My Children Can’t Fathom My Playground

By Bob Zwaagstra

[While stationed in Germany, my family] lived on German farms. I remember going out to the fields at harvest time with the German farm workers and occasionally driving the tractor when they were short of manpower. I was only 9 years old at the time.

Picture from Wikipedia

Picture from Wikipedia

I remember driving by the Mohnesee (Mohne Lake) of Dambusters fame (the spinning bombs) on my way to and from school. I was able to distinguish the crack in the dam where it had been repaired. Our military school bus took us through a little village that suffered immense destruction from that dam breach. I was in awe.

I have wonderful memories of Schutzenfest festivals as well as watching American, Canadian & German F104s fly overhead.

I would sometimes wake up in the morning to find an entire NATO army camped outside my house, i.e. a bug out. I would immediately try and make friends and tell the soldiers where they could find fresh water. I’d also ask them if they would give me a tour, which they usually did.

It was like Christmas morning finding all these military vehicles and soldiers camped out on our doorstep. I knew from experience that soldiers wanted water more than anything else so I was always running around with a bucket to accommodate them. I’d always ask to see their weapons. Nine times out of ten they’d oblige. Lots to talk about when I got to school.

Those were remarkable years to say the least and my children, as well educated as they are, cannot fathom my playground.



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