So, according to the calendar, 30 years ago today was a Sunday. Funny, I don't remember the days of the week anymore. (CRS heh heh!) But, I remember being nervous in the service, so to speak. I have always been antsy before a trip, military PCS, annual leave, day trip, etc. Even unto this very day, before departure I am filled with all sorts of fears.
For example, we never had a car when I was small. In San Francisco, we didn't need one. When we moved to Sacramento, we lived on the street car line, and it was 15 minutes to downtown, and 20 minutes to the SP Depot and shops where my Dad worked. We would take many trips a year to San Francisco, catching the 7:30 train, the El Dorado, and being in the City (in California, San Francisco is referred to as "the City) by 9:50, which was a good time to start a day's visiting relatives. But, for years, my stomach would churn so much the morning before a trip, that I would toss my cookies, usually within five minutes before we needed to leave home.
That applies today. Well, I no longer toss my cookies, but I don't sleep the night before, and when we are packing I am always out of my mind, trying to get Liliane and Andy to finish their packing so we can get to bed early, and not have to do last minute stuff. And I worry about driving to the airport, and I worry about missing connections, and I worry about plane problems. And, when I worry, I become loud, and demanding, a virtual tyrant! (What hell I put my family through before trips.)
So, 30 years ago, on Sunday, 14 Jan 68, I was all fluttery. I walked the dog, at least once an hour. Poor beast; his toe nails were worn to a frazzle. And it was cold. Almost four feet of snow on the ground. And Liliane's Mom and brother had taken the train from Heidelberg to spend the day with us - which was most unwelcome to me.
We had moved
out of quarters in Vogelweh (one time largest American
Military Housing Area outside the United States) into the bottom left flat of a quadplex built by an old German Sugar Daddy of a lawyer for his young, nubile, blonde wife. This was in Hohenecken, about four klicks up the highway from Vogelweh where my wife was employed as a host country language and cultural teacher at Kaiserslautern American Elementary School #1.
The place was built with American renters in mind, with American specs; except for the utility room in the joint basement, where measurements constructed were built to European specs for the washer and dryer. Since we were the last ones to move in, our dryer wouldn't fit in the utility room, and it was out in the basement proper. And, I feel good in that the American working at Ramstein AFB and his wife, who live up stairs, inform me that they will watch after Liliane and Don.
My wife will be able to use the commissary and PX for some 90 days, I think it was 90, certainly no more, after I depart. But, she won't be able to use rationed items since I will no longer be a member of NATO forces. More important, she will still be able to us the American Express Bank.
The Colonel commanding the 24th Engineer Group that my company supported told me that they would look after her, too.
Biggest worry? Simple. Liliane was preggers. We had lost a child a year ago when she was five months pregnant, which no one outside our family knew. And, I took the liberty of informing the Colonel that she was pregnant, and because of the previous loss, I was very concerned.
Finally, we went to dinner at the O Club in Vogelweh, where they had a great Sunday buffet, complete with a baron of beef. And, I could eat very little.
When we got home, I walked the dog. As I said, there was snow on the ground, and the streets of Hohenecken, which was situated on both sides of a narrow valley, were steep and icy. Buscuit, being a husky, had a powerful pull, and loved walking in snow and ice; and he was pulling me all over. Every time I tried to stop, I would slide and slip. We came to a cross street, with a local indiginous person driving his POV coming down hill. The dog wouldn't stop, and I couldn't stop him, and he ran into the side of this Volkswagen Beetle, which immediately spun around, sliding to the bottom of the hill.
Out came the
driver, calling me, "Ein verdampt Chicago Gangster!" I
replied in kind, and this guy, who obviously loved his kartoffels und bier, took a wild swing at me, lost his balance, and slid down another block. Me, in ducking his blow, I lost my balance, and slide down beside him, with the dog, all 75 pounds of him coming on down on top of the two of us. After some more, "Verdampt Amerikaners," and "fucking dumb asses," we went our separate ways. Secretly, I was hoping he would call the cops. Maybe it would delay my departure.
Damn! No such luck! Why did I have to go to Vietnam, anyway?