|Assignment to Toul Rosieres AB in 1955 - The Experiences of Richard and Helen Burton
Ch 1 Getting to France
Ch 2 Liverdun
Ch 3 The Old Trailer Park
Ch 4 Getting to Know France
Ch 5 The New Trailer Park
Ch 6 A New Arrival and Big Changes
Ch 7 Summertime Excursions
Ch 8 A Pleasant Autumn in France
Ch 9 Our Last French Spring
Ch 10 Our Grand Tour
Ch 11 Au Revoir
Ch 12 Going Back to Toul-Rosieres
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As the summer of 1957 was drawing to an end, we realized and regretted that we would not be in France for another one. We had thought that our vacation trip to Italy and Switzerland in July had been the ultimate experience of our memorable tour in France, but there were yet to be more enjoyable experiences that fall and winter before we departed the following February for Spain. We made some short forays off base in those ensuing months, but much of what took up our time was within the Air Force community at Toul Rosieres. The base had grown and matured during our years there, and that fall we felt we were part of a dynamic, very important part of the NATO mission in Europe. Little did we realize that, in a few short years, our TRAB would become a dim memory, even within the Air Force.
We settled back into the routine of my work at Base Communications, attending University of Maryland college classes, and socializing with our friends evenings and weekends. It was a very pleasant life - Canasta games with the Bowers and the Peters, shopping at the BX or the Commissary, and dressing up for Mass on Sundays. Helen was busy with our two little girls and preparing home cooked meals every day. Amidst all this, one day in late summer I saw an article in the Stars and Stripes which said airmen currently overseas could apply for a consecutive tour in Spain. Without really expecting to get it, I applied. In December, to our surprise, we got notified that we would be going to Torrejon AB near Madrid. Our affinity for living in Europe was to be rewarded - three more years in Spain.
Little things added variety to our lives as summer turned to fall. Sometimes we just took the base perimeter road around the west end of the runway and went out the back gate to take the road to Toul Army Depot. When there, we shopped in the Army PX and had lunch in the Snack Bar. One weekend in September, the base sponsored an old fashioned carnival set up on the ramp near the control tower. There was a carousel and other rides for little kids, and bumper cars for older kids. They even were givng short flights for a small fee in the base C-47. We went with the Peters, and it was like a small town carnival back in the States.
Hi-fi radios and record players were all the rage in those years. In October, we bought a pretty, blonde wood Grundig in the BX, and soon had a collection of long play albums that we listened to over and over again. We remember that we soon learned that we couldn't slam the door or jump around on the floor when the music was playing - any jolt would cause the needle to jump and scratch the record.
November's calendar was full of small and big events that year. The girls played inside more because it was cold and blustery outside, but sometimes they bundled up and played with the tricycle outside. We went out to the NCO Club for dinner a few times with the Peters. Our long time friends, the Bowers, were leaving for the States, so we had a going away party for them in our trailer. We visited our friends, the Campbells, who had been Valerie's godparents, at their French apartment in the small, nearby town of St. Nicholas. We even had an early snow and made a small snowman for Cynthia and Valerie.
The big trip that November was a Christmas shopping weekend in Frankfurt. It wasn't the greatest weekend to go because the weather turned quite cold and blustery, but we found a nice gasthaus and bought several presents in German shops. When we got back, the weather turned warm for the big event of the year for Toul Rosieres - the USAFE Championship footbal game. When the 50th FBW had come to Toul in 1956, they had created the Toul Tigers. That year they won the France Championship but lost to Wiesbaden for the USAFE title. In 1957, they had rolled over all opposition, and met Wiesbaden again for the championship game. It was played in Pepiniere Park in Nancy on 16 November. We went. The stadium was full of Toul fans. In a close, thrilling game, the Toul Tigers won their only USAFE Championship by a score of 20 to 19.
By early December, the weather was colder, we had received our next assigment, and everyone was getting ready for Christmas. All the squadrons on base put up decorations near their barracks and orderly rooms, One cool morning, we ventured out and took photos of several of the holiday displays. The Transportation Squadron even made a Santa Train and drove around the trailer park on a cold, cloudy afternoon giving away candy to all the kids. It was a fun time for all at Toul Rosieres.
The weekend before Christmas, we drove into Nancy, went to Place Stanislas, and bought a nice, six foot tree from a French vendor. We had fun with the girls putting up the tree and letting them put some of the tinsel on it. Early Christmas morning, they were up marveling at their new toys and dolls. We dressed up later in the day, and went over to the Peters' trailer for an evening dinner with champagne. It was our third Christmas in our trailer, and our last in France.
The old year ended and the new year began with an evening at the NCO Club with the Peters. Helen dressed up in a semi-formal dress that had been her bridesmaid's dress at my sister's wedding in 1954. I wore a dark brown suit. We always dressed when we went out in those days.
With the advent of January came our first big snowfall of the winter. We were almost snowed in for a day or two. I went out and took several pictures of our base covered in a blanket of white.
A couple of weekends later, all the snow was gone, and Helen wanted to get her hair done one more time by her favorite French beautician in Pont-a-Mousson. It was a very nice, January day when we drove over there, and while she was in the beauty shop, I walked around the town with the girls taking a few pictures of the plaza, stores and a restaurant.
A few days later, we got our second big snow of the winter - even more than the first one. We borrowed a sled from our neighbors, and took the girls for their first sled ride. We also built them a big snowman in the middle of our yard.
With only a couple weeks remaining before we were to leave, I decided that we should drive over to see the St. Mihiel Monument dedicated to the Americans who had fought and died there in World War I. That was our last excursion off base until the morning we left in mid February. It had turned out that the Peters were leaving at the same time we were, so on the morning that we said farewell to our trailer home and drove away from Toul Rosieres for the last time, their whole family was in the back seat of our Ford. We drove them to Paris where we all stayed overnight in a nice hotel before we said goodbye to them the next morning. They took a flight from Orly Field, and we drove south toward Spain. We stayed in a small hotel on the French coast south of Bordeaux where we had a wonderful sea food soup. The next morning we crossed into Spain, and by late afternoon we were in Madrid. That is another story.
End of Chapter 11