It was June 2nd, 1979. I was 14 years old and no longer a military brat, I was a civilian.
Sure, I still had my ID card that enabled me to go to any local PX and the like. We, however, didn’t have a local army base, let alone a local PX. In the years ahead of me I would visit several military bases, I even returned to the old places we stayed in back in Germany. But for now, my old life had ended, and a new chapter was just beginning.
Dad left the military the month before. I left my DoD school for the last time, saying good bye to all my friends there. I never saw them again—this was long before emails or Facebook.
Yes, I wrote my friend a few times, he left Bad Kissingen a short time after me, ended up in Kentucky. Letters flowed between us for a year or so, Gary wrote that he was smoking hash with some other kids. Then nothing, no more letters. Silence now for thirty years.
We arrived at our new home in Dads hometown of Pissville. It took us two days to get here from Germany, long hours traveling across the ocean and driving into the backwoods. All we had with us was a few suitcases, the rest of the furniture and clothing, almost everything, followed us by ship, and it wouldn’t get there until well past summer. I still had a few things I got back at Rhein Main, a couple of comics, a couple of sodas, some bits and pieces I found or stole during our trip ‘home’.
Our new home was a detached house, and we would no longer be living in an apartment. Instead of young families and kids around us as back home in Germany, we instead had two old couples living either side of us, a old woman across from us.
For the first time ever I had a bedroom to myself—I wouldn’t be sharing with my brother. Of course there wasn’t a bed, I slept on the floor in a old army sleeping bag for the first weeks there. I had a chair in my room and a built in desk against the wall.
I placed my few items on the desk, my BSA pocket knife, my watch, a few comics and some leaflets I kept from our travel. On the walls I hung two posters which came in a German music magazine I had brought with me, Debbie Harry went on one wall, James Dean on the other. It was quiet at night, and dark. There wasn’t much traffic and no security lights to shine into the skies at night.
That late summer I saw my first Northern Lights, it was so dark. No military tracked vehicles rumbled up or down the streets. I began to miss these little things that were a constant background to my life for the past 14 years.
That summer I was enrolled into my new school, about two weeks before vacation time. I had wanted to go after summer, but had to go before the vacation began, an ackward time for sure. The new kid, that was me. Whereas in the DoD schools a new kid usually fitted in fairly quickly, here it wasn’t so easy.
I was the only new comer. It was a civilian school, the town was 100% civilian. I don’t think a soldier had passed through it since the Civil War. The Principal, a fat older man in his twilight years, looked at my report cards from Germany and that was it.
Next I was sent to my new class. I have forgotten much about it, but I remember the next four years were very unhappy for me. I have forgotten to forget the pain I went through. Sure, I made friends but they did not compare to the dear freinds I had in earlier, happier days in Kansas or Germany.
Anyhow, these fiendships didn’t survive past school. It was Jerkville High School, God I hope that you know how much I hated you all. I guess it was my fault really, I did have some issues to deal with, both in relation to the school and with real problems at home.
I would day dream about Germany, my old life there, my friends left behind. I missed the military but couldn’t join because of medical problems in childhood. I would draw maps at home, of the places we went, places of adventure. I still have some of them, that is why I can still remember much of the things we did as kids. Sure, I had some fun now as well, we would go out shooting or camping. But the people here didn’t know about the world, worse, they didn’t care.
They would rather sit around doing dope or drinking beer. When the Iranian hostages came back they stopped off in Frankfurt and were treated in the military hospital there. I was so excited to see and hear of the place where I was myself a patient only a couple of years before.
Did it trigger any interest in my new ‘friends’? No, none. The teachers at my new school, unlike the DoDDs ones I had before, had been in the school forever. Hell, they probably were students there themselves. They had no real interest in their subjects at all.
Still, I graduated high school. So many people talk fondly of their high school years as being the best days of their lives. It wasn’t in my case. I will never go back to that place, never as long as I live. My best school days were in the DoDDS. All this high school prepared you for was to be a homemaker or a fisherman, neither of which interested me much!
The first few weeks in our new ‘home’ I would explore the locality. There was nothing here at all, just a phonebox down the street and a USPS box next to the street. The nearest store was a mile away, the nearest town eight miles away. My new school was also eight miles away, so I had to take the school bus there and back.
Once or twice I missed the bus, on purpose, and had to walk back. There were fields and woods nearby and a bit further down from us was the Atlantic ocean with a deserted, dead beach. I would wander down there, alone, many times. The woods I explored, mostly alone, as my new friends weren’t that interested in going there, they were usually too busy watching martial arts videos or playing computer games in the local diner. I did come across a couple of old Indian sites, I guessed at the time, but they didn’t interest anyone else but me.
I had been in the BSA in Germany, there wasn’t even a local BSA group here. It seemed that I ended up at the very end of civilization. I spent much of my time listening to British pop music, this was back in 1979 – 1983, and I avidly took in the New Romantic movement coming out of England.
I knew that my future wouldn’t be here in Pissville. I had seen too much, done too much as a brat to be satisfied with my life. Something had to change.