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LIVING LIKE A PRINCE

by Sjon Ueckert

My father was stationed in Sidi bu Said, Tunisia, about 15 Km North of Tunis) in 1948, with the American Graves Registration Service (U.S. Army). He became friends with a local prince, Sheik Afif. I think the friendship was based on the fact that the Prince wanted to buy my father's American car, so he (the Prince) offered my father his beach house on the Bay of Tunis as a place to live for my father, mother and me. This beach house could only be reached by driving through the courtyard of the Prince's palace.

When my parents went out for the night, or had to fly to Rome (where the HQ was situated), I would stay with the Prince's rather large family. The kids stayed with their mothers, and the mothers, being devout Muslims, were cloistered in the harem. Therefore, this infidel got to stay in the harem with the other kids. Being three years old, I guess the Prince did not find me much of a threat to the sanctity of his marriage. I have a few vague memories of that time, including playing at the palace. One of the nicest things was that we had about a hundred meters of private beach on the Bay.

Being a military brat was, to me, absolutely wonderful. My family lived all over Noth Africa (Algieria and Tunisia), Europe (Italy, Austria and Germany) and in the Far East (Ryukyus Islands). I spent over half of my childhood overseas. Those were the best of times.

 

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