As an admirer of American antiques and all those things Americana, you thought you had seen it all. And then you had to go to Berlin in 1961 and have Ivan and Genghis shove their sten guns up in your face. Your soldier buddy from Iowa says this is not Kansas, Dorothy. Not then. Perhaps it is now. American antiques heroes can be found in the strangest places. You arrive in Berlin in October 1961 because the President has made a touching speech. About freedom at the gates of Hell. How we all stand together as one.
It really gets to you, and you and your bride have not yet had your honeymoon. Honey, what if? And you find yourself in H|amburg harbor with the not updated passieport they called it. You get arrested. Trying to slip in under the radar are you? No, not really, I had sent my passieport to Ottawa and they returned it and took my money. They missed a stamp comrade and if you please you will come this way. Yikes. Have you ever entered Germany in this fashion? When tanks and soldiers are massing at the borders is not the time to play light and dancy with what you plan to do the next day.
After the man at the Canadian Consulate had fixed and stamped my passieport, we were all over Hamburg. I even thought I understood German as it is so close to American. So, when I mailed home to my mom and dad that we were enjoying our belated honeymoon and they could reach us at our temporary quarters. I even went down to the end of the street to write down the street name. I knew we were at Number 17. Alas, tt took some time before I realized the home address I had sent home told them to mail us at 17 EinBenStrasse.
We lived on One Way Street! And we got no mail from home! How unloved can that make you feel I ask you? Sigh. So, in that frame of mind, we found ourselves at the train station in Hamburg, ready for our Grand Tour. The man at the ticket wicket responded with two tickets when I asked for zwie ticketen fur Berlin. Done. Piece of cake. I looked at him, searching in his face. Was there anything else I needed to know? He was reading his papers.
When we arrived about six in the morning, I had not slept much. The voices of the colsulate man do not take the train to Berlin resounding, we arrived at the Hamburg Train station. It was cold, dark, gloomy. The train read Nicht Rauchen. I was thrilled. In this morning mist, playing through the trains and the few poor people who could not afford to fly, there stood we. Bambi goes to Siberia for love and friendship. Nyet. Our hotel landlady was frantic in her nervous energy.
I have read so much now that I understand her so much more than I did then. She was a young woman in April 1945- only 16 years earlier- when Russia sent its first wave of soldiers into central Berlin. Joe Stalin saved his most savage and barbaric people who were guaranteed to break the spirit of every German in Berlin. They killed ALL the men above age 12. They raped ALL the women above age 12. She was a widow, and had seen all that life could offer.
How you and I deal with the devils in our lives will determine whether we also have the will to get up and carry on as life requires. We had teasingly said our hero pilot would be a Hollywood fluffhead named Jaack. That was not who was really in that cockpit that day, he who changed the world made kids cry just because he was a fine human being who saw one small chance in his insignificant GI Joe existence to make one small difference. And that is all the difference in the world.
Old evil uncle Joe and Ivan today and Genghis did not get that and we do. And that is making all the difference. Thanks, Derek. Over to you, Walter. Good evening. Tonights heart warming news out of the horror of Berlin has taken on a small light new twist today.
Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure politics, wise use and mis use of power and protective love at