Saturday, July 1, 2017

German Who Loved Cold War Army

On a local train between Wiesbaden and Darmstadt, I sat next to a guy in the bicycle car who was in his late 40s. He asked where I was riding. I told him I had visited my former commander who was now at Wiesbaden Air Base where I was stationed in the 70s.

Dieter brightened and said, "I miss the American Army." He grew up in Darmstadt and was in school during the 70s. He said Americans came to all the festivals and brought their Boom Boxes. Black soldiers, he said, were at all of the festivals. He made a gesture indicating he remembered boom boxes a yard long or more. They played soul in the 70s. In the 80s when he was a teenager he heard the beginning of Hip Hop and Rap from the Americans.

Now, he said, all the Americans are gone from Darmstadt.  He was on the way to a big festival which he said was less festive since the Americans left.  I told him about letting German kids about his age play on my tank in the woods near Fulda. That story is here. He said he sat in several America vehicles, but never a tank.

In the 70s, I had the general impression that Germans from cities far from the border saw us as drunks they had to put up with, but closer to the border, they liked us a lot more. It was nice to meet a guy who truly enjoyed having American soldiers in his young life.

My Dad, Estee Lauder and Dietrich Bohoeffer

In recent months I have immersed myself in my past in a way I have never done before. For a couple of months I have been writing about my l...