‘We still miss Ipswich’ - GI brides get together at reunion in Texas
- Credit: Archant
They might have spent decades living in the USA, but their hearts are still in Ipswich. A group of 20 “GI brides” met up in San Antonio, Texas, for their annual reunion.
Women in the group all met their spouses at East Anglian bases such as RAF Bentwaters, Woodbridge and Mildenhall after the Second World War and during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Now they keep in touch through their own Facebook page, called, “We are the ladies from Ipswich living around the world,” and gather together once a year at different cities throughout America.
Some of the “Ipswich Ladies” taking part in this year’s event, together with their spouses, travelled to Texas from as far away as Arizona, Florida. North Carolina. Ohio and Mississippi.
One of the GI brides, Carmen Casey, said: “I moved to San Antonio with my husband, Kenneth Wayne Casey, 14 years ago, after living in Germany eight years. Ken and I married in June 1984 after a whirlwind romance,
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“In fact, he told me I was going to marry him, which was far from my intentions, as I came from a very close family and had no intentions of moving to the USA.”
Carmen, whose maiden name was Carmen Martin De La Torre, added: “I was born and raised on Maidenhall Estate, Carmarthen Close. After marrying, we moved to Colorado Springs, then to Aviano, Italy, then to Germany, and finally ended up here in La Vernia, just outside San Antonio.
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“We have one son, Sam, who is currently living in Jerusalem - he is a professional basketball coach.”
She said that five out of seven sisters who grew up in Nacton Crescent, with the maiden name Matcham, married Americans. Beryl “Tatty” Trafton now lives in Costa Rica, but was at the reunion. The other four GI brides are still in the US - Pauline and Rita both in Florida, Patricia Lang in Washington, and Sheila Stevens in San Antonio, Texas.
Members of the group all miss many things about life in Ipswich, even after many years in the US.
Yvonne Masterson Patterson, who has been in the US for 29 years, said: “Obviously all of us miss fish and chips with real malt vinegar, British bangers, being able to get on a bus, top deck, looking at the scenery, and family and friends.
Another member of the group, Sue Christie Krolik, chose “sitting outside at a pub,” as something else that she missed.
Where there are several “Ippy gals” in a state, they meet up regularly for luncheons and get-togethers, with Arizona having a big group -
One of those living in Arizona is Gillian Prior Stupka (nee Prior), who grew up in Brunswick Road. She met her husband, Ron, in 1960 at the Rendezvous and married on November 11, 1961.
Another of the Arizona group is Cyndi Ness Erickson (nee Ness), who grew up in New Cardinal Street in Ipswich town centre and married Randall Erickson in 1972,
At their latest get-together, festivities started with a welcome icebreaker at the hotel on the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, hosted by six San Antonio Ipswich Ladies who prepared traditional English finger foods like sausage rolls, cheese and pickle sandwiches, and salt and vinegar crisps.
Cyndi Ness Erickson said, “The welcome party was absolutely lovely. We were made to feel so welcomed to San Antonio and we all had a great time meeting some new faces from Ipswich and greeting familiar faces once again.”
Over the following days, they visited historical sites like the scene of the famous Battle of the Alamo in 1836, where Davy Crockett lost his life. They also visited the Mad Dog English pub on the Riverwalk for fish and chips and Scotch eggs,
On Saturday, the whole group and some spouses gathered at Carmen and Ken Casey’s home in the Texas country for a Texas barbecue, again prepared by the local San Antonio Ipswich Ladies.
Tatty Trafton said, “What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends from your home town of Ipswich, many who went to the same schools and are now living in America.”
Next year’s reunion is already being planned, and will be held in Nashville, Tennessee.