We got the opportunity to travel a good deal while dad was stationed in Italy. We both traveled around Italy, but also many places in Europe as well. We spent time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and several other countries. It was a real education. We didn't have money for hotels so we camped. We camped all over Europe in our trusty VW microbus. We became expert campers. What with the six of us, we had very limited space for clothing in our VW microbus. Everything had to be multi-purpose.
We actually visited France on our way to live in Italy. Here is a family snapshot in front of the Eiffel Tower. This photo was taken in March of 1958, when I was 7 1/2 years old. I'm not sure why we boys weren't wearing ties, but had buttoned up our shirts to the top. The noticed differences in clothing as soon as we arrived in Europe. We were amazed at the French boys our age wearing very high cut shorts and berets. We certainly stood out as foreigners. At this time we'd had about 6 hours of sleep after a 22 hour plane ride. The U.S. did not have commercial jet travel at this point, so we sat backwards in an Air Force cargo air plane with no hot food.
We got the opportunity to travel a good deal while dad was stationed in Italy. We both traveled around Italy, but also many places in Europe as well. We spent time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and several other countries. It was a real education. We had great fun as a family, but I don't think we fully appreciated just what a fantastic experience it was. As boys we took it rather much for granted. Looking back it really was a wonderful opportunity that few American kids were fortunate enough to experience. Here I am in the Tivoli Gardens in Denmark (figure 1). I was always amazed at the places where dad could take that car. We spent a lot of time negotiating mountain trails, especially in the Alps. There is a picture of us at the end of a 10 Km Alpine track that was literally a goat path a points. I still remember my mother trembling "Oh, Ed" at my dad when the drop cliffs were many 100s of meters high.
We didn't have money for hotels on our travels so we camped. We camped all over Europe in our trusty VW microbus. We became expert campers. The luggage rack on the trusty VW mirobus contained a minor small town; two tents, a dining fly, a complete kitchen, and a portable privy for the girls. We got to the point where we could set up the entire site in 25 minutes, including the first pot of boiling water for diner. I'm the one in the back center wearing my preferred working outfit, shorts
and a pair of Keds sneakers. I'm half way through pumping up the air mattresses. This shot also gives some indication of the inside of our car.
Fitting a family of six in a 1958 VW Microbus for a 2-week tour
caused us to make double, and triple, duty of everything we wore. Here
is Robin, me, Rink, and Dave in front of our noble steed. We all took
turns in the coveted rear seat (farthest from mom and dad). Here we are in the Alps. Notice that all
the boys are wearing identical shorts. My dad found some "real American" shorts at a RCAF base exchange, but they only had one style and color. We liked them anyway, as our Italian short pants were extremely short, exposing our legs to the hot, sticky plastic seat covers in the VW.
Something that I'd totally forgotten about was the classic buckle front
yellow raincoat with the full head covering helmet. This picture is
taking at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. My dad found it
while were sorting old 35mm slides. You may note that it is a sunny
day. What with the six of us, we had very limited space for clothing in our VW microbus. Everything had to be multi-purpose, so
here is my rain coat, windbreaker, and overcoat. While some of my
friends thought these raincoats were sissy stuff, I remember that it
actually kept me quite dry. As a teenager walking through the rain in
my leaky windbreaker I had fond memories of that style coat.
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