During the mid-1970's my father was posted to Liberia as the supply officer for the J. F. Kennedy Hospital in the capital city of Monrovia.

At that time, Liberia was the "toehold in Africa" for the United States. The Voice of America radio antenna for broadcasting in West Africa was located there, as well as a large Peace Corps headquarters and a well-staffed U.S. Embassy. Unlike the European countries who were former colonial powers in Africa, the United States had few ties in that part of the world. Therefore, the U.S. State Department quietly provided help to the country in many ways. My father's posting was a result of this policy.

Our family was divided when my father was posted to Liberia. The twins and my older sister, being in high school, stayed in Oklahoma with our grandparents. My mother, my younger sister and myself, eight and ten years old, went to Liberia as the Embassy subsidized a private school for U.S. children that covered grades one through six.

I don't remember very much about Liberia. We lead a sheltered life with little exposure to the local people. I remember that at Christmas my mother put soapsuds on all the windows to look like frost, then she turned the air conditioning very low so we had to wear sweaters in the house.

The other thing I remember about Liberia is that the Liberian penny was the same size and weight as an American dime. Whenever we went back to Oklahoma on home leave, my sister and I would take rolls of Liberian pennies and use them in vending machines in Oklahoma.