Sprechen Sie Deutsch? was one of the first expressions I learned when living in Germany. It means “do you speak German”.
My first – third grades were in American school in Giessen, Germany. Dad was stationed there while serving in the Army several years before when we were there as a family. When he was there alone, his tour was for a for one year; as a family his Army tour was for three years.
It was both the best of times, and at times the worst of times. There were always children around and friends were easily made. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from, there was commandry with us all. We were all in the same situation being away from our home base yet accepting each other for ourselves.
Play times were great — in the common backyard either playing on the playground equipment, playing marbles (I loved joining in with the boys for marbles), trying out someone’s pogo stick or stilts, going to the movies, experiencing new places and new food, dancing with a local Germany boy, Germany friends Ingrid or Dehardt taking me and my brother places. I had the opportunity to experience things many of my stateside counterparts didn’t experience.
Wiener schnitzel, gummy bears (before these were available in the states), as well as air raid drills, were things I experienced during part of my childhood. C-rations were always on hand in our apartment for emergency, but my older brother and I loved getting in the crackers and peanut butter in the c-rations (packaged pre-cooked foods).
We often traveled around Europe mostly via camping in tents. Countries we visited we the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria as well as other places in Germany. During another tour in Germany a few years later, Italy was added to the list of countries we visited.
After a few years of living in Giessen I missed my grandparents so much I would cry myself to sleep. It was a bitter sweet situation. Loving and enjoying where I was and what I got to experience, but missing and needing momo and papa.
In school (American school on the Army post), we had a weekly Germany teacher come into. A song that was taught to us was Guten Abend, Gute Nacht (Brahm’s Lullaby). I learned a few expressions and how to count up to ninety-nine in Germany. Being from south Louisiana where (Cajun) was prevalent, I only know how to count to ten in French.
In the last few months of living in Giessen, a woman and her family moved in the apartment catty corner below us. The woman, Josie Brinkman (forgot her married name) was from our home town of Opelousas!
Although I missed spending some of my formative years at “home” in Opelousas, LA with family, there was another side of being surrounded by many remarkable experiences.
This photo above was taken of my family in or near Giessen, Germany at where I believe was a local park.