Bill Buys a Car
by Gary Anderson (62-63)

From the 5/15/04 BIA Newsletter

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 disappearing!

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 morning.

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.

 © 2005, The Berlin Island Association

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