Joseph William Perry Life Story

Pakistan Memories: 1964-65

I was in Pakistan from 1964 to spring 1966, tenth and eleventh grades. Excepting of course for the time of the exodus to Teheran that many of us made to escape the dangers of the war with India. School didn't start in September of '65. The Indian army was trying to invade only twenty miles away. We stayed home and had blackout every night. Finally, dependents in families got to fly out of Pakistan in seven C-130 transport planes with long rows of canvas seats. Most heads of household stayed to do their jobs. One friend's family smuggled their dog on the plane, against the rules. We flew at extremely low altitude for some military reason or other, but there was only one window in the plane so you couldn't see much. When we got to Teheran the ambassador to Iran and his wife met us on the tarmac. I think we were the first plane to arrive. My little sister, about six years old then, managed to crawl between all the legs of the people on the plane to be the first one off the plane. She jumped into someone's arms before they put the stairs in place (It wasn't very high.) The next day's Teheran newspaper had a picture of the US ambassador's wife holding my little sister in her arms as she showed her where her baby tooth had come out.

Most all the evacuees were extended hospitality by American families until we could get a place to rent. We soon became part of an evacuee community in the downtown hotels, then we got a little apartment in a house owned by an Iranian lady doctor. I went to the Community School, a Protestant school with a diversity of students and teachers. Most of the American students in Teheran went to the American School, and most of my classmates from LAS went there, but we couldn't all fit in.

I had a good time at the Community School. My classmates were from all over. Israel, Scotland, Phillipines, as well as the US. Many of my classmates were Iranian Jews. The principal's name was Miss Sahakhian. She was ethnic Armenian. My Spanish teacher was Senor Aguilar. He was also a classical guitar teacher in the conservatory of music. I took lessons from him; he lived right down the street from us. I think he was somewhat of a "classical guitar missionary" to Iran. He knew Segovia personally.

In my chemistry class there I witnessed a blatant show of misogyny. The teacher was a businessman/chemist who was helping out by teaching some classes in our school. One day for some reason he lashed out with gender-oriented invective at a Filipino girl, causing her to leave the room in tears. I never forgot that. She was a friend of mine.

Teheran was a nice place for us to live. We picked up our mail at the US embassy every day. We shopped at the commissary behind it. We regularly went through the back gate of the embassy to do our grocery shopping, the very gate that we saw on the network news years later as the hostage-taking "students" spoke to reporters through the wrought iron bars. And one of the hostages was an American teacher from Pakistan.

After New Years 1966, we went back to Pakistan. It was good to be home at 5 C Gulberg III. But I found that some of my good friends hadn't come back. I missed them, especially one girl who was a year older than me. I was so discouraged that I asked my folks to let me go back to the states to stay with my grandparents. I went to Alabama for my senior year, but I missed my family and Pakistan and the Lahore American School. I learned from Beth Hogan that a former classmate died. She was a victim of foul-play while she was visiting Paris with her family. I remembered when, in class one time, I had glimpsed her doodling the words to a Beatle song on a piece of paper. She was writing, "Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody." At the news of her death I was filled with many powerful feelings and feelings of powerlessness all at the same time. But I guess that is what tenth and eleventh grades are all about.

My folks came back around New Years 1967, I went to college in Nashville that year. Once or twice I saw Letha Jo Wheeless while she was at Peabody College. She was the last classmate I saw from our school. Update: I went to a reunion in 2003. I wrote a little story about it.

Just recently I read the autobiography of Bilquis Sheik, who converted to Christianity in the sixties in Pakistan. She mentioned Stanley Schlorholtz's mom, Peggy, as one of her good friends and mentors. And now there is an LAS alumni website. Another one here: Yaden.US. Connection is good, isn't it?

Joseph Perry, Nashville, Tennessee.

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Photo of Josephus Aloysius (alias Joseph Perry) by John Randall Moody
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