A Host Nation Halloween

Teaching our German landlord’s kids, Karli und Peter the finer points of pumpkin carving for Halloween in 1957. Behind mom and Els you can see our kitchen. Mom has basically a cold water sink and a hot plate. Washing the dishes (as I remember) was done first in cold, soapy water, then rinsed with hot water heated by the hot plate. Sometimes several pots of water needed to be heated. Good times…. photo and memory by Kim Medders.

My Mom the Superhero

My mother was born and raised on a Tobacco farm way up in the hills of Kentucky, she attended a one room school house until she went high school, from which she proudly graduated from. She was by no means ignorant, being one of the best-read people I’ve ever met.

My father was assigned to Ramstein AFB in what was then West Germany, as there was available housing, he had to go on ahead of us to secure a place for the Jones clan. In the meanwhile, my mother, little brother Davey, and I settled into a VERY small apartment to wait. The place had one saving grace, a swimming pool. I invited my friends over to come swimming, a welcome invitation in the hot Omaha summer. One of my friends just happened to be Black. The four of us quickly changed into trunks and jumped in, the lone occupant, a young girl our age, just as quickly jumped out and ran off, we barely noticed, and spent the rest of the afternoon having fun.

That evening the manager came to our door and told me that all guests had to be pre-approved first. I was totally puzzled. Not so my mother, she may have a sweet southern accent, but both she and my Dad believed in equality, and raised us to be color-blind and judge people on their actions. Mom knew the score and became my personal super-hero that day. She whirled around, gently pushed me out of the way and stuck a finger in the manager’s face.

“We will NOT be submitting our guests for your approval, nor will we put up with ANY of your racist garbage, if I EVEN hear of anything prejudicial towards my sons OR their friends I’ll have the Base legal office put not only THIS apartment off limits but every property owned by your boss off limits”. Oh, hell (first time I’d ever heard my mother curse), I’ll just call them up now!  John Paul, get me the phone”. What happened next was the most egregious case of fawning, kowtowing, and pleading I have ever seen another human go through. Satisfied, my mother dismissed him regally, as a queen military wife should!  I was in awe, and remained that way, even after her passing.

My mom the superhero

–John Paul Jones


This is what I think of on Memorial Day

by Debby Stinemetz Caulfield

When I was fourteen, I moved into the Marine Barracks and fell in love with many handsome Marines. My father was the commanding officer of the Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Our quarters were literally one end of the barracks. On the other side of my bedroom wall was “the head” where I could hear the Marines showering at reveille. Our front yard was the parade ground and our backyard was the servicing area for the mess and laundry. There was also a brig. There was no better place for a coming-of-age young woman to be where opportunities for flirting abounded, if kept out of the Colonel’s watchful eye. My younger brother and sister developed friendships with the off duty Marines too, riding skateboards together down the back service road.

Sometimes our Marine friends moved away and we never heard of them again. But some came back in the form of bad news as our father would tell us at the dinner table that our friend Lurch or Tom or Bob had been killed in action in Vietnam. It wasn’t just the Marines at our barracks home who were dying. My father, being the senior Marine in Maine, was tasked with officially notifying the families of Marines killed in Vietnam. I’d wait for my father to come home and see the emotion on his face, as he’d tell of fathers fainting in his arms or mothers screaming inconsolably.

We moved out of the Marine Barracks and my father moved to Vietnam. We continued to get more stories of Marines dying as my father shared his experiences as the commanding officer of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in Danang.

Before I was 18 years old and started developing any political sense and ideology about wars, I had become keenly aware that war and service to country is about death. This is what I think about on Memorial Day.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13