by Allen Dale Olson

In the summer of 1960 I lost my wallet in Wiesbaden, Germany — just two days before I was to drive back to my duty station at London Central High School. I had been attending a month-long school curriculum workshop in Wiesbaden. 

Gone were my ID card, drivers license, credit cards, and some cash. Fortunately my wife had cash and her credit card, but sadly, had not yet applied for a U.K. Driver’s license. We cancelled my credit cards, then learned that the Air Force Pass and ID Department in Wiesbaden had no authority to issue me an ID card nor could the USAREUR license bureau issue me a license.

I still had my passport so I could travel as a tourist but driving a car without a license did not appeal to me. Because we were based in England, our car bore a U.K. plate, and my driver’s permit was also English.

I don’t remember all the details, but I do recall an Air Force NCO accompanying me to a German Polizei office to seek advice. After much conversation and head-shaking, the German officials reviewed my official travel orders to and from Wiesbaden, my car registration, my car-ferry ticket for crossing the Channel, and my passport, then suggested something they weren’t sure would work.

If , they said, an American military authority would certify the current validity of my travel orders, the German authorities would issue me a temporary driving permit restricting me to roads leading as directly as possible to London.

I never learned if that would work, because, even though armed with both documents, we got back home, stopping overnight in Ghent, without incident. We never had to show anyone those papers till we got to the South Ruislip Air Base licensing office, where both a British and an Air Force NCO doubted the legality of either document.

But the Brits renewed my license, and the Air Force issued me a new ID card. Both agencies urged  me to be more careful in the future.



One Saturday afternoon, I was riding my bicycle in the bright morning sun, looking forward to a fun day. I was  headed to the commissary on Randolph Air Force Base shopping for a few groceries for my parents prior to my fun day with my friends.   After arriving at the commissary, I realized I was not able to enter into the store because my military dependent ID card was missing.  I was stunned and troubled! Where could it have been misplaced?   Horrified, I left the commissary on my bicycle. I knew I would probably be in trouble. When I arrived at home on base, I ransacked my entire bedroom and searched high and low. I spent hours trying to locate it in the house, etc. but found nothing. The consequences of losing my military dependent ID card cost me, and ruined my weekend.  

Losing a military dependent ID card has a downside.  Without your ID card, you are not able to purchase necessities at the commissary, base exchange, recreational facilities or go to activities such as bowling or swimming and medical appointments.   Also, the downside of losing my military dependent ID card as a teenager was that my parents were very angry with me, and I was grounded for a month.   

My dad lectured me, saying that a dependent ID is military property and belongs to the government. It has been entrusted to you, and it is your responsibility to safeguard it.  My dad, after an hour of  a question-and-answer session, made me feel like I was being interrogated like a criminal.  My dad had to take off work and, I was taken out of school to go to the military personnel office to issue me a new ID card with a new photo along with filing a missing/stolen ID card report.  This is a true indecent that taught me a life lesson: I learned that I wouldn’t want to go through this hassle again and lose time with my friends.  I must be extra careful when it comes to losing something very valuable, that cannot be bought with money and is priceless. 

Lemons or Pie?

By Circe Olson Woessner

It is day three of teleworking from home, and day bazillion in the pre-or apocalyptic reality we find ourselves in. “Social distancing” is a new word that everyone knows and practices – – unless you’ve taken a devil-may-care attitude about this whole “hoax disease.” As we stay at home, we shake our heads at the images of young people frolicking on the beaches or having parties. Nero plays the violin as Rome burns. Look at Italy! Look at Italy!

A lot of people are scared and acting out – – I have heard of fights right here in our local supermarket—Really? Come on, for Pete’s sake! People are hording supplies and stocking up on ammo in “case of wide-spread panic.”

False information and far-fetched conspiracy theory opinions are being shared on social media as the gospel truth. People are sending along chain messages, and offering advice on really weird ways to prevent getting sick.  Forwarded emails from unknown “experts” are adding to the chaos. Memes and weird jokes are byproducts of how some people react to stress—and some of them are really, really funny – – unless you have someone who is elderly in your family, or who is sick, or someone who has, God forbid, recently died from COVID-19.

What messages are we sending to our children, who look for us to be calm in a time of crisis? What are we telling the elderly or immune compromised? Are we modeling desired behavior?

If someone coughs, or sneezes, we glare at them – – why are you doing that– are you sick? At the supermarket, we scan other people, looking for signs of disease on them. Why are you coming up my aisle? Wait till I’m done here! Shoppers are furtive, dashing through the aisles grabbing things as if it’s the end of the world.

Maybe it is.

Life as we know it has changed over  the past few weeks. Our dog has taken to sleeping with us, something forbidden up until a few weeks ago when he decided he preferred our bed to his. We laughed nervously saying, “well if something happens to us, at least he can eat us from the comfort of the bed.” Not very funny, but humor has taken an extremely dark turn these days…

Our society is self-isolated (another new word that everyone knows) and our workdays are very different than they were even a week ago. My extended family is keeping running shopping lists, knowing that it will be very hard to find the items we want, and while we will not succumb to hoarding, we understand that food shopping has become a scavenger hunt.

I feel I’m living in one of those science fiction movies or a really bad dream I can’t wake up from. This is no way to live. However; think of the alternative! Several months ago, this was a rhetorical question, but now, the alternative is hitting closer to home. And it’s not so hypothetical.


… Just stop….breathe…Live in this particular moment. Take stock in your blessings right now.

In New Mexico the sun is shining, the trees are beginning to bud, and if you can slow your racing heartbeat, you can hear the birds sing. if you’re like me, and live near I-40, you can hear the hum of the interstate, of trucks bringing needed supplies to communities all across this country. The National Guard is setting up hospital tents; Airmen are stocking shelves at the Kirtland Air Force Base Commissary. Babies are being born; people are getting married. Life is still going on.

Over and over, I am drawn to the quote attributed to Mr. Rogers after 911.  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

And it’s very true. The military is calling up retired healthcare workers to join the fight against Covid-19. Federal employees are teleworking, ensuring that the nation doesn’t grind to a halt. Emergency responders and military  are rotating personnel to ensure there are enough healthy team members to respond to a national emergency or health crisis.

Stores are trying to accommodate the massive amount of shoppers panic buying, and setting up designated shopping times for people who are vulnerable. Utility companies are suspending disconnections and overdue accounts. Workers are pulling longer shifts to accommodate the requirements needed to get us through this crisis.

Impromptu support groups are starting on Facebook. Younger people are offering to run errands for older people. People are passing along local resources and information on store inventories and discounted places.

Neighbors are checking in on their neighbors; recently unemployed people are offering childcare services so that frontline staff who have to work, can get to their jobs at hospitals, supermarkets, emergency response centers, etc.

Even while under lockdown, the human spirit is strong.  Individuals – – common, everyday people – – are lifting the spirits of their fellow human being by leading them exercise sessions as they watch from balconies.  A military spouse in Germany serenaded her fellow base dwellers with her own funny versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits. A friend is reading poetry selections on Skype. Symphonies and theater companies are performing concerts or plays and streaming them free to the public. Companies are offering free educational products to parents who suddenly find themselves homeschooling their kids. (I tried to homeschool my son when he was nine and it didn’t end well for either of us– so hats off to every homeschool parent out there now trying to figure it out!) I’ve joined an online writer’s group with complete strangers from all over the world, and we are enjoying the creative company.

Last night, I watched a short YouTube video called “Isolated St. Patrick’s Day Parade” where people around the world, through the miracle of technology, were able to play one song from their homes—in Spain , the US, Ireland,  the UK  and Australia– in harmony and in sync. It was lovely and appropriately wonderful for a very unusual St. Patrick’s Day.

When this is all said and done, I’m hoping we have learned lessons as a society and can make our world safer, friendlier and better.

I never signed up to be dealing with COVID-19, but since I must, I have choices: I can panic and be mean and small, or I can take this lemon that I was given and make a big, beautiful meringue pie.

I choose the pie.