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Published: July 16th 2011
I accepted the position at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium as the U.S. Representative to the Infrastructure Committees and the Senior Resources Board.
Our home in Overijse turned out to be the place I lived the longest in my life. Also, during those years we would have three children, Tamara born in 1986, Rosanna in 1987, and Will in 1989. So this became perhaps the most significant period of my life. Remembering every trip that we took during these eleven years proved to be a daunting task.
13 July 1984 Friday. We had our farewell dinner with our USEUCOM office colleagues. Now we were ready for the next adventure in our life. Linda and I loaded our car and drove from Boblingen, Germany to Overijse, Belgium, in the southeastern suburbs of Brussels, to the home of my new colleague, Dave and his wife Linda. They had asked us to house sit while they were on home leave. Their home was a restored farm house built in 1666, so it was a pleasant introduction to Belgium.
With the help of an agent we would soon find a home in Overijse. Our neighborhood was truly cosmopolitan, with
Danish, German, English, and, of course, Belgian neighbors. Our Belgian neighbors, Eduard and Julia, spoke very little English so we took a conversational French course to help me brush up on my high school and college French. However, having just moved from Germany, I was always mixing the languages together. With language being such a sensitive political issue in Belgium it was better that I just continue speaking English, along with sign language. Their son Alain spoke good English so that helped, and Eduard could speak some German. Eduard and Julia looked after our cats during our many trips. We looked after theirs, but they weren't gone as much as us. To this day we still exchange Christmas cards.
However, before we moved into our home, upon the return of David and Linda, we took our own home leave for three weeks in August 1984, visiting family and friends from Connecticutt to Florida. Upon our return we took our first Infrastructure Committee visit, this one to Greece in September 1984. This was followed closely with an informal Infrastructure trip sponsored by our host nation, Belgium, to Brugges. Our next trip was to Copenhagen in October 1984 to pick up
a new Volvo.
Upon moving into our new home at the end of August, our first act to make this our home was to obtain pets. We saw an add in the international community newspaper that a British family had some kittens from a "reprobate" father, so we went to check it out. They had two kittens left, one black with white markings, and one with a grey, black and white tiger pattern. We went home with the black and white cat, but turned around immediately and went back for the sister. We couldn't break the pair up. We named them Priscilla and Camilla. Camilla was run over by a car in front of our house, but Prissy lived to the ripe old age of 21, dying just before I retired and we moved to Colorado in 2005.
Overijse is a southeastern suburb of Brussels. So it was easy to get into town fo the Sunday morning market at the Grand Place. On the square in front of the city hall and guild houses, you could find flowers and birds, but most of the other stuff such as antiques were sold just outside of the square. We enjoyed
She was the feisty one. She would hide behind the entry door and attack me when I arrived home. SHe also took pictures off the wall. Consequently, when she confronted a car in front of our house, she lost at the tender age of one.
coming into town in the evenings to have moules and frites at Vincents or Chez Leon.
Another suburb to the south was Waterloo, where Napoleon was defeated by the combined forces of England under Wellington, and the Prussian amry that arrived at the last moment to turn the battle. The Butte de Lion is a monument to Wellington, who was the Lion of Waterloo. My parents passed through Brussels in 1985, in conjunction with an emergency health trip for my Dad to the States, and we had the priveldge of seeing the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo celebrating the 150th anniversary. They don't do this every year.
Other Belgian towns such as Antwerp, Ghent and Brugges were close by, so we visited on many weekends.
My sister Carol, who had been with us for the canal trip in Holland on her way with my Mom to Thailand, returned to live with us in Brussels from the fall of 1984 to the smmer of 1986. She returned to the States to live with my parents when they retired to Florida that year. We enjoyed having her with us. She was very helpful when we had dinner parties
She lived to the tender age of 21, and passed away just before we moved to Colorado in 2005
at our home for our colleagues at NATO. We always served Thai food.
We attended the International Protestant Church for the first six years and the International Baptist Church for the last five years, and had many friends from both congregations.
My colleagues on the committee represented all NATO nations, so we developed close friends with all of them and their families. We entertained a lot until Tamara was born. We either had people over to our house or were invited to others homes, or to venues such as castles, about twice per week. That together with Belgian beer and chocolates resulted in a few unwanted pounds that first year.
We had horseback riding lessons (dressage) with our Norwegian colleague, Erling and wife, Vigdis and their children, Amy and Thorwald, until Linda became pregnant. Our paths would cross many times in the years after we both left NATO. We traveled with our Canadian colleage Hank, and his wife, Gerlinda to Normany.
Brussels was a great base for travel to the Netherlands, where we went each spring to see the tulips at Keukenhof; to England, where we went each spring to see the lambs and daffodils in
the Kent countryside; and to Paris, France, and in particular Disneyland Paris once our children were old enough. We made many trips to each of these countries over the years, with weekend trips too numerous to write about other than collectively.
The Infrastructure Committees also made official visits to one or two countries each year. As previously mentioned our first was to Greece. Linda and I were provided this wonderful opportunity to visit every NATO country as their guests, where we saw not only military facilities, but their history and culture.
In addition to six weeks annual leave per year, I also earned six weeks home leave every two years (not to mention taking both European and American holidays...20 days per year). I rarely used the amount of leave as I also had a job to do. The following trips are therefore a combination of official trips, home leave in the States, and vacations in Europe.
Note: I have delayed these entries while trying to find my desk calendar for the years in Brussels from 1984 to 1995. I rrecently found them so will begin making the entries as I try to remember the trips with the
help of video tapes and print pictures which I have to scan. Most pictures up to 1985 were on slides that Walmart graciously digitized for me.
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