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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.
Our family arrived in Orleans in October of 1992. I was a senior (my 4th high school) and welcomed to a most warming class. We lived for a while at the Hotel Bovaird right across the George V bridge in Olivet. The school bus stopped there and our driver was named Jacques. He would shake hands on entry and departure in the morning and afternoon with every rider and knew all the kids’ names. We then moved on the economy to Fleury-les-Aubrie. What I also recall from those rides is that we had kids from 1st grade to seniors on board which made for interesting friendships. At the time, October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis was ongoing and MPs were guarding the Foret d’ Orleans compound and occasionally boarded the buses. In the summer of 63 we moved to Olivet housing.
It was the first Monday in June, 1967 when my students and I became aware from our playing field that many fighter planes were flying NORTH across the Mediterranean Sea instead of south into their training area in the desert. By noon we got the word about the Six Day-War as it became known: The Arab-Israeli War. This war was actually fought from June 5-6 until June 10th. (more…)
While teaching in the Palatine, Illinois school district, a position as a physical education teacher at Wheelus Air Base in Libya for the 1966-67 school year was offered to me. I accepted and arrived at Wheelus AB amidst a “ghibli”, a sandstorm off the desert, and my sponsors told me not to touch anything as it was terribly hot. My sponsors got me settled into the BOQ closest to the Mediterranean Sea, about 3 blocks away. It was one of several BOQs where teachers were housed. (more…)
I was a freshman at Kubasaki Junior High School in 1967-68. During that year we were visited by Fess Parker (Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett). Also, one of my favorite teachers was John Chapman (Civics teacher). He would organize host nation partnerships with local schools that we would visit on Saturdays and spend overnights at local hostels with Okinawa students. Mr. Fatarosi (so?) was a wonderful teacher as well.
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 Chateauroux in the spring of 1960. My father, M/Sgt. William E. Teets, my mother, Lillian, my sister, Marilyn, and I lived in Chateauroux until 1964. We arrived in France when I was 12 years old and my sister turned 13 the day we landed in Paris. We lived at the Hotel du Faisan for about six weeks until our house on the economy was ready for us to move into.
I was 16 years old and enjoying life in sunny Southern California (Redlands – my father, Willam A. Hilley, was stationed at Norton Air Force Base) when my Dad was assigned to go to Chateauroux, France. I was desperate not to go. My life was playing basketball in Redlands. I did not want that life to be disrupted. I got my driver’s license when I was 16 in California, and was enjoying the “freedom” that wheels brought. It shocked me when I found out that the driving age in France was 18. I was bummed out about that. I was enjoying some success with basketball in California, and when I found out that our family was moving to France, I wasn’t sure they even had basketball teams there.
At Kwajalein, we went barefoot into the classrooms. We lined our flip flops up on the sidewalk outside the classroom. All kids either walked or rode their bike to school. There were no buses and very few cars. The school was like a two-story cinderblock hotel with exterior hallways. As any red-blooded male child in a tropical paradise, all I remember thinking about at school was getting out of school. I left Kwaj as an eight-year-old and that was a while ago.
The day after arriving in France after sailing on the USSS United States, I became a freshman in high School at La Foret d’Orleans, an old WWII American hospital set up as the school for military and civil service dependants, K-12, all 600 of us. I think that there were American dependants, not associated directly with the Army who also went to school with us. Of course, high school years are incredibly memorable, so there’s so much to say about living in Orleans for 4 years.
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.
I went to 4th grade in Foret d’Orleans in 1963-64. The elementary school was in the furthest wing of classrooms from the front of the school… My 4th grade classroom was on the top floor, on the side nearer to the playground. We had recess in the chain-link fenced, dirt yard beside the school and I can remember kids linking arms and chanting, “Hey, hey, get out of my way, I just got back from the U.S.A.” I remember being a volunteer in the school library, which was on the bottom floor nearer the middle of the wings. We, volunteers, used an index sorter for the cards of the checked-out books. Those cards came out of the flaps inside the books and we stamped the Due Date on the pocket, pasted inside the cover, that held the card.
My sister Maura’s 5th grade class picture. It was taken in her Quonset hut classroom on the base in Keflavik Iceland 1965-66 school year. Maura…3rd in from the left wanted to make sure that everyone saw her broken foot cast so she stuck it out front! Grades 1-6 were in Quonset huts on the base…Each Quonset hut was divided into two sections…The front was the classroom… and the back was a student activity area where you did exercises…play music… hang out…You needed the activity area because Iceland was chilly in winter! (more…)
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…)
As a young kid, I just loved dinosaurs, an affair which never left me even unto today. In fact after twenty years of teaching public High School, I took the plunge and entered a PhD program, one of the most challenging things I ever undertook and after three brutal years became a paleontologist with a Dr in front of my name. Immediately a tall (6’3”) Half Chinese friend of mine, donned a baseball cap and followed me around shouting “Dr Jones, Dr Jones”, since I had the hat, all I needed was a whip. But I digress. My first grade teacher overseas in Newfoundland was an absolute gift. She taught all of us how to write our names in Japanese, a few phrases in it. She knew my reading level was WAY beyond “See Spot Run”, so she gave me more and more advanced books, for spelling words; I had to spell dinosaur names. The reason I bring this up is as some of you may know, I discovered several clutches (nests) of dinosaur eggs from 72 million years ago from a brand new species. As the describer of the species I get to name it, I would very much like to honor that first grade teacher soooo very long ago who fostered my interest.
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).
In an “ice-olated” location like the Strategic Air Command (SAC) base at Goose Bay, Labrador, the arrival of a planeload of new teachers was a Big Occasion. The airport lobby was packed with parents, children, and a few single Air Force officers looking over the mostly single women hired by DoDDS. Our appointed sponsors waved signs with our names and greetings of welcome.
By evening, we were unpacking in the single rooms assigned to us in two long green barracks and getting acquainted like the college freshmen we had oncebeen. The Officers’ Club where we would take most of our meals was a short walk across the street. But we rode buses to and from the high school, even before the snow began to fall—180 inches worth that winter.(more…)
My memories of Japan start on May 1, 1958 when our ship pulled into the port of Yokohama and seeing all these red flags waving and signs that said “Go home Yankees” . I ask me dad about it and he told me that some of the Japanese didn’t like Americans but I didn’t need to worry about it, but as a seven year old that made me wonder if we should go back to Kansas the next day on another ship.
The place we would call home for the next 4 years was Tachikawa Air Base which was about 18 miles from Tokyo and we made the trip that first day in a very small taxi which took over 2 hours. I remember my mother was very worried that we would all be killed on the way because of all the traffic and so many people on bicycles on the road, but we made it. (more…)
John Sigler Robertson, GS-9, entered Federal Civil Service in 1954. He began his initial employment as Procurement Officer for HQ US Army Europe at Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg, Germany, from October 1954 to June 1956.
In 1956 the unit was slated to move to France. John arranged a lateral transfer in 1956 from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Air Force, HQ US Air Force Europe, USAFE Dependent Schools, Lindsay Air Station, and Wiesbaden, Germany. He was initially employed as Statistical Analyst working for Mr. Arthur Strommen. (more…)
In August 1964, I landed at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Meeting the plane was Joe Blackstead, Superintendent of Schools. It was then that I learned that I was assigned to Yamato High School. I was told by Principal Olan Knight that I would be teaching social studies, physical education and coaching football, basketball and baseball. This was the year of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The USA basketball team needed a gym in which to hold secret workouts. Coach Iba picked our gym at Tachikawa for these workouts. I volunteered my services to Coach Iba and I was asked to run the shooting charts during the Games. Some of the players on the team were Bill Bradley, Walt Hazzard, Mel Counts and Larry Brown. (more…)
August 17,1955 was my date to leave for DEG schools in France. I was certain that I would find my assignment to be one of the isolated one or two-teacher schools that Charlie Tinder repeatedly mentioned while he interviewed me at the University of Minnesota. After our flight, via Flying Tigers to Paris, I was pleasantly surprised to be assigned to Verdun, France. Four of us that met at the Litre Hotel, were to leave by train the next morning. They were Margaret O’Hare, Marion Sather, Marian Carmody and myself. Also on the same train were Robert Miller and another fellow whose name I’ve forgotten. He was transferred out of Verdun early in the year. (more…)
It has been a great experience, my twenty-seven years with the DOD Schools overseas. My only regret is that I didn’t get into the program sooner. Teaching is teaching wherever one is but this was also an adventure. I applied for an overseas teaching position while I was teaching in Seattle, Washington. I was accepted and left for Germany in August, 1950.
My first assignment was in Bad Wildungen as a first and second grade teacher. Subsequent assignments in Germany were Hochest am Main and Wiesbaden. I spent two years at each location before I was finally given an assignment in Sevilla, Spain. (more…)
This write-up is not intended as an in depth description of the American Dependent Schools in Europe. Mostly they are my answers to questions I was asked as I replied to the request, “Tell us like it was.”
The American Dependent School System Overseas is probably the most unique school system in the world; it certainly is the largest, geographically, encompassing about 90,000 miles. (more…)
I was with the DOD schools only one year of this first ten year period I had been teaching at a Methodist Mission School in Palembung, Indonesia so I hadn’t even heard about the military overseas schools until I came home to Fairfax, Virginia in 1953. If I hadn’t made this trip to Indonesia I would most likely never have had the nerve to go to all the strange places that came later.
I think I was quite timid about doing anything on my own at that time but Indonesia changed all that! This was brought about when friends of mine were going to Indonesia to start a business. They asked me if I would like to go with them and teach there. They always declared that my answer was “Sure, where is it!”. I think they may have figured they might need me to teach their kids too. Their eight year old had been in my first grade class in Fairfax. (more…)