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World Mag > WM Winter 2011 edition > Memories of Bucharest

Memories of Bucharest

My name is John G. Shaw, son of John (Jack) P. Shaw, former Deputy Chief of Mission, Bucha- rest, Romania.

The Shaws: 1962-1964
The Shaws: 1962-1964

I was invited to write a short story of our memo- ries, in Bucharest, Romania. I thank you, cur-rent students and staff, and former students and staff.

I, my sister Marian, and my brother Tim, wereamong the first students at the American Schoolin Bucharest. Bill and Barbara Crawford started this school, along with my father, Jack Shaw, and several other diplomats. I also invited my older brothers Paul, and Mark, to contribute to this story. I also reached out to Mark Taplin (now Deputy Chief of Mission-US Embassy, Paris), and Billy Cooper (Counselor at US Embassy in Paris). They also were among the firststudents at this school.

Life in Romania was difficult, in 1962. Our supplies were limited to what was flown in, andwhat we could get. Here is a quote from my brother Paul: I remember the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I was 12 and the US Embassy was stormed by demonstrators. Dad’s car was rocked by student demonstrators as he drove to the Embassy. He was ultimately rescued by the Romanian militia. Paul goes on to say how: Another memory of being approached by a political prisoner at the diplomatic tennis club. He graphically told me stories of his torture and was looking to speak to our father or to seek asylum through the embassy.

The tennis club was an important place as my brother Mark said: “I remember the Romanian dictator’s daughter playing tennis at the diplo- matic club, as there were no real Romanian ten- nis facilities with the pros at the time (we called her tree trunks)”. Paul mentions that he remem- bers Ion Tiriac and Ilie Nastase playing tennis with Gheorghiu Dej’s daughter.

I also remember my father saying how the diplo- matic club was the place to be, as much diplo- macy happened on the tennis courts!
Another strong memory was of the Romanian secret police tailing us everywhere we went, even on the trolley car to the club.

My memories of life at school were few. I re- member trading Juicy Fruit chewing gum to my best friend Doru. His father was a Major in the secret police. He would give me listening de- vices for the chewing gum, which I turned over to my father. I guess that made me one of the youngest American spies (age 9, 1964).

My brother Mark remembers trading chewing gum for Romanian stamps. It was a very hot commodity. I remember being the only 4th grader in 1964 and my dad was the headmaster at the time. I remember the Cuban missile crisis riots and how we were not allowed on the play- ground. I remember times in which food was in such short supply, that we ate dog.

One time, during a May Day parade, I suffered a bloody nose. My best friend Doru, gave me his red kerchief. One thing led to another, and I was marching with the young communists. Dad was on the reviewing stand with American and Romanian dignitaries. One exclaimed to him: Good God Jack, is that your son Johnny marching there.

It absolutely amazes me how times have changed. From the Cold War, to the modern 21st century, I and my family are truly amazed that your school is now a modern International school with 700 students. It has always been my goal to return to Romania, to try and revisit the past.


Dad died in 1974. He was posted in Bonn, West Germany, and was involved in the SALT I talks, in Helsinki.

I live in Annapolis, Maryland. I work as a school Guidance counselor, and an Emergency room psychiatric therapist.

My sister Marian, is a successful veterinarian, and has a thriving practice on Kent Island, Maryland.

My brother, Tim, has two master’s degrees in Philosophy and Eastern religions. He is retired and lives outside of Seattle, Washington.

To the AISB community: continue to grow and prosper. The beginning of your school was during a turbulent time in the world’s history. I wishall current and past students and staff the very best.

Yours truly,

John Shaw

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2011 issue here.


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