fruitcake

December 23, 2014

Christmas in Berlin

By

Ray Adams

     Dear Readers, This blog was originally posted about two years ago.  I decided to re-post it this Christmas for your enjoyment.  Merry Christmas, Ray

     When I was fifteen, I got a job delivering groceries at a store two blocks from where I lived with my parents.  Each Christmas, the store gave its employees a free fruit cake.  My family and I always enjoyed sharing this treat over the holidays.

When I was nineteen years old, I joined the Army.  The first two years, I was able to go home for Christmas.  By this time, the fruit cake from the grocery store had become a holiday tradition in our family.

The last two years I was in the Army, I was overseas in West Berlin.  Both of those years my family sent me a fruit cake from the same grocery store where I had worked as a teenager.  It was a very special feeling for me to get that fruit cake.  It certainly made the occasion seem much more like a real Christmas to me.  The cake was delicious, of course, but the real pleasure came from just receiving it and sharing it with my Army buddies.  After about the middle of December, in the second year I spent in Berlin, I was in the mailroom every day, waiting to see if my fruit cake had arrived.

Based on my own experience, I would like to say to all my readers that if you know a man or a woman serving overseas this Christmas, please give serious consideration to the thought of sending them a fruit cake.

 

 

 


 christmas2012c

December 2014

Christmas Tree

By Ray Adams

     Dear Readers, this Christmas blog was originally posted two years ago.  I decided to re-post it this Christmas for your enjoyment.  Merry Christmas, Ray.

   It would be their first Christmas together.  They had just gotten married the previous December 29th.  She was excited about getting a tree.  Ever since she could remember, her family had one.  What fun to rush down to the tinsel-covered tree and see all the pretty presents wrapped in bright paper with colored ribbons!

She saw the ad for the Christmas tree farm in the paper and told Rick about it.  They drove out to the place after supper one night.  The man had a big smile.  He handed them a lantern and a small handsaw.

“Find one you like,” he said, “Cut it down and bring the lantern and saw back here.  Take your time.  Find a good one.”

It was a crisp, clear night in the Missouri countryside.  They could see their breath in the air by the lantern light.  Christmas trees of all sizes were everywhere.  Some were too tall, others too short.

They both saw it at the same time.  The one that was just right for their apartment.  It was beautiful, shaped like a Christmas tree should be, all green with nice straight branches filled with healthy-looking needles.  They smiled at each other and nodded.  Rick cut it down while she held the lantern.

As Rick carefully carried the tree back to the house and their car, she lighted the way for them.  She thought about how this would be the first of many trees they would cut for Christmas.  In a few years, there would be many more gifts beneath the tree and Christmas morning would be filled with the delicious sound of children’s voices.

She put her free hand around Rick and pulled him close.

 

 

 


Friends

The Last Blog

By Ray Adams

 

Dear Readers, I have been posting blogs about my Cold War experiences every week for over two years now. I believe I have come to the end of the line. I have pretty much said all I had to say. This has been a great experience for me. It has brought back many memories and kept me in touch with my past. This is a good thing, for after all, as human beings, we are composed of what we are, what we were, and what we hope to be. Now I have a much better idea of who I was. And I hope you, my readers, do also.

In many ways, this is a sad day for me to put down my pen and say, “No more blogs.” But the sadness should not dominate, as I am very happy with what I have said and accomplished. It’s just time to move on to another side of my life.

This blog will be open for postings until at least March 31, 2015. I would like to invite any of my readers who would like to do a guest blog to submit their material to me at blindberlin@gmail.com If I find it suitable, I will work with the writer to edit and post it. I hope many of you take me up on this offer.

Well, it’s been a great trip and I hope you have enjoyed the ride. Auf weidersehen! With the warmest wishes to all of my readers, Ray Adams

P.S.  If there are any bridge players among my Cold War readers, you can still find my writing at raysbridgeblog.wordpress.com


Chingon_5Friends georgertb1 rtb2 rtb3 rtb4 rtb5 rtb6

Friends of a Lifetime

by Ray Adams

 

During the two years I spent in West Berlin, my job was to listen to Russian soldiers talk on the radio and interpret those conversations for the Army Security Agency. This was interesting work to be sure, but my best memories of those times came from the friendships I formed with the other GI’s who served with me on top of Teufelsberg, or Devil’s Mountain.

I knew some of my friends for almost four years. We studied Russian at the same time at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, then we worked on the same trick (shift) on top of Teufelsberg. Three of us were even roommates for a total of over three years. When we weren’t working, we spent a lot of time with each other exploring Berlin or in the local GI bars.

At the time I was in the Army Security Agency, the enlistment period had just been upped from three to four years. This drew in a lot of young men like myself who were college dropouts. This meant that the people I knew in the Army were reasonably intelligent and very independent. We never ran out of interesting topics of conversation, which was good, as we were not allowed to talk about our jobs outside of the compound where we worked.

Our common background and experience together doing security work led to close bonds that kept us connected after our service days were over, even though we lived in widely separated parts of the USA. We would ride buses, motorcycles, or even hitchhike across the country to see each other and talk about both old and new times. After a while some of us lost touch with one another. Then, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, we were able to once again get in touch after the lapse of many years, perhaps decades.

How sweet to once again get together with old Army buddies and talk about the old days. It was almost like being in Linda’s Lounge once again. There was one big exception, however. Now most of us were no longer drinking alcohol and only consumed beverages such as coffee, tea, fruit juice, or diet cokes.

 


christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall: Part IX

By Ray Adams

    D.T. wandered aimlessly, away from the Vietnam Wall. When he looked up, he saw he was heading vaguely in the direction of the Washington Monument. There was a small booth on his left. A young man and woman waited in chairs, with tablets, pens, and recording equipment in front of them.

“Excuse me, sir,” the young man said. “Did you by any chance just visit the Vietnam Wall?”

D..T.’s mind was in another galaxy and he had no idea the young man was talking to him. He looked around, searching for the “sir” the guy was addressing. But there were no other “sirs” in the vicinity.

“Yes,” he said. His voice sounded like it was coming from beneath water.

“Were you in Vietnam?”

“No.”

“Did you know someone whose name is on the Wall?”

“Yes.”

“I wonder if you’d mind taking a survey about your feelings? I’m working on a project for my university.” D.T. saw that the young man had on a sweatshirt emblazoned with the name of a well-known Midwestern university.

D..T. glared at the stranger for several moments. He wondered what in the hell made him think he had the right to intrude on private thoughts.

“No.” D.T.’s voice was quite loud.

“I’m sorry, have a nice day.”

D.T. thought the words: “Screw you. I don’t talk to necrophiliacs.”

He slogged away, but was still close enough to hear when the woman began speaking.

“Don’t worry, Bobby, the ones who do talk will give you plenty of material. You’ll still have the best dissertation ever.”

“But so many don’t even want to talk about it. Why not?”

“It’s O.K.,” she said. “When you write it, no one will know about the ones who didn’t talk. Just the ones who did.”

“Yeah, but it bothers me. I can tell by looking that these guys are sure as hell thinking about something. Probably something I could use. I just wish I knew what it was.”


christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall : Part VIII

By Ray Adams

D.T. tried to imagine what Greg’s last moments were like. Was he crawling through a rice paddy? Or maybe hiding in a lush jungle, his rifle at the ready, poised to shoot at Viet Cong? What had gone through Greg’s mind in those last moments? Did he see the faces of his family in Pittsburg? Or those of his buddies back in West Berlin? Or maybe the firm breasts and creamy thighs of the young German girl who gave him comfort on his last night in Germany? “He make me happy,” she had said. And D.T. was sure that was every bit as true as the fact that Greg Sorbini had lived and died.
Sorbini’s life had been incomplete. He never had time to get married and have kids. And so there would be no grandchildren, no little ones he could have told about his last night in Berlin and the fräulein who had made it less lonely for him. D.T.’s hand grew hot and sweaty. His eyes filled with tears. Had they been open he would not have been able to read Sorbini’s name. He stood in front of the Wall for ten minutes, his hand on the black marble, thinking about Sorbini. He had been so young, good-looking and full of life. D.T. tried to think of a good reason why Sorbini’s young life had ended in some godforsaken jungle thousands of miles from his home. He could not find any. Then his hand got as hot as though stuck in a blazing fire. He knew then he had to take it off the Wall and get out of there.


christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall: Part VII

By Ray Adams

 

D.T. now knew he was no longer alone in front of some memorial, just another randomly curious tourist. His hand moved, reaching out to stroke the Wall as though the names were calling to him. It felt smooth and hot, filled with an energy that warmed his fingertips. He knew what he had to do: find Sorbini’s name and touch it.

He dragged his hand away and went to the locator book, where the dead were listed in alphabetical order. Once he had Greg Sorbini’s location, it was easy to find the right section, but the lines were another matter. There were so many of them and they were all crowded with names. When he finally spotted Greg’s he realized he had looked right at it five times before his eyes had finally focused and recognized it. But now it was locked firmly in his sight.

He took several pictures of Greg’s name, using different angles in the hope he’d get at least one good shot. Then his hand was drawn to the letters that spelled out the name of an old friend. He touched them, closing his eyes again, filling his mind with images of Greg in Linda’s, smiling, drinking beer, talking about his old neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Jesus, he never saw the Steelers win a Super Bowl. He probably never even knew who Terry Bradshaw was.

D.T. shook his head, trying to knock out cobwebs and bring back more memories. There were times when D.T. would arrive for work on top of Teufelsberg and he’d see Greg lined up with the rest of D trick, waiting to hop on the bus back to Andrews. There were many more memories, but the most bittersweet of them all was the last time he’d seen Greg when he was walking out of Linda’s with Rosie on his arm.

Dear Readers, These nine stories are now available on both Kindle and Nook for your reading
pleasure.  Best wishes, Ray Adams
bloodKSR_1blogbot3Book art by: Noel Gonzalez http://noelgonzalez.com/contact.htm  

christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall: Part VI

by Ray Adams

    Years passed, then even more years. The life and death of Greg Sorbini got caught up in the other uncountable events that occurred in D.T.’s life, eventually lost in a corner of his mind where old memories lay almost forgotten. In the summer of 2005, when he visited the nation’s capital for the first time in forty years, thoughts of his old Army buddy Sorbini had not entered his conscious mind for a very long time.

D.T. found it quite exciting to be back in D.C. He became giddy touring all the historical buildings, monuments and sights. He was following a tourist map, trying hard not to miss anything. There were so many new memorials that had not been there the last time he visited. One of these was the Vietnam Wall.

D.T. stared at the statue of the three American soldiers by the Wall. They were the same age he would have been had be been in Vietnam instead of Berlin. They could easily have been his comrades instead of guys like Chingón and Jerry. Then he walked down the length of the Wall, taking in all the scores and scores of names etched into the black marble. He thought hard, trying to remember if anyone he knew was there. An old friend at his high school reunion had mentioned that a member of their graduating class had been killed in Vietnam. But no matter how hard he tried, he could not recall that unfortunate soul’s name. He stood in front of the Wall, eyes closed, hearing a sound that could have been the wind or maybe the whispering of a thousand voices.

He began to search his memories, running back over his days in the Army. Had there been someone he knew in boot camp? At the language school? In Vint Hills Farms? Maybe in West Berlin? Had he actually known anyone who went to Southeast Asia and never made it back? Then out of nowhere, Sorbini’s face swooped in like an owl out of fog.

“Of course.” He laughed when he realized he’d said the words out loud.

Dear Readers, These nine stories are now available on both Kindle and Nook for your reading
pleasure.  Best wishes, Ray Adams
bloodKSR_1blogbot3Book art by: Noel Gonzalez http://noelgonzalez.com/contact.htm  

christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall: Part V

by Ray Adams

 

Two days later, D.T. was in Linda’s trying to deal with Sorbini’s decision. It made no sense to him. The war in Vietnam seemed to be escalating every day and nothing he’d seen on TV made it look like the G.I.’s in the jungle were having as much fun as those in West Berlin. The Stars and Stripes kept reporting that more and more G.I.’s were leaving Southeast Asia in a body bag. D.T. sure didn’t like Sorbini’s odds. His mood became even more melancholy when the jukebox played “Eve of Destruction” and the rough, passionate voice of Barry McGuire filled the room   The words seemed to hit D.T. like bullets from a rifle.

He perked up when Rosie walked in. “How’d it go with Sorbini the other night?” he said.

“That Sorbini,” she said with her big Rosie smile. “He is good boy.”

“Yeah, I bet he is. Did you take care of him O.K.?”

“Ach, sure. That Sorbini. He make me happy.”

“No doubt, but did you make him happy?”      “Oh yah, for sure. He smile a lot. You do that real good, Rosie, he say. Yah, I make him pretty happy. He got big smile on his face.”

He bought her a coke and cognac and tried to find a topic that would interest them both.

In the spring of 1967, D.T. heard the sad news about Sorbini. A VC bullet had penetrated his brain and there would be no more Sorbini grins to warm the hearts of his comrades. The news sent D.T. and his buddies down to Linda’s to have a drink in Greg’s honor. Anyone who dropped in joined them. It seemed everyone in the 54th had known and liked him. Before the day was over hundreds of glasses and bottles were lifted in Sorbini’s honor.

Dear Readers, These nine stories are now available on both Kindle and Nook for your reading
pleasure.  Best wishes, Ray Adams
bloodKSR_1blogbot3Book art by: Noel Gonzalez http://noelgonzalez.com/contact.htm  

christmaswall

Photo by George DeBuchananne

Another Wall: Part IV

by Ray Adams

     D.T. strolled over to Rosie and said, “Hello, German girl. Why are you all alone?”

“Hi, D.T.,” she said. “Sit right here.” She gave him a big smile and patted the chair next to her.  “I want to feel your body. Then I won’t be alone no more.”

Her body felt good next to his. He took her hand and held it. “I’m not your date tonight, Rosie,” he said. “Yeah, there’s another GI here that needs you real bad. His name is Sorbini. You know him, right?”

“Yah, I like Sorbini. He makes me laugh. He’s got them pretty brown eyes. What’s wrong? Isn’t he happy? You want me to make him happy?”

“Here’s the thing. He’s leaving Berlin. Like tomorrow. And goin’ to Vietnam. Yeah, you could make him happy. Why don’t you go talk to him?”

Rosie sauntered into the main room and cuddled up to Sorbini, exploring his upper thigh with her hand.

“What’s this,” he said, “My last chance at a German girl?” He flashed his old Sorbini smile, the one all his buddies had seen so often before he volunteered. His face got more alert, showing fewer signs of drunkenness than it had moments earlier.

“So what’s new, Rosie? How are your stocks doing?”

“Oh, Sorbini, can’t you see I got nylons on, not socks?”

“Well, you sure as hell are making my stocks rise” He put his hand on top of hers and sighed. “Hey Bert, why don’t you get Rosie and me a cab?”

“Did they go to the Drexel?” D.T. asked after the couple left.

“No,” Bert said. “Sorbini always uses the Hauptberg Inn when he falls in love with a fräulein.”

 

 

Dear Readers, These nine stories are now available on both Kindle and Nook for your reading
pleasure.  Best wishes, Ray Adams
bloodKSR_1blogbot3Book art by: Noel Gonzalez http://noelgonzalez.com/contact.htm  
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