Patricia Self

We were really lucky as a family, because we went to Japan in 1953 and Germany in 1960. My dad was sent to Korea in 1952 and we moved to Riverside, CA to be close to March AFB. When hostilities ended, he was assigned to FEAF in Tokyo and we boarded the E.D. Patrick to cross the Pacific and join him. My mom, sister, brother, and I went to Fort Mason while we waited for the process to begin. We’d all had our shots (so many) and immunizations. My mom came down with the ‘flu and there I was, age 9, with siblings 3 and 1. Off we went to find a meal, three times a day. Finally, it was time to board the ship. My mom was a little better, but that soon changed as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the ocean. Seasick? Oh, yes, all of us! My mom had been an Army RN in WWII and sailed both Atlantic and Pacific, but I think having had the flu weakened her system. Still, the day the ship docked in Yokohama was one of great happiness for all of us.

Off-base housing was “private rental,” and we lived in a large home owned by a Tokyo banker and his family. One wing was ours, with a private garden. Tatami mats in every room, a kitchen that I loved but was a nightmare for my mom and Sumiko, our maid. Water was obtained from huge bottles of purified origin. School (at Washington Heights) was reached via bus, which arrived each day at the bottom of a long hill beside our house. One day while waiting at the bus stop, I heard a scream that echoed in the air around us. When I returned from school that day, I discovered that Sumiko had caught her hand in the wringer of our quartermaster washing machine.

After Japan, it was Northern Virginia while my dad was at the Pentagon. And then, off to Wiesbaden where he was at USAFE. It was my junior year in high school, 1960, and HH Arnold High School (now Wiesbaden High School) was located in the Hainerberg housing area. The BX was also there, as well as the Taunus theater (where our graduation was held). We were there four years, and I went to the U of MD at Munich, where I lived in a dorm. Back to Wiesbaden, where I married after a year or so.

My then-husband couldn’t wait to be ex-Air Force, although I’d envisioned life as an Air Force wife, traveling forever. That didn’t happen, but all my ex-husbands were prior service, and I guess that counts for something! Instead, I travel by auto, whenever I can. My last airplane ride was to and from Hawai’i, and all the fun has gone out of traveling in the air. Awful seats, nothing in the way of “service,” and has anybody ever had to change flights and found the necessary boarding gates to be close together? My personal worst is DFW, where it is possible to transit and still be in time for boarding the next flight, but the last time I had to do it I was so happy that I was healthy and nimble!

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