Steve's 1963-1964 AFS photos


I took a few 35mm color slides during my year in Germany as an American Field Service exchange student in 1963-1964. I wish I'd taken many more (and much better) pix, but here's a brief look back. Captions are to the best of my recollection, dates provided by a pocket datebook/diary which I've preserved but hadn't opened in decades until I wrote this page in anticipation of our 50th reunion in 2013. Additions/corrections welcome!

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NYC 8/17/63: AFSers gathering outside the AFS offices in midtown Manhattan (313 East 43rd Street), about to board bus to Pier 40. Rex Cowdry's photo of the same scene is here. We spent the previous night in the dorms.
Left: Bill Beeman.

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On board the Seven Seas, looking across the pier toward the Empire State Building. The resolution on this scan is decent, so if you click to get the full-rez version and then zoom in with your browser you might recognize your parents on the dock.

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Bye mom!

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Bye NYC! Bye USA!

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AFSers on deck, cameras in hand, leaving NY harbor.
John Buehrens, Bob Klitgaard, Mike Ruffatto, Clark Tibbetts.

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The Seven Seas. We were at sea for ten long days, 8/17-27/63 (and for ten more returning, 6/17-26/64). Group pictures are here.

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8/26/63: Arriving Le Havre. A few AFSers had already debarked at Southampton, and soon we sailed on from Le Havre to Rotterdam.

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8/27/63: Outside Rotterdam Centraal train station.
Left: David Ferrell. Center: Janice Press, John Haines, Tex Romig (back to camera). Front right: Bryan Cheney.

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8/27/63: Kölner Rheinbrücke from tower of Kölner Dom. We took the train from Rotterdam to Köln and stayed overnight before taking a train to Königswinter the following day.

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Jugendhof Rheinland in Königswinter, where we spent two weeks 8/28/63 to 9/10/63 learning German before joining our host families. We made excursions up and down the Rhein and into Bonn. Our German instructors rewarded exceptional performance with a beer or two, in stark contradiction to the strict rules laid down by AFS NY.

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West Berlin 12/08/63, during our AFS group trip 12/06-11/63: Unter den Linden near Brandenburger Tor, looking across barbed wire towards the Reichstag in East Berlin. The weather was lousy, all my pix were badly underexposed. The Wall was only two years old and Kennedy had been killed just two weeks earlier. Everyone was very tense, and crossing into East Berlin was very scary.

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Me and my German brother Jürgen Gossmann at a Faschingsfest for Düsseldorf-vicinity AFSers, probably on 2/09/64. We look slightly tipsy; too much Altbier or Kölsch, how unusual!

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Outing for Düsseldorf-vicinity AFSers to Villa Hügel (Krupp mansion) in Essen, spring 1964. Beate Fuchs (Maxine Carvalho's German sister) at left, Jürgen and I at right.

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West Berlin, May 1964: A section of the Berlin Wall, concrete blocks displaced where someone rammed into it trying to escape from East Berlin.

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West Berlin, May 1964. The other side of the bridge is in East Germany, hence the standard Sie verlassen den Amerikanischen Sektor sign. My German brothers and I were standing near the bridge when the jeep with American GIs pulled up on patrol, machine gun at the ready. Berlin was nuts; I vividly remember riding the U-Bahn to a performance at the Deutsche Oper (Elektra, electrifying!), passing through stations under East Berlin that were empty except for a Vopo at each end with submachine gun in hand.

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West Berlin, May 1964: Potsdamer Platz. When we saw a couple dogs cavorting in the desolate open space, my German father, a native Berliner, noted that his dad would have said so was wär verrückt, unmöglich, considering the traffic there in the '20s and '30s. The sign (in East Berlin, placed to face the West) is classic: Der Bonner Drang nach "Lebensraum" im Osten kann nur Kopf und Kragen kosten. I hope you've been back; it looks, well, a little different now...

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Monschau 6/04/64, on Klassenfahrt in the Eifel, overlooking the town from Burg Monschau. Very unlike Potsdamer Platz, Monschau now still looks just the same 50 years later, as it probably looked just the same 300 years ago. The rakish Tyrolian hat belonged to a classmate, but now I never go out without a cap or hat. Two weeks later, we were headed home on the Seven Seas.