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!