Germany is one of, if not the most beautiful
of all the European countries. From the North Sea all the way down to deepest
Bavaria, there are breathtaking sights to behold. Most people would
associate Germany with the famous castle, Neuschwanstein, but that is just
one of the many jewels in its crown. Many towns throughout Germany
have castles and palaces. From the Black Forest where cuckoo clocks
are still handmade to the hills in Idar Oberstein where beautiful jewels
are brought from the earth, to the ruins of Roman baths in Trier, there
is always an adventure waiting just around each turn. What follows
is just a quick glimpse into some of the places I lived in and visited.
I first moved to Germany in early 1975 to
what was then, a rather quiet little village by the name of Gelnhausen.
The City of Gelnhausen, located in the Kinzig-Valley between Frankfurt
and Fulda was founded in 1170 by emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. Gelnhausen
can look back to 825 years of history and once was an important part
of the German 'Kaiserreich'. Important historical figures called
Gelnhausen their home. The writer Johann Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
(1622-1676) and Philipp Reis, the inventor of the bicycle and the telephone,
were born in Gelnhausen.
Now if you go in the opposite direction, down
and around a few curvy roads you will come to the town of Buedingen.
This is where I worked for 3 years at the Army Education Center.
Buedingen is smaller than Gelnhausen, but certainly doesn't lack in charm.
It has its own castle in town, complete with black swans swimming
in the moat. A favorite place to go. Not too far outside of
Buedingen on another one of those very curvy roads you come to the village
of Ronnenburg. They also have their own castle, which in its
time must have been quite splendid. You can walk thru what was left
of it and imagine what it must have been
like long long ago. I would drive past
it daily on my way to and from work and it never failed to amaze me that
there was actually a castle sitting on top of the hill.
Now I toured Germany in a rather unconventional
manner when I lived there the first time. I was involved with the
European Rodeo Association and we performed at rodeos every weekend all
over Germany from April through September. We camped in tents at whatever
location we were performing. Now camping in Germany in the spring
and summer can be a very drenching experience. Dry clothes and warm
showers, when available, were truly appreciated. We slept, ate and
lived rodeo. One of the most vivid memories I have is of performing
on July 4, 1976,(America's Bi-Centenial) at the olympic stadium in
Nuremberg. This stadium is often seen in newsreel footage with Hitler
making one of his speeches. We performed before sellout crowds
for 3 days. It was quite a rush! Also during those wonderful
3 years, I skied the Alps in Garmish, visited all of King Ludwig's
beautiful castles and saw, what was then, East Germany. I visited cut
glass crystal and "porcelan" factories on the East German border, shopped
in beautiful candle factories and admired the workmanship of the wood carvers
in the Black Forest.
In summer of 1982 I once again traveled back
to Germany. This time to live briefly in the town of Pirmasens, then
down to a very little village by the name of Fischbach bei Dahn, which
is almost on the French border. My fondest memories of there are
of shoe shopping in Dahn and going to the Christkindl Markt across the
border in Strousborg, France. Christkindl Markt or Christmas Markets
as they were known to the Americans were something that should not be missed.
The ornaments, the nativities, the smell of lebkuchen and the taste of gluhwein. Unbelievable!
July of 1983 brought another move, this time
to the area of Ramstein-Miesenbach. This area is best known to Americans
as home of Ramstein Air Force base and Kaiserslautern, or K-town as it
is commonly called. It has one of the largest concentrations
of American personnel in Germany. It was hard to miss the American influence,
but still possible to find the real Germany.
Ramstein, host community for Ramstein Air
Base, was first mentioned in historical documents in 1215. It survived
several occupations through the years, but the town was completely destroyed
during the thirty Years' War in the early to mid-17th century.
For more than a century the village grew steadily. The village's
first factory was constructed in 1898 creating more jobs. After World
War II, Ramstein Air Force Base was constructed accelerating the
economic growth of the village. Ramstein received its city status
in May 1991. Today, this community has a combined population of more
than 18,000. The relationship Americans enjoy with their German hosts
continues to generate goodwill, friendship, and understanding.
This has been a rather lengthly tour of Germany
and my memories of it. I hope the historical facts were not
too boring, as I felt they were a essential part of this page.
Special thanks goes out to the following people.
To"Bluewebb"You started this whole thing! To Streak for my background and header (and my terrific moon too!). To all my crazy Rodeo buddies, wherever you might be. To the guys from 3/12 who made Buedingen a great place to work. And to the OWC of Ramstein AB for adopting an "Army" wife!
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[A Tribute to Morgan]