, it meant a very long bus ride both ways. Our bus left Maison Forte going down along the Loire to Beaugency. Crossing the Loire it drove through Meung-sue-Loire Eventually getting to my house and then on to Orleans and Olivet. I was so happy to get to school every day to see the other kids. We were all so spread out from one side of the city to the other. After about a year and a half, we did move to Saint Jean de Bray And this made the high school experience for me a lot more fun. Whoever didn’t live there might live at Saint Jean de la Ruelle. We could get lunch at the mess hall but I remember it being a very cold walk over there.
When Frankfurt Elementary School in Frankfurt, Germany closed in 1995, the staff compiled a booklet of memories. AOSHS is very fortunate to have a copy of this booklet. The school was open from 1946 to 1995. (more…)
My mom was apparently willing to take a chance in order to travel. Growing up in Detroit, she chose to go to college (history major) in upstate NY, and when she returned she got her Masters in special education from the University of Michigan, with an emphasis on the elementary level. After teaching in Detroit, she applied to become a DoD teacher. In 1954, her first assignment was Camp McGill Dependent School in Japan. (more…)
My family arrived in Austria in January 1947 which was the middle of 10th grade for me. We were told to remember “Ya nay goveru Paruskie” (I do not speak Russian) and “Nicht verstede Deustch” (Don’t understand German) which we were to state if we were accosted by a Russian or Austrian for being American. We rode the Austrian bus to school at HQs US Forces Austria. Our forces and families were behind the Iron Curtain and the US wanted to show Austrians they were not there to conquer Austria; they were only there to prevent Russia from overtaking Austria. The 10th, 11th, 12th, students had a special bond. We had Friday night dances at someone’s house, Saturday night Dances at T-Club and Sundays movies. In the fall of 1947 and 48 we had 17 kids on a football team. Although we lost most of our games, we had a team. Basketball was better. In fact, I managed 13 points per game. At the school the eleventh and twelfth grades were in same room as were the ninth and tenth grades. One teacher taught biology and geometry to all grades.
Some of my fondest memories were:
Seven Boy Scouts and two Scoutmasters missing the Orient Express departing Vienna at 8:00 AM then driving through the Russian Zone on route to Paris. They then stopped the train with a jeep across tracks 60 miles away from Vienna and got on. Now, that’s a unique memory. I earned my Eagle Scout even though at times I was the only scout and had to find counselors to pass my badges.
A typical date was going to the opera instead of the movies and the memory is even better when it was a sophomore dating a junior.
Seniors sneaking a beer or two at Leopold Castile above Vienna in the Vienna Woods.
Seventeen freshmen, juniors and seniors with a couple of 18 year old GIs from the Special Services Office playing a 50 kid football team from Heidelberg and losing 50 to 0………Then I remember the parents canceling football for us transferring to basketball instead. It was said that the Heidelberg team had college freshman on it.
Visiting Dachau and it’s no longer used furnaces on a basketball trip to Munich.
Our biology class with only two students and a teacher. Our German III class had a New York teacher who gave the Regents exam to three of us, two girls and me.
Family trips to Switzerland in the winter, to Paris, a cruise to Sicily, Malta, Egypt and Marseilles.
These are my memories of the Class of 1949, Vienna Dependents High School. I miss it all. Such fond memories!
Paul Winkel, Class of ’49, West Point Class of ‘56
Mr. Winkel is also in the book We Were Soldiers Once … And Young by Moore & Galloway. He was stationed in Heidelberg with his family from 1975 – 1980 and his son graduated from Heidelberg in 1980. Mr. Winkel served two tours in Vietnam, 1965-66 and 1968-69. He retired as an Army Colonel with 31½ years of service. June 2019. he was nominated for the Medal of Honor and will know the results of his nomination mid-2021.
While in Tripoli, Libya, Air Force personnel and their dependents lived in Wheelus Air Force Base housing for the most part, but the families of men who worked for the State Department and some of its agencies, or for oil companies searching for black gold, lived in many different areas of Tripoli from Garden City to Georgimpopoli, a coastal area on the western edges of the city. Our school bus, one of many that picked up American children all over the city, traveled down Sciarra Ben Asciur on its eight-mile journey to the base. I still have a very tattered mimeographed copy of my school bus route. It did help me identify my old home on Google Earth. (more…)
My brother and I went to the American Army schools — 9th-11th grade for me, Frankfurt High School; elementary school for Dennis. The FHS student body was 900 and included kids like me who walked to school, kids from farther away who arrived in Army buses each day, kids from even farther who lived in the dorm all week but went home on weekends, and kids from REALLY far away like Moscow or Damascus (children of diplomats in places where there were no American schools), who stayed in the dorm all semester. Although 900 sounds small to a New Yorker, it was far too much for the original 1954 building so we also had some “Quonset huts” for the overflow (strictly speaking these were Butler Buildings; real Quonset huts are half-cylinders, but it’s the same idea: prefab temporary buildings made of corrugated metal that can be erected in a few hours).
When I was in college at New Mexico Highlands University, I’d hear “Far Away Places” and in my heart I knew that song contained a secret message for me. So I started pursuing my goal of “traveling in far-away places!” I think it meant Europe.
In 1954, by then a college grad and teacher in Albuquerque, I applied for a job as a DoDDS teacher through Washington, D.C. from an article in the newspaper. Beautiful French Morocco, near Casablanca, was my first assignment. Aside from the washing machines in the BOQ’s and colorful Arabs everywhere I turned on base, it was very much like Albuquerque – warm weather, golden sunshine, and cactus plants. (more…)
We left New York City for Vienna, Austria on my thirteenth birthday, November 10, 1946.
My father had been assigned to Vienna and had left in July of 1945, so we were anxious to join him. I can’t remember his specific assignment, but he was in charge” of the American sector of Vienna, which was divided into four sectors American, French, British, and Russian, as was Berlin. He had superior officers over him so I am not sure what my mother meant when she said he was “in charge”. (more…)
After forty-two years I revisited the scenes of my youth in Vienna.
Wien, Wien, nur du Allein,
Solist Stetes die Stadt Meiner Traune Sein.
(Vienna, Vienna, of you alone, so is the city of my dreams.)
It was amazing how much, and how little, things had changed.
The first impression was of cars, people, speed, crowds, modern buildings, rebuilt old buildings and that every thing was rebuilt and a little smaller than I remembered. But then the second impression was of the same laid back atmosphere I remembered.
The best of intentions were mine, when I began this ocean voyage, to write a day-by-day account of my feelings and the happenings. But along with many other things, I had planned on this trip when I left home, have had to fall by the wayside. It would simply be unable for me to explain why. Anyone would have to be on this trip to understand. You made the remark before I left home that now that we were leaving not to look back. That is good advice but extremely difficult to follow.
The main essential of this trip is a rugged physique and much fortitude. That I must have in comparison to many on this trip. From all reports we have had it harder than the other groups that have gone because they simply tried to send too many at one time. Our sailing was canceled three times but finally we loaded Tuesday morning, Sept. 2nd. Three hundred girls, without youngsters, had been quartered on the boat on the Friday before, in order to make room at Fort Hamilton for the new group coming in. (more…)
Superintendent and Principal, Yokohama American Dependent Schools
by: Col. William F. Wollenberg, U.S. Army (Retired)
LOREN SYLVANUS MCCARTNEY
Lieutenant Colonel Loren Sylvanus McCartney, U.S. Army, Retired, was the first Superintendent of the Yokohama American Dependent Schools and the first Principal of Yokohama American High School. (more…)
After two years as a Special Services Librarian (1950-1952) Heidelberg Military Post, Germany, I became Chief Librarian for the Dependent Schools, stationed at their offices in Karlsruhe, Germany. This move from Special Services to Dependent Schools was not without conflict between the two services. In 1951, I was invited by Sarita Davis from the University of Michigan to apply for her job as librarian with the Dependent School System. Special Services refused to release me and recommended another for the job. (more…)
I arrived in Tripoli, Libya from MacGuire AFB on or about August 24, 1956. Aboard the plane were several other personnel newly assigned to the base. We were flying a MATS four-engine plane.
We were assigned to the male bachelor quarters for none of us had families with us. My family could only come after I established quarters off the base and that took some time. They finally arrived just before X-mas and the AF band was at the dock to greet them. My family came by ship. (more…)
Getting There and Trips Around Europe: 1946 – 1947
Mists of time. Yes. That depicts it well. Fifty-five years ago I embarked upon an event that affected my life forever. And it is covered in a scrim screen in my memory. I was six years old and am now sixty-one. The memories are mine and may or may not be precisely accurate but they ARE mine.
So many aspects of 1946-1947 I could ramble on about. The trip over to Europe, life in Vienna in post war times, trips while there, school times, etc. So, this epistle will be about trips. Others later.
An icebreaker frequently employed with Dependent School educators was to ask the question, How did you manage to get overseas?” The answers usually provided a fascinating tale. Most came by chance, and I was no exception.
I was teaching sixth grade in Los Angeles while my wife, Beverly, was teaching in Redondo Beach. With our combined salaries in 1955, we were relatively prosperous and content with our lot in life. Going overseas was the furthest thing from my mind. One Sunday Beverly spotted an article in the Los Angeles Times that provided the information that both the Army and the Air Force were recruiting teachers for overseas positions. I was not interested and even if I was interested, I didn’t relish completing the necessary forms. Beverly was not eligible as kindergartens were not part of the Dependent Schools program in those days. Only after much cajoling, Beverly convinced me to at least try for a position as long as she would complete the paperwork and set up the necessary appointments. (more…)
Some time early in 1949, I read an article in an educational magazine about the Army Dependent Schools in Germany. The article announced the teacher recruitment schedule for persons wishing to teach in Germany. I showed the article to Hetty and said this could be our last opportunity to see Germany. I was afraid she wouldn’t like to go so far from home, but, instead, she said it wouldn’t hurt to send in an application form.
By the time I had filled out the forms and returned them, I knew I wanted very much to have a teaching assignment in Germany. While I waited for an invitation for an interview, I got out my German books to brush up on my reading and speaking ability. On the application form I included the names of five references who knew of my German background. I wrote each of them a letter asking permission to give their names as references. (more…)