USAF Postal Service Paris France 1965-1966
Paris, France, was the center for postal operations in France for the United
States Air Force. I was assigned there in 1965 to finish out the last months of my enlistment. So I
threw mail sacks and rode a mail truck. Let's ignore the Air Force
manpower decision which sent me there. I was sent. I went. I served. I survived.
I went home.
You'd think working in a great city like Paris, France, with all the
history, fabulous vistas, impressive monuments, wonderful museums, beautiful
people, flea markets, bakeries, street markets, and unforgettable gardens with fountains would be really wonderful.
Well, you'd be right. I loved it. I learned enough French to get along. In
general, I felt right at home. I never did have a bad experience at the hands of
French people. I've even been back several times and have the same impression.
Ignore the current flap over Iraq. (2003) No one gets everything right. And,
anyway, any culture that thinks Jerry Lewis is a genius can't be all bad. I
mean, to have the willingness to admit to such a thing is wonderful. They must
be very secure.
I passed the Eiffel Tower just about every day I was in town. The compound
where I worked was in a near by section of the city. Click HERE
to see what the Eiffel Tower looks like right now with this link to a live web
cam. Also click HERE to see some of my postcard
collection of the Eiffel Tower.
The French people were very nice to me. I do not know where tourists find
such terrible experiences to relate about the French. To me they were great. I
have returned as a tourist more than a dozen times since 1966. It is still
wonderful. My wife and I even visited Paris on our honeymoon.
My job in Paris with the Air Force was as a mail truck guard, courier, and registered mail/documents
person. That job ran twelve hours per day for three days in a row. Then I had the
next four days of the week off. Such a schedule. My buddy David Hennessee and
I would trade shifts occasionally to allow for longer periods when we could be
away. Officially and legally, this is called being AWOL. I was never
caught since David Hennessee and I covered for each other when we knew the other
might not make it back from a vacation. We never missed a shift. Lucky, I guess.
The Captain in charge told us we could not trade shifts. So we did.
I also liked working the dead letter section on the top floor of the
building. There all the letters which could not be delivered were sent. I liked
the challenge of trying to figure out the foreign to me writing. I am sure I
sent on some items that ended up in the right hands.
I spent quite a bit of time working on old German and French clocks. The
flea market was really rich in those days of 1965. I've been back several times
since and it's nothing like it once was. Then you could find all kinds of stuff.
Now it is mostly new clothes and African art.
Aside from clocks I also spent quite a bit of time traveling around in my VW
Camping Bus. The bus and I met the back of a large truck one night. After the
crash, I spent two weeks in the Air Force Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany. When
the bus was repaired, and I was repaired, off I went for several more
experiences until it was time to return to the USA.
The VW was where I lived and slept while stationed in Paris. There were probably
no two or three nights in a row when I slept in exactly the same place, twice. I would
park the VW where ever I happened to be. Go to sleep, wake up in the morning, go
back to the compound, get a shower, and be off for another day. The Air Force
paid for me to have a hotel room but I used the money to pay the payment on the
bus and to travel. I went everywhere from Capri, Italy to Hamburg,
Germany. Spain, Austria, all over France, and to most corners of Switzerland.
Check out my photographs from that time. Click HERE.
The VW stayed with me when I returned to the USA. It finally died on a
highway in Wisconsin in about 1972 after a couple engines and three
transmissions. It never did need to have a brake job. Go figure.