|Assignment to Toul Rosieres AB in 1955 - The Experiences of Richard and Helen Burton
The New Trailer Park
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 trailer parks go, It was really a nice one. We hadn't noticed the construction going on that summer and fall because we never drove over to that part of the base, but when we were notified that we could move into one of those new Belgian mobile homes, we went over to look at it. What a pleasant surprise.
It was a long, forested trailer park stretched across the west side of the base. The north end of it was across from the hospital and the south end was near the flight line. There were three streets running the length of it parallel to the main street from the hospital area to the flight line, and they were connected by cross streets at the north and south ends. The French regulations had insured that most of the trees would be saved, so the Army Engineers had cleared only the spaces where the trailers would be placed. They were widely spaced so that each home would have a large lawn. The streets were black topped and each trailer had a paved parking drive. The trees made all the difference, and it was probably the most attractive trailer park of any base in France.
We were assigned Lot F-5 on the first street next to the main street. We could look out our front window across a cleared field that would one day be athletic fields, and we could see the Communications Center where I worked. After having lived six months in that tiny caravan, we thought we were living in luxury when we moved into that brand new mobile home at the end of November. The big, boxy silver ones like ours were all the same inside. The living room at the front had a metal framed, red cushioned couch and matching chair. The windows all had Venetian blinds and curtains. In that same front area was a nice blond wood table and four metal framed chairs. There was a cherry wood counter with shelves underneath that divided the kitchen from the living area. The kitchen area had cherry wood cabinets, a gas stove, a double sink, and a gas hot water heater above the sink. On the other side was a kerosene heating unit, a full size refrigerator, and a broom closet. Through a sliding door, the central hallway had bunk beds for two kids on the right and closets on the left. Past the bunk beds was the bathroom with sink, vanity, toilet and a sit-down bathtub/shower with glass door. At the back of the trailer was the bedroom with a double bed and shelves across the back. There was also a back door out of that bedroom. Everything in the trailer was solid and well made - nothing ever broke down while we were there
We quickly settled into a new routine by December. Paul, the Frenchman we had rented from in Liverdun, came by frequently to change gas bottles if one of our two was empty. A fuel truck from Base Installations came by every week or two to top off the barrel on a wooden rack that contained the fuel oil for our heating unit. All of this, plus the rent, was paid for by our housing allowance automatically. We brought several of our things, such as Helen's cedar chest, from the storage hut, and soon had the trailer very homey and comfortable. Our washing machine was moved to the new utility building in the middle of the trailer court, and we soon worked out a system for one of us to do the wash while the other watched Cynthia. A friend at the Base Installations office made us a metal clothesline rack from steel pipes and had a couple of guys set it up in our back yard. Toul Rosieres was a small, close knit, friendly community that winter, and we all looked out for each other.
By mid December, our friends, the Bowers and the Peters, had also moved into new trailers close to ours, and we often visited each other for snacks or coffee and cake. Helen's morning sickness of August and September had ended, and she was cooking meals with the new stove. She found that its oven worked quite well, so she often baked muffins, cookies, cakes or pies. She enjoyed cooking and she was a good cook in the old fashioned sense - everything from scratch. Our friends liked coming over for her home made goodies. We often had some of the single guys who worked with me come over for Sunday dinner. A close friend, John Oliver, came quite often, and sometimes we had two or three extra places set for dinner. It all culminated with a big Christmas party that moved back and forth between our trailer and the Bowers' trailer. Christmas morning, Cynthia had her first real Christmas with a doll and a rocking chair we had bought in the Base Exchange, and later on we had friends over for Christmas dinner.
The construction of the trailer park had necessitated clearing the forest floor, so when we moved in that winter, our lawns were bare, stony dirt. Assuming that we all wanted nice green lawns by the next summer, the Base Installations office suggested that we could all work together to make it happen. The rakes and shovels were provided, and in February and March we all raked the stones and rocks out of our yards, put them in piles by the road, and a truck and crew came by and picked them up. We were then given grass seeds and we planted them. The rains came - they always did in France - and the grass grew. By May and June, we had nice green lawns, and we were proud of what we had accomplished.
It had been a cold winter at times, but we were starting to have some nice days by March. Helen was due to have a baby in April, so we weren't doing much traveling around during those early weeks of 1956. A trip to the Base Exchange or Commissary, or maybe a drive over to the Post Exchange at Toul Depot was about the extent of what we did during that time. We continued to have friends over, and there was even a child's birthday party in March, but we had put most things on hold until our new child had arrived. That was to be a different, unique adventure.
End of Chapter 5