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There’s living “on base” and living “on the economy.” One practically explains itself, and the other means that you’re renting and your neighbors are local nationals. Base housing areas, the joke goes, are a lot like projects and low income housing. The architecture is dull, the structures are uniform, and in terms of military status, you’re not going to find many full-bird colonels or generals living in them. Also, you’re likely not going to find many civilian families either.

The reason is simple. Military housing is remarkably cheap to live in, comparatively speaking. Back then, nothing was privatized, and the military took care of most everything. Simply put, it provided houses and apartments to it’s own. Whatever the detractions may have been, at least you lived in an American community — and community was something highly stressed on most bases. When you lived on the economy, there was a strong liklihood that your neighbors didn’t speak English, and, if you weren’t careful, there were plenty of opportunities for cultural clashes. Yet, the local housing market always provided better living spaces.

Still, civilian families nearly always lived off-base. Military housing always had waiting lists. Plus, there’s a bigger issue at hand. For the most part, life in the Department of Defense can be split into two social classes: those in the Armed Services, and those there to [i]support[/i] the armed services. Sure, those distinctions can be broken down into sub-groupings, but if one were to keep it simple, it still applies. The DOD always showed preference to military families, whether it came in the form of housing or even much simpler things, like bank lines (where there usually is a lit sign flashing “Next Person in Uniform.”

The picture blow dates to my family’s stay in Germany. Since I was so young, I’m not sure where, but my gut says “Fliegerhorst,” which would be Hanau.

A quick Google search confirms it, as at usarmygermany.com, I found these:

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