Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Garretson Family - Katterbach, Germany - November 1978

In the fall of 1978, some agency at the Katterbach army community was offering family portraits so that military families could send them home for Christmas. My recollection is that we discovered it when we were over there for something else and it was only available that day, so we had one taken even though were weren't exactly dressed for a family portrait. It turned out pretty nice even so.

Peter Anthony was going to have his tenth birthday a month after this was taken, and he was in the fourth grade at the Rusam Volksschule in Sachsen bei Ansbach.

Leif was three years old and would be four in two months. He was attending the German Kindergarten in Sachsen.

Peter W. was Chief of Justice (or Chief of Criminal Law, another name for the same position) for the 1st Armored Division in Ansbach and a major in the Judge Advocate Generals Corp.

Katterbach had a military housing area, a commissary, a heliport, a nondenominational chapel and various other services. It was just across some farm fields about 3/4 of a mile from our village of Sachsen and it was where we went for grocery shopping and a few American activities like Boy Scout events. Of course we knew some of the people who lived in the housing area.

When we moved to Sachsen from Fuerth, there were no quarters available there, and that's how we ended up living "on the economy" in Sachsen and sending the boys to the local German schools. We could have sent Peter A. to the American school, but at that time it would have meant that he would have had to ride a bus for an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way and we thought that was cruel and unusual punishment and chose the German school instead.

I doubt that Leif would remember Katterbach at all because we were seldom there and rarely for anything memorable to a preschool child, and Peter A. has few memories of his childhood, though in his case, Katterbach was signficant. He was an altar boy at the chapel and he brought the two communities together in song when he got the Sachsen Kinderchor (children's choir, in which he was a soloist) to sing at the Katterbach chapel at Christmas time.

Peter A. did know some boys in Katterbach because he was in an American Cub Scout den with boys from that community, but as far as I know, that was about the only time he saw them. His friends were from his school in Sachsen.

Leif had friends in Sachsen, both American and German, that he enjoyed playing with, but he didn't know anyone in Katterbach or go over there to play.

The year this was taken was a good one for us. We enjoyed our neighbors and activities in Sachsen, were very pleased with the boys' schools, did a lot of local traveling and Volksmarching, and loved living in "Hanni's house" at the top of the hill with the orchard around us. I'd love to go back to that time with my boys and Peter, sit in the kitchen on the "Eckbank" (corner bench, a kind of breakfast nook set) and make something with them, or look out over the valley from the balcony on the second floor. It would be so good to go back to a time when I had both my beautiful, smart little boys with me and the future looked bright and full of hope for both of them.

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