THE STRUGGLE WAS REAL!

For those of us who lived in the duplexes of the RGH housing area in Seoul Korea, there was a thriving nighttime community of kids who roamed the streets after curfew, but for me, having a yard that was immaculately kept by the gardener was a struggle most people will never know!

Our gardener Mr. Lee kept our yard so immaculate that the one time I managed to sneak out the window to roam around with everybody, I couldn’t help but leave footprints in the flower bed below my window. Jumping out was easy, getting back in was the problem. I had to step in the flower bed in order to lift myself back up into the window. I was certain I had gotten away with it and was looking forward to doing it again as I slipped under the covers and went to sleep.

The next morning, Mr. Lee had a conversation with my father before he left for work and explained that he had found size 11 sneaker prints in HIS flower bed, which indicated that I had surreptitiously left the house in the night through the window!

Needless to say, when my father got home from work that evening I had to deal with him. He made it clear under no circumstances was I going to be climbing out of HIS window in the middle of the night, and if you remember my father, you know that was not an idle threat.

So for the rest of my time in Korea, I was unable to participate in the after-hours RGH nightlife. While I resented Mr Lee telling my father what I was up to at the time, in retrospect he probably helped keep me out of trouble, although that one night that I did get out was glorious! 

What was hilarious that night was that our group passed several other groups of kids who were also roaming around too! 

Years later I found out from my younger sister Rhonda that she routinely slipped out of the house and roamed around with her friends at night. If I remember correctly, she didn’t have a flower bed under one of her windows since she lived on the corner of the house.

At one point, my father was offered quarters on the main post at Yongson and asked if we wanted to move, but I was adamant about staying in RGH. Even though we were removed from all of the conveniences and facilities on Yongson, RGH allowed kids to do things that you could never get away with on main post because we didn’t have MPs and there was very little traffic other than our fathers coming and going to work. I’m so glad I got to experience Korea living on RGH.

What great memories!

Ramon “Ray” Rhodes


TWICE FORGIVEN?

by John Paul Jones

While we were stationed in Germany my parents partook of as many opportunities as they could to travel to other countries, in my Father’s case this was often via TDY to some professional conference or the other. He would usually take all of us, but failing that at least my mother and little brother, who was still in elementary school. One such trip, I was banished from, having a notable test in Ms Wilbur’s Algebra II’s class, to Madrid, Spain. I argued hot and heavy for my inclusion, stating, correctly, I had straight A’s in Algebra II, my teacher would give make up work, up to and including tests. I said I was the only member of the family who spoke Spanish, also true, my parents shot that excuse down, little did they know!!!

So, one brisk morning saw me setting out for the Spaar Mart at Weilerbach to catch my bus while the rest of the family was off to Sunny Espana. One of the “highlights” of the trip was the family’s trip to the Prado. This still being the time of Franco, the Guardia Civil was seriously present with their funny hats and not so funny sub-machine guns. It seems that my mom, weighed down by her giant purse holding food and drink enough for a platoon, and my little brother growing grumpier by the step (not now, nor then an art critic), got separated from my Dad. Mom’s glasses had been pushed up on her head where she promptly forgot about them. As she tried to peer myopically at a painting, her forehead banged into the protective glass case.

Of course this set off all sorts of alarms, whistles and lights which had the multiple effects of attracting the Spanish Guardia, Museum personnel, shocking my brother into alertness and opening his eyes wide along with his mouth which accepted his thumb, my Dad, from a safe distance returned to watch the show. After much yelling, screaming, almost all in Spanish, which had my poor mom in near tears (she gets nervous around guns, figure, a farm girl marrying a military man afraid of guns!). Finally, someone who could translate explained. The guards went back, a little disappointed that no one was shot, and especially that they didn’t get to do the shooting. My mother, straightening what little pride and decorum she had left, and quietly cursing my Dad for abandoning her in her hour of need (as he stood around the corner chuckling). She arrived in front of the next painting, leaned forward…..and yup, banged her head on the glass again. This time, no pleas were to be heard, my mother and little brother were marched out under guard and deposited several meters from the entrance. A shaken finger, a double tap on the gun, and a head shake were enough to break through the language barrier. SEE I knew they needed me!! My Dad finished strolling through the Prado and inquired of my mom if she knew what all the ruckus was earlier. Again, some responses pale beyond any language barriers


Cold War Memories

by Circe Olson Woessner

Ask any military brat growing up in West Germany in the 1940’s to 1980’s and they have an “East Germany” story to tell…As “Cold War Kids” we grew up knowing that at any time the Russian Hoard and its allies could swoop into West Germany and kill us all. The only thing stopping them was the US military—our Moms and Dads.

With World War II just over and Europe rebuilding, it was the time of Occupation. American military families were being stationed in Europe.

A former military brat remembers that in the late ‘40s at night, he’d hear trashcan lids being lifted as starving German men and women scrounged through the garbage looking for food scraps to eat. Because of this, his mother and other American wives used to prepare fresh food, wrap it neatly and put it in clean containers on top of the trashcans so that the men and women would have something decent to eat. Read the rest of this entry »