Springtime in Berlin and my
roomie and good friend Bill LaChance shows up with a neat car!
Actually, it wasnít all that neat but it was a CAR! In western
terminology, it had been rode hard and put away wet!
It was a 12 year old, pale
blue 1952 Ford Fairlane 4 door with stylish black wall tires, an AM
radio (thatís all they made in those days!) and real seat covers
made of a dark blue cloth and a woven plastic cord in pale and dark
blue and white plaid. You remember, the kind every new car owner
got to protect the velour seats in those days. The seat covers cost
about $29.95 installed as I remember!
After jumping through all of
the German hoops to register the car and get it insured, another
snag developed! The APís wouldnít let him bring it on the base
because it wouldnít pass their safety inspection! It seems there
were some small rusty holes in the front and rear fenders and lower
door panelsÖÖ.maybe about 3-4 inches wide and a foot or two long.
Nothing serious, but the APís said there was a possibility that
children could get their fingers caught in one of those tiny holes
and hurt themselves. None of the dependent children turned up
missing but there were reports of a couple of dachshunds
The miracle of midnight
requisition came into play and a roll of red duct tape appeared and
the holes disappeared. The whole effect looked a little like a
racing stripe gone mad.
The APís blessed the
finished product, dependent children on the base were spared the
horrors of rusty mangled fingers and the men of Baker trick had
transportation! As I recall, we named it Old Blue but I canít
remember if it was due to the color of the car or the exhaust.
Gas was expensive! It was
nearly 4 times what we paid in the states or about 4 marks for a
liter. We all chipped in to keep Old Blue on the Strasse.
We were exposed to the
sights and culture of Berlin. We drove by the museum where many
Egyptian artifacts were displayed.
We went to the Reci Bar and
waited in vain for beautiful women to call our table.
We drove to the Wannsee and
sunbathed and sail boated and watched portly old men in nothing but
their underwear and waited in vain for one of the shapely
secretaries who changed into a bathing suit from their street
clothing while wrapped in a towel to suffer a mishap and lose
control of the towel.
We went to the Army Base
Exchange and bought real American stuff like clothes and American
food and recordings of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Baez, the
Kingston Trio or the Highwaymen.
When it got close to payday,
we pooled our Pfennigs and went to the French Sector and their base
exchange and bought a hearty, robust wine with a pleasant aroma. It
even came in a bottle with a cork! It cost the equivalent of 25
cents a liter and went by the quaint name of Vin Rouge Ordinaire or
Vin Blanc Ordinaire, depending on which color you preferred with
your bratwurst or goulash soup.
Naturally, we never rode nor
would Bill drive when we had the slightest amount to drink! There
were times however, when we had difficulty remembering how we got
back to base or where Old Blue was parked when we woke up the next
The ability to get far away
from base and visit places unknown to the average airman nearly got
us into a whole bunch of trouble but that is another story.