Ingrandes Depot France 1963-1964

My father was in the U.S. Army for many years, he retired as a Master Sargeant, the highest ranking he could obtain without going back to school.

Through the years my father was assigned to many different positions (mainly finance, accounting, and instructing), and he was stationed in many distant locations.  I worried myself crazy while my father did his time in Viet Nam.  I remember the smell of mustiness from his clothes and duffel bags each time he came home on leave from that incredible place. I was glad to have him within my sight at those moments, despite knowing that he had to quickly return.  There were also tours of Korea and Germany that he filled, time away from the family.

I, as part of a military family, moved about quite a bit.  I will be writing more stories on that happiness later. It truly was an enjoyable life, except for the frequent pulling up of the roots.

I recently discovered the location of one of my father’s assignments, though, and I am thrilled.

My father was a grouchy man, as much as I dislike admitting it in public.  I honor him as a person.  He was a good man.  But he was not an openly supportive father.

We were stationed in France for several years, when I was 5 and 6 years old.  For many years I did not know exactly where we were stationed.  I could visualize, nearly pin-point, the area on a map, south and west of Paris, but there was no way for me to know the exact location.

On several occasions I asked my father exactly where did we live in France.  His response was jumbled and mumbled, “LaGrandes.”  My father was sharp as a tack, he did more than just serve our country (even after his retirement from the U.S. Army).  But I never did dare ask him additional questions.  He was proud, however, of the fact that I was able to travel to various places as a child.  He often said to me, and it was a loving thought, “How many children are lucky enough to say they got to live in France?”

A few weeks ago I sat down at the computer, mind you, I had done this many times before.  I decided to do one more Google search.  Instead of looking for “LaGrandes” I decided to look at the map, and then I looked for U.S. military bases located in France in the early 1960’s.

Oh my gosh.  I immediately saw search results:  Ingrandes Depot and Lafayette Village.  To say the least, I shed some tears.  I saw aerial photos here and here, and actually, after nearly 50 years, recognized the layout of the roads.

I am continuing my memories, my writing of them, at this point.  I have a lot to say, even as a young child the memories of buying French loaves of bread, visiting château’s on school field trips, seeing French gypsies in covered wagons, and tasting and smelling all of the French cuisine and luxurious goods, left a huge impression.

My parents might have been poor, I cannot imagine how they must have felt at 26 and 24 years old in a foreign country on a very minimal salary.  But it had to have been fun!

God bless my father for taking his children there.  Yes, dad, I was (and am) lucky!

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20 thoughts on “Ingrandes Depot France 1963-1964

  1. goatpod2 says:

    Both of my Grandpa’s were in the service and so was my Great Uncle. My Dad’s mom gets help through the Veteran’s Administration when she first went into the Assisted Living and we’ve been trying to get the same type of pension for my Mom’s Mom through the Veteran’s Administration, we’ve filed for it almost a year ago.

    Amy

  2. Bob Y. says:

    Hi Mary, I also lived in Ingrandes about the same time, and in Lafayette village. We also lived “on the economy” for a while. A great experience. Money was not important. Grade school teachers were great. I was 9, 10, and 11. Our school rooms were in quonsent huts!

      • Mary Humphrey says:

        Hi Jim.

        Would you love to go back and revisit some of it, in that time frame? I have had a handful of people email me that they, too, were there.

        Interesting…and 50-something years ago there was not a way, as we now have, to reach out and say, “I was there.”

  3. Steve K. says:

    I too was there from approximately 1960 until 1964 when at age of 7 we shipped back to the United States. I also remember living in house right on the square (until housing became available in Lafayette Village). I remember gypsies arriving in wagons and setting up camp in square in front of house. And local woman living next door telling my brothers and I to stay away from gypsies or they would steal us away from our Mom and Dad. And bakery around corner that sold the wonderful loaves of bread. I have faint memories of enjoying school and the French lessons. And a French family friend, Maurice, taking us to the taverns and getting us some type of cherry syruppy drink that was delicious.

  4. Steve K. says:

    I too was there from approximately 1960 until 1964 when at age of 7 we shipped back to the United States. I also remember living in house right on the square (until housing became available in Lafayette Village). I remember gypsies arriving in wagons and setting up camp in square in front of house. And local woman living next door telling my brothers and I to stay away from gypsies or they would steal us away from our Mom and Dad. And bakery around corner that sold the wonderful loaves of bread. I have faint memories of enjoying school and the French lessons. And a French family friend, Maurice, taking us to the taverns and getting us some type of cherry syrupy drink that was delicious.

    • Mary Humphrey says:

      Hello Steve. I love hearing from other people that were children during the same time frame that we lived in France. For us to remember our experiences so clearly, it must have been a wonderful time for us. I know it was.

      Even though we were told to stay away from the gypsies, and I did, I still had to take sneak peeks at them. It is difficult for people to fathom what we experienced, in the stories that we tell, nearly like something out of a movie.

      Thank you for your comments…and where do you live now?

      Pflugerville, Texas here.

  5. Sam Beltran says:

    I was stationed at the Ingrandes Depot with the 514th FM from 1962 to Dec 1963.If I remember correctly there was a Sgt Humphreys in my company. One of my sons was born at the Chinon Hospital on April 1963. My friend Ralph Palmer was stationed there also.

  6. John G says:

    I was stationed with my father there from ’59 until ’62. We were on the economy until they finished Lafayette village. We moved into the house and a week or two later the water tank collapsed and they had to run a pipe line from the depot until they fixed it. I went from 1st thru 4th grade at the base school. I even remember my first eclipse out on the play ground one day. My father retired in ’64

    • Mary Humphrey says:

      Wonderful. I love hearing from people that were stationed there. You were there a couple of years before us. I had forgotten that playground until you mentioned it! I remember a day when a cake was served at school, a holiday of some sort, with a small surprise baked into it. The child that received the surprise in their piece wore a crown for that day. I remember being on the playground wearing that crown. I think we have special memories, living where we did, attending the base school, and I love it that we have shared them here.

      • Mary Applegate says:

        I lived in Lafayette Village from approximately 1960-1963. We lived in what was called “little circle.” I had a classmate whose last name was Wall. (I forget her first name.) Anyway, she lived in “big circle,” and since I didn’t have a bicycle, her mother made her share her bike with me. I don’t think she was too happy about that, but we’d take turns riding around big circle. I went to school on base. My first grade teacher was Miss Maggio, my second grade teacher was Miss Jillson, and my third grade teacher was Miss Whittaker. We lived next to the Smiths. I still remember their names: Buster, Ronnie, Linda, Erna, Zelma, and Suzie. There was a woods not too far from us, and we didn’t go in it very often because the older kids told us that a one-eyed monster lived there. Other kids’ names I remember are Dannie Blessington, Charles O’Conner, Debbie Stacey, Marie Bryant, Teresa Daily,and Michael Hulbert. Did anyone know me then? My name is Mary Applegate, and my brothers were Robert (Bob) and David.

      • Mary Humphrey says:

        Mary, you have a fantastic memory! I now remember the circles. The woods – I did not stay out of them, even though I was warned to do so. Do you recall a Bailey family? They were our neighbors in the village, the next building over.

        I have always had difficulty with remembering names. I have fond and vivid memories of our overseas experience, though. Such a blessing for all if us to have been there.

        Hopefully, some of the other commenters will recognize the names that you have recalled in your comments.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mary,

    Sorry, I don’t recall the Baileys. Also, I didn’t know there was another building. I was only familiar with little circle and big circle, and I guess I thought that was the whole village. I do remember riding a bus to school. On the playground were a set of swings, a slide, and a game called tetherball. I grew to love that game because my older brother tricked me into playing it by promising to push me on the swings AFTER we played. Needless to say, he arranged things so that we never had time for the swings as in, “Oh sorry, is it time to swing? Gosh, there’s the bell for school.” After many months (I was six and slow), I caught on, but by that time I was hooked on tetherball and was probably the only girl who played. I remember riding home on the school bus, and French kids running alongside shouting “chewing gum?” and “cigarettes?” Clearly, we seemed rich to them because they were so poor. I remember wondering why they thought we would have cigarettes as many of us were so young; however, they were also young.

    I have to say it’s so good to communicate with someone who was actually there. We didn’t keep in touch with anyone from those years, and my family has been gone for some time now. For most of my life, I felt like this part of my childhood had disappeared in thin air because there was no one with whom I could talk to about these memories and places who would even have an inkling of what it was like, of what I was trying to say about it, of all the bits and pieces that fit together like a puzzle to make a childhood. Thank you for “listening.”

    Best,
    Mary

    • Mary Humphrey says:

      I get what you are saying. My parents have passed on. My sister is 12 years youner than me. My brother was a baby at the time. It is a chunk of my own history and memories that cannot be shared so easily (ans understood) — and here we — sharing! Thank you.

  8. Ellen Green says:

    I lived in Ingrandes between 1961 and 64. I was there for preschool and kindergarten. My mom sent me to a little French preschool maybe in Chatellerault? I am on vacation now and looking for anything I remember. We lived in LaFayette Village. Anyone else recall a preschool?

    • Mary Humphrey says:

      Hello Ellen, I do not remember a pre-school, but I only attended Kindergarten and 1st grade on base. I am in awe of how we have connected (where we were) after all of these years!

  9. Ellen Green says:

    Also, Mary, my parents had friends, Bill and Wanda Bailey, who’s boys, Jeff and Bill, were in my class!

    • Mary Humphrey says:

      Billy was my best friend! I remember him so clearly. I remember his family, but I am slightly fuzzy on them, except I do recognize the parent’s names. Thanks to you! Amazing! The pieces are fitting together for me, how about you? I hope they do.

  10. Mary Applegate says:

    Ellen Green, Sorry, I don’t recognize your name. I also don’t remember a pre-school, but I do remember a French school that my younger brother and I attended for a couple months when I was in first grade. It was a Catholic school with very strict French nuns. All the students had little blackboards and chalk where we wrote our notes.
    Sometimes we wrote in a notebook called “le petite cahier,” I think. We had really long lunch hours where we went home but then we came back until maybe 6:00 at night. I think we had either Wednesdays or Thursdays off and went to school on Saturdays. We transferred to the school on the American base shortly after, and I was glad for that. I was only 6 or 7. I barely knew English much less French! Once the French nun told us that we needed to bring money for a field trip that afternoon. So I told my mother, and she said to tell the nun “d’argent demain” (money tomorrow) but not to mix it up and say gendarmes demain” (because that means “police tomorrow”). So I practiced saying it again and again on the walk to school, but when I got to my class, I got mixed up and of course said the wrong thing, and the nun jitterbugged all over and started talking very fast in French, saying “ques que se? ” and finally called in the only nun who spoke English. She promptly asked me why the police were coming to school??? When they found out what I was trying to say, everybody laughed. Ok, you had to be there, but it was pretty funny. They looked so scared, those nun like they thought the police were really coming to arrest them.

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