Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday Travels ~ Retracing our steps...

     Mom loves to read my Thursday Travels and suggested that one day we take a road trip (Thelma & Louise style I'm sure) to retrace our travels that we did when I was growing up.  I'm sure that most of the Air Force bases that we lived at have changed.

Library of Congress
Prints & Photographs Division

     I was born on Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois in 1960something.  The base itself opened in 1917 and closed in 1993, and was one of the initial World War I bases for what was then the U.S. Army Air Service.  It was where 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed ~ later known as the the Tuskegee Airmen before moving on to Alabama.

     Sometime around 1964, we spent a year in Richardson, Texas while Dad finished one of his Master's Degrees.  The only thing I remember about Texas is a home movie made by my dad and uncles of some gingerbread pillows that my aunt had made us "walking" around the house at Christmas.  It is funny the things that we remember.

Turner Air Force Base, Georgia. Airphoto taken 3 January 1964
Source: United States Geological Survey
     Turner AFB, in Albany, Georgia was the next stop.  It was turned over to the Navy by 1967, and then closed in 1976.  In 1978 most of it was purchased by the Miller Brewing Company for a brewing refinery, with the remainder of the base now being used by a Department of Labor Job Corps Center.  What I remember most about Georgia was the little girl who lived across the street who would steal the tomatoes from the plants my Mom grew in the front yard and then throw them at our house.  Wicked little girl!

Beale AFB
     From Georgia we moved to Beale AFB in Northern California.  Beale AFB was established in 1942 with roads that were built using dredge material from abandoned gold mines.  During WWII it housed German POWs, and in 1966 became home to world's fastest jet, the SR-71 Blackbirds for the next 25 years.

     In 1969 we flew off to Wiesbaden, (West) Germany... which would be a little hard to include on our road trip.  Located along the Rhine River, across from Mainz, we spent our four years there in the Aukamm military housing built just after WWII outside of the tiny suburb of Bierstadt.  Translated to be "Beer Town" it was actually founded by Irish monks who named it for St. Brigid in 927AD.

Original photogravure by John Andrew & Son, c1907
         From 1973 to 1974, Dad spent a year in Viet Nam and Thailand, while we lived in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Scottsdale was originally home to the Hohokam Indians from 800-1400 AD who farmed and built more than 125 miles of canals, some of which still exist today.  It then become home to the Pima and Maricopa Native American Indians.

Public Domain
     Upon his return from Viet Nam in 1974, Dad became one of the central engineers in May 1975 for constructing the Operation New Arrivals Vietnamese refugee camp at Eglin AFB, Florida, which brought us to Tyndall AFB, FL where he stayed until he retired in the early 1980's.

     Named after 1Lt Frank Benjamin Tyndall, it was opened on 13 January 1941... just about the time my Mom was conceived so it would be an appropriate place to end our road trip at a place that was "born" at same time.


  1. WOW! it must have been hard in a lot of ways, moving around so much. But fun, too! esp the Germany bit!

    1. Yes and no. It made it difficult to make friends because as a child I was pretty boofoo ugly with red hair, freckles, bifocal glasses and braces on my legs at one point. But it also made me love to travel, see new things, try new things, and become a bookaholic because my first place found was always the school or local library where I knew I would always have friends.

  2. Okay, it will be a "Thelma and Louise" road trip, but please please, NO flying off the Grand Canyon, I'm afraid of heights. And can the car be a vinage MGTF..........:o) LYL

    1. I've never seen the entire movie, so had forgotten about the flying off the edge of the Grand Canyon. I've never seen that part, had only heard of it. I can picture YOU picking up Brad Pitt, however! I love you too, Mom!