The American antiques moment that stands out for me in my young adult life was that erie moment in Berlin in October 1961, weeks after JFK's speech at the newly built made in Moscow Berlin Wall. Upon arrival and check in to our hotel, that evening found my bride and I walking down that corridor past the dark and empty Reichstag still looking bombed out. Germany's then long abandoned parlaiment buldings seemed bombed. I llearned this went all the way back to Hitler in 1930's German to blame and kills Communists, Jews and homosexuals all over Germany. I didn't know that then.
We walked by on that road and saw the lights and action down at the Brandenburg Gate. Where the action was. But here was fantastic and so exciting ahead of us. And other than Check Point Charlie, which we did not see that first night in Berlin, this was electric.
An American soldier walked slowly to us after we had passed the final of I recall four large signs warning us not to walk forward any further as we were now leaving the protected zone of West Berlin. that did not seem possible, so we proceeded. He was from Iowa, that soldier.
Hand in hand (my bride and I, the soldier walked with us but separately you should understand), we arrived at the sandbags and barbed wire and tanks and soldiers on our side of the Brandenburg Gate,facing all that same but oppsotie response to us right in front of. No wall. And as the friendly soldier from Iowa said, he was not aware of any law that said what the signs say that we had no right to be there. So we did. The only two civilians in the world I could see stood with soldiers of two great cultures. And my honeymoon bride and I. Such magic you would still think we were soul mates. Well, we are, just not married to each other any more, she apparently has some serenity in her life now. Some people you just cannot please no matter how much effort you in they are still not happy. Why me Lord? Oh grow up an inner voice silently urged, unheard for decades. And so how you do better in your time life is in your court. Handle the flight plan well. But at this moment we stood with our soldier from Iowa and his and now our buddies. I shook hands all around, told them I had attended Dorsey High in LA, I was a Dorsey Don. High fives or whatever we did in 1961.
More likely, as I recall, it was a shake of hands and nods all around. Old fashioned guy style soldiering. Then we all took turns glaring back at all the many well gun deployed Ivans. And so in that short long week in Berlin we came, saw, didn't conquer a darn thing so were soon frightened out of Berlin. Anything could have happened there, and the air was electric with that sense that here no man was master of his destiny. All was being decided in high waves up and we were gone like the wind. But at least we now knew how Berliners felt.
And for me it was not until long after having seen what it was to stand face to face with a man in a furry jacket with a red star and a large machine gun who does not respond as a human should when smiled at or acknowledged. Then I knew we are all brothers, or at least as I saw then, all us civilized west. My knawing feeling that this was an immense clash of civilization and something else, in Berlin in 1961 by then for life I knew.
The golden man with the machine gun did not ever say a word and his name may not have been Genghis. But we treated him at arms length- well, at machine guns length, at then more at least and then some fainting room. For me, of course, not him. He was all silent Siberia. Nyet. Wrong door. Go while you can. You have a way of making your silent voice shout in my face, Genghis, and I appreciate your honesty. If you can you will kill me. Slowly. Pain will be involved. Sme times you can sense in a persons body aura that message they wish to transmit.
It may have been that he was close close to his pony, but what I smelled, down wind or any direction, was bold menace. This man knew no fear. Maybe Joe Stalin would shake him up: a roomful of him would make Joe Stalin very nervous. Not one of these butchers would ever be trusted to shave Joe Stalin. and some how you could just sense why. I don't know if you can sense from where you sit how I felt. Then I question how I may have smelled: fearful. The man with the Soviet gun and Asian eyes was a very powerful Mongolian pony to my Canadian bambi. If I had died or farted it would have been so inadequate to the situation.
The man I will always think of as Genghis had in his persona such a disdainful look for the worth of my person that it all seemed so clear. This man was not my friend. He would never be my friend. He likely loved his pony I could sense, more than most ways I could think of. I on the other hand was ponypiss at best as he passed on over. We came from different world, and I think in our lifetimes that is where we shall remain.
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