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During my junior and senior years of high school my family lived in Morocco. My dad worked at a Strategic Air Command base(SAC), Nouasseur Air Force Base, about 20 miles from where we lived, in Casablanca.
Our home was modern, the middle section of a triplex. It had been built by a french architect for himself during Morocco’s war of independence from France. It was a small fortress. The front windows could be secured with bullet proof shutters; the rear windows were enclosed in a metal cage which prevented an outsider from being able to get to them. There was a wonderful glass door and window that looked out into our yard. It could be secured by a metal grille lowered and locked in place. And the interior of the home could be divided by locking a decorative gate, preventing an intruder from entering the living area.
After the war the architect returned to France. Morocco would not let the french take their money or possessions out of the country. So he rented us his house, and we enjoyed a modern, nicely furnished home with a lot of original art.
You can see in the photo the torn up street. It was about two blocks long and, for the greater part of the two years we were there, it was under construction. A crew of five workmen built it with cobblestones, stone by stone. They lived in the lot behind our home in a hut assembled out of steel drums, wooden pallets, brush, etc. They used our rear wall as one wall of their shelter. While we lived there, unlike other Americans we knew, we never experienced crime. The two other families in the triplex would have nothing to do with the workmen. We let the men come into our yard for water. We never had any trouble.
At that time the US dollar was strong and relative to most of the world, Americans were rich. We had a gardener, Mohammed, and a maid, Habiba and a new car. At the end of the street was a convenience store.
There are many things I can tell you about Morocco. One that comes to mind today was President Eisenhower’s visit at the end of his presidency.
President Eisenhower, near the end of his second term, made a farewell tour of countries he had known during the war. One of these was Morocco.
Eisenhower was very popular in Morocco, especially with the Berber Tribes people. When it became known that Eisenhower was to meet King Mohammed V at the SAC base and travel by car with the King to his palace in Rabat, the people began to come down from the mountains.
For a month before the visit, the Berber tribes moved out of the mountains and down to the roadway Eisenhower would take . They camped along the road, waiting.
Decorations sporting the flag of Morocco and of the United States were placed over the road in along the route.
On the day of arrival, the King met Eisenhower’s plane at Nouasseur Air Force Base and the men traveled by car back to Rabat.
I am told the crowd of people lined the route for twenty miles.
Now, you may have noticed a curious thing in these photos. Many of the tribesmen carried rifles or other firearms. In this photo just over the head of a person in the foreground you can see puffs of smoke from the antique black gun powder muskets of the Berber horsemen. They had just fired a salute to the King and the President as the car passed by. For the entire route of travel there was sporadic gunfire as the President and the King passed.
Can you imagine that happening today?
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More to come