Thursday, February 25, 2010


In early 1966, my father was transferred from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Bad Tolz, Germany leaving my mother behind to sell our mobile home, car, and most of our belongings. We moved to my aunt Ruby’s house in Texas for three weeks until we had our travel orders for our trip to Germany. I was in the fifth grade, Danny was in the third and we had to go to school in Monahans during our short stay there. I honestly don’t remember much about it except that the father of one of the boys I became friends with owned the local Chevrolet dealership and his mother drove a beautiful red over white 1964 Cadillac Coupe De Ville which made me green with envy.

On my first day of school my teacher was wearing sunglasses in the classroom, she told my mother she ran into a cabinet and got a black eye. Later that day when my mother picked us up from school she said, “I’ll bet she ran into a cabinet, I’ve run into that cabinet a couple of times myself.” “What do you mean, she didn’t run into a cabinet?” I asked. “Hell no, I’m sure her husband punched her in the eye.” “The teacher had a fight with her husband?” I said. “Honey, every woman has fights with her husband from time to time. Only some husbands hit them, not all men do it though.” I couldn’t believe it the teachers I looked up to that were supposed to be so perfect actually had fights just like my mother and father. I grew silent because I didn’t want to stir up old memories and I couldn’t remember my parents having a really bad fight since I was seven and they came home from a party where my father ripped the buttons off my mother’s beautiful gold stripped dress and punched her to the floor of our dining room when we lived on base in San Antonio.

The time passed quickly and soon it was time for us to leave. “I don’t want to go to Germany,” I whined. “Why?” my aunt Agnes asked. “Because I can’t speak German and they eat funny food over there.” I said. I’d been reading a little bit about Germany and Bavaria where we were going to be living and I wasn’t too keen on living near “The Black Forest” where the trees grew so close together it appeared to be dark, hence the name. I figured that was where Hansel and Gretel had gotten lost and I sure as hell didn’t want to get lost in there. “Oh they’ll speak English over there and I’m sure you can find something to eat. You like German potato salad don’t you?” my mother said. “No they won’t” I pouted. “You need to look at this as an opportunity of a lifetime young man.” My aunt Agnes said. I always remembered her words and I tried to learn and see as much as I could while we were over there. Ruby and Agnes drove us to the airport in Midland in Agnes’s white 1965 Oldsmobile where we boarded a prop plane that took us to Love Field in Dallas. Then we transferred to a big jet that was to take us to JFK airport in New York City. Whoever booked our seats couldn’t get the three of us together, so there were two seats side by side and another several rows forward. Well my mother wasn’t about to let an eleven year old and a nine year old sit together, so she sat beside Danny while I had to take an isle seat beside two strangers, which I was none too happy about. I made my mother recite our travel plans to me over and over because I was afraid I’d get separated from them and I’d have to know what to tell people to get us reunited. The stewardess’s were so pretty one even looked like that German actress I liked, Elke Sommer. She walked down the isle with a basket of fruit and offered it to people as she went. I saw a beautiful pear that I wanted badly, but when she got to me I pretended to be asleep because I thought you had to pay for it and I didn’t have any money. Boy was I pissed when I looked back a few minutes later and saw that my brother not only had the pear I’d wanted, but an apple and a coke too. There were two slightly older boys wearing navy blazers that were carrying on with the stewardess trying to get her to give them cigarettes and drinks. They were thirteen and fourteen and told her the name of some school they attended in the city, I was very impressed by them.

When we arrived in New York City we took a cab from JFK to our overnight quarters at Fort Hamilton. The cab driver pointed out landmarks along the way like the Empire State building and the Chrysler building. After he helped us with our heavy luggage my mother handed him some bills and told him to keep the change. ”Keep the change, keep the change?” I couldn’t believe it, I’d only heard people say that in the movies not my mother. The next morning April 11th, we got on a bus with a lot of other people that took us to the dock to board our ship. I was so ignorant I thought I saw those two boys in their blue blazers on their way to school that morning. The USS Rose was only an old troop ship on its last Trans Atlantic voyage before reporting to duty in the Pacific for the war in Viet Nam, but it might as well have been the “Queen Mary” to me. I’ll admit that when I tell most people we took a ship to Germany I don’t usually tell them it was a troop ship. After finding our cabin and our luggage we went up on deck to wait for it to set sail. It was so exciting as the ship moved away from the dock. Mother was holding on tightly to Danny because he was trying to climb up on the railing and it would be just like him to topple over into the water. He and I were wearing the brand new beige Ban Lon shirts my grandmother had bought us for the trip. I loved new clothes and we didn’t get them often, so I was being very careful. Just then my mother pointed to the Statue of Liberty just ahead of us. I was shocked it was green! I knew it was made of copper we’d learned that in school, but all the photographs I’d seen of it were in black and white, so I just assumed it would be shinny like a penny. That bright flat green wasn’t anything I’d ever imagined in my mind. As we sailed past it my mother was holding Danny up to get a better look and I stood on a rung and leaned against the wooden railing in awe of its size and its greenness. After the excitement was over I got down and my mother said, “Sammy look at your shirt.” There was a huge black strip of grease right across the front. I was heartbroken my new shirt was ruined the very first time I wore it.

The trip across the Atlantic took seven days. Larger, faster ships could make it in four, but this wasn’t the SS United States, which we’d missed sailing on by about a week. The first day out we had a lifeboat drill. I didn’t like the fact that we were assigned to boat number thirteen and they kept on repeating the women and children first rule of the sea. I was big for my age and at eleven you’re stuck in between I was worried, but my mother assured me that if the ship sank she would see to it that I got in the lifeboat with her and Danny. When we first saw our little cabin it was pretty dismal. We had to share a bathroom with the cabin next door and it had one twin bed and a bunk bed. All Danny could do when he saw it was jump up and down and squeal, “I want the top bunk! I want the top bunk!” I wanted it because that was where the porthole was and you could look right out on the ocean, but mother said he could have it. It wasn’t long until he regretted his decision because April isn’t exactly a good time to sail the Atlantic and three days out we ran into some pretty rough storms. The ship bucked and pitched so much that some crazy military lady ran around the dining room pouring our glasses of water on the table cloths to keep our plates from sliding off. She threw open the door to our cabin one day and yelled at Danny to get off the ladder to his bunk. Mother said, “The next time she does that I’m going to throw my book at her and say, oh I’m sorry you scared me.” Mother gave us some of the sea sick medicine she’d brought along, but all it did was make us groggy and we had to get in our bed at times to ride out the storms because walking around was too dangerous. Danny lay on his top bunk with a green face and moaned, “Close the curtain. Close the curtain.” because he couldn’t stand seeing the ocean pitch and roll outside the port hole. One stormy night mother attended a party in the dining room and had to hire a babysitter because children under twelve weren’t allowed to stay in the cabins by themselves. We weren’t happy with the fact that the girl my mother found to baby sit was only twelve. Danny made that couple of hours pretty miserable for her by getting up on his bunk and letting a long slow stream of spit flow out of his mouth onto her hair. All I could do was set back and laugh while she read to us because the string of spit would sway with the ship on its slow journey to the top of her head and she wasn’t even aware of it. The ship jerked and seemed to turn suddenly and we were a little shaken by it. When mother returned, she said some people that were dancing actually fell down. Apparently one of the portholes near the waterline broke and they had to turn the ship away from the current to patch it up or something. She had a hard time making it back to our cabin in heels.

When the weather was nice the trip was actually an adventure. It was great having breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in a dining room and getting to choose what we wanted. Our waiter was foreign and made us laugh by calling milk “Cow Uuce”. There was another man that walked around the ship playing some sort of a hand held Xylophone when it was meal time. One day we heard a sound like he’d dropped it down some stairs, we turned around and he was letting Danny bang on it. People got a good laugh over that, but I was a little embarrassed by it. Danny seemed to know every inch of that ship if mother and I got turned around he could tell us exactly how to get where we wanted to go. Mother gave us some money to spend and he spent his on some kind of toy, but I bought her a beautiful strand of cultured pearls in a pink velvet box lined with pink satin from the ship’s gift shop. On our last day we sailed through the English Channel and got to see the White Cliffs of Dover and Danny actually spotted some dolphins frolicking in front of the ship, we docked in Bremerhaven although today mother insists it was Bremen. I guess it’s an easy mistake since Bremerhaven is in the state of Bremen, but Bremen is a city on a river thirty seven miles inland.

From Bremerhaven we took a train to Munich and actually our own private sleeping cars like people did in the old movies. I was glad to have one all to myself while Danny had to stay with my mother. I didn’t sleep much that night because I was afraid the vibration of the train would cause my suitcase to fall from its overhead storage shelf on my head and I just had to peek out the blind every time the train came to a stop so see the strange looking buildings with their steep sloped roofs. I was also shocked by the fact that when you flushed the toilet it opened up and you could see the train tracks below. My father met us at the train station in Munich, driving a borrowed Volkswagen Beetle with a buddy of his. What was he thinking, five people and all that luggage? I ended up having to sit on his buddy’s lap for the forty miles to Bad Tolz, while Danny sat on mother’s lap. I don’t know if I was embarrassed because I was almost as big as he was, or because he was so handsome. We stopped at a Gasthaus to get something to eat and I didn’t care for my first taste of German cuisine. Everyone else ate wurst and brochen, a bread roll with a hard crust, I just ate brochen with mustard on it.

We soon found out why daddy didn’t bring his own car. He’d purchased a 1951 Volkswagen Beetle. He’d paid all of one hundred fifty dollars for it which was about one hundred forty eight dollars more than it was worth. It was black with a light blue right door. The beige mohair upholstery was rotten and smelly, it had a huge slide back cloth sunroof with plenty of water stains and every time he pressed the accelerator the passenger seat fell backwards. My mother would squeal and holler and my brother and I would burst into laughter as we tried to help her back up.
If we still had that split rear window car today it would be worth a small fortune, but haven’t we all had those thoughts about a car we had in the past? At first we thought the Beetle was funny, but soon it became an embarrassment for both of us and we realized it was a sub standard piece of junk. The turn signals were metal flaps that came out of the “B” pillars and didn’t work, so we watched my father use hand signals to turn left, or right, which we’d never seen anyone do before and wondered where he’d learned such things which seemed so silly to us. He had to roll the window down even when it was snowing, or raining. We owned it throughout that spring and summer, the car always seemed cold, damp, and moldy, and it smelled that way too. Danny and I hated it while at the same time we thought it both silly and amusing. We missed our 1963 Plymouth Valiant convertible, it was black with a white top, red vinyl interior, with a heater, radio, and turn signals. Oh, for the simple American things in life.
In reality the Beetle was the closest thing to what Ferdinand Porsche had planned as the production as the 1936 “Peoples Car” for Hitler. As this was one of the first few years of production runs when the British had re opened the factory after World War II. The 1951 model was as close to anything Ferdinand Porsche might have planned for Hitler, the “People’s Car” became the hope for Germany’s future. You could actually buy something like “Green Stamps” to apply towards the purchase of a Volkswagen, but that plan never actually panned out. There were actually game pieces shaped like the cars so you could see how close you were to having your own Volkswagen. No one ever got one that way though. Try to buy one of those games on eBay today!

When we first moved to Germany it was fun like a new adventure to another planet. It all seemed so exciting. Our first apartment was on the fourth floor of the American housing and had seventeen bedrooms. We were forbidden by my mother to go into any of the bedrooms that weren’t our own only because this was temporary housing and she was responsible for cleaning the entire apartment before we left. We would peek into all the other bedrooms looking for something different, but they all looked the same. To tell the truth I really didn’t like the fact that fifteen of those rooms had to be kept shut, it gave me the creeps. God only knew what was lurking behind those doors at night. I suppose they were built for GI’s who when were first deployed to Germany, shared the same housing with one kitchen, dining room, and bathroom, until they were moved to other accommodations. I thought we were rich like “The Beverly Hillbilly’s” or something. Seventeen bedrooms, seventeen bedrooms! We had no idea all those happy memories would soon change and Germany would become the worst nightmare of our entire lives.

My father was a Green Beret, a paratrooper, and one of the 10th Special Forces group that was stationed at the Flint Kaserne which was built as a huge training facility for SS Officer Candidates in 1937. It was like a huge fortress built in a rectangle with turrets at the entry like a medieval castle at the main entrance and always seemed dark and verboten to me. It was pretty much self contained and had almost everything we could want, or need. A movie theater, library, Olympic size indoor swimming pool, commissary, cafeteria, bowling ally, doctors offices, dentist offices, a bookstore, and even a Sunday school. There was no American television, so we went to the movies which cost almost nothing, at least three times a week and since there was still snow until early June sometimes I’d walk through the snow to spend endless hours at the library. A man who lived in our apartment complex told my father once, “You must be proud of your son. I see him walking to the library in the snow by himself all the time. He must really be a smart kid.” My father told him, “I am proud of him” and related the story to me, which made me feel good. Little did he know that I would find any excuse to get the hell out of the house.

Germany could have been such a wonderful experience for us. We could’ve taken weekend trips to all the beautiful castles and towns, there’s so much history there. Even the little town of Bad Tolz is like something out of a story book. We did take a family trip to Garmisch once and I remember walking through the “General Walker Hotel” thinking it had only been a little over twenty years since Hitler had walked those same halls. We did take one camping trip to Lake Chiemsee where King Ludwig II castle Herrenchiemsee is. We pitched a tent and stayed there three days, but my father had to get pretty drunk at both places and Danny and I ended up sleeping in the car so we wouldn’t have to be near him. He forced my mother into having sex with him in the tent and we heard everything.

I don’t remember when my father’s drinking started getting out of control, but it began to consume our lives. By then we’d moved to our three bedroom apartment and he’d sold the Beetle and bought a dark blue 1958 Mercedes Benz 190 for five hundred dollars. What I remember most was my father coming home from work drunk and my mother attacking him as he came in the door. Curse words flying, fingernails flashing, hands slapping, and him trying to fend her off, which resulted in punches, hair pulling, furniture being broken, endless crying, black eyes, and embarrassing looks from the neighbors. We’d gone to an October Fest carnival at the Kaserne and mother took daddy home because he was getting too drunk. Before she left she said, “You keep an eye on your little brother and be home by eight o’clock.” When it was ten minutes of eight I found him and said, “Danny we need to go now, mother told us to be home by eight.” “I’m not ready to go home yet.” He said. “Danny, we have to go or we’ll get in trouble!” I pressed. “I wanna play some more games.” He said. We argued a while longer and then I went home by myself. When I got home daddy was still up drinking and mother sent me back to get him, he still refused to come with me, so when I arrived without him again she drove me over there in the car and waited while I searched for him. I ran into my sixth grade teacher and she said, “Why Sammy, it’s after nine o’clock, what are you doing out this late?” I said, “My mother told us to be home by eight, but Danny won’t leave.” She knew him because she tutored him after school and she said, “I’ll go with you and we’ll find him and make him go home.” When we found him she said, “Danny it’s too late for you boys to be out. You go with Sammy right now and go home like your mother told you to.” He walked with me a little way and said, “I’m not going home, she’s not the boss of me and I’m going back.” No matter how much I threatened and pleaded he wouldn’t listen and just kept on walking. I went back to the car and told mother and she said, “We’ll just have to go home and tell your father to go get him and he’ll give him a whipping.” When we drove down the street to our apartment my father was standing in the street beer bottle in hand screaming at us, “You’ve been out screwing somebody haven’t you, haven’t you? You bitch!” Mother drove off down the street and turned the car around keeping a safe distance between him and us. She drove forward slowly trying to reason with him, “Sonny we were just out looking for Danny and he won’t listen to Sammy and come home.” “No you weren’t! You went out to screw that guy didn’t you? You whore!” He screamed at the top of his lungs as he kicked in the driver’s door. You could hear his screaming echoing between the buildings, and since most people kept their windows open everyone could hear him. A man who lived downstairs from us had to come fend my father off with a baseball bat because he wouldn't let my mother and me park in our parking space, my dad started fighting back. Then some more neighbors got involved and mother parked the car and got out to intervene while she sent me once again to get Danny. Half way there I found the little shit walking home and I said, “You don’t know all the trouble you’ve caused,” and told him what happened. When we walked into the apartment it looked like a bomb had gone off, furniture was overturned, broken glass was everywhere and the living and dining room were in ruins. Daddy was already in bed and mother was sitting on the sofa crying with her hair all askew. She wore it in a “French Twist” and it was almost all down to her shoulders by then. I could see the beginning of a black eye through her running mascara. She looked up and said, “Danny why didn’t you just come home when I told you to?” He slinked off to bed and then mother went to bed and asked me to go get Judy to help me clean things up. She knew all the neighbors had witnessed and heard the whole brawl anyway. I went across the hall and asked mother's best friend Judy to please come and help me clean up our apartment. She and I spent thirty minutes up righting furniture, cleaning up broken plates, dishes, and knick knacks. Judy made a big pot of coffee, but I don't remember anyone drinking it that night except her and stayed with me until after midnight. Thank God for Judy, I was twelve years old at the time and I don't know what I would've done without her.

As a child trying to survive I had to do the best I could, so I learned a few tricks. The door to our apartment on the third floor must've been at least two and one half inches of thick, solid, wood. When I came home from school if my car was in our parking space I'd listen at the door to see if I could hear any noise before I opened it. Most of the time if it was quiet I knew it was safe to go inside, but there were a couple of times I opened the door and just missed being hit by flying objects that my mother was hurling at my father. Another time he was so drunk she had him bent over at the waist with one hand on the back of his shirt and the other full of hair as she slammed hid head into the door frame screaming, “You son of a bitch! You son of a bitch!” When she let go of him he stood up and staggered around in a drunken stupor with his hair sticking straight up. I had to back out of the apartment and shut the door because I busted out laughing and I was afraid that even as drunk as he was he’d get mad at me. If I came home and put my ear up to the door and heard screaming and yelling I'd go up to the top of the stairwell on the fourth floor, start my home work and wait for Danny to come home, so I could warn him not to go inside. I can't tell you the times that we sat up there waiting for my drunken father and my hysterical mother to calm down so we could go inside.

Once for some reason mother had needed the car to drive to Munich, probably to shop at the commissary there because they had a much larger store than the one at the Kaserne. We rode with her to pick daddy up in the small town of Lenggries about five miles away where he worked. He hadn’t called her to come get him until he was good and wasted. She was so angry with him she drove home at a high rate of speed with the tires on the Mercedes squealing as we wound our way through the mountainous roads screaming at him. Danny and I became scared because we’d heard stories of guys crashing their cars on that very same stretch of road. It was then that we realized for the first time in years that we were in a car with no seat belts, so we held onto each other. My father looked back and said, “Wanda slow down you’re scaring the kids, look at them.” She screamed, “What does it matter if we crash? They’ve got a drunk for a father. What in the hell do they have to live for?” I was then we were certain we were going to plunge off the cliff in a huge fire ball and that would be that.

My mother would blame herself for his drinking. She would think it was because she didn’t keep the apartment clean enough, or because she wasn’t pretty enough, or because she didn’t cook well enough, or because she wasn’t good enough in bed. She would sit in the front window of our apartment dressed like “June Cleaver” with a wonderful dinner on the stove and wail and cry because my father was out drinking. She even fell to the floor clasped her hands in prayer and swayed back and fourth in a shirt waist dress like some TV evangelist begging God to just make him stop drinking. Once, when she was in one of her “High Drama” episodes when I was twelve and crying like someone who’d just witnessed a great calamity with her head in her arms on the dining room table. I tried to comfort her by saying the only thing I’d ever heard in my entire life, “Why don’t you divorce him?” Her head spun around like Linda Blair’s in the “Exorcist”. “That’s what you kid’s want isn’t it, isn’t it? Well let me tell you something, if it comes down to choosing you kids or your father, I’ll pick your father every time!” At the age of twelve you can imagine just how that made me feel. People wonder to this day as to why I have no self confidence.

She decided she wanted a baby girl and they were going to adopt a German baby. I couldn’t imagine why she would want another baby when she was constantly threatening to leave my father anyway. I asked her about it and she hissed at me, “Maybe a baby is just what this family needs!” When I returned from one of my field trips in April, 1968 she greeted me with some left over home made tacos and the news that she was pregnant. Danny and I were both so embarrassed that my parent’s were still having sex that neither of us told any of our friends. My sister Stacy was born in November after we’d moved back to the U.S.

What little happiness I had came from the money I earned baby sitting for fifty cents an hour to buy Motor Trend Magazines, "Jo Han" Cadillac models, or "Diana Ross and the Supreme's" albums, which cost two dollars and ninety five cents, which equaled seven hours of baby sitting. The theater at the Kaserne was a nice escape from reality too. I spent many an hour there watching almost every American film made from 1962 to 1968. By the time I was thirteen I’d stay at home alone while my parents and brother went to the movies just so I could listen to my records on our fantastic new Grundig stereo without being bothered. I did find some measure of happiness at school my best pals were Vicky, Craig, and Jacque, and our German teachers would take us on field trips. Our regular teachers were American, but Frau Zerluth and Frau Schneider taught us to speak German and taught us about German culture and food. We got to go to nearby churches, towns, restaurants, and even took an over night trip to see some of King Ludwig II castles Linderhoff, Neuschwanstein, and Hoenschwangau. I was even awarded a little book of photos of Bad Tolz where the back page has “13 June 1967 A reward for outstanding work done on German culture folders, Frau Zerluth.”

There were occasional happy times at home, like our first Christmas there when we got new bikes. Even that was tainted by a late night conversation I overheard where my father was bitching about spending so much money on us. I remember my mother saying, “Sonny, do you know how much money we spent on the boys last Christmas? Eight dollars! I think they deserve a decent Christmas this year to make up for it.” He still wasn’t happy about it. When we went to bed Christmas Eve mother said, “I can’t believe here it is our first Christmas in Germany and we don’t even have snow.” The next morning when we awoke there was a foot of beautiful snow covering everything, it was magical. My parents bought us a poodle puppy from a lady who was knocking door to door with a basket full of all kinds of puppies Poodles, Dachshunds, and Schnauzers. We wanted the one she had, but apparently it was a “display model” and we had to place our order and wait. The day we picked him up at the train station there was this tiny black puppy in this big crate filled with excelsior. A German man at the train station brought out a crowbar and opened it for us. We both grabbed for him at the same time and Danny got him first of course. When we got him home we named him “Jocko” and mother discovered he was much too young to have been weaned, so she had to make a paste of “Gains Burgers” and milk to feed him until he got a little older. I loved that dog and he brought so much joy into our lives. We also got bought a black and white TV from someone who was going back to the states just before we moved and even though what little TV we could get was in German, I did get to see the Supreme’s perform in Berlin and that was a treat since I didn’t know who was actually singing lead on all those albums I’d bought.

One particular incident has always stuck in my mind, for some reason one day my friend Craig got mad at me and told me he was going to beat me up after school. I was scared shitless, I was no fighter and he started telling everyone in school to gather outside my apartment to watch him beat me up. I spoke with a teacher about it and he said, “Just tell him you’re more mature than that and you’re not going to fight him.” Craig looked like the “Pied Piper” on the way home from school with all the kids following him. He stopped me at the front door to the stairwell and we argued and exchanged insults. He said something derogatory to me and I said, "Shut up." He said, "Make me." Then I said, "I don't make trash, I burn it." and turned to walk inside. He shoved me in the middle of my back and all my books and my glasses went flying and kids started laughing, they didn’t laugh for long though. I went blind with rage and I turned around and beat the living shit out of him. As he lay on the ground bleeding from his nose, one of his friends looked down at him and said, “Cool fight Craig.” I got my books and went upstairs where I was absolutely giddy because I won the fight I’d dreaded all day. There was a knock on the door and a girl said, “Sammy here’s your glasses.” Then another knock and a boy said, “Craig’s waiting for your little brother.” I went downstairs and confronted Craig and said, “If you don’t leave Danny alone I’ll give you some more, now go home!” Years later when I saw the movie “A Christmas Story”, I felt as though they took the fight scene right out of that chapter of my life. I never realized the memory of that fight would lead to a reunion of Craig, Vicky, and me, forty years later in August, 2007. Craig said he’d always wanted to find me so he could apologise. We had a wonderful reunion and plan to get together again in the future.

We had to leave Germany early, because my maternal grandfather was dying of cancer and we flew back on a jet to JFK. Then after refueling the same plane took us to Charleston, South Carolina where we picked up Jocko and rented a white 1968 Dodge Monaco to drive back to Texas. We were so glad to be home where we could get good old American hamburgers and see the sights. That August my father left for Viet Nam for eleven months and life was blissfully peaceful. I used to secretly wish he would be killed over there and years later my mother admitted she was wishing the same thing.

When I went back to Germany for the first time in December, 2003 and the second time in September, 2005. The Flint Kaserne has been given back to the Germans and they’ve remodeled the entire complex into hotel, offices, a convention center, movie theater, and torn down the wall surrounding it and painted the buildings pastel colors. The quadrangle has two new chrome, and glass, buildings in it now, and wildflowers growing around them. The Germans don’t waste anything they reuse it. The fa├žade of the hotel we stayed in when I went there in 2005 was built in 1640. We drove back to Ludwig’s castles again with the top down on the Porsche and had a wonderful time. I now have terrific memories of Bad Tolz and I wish I could live there year round. In 2003 I took a photograph of the 2004 red Porsche Carrera S convertible I picked up in Stuttgart in our old parking space in front of the apartments where I’d taken the photograph of the 1951 black beetle with the blue right door in 1966. I didn’t do it, but I wanted to put a caption under the photograph of the car saying “You’ve come a long way baby!” The car wasn’t really mine anyway, I was picking it up for the dealership. I just looked up at my bedroom window and thought of how much I wish I could’ve seen that scared, frightened, lonely, thirteen year old gay boy looking down at me and say, “It’s going to be alright kid, you’re gonna make it.” Something no one has ever told me in my entire life.

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