The Old Fart



Germany, Here I Come!

A Grand Adventure

The dates are vague. Mom's memory isn't what it used to be and I'm trying to recall the memories of a 5 year old boy.

Dad was assigned to the O.S.I. unit at Ramstein A.F.B. near Frankfurt, Germany. In the 90s, i found out that his unit was partially tasked with tracking Nazi War Criminal who had escaped to eastern European Countries.

Dad left for Germany before the rest of us, so that he could get housing. Mom brought Dan and I later. I can't imagine my mom (who claims that she's not adventurous) dragging Dan and me aboard a train from Salt Lake City, Utah to New York City. There, she had to get us to the Airport and get us onto a Super Constellation for our flight to Germany, via England. Somehow she got us there.

I don't have a lot of memories of Germany, but the ones that I have are clear. In that age, kids were given a lot more freedom than parents give their kids today. Dan and I managed to get into a little mischief. We lived in an appartment building outside of the base. Dan and I used to go exploring. Dad said that he often found us at the local "hoffbroy haus" sipping beer out of the steins left on the tables.

Another time, several of us were out playing soldiers (we were militay brats, after all) when suddenly our fun was interrupted by the Air Police who carried us to safety. Turns out that one of the "hammers" we were using to pound our tent pegs was actually a German Hand Grenade that one of us found.

I remember out house was a large 3 story apartment building. One of the benefits of living in post-war Germany was that the economy was bad and people needed jobs. Mom had a German lady working as a maid. We learned most of our German from her because she didn't speak English.

Dad bought a black Mercedez. We used to go sightseeing all over Germany. One day, I remember seeing some of the photos dad had taken of large ovens with wreaths hung on the doors. After talking to us about them, we went on a trip to see them. Dad said he wanted us to know and understand why we were in Germany. We went and visited it. Years later, I realized that the place was named Dachau.

Because of Dad's work, he became fluent in German. 40 years later, I learned that he was fluent in Hungarian, also. Mom picked up German also, because Mom and dad spoke German around the house, partly so that Dad could practice, but also so that Dan and I wouldn't know what they were talking about.

We all had bicycles. I had my first bike, (which eventually was passed down to Dan and Dave). We used to go for bike rides in the country side. Mom and Dad wanted us to know more about Germany than what we saw around the air base. Years later, in Japan, we continued that.

My Dad and Toys

I also discovered that my dad liked toys. He always said that he bought them for us, but the reality was that he bought them for himself. For example, our first train set. He bought us a really great HO train set. There were 2 sets of trains. One was a reproduction of a freight train and the other of a passenger train (it ran on electricity in overhead lines.) I remember when dad set it up, Dan and I (who it was supposedly for) were allowed to watch, but not touch. We took this train from place to place over the years. Each place, Dad would create a fanstastic layout, with tunnels, mirrored lakes, mountain passes, and little villages. Each time we got transferred, he'd tear it appart, pack the trains and then start over at the next base.

Years later, this continued with our first gas powered planes. He bought them for "US" but we never got to actually fly them. We'd hold them so he could take them off and fly them.

Dave comes into our lives!

While we were in Germany, my brother Dave was born, on Sept. 29, 1953. We always thought it was neat that he had dual citizenship in Germany and the U.S.

I started school in Germany, a year before I would have in the U.S. This would haunt me for the rest of my life.


Dad and mom decided that we needed a dog to keep us out of trouble. We got our first dog, a German Shepherd named Shotsie. Not sure that plan worked out very well. The dog was really protective when it came to Dan and I. Once, dad was going to give me a spanking. He put me over his knee and started to swat my rear end. Suddenly, as he raised his hand, Shotsie growled and attacked Dad. After that, Dad always put Shotsie in another room before spanking us.

Then there was the idea that the dog would keep us out of trouble. At the time, at the entry of every base, there was a guard and a guard dog. The guard and dog would stop all cars entering the base. Dad used to laugh as he told us the story about recieving a call at work one day. He was told that he needed to go into town and retrieve me and my dog. Turns out that I admired the guards and dogs so much, that I decided I wanted to be one. Shotsie and I had set up in the middle of a road and were stopping cars and busses.