Berlin, West & East, Living There

Section 4

West Berlin, Living There

As in all these pages, the selection of photos shown are only a small fraction of those we took during this 5 years in living in Germany.   On top of all the photos, there are well over four hundred video tapes that we made during that same period.   We took advantage of every long weekend, holiday and vacation leave to make sure we saw Europe.   Our goal was to visit every "free" country in Europe, and spend the night in a hotel in every one.   We did just that, except one, the Vatican City, which did not have accomodations.   We drove our car everywhere, and even did a few with the train and airplane.   We drove all over Norway, took ferries across fjords and to remote regions, looked at hundreds of waterfalls, a couple of glaciers, and saw what it was like to witness a 24 hour day.   So, from Finland on the east, through out the British Isles on the west, to Portugal, Gibraltar and Spain on the far southwest, through Italy on the south, Greece in the southeast, and even the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, into every state of West Germany, every major highway tunnel in Switzerland, and great rail journeys, etc., etc.   We even took the time to visit Israel and Egypt twice, and on photo safari in Kenya.

On the left is my 1981 Ration Card.   There were separate coupon pages for coffee, tea and solubles; Class VI (liquors) and Tobacco (But we never smoked).   We also had gasoline rationing which allowed us to buy the allotted amounts at the going United States prices, which were much lower than anywhere in Europe.   And, having Field Grade status, we also had courtesy ration cards from both the French and British Forces allowing us to buy additional items from their commisaries.   The prices in the U.S. Forces Commissary were based on the prices in America and were much lower in price also.    So, as an Army Civilian, life living in Berlin was truly a most wonderful experience.

And now, just a few photos highlighting some of the greatest series of adventurous travels in my lifetime.   For a travelog of Berlin, you will have to see other websites, for here is only some of the highlights of my time in Berlin.

Our home at 14 Wildentensteig, in West Berlin.   Really nicely outfitted with (when we moved in) all new electric stove/oven, refrigerator, washer and dryer.   All the furniture was provded.   We also had a new set of dishes and silverware.   Living here was really great.   Our only household expense was for the telephone.   Even repairs were done for us by the civil engineers.   Even though they furnished us with a gas powered lawn mower and large sweeper, we still had to mow the lawn and keep the leaves picked up.   In the winter, we had to clean the snow from our driveway, while some paid crew came along all the sidewalks and cleaned them of snow.   The house had a full basement, plus the two floors shown.   On the top floor were four bedrooms and two full baths, one off the master bedroom.   (By the way there were just the two of us living here.)   On the ground floor was the large living room, dining room, kitchen, dining area and a half bath.   The basement in our home had a laundry room and wintertime clothes drying room.   The third room was used for storage, although it had been used as the furnace room at one time.   At the time we were there, the house next door had the furnace that provided hot water and heat my four houses.

How time does change.   Here is a view of the same house takin in September of 1999.   As in 1996, when we visited it, it was empty.   The grass was replaced by high weeds.   The patio off the living room had an enclosure built around it.   There was this small wooden fence around the front yard. A small pine tree near the front door (see photo at left) that was about 4 feet tall in 1983 was not over 30 feet high (note the tall pine just at the right side of right of the good looking guy in the photo).

The remaining portion of the facade of the Anhalter ralroad station.   It was prior to WW2 one of the main central stations of Berlin.   It was bombed out in WW2 and not rebuilt.

An aerial display by the British using helicopters during the ceremony in June 1982 celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's birthday and 30th year as Queen.   The location is in the large field behind the Olympia Stadium.

"Air Force 1" on the tarmac at Templehof Airport.   President Reagan made his first visit to Berlin.   On this occasion, the dependant wives and kids of those stationed in Berlin were all invited to attend the arrival ceremony.   All had to go through metal detectors and have anything they carried searched.   Then they had to wait almost three hours for the arrival.   The arrival ceremony lasted all of about 5 minutes.   Then the President passed past the the dependants who waved wildly and took what photos they could, given that the President was totally surrounded by Secret Service agents and others.

Here is one of the two photos that we were able to get of the President as he passed in front of our position.   He later went on a tour of the city and made a stop at the Charlottenburg Palace.   It was on his second visit that he made his speach to Gorbochev.

During the NAZI era, the German leaders bought for cents on the dollar value many of the beautiful lake front homes built and owned by the Jews in Berlin.   They also built many of their own.   This is one of them.    As happned after the war, many of these homes went unclaimed, no survivors to inherit or put forth a valid proof of ownership.   They became trust property of the West Berlin Government.   As the need arose by the occupying forces   (French, English and American), these homes and other property were requisitioned for the occupier's use.   This one on the Wansee became a meeting place and clubhouse with boat dock for the American Forces. This is the rear view of the home.

Here is a view of the Wansee, swimming pool, and dock master's cabin, below which is the boat docks for our use.  The French had a beautiful Officer's Club right on the Tegeler See in the north of Berlin.   It had a large marina with lots of sailboats for the French Forces to use.

Here is the 'Moby Dick,' the fanciest of the many cruising ferryships that take tours starting at the Tegeler See, down the Havel River to the Wansee.   The prices weren't bad, just a maximum of DM9 round trip for the about 2- 1/2 hour ride each way.   At our conversion rate during that time at 3.25DM per $1.00, the ride cost less than $3.00.

Pfaueninsel, Peacock Island, is on the Havel River and is about 1 mile long and about 550 yards wide.   It is a nature reserve and a good place to visit.   Access is by ferry.

The island has quite a history, and as shown in the above photo, even has peacocks on it.   The castle in the left photo was built in 1796, and designed to look like a castle ruin.   There are four rooms on each of the two floors and it is now a museum.   There are many walkways around the island with exotic plants and things to see and visit.   There are many buildings that were built over the years.   One is set up as an animal enclosure where animals were kept before moving to the Berlin Zoo.   They include an aviary, Swiss cottage, a kitchen, a large guest house with a gothic front taken from a house in Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), cow stalls that look like a Gothic Chapel, a dairy that looks also like the Castle in ruin form.   Even a day is not enough to spend roaming over the island.

One of the many other activities are the many "Volkmarches" in the summer months in Berlin's forests.   They are all 10 km long (some have longer distances) and at the completion you are awarded a medal.   In the photo I show off one while wearing a second.   All together during my tour in Berlin, I made twelve such 10 kilometer marches.

In spite of my awful looking hair, I just had to show this one as proof that there was in fact an auto ferry in West Berlin.   I have tried hard to remember just where, but it is in the (then) French Sector.

There were always lots of socializing in Berlin; much more than we had in America.   Here, in our living room are fellow workers on the Hill, just chatting away.   The women?   You know, they are in another room talking "woman stuff."   We had a good phrase "Any excuse for a party, party."   We had 'welcoming parties' for newcomners to Berlin.   We had 'farewell parties' for those leaving.   And, for special wedding and birthday anniveraries that reached 25, big 4-0, 50, and the like.

Of course, the visit to the West Berlin Zoological Gardens is an absolute must.   Here are a couple of small guys in the large airconditioned enclosure built to keep the air at an antartic temperature.   When started in 1841, this location was a way out in the country.   Now it is in the very heart of the city.   It is reported to have had more species of animals than any other zoo in the world, except that it is second to that of the San Diego, California, USA, Zoo.

Produced and assembled 14 June 2002, upgraded 17 January 2006, by that great guy,
Lester Peter Gideon

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