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By Joan Olson
My husband and I were stationed in London in 1960. We were both teachers with the Department of Defense Schools there. We lived in an old Regency mansion across the street from Kensington Palace. The living room had a mirror that extended from the ceiling to the floor that was at least 15feet high. The room had very heavy red velvet drapes that probably had not been laundered for years. But we loved that room.
The kitchen was about the size of a small walk-in closet. The table was a built in ledge and it had a very small sink, a stove, and that was all, but we loved that old mansion, and we especially loved the location across the street from the Palace.
Foggy London, as it was known then, had smog and fog almost every day, but we loved London. It was nearing Christmas, so we thought that we would enjoy a sunny, warmer vacation and chose the Costa del Sol in Spain. We had our own car, a Sunbeam Alpine , which we packed with clothing that would be perfect for a warmer, sunny vacation and off we set for the sun.
We took a ferry to Calais, France, and drove down the Atlantic coast through Bordeaux and then to San Sabastian for another overnight. Heading out the next morning, we spent another night in Burgos. The weather was somewhat like we thought it would be, and we were pleased.
Our next stop was Madrid; we stayed in a very luxurious Hotel Ritz. The exchange rate for the dollar was very good, which made it possible for this luxury. Our trip was really pleasant, and we were looking forward to our final destination, Torremolinos, Spain. We drove through Malaga, which we planned on visiting on the way back.
At last we arrived in Torremolinos and checked into our hotel. It was not like the Hotel Ritz. The town as a little more than a sleepy village, and in the 60’s, it was not yet used to waves and waves of tourists. It was Christmas Eve which was a very important holiday here. Christmas evening was a little bit different from previous evenings. Little children came to our door and sang beautiful songs, and one was “The Little Drummer Boy.”
We turned out the lights and got into bed. It was freezing! But where were the blankets—extra blankets ? There were none. We put on our coats, and sox– and continued to be cold. So cold, in fact, that we got shoes on and went to our car and spent the rest of the night there with the heater going. So I guess I would say, we spent ½ a night in Torremolinos. I wonder if that hotel is still there, now that it is 2017?
By Joan Y. Olson
It was December, 1957, and my husband and I were stationed in Izmir, Turkey. I was a teacher in a Turkish girls’ college, and my husband was teaching in the American Military Defense Department school. We had just been married for 4 months, and this was our first Christmas away from the USA.
We saved as much money as we could so that we could travel to Germany and France, and we were very excited to see these countries. We flew from Izmir to Frankfurt ,Germany, and then took a train to Wurzburg and checked into a hotel. My husband had been stationed in this city as a soldier in WWII. So walking up the hill from town to Leighten Barracks, a German man called out to us. He ran up to my husband and threw his arms around him. He had worked at the same barracks and knew my husband. I was absolutely amazed that this man had remembered him. This was a good start to our vacation.
We rented a car the next day so that we could drive to Kitzingen to my husband’s cousin’s house. Her husband was in the Army and stationed there. Just 10 miles out of Wurzburg on Christmas Eve on a very cold evening and absolutely no traffic or cars on the snowy road, we ran out of gasoline. Of course all gas stations were closed and we were stranded. Finally a car was coming down the road and my husband jumped out and waited for the driver to see us. A German man stopped and got out of his car and asked if he could help us. We told him that we had no gas. He then went to his car and got a can of gas and poured it into our car. He would not take any payment and called out to us “Frohe Weihnachten” and drove away. What a wonderful event to always remember. We will never forget this wonderful German.
We drove on to Kitzingen to my husband’s cousin’s house . We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with them. The next day –Christmas Day-we left and drove to the Hotel Lamm in Wurzberg and turned in our rented car.
We took a train to Frankfurt but our flight to Paris was cancelled because of heavy fog so we were put on a train to Paris. We stayed in this beautiful city for three days. I will never forget what a great time we had here. Next we flew to Rome and were there for New Year’s eve. What delicious Italian food we had and the prices were very inexpensive as the country was still recovering from the war and the dollar exchange was very strong.
Our vacation was coming to an end now. We flew to Athens, Greece and then back home to Izmir. A vacation we will always remember.
WELCOMING THE COX COLLECTION & A DECEMBER 10 HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE IN THE MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY IN TIJERASPosted: November 24, 2017
Free Admission, December 10, 12:30 – 4:30
The tools, musical instruments, garments, art work, and personal effects gathered by Dorothy Alonzo Cox from Libya, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and England are on display in Tijeras at the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) and open to the public for the first time as part of a holiday open house in the Museum.
Visitors can tap out a tune on a Filipino Tallentang – eight brass gongs — and examine a leather camel whip. They can see a Victorian bug collection from England and a carved skull used for after-dinner drinks and the skin of a tiger shot by a police officer in India. There are brass trays, camel saddles, Coptic containers, and paintings of Arab and African village scenes and craftsmen. The Cox Collection has a little something for everyone.
Dorothy Cox lost her husband in the Korean War and decided to dedicate her teaching career to the Defense Department (DoD) Schools around the world; and just before her death in August 2016, she made it known she wanted to share her collections in a way where other DoD teachers and students, as well as the general public, could enjoy them, and her family presented them to MAMF. They are now on display in the MAMF Library right next to Schooling with Uncle Sam, a permanent exhibit tracing the history and evolution of the DoD schools, which includes descriptions by teachers and students about studying art with the Louvre in your front yard, or receiving your high school diploma in a Roman amphitheater, or making school field trips to Hiroshima or the Berlin Wall.
The history of the American military family is shown in a series of information panels spaced around a real house furnished just as a military family would have it – pictures on the mantel, starch and ironing board at the ready, uniforms handy, a wheel chair, cabinets loaded with beer steins, coffee cups, and tee shirts betraying where the family has been, and scrapbooks and photo albums from World War I to Iraq.
Other MAMF exhibits include panels depicting the sacrifice and service of military families, perspectives of military family life, and “G.I. Jokes,” which features a humorous look at military life through the pens of noted cartoonists and the characters they created.
The MAMF library also archives more than 500 books by and about military family life and folios of first-hand stories recounting events and experiences of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, and others who have loved and supported a member of America’s armed forces. MAMF has provided historical and personal material about third-culture children to university researchers, filmmakers, and historians from California to Germany and hosts discussion programs enabling civilians and Veterans to share thoughts and insights about the effects of war on family life.
Those effects of war are visible in an intimate memorial to a 14-year-old Vietnamese girl shown in a painting by an American soldier who watched her die as a result of a cross-fire and lamented that he was unable to help her. At the Museum entrance is a model bamboo cage like those used for prisoners of war in Vietnam, serving as a further reminder of the effects of war.
MAMF has published four anthologies: From the Frontlines to the Home Front – New Mexicans Reflect on War; War Child – Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War; SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth; and Home Front Hearth, a collection of favorite recipes gathered from around the world by military families. The books are for sale in the museum gift shop.
The December 10 Holiday Open House runs from 12:30 to 4:30 and is free to the public. Attendees are invited to bring a military or international Christmas ornament to help decorate the MAMF holiday tree.
People often ask us what kinds of things we are looking for to put in the museum. Here’s a short list of items we’re focusing on right now:
•Plates, mugs, glasses from any military installation
•Collectible spoons that have different cities on the handles-both from US and overseas
•tees from military installations
•Food product boxes, cans, alcohol bottles ( empty) with labels that reflect the military. ( We are doing a new kitchen exhibit.)
•Military or patriotic Christmas tree ornaments
•DODDS, DODEA or International school memorabilia
•Beer Coasters from overseas
•Scrapbooking supplies- military & travel stickers, photo mounting tape, acid-free albums, etc.
•Military unit patches
Your tax deductible donation can be mailed to:
Museum of the American Military Family
PO Box 5085
Albuquerque, NM 87185
•We are also collecting written memory pieces from spouses and kids who were stationed in Bad Hersfeld or Fulda at any time. These can be emailed to us at:
Thank you for helping us grow!
The Museum of the American Military Family is part of the Combined Federal Campaign ( CFC). Our CFC number is 57056. Please consider supporting us on CFC.