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(This blog was created only to SHARE and PRESERVE the collective memory, all the documents I could find or buy are in the blog .... Feel free to send me documents for sharing!)
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lundi 24 novembre 2008

TEMOINS (WITNESSES)

Les écoles américaines à l'étranger
The American Overseas Schools

PHALSBOURG AFB, FRANCE
1955-56
Le texte en intégralité (Full text)


"A quote from the September 18, 1955 issue of Overseas Weekly: "The huge runway at this stillborn NATO Air Defense Base is sinking in the mud and USAFE has closed the runway." Therefore, I arrived at an air base that had no planes.

Phalsbourg AFB was located in a beautiful area of France, Alsace. It was about a 45-minute drive to Strasbourg on the Rhine River.

When arriving by train from Paris there was no one to meet me in the small village of Phalsbourg as was promised. Luckily an MP truck happened by and I got a ride to the base. I was let out at a BOQ (1) and found a room. This room contained a narrow cot, a straight-backed chair, and a dresser, no lamp, no desk. During the year I tried to make it homelike by putting desert scenes drawn on paper over the windows, painting the ceiling squares yellow and blue, and finally getting some cast off curtains. Three civilian women employees and several officers lived in this BOQ.

For several months I didn't know whether or not I would stay on this base. There were 34 students and 4 teachers plus the principal who also taught. The powers that be said we were over-staffed. The following is the chronology of my staying and leaving episodes:
1. Sept 11 - I heard I was going to a new school in Italy.
2. Sept. 13 - I will stay in Phalsbourg. In the middle of the morning my teaching assignment was changed from second and third grades to grades 3,4 and 6. There were no 5th graders in our school. No warning about this change, no text, no chance to prepare.
3. Oct 14 - A new principal arrived and she took my two sixth graders.
4. Oct. 24 - Rumors had it that I would leave Phalsbourg.
5. Oct 31 - I may stay.
6. Nov. 1 - Probably stay.
7. Nov. 3 - Staying even though I had orders to go to Chambley. The school officer said I was not leaving.
8. Nov. 25 - The chiefs of schools in France and Germany visited our bases and said we were entitled to only two teachers. Our school officer convinced them to hold off shipping one of us out until after Christmas.
9. After Christmas - I stayed.

The morale of the base at this time was at a low ebb. Funds and personnel had been cut. There were not enough employees to keep things going efficiently. The Officer's Club was closed so we ate in the regular mess. There were no paved roads on base and so after a year of fighting the awesome sand in Libya, I now faced the sticky, gooey, and slippery mud of Phalsbourg. The day I finally got boots to help me through this phenomenon was a cause for celebration.

A BIG problem I had this year was the fact I did not get my hold baggage until Nov. 8th. Another problem was that Paris kept losing or misplacing our payroll records. Only once or twice during the year did we get our checks on time. The fact that they closed the American Express office on our base compounded the problem, as we had to go looking for a place to cash our checks. We usually had to go to Ramstein hoping we could get there before the office closed. The BX closed, but we did have a little snack bar. A bright spot was when they put a refrigerator in my room and the principal got a commissary card. When we purchased a hot plate and an electric pot for heating water we were really ecstatic. We produced some fabulous meals with this meager equipment.

Our Post Office was open from 9:30 AM until 12:30 PM. To use the Post office we had to go during school hours. We were with the children from 7:45 AM - 2:30 PM. We only ate with them in the snack bar. We served their lunch and cleaned the tables.

Somehow, we managed to put on a Christmas play - The Littlest Angel. My job one Saturday morning in December was to move costumes and scenery from the school to the Service Club. I couldn't use my car because you couldn't park near the school and you couldn't park near the Service Club. We practiced the play on the stage of the Service Club Friday and were going to do so again on Saturday afternoon, but this is Phalsbourg and they were in the midst of tearing up the stage floor and would continue to do so on Sunday. I was going to put up the scenery, but of course that was impossible. We didn't have Murphy's Law here, we had Phalsbourg's Law.

Another job I had was that of the secretary at the school. The powers that be requested forms to be filled out, but neglected to send the forms. So, I typed up the forms and then put in the information

Our school library had about 500 books. Some of the children's mothers typed library cards for them. We had to classify and arrange the books on the shelves. This took care of our compensatory time for the rest of the year. We followed the Dewey Decimal System the best we could.

We got a day off from school in May. Strange reason - the troops had been working hard to make Phalsbourg, the base, beautiful. In appreciation everyone had the day off.

We had many unusual happenings this year in Phalsbourg, but this event topped them all. We four lady employees were enjoying a game of bridge when the base chaplain came in and told us there was a woman in labor in the dispensary. The couple was on their way to a new base in France, coming from Munich, when the woman started having labor pains. There were no nurses on base so one of the dependent wives acted as nurse. My principal volunteered to take care of their other child who was only 9 1/2 months old so the father could pace the floor. History was made in Phalsbourg - the first birth ever on base and then it turned out to be a multiple birth - twin boys. No scales in the dispensary so don't know the weight of the babies. A helicopter flew the twins to a hospital in Landsthul, Germany. I was chief bottle washer and diaper scrounger for their other child. I went to the trailer park where the dependent families lived and did manage to obtain six diapers. The baby stayed in my room that night and her father picked her up the next morning. That summer, I worked six weeks in the base library.

Even though we had problems at Phalsbourg it was a great year, especially meeting some wonderful people. Because there were so few people there it was like one big family. I still correspond and have met with some of these people during the years since 1956. The location of Phalsbourg was just perfect for my VW bug and me. We were in the beautiful Voges Mountains, and just driving through the small, picturesque villages was a treat. I had the chance to take many trips during the year. One of the most beautiful drives was from the base to Saverne, a distance of about ten miles. In the fall the leaves on the trees were spectacular, so colorful. Coming from desert country this really made an impact on me.

This year could not have been that bad because in September I would be on my way to Rhein-Main for another go."
(1) BOQ: Bachelor Officer's Quarters


Groupe de musique des années 60:

"Les cyclones"
(60's Music band "The Cyclones")

Ici sur l'estrade (qui n'existe plus) de l'ex club des sous officiers
Actuel mess ou cercle mixte
(Here in ex-NCO club's podium)
(Carte - Map)



SHANNON SMITH
Chanteuse des Cyclones
(Cyclones singer)






"Rien à voir avec "El Toro et les Cyclones"... Après des débuts modestes en 1961 (...), notre groupe frappe un grand coup en 1965, avec un matériel au top ! Les grattes strat/mustang/précision, amplis Bandmaster et Bassman et un orgue Farfisa. (...) Pour la petite histoire, c'est mon père menuisier qui gagnait 1000 F par mois, qui a contracté un crédit pour acheter ma guitare 2200 F, et les deux amplis à raison de 2500 F chacun ....! Dur dur !!!!!!!!! La chanteuse Shannon SMITH était Américo/Canadienne, fille d'une Canadienne et d'un Texan qui gérait les clubs de boys sur la base Américaine de Phalsbourg Air Base ( base de l'OTAN ), et à ce titre, il nous faisait jouer dans les quatres clubs de la base aussi souvent que possible. Sur la photo du disque, il y a la date 2003 ... car j'ai fais un CD avec le 45 trs. Je joue depuis le début de l'année avec un goupe de Metz "LEGEND", çà "shadows" sec en Lorraine, qu'on se le dise ...!"
Voir le site ICI

"Effectivement j'ai connu cette période 'DORÉES' qu'étaient les années 60 avec la musique 'électrique' qui démarrait et je passe tout le reste ............. j'ai uniquement des 'reliques' photos, disque 45t., et des souvenirs pleins la mémoire mais aucun document sur la base proprement dite. Je vais tout de même vérifier mes 'archives 'mais il n'y a que la musique et les amis de cette belle époque qui m'intéressaient leur famille, d'ailleurs j'avais comme 'copine' la chanteuse des CYCLONES SHANNON SMITH dont le papa était SERGENT ils ont été démarqués en Angleterre vers 1964 et de la ????????? dieu seul le sait où ils sont allés et plus jamais eu de nouvelles. ............... "

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