I left Tripoli, Libya, the summer of 1958, the end of my sophomore year in high school. My dad received orders assigning him to duty at the Pentagon in Northern Virginia; he would work in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a prestigious position for him.

The last months at Wheelus High School were packed with activities and I went through the old Barracan newspapers to note a few highlights. Since we didn’t have a cafeteria at the high school, it was decided by the “powers that be” to make us eat at the Airmen’s Club in February. Apparently, one of the main reasons was to keep girls away from meeting airmen during lunchtime. Going out with GIs was a social “no-no” and Joe McDonald wrote an editorial about it in the paper. Too many girls, not enough boys, it seems.

By March the Airmen’s Club was closed for student lunches and we were all ordered to bring sack lunches – enforced nutrition by a school dietician! Apparently we were mostly disorderly at the Airmen’s Club and now had to eat in the school courtyard. To make sure our naughty behavior didn’t spill over to the elementary school, there would be a wall erected!

When students were asked what was the first thing they’d do when they got back to the States, Eddie Goldsworthy declared he’d find a patch of grass and look at it for an hour. Marla Bush was going to eat a hot corned beef sandwich, and Karen Gamel was going to eat a good banana.

A bunch of us were spotted at the Elvis Presley “Jailhouse Rock” movie on base. Steve Gaynor was seen with three girls—Karen, Kathy and Arnell. This according to Quidnunc, the gossip column.

Errol Cochrane’s Platter Chatter listed Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” as the number one record, Danny and the Juniors had the number 10 hit – “At the Hop.” We heard these songs often at the Teen Club on base.

In the spring the sophomores sponsored a dance—Hernando’s Hideaway (inspired by the content and music from the Broadway play and subsequent movie “Pajama Game”) with entertainment. A few of us girls decided we’d do a chorus line dance to “Steam Heat,” a dance routine featured in the movie.  My parents had the record and I remember practicing our routine in my Tripoli living room. Our very amateur group included: Betty Hubbard, Sherri Anderson, Karen Gamel, Wilnetta Edwards, and me.  We started our dance in front of a fairly large audience at the evening activity. Moments into the dance the record skipped and we had to pull ourselves together and start again. I think the photo below of Wilnetta, me and Betty displays our self-confidence. We were probably too young to worry about it.

The boys did a can-can in drag after our dance and stole the show, but I’ll save that story for another time.



  1. Jesus says:

    Leo los comentarios y noto una gran nostalgia por Trípoli, la misma que siento yo. Estuve varias veces en la Base como invitado con 10 años (me dejaban pasar) e incluso me enseñaron a jugar al poker, jajaja. Grandes recuerdos.

  2. Many of us would like to visit Libya again when it is peaceful…and as guests. We will never forget our time there. Victoria

  3. Wells base, now her name Mitiga Libyan air base, Muammar Gaddafi, was expelled from the hero after the Libyan revolution, hello you again in Libya, but not as you are but guests on Libya, not invaders and occupiers.

  4. This photo of us dancing to Steam Heat was probably taken in 1958. We didn’t normally wear such short costumes, but heck, it was a show and we thought we were the “cat’s meow” doing our jazz at the Hernando’s Hideaway dance.


  5. La arm says:

    Dang, what year is this photo???
    The girls are showing more leg
    then than they did at Wheelus
    in 69-70. Very nice!
    ‘I wanna go back…’
    ‘And do it all over’
    ‘But I can’t go back I know’

  6. Victoria says:

    You were probably just a baby, Mahmud, when we were doing our dance and getting our groove on!

  7. Yummy !!!! Where was I when these hotties were in my hometown?

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