So I was going through some really old papers and I ran across a big envelope full of my Peace Corps stuff. Geez. Almost forgot about this. We're talking forty years ago. What I remember was, I went to Ethiopia weighing 180 pounds and came back weighing 130 and full of parasites.

Two things I can tell you. Parasites don't hurt and they keep you thin.

Pictures. Pictures. Pictures. Here're photos of my two closest friends in Ethiopia, the two people who got me through the two years without too much damage to themselves.

Tom Beck...


and Brenda Bramlett...


Wonderful people. I enjoyed, and profited from, every minute of their company.


Peace Corps service counts toward federal retirement. Which means my 15 years with the FDIC, my 5+ years in the Coast Guard and my 2 years in the Peace Corps all add up to more than 20 years of federal service which translates to a federal pension and a fabulous health plan. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

In 1968, when I finished my tour of duty in Ethiopia, I got these:

PC Service Letter

Okay, so what was it like in Bonga, Ethiopia? Well, I was a teacher. So I must have been doing some teacher-type stuff. Right? Here I am passing out tests to my seventh graders:

pc 7th grade

Every school day, at 10am sharp at Atse Beide Mariam School. we had teatime. Here I am drinking tea with the other teachers. I can remember their names. Think I can't? Ato Lul Segged, Ato Solomon, Ato Feredeh, Ato Haile Giorgis and Ato Gizachew. Ato, by the way, means Mister:

pc tea time

In addition to drinking at school, there was after-school drinking, mostly at Weizero Mentwab's bar, which was right down the road from Atse Beide Mariam. Weizero Mentwab was a nice lady who ran a friendly establishment that catered to cops and teachers. She liked us because we didn't talk dirty. Here's a letter from Ato Getahun after I left, lamenting the good old days of barhopping:

pc letter from getahun

So then, twenty years go by and suddenly it's 1986. Wow! It was like you blink your eyes and you put on 80 pounds and your hair starts falling out. 1986. We had a Peace Corps reunion in Washington DC. Bill Moyers was the featured speaker at the memorial service for volunteers who died in service. We had a guy in Ethiopia who was eaten by a crocodile. I am not making this up. But most volunteers who died in service bought the farm in mundane ways: auto accidents, airplane crashes, etc. Here's the program from the memorial service and a pic of some not-so-young veterans of Peace Corps Ethiopia standing near the Lincoln Memorial. I'm the good-looking lad on the left:

peace corps reunion

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Karl Drobnic said...

Hi Dale,

Thanks for putting the Ethi Peace Corps memories online. I recognize Donna Kelly in the picture (whom I ran into about 25 years ago), and is that the Schlengers on the right? One of my 8th grade students e-mailed me a couple years ago and said most of that class was politically active during the revolution, and only a handful survived. Congratulations on your great health plan...mine's Medicare, which isn't so bad, either.

Karl (Goba, Bale Province)

playwrighter said...

Yup, that sure is Donna and Don & Jackie Schlenger. Also, Ed Gallagher and Pete Greenlee. We had a pretty good time at the Reunion.

Good that you're out there, Karl. I remember you well. You and I were huge Bob Dylan fans. Any pic you want posted, email it to me and I'll add it to the Blog post. My email add is

alfredo_tomato said...

I was up in Eritrea (Kagnew Station) when that croc incident happened. He was sunning himself near a river. I guess nobody told him of the dangers, or he didn't take them to heart. the croc was killed and his remains recovered. There's a picture in a book about Crocs and men. I think it is "Men and Crocodiles."

playwrighter said...

He wasn't sunning. He was swimming. Here's a link to an eyewitness account.


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