Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Happy Times

(Source)
When you reach a certain age (not that I'm there, yet) you start to realize that the bulk of your existence lies in your wake, you're getting near the edge of the chart, and you've got the quartermaster digging for the connecting chart. Hoping that there is a connecting chart and that the end of your voyage through the squalls and vicissitudes of this life isn't winding down. We all come to the end of the trip eventually.

I don't know about you but as I get older I start to look back at the journey, remembering both the good times and the bad times (you know I've had my share), and while you hope that there are good times yet to come, you might just get nostalgic for certain periods in your life. I know I do.

That opening photo shows the Ortseinfahrt (city limits) of the wee village of Waldfeucht in Germany, where I lived for over seven years. I traveled that road Monday through Friday all those years. (For those who like such trivia, there were very few speed limit signs in Germany. When you passed one of those yellow signs above, that marked the beginning of a 50 kph speed limit. Outside of town the speed limit was 100 kph. Those were things you were supposed to know, it was in the book, right along with red means stop, etc., etc. On the autobahn, there are stretches where the sky is the limit. With certain caveats and restrictions in some areas, like the Ruhr industrial area. But yes, I digress.)

One of the happiest periods of my life was spent in Waldfeucht, from roughly 1993 to 1997. Why? Well, in 1993 the kids were still young, The Naviguesser was 14, The Nuke was 11, and The WSO (aka LUSH) was only 9. We had just adopted two wee felines, Pat and Tiger, my job was interesting, the people I worked with were outstanding, and life was just ducky.

What's more, we seemed to have fun all the time. The number of good days made the very few bad days statistically insignificant. Life was simpler as well.

As Americans living in Germany our television options were somewhat limited, there was the Armed Forces Network (AFN) which gave us our sole American channel (a couple of Dutch channels occasionally broadcast newer American shows in English as well) and many hours of laughter. Not from the shows presented mind you, but from the often ridiculous public service announcements which aired in place of commercials. Many of the taglines from those spots the progeny will still use from time to time.

Heck, we even watched wrestling, every Saturday. It was a blast.

The kids were all involved in sports: soccer and baseball/softball. As they were involved, so were The Missus Herself and Your Humble Scribe. We lived about 30 minutes from the base, where most of the games took place. During the spring, summer, and fall, we spent a lot of time on the base. Coaching, cheering the kids on, and even officiating at the kids' games.

We met a lot of good people and had great times. Most of the American contingent in NATO did their grocery shopping in the Netherlands at the little army post of Schinnen. They had a nice Post Exchange and a Commissary which were the nearest U.S. facilities to where we lived.

That was one of the nice things about NATO, it wasn't an assignment to a big American base where it felt like you had never left the United States. Our neighbors were primarily German, though there were a couple of other American families in Waldfeucht. It felt like we were in a foreign country and got to experience many of the traditions and culture of that part of Germany.

Opportunities for travel abounded. The whole family had the chance to spend a week in Bavaria (Oberammergau) while I attended a NATO school. The kids were able to cut loose from school with the proviso that they did the homework assigned and write a report about the trip (which reminds me of an excellent story, POCIR). The school system was set up to optimize those opportunities for travel.

The two cats which we adopted in July 0f 1993 were a key ingredient in our happiness back then. They were the first pets our kids ever had, and the first pets The Missus Herself had really had. (Where she lived in Korea had cats, working cats, they were there to keep the vermin under control. While her family had a dog, he was more of a watch dog. While some Koreans do eat dog, my wife's family did not. They found the custom disgusting. As do I. And that's all I'll ever say about that.)

The cats were six weeks old when we got them, they grew up with the kids and tolerated them very well. Young kittens need to be socialized to deal with children and these two were. The kids loved the cats and the cats loved the kids. Good times.

It ended when my father-in-law passed away, quite unexpectedly. Then The Naviguesser left to go back to the States for college. A year later our little Tiger died from complications of kidney disease, he was only five and the entire clan was devastated. While the happy times continued and continue still, it was different. For five years we had had the perfect existence, we were together and we were young. Everything just seemed to click. Those years were a golden age for my tribe.

Don't get me wrong, things are excellent now. I cherish my kids and grandkids, though they all live so very far away we visit as often as we can. The two cats we have now are wonderful, though they don't tolerate little kids very well, I believe it was The Nuke who first called them "old people cats." They're used to the more sedate life style of mature adults and generally go into hiding when the grands come to visit.

Life is good, I am blessed beyond measure, but man, those few years in Germany provide memories I will cherish forever. I think of those days as "The Happy Times." Things seemed perfect and probably were.

Now the kids are all grown and moved away, they're making their own family memories separate from ours. It's what I did, it's what my father before me did, and what his father did before him. It is the way it's supposed to be.

Good times.




18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. We ( my parents and brother ) were in Europe earlier, '54 to '57. Quite different then. Thanks for reminding me.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. From what I understand it's different now than when we were there 18 years ago.

      Not better though, that's for sure.

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  2. My kids were raised mostly in northern NM in the sleepy little mountain town of Red River - before we moved them to OK. Although we go back quite often, recently we went with my son and his family. Sometimes when I try to explain what northern NM means to me, people in the flatlands just don't get it. But on this recent trip, my son and I were talking about our feelings and love for the mountains, and he told me that he thought his childhood had been exceptional and ideal. Wow! to think that I managed in all my ignorance to provide and exceptional and ideal childhood for my kids! Yep, things change and time marches on, but memories are good.

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    1. Sounds like you gave your son some good ones!

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  3. Though different, reminds me of good times as a kid in Gander, Newfoundland, in the 1970's. The very first time I had any idea of what Dad did for the USN. And NSA. Back when it was considered important, which is sadly coming back. :(

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    1. I'm happy that my kids remember those days the same way I do.

      It makes me happy to see them trying to make happy memories for my grandkids as well.

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  4. "you're getting near the edge of the chart.." You said that very well, and I will borrow it to drop into conversation from time to time.

    A good post.

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    1. Thanks John, glad you enjoyed it.

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    2. Sarge, it seems to me you have the right attitude. The fact that it's like mine may be why I think it's the right one.
      I have known people who would look back on a happy time & just become depressed, often saying aloud that life now was/is not as good, nor as much fun. I treasure the memories I have of good times, people, & places; even, and perhaps even more, when life at present is being an embuggerance. Such memories are like a satisfying book or movie, & the fact that I was there, & can experience again for a moment what it was like, is a bonus. I rarely look back & feel melancholy. If I do, it's usually when thinking about a lost loved one, & when it is, it doesn't last long. They're better off now than I, & I figure on seeing them again anyway.
      I love my life, & I'm one of the happiest men I know. I certainly laugh more than anyone I know, but that may only be an indication of mental instability. It works for me, if it means I enjoy all the blessings I have & continue to receive.
      Thanks for sharing your memory of a lovely place & time for your family. The pleasure it gave, & still gives, you comes through.
      --Tennessee Budd

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    3. I love to laugh and I do it a lot. We are of like minds Tennessee Budd.

      Thanks for the kind words, you know exactly where I'm coming from.

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  5. Very nicely said. There are some times in all of our lives that are more fondly remembered than others. And it's damn nice to look back on those times, and especially to write about them. Those of us with a bit of writing talent (you are one) get to re-live the memories just a bit more clearly, I think. It's a blessing.

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    1. It is indeed. I like your trips down memory lane as well.

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  6. Mainly good memories of Germany 1964-1966. Did the tourist bit in Oberammergau and some training in the area.

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    1. It's a beautiful area around Oberammergau and Garmisch-Parternkirchen.

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    2. Yes, USAFE used to hold their command-wide tennis tournament at Garmisch-Parternkirchen every early summer and so got so spend three wonderful years worth of 2 week periods there on the courts at the US rec center. Lots of great sight-seeing and food...

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    3. PS: Years spring 69-71. CG 3rdAF would fly we qualifiers over on his pvt ac from the UK.... el neato..

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    4. RE your first comment Virgil - my Dad spent three years in Germany '46-'49, spent a lot of time down in Bavaria around Garmisch-Parternkirchen. I remembered his stories when I was there. It's a lovely place.

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    5. RE your second comment Virgil - That IS el neato.

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