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Sunday In Germany: Another Rant from North Germany

by Ken Yeager (ACS)

October, 2012  ——  Winter is coming our way.  Leaves are falling from the trees, beckoning me to come rake.  The squirrels are active, storing nuts for the winter, but leaving me untouched.  Temps are dropping, with a high today of about 50ºF…its been cool, and only rained once, from 0630 til about 1500, constantly.  I have to put the motorcycle into storage pretty soon.  I keep watching the weather hoping for another nice day with some sunshine so I can get in a few more kilometers,  miles to you state-side folks, but I’m pretty sure it ain’t gonna happen.  My wife has already started her Christmas shopping and we will probably do some more on Monday as we have to go into downtown Hamburg for a medical test (the wife, not me).  I like being in the city for a few hours….looking into the shops at things I don’t need but can afford, or things I would like to have but can’t afford (have you seen the Audi R12?  Priced in Germany at about € 125,000 or about $156,000).  Germany newspaper a few months ago had an article about one being clocked at over 300 kms per hour (186 mph) on a French highway…Actually it was traveling faster than that as the radar gun only went up to 300 kph.  When stopped, it turned out it was a borrowed car and since the Autobahns in Germany are too crowded for that speed, he took it to a toll road in France.  Car was confiscated by the police and as to a fine or penalty, no idea.  Actually, I’m beyond sports cars now…I’d settle for an Audi A-4 convertible…easy to get in and out of without turning into a pretzel.

Had a very nice conversation with Brooks (Toland) Kasson the other day via Skype…what a wonderful program.  If some you had burning ears it was because we talked about many of you.  I really do wish it would be easy to gather up all of the crowd that I ran around with during my 1961-62 school year, sit at a round table with a few beers and talk about “them times.”  As each year passes, we become fewer and fewer…sometimes I hate getting older, but then again, it beats the alternative.  But talking with Brooks was so easy…it was like we haven’t been separated for 50 years….50 years,….my God, that is a long time.  I think about the crowd and then think that we all went in a 100 different directions with our lives, some following the flag, some off to university, most getting married and having kids but all following pretty much different professions.  I don’t consider myself unique, but I wonder how many of my crowd ended up in such a weird career as I did with the Foreign Service.  One of my friends from Dalat ended up being a professional police office,  another an admiral in the Navy, some became ministers (now that was no surprise given their backgrounds as Dalat was a school for missionary kids).  It saddens me to have missed all of the reunions, especially the ones in the US, one of which I was in the US at the time but before discovering the Saigon Kids sites and linking up with some of you.

With one exception, I’ve lost all contact with my Army mates.  Actually, I’ve forgotten most of their names and with no yearbooks, like the Gecko to fall back on, they have almost totally escaped my memory.  One fellow from my old unit in Long Binh, but before my time, did start a website and that was how I linked up with the one exception, and I managed to put some names to faces in photos that I still have.   I cannot tell you how many times I have regretted being a lousy correspondent and lost contact with so many friends.  The Internet and Facebook have helped me reconnect with many as has sites like this one, but still many friends remain lost.  Hopefully we will still find more Saigon Kids and old Army buddies but time is fading.

My wife and I had dinner with some friends last night in Hamburg at an Indian restaurant.  Now I know very little about Indian food but I liked what I ate.  Our friends, Germans whom we have known now for more than 30 years and who I introduced to my wife, have just come back from a 22 day trip through western China, and a couple of the Stan countries.  Interesting, they said, but never again.  Pretty primitive and at times, a bit hairy.  Police, border guards, road blocks, even with an organized tour.  Certainly makes me want to stay home in our nice warm house.  Oh, did I mention that we have moved?  Back in March, we discovered a small leak in one  of the bathrooms and contacted our landlord who in turn contacted some company who came to the house with some specialized equipment and were able to isolate the leak, dug up the tiled floor, closed off the leak and departed, leaving exposed pipes but a dry floor.  Next came an electrical problem.  Now before I go farther, let me ‘splain something….we rent, our landlord owns numerous properties and obviously is used to some people trashing his properties, complaining, etc., and thus has little interest in the care and maintenance of his properties as long as the rents roll in.  That said, he has been pretty reasonable with us but……  One day our upstairs neighbor rang our bell and asked for access to the basement for the cable guy because her TV reception was bad.  Down we went and the cable guy began to tinker with the cable box and ZZZaaapppp, he got hit with more volts than expected, drops his tools and said, I’m out of here.  Interestingly enough, half of the lights in our apartment were out so we began looking for the problem.  Next door neighbor came over for some reason and we mentioned lights out and he said he knows a good electrician, made the call and the fellow shows up, futz around for a while and finally get the lights back on, doesn’t really fix the problem and says this house is an electrical fire waiting to happen.  That’s it, exclaims my wife, we are moving.  Started looking for a new place and I noted a house that had been on the market for quite a while….let’s look at it I said.  Wow.  Big basement with pantry, laundry room and huge storage room.  Ground floor with kitchen/dining room combination, guest WC, and large living room (ca. 40m2) with terraces off of dining and living rooms, 1st floor with master bedroom and bath, two smaller bedrooms with balcony and another bathroom.  2nd floor, finished room under the roof, large enough for two easy chairs, large desk, king sized bed, TV, and book cases.  Carport, and garden.  Like I said, Wow.  House has been vacant for about 18 months.  Reason stated in the newspaper ad was no pets but second reason was  because the owner didn’t want a family with small children, so old farts like us are a perfect fit.  YES, we will take it and we do. We begin to make arrangements to move, packing up boxes (exhausting work) and getting rid of junk (we still have too much).  Movers come and after book cases are moved, mold is discovered against one outside wall (another reason to move).  Two days later, we are in the house.  Four days later, I fly out to the US for two weeks, leaving my lovely wife to cope with the getting things set up, but she’s done this before, many times.  End result, WE LOVE IT HERE.   This is really a nice place with a lovely well maintained garden with lots of spring flowers.  Motorcycle parking problem overcome with two cases of beer a month to a neighbor for partial use of his garage.  One upstairs bedroom has been turned into an office and this is where I sit to write these worthless ramblings.  And now I think it is time to stop and report to my easy chair for some TV viewing in German…..And reading in English.  I do love my Kindle.

I wish everyone a pleasant and safe weekend.  Ciao.

3 comments to Sunday In Germany: Another Rant from North Germany

  • brooks toland kasson

    so good to skype you last week, ken…you, leaning back in your easy chair in your new house, reminiscing.
    best to all of us saigon kids, and many thanks for all the technological support in keeping us together!
    brooks

  • Frank

    Last year was the last time I was taking students to Europe. Wrong! My friend Carlos is now the leader, and I will be going with him. We will go to many places, but two of them are Heidelberg and Munich in Germany. I have always thought that the best kept secrets of Europe is Germany. The food, the beer, the wine, the hospitality can not be beat! Germany is fantastic!
    We have 21 students to watch this next June, heaven help us! We have not lost one yet in 10 years of doing this! I keep saying I’m getting too old for this, but the event is also helping me to keep younger. Believe it or not, I have faith in the next generation. Do you remember when we were blamed for the Russians and Sputnik beatin’ us into space?…”If kids today would only” (Rock and Roll is screwing every things up…It’s the beat, the beat, the beat!!!)…I think even back in Plato’s days they said this!

    • Kenneth R. Yeager

      Never been to Heidelberg but two Munich a couple of times, not counting train transfers. While it is a bit touristy, try the Ratskeller for a meal….excellent German food and the beer ain’t bad either. Any chance you will be in Hamburg or up north in any way? In any event, enjoy yourselves.

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