The city of Stuttgart, Germany was my home for a number of years.  More precisely, the Army base on which I lived was located in the suburban hamlet of Moehringen, an easy train ride away from downtown.
The city center was located deeper in the valley surrounded by hills dotted with small modern apartment-buildings, vineyards, and open parks.  For a kid who had left Belize one morning on TACA’s 11am flight to Miami, and then five months later (after training courses in Kentucky and Indiana) landed in Stuttgart via Franfurt, everything seemed foreign, wondrous, and dreamlike.  I quickly learned to love pommes frites with mayo, grilled sausages with sharp, tangy mustard, and dark German beer. On my base, the troops were encouraged to get out and see the best of the continent.  Within a couple hours drive, inexpensive bus tours took the adventurous to Amsterdam, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.  3 and 4 day passes allowed for longer trips to Italy and Spain.  Everyone shipped Belgian lace table-cloths, cuckoo-clocks, and blown Murano glass trinkets back home to Mom and Grand-ma.

 I especially enjoyed the experience of working alone from 4-12 midnight; night after night, I processed personnel paperwork on a now-obsolete 1st or 2nd generation WANG computer, my only companion was the radio on which RADIO LONDON could be heard crystal clear.  Bands such as Crowded House, Bronski Beat, and Soft Cell shared the limelight with A Flock Of Seagulls, Human League, and Madness.  Down at King’s Club, weekend revelers grooved to the sounds of Evelyn ’Champagne’ King, Eartha Kitt, Falco, and Nina Hagen.  Punk and Goth hairstyles and clothing was particularly favored by many of Stuttgart’s urban youth, and this was easily evidenced by any train ride through the city where mohawked and pierced teens sat carefully next to uneasy grandmothers smartly attired in tweed overcoats, scarves, and sensible pumps—they proudly wearing a style representative of the time(s) just before the war. 

Some things haven’t changed:  I still stay up way too late at night listening to music, now more easily accessed through Internet Radio and ITUNES.  Boiled cabbage, rye-bread, and wiener/jager/zigeuner schnitzel makes me nostalgic for the time spent in Germany and the friends I made there.  For staying in touch with my European experience, NETFLIX helps with a nice selection of foreign movies and off-beat indies, as does the Young Concert Series at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., and viewing contemporary art by Keifer, Baselitz, Penck and other neo-expressionist painters at the Hirshhorn Museum.  As well as the sly humor of Heidi Klum who keeps Project Runway from succumbing to bland niceness, or an even more false ‘reality.’ 

Please enjoy today’s visual treat, and have a cold lager on me!!



Iris W. said…
missing my home country when reading your beautiful article.
Michael Herbas said…
Let's have a cold Spaten sometime!!