Monday, May 01, 2006

My World Travels

1956...What a year. I graduated from Renton High School, in Washington State. Entered the US Air Force in Mid-June of that year. After basic training at a no longer existing Air Base, Parks AFB in the Bay Area, and completing technical training in Texas, I was transferred to Casablanca, Morocco...

I spent two weeks in New York City. I and a friend, wandered around the city rubbernecking. We happened onto a television network studio. I don't remember which one. In those days, videotape didn't exist. All network programs were live. A rehearsal was in progress for the Andy Williams Show. He had a popular female singer there, I think Patti Page, and the star attraction, Jackie Robinson, retired from the Brooklyn Dodgers. I collected his autograph while we were there.

Casablanca...What a place...What a culture shock for a country boy. Beaches with topless beauties, (the French influence) and an international experience that probably can't be topped anywhere else.

Dating back to the early 1900's, Tangier, was a free port, meaning that you didn't have to have a passport to enter, or to establish residency. Later, Tangier became part of Morocco.

The huge melting pot of Europeans and North Africans was amazing. We had many White Russians, fleeing the Bolsheviks after the revolution in Russia, Italians, Spaniards, a large Hebrew community, perhaps the only friendly place in the Arab world for Jewish people to live. Also, some of the restaurants and bars were owned by expatriate Americans, that had accepted their discharge from the occupying U.S. Army, after WW11.

While stationed there, I had the opportunity to visit Spain several times, including a visit with Tony Culebras, an exchange student at Renton High School. Also Germany, mostly around Frankfurt-an-main, known to us all during the Berlin Airlift as Rhein-Main AFB.

I also got to England, where I visited London, and also a trip to Mildenhall AFB near Cambridge, of great renown as an educational center. A side trip to Lisbon, Portugal was also enjoyed during that time. Ireland, France, and Labrador finished off the places I visited. I just wish now that I had taken more time to see what was really important in these places, but alas, I was only 19 or 20.

I could,however, give you a lecture on German Beer, the Fischerstube, and other great tourist joints in Frankfurt...

No comments: