Germany Part 4, Our Daughters

Before I go forward with my story of Berlin in the Summer of 1989, I must explain that the West Berliners were cut off from the rest of West Germany. There were three corridors out of West Berlin, but it wasn’t easy for West Germans to use these. Pan Am had an Internal German Service, and they flew shuttles in and out of Berlin. This was why, back in 1989, Jack was brought back in with Pan Am to fly Charter Flights out of West Berlin to various vacation destinations. Here is a map that shows just how cut-off West Berlin was from West Germany.

While living there I was so impressed with the West Berlin people I came into contact with. They were happy people, and despite the fact that they lived in a closed city, they made their own parties! There were, The German/American Folkfest, The German/French Folkfest, and The German/British Folkfest! There were parades and parties and life was good.


In July of 1989, we flew over to the USA, picked up our two daughters, Mandy almost 13  and Jessica age 11. Neither one of them had been to Germany as teenagers, and we decided before we arrived back in Berlin to have them experience Germany as a German. No American Fast Food, and to learn and use some German language.


Jessica, Mandy and me at the Berlin Zoo.


Jack, me and Jessica at the Berlin Zoo.

The girls were a little nervous at first, but soon Mandy was asking to go out alone or with Jessica and get Currywurst and Pomme Frites at the corner stall. I encouraged them, as back in 1989, West Berlin was one of the safest places in the world.

We lived close to the Europa Center, and I would take the girls there for shopping and lunch and I seem to recall Mandy having her first beer (with me) there. As you can see, Mandy did not look 13 years old! The waiter asked if she would like a beer and she looked at me, with questioning eyes and I shook my head yes!


The girls enjoyed the festivals, and we went to everyone they had while we were there. They enjoyed all the rides and the foods, and I think in many ways these light-hearted times have remained with them.



We ate out a lot and they both tried new things, but mostly they stuck to the tried and true, chicken, sausages, and french fries.

We took them to the Glienicker Brücke, which is also known as the Bridge of Spies. The Glienicke Bridge was a restricted border crossing between the Eastern Block (namely Potsdam in East Germany) and territory affiliated with the Western powers (namely the American sector of West Berlin), the Americans and Soviets used it for the exchange of captured spies during the Cold War.

The first prisoner exchange took place on 10 February 1962. The Americans released Rudolf Abel, convicted for spying for the Soviet Union in 1957, in exchange for Gary Powers, the pilot of a U-2 spy plane shot down in 1960.


Amanda in the white skirt and Jessica in the navy blue skirt.

Remember, at this time, the bridge was still off limits and the Wall was still very much in place.

We also took them to a viewing area, where they could look at the Wall and look over the Wall. It made a big impact on them. Especially Amanda, who flipped off an East German Border Guard while she was standing there!


And of course, we took them to places where they could go up close to the Wall. The West Berliners had many walking areas, right up alongside!


I think the best part of the summer was that the two girls got to see Communism in action. I am so glad that they did!

More to come!



Germany Part 3, The Summer of 1989

After we settled in our Flat in Berlin, The days were often the same. Jack went off to fly Charter Flights, and I went off to explore. It was such an exciting time, and living in the heart of Berlin was the place to be back in the summer of 1989.

I went out to Steinstücken and peered through the wire fence at the manned East German Tower. I remember staring at the guard, who stared right back at me!


Jack looked into taking a trip through Check Point Charlie and into Alexander Platz, East Berlin. We found out that we could ride on a Military Bus, as they went I believe it was, twice a week, in order to maintain equal access to the Eastern part of Berlin.

We were told to change our Deutch Marks on the West side of the Wall, into East Marks in order to get the best exchange rate. So, we did this.

I remember being terrified of going through the Wall. Because we were on the Army Bus, when we crossed the Check Point, all we had to do was hold up our Passports showing that we were Americans. No one boarded the bus, and no one stamped our passports. It was very strange indeed!

jack Birthday

The first few times, Jack was with me, and we did things like walk through the department store in the center of Alexander Platz, go into a music store where they sold wonderful cassette tapes of classical music, and walked about two blocks from the center to a little restaurant that served a good meal and really cheap but good beer! We also found a Toy Shop and liked to visit that store a great deal. The saleswoman always had something she had saved for Jack. I can still see her bright smile when she saw him enter the store!


Maribeth at Alexander Platz 1989

I enjoyed shopping in East Berlin. I bought a few china pieces, some glasses, but my most prized possession was two beautiful cotton comforters. I have used them every day since 1989 and they are currently in tatters. I really need to retire them, but they are just right, weight wise, and warmth wise.

I made eleven trips into East Berlin during this time. I went over to see how the East Berliners lived, and to soak it all up. I would sit in this small cafe, having lunch and a cold beer and just watch. Children would be playing, people would be talking, and surprisingly the roads were pretty quiet.

When the Wall finally did come down later that year, we flew back. We went down to the center of Berlin, near the Brandenberg Gate and stood on top of the Wall!


We also walked along the Wall with our friends and saw this opening. Staring back was a young, and somewhat surprised, East German Guard. We all smiled at each other!


There is more to write about that summer. We had our daughters over for a month and it was quite an experience for them. I want to scan in some of their pictures so you can see how they did during the month they were there, living as Germans do. At least food wise.

But that is for another post!


The First Weeks In Berlin

When we arrived in Berlin back in 1989, the Company put us up at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was okay, but the room was a bit small, and the fridge in the room would tick off if anything was removed from the fridge. Now we would take out their expensive beer and put in our own beer, so we could have the brands we enjoyed.

The Hotel was nice, but since we knew we were going to be there all summer, we started looking for a temporary leave Flat to rent.

The first one we found was on the KuDam. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the KuDam, it is the Street that never sleeps! Sort of like New York City. The only problem was that nothing is sound-proofed and after a week of not sleeping I was one grouchy girl.

I should note. Jack can sleep anywhere, so he wasn’t bothered as much. He mentioned this to a friend, who was going Stateside for a couple of weeks and offered us his apartment. We immediately moved out to it in the Zehlendorf section of West Berlin. It was beautiful and quiet, and I loved it there, even if it was pretty far out of the city.

We stayed there, enjoying a local Greek restaurant and Jack would go out running in the morning and bring back fresh rolls and pastries.

But our time there was limited, so we moved to another Flat, that we sublet from another Pilot who was on a vacation, and would be gone for a while.

Thus we moved into One Lietzenburger Strasse. Our apartment was on the eleventh floor of the apartment building, with beautiful views of the city. Best of all, it was quiet!

There is one thing I will never forget about this apartment and that was the decor. On a prominent shelf in the living room was a picture of a beautiful woman. She had obviously wanted to look good in the picture, and her hair and makeup were immaculate. The frame was perfect and sitting right in front of this special picture was a box holding a tube of Preparation-H! Turns out the Pilot we were subletting from had a rather acrimonious divorce from this beautiful woman, and putting a tube of hemorrhoid ointment in front of her picture was his way of making a point, on a daily basis! I laughed each time I looked at it and admired his rather droll sense of humor!

We settled into daily life in West Berlin. Jack would go off flying several mornings a week, doing Charter Flights with vacationers, and I would trek all over Berlin, getting cases of Beer, Groceries, trying new restaurants and different foods, before going back to our Flat and cooking something for dinner.

Berlin Beer 1

On Jack’s days off, we would often go for walks to various places around the city, stopping for beer along the way. If you have never had German Beer on Tap, then you have really missed something special in life. I had never been much of a beer drinker before, but my goodness, German Beer is simply magnificent!

I walked everywhere and had a medium size wicker basket that I carried my groceries in. On the days I went to the Beer Store, I used my suitcase wheelies to bring back the Beer, water, and juices.


I also went to museums, Zoo’s and Parks and walked and walked, all in an attempt to keep from gaining too much weight from everything I was eating and drinking. No such luck! That was the summer I gained 25 pounds! Quite happily so!

Sore feet!

You might also notice that I dressed every day. That summer I wore skirts every day. No slacks. I was trying to enjoy myself, and I felt so pretty in dresses and skirts. I must also confess that my skirts had elastic waists and expanded while I was there! Ha!

All of this happening in just the first few weeks we were living there. What an adventure I had started, and there was so much more to come!

My First Flight…No Passengers!

In 1989 Jack came home one day and said he’s been offered a temporary assignment with Pan Am in West Berlin, Germany. Since I A) loved Germany and B) I was always up for an adventure, I told him to grab it!

At the time Jack was the #1 First Officer on the A-300 Airbus. So when he bid for any line, he got it. Thus in May of 1989, our adventure began.

First, getting the plane to Berlin was a bit tricky. It could not be flown with passengers because it did not have the ability to fly from New York, JFK Airport to Berlin, Tegal Airport with a full fuel load and passengers. So, the crew was to ferry the plane over. Seeing as I was married to one of the crew, I was authorized to fly along.

Meals were loaded in the galley for us, and the Flight Engineer gave me a crash course on how to make coffee, cook the meals, etc. It was pretty exciting stuff for a 30-year-old, who really had not done a lot of traveling by the seat of her pants before!

Taking off out of JFK was so exciting. I was strapped into the cockpit pass riders seat, sat straight-forward and for the first time in my life, experienced what a pilot goes through at take-off! The plane went speeding down the runway and then I felt the front wheels leave the ground and then we were flying! I mean, it is so different to be in the cockpit and feel and see the changes. I was in awe!

(Please note here, since that flight, when I dream of flying it is always from this vantage point. And oddly enough, I’m not in a plane!)

We had daylight for a bit, and I was thrilled at what I saw down below. Once again, the perception is different in the cockpit, as you see everything head-on, not to the side of the plane.

Flight Engineer, Ray and I made the dinner meals and served them up. Do you know they all eat different meals? A built-in safety so that the entire crew doesn’t get food poisoning.

After dark, I went back and tried to sleep a little, but you know, I have never slept well on airplanes no matter how tired I am.

Eventually, I stumbled back into the cockpit and just watched the nighttime sky. St. Elmo’s Fire danced across the wind screen, the Northern Lights, over Iceland, and eventually, the sunrise over Shannon, Ireland. All so beautiful, and all I would have missed if I had slept.

In the morning we were flying over Europe, and then over the very beautiful and neat fields of Germany. That flight was the start of the adventure and I still can see so much of the beautiful countryside in my mind.

Before I knew it, we were setting up to land at Berlin, Tegel Airport. As strange as it was to take off, the landing was an experience! We were lined up on the runway, and we floated down, down, and I thought okay the wheels should touch…but it was a moment or two more before the back wheels touched and then the front!


This is the plane we flew over from New York, JFK Airport!

After landing, we taxied to the gate, and a ground agent popped on board, and saw Jack and smiled and greeted him by name. Jack had flown in the IGS (Internal German Service) for Pan Am for 11 years, so this was all familiar to him.

It was all new to me, and I was a wide-eyed youngster back then, but by the end of the summer I was taking the S-Bahn and U-Bahn and buses all around town and I think that was the summer, I learned how to do everything all on my own.

I would find a destination in West Berlin, and then figure out how to get there. It was a summer of fun, adventure, good German Beer and did I mention the wursts, cheese, bread, and pastries? Oh my goodness! It was marvelous all of it!


Me and Jack

Savannah & A Movie Review

So again, I am off. Poor Hubby is home with the beasts, and I am off to have fun with Savannah. My bag is packed, and come morning, I will be off to Savannah’s dance class and then it’s time for the two of us to have some Oma and Savi time!

We went to see The Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. It was a slow movie, but the subject matter intrigued both Jack and I.

It has to do with the Spy swap for Frances Gary Powers in 1962. The trade takes place at The Glienicker Brücke, in Berlin, Germany.

When we had our daughters living with us in Berlin during the summer of 1989, West Berlin was still a closed city. We traveled all around West Berlin, showing them the wall. We also went into East Berlin and showed them the difference at that time.

gelienecke brucke

Amanda is in the white skirt and Jessica is in the pink top. I think they would agree, this trip really opened their eyes! I learned a lot that summer.

Back to the movie. It was well acted, and the last half an hour, you will be on the edge of your seat!

One must wonder, is there anything that Tom Hanks can’t do?

Anneliese & Me

The planning begins. Now that Anneliese is definitely in heat I am planning our trip. I have made my reservation and now just need to list Anneliese on the flight and all will be set.

Talk about being excited! Last time I took Anneliese to Germany I was VERY excited! After all, it was the first time, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. This time, I know Isegrim, I know his owners and I am even more excited.


Anneliese & Me.

I’m also excited because I get to spend time with my best friend, Uschi! I want to take long walks with her, sit curled up on her sofa, talking until we both fall asleep, and enjoying every moment!

So now I pack, for myself and for Anneliese. I need to find someone to come and walk the dogs during the day when Hubby is working, and I am gone. Aside from that one minor detail, I am good to go!


Tomorrow Is The Big Day!

Tomorrow (Saturday), we head to see Isagrim and hopefully have a successful mating of Anneliese with her German boyfriend. I’m nervous, both for her and for me. We will be leaving right after breakfast as our date is at 11 o’clock.

Today it snowed yet again! I have felt right at home here with the weather as New Hampshire often has periods of time like this, where it snows every day. Anneliese is thrilled because she loves the snow and has had a lot of fun running through it.

dackels through the snow

me and anneliese

I was able to get Anneliese out quite a bit today as Uschi’s yard is nicely fenced with a large play area in the back. Anneliese was a very happy girl!

frnt house snow

As you can see the deep snow was beautiful and even though it was a tad messy we enjoyed it. In time, we needed to go out to get the groceries for the day and Volker worked hard to clear the garage and the driveway for us. The roads were not too bad and we had a great time at the shops with Anton. Have you ever noticed how having a little child with you can make the most ordinary trip extraordinary?

Volker and snow

When we returned from shopping we watched “Mama Mia” while Anton slept. I was so pleased to share this movie with Uschi, because it is one of my favorites! Then Anton’s Mommy arrived from her job and Anton woke and we had coffee.

Mr Anton

Volker is setting up the GPS for tomorrow and supper will soon be ready. Here is a little dose of cuteness to keep you until my report about Saturday’s events! This is Anton with his Papa’s glasses!

White Berlin!

I woke on Thursday to find it snowing once again here in Berlin! Oh dear, I think the Berliners will all blame me for this frosty winter! After all, I come from the land of snow back home in the USA!

We have had Anton overnight. Oh how wonderful this is. He hasn’t been taught any English yet, but like most children he is already parroting back what I say to him!


Anton cleaning

Anton loves to help and he is very good at cleaning the kitchen floor! Oh boy! I am having so much fun with him! In fact he even helped me today when I was writing Dackel Princess!

anton helps me

Uschi and I took turns reading to him. Now this was quite funny because my German is really poor, even at a pre-school level!

Oma Reads

Anneliese thinks the snow is wonderful and she goes out and runs around the house the a crazy dackel! Her favorite thing is to plow head first through the snow!  She is happily waiting until Saturday and I’ve kept her relatively quiet.

mb and noah

I was quiet today as well. I think the Jet Lag caught me and I have felt very tired. So with all the snow coming down, and being this tired I decided to just hang out today. Noah took advantage of this and I found him in my lap quite a few times, with tons of kisses! Tomorrow we have great plans to go out and visit a few places in the area. Shopping or at least window shopping!

Have a great day everyone!


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This was taken back in the mid 1990’s when we were over in Bavaria. We drove to a monastery on a hill called Andechs and had lunch and these “small” glasses of wonderful German Beer! (LOL!) Of all the beers I tried in Germany, Andechser Spezial Hell was my personal favorite!