LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEARS
Dennis M. DuPriest
January 2006

SAN VITO DEI NORMANNI AIR STATION & BRINDISI, ITALY
Some of these photos are originals and others have been "borrowed" from other websites.


The "Elephant Cage" - San Vito Dei Normanni Air Station



To this day, my dad still won't say what the "Elephant Cage" really was.
Now, we all know it was a communications site to listen to transmissions from
communist countries throughout Europe and more. Today, the site is totally
gone. The cage was torn down and sold for scrap metal and the Italians took
control of the site. Base housing became homes and facilities for the locals.


A pretty good shot of the base from high in the sky.


The sign at the entrance of the base.


The base chapel at San Vito.


A photo of the base from the rooftop of the headquarters building.


The headquarters building at San Vito.


Another shot of the headquarters building at San Vito.


Geez!!! I can't believe I wore that Wyatt Earp tie for the Freshman Class photo in 1966.
Remember the teacher who took the picture? Mr. Mayfield, science teacher.
(Photo courtesy of Linda DuPriest)


I think this photo of the 8th grader in 1996, was taken AFTER all the guys swiped the girls'
mohair sweaters and tied them to the roof rack of the school buses and watched them drive off!
(Photo courtesy of Linda DuPriest)


Autographs of 8th graders on the back of the class photo. (Photo courtesy of Linda DuPriest)

Scenes of Brindisi

[Left] Sailor's Monument at the Brindisi Harbor. Did y'all ever to to the top? We did.
[Right] Roman Column indicating the end of the road "Appian Way" from Rome to Brindisi.


A closer look at the Sailor's Monument. Did you ever visit the chapel inside the base of the monument?


Location where the ferry docks that takes people across the harbor to go into downtown Brindisi
to go to the STANDA department store and shoplift colorful plastic rings and other trinkets.


Brindisi at night. It's amazing that our parents let us roam the streets at night at our young age.


VILLA DEI DUPRIEST IN CASALE, ITALY!

Mom, Tommy, Linda, Bobby and me on the front porch of our Roman Villa. Dad used to sit on the
front porch with his B-B rifle and shoot rats in the palm trees at our front gate. What a hoot!

Dad and Mom in front of our palatial Italian villa at 51 Via Cagni, Casale. That's Linda and Bobby off to
the right. (I took this photo, which explains why the image is tipping to the left.) There was no heating
system in that house except for those metal kerosene heaters you kept fired up on the cold marble floors.
The 20ft ceilings were so high that the heat rose where it didn't do us any damn good. We weren't
supposed to drink the water, but I did. The top of the wall that surrounded the house had broken bottles
and sharp and deadly shards of glass embedded in cement and sticking up to keep the Indians
from climbing over and attacking us. Our bathroom had a "bidet" in it. We asked mom what it was for
and she said Italians used it to wash babies in. Hell, we believed her. For three years, she kept a
huge cardboard box on top of it, covered with a tablecloth and a lamp. God, what a blast we had living there!

Remember when it snowed!! Wow! Guess what, when we came back to the states, my Dad sold me that
1963 Ford Falcon station wagon and it was my car during my Senior year in high school! Unfriggin' real.
The first time that I felt a girl's boobs was in that car. The first time that.... well, never mind. Oh, the memories....


THEN and NOW...

DENNIS DUPRIEST writes... "Let's see... we came to San Antonio from Brindisi. I fell in love with Kathy Keisor, who had been in Italy with all of us. She moved to Alaska. Then, I went friggin' crazy! I got to kiss Debbie Haring a few times in high school, as she and her brother Don lived just a block away and across the ditch from our house. I know Debbie will deny that we ever kissed, but I still have 8x10 glossies to prove it! LOL I had a great career in drama during high school. I did all the plays the school hard for the three years. In fact, Debbie and I played Romeo & Juliet with the San Antonio Symphony! The acting bug bit me big time! While in high school, I was cast as a regular for two years on a TV show called, "Swingtime." It was like a local version of "American Bandstand." I was a featured dancer and performed skits on the show, as well. I graduated pretty high in my class. (Not in academic class ranking, I was just high!) I went to college until Henry Kissinger signed the Paris Peace Treaty and the Vietnam War ended. Seven minutes after the war ended, I quit college and went to Del Rio, Texas, where Wolfman Jack got his start in radio. In 1973, I became the hottest DJ in border radio at KDLK AM & FM. Well, sorta' hot. Well, kinda hot. Well, nearly hot. Anyway, I got married and divorced in Del Rio. No kids, but not for lack of trying. Heck, we wanted kids so bad, after we "did the do" I'd help her stand on her head in bed and make the "stuff" run down! Anyways, one thing led to another and that led to divorce. Hell, I was on-the-air doing my show when the local constable walked in the studio and served me my divorce papers!!! My fans called me the day the divorce was final when they read it in the paper. Of course, I had to play Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" on my show! I was in Top 40 radio at the time and moved to another station in town- KWMC a country station. A few years later, I moved to Kerrville, Texas and became assistant station manager and on-air personlaity for KERV & KPFM. While there, the host of a children's TV show in San Antonio (that had been on for 26 years) asked me to join the cast. I did. I became First Mate Mortimer on the "Captain Gus Show." I did that for two years and then the show was cancelled. A year later, I was offered my own TV show on KENS TV-5 the CBS affiliate in San Antonio. I moved back to S.A. and did my show "Gobs of Fun" for two years and at the same time worked at the #1 country station KKYX, where my real-life Uncle Joe Simpson was the newscaster during my show!!. I have been lucky to work with lots of movie and TV stars. In 1987, I hosted a reunion and film festival of George "Spanky" McFarland, Tommy "Butch" Bond and Gordon "Porky" Lee of "The Little Rascals." They had not all been together since 1946! In fact, all three of them have spent the night at my house! Is that cool or what?? Sadly, they are all dead, now, but I have some great pictures of all of us. After 10 years in "show biz" I decided to get a "real job" and became the Public Relations Director for the 57-store home improvement chain, Handy Dan Home Centers. One time, I had to fly to Manhattan to visit the corporate office and on the way back, I stopped off at the Dakota Apartments where John Lennon had been killed. By chance, Yoko Ono was getting out of a limo and I got to meet her. After that, I became Development Director at St. Gerard Catholic High School, where Linda's husband, Pete, was principal. After nine years there, I took a crack at running an advertising department for a major jewelry enterprise in San Antonio. In 1997,  I became the Public Information Director for Somerset Independent School District, about 17 miles from my house. And that's where I am today. Oh, along the way, I gained LOTS of weight- got up to 452 pounds, have had 3-strokes and 1-heart failure. Damn! Life has been a blast! Uhmm, that's all that I can think of right now. I'll add more later, if something comes to mind. Love is all around... Dennis"

My senior year in 1970... in a tux in 1990... and doing my TV show "Gobs of Fun" in San Antonio, in 1982


I shaved my beard when I turned 50. I've got more chins than a chinese phone book! So, I grew it back.

LINDA DUPRIEST writes... "Well, it has taken me 40 years to come full circle. I remember back in June 1967, as I looked through the airplane window at y'all, my friends, standing on the tarmack waiving "Good-bye" as we left the beautiful country of Italy. I can see it so clearly... Glenna, Frankie, David, Buddy... I cried for days... And here I am today, talking to the my same friends... Our family got stationed in San Antonio and Dad retired here. When Frankie and David Thaggard both came to Air Force basic training in San Antonio, I visited with them during their brief stay. (Frankie-- remember that Bar-B-Q restaurant we took you to?) I have kept in touch with Glenna all these years-she is my "bestest" friend and I love her dearly. Glenna came to visit me in 1970 and came down again in 1980 to stand in my wedding. My oldest daughter, April, and I went to visit Glenna in Winconsin in 1986 and she again came down to visit in 2001. Pete and I have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, April 24 and Katie Rose 19. I am a breast cancer survivor and have two more years in remission before I get the "thumbs up" from my oncologist. When the TV show "The Wonder Years" aired on TV, I found myself thinking back to my days in Italy and some of the best times of my life. I miss you all and can't wait until I see you all in June! I have attached a Christmas picture of my whole family-I'm in the red. See you all soon!!"

Back row: Pete (Linda's husband), Linda, Dennis (just 10 days after his heart failure), Susan (Tom's wife), Tom, Maricela (Bob's wife) and Bob. Middle row: Clint (Tom's son in the UT baseball cap), Dad & Mom, and April (Linda's daughter). Front row (6 kids): Heather (Bob's daughter), Bobby (Bob's son), Jennifer (Tom's daughter), Travis (Bob's son), Grace (Bob's daughter), Katie (Linda's daughter).

GET A LOAD OF THIS!! It's Craig Hammer, Clarence "Buddy" Williams and Linda DuPriest at some dance at the San Vito AFB NCO club. Scroll down further and see the two lovebirds. Ahhhhh, my sister's first love.


FRANK "FRANKIE" THAGGARD writes... "Well, I will try and be brief about what has happened to me over the last forty years.After returning from Italy, we were stationed in Massachusetts for awhile until my father retired in 1968.  We moved to Greenville, Mississippi where I graduated from HS.  Since we didn't live there long we didn't make any great friends or memories like those in Brindisi.  Upon graduation in May of 1969, I started working on tow boats pushing barges up and down the Mississippi River until January 1970.  I tried some college (just to get my draft deferment) but by March I was out of school and in the Air Force headed to Lackland in S.A. After an assignment in Little Rock, I was then off to Vietnam for fourteen months.  Just before my rotation back to the world I heard from Glenna Ansay and upon my return we got together and attended a wedding for Pam Pfiefer in North Dakota.  It was really great seeing some of the old gang.  About a year later I was headed back again to southeast Asia for one more tour.  In 1974, I got out of the Air Force and into college.  I graduated in 1977 in Construction Engineering and went to work in New Orleans.  After moving around arround from project to project for six years, I finally wound up in Anacortes, Washington with two great kids Tara, now 27, and Weston 23.  It was here that I got divorced and my ex and the two kids moved to Longview, Texas.  A couple of years later I was sent to Denver were I married my current wife of twenty years and we now have two beautiful girls, Shelby age 14 and Allie age 12.

In 1994 I moved to Cleveland, TN where David and I started a small construction company and have been here ever since.  My daughter Tara graduated from Texas A&M and is currently working as a staff member for a Congresswoman from Connecticut in Washington DC. My son Weston is graduating in May from the University of North Texas and getting married on June 24th in Denton, TX.  I will be flying down to San Antonio the following day for our reunion.
I hope to see most of you in SA that weekend.  Dennis, I don't have any recent pictures of me and the family but I will try and get some emailed to you within the next week or so. Looking forward to seeing all of you. Break out the Tequila." ---Frankie, it's great to hear from you! This is really gonna be a blast in June! I hope that everyone is making an effort to be here. Now, let's hear from Pam, Glenna and Agnes and see what they've been up to!

JOHN FLANAGAN writes... "Dear Linda and Dennis, of course I remember you. That is the good thing about my oncoming altzheimers... I can not remember what I did last week but I do remember 40 years ago. LOL The class picture (post on this website) really jarred some memories. Some of the people I would remember as I would think back over the years-- you, Glenna, Debra Biehlke... and others, not until I saw the picture, and the autographs on the back of the picture, really brought it all back.. The only real group picture I have is one my mom kept of our Little League baseball team that won the Italian championship. The only other person in both pictures is Craig Hammer. Debra Biehlke's brother "Jeep" is also in the baseball picture. Sorry that I will not be able to come to the reunion, I have a committment to play in a golf tournament in South Carolina that weekend. I will gather some pictures and send them.. I am looking at a picture taken a couple of years ago when we were in San Antonio. My wife and I went there.for a long weekend, great city. Whenever someone asks me where they can go for a weekend to get away, I usually tell them San Antonio. No other city in the country should be allowed to use the term "riverwalk" because San Antonio really did it right. We did the usual tourist stuff, "Howl at the Moon" and some famous Mexican restaurant. I forget the name but it had Christmas lights all over the inside."

"Anyway, just to catch ya' up on things, after leaving Italy, we moved back to South Carolina where I went to high school and college.  A couple of years after college, I came to south Florida for three weeks vacation and never left. I have been here since 1977.  I live in Fort Lauderdale, have been married 26 years to my wife, Maureen, and we have two children-- Kent and Kelly. Kent graduates from the University of Central Florida this May and Kelly is a junior at Florida State.Coincidently, we reviewed all of the pictures and memories that we had of Italy, just last year, as Kelly was preparing to fly over there. She had planned a trip and studied Italian everyday for two years and traveled over there and France for two months by herself. It was a great experience (but scary for Dad). She stayed in a town called Lecce for two weeks. Lecce is only 12 miles from Brindisi. she said it was much bigger and nicer than Brindisi. I dont think I ever heard of Lecce when we lived there..Unfortunately, she only saw Brindisi to and from the  the train station. I will look for pictures and send them. My wife thinks this is pretty neat, (me I am not so sure yet, the pictures were pretty scary) so I dont know if I am writing because Maureen keeps asking when I am going to or if Dennis is starting to worry about me. I do travel an awful lot, so if I dont respond right away, I am probably just not home, I will try to call you some evening in the next couple of weeks. My cell number is (954) 646-2935. Talk to you soon". --- John, I can't believe you came to San Antonio and didn't know we lived here! It would have been a blast to see you! Yeah that place "Howl at the Moon" is wild and the famous Mexican restaurant you went to was probably "Mi Tierra." Thanks for bringing us up-to-date and I hope you'll stay in touch. (By the way, forgive me for editing your e-mail. I just tweeked it to make it flow better.) Now, tell Agnes to write us! Goodnight, John-boy. [P.S. Anyone wanting to write to John just need to click on his name at the beginning of this piece and you'll get the e-mail link.]

DAVID THAGGARD

David Thaggard and his wife, Paula, in Hawaii for their daughter's wedding, last year.
They live in Cleveland, Tennessee, and have been together since 1977.

DAVID AND HIS WIFE, PAULA, MADE IT TO SAN ANTONIO ON SUNDAY, JUNE 26th!
We had a great time at Linda's house just talking about the Brindisi days. David Hasn't changed a bit. Oh, his hair has gone WHITE, but he still has his Mississippi/Louisiana accent/drawl. He brought a photo of the Thaggard family that was taken on June 25th at Frankie's son's wedding up near Dallas. Enjoy the photos...

David, Frankie, their Mom Kathy, and their sister Karen. They haven't changed a bit!


Well, here we are at Linda's house. That's me in the red shirt, in case you couldn't tell.
Linda, David and Me. See Dave's arm disappear behind me? The dude was copping a feel!!



MY FIRST LOVE, KATHY KEISOR. THEY SAY YOU NEVER FORGET, I KNOW I HAVEN'T



Here's a picture of Kathy Keisor and I going to the John Jay High School "Ambassador's Ball" in San Antonio, back in 1968. Kathy's family was also stationed with all of us, back in Italy. We were each other's first high school sweetheart, but it wasn't until both our families were stationed back here in San Antonio and we both came to John Jay that I fell head over heels in love with her. Then, her dad was sent to Vietnam, I think. When he came back, they were transfered to Alaska, where Kathy still lives to this day. Oh, did I cry, the night they left for Alaska. Her parents had to physically pull us apart and put her in the Winnebago. She ran to the back window, I reached up on tippy-toes to press my hand against her's through the glass. As they drove off, I ran behind until I could run no further. Through my own tears, I could see tears streaming down her face, as the red tail-lights of the camper faded in the distance. I don't think I've cried that much in my entire life, before or since. Don & Debbie Haring were with me (Don had a driver's license and car) and we drove around, while I sat in the back seat crying my heart out. It must have been for at least an hour. I must have been a sight! Anyway, today, Kathy married her second high school sweetheart a guy named Jay Wisthoff and they have a beautiful daughter who manages (along with her husband) a bed & breakfast resort that Kathy & Jay own in Hawaii. Kathy is a grandmother, too! After 25 years of being out-of-touch, Kathy and I have been able to get back in touch with one another on the internet. Back in high school, we had our own special song, "Love Is All Around" by the Troggs, and whenever she or I hear it on the radio, even today, we think of one another. In fact, it's the way I sign off on my e-mails: "Love is all around." It's nice to remember the days of our youth with those who still mean so much to us, today. I have carried Kathy's photo in my wallet for over 35 years... through my marriage and divorce and even tougher times, since. It's funny how something like looking at her 1968-69 black & white school picture can bring me such comfort in troubling times.

Kathy Keisor and her husband Jay. They live in Anchorage, Alasaka and they also
have a home in Hawaii, where they spend the winter months away from polar bears!




July 7, 2002 - My 50th Birthday, after 29 years with a beard, I took the plunge!
(Oh, by the way, I grew it back!)

"That's all, folks!"
...and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make....
Love Is All Around...
Dennis Michael Patrick DuPriest
John Jay High School, San Antonio, Texas - Class of 1970