THINGS BRATS OF A CERTAIN AGE WILL REMEMBER ABOUT LIVING OVERSEAS:

1. Stationary (and stamps) were a great gift; we could only stay in touch through letters. Those boxes of pretty stationary paper!!!!

2.  Phone calls taking place after 7 pm or 9 pm, because of rates.

3.  We all kind of had the same clothes – shopping at the BX (mail order took forever or didn’t deliver to APO/AE and no internet).

4.  Unless you shopped a lot on the economy – we were ahead/behind in fashion when moving stateside, depending!

5.  Unless you were lucky enough to go to London (or maybe Paris or Rome), no chain fast food was anywhere near. No McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. until we came “home.”

6.  Thanks to DoDDS, we had a great education when we got “home.”

7.  Although in some cases, when we took that foreign language in school stateside, chances are the teacher had never been to that country (Germany, France, and Spain – looking at you!), and we knew more about it than the teacher.

8. Listening to American Top 40 on the radio – a taste of home and Casey Kasim always sounded good!

9. One – just one – American TV station. But it showed the top shows of all three networks.

10.  And – no commercials! Such a shock coming back “home” and having cable AND commercials!

11.  Knowing what a lemon lot and American specs meant with cars.

12.  Staying in a “zimmer frei” or gasthof LONG before AirBnB showed up!

13.  Sometimes being the only Americans around… and knowing we needed to be on best behavior to represent well.

14.  The world seemed bigger but our bubble smaller without the internet, but wouldn’t trade those days for anything!

These are my memories of living in Miesenbach while my dad was stationed at Ramstein 1982-1985.

Becky Morgenstern Jones


Dancing on Tour Overseas

By Lynda Southworth

How I got chosen

On a summer day in 1959, I was walking down a street in the heart of Chicago when I saw a coach unit for testing for TB parked on the street. As I was walking by, the man standing at the doorway to the bus asked me if I needed a shot. I explained to him I always tested positive because at one time I had been exposed to someone who had TB and therefore only had chest x-rays every couple years. He then suddenly asked me if I knew how to dance. I looked at him skeptically, but answered, Yes, I had danced professionally. He then went on to explain that he was putting together a troop of entertainers to entertain American personnel in Europe and would I like to join the troop. Of course, I said yes emphatically. He took down my telephone number and personal information, then told me he would get in touch when he had something ready. I worked the rest of the summer in Chicago, but heard nothing from him. I decided, he was just a flim-flam man of no importance. I went back to Mankato State College and started first quarter of my Sophomore year. I dismissed the offer and forgot about it. Then in late November, I received a telegram asking if I still wanted to go. I replied, “Yes, Yes, and Yes! Send details.” In December I received a letter with details. It said, We’re all set – remember, Capital Airlines Flight # 336, Saturday, January 16th, 7:15 p.m. Be there an hour early if you can. The per diem per day is $9.00. They assured me, however, that our daily expenses would never exceed $4.00.I wrote back, “I’ll be there and on time!” 

What is wild is that he didn’t even know if I really could dance, had never seen me dance. He was just taking my word! Crazy!

The Flight from the USA to Germany.

Our entertainment troop flew from Chicago to Dover Air Force Base on the East Coast where MATS (Military Air Transport Service) flew to Europe. There we had to be vaccinated before leaving the United States. I called it “The Gauntlet of Pain.” We walked down a line of medics on either side of us who each had a needle.

Plunge left, plunge right, walk forward,

Next medics,

Plunge left, plunge right, walk forward.

Repeat and repeat and repeat…

Those were BIG needles then and HURT!!! I hate needles! It seemed we were vaccinated for every disease ever on earth and some make believe ones thrown in for good measure. 

Afterwards, George, our manager, informed us that we had an hour before departure, so we all went to the duty-free shop. I looked over everything, finally made a purchase, and was ready to leave. I looked around and everyone was gone. At that moment, George came running in, grabbed my arm shouting, “They are ready to leave! We’re going to miss the flight.”

We ran out the gate, onto the tarmac and saw a young man rolling the stairs away from the plane. George hollered, “Hold the plane! We’re coming!” The young man took one look at us and rolled the stairs back into place. He smiled largely saying, “At your service, Miss,” as I passed and thanked him. The door above opened as we climb the stairs.

George went to the seat saved for him by the other manager. I looked for a seat, but the plane was nearly full. Only two seats facing the bulkhead were available. I sat down with my knees inches from the bulkhead thinking, “This is going to be the flight from _ _ _ _”, since in addition to the bulkhead, the seats only went back a few inches. I was resigned. 

Thirty seconds later, we were in the air. I wondered where my angel on my shoulder was? 

The five week tour included Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. It was sponsored under the auspice of the Department of the Army Armed Forces Professional Entertainment Branch, Washington DC and was not a USO unit.

To be continued–


A Host Nation Halloween

Teaching our German landlord’s kids, Karli und Peter the finer points of pumpkin carving for Halloween in 1957. Behind mom and Els you can see our kitchen. Mom has basically a cold water sink and a hot plate. Washing the dishes (as I remember) was done first in cold, soapy water, then rinsed with hot water heated by the hot plate. Sometimes several pots of water needed to be heated. Good times…. photo and memory by Kim Medders.