Monday, March 4, 2013

And Now For The Rest of The Story... Days of Wine and Roses

From the Inquiring Minds Want To Know department, a little embellishment from the previous Flash 55 post.

Way back long time ago and far, far away, Mr. C was stationed at Ramstein AFB, Germany.  It was a great time to be a GI in Germany as the Dollar was so strong against the Mark that even a lowly enlisted man had plenty of change rattling around in his pocket to allow him to live pretty good on the local economy and enjoy the sights and nightlife.  Occasionally, the Enlistedman's Club would sponsor things like boat tours of the Rhine River.  They were nice excursions on large boats with full bars and food and music and stops at beautiful sights along the way.

On the cruse.  Mr. C 2nd from left.  The old sarge 3rd from left.
It was on such an excursion that the Flash 55 incident occurred.   Among our group from the base photo lab was an old "lifer" staff sergeant who had been passed over for promotion about thirty times.  As the day wore on and he became more and more intoxicated he made his famous approach to a table of nurses seated near us.  As only the old sarge could do it, he managed to spill half his beer in the young woman's lap and the rest down her back while he was fumbling around trying to help by mopping up the beer from her most intimate places.  The whole scene was so funny we were all bowled over in laughter and no help to the poor girl at all. 

I was very lucky in my duty assignments while serving my country.  I was a photographer who trained for six months in Denver, Colorado and then served three years in Germany, a place and people I came to know and love.  I picked up enough of the language to be mistaken for a native by anyone who wasn't German and became fast friends with two locals, Norbert and Rudi.  We soon became inseparable and hung out together every time I had time off.  It was the perfect storm.  I had cash and a car.  They knew the territory, and we explored every inch of it together.
On a Bavarian excursion.  Norbert, Mr. C, Rudi.

Late one evening, returning from a night of revelry, I lost control of the car on a patch of ice and did a slow pirouette into the gate of a farm house.  We all piled out of the car to assess the damage as the farmer, dressed in nightshirt and stocking cap, emerged from his house carrying, I swear, a blunderbuss shotgun.  You know, the kind where the barrel flairs like a trumpet.  I thought that I had somehow slipped into a magic snow globe and traveled back into an 18th century fairytale.  The damage to both car and gate being minimal, we paid the old gentleman $20 and were on our way.

I would spend the holidays with their families and loved to jest with Norbert's grandfather, a grizzled old veteran who had fought in both world wars.  I would bring him a bottle of vodka and after a few swigs he would be ready to start the war all over again until his daughter, Norbert's mother, would tell him to shut up and sit down, that he had already lost twice, whereupon he would begin laughing and all of us with him.  Like all foot soldiers in war, he was conscripted and had no choice but to serve and was horrified at the end of the war to learn of the atrocities committed by his country.   Naturally, it was a sore subject and one we avoided.

Both Norbert's and Rudi's fathers died in the war and their mothers were left to raise and protect their children alone.  Norbert's family was particularly hard hit as his father was blue collar and they had few resources.  Rudi's father was a doctor from a family of some means, plus they got some kind of government allowance.  No matter, it was rough going for the civilians who simply got caught up in it.

But for me, being with the family and exchanging gifts on Christmas eve was one of the richest experiences of my life.  Sadly, I have lost track of my two old friends over the years and despite multiple internet searches can't seem to find them.  I believe I'll just hire a detective agency one day to track them down.


  1. Interesting background to the previous post. I hope you're able to track down your buddies.

  2. If you know their names you could find somebody local to track them down for you. Everybody in Germany has to have their domicile registered. It wouldn’t take five minutes. Look on the Internet for the local Standesamt or Gemeindeamt. They might also give you a new address because everybody in Germany has to do ‘Anmeldung’ and ‘Abmeldung’ every time they move. It might cost a few Euros to have the search done for you.

    I am glad that you posted this. Few people ever spoke of German friends; things have changed somewhat nowadays but anti-German feeling in the UK is still rife in some circles. I’ve not come across anything nasty in blogland, though.

    You know, I am sure, that Christmas Eve is a very special night in Germany, even more festive than Christmas Day. All my years in the UK I’ve missed it.

    Thank you for this post, Mr. C.

    1. Thanks for the info. I'll check it out. And you're right about Christmas eve. What I liked most was that only one gift was exchanged the importance being placed on family and kinship. I loved my time there and would love to go back someday.

  3. oh I hope you find'm sure it will be worth it.

  4. I love that you gave us the background on this story. I'm glad you enjoyed Germany - almost all G.I.'s stationed there remember their stay there favorable. And I'll second what Friko said.

  5. This is a wonderful post. Nice to put things into perspective. And like everyone else already said, I hope you manage to track your old friends down. Worth a try anyway.

    (If you want to get rid of the anonymous dude, try changing the setting on who's allowed to make comments. If you go to registered users only, anonymous comments can't be made.)

    1. Thanks for that Susan. I'll give it a try. I hate the word scramble thingy.

  6. While in Iceland I fell in love with three German women one day. Even my wife understood as she is half German. I hope you find your old friends.

  7. I'm sorry that I've been away. I plan on reading both your posts carefully as I always love it when you write about your life.


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