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FRED BECCHETTI: HIS LIFE AFTER THE WAR

Discharge and the G.I. Bill

After almost a thousand days in the military Freddie went to Ft. Bliss, Texas, and received his honorable discharge on September 23, 1945. He could barely wait to get out of the military and back into civilian life. He took a bus north to Albuquerque, loafed around for a few weeks, and then enrolled under the G.I. Bill of Rights as a freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where classes were getting a late start on October 30, 1945. He vaguely planned to study "journalism." The University of New Mexico turned out to be too easy, but he did meet his future wife there - Vivienne Fleissner from Park Ridge, Illinois.

College Studies and Marriage

He completed his freshman year at the University of New Mexico; worked for the N.M. Highway Department as a soils inspector and in Park Ridge on a construction gang during the summer; enrolled at the University of Missouri in Columbia, one of the major journalism schools in the country; moved to Columbia, Missouri; began classes while working in the university library to supplement his $75 a month G.I. Bill allotment; married Vivienne in Park Ridge during the school holidays, on December 28, 1946 and brought his bride to Columbia to live in the 18-ft. Ironwood trailer that he had bought in part with a $1,000 loan from Vivienne's brother Conny. With marriage, he began receiving a G.I. Bill allotment of $105 a month, supplemented by his earnings at the university library and by Vivienne's salary from her job in the home economics department of nearby Stephens College.

Marriage caused him to question journalism as a career, so he switched to working on a teaching degree. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Education in 1948 and followed up with his Master of Arts degree in 1949. While working on his master's degree, he taught two classes in Spanish for the university, and at the end of the year the university offered him a teaching position on condition that he begin work towards a Ph.D.

With college teaching as his goal he moved back to Albuquerque with Vivienne and their six-weeks old son and began his Ph.D. studies at the University of New Mexico while working nights at the Albuquerque Journal. After a year of advanced studies in Spanish and Portuguese and after satisfying all the requirements for a Ph.D. except the writing of his dissertation, Freddie became exhausted with academic studies and abandoned the Ph.D. and the teaching position at the University of Missouri.

He accepted an offer of a $2,610 a year position teaching high school Spanish and English in Benson, Arizona, pop. 3,000 and spent the remainder of his working life in teaching, various summer jobs and finally, in the diplomatic service.

Working Career

In Benson, Arizona, he taught for eleven years, during which he also did summer jobs as a construction laborer, factory worker, truck driver, school maintenance man, city policeman and burial plan salesman. He was elected mayor of Benson and served during three tempestuous years. After eleven years in Benson, he taught a summer course in foreign language teaching at Louisiana State University and a full year of Spanish at Camelback High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Then he joined the U.S. Foreign Service.

With his family of Vivienne and five children he did diplomatic work for the U.S. under the U.S. Information Agency, mostly in the field of cultural exchange, spending about three years in each of the following countries: Honduras, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Chile and the Dominican Republic. He also did a short tour on the Island of Grenada after the U.S. intervention. He completed his foreign service career with a 4-year tour in Washington, D.C., in which he worked with journalists from Spain, Portugal, Brazil and all the Latin American countries stationed in the U.S.

Retirement

He retired in 1989 and has spent his retirement years traveling and watercoloring in the U.S. under the Elderhostel Program.

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