Our beloved AAWE is turning 60 years young this year! The thriving, diverse, multigenerational community we know today has a rich and inspiring history. Although we’re not yet quite sure when we will be able to celebrate AAWE’s 60th anniversary in person, we’re kicking off the year by celebrating our beginnings, our present and our future though an ongoing 60th Anniversary Series!
In coming months, you will learn how our association was founded – and why – and get to know some of the amazing women who contributed to its growth and accomplishments.
You’ll also hear from some of the younger members, our “Younger Wonders”, who are making AAWE relevant for the newest generation.
And you’ll find out more about the wide scope of activities that have enriched our members’ lives as well as built AAWE’s reputation as a pillar of the American and international community in Paris.
AAWE means so much to so many people: an extended family, a cultural home, a source of friendship and support, an avenue for community service, and, of course, a group of dynamic women that know how to have fun!
Getting to our 60th anniversary didn’t happen by accident — it took vision, energy, and dedication. Making sure that our association is sustainable through our 70th anniversary and beyond is a project for us all.
We have a lot to celebrate, and look forward to sharing it with you!
60 Years of AAWE Children’s Activities
In a statement in France Soir, our founder Phyllis Michaux summarized a mission goal for AAWE: Faire connaître à nos enfants la vie américaine….[en leur apprenant] les coutumes et les fêtes américaines…..ils connaîtront l’essentiel des constitutions des deux pays.
Remember, in those days, there was little available either in English or about American culture, so AAWE filled this gap. This was a great attraction then – and now – to being an AAWE member. And who better to meet this challenge than teams of American women who, it is well known, can organize anything with success.
Click on the + below to learn how our children’s activities have evolved over the past 60 years.
In earlier years, gatherings were held mostly in members’ homes. Imagine, in 1973, a Saloon & Dancehall Shindig, a Ghouls and Ghosts party, a cookie baking evening, and then a Fathers’ Day baseball game. Over the years, members have continued creating environments where our children have interacted with others their age, allowing them to participate in American activities like their cousins do in the States. We had storytelling hours at Pat’s, iced Valentine cookies with Terry, and picked strawberries at the farm led by Margaret. Here our children met other American families, and found that Mom was not the only crazy woman forcing them to speak American English.
Those were the ‘old’ days. Now it’s much easier to find English in our daily world. But it is not always the same for American culture, and for that AAWE still holds the reins. The year’s calendar typically includes an Easter party, a late-spring baseball game, and a year-end holiday event. In autumn, the Halloween Party is THE event of the year. In the days when airplane baggage was not weighed, members would bring back from the USA summer suitcases full of Halloween candy and party favors to serve up at AAWE bashes. Here in the suburbs, a trip to the local farm yielded 100 pumpkins (!) for door prizes. And USA Girl Scout volunteers make for great role models. The party fun creates lots of memories…nostalgia for the parents looking back at cute photos, but also, hopefully, for their children too. It’s all true, from the big to smaller events to the more intimate home gatherings, that these AAWE activities help our children share with friends here that they know what it’s like to celebrate in the ‘American’ way.
Now there’s one last children’s event you may not realize existed. It was Kids’ Nite Out, a wonderful fun time on a much smaller scale dedicated to our children 8-11 years old who were too old to be with the little kids yet could party in the evening. Again, AAWE moms put together enjoyable pre-teen themes. And if you ask our now-grown-up generation of participants, they will all tell you the best memory from KNO is the pizza dinner and the BINGO game !
AAWE continues to bring American culture to our children through these activities as best we can with the demands of the modern age. And it’s worth it. Not only so our children can feel comfortable being bicultural, but also for those organizing, as we have bonded into several generations of moms who remained friends, watching our children grow up with a choice of stepping into a French or American world. Just as Phyllis said: ”[Nos enfants] joueront à la pétanque aussi bien qu’au baseball.”
Thank you, AAWE!
Compiled by AAWE members
Celebrating 60 Years of AAWE!
Scroll down to learn about each week in history in 1961.
A regular AAWE feature to celebrate 60 years of AAWE.
As part of our year long celebration, click on each + below to learn interesting facts from each week in 1961, the year AAWE was founded.
Sputnik 9 was launched with a dog named Chernushka (Blackie) on a one-orbit mission. Also onboard the spacecraft was a dummy cosmonaut, mice, frogs and a guinea pig. (Unfortunately Chernushka did not come back alive).
Mattel releases the Ken doll, introducing him as Barbie’s new boyfriend.
US nuclear submarine Patrick Henry arrived at Scottish naval base of Holy Loch from SC in a record under seas journey of 66 days 22 hrs.
U.S. President JFK establishes the Peace Corps.
First London minicabs are introduced.
79-year-old artist Pablo Picasso marries Jacqueline Roque, 44 years his junior, in Vallauris, France.
The phrase “affirmative action”, referring to the policies of hiring and treating individuals on merit without race, creed, color or national origin being a factor, is first coined in an Executive Order signed by President Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy named Henry Kissinger national security adviser.
British Foreign Sec. Douglas-Home said in a “Top Secret” letter to Defense Minister Harold Watkinson that, “It must be fully obvious to the Americans that Hong Kong is indefensible by conventional means and that in the event of a Chinese attack, nuclear strikes against China would be the only alternative to complete abandonment of the colony.” The document was made public in 2006.
The last active tram in Sydney ceases operations, bringing to an end the largest tram network in the entire Southern Hemisphere.
Hassan II is pronounced King of Morocco, a position he would hold until his death in 1999.
This was a bleak week in U.S. history:
Sabena Flight 548 crashes in Belgium, killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team, several coaches and family members.
Albania disavows Chinese “Revisionism.”
1st all-solid-propellant rocket put in orbit, Wallops Island, Virginia.
China uses its 1st nuclear reactor.
The Beatles make their debut appearance at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, the first of the band’s 292 performances at the venue.
Soviet Union fires a rocket from Sputnik V to Venus.
At Wailuku, Hawaii, former U.S. President, Barack Obama’s parents, Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr. were married.
The push-button telephone was put into public service for the first time; its first customers were in Carnegie, PA and Findlay, OH.
Jane Fonda made her television acting debut in the NBC drama “A String of Beads.”
Marilyn Monroe was admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic and locked inside a padded cell, four days after the release of her latest movie, The Misfits, which would also turn out to be her last.
French interior designer Stéphane Boudin made his first visit to the White House, to plan the refurnishing of the U.S. President’s residence at the request of the new First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Was born: Prince François, Count of Clermont, Dauphin of the Orleanist, claimant to the French throne.
Walt Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” was released.
President Kennedy held the first presidential news conference carried live on radio and television.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis Presley peaked at #1.
Janet G. Travell became the 1st woman personal physician to the US President.
In South Carolina 10 black men were arrested for ordering lunch from a whites-only counter at McCrory’s variety store in Greensboro. One man paid a fine and the rest became known as the “Friendship Nine.” In 2015 prosecutors sought to vacate their arrests and convictions.
Ham the Chimp becomes the first ape in space, climbing to a distance of 157 miles above Earth in the Mercury-Redstone 2 Launch Vehicle.
Disenchanted with life in the Soviet Union, American defector Lee Harvey Oswald wrote to President Kennedy’s newly appointed US Secretary of the Navy, John Connally, to ask for a reversal of Oswald’s dishonorable discharge from the United States Marines. The letter was never acted upon, and on November 22, 1963, Oswald would shoot both Kennedy and Connally.
This week in 1961 saw the inauguration of America’s 35th and youngest President, John F. Kennedy. For the first time the event was shown on color television. He gave his now famous “Ask not” speech from the Capitol steps.
Four time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost was the first poet to participate in a presidential inauguration. Because of failing eyesight, a bright glare on a sunny day with snow cover, and a dim typewriter ribbon, he could not recite the poem he wrote for the occasion, “Dedication”, but recited from memory his famous poem “The Gift Outright”.
Jackie Kennedy was on the cover of TIME Magazine.
To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the best selling books. The US banned travel by its citizens to Cuba, except in special cases. Clark Gable was on the cover of Life Magazine. The US government published its very first set of dietary guidelines: eat less fat. The Supremes signed with Motown Records. The University of Georgia admitted African-American students for the first time, provoking race riots.
1961 was a year filled with tension and excitement in equal measure. While gigantic advancements were being made in the space race, they were equaled by developments in numerous conflicts across the globe, most notably the Vietnam War and the Cold War, all heralded by the inauguration of one of America’s most popular presidents, John F. Kennedy.
On the Chinese calendar, 1961 was the Year of the Ox. People born under this sign are known to be persistent and straightforward. AAWE’s founder, Phyllis Michaux, was very persistent and straightforward when she set out to find women in her similar position, after challenges with US citizenship due to her marriage to a foreign national, and then forming our club.
AAWE members have been persistent ever since in keeping our club alive, vibrant, and successful.
This New Year 2021 is also a Year of the Ox. And together we will surely be persistent and get through this pandemic.
Look for more to come surrounding our 60th celebration!
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)