Leaving on a Jet Plane

Worms (the W is pronounced as a V) was absolutely the best! It was small Army base and we lived in a small military housing area named Thomas Jefferson Village. The end of my 5th grade and all my 6th grade was at Worms Elementary School which was about three blocks from our 3rd floor apartment. While in Germany we lived in a long apartment building with three floors with three stairwells (all the buildings we lived at in Germany were long buildings with three stairwells). The Army post was small therefore the junior high and high school were at a neighboring Army post in Mannheim. Glenn went to school there by bus and Kevin was started school at the same elementary school I attended.

With part of my sixth-grade class, we had a ski week at Chiemsee. We learned to ski half a day; the other half was supposed to be school however we were usually taken to site see instead of school. Skiing wasn’t kind to me, but it was an adventure. We toured Herrenchiemsee, a castle of King Ludwig II on an island on Lake Chiemsee. It was made my second time touring it.

The Army post was about a five to six block walk from our apartment. There was an old tunnel we passed thru to get the post where we went to the chapel, the movie theater and where dad worked. First time we went to the theater, the man at the ticket counter recognized Glenn and I from the stairwell where we lived as he lived there too. From then on out, Curtis let us in the movies free when he was there; we still had to pay for our refreshments which was good with us. Glenn and I both babysat Curtis and Bertha’s son Curtis Jr, and mom and dad became friends with them. Often, I was asked to babysit for other families too. Recently I met Curtis and Bertha’s daughter Chantelle (who was born after we left Worms) on Facebook and I exchanged stories with her.

Being older, now eleven and twelve, there was more for me to do … going to the AYA (American Youth Association), baseball, softball and football games. The AYA at Worms gave us lots of things to do. There were dances, bingo, pinball machines, pool tables and hanging out. The AYA also had buses pick up the kids that wanted to go roller skating in Ramstein and Glenn and I went often. The bus ride there and back is what I enjoyed most. We had comradery and singing on the bus to and from Ramstein. The AYA also had things for us to do and had a hayride, which was so much fun! Life at Worms (outside of my family) was so much fun!

My circle of friends in Worms mostly consisted of Claudette, Deanna, Dianne and Jane. I have reconnected with Claudette and Jane, and sadly learned Dianne had many issues throughout her life and committed suicide. After we left Worms, Dianne had sent me a care package full of gummy bears (this was before these were in the US) and other German candy. I would love to reconnect with Deanna however have not been able to find her. I have also reconnected with a classmate, Mike from my sixth-grade class and with Rose whose father Thomas was stationed with dad in Worms and in Vietnam.

My friends Dianne, Jane and I would go to the German store by our apartment, buy German cigarettes and smoke on the side of our apartment building. We would go to a nearby creek, go to the sauna room (I recall an older lady in there warning us about getting bat wings on arms when we would get older) and go to downtown Worms. A monument for Martin Luther was in downtown, and still today I am in awe of being at the monument. My feeling of awe had little to do with Martin Luther, but with the size of walking thru monument (it contain statues of Martin Luther and his men). And I loved the ice cream there.

My sister Lori was born while we were in Worms when I was twelve years old. At the same time, we got a long hair dachshund from the family of one of dad’s co-workers, Cecil. Cecil was also stationed with dad in Fort Chaffee, so we knew him and his family when we lived in Barling. We named the dog Hans who was with us for about three to four years.

Dad received orders to leave Worms for Vietnam. It was so hard to leave Worms. We were supposed to be in Germany for three years, but it was cut short due to his new order. At the time, the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” was out and that became my “theme” song when we left Worms. I hated that once again I was leaving my friends behind.

The month before we left Germany, we went on vacation to Switzerland and Italy, camping at all of the places we visited. We traveled up mountain winding mountain roads; one place it took an hour to go twelve miles because the road was so winding. In Italy we spent three days camping by the beach. Glenn and I got sun-burnt so badly our skin blistered. We were headed to Rome, but due to the pain of our sunburned, we literally cried to go back home. Dad turned around the 1967 Pontiac Bonneville and headed back home.

Time to leave Worms for a new adventure.