March, 2015:


College senior me in  a friend's MGB

College senior me in a friend’s MGB

In the US, most of us can trace our histories by the cars we owned, used, or learned to drive in. Not to mention the cars that provided room for early sexual exploration. Whether you “made out” or “went all the way,” who doesn’t remember a few cars that were special? The Mustang has been a favorite of mine, from the 1964 original when I was a young wife to the 1998 model I currently drive.

At age 16, my first driving lessons were in my dad’s 1953 white Ford convertible. My mother was my first instructor, but she was so nervous in the passenger seat she was already slamming on the imaginary brakes a half block from a stop sign in a residential area. The top was down so visibility was great, but my mom was a worrier. My dad didn’t fare much better, although he stayed calm during the lesson. “I need a beer,” he exclaimed to Mom when we got home safely. I got my learner’s permit but no car for me or permission to drive the family Ford. I’ve used a photo of me sitting on that Ford’s hood in Tripoli for previous blogs.

Driving lessons in an old Nash Rambler were the perfect excuse for a boyfriend to get a few kisses and a little “petting,” as we called it then. After a little night driving practice, we found a likely spot for some innocent action. A few kisses later, we were in the sights of a large flashlight brandished by a policeman. It was just a warning that where we had parked was inappropriate–the grounds of an Episcopal seminary. I was embarrassed but I doubt my boyfriend was. When  he took me home that night, he walked me to the door in his socks. Some other local cops pulled up and, suspicious about the socks, questioned him, he told me later. When they got a close-up view of this clean-cut student and interviewed him, they realized he was quite reputable and not a potential burglar.

In college, one of my favorite memories was the white Corvette driven by the charming Army lieutenant from nearby Ft. Eustis who squired me about. He had more money to spend than the typical college underclassman and besides having a sports car was a talented singer and guitar player (folk songs, as in the fairly recent movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”). Making out by a Virginia lake in spring, however, wasn’t a good choice. Although the sounds of bullfrogs were interesting, the next day I was taking semester exams and could barely restrain from scratching the hell out of the 40 mosquito bites on my legs.

In my senior year I was trusted with my graduate student boyfriend’s MGB, pictured above. He let me drive it by myself from time to time. I think he was serious about me, but I wasn’t ready to settle down, despite the nice car.

Years later, at the end of my marriage and the beginning of single life, my most vivid memories concern an aging Oldsmobile ’98, a used Datsun that wouldn’t go in reverse, a nearly decrepit Ford LTD (retread tires and a trunk that didn’t open), a borrowed Porsche 944, a Yugo, a used BMW that was in great shape except for the broken AC, and finally a brand new Mustang! Such is the brief version of my single life with cars.

I remember them all quite fondly, even when these cars were giving me grief. In Los Angeles, where the car is king, the best advice is to find a good and trustworthy mechanic.


Most military brats of my generation probably spent some time living in Germany at one point in their father’s career.

My first vivid memories date back to the time right after WWII. Memory is an odd thing; as you age, you start to wonder if the memory is truly yours or what you were told by a parent or family member. Does it make any difference?

The 1940s were a tumultuous and tragic time during and after World War II. After my Infantry officer father had married Mom and shipped off to Italy to fight, we lived with her parents in southern Virginia. At the end of the war, my family dynamics changed: my father had met an Italian woman he wanted to marry in Trieste, and my mother had met another dashing officer, who had lost his first wife to diabetic shock during the war.


Across the Atlantic to Bavaria in 1947

Mom & me cross the Atlantic to Bavaria in 1947. Dad is waiting in Munich. Hand-drawn picture by Dad’s German secretary, Adi.

The shift in couples was accomplished shortly after the war, and my new dad, who was already in Germany, had us literally shipped and then railroaded to southern Germany. I don’t remember the voyage, but I do recall the long train trip from Bremerhaven to Munich because a sliver of coal flew into my eye while I sat at the window. I was only four years old when we got there and six when we left, but I do remember the bombed-out city of Munich. A still-standing single wall from an apartment building might continue to hold a feather bedspread the occupant had hung out the window to air out before the building was destroyed by a bomb.

Since the American Army had been victorious, we took over the best housing in Murnau, which had been and still is a vacation town bordering the Bavarian Alps. Physically undamaged by the war, it was a picturesque village; most homes had window boxes filled with red geraniums in the summer, and there were plenty of places to ski in the winter. We were only 18 miles from Garmisch and the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, once the site for a winter Olympics in the 1930s.

Young and in love, my parents started married life in an idyllic situation. Although my dad was only a captain, we lived in an 18-room house on a large piece of property where my dad planted tomatoes in the spring. We even had a maid and a houseboy, an older couple who were kind and hard working. The American major next door had two children and their “borrowed” home had a swimming pool, which we all used in warm weather! Army people keep in touch and my parents reconnected with them years later when both couples had retired in Texas.

Before my sister was born in the Munich Army hospital, my folks had a terrific time: besides photos as evidence, my dad’s German secretary illustrated a picture book diary for them before they left Germany in 1949. They traveled to postwar Paris and saved a booklet from the somewhat scandalous Folies Bergere. Americans weren’t used to seeing total nudity on stage! Skiing at a local hillside and on the nearby Zugspitze was a regular family activity. There were also plenty of parties–we’d won the war, after all! I remember the Chinese theme party illustrated in the secretary’s book, which I now have. Perhaps it was Chinese New Year.

It seems there wasn’t an Army school for me since my mother taught me first grade from the mail order Calvert School in Baltimore, Maryland. It was so advanced that I skipped second grade when we got back to the States. Another advantage for me was learning German, an easy accomplishment when young and surrounded by Germans. I had made friends with two German youngsters, Seegi and Uti, whose names I remember but not the proper spelling. When my folks needed a translator, it was me they turned to!



Online dating is alive and well these days. I suppose some couples still meet each other at parties, weddings, grocery stores and social events, but searching the Internet is probably the easiest method and gives searchers the most information. Like advertising, however, the “truth” can be a scam…or as the old saying goes, “Let the buyer beware.” I’ve had some fascinating adventures in the dating world, which brings to mind another saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” The previews of the two stories below are absolutely true–I wrote them when the experiences were fresh in my mind. The first one was submitted to Playgirl magazine but rejected. I always thought they may have felt it was too bizarre since the incident happened before the Internet revealed the dating world can be awfully peculiar and eccentric. I met the subjects of these stories through ads in the Singles Register, a now defunct Southern California newspaper.

Weird Dates and Strange Fates#1

Here are two excerpts from my Kindle Single book on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noted a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it, four-inch black spike heels.
“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.
“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”
She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.
Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.
“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

The Dark Side

When the letter returned with no forwarding address a week later, I was tempted to drive to his apartment. Derek’s daughter lived across the street, but I didn’t know the address or remember the daughter’s last name. I had an odd feeling of apprehension as I pondered what could have happened and searched my memory for little details that might indicate what to do next. Had I missed some important minutiae about him in all these months? How well did I really know him? I reflected, as my mind raced with a slew of possibilities.
Derek had meant too much to me to let the matter drop. He couldn’t have just left, I reasoned. What of all his obligations, his children, his friends? He filled his life with so many people and duties; surely someone would have the answers.
I called the office again, remembering that Derek’s best friend, Tom, worked in the same building. Tom told me he couldn’t talk in the office; he would call me at home. His comment piqued my curiosity. What would he tell me that was so secret?
The following evening he telephoned, eager to share the story.
“You remember that Derek went back to Boston to spend Christmas with his aging parents. He said he probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. I just assumed he meant because they were getting older. Then Derek ended up talking to me for three hours after our office party the Friday before New Year’s. He usually scooted out of there right after work, no matter what.”
Tom continued, “Derek didn’t show up for work the Tuesday after the New Year holiday. When he didn’t come on Wednesday, I called his daughter, Susan. Susan hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, she said, but there was a letter from him on her desk. She said she’d check on things and call me back. When she called back a half hour later, she was hysterical.”

To read what happens in both stories, check out my Amazon link or just look up Victoria Giraud’s author page on Amazon.


Newspaper reporting/editing, writing an historical fiction novel, the continent of Africa, and a divorce led me to spread my wings and edit books to make a better living. Interestingly enough, Africa has played several pivotal roles in my life. I lived in the North African country of Libya as a teenager and was always intrigued with the history of this ancient continent.

A few of the books I've edited

A few of the books I’ve edited

Once single, I was out socializing and met an older gentleman, L. Dickson Griffith, in a local Southern California watering hole. He had been in NYC advertising (like a Don Draper on the AMC-TV show “Mad Men”) and went on to work as a technical advisor for Roone Arledge of ABC-TV in organizing and coordinating a TV show, “American Sportsman” that featured American celebrities who hunted big game. The “reality show” (although not known by that designation in those days) would feature actual hunting expeditions, and they’d begin the series in Africa. They were starting the first episode in a camp about 150 miles from Nairobi, Kenya, with actor Robert Stack and General Joe Foss, a WWII Medal of Honor winner and former Governor of South Dakota.

Dick Griffith knew many larger-than-life characters through his own interest and skills in big game hunting. He gathered his interviews and recollections of various hunting trips into a colorful book complete with photos and even fine art paintings of a few wild animals; the leopard on the books cover is by artist Gary Swanson. Dick called the collection of stories In the Hearts of Famous Hunters. Some of the other hunters featured in the book included Roy Rogers, Chuck Yeager, the flyer who broke the sound barrier; and Astronaut Wally Schirra.

Dick Griffith, Author, Hunter, Ad Man

Dick Griffith, Author, Hunter, Ad Man

What a privilege it was for me to be associated with this project, and my name is in the acknowledgements. Later, I helped Dick by editing his fiction novel, Adam’s Horn, which was also set in Africa—Uganda during Idi Amin’s cruel reign.

When we finished the writing and had the hunters’ book published in 1992, Dick Griffith had a book signing party in Westlake Village, and Robert Stack came to celebrate. I still have the beautiful book but not the photo taken with Dick and Robert Stack.

Most books appear on the Internet, but when I first looked for Dick’s two books,  they seemed like lonely sentinels. Open Library had some basic information on In the Hearts of Famous Hunters but no way to purchase it, and Amazon had one copy of Adam’s Horn.

Dick has passed on, but I’m sure he must be hanging out with the souls of the many hunters he interviewed, wrote about, and counted as friends. I will always appreciate the opportunity he gave me to edit his books.


Since Dick Griffith’s book, I connected with another man named Dick, in this case Dick Mawson, who wrote his life story of growing up and living in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa: The Gods Who Fell from the Sky. He has had the book published and has planned a second  volume. Mawson overcame losing his right foot and ankle at age eleven to eventually become a daring competitor in racing hydroplane boats and later built and raced saloon cars. And that’s just a brief account of his exciting life.


I’m taking a short detour from Tripoli stories and other subjects to advertise my own books, available on Amazon. I’ve written and published:  Melaynie’s Masquerade, An Army Brat in Libya, Colonels Don’t Apologize, Pink Glasses, Weird Dates & Strange Fates, Angels in Uniform, and Discovering the Victor in Victoria.  ( They are all based on true stories, but fictitious names are used in many of them.

I’ve included an excerpt  of my historical fiction novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade below; it’s part of a love scene. I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction and became enchanted with the 16th century some years ago when I attended Southern California Renaissance Faires. My fictional character, Melaynie Morgan, lives in Plymouth, England, and when she decides to turn her traditional world upside down, she embarks on a sailing adventure with Francis Drake, a daring Plymouth captain, later famous for sailing around the world and for bringing home Spanish gold for Queen Elizabeth I of England. Drake is sailing to the Caribbean to plunder Spanish treasure; thinking he has met an enthusiastic young boy, he hires Melaynie as his cabin boy. What a masquerade she accomplishes before Drake and his crew sail back to England a year later!

Mel book cover #1

The following is a preview of one of the love scenes between Melaynie and Bernardino from the book. Bernardino is a dashing Spanish envoy come to negotiate with Spain’s English enemy, Francis Drake. Young Melaynie, dressed as Drake’s cabin boy, has successfully hidden her sex from all the English sailors, including Drake, but Bernardino discovered the secret.  She is guiding the Spanish visitor, who recently became her lover,  to his guest tent on the Caribbean island beach where he will spend the night:

Bernardino leaned upon her once more in case someone spotted them, and they walked quickly but stealthily the short distance to the tent.

“No need for a candle or lantern, sweeting, there’s a bit of moonlight through the opening. I have memorized your face and I know where all your important parts are,” Bernardino said, desire heating up his words, making them expand and surround her.

“Mmm…you have all the perfect words for me, my heart,” Melaynie answered as she lovingly touched the dimples of his smile and pulled his head down to meet her eager lips. She could feel his excitement now, heightened by her forward moves. She liked the feeling of taking charge that pretending to be a male gave her; it would enhance her lovemaking. She was not as innocent as the first time, and the power of knowledge created a white heat that coursed through her body.

Through open lips, her tongue explored his mouth. When she withdrew it, she kissed his cheeks as she ran her fingers through his thick dark hair. Her fingers caressed his neck and the short beard on his strong chin before finding their way to his chest and the nipples through the open neck of the loose shirt. She remembered the extreme pleasure he had given her and excited herself by being the aggressor. Tugging at his shirt, she pulled it out from his breeches. Sensing her mood, he opened his arms to allow her to remove the shirt.

She stepped back, appraising him. “Hmm…a fine specimen of manhood we have here.” A step forward and she was unfastening his breeches and undergarment and running her hands slowly down his hips. The hands moved softly and tenderly toward his engorged member.

Sir Francis Drake -- my hero!

Sir Francis Drake — my hero!

To find out what happens next, you will have to read the book, which can be ordered from Amazon.


In these times of upheaval around the world, it’s no wonder those of us who’ve lived into our senior years want to remember happier times. Like everything, memories are relative and dependent on who is remembering. Because I’ve written of my adventures in the Libya of the 1950s, I’ve heard from many Americans, British, Italians and Libyans  who have stories to share of their time in Libya. Just today, my Libyan friend Mahmud Abudaber called, and we talked about his memories of the day Gaddafi took over Libya. I’ll save further discussion for another time.

American Pete Remmert, whose father, Lt.Col. Erwin Remmert, was stationed at Wheelus Air Force Base with Airways & Air Communication Service from 1958-62, took the trouble to share several stories with me and even sent photos. Pete has a good memory, considering he was only eight when the family got there.

Since Pete has a talent with words, I’ll share what he said mostly in his own words. “My uncle, Col. Fred Easley, had been base commander at Wheelus several years before we got there. Uncle Fred had established a wonderful relationship with Libyan King Idris and his wife, the beautiful and gracious Queen Fatima. (see photos below) As a result of that relationship, we had hardly settled into our new life when my mother and sister Melissa received an invitation to dine with the Queen at the Royal Palace! In 1960, my youngest brother Fred was born at the base hospital and Queen Fatima gifted him with an exquisite six-foot long, hand-made lace baptismal gown. My mother learned to make couscous after receiving the proper cookery…also a gift from the Queen.”

Col. Easley & King Idris

Col. Easley & Sheik Abolassad Alalm-Mufti Tripoli and two others in newspaper clipping

Pete remembered the old Aladdin kerosene heaters. “Prior to acquiring on-base housing, we lived in a villa that I remember got very cold that first winter we were there. Our only source of heat was a cylindrical-shaped kerosene heater. When the flame burned blue we knew it was working at full capacity. Later we lived in an area called Giorgimpopoli, a subdivision located to the west of the Tripoli city center, mostly occupied by Italian oil executives.”

Queen Fatima of Libya

Queen Fatima of Libya

Queen Fatima’s lovely and elaborate gift continues to be cherished by Fred Remmert and his family.

I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of Queen Fatima. This photo shows a lovely woman who looks like many stylish American or European women would have looked in the 1950s. After seeing her photo, I was curious and discovered she was born in Libya in 1911 and was married to Idris in 1931, before he was king. They were related. They had one son who lived for only a day in 1953. No wonder she was interested in babies! She and the king, however, became foster parents to children of relatives.


When Gaddafi took over Libya in 1969, Queen Fatima and King Idris (above) were in Turkey. Forced to give up the throne, they moved to Cairo where they stayed for the rest of their lives. Her husband, Idris, died in Cairo in 1983 at 94 years old. She died in Cairo in 2009 at the ripe old age of 98.

Pete continued, “I remember that we had a hired man who worked for us around the house. His name was Milad. Every night he would cook his dinner over an open fire in the courtyard. He was very devout in his religious practices. He would often take out his prayer rug in the courtyard. I can vividly remember the four-beat rhythms of drums playing in the distance during Ramadan. My wife and I went to Jerusalem a couple of years ago. We stayed in a convent located across the Kidron Valley on the east side of the Old City. I mention this here because the sounds of drums and the calls to prayer that came the short distance across the valley flooded my head with the memory of the sounds of Tripoli.”


AnArmyBratLibya Cover#A1

To check on or download this Kindle book featured on my Amazon Author page, go to:

Americans living in foreign countries, especially those in the military or other government service, tend to keep or renew their ties over the years. At least that’s been my experience with the “kids” I went to high school with at Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli, Libya, in the 1950s. And since I’ve included experiences of living in Libya in my blog, students from many classes, anywhere from the early 1950s to 1970 have gotten in touch to share their memories. We’ve all aged but the spirit of those long-ago days holds on and there have been many reunions of these students over the years. The most recent was  in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am also enjoying the attention of many Libyans, those still in Libya and those who have moved away to other countries.

In the middle 1950s, Tripoli was a bustling, cosmopolitan city inhabited by Libyans, Italians, British, Americans and an assortment of other European and Middle Eastern nationalities. Both the British and the Americans had military bases, and international oil companies were drilling for the oil that would eventually make the country rich beginning in 1959. Libya, for the first half of the twentieth century under Italian rule, had only gained its independence in 1951, and that auspicious occasion had been marked by the renaming of a main thoroughfare, to be forever after known as 24 December Street.

Like many major events in the life of an Army brat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to uproot from the States and travel to such a strange land. I was shocked when my father received orders in 1955 to report to North Africa. We were stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, at the time, and Africa couldn’t have been more distant from civilization as far as my twelve-year-old mind was concerned. Morocco was our first assigned destination, specifically the peculiarly named Nouasseur. Orders were changed when Morocco had violent political problems and a few Americans were killed. My dad was reassigned to Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli.

My Army Corps of Engineers father, a lieutenant colonel, would command a military group that had something to do with maintaining the strategic airfield, the closest large American location to Russia, an important fact in those Cold War years. He would also be traveling to mysterious places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia. I still have the mink stole he bought my mother in Athens on one of his trips.

What seemed like days after leaving the Azores, but was more than likely some thirty hours later, we reached our new home. It was 9 p.m. in Tripoli, but after so many hours and so many time zones, who could tell? It was November, but there was no snow on the ground here: the weather was temperate and probably no colder than 55 degrees. Only after a good night’s sleep would we regain our land legs and clarity of hearing – the noise and vibration of prop planes had a habit of disorienting the body, which included sight and hearing, for hours.

We ended up living in the Garden City area of Tripoli, not far from the King’s Palace, from 1955 until 1958. I loved all the contrasts that life in an ancient Arab city brought–camels and sheep, British Morris Minor cars mixing with American Fords, sandstorms called Ghiblis, the museum in the old Barbary Pirate fort, the lovely beaches at Georgimpopuli and Piccolo Capri, the vegetable man shouting out his fresh food, and the braying of donkeys and camels growling at night.

For more stories about life in Libya, order my book on Amazon. While you’re on the site, check out my other books.


“New York, New York,  a helluva town…the Bronx is up but the Battery’s down.” Frank Sinatra sang this in the 1949 MGM film, “On the Town.” It had been a Broadway musical, but for the film, they changed “helluva” to “wonderful,” of course! I wouldn’t trade Los Angeles for New York, but I did have some New York adventures, especially in 1959 when I went to visit my school buddy, Jackie Del Savio, from fifth grade in the Bronx (PS 33). Luckily, I have kept scrapbooks of my younger years, and it’s such fun to look through them and remember how young and adventurous  I was. I think the photo below is glamorous for high school students.

We were both in our senior year of high school but had kept in touch through letters since 1953. Jackie was still living in the Bronx and I was going to school in Alexandria, VA. She had visited me in Virginia the previous summer, and I was paying a return visit. I took the train north and Jackie showed me a wonderful time–the Empire State Building, the UN, Radio City Music Hall, Greenwich Village, Fordham University (dates with two cute students), Broadway, the Jager House (a German restaurant). I celebrated my 17th birthday there on January 1, 1960 and got a birthday telegram from the Fordham students I had met. Jackie and I are still friends and we both now live in California. She’s in the San Francisco area and I’m in the San Fernando Valley of LA. And we’re still trading visits.

Me and Jackie in the photo booth.

Me and Jackie in the photo booth.

Andy Griffith & Delores Gray in Destry Rides Again

Andy Griffith & Delores Gray in Destry Rides Again on Broadway

A crazy coffee shop in Greenwich Village in a converted garage.

A crazy coffee shop in Greenwich Village in a converted garage.

These mementoes (I haven’t shared them all on this post) have traveled with me to Libya, Germany, the College of William and Mary, and then all over Southern California. I estimate that I’ve lived in about 30 different homes–fairly typical of an Army brat.


As March comes roaring in, I remember the old saying that the month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. For the past two days it’s been true so far in Los Angeles–we are having rain and wind, both gentle and ferocious. The sun peeks out and then it clouds over, and the temperature hasn’t been over 60 degrees. Of course we are very spoiled here!

Spring is a good time to gather your thoughts and rejuvenate yourself for the year. That brings to mind the inspiring sayings I have collected for my Pinterest account. And the sayings go with many of my daughter, Heidi Giraud’s lovely and colorful paintings. The first one, which is on the wall next to my computer, I see as a woman emerging from confusion to self-knowledge and inspiration, as I have been several times in my life.



Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. Dwell in possibility. Be patient, things will change for the better. The worst thing usually turns out to be the best thing. God has sent you nothing but angels. You are not alone.

The Eye Searching for Truth

The Eye Searching for Truth

What you think about, you bring about. Don’t take things personally…what other people say about you is their reality, not yours. Sometimes you have to let things go so there’s room for better things to come into your life. One of my favorite sayings comes from Vietnam and was used in a book by Leo Buscaglia: Learn to let go as easily as you grasp, or you’ll have your hands full and your mind empty. Every hello is the beginning of a goodbye, yet every goodbye can be the beginning of another hello. The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens, so don’t give up.

Bloom like a Sunflower

Bloom like a Sunflower

Live your life and forget your age.  And C.S. Lewis said: You don’t have a Soul…You are a Soul. You have a body. Stars can’t shine without darkness. When it is all finished, you will discover it was never random.  Amen


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