Post 1088: Greetings to my French friends on their national holiday!

 

There seems not to be an appropriate greeting for July 14th, but may my French friends celebrate this day with the Tricolor flying boldly and proudly above one of my favorite countries!

Post 462: “Are you up!?”

I noticed in Facebook my friend Ralph’s birthday was yesterday. I looked at my brother and said, “That’s odd. I thought Ralph’s birthday was July 10th…!” After a pregnant moment, I thought out loud, “Oh! This is July!”

What can I say? I’m nearly two-thirds of a century old and the inexorable process of entropy has robbed me of some of my, um, “mental acuity”! πŸ™‚

In 1971, I think it was, Ralph and Deborah came to Kaiserslautern on a visit. They’d been great hosts when I visited Paris, so I wanted them to have an equally memorable visit to Germany. One day trip we made was to Heidelberg, where we climbed the hill to Schloss Heidelberg.

ralph tim deborah doug Schloss Heidelberg 1971

The foot scene above is from the climb to Schloss Heidelberg with Ralph, Deborah, and army friend and Beethovenstrasse roommate Tim. We were strong. We were fun. We were playful. We wanted to have a different way to remember our day trip to that city. I believe Deborah proposed the idea above. My big foot is in the foreground. Counter clockwise, the feet belong to Ralph, Deborah, and Tim.

Then, on a trip to Paris — the one Tim was able to take with me — Tim, Ralph, and I stopped by an Alsatian bar (best beer!) Ralph liked for ambience and product. Low light, slow ASA 100 black and white film — this was 1971, I think — and this surreal scene revealed itself to us all.

alsatian brasserie tim and ralph paris 1971

I also took a photo of the proprietor, a happy Alsatian who insisted I take his photo, too. He was an institution there and a camera ham, so the proprietor’s photo turned out heroic: “Noble barman at the helm of his bar, awaiting the next onslaught of thirsty patrons demanding perfectly pulled draughts of tasty Alsatian beer…!”

I suppose I could post the proprietor’s photo with no issues, but I am hesitant to post anything with recognizable people without their permission.

Anyway, the point and purpose of this entry today is to honor the birthday of a well-tested friend, someone responsible for many of the happiest times in my life, if not a few of the more horrific…. Given my age, he must be a real antique by now!

Ha! Just kidding, Ralph! I love you and cherish our friendship so much I hope I die before you so I don’t have to know a world where you aren’t there, waiting to ask that famous (infamous) question that always lead to adventures of a life time, “Are you up!?”

Post 458: woes of the Internet….

Hello. I’m back after a short interruption on my Internet service. Maybe it’s corrected now. Maybe not. All I know is Sunday I lost it, and this morning, when I turned my computer on so it’d be on when the Charter service guy came to fix the problem, I suddenly had service.

I did the sensible thing first: I looked for any bills waiting for me to authorize payment, and found one. Then I went through and deleted emails notifying me of comments, except for those, of course, directed to me, which I responded to.

I caught up on the local news — thankfully, the holiday publishing schedule plus a regular “down day” at the paper (no Sunday paper) meant I was only one day behind. It’s a small newspaper. I got through it fast, noting I still haven’t made the obituary pages (some relief!), nor have any others I prefer be on this side of the ground.

Now, I think, I am just about ready to get back into my Internet routine, which includes updating this blog. IF, that is, the Internet connection isn’t lost again before I finish!

πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™

It’s a place in Germany! I haven’t found the Dorf or Stadt represented by the “CK” on this randomly spotted automobile license plate, in 1970, somewhere in the FΓΌrth area (apparently), but the first two letters relate to — tuh-duh! — FΓΌrth, which is an administrative seat (Kreis) that includes that naughty “CK”. If you know the license conventions, these letters are very informative!

Fumlautuck

(Of course, to a dirty-minded young man taking the photo — me! — the administrative city-village coding just spelled a vulgar word in English. Shame on you if you saw it that way, too! πŸ˜‰ )

That wasn’t too edifying. Here. Follow this link to find out more about the beautiful German city of FΓΌrth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BCrth#Geography

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Whew! After that, you need something peaceful and nice. My friend Deborah took several photos in Hunawihr, France, when she borrowed my camera. That was in 1972 when Ralph and I went there to visit her while she (then we, for one day) helped with the vintage. I didn’t know what she photographed until I picked up the prints at the photo processor’s in Kaiserslautern after I returned from France.

Old friends chat on the street corner in Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

Old friends chat on the street corner in Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

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Village scene, Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

Village scene, Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

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Cottage scene, Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

Cottage scene, Hunawihr, France. By Deborah, 1972

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Deborah’s photos are a charming reminder of a lovely time had in France. Within a few weeks of the trip to Hunawihr, I’d return to America, where I suffered/endured something like culture shock in Cleveland, then a return to my roots, sort of, in West Branch, Iowa. My American friends helped me make the transition from soldier (sort of…!) to civilian (in my heart, the whole time) by immersing me in the culture I’d been away from for three years.

It was a hoot!

Post 267: old friends

I learned today that a couple old friends now read this blog. I feel a bit self-conscious about that, I suppose. Must mind my company manners now, not reveal the evil side I’ve hidden from them for 40-50 years…!

Aw, heck with it! They know by now, surely, that I can be petulant: Hunawhir, circa 1971, I had a hissy because Ralph insisted I taste a stinky cheese (don’t recall which variety). “If it smells like the bottom of a stable, it tastes like that, too!” He talked me into trying it, I gagged, made rude sounds and comments, no doubt offending the very nice host and hostess, and…! Yeah. Not nice! “The Ugly American”!

Or I can resist a good time: Strasbourg, same trip, and Ralph wanted to expose me to as many Alsatian wines as possible. I don’t know how many places we stopped by and Ralph said, “Just one more!” and I tried to drink just one more special wine. I finally “spilled” the contents of my stomach in the last wine bar in a trough urinal in front of several Frenchmen taking a leak. It was purple. I think I whined when I got back to the table, however I managed to find my feet to make it back!

Then there was the Stiefel incident at Zum Bitburger, the neighborhood Gasthof I wanted my friends Ralph and Deborah to try while visiting me in Kaiserslautern.

You’ve no doubt seen the boot-shaped glassware Germans have, der Stiefel (or boot) glass. Deborah and Tim, one of my roommates on Beethovenstrasse, had moderate amounts of Bitburger Pils, perhaps wine, while Ralph and I challenged ourselves to “der Stiefel”!

bitburger

I’d drunk from one once, remembered the trick. (Hold it the wrong way, and you get a lap full of beer! Ha! Ha! I think I wanted to “surprise” Ralph, though I’m sure he was sophisticated enough to know the trick before me!) I called the waitress over and pointed at the Stiefel glasses lined up on the shelf, and indicated Ralph and I both wanted one.

The waitress gave us an odd look and a smile. The barkeep, who looked suspiciously like the guy on the Bitburger Pils bottle label, smiled, waved in acknowledgement of the order. I think he was laughing or, at least, enjoying the pour a bit more than you’d expect, even though he ordinarily was a happy, friendly fellow, someone I liked to talk with when I visited the Zum Bitburger Gasthof. Something was just a little “off” about the moment.

The “dienendes MΓ€dchen” – “serving wench” as this was about to become a debauch, and debauches require serving wenches – came back to the table, and placed a Stiefel in front of Ralph, then me. We’d been drinking liter glasses of Bitburger Pils before the Stiefel arrived, so the fact that we had to look around the glasses to see each other on the opposite sides of the table foretold the long walk back to the apartment on Beethovenstrasse!

“These are bigger than the one I drank from,” I mentioned to Ralph, “I’m sure of it.” I think the one I drank from the earlier time had been a liter Stiefel. But THESE were huge! No, we hadn’t slumped in our chairs! They were so huge, we had to look around them to talk!

Ralph is notorious or famous for this line, usually a prelude to a fun time you wouldn’t try on your own, but that Ralph wisely decided you wanted to try: “Are you up!?”

I don’t know if he asked me the famous line or not, but, to the amusement of the local patrons, who watched as discretely as they could, and the barkeep, who just watched, with a huge smile on his face, we each tilted back the huge, huge boots, which had to be held with both hands!

The rule is you drink the whole thing back in one take. I don’t think we tried, so the German guests at the Zum Bitburger probably got bored with the crass Americans who didn’t observe Stiefel custom or provide adequate entertainment value for the mark, and went back to their own drinks. I don’t remember how big the glasses were in volume. Four liters, five liters? A lot, that I can vouch for!

Did we finish our drinks, Ralph and I? Were we up?! I suspect so. We were younger and more stupid then. Deborah and Tim helped us stagger back down Beethovenstrasse, where we climbed the three stories worth of stairs, and plopped into bed to sleep the sleep of the drunk and the dead.

!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~

Postlude: Bitburger’s motto is “Bitte ein Bit”. (“A Bit, please!”) It is a premium pilsner that has a remarkable characteristic reflecting that high quality: “Abends Bit, Morgens Fit!”, another motto of Bitburger pilsner, “Evenings [drink] Bit, [and in the] morning [you will be] fit.” Astonishingly, it is so! Ralph and I emptied a keg and had little more distress than a little fatigue and, erm, “gas”! (“Oh, Ralph!”) No headache, though! Love that Bit!