Today has been one of reflection on my life in Germany way back in the late 1960’s; a time of invention and creativity that has helped me as a writer to record more thoughtfully subjects familiar to me, but possibly unique or unconventional to someone else.
My then-husband was a member of the 615th AC&W Squadron in the U.S.A.F. and we lived in the southern part of the country in a small village called Morbach, nestled in the Hunsrück Mountains. Here we found ourselves in a beautiful and fascinating part of the world with a strange language and a different way of life.
Our first residence was an attic apartment in a German home. Refrigerators were very tiny and electric stove tops had solid plates instead of the coils with which I was familiar, so meal preparation took a lot longer than it did in the States. Water had to be heated before washing clothes or dishes or for bathing.
The villagers shopped daily for the dinner meal and greeted me with a, “Guten tag” (good day) as I passed them on the lane. They were a friendly people and I often had a game similar to charades with a certain shop keeper when I needed an item I couldn’t describe in German. He and I would exclaim our glee when he finally figured out what I wanted, and with a huge smile, he’d fetch it and place it ceremoniously in my hand.
Since rain in the mountains was unrelenting and could be depressing, I was given the task of coming up with an idea to brighten the lives of our wives’ club members. I thought cheerful homes might help make cheerful moods, and what better mood-lifter was there than flowers? But not everyone could afford flowers. Another problem, we had no art supply store near us. The only available stores were the commissary (food) or the Base Exchange (clothing, shoes, magazines, gift wrap, etc.). So I taught a class on How to Make Flowers Without Art Supplies. Imagine my surprise and delight when the BX sold out of tissue paper and clear tape the next day.
I remember my clever downstairs neighbor who didn’t have money for furniture, so she bound together all her books, covered them with throws and made chairs and a sofa for her living room. The challenging part came when she wanted to give me a book to read that was on the bottom.
We didn’t have American television and trying to understand German TV was a challenge, so reading became a big part of our days and nights as our husbands worked irregular shifts seeking ways to keep the Russians from invading Germany.
It was a different world back then, but the lessons I learned have held me in good stead all through the years and continue to do so. I loved Germany, its people and the wonderful and even zany experiences I had, and I cherish the creativity and inventiveness those experiences fostered in me.
Have your life experiences brought out your creativity and inventiveness?