Pat Loring: Discovery and Remembrance

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:30

Another FANtastic Tale of Adventure 

By Pat Loring

It began in early 1960.

Some friends wanted to go to Europe to teach. That never would have entered my mind. I was in my third year of teaching close to home and where I had student-taught. I am a sixth-generation Californian, a native of San Jose, went to school through San Jose State, and was perfectly content with my life. Besides, I had two nephews and a brand new niece. I was enjoying being a part of their lives. My travels had been a trip to Oregon, trips to Santa Cruz and one to Dodge Ridge in 1958. I guess you’d call me a home-body and not very adventurous.

About that time, I began receiving letters from a friend in Germany. She was going here and there, doing this and that. Somewhere along the way, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to “join the Army” to teach with my friends. I didn’t have to go. I could change my mind. So we applied.

Well, guess who was accepted first? Right. It was I. Over the next few weeks, they, too, were notified. We went through the process together. They soon received their transportation orders to fly to the East coast. Then I got mine —a train trip across the United States—alone.

The adventure had begun. We all ended up in different cities in Germany and saw each other only once. Opportunities to travel were many and well-priced through the military. We visited wonderful places and saw most of the well-known tourist attractions. (All on weekends and school vacations.)

As I think of my year living in Frankfurt, so long ago now, some meaningful incidents and experiences come to mind.

There was the time we got lost and asked someone, “Wo ist der Bahnhof?” (where is the railroad station?) Well, the answer was long and, of course, in German. We didn’t understand a word. We just said, “Danke” (thanks) and walked ofF.

Another language experience happened when my new friend, Ingrid, took me to meet her mother. We three sat at a small kitchen table. Ingrid told me about her mother and told her mother about me. There was lots of head-nodding and many smiles. Ingrid left the room. The two of us were left on our own. More smiles, a word here and there, sign-language and we ended up “talking” about the weather. How did that happen?

Our weekend trip to the Alps was wonderful, beautiful and fun in every way. None of us were serious skiers, but we did put on skis and took a short run down a “bunny-hill” if you can imagine that in the Alps! We just wanted to say that we “skied in the Alps.”

Going through East Germany to Berlin was spooky. We had to give our passports to the trip leader so he could hand them through a black-curtained window at Checkpoint Charlie. The receiver kept them quite a while as we stood waiting in the aisle of the train. It was several hours before we were allowed to continue on.

Berlin was modern and alive, while in the Soviet Zone it was grim, desolate, few people and little transportation around. The bombed-out Cathedral stood as it was as a reminder of the war. The new Cathedral was built beside it.

A special nightclub there had telephones and message tubes at each table. If one wanted to attract someone’s attention, they could call or send a message. It took awhile to know where it was coming from. It was fun to watch the reactions. I think we got a call, but couldn’t understand what they were saying! Too bad — maybe!

This simply memorable encounter occurred one day in winter. Ingrid invited me to go to a small village nearby to meet and ride her former circus horse, Senta. It was raining when we arrived. As we approached a very picturesque and old stone house with a barn beneath it, a little elderly lady appeared in the doorway. She was wearing a bandana, with an apron over her long dress which hung down over her sturdy outdoor shoes. Ingrid greeted her and went to find Senta. I said, “Guten tag.” (I knew a few German words.)

pat-loring-photo-from-trish-crawfordBefore long, Ingrid was back leading a most beautiful, completely white, prancing circus horse. We groomed her and prepared for a ride in the forest. During this time, the lady watched us as she and Ingrid chatted. I noticed her looking at me, rather intently. I was curious of what they were talking about, so I asked. Ingrid answered, “She has never seen an American before. You are the first and only American she has ever seen.”

Wow! That really hit my heart!

What fun it has been to discover that these memorable moments, from long ago, have been my adventure — and that I still remember them!

Pat Loring lives in Columbia, California.

 

 

 

 To read our Tales of Adventure Contest winners’ stories, see the Winter 2014 issue
of Friends and Neighbors Magazine, available at these locations and by subscription.

 

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:30
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