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SHARING MY LOVE OF LIVING IN GERMANY: A Black American Woman's Experience

Born in New Orleans, La., I joined the Army in 1977 to escape an abusive husband. My best assignment was in Heidelberg, Germany in 1979. I had two small daughters. After many tours in Germany during the Cold War, I retired here after 22 years. As a Permanently Disabled Veteran, I enjoy writing about my experiences, travel adventures, and meeting new people. A big plus for me is learning about different cultures while traveling. I have written several hundred stories and articles over the past few years. ChapterBuzz has encouraged me to step out of the shadows and start my first book. "Sounds interesting!"

An Unforgettable Ride
I thought Santa Claus had given me a lift!

When I was in the Army, my first assignment to Heidelberg, Germany, was a blessing, but getting a second assignment there was nothing short of a miracle. 

Heidelberg holds a special place in my heart. I have many fond memories of that charming little town nestled along the banks of the Neckar River. Back then, Heidelberg was bustling with American and German military units and civilians. Everyone I met was always friendly and ready to lend a hand, especially to newcomers like me. I just knew t...

Finding her strength during Fasching season

A few years ago, during the lively festivities of the Fasching season, Hannelore, a cherished friend and coworker, suffered a profound loss when her father passed away. 

At the time, Germany was in the middle of Fasching, a carnival frenzy of revelry that precedes Lent. But, this holiday was not the time for Hannelore to enjoy the traditional festivities. She was in deep mourning, a stark contrast to the jubilant atmosphere around her. 

However, weeks before her tragic loss, I had r...

Young Daniel, Part 2
Tutoring a Child with ADHD

Daniel's curiosity about my haircut sparked a lighthearted exchange between us. He asked, "How come you cut your hair so short"? I chuckled before explaining to him the reasons I have short hair. I told him that I didn't have much of it to wash, it was easier to comb and style, and that it was low maintenance. I asked him, "Do you know what 'low maintenance' means?" With a boyish giggle and a shrug, Daniel replied, "No, not really." I continued, "Well, it means that I don't have to spend a lot of time on...

Young Daniel, Part 1
Tutoring a Child with ADHD


After serving 22 years in the U.S. Army and enduring tough, challenging deployments in Germany, Bosnia, and Hungary, I retired in Vilseck, Germany, a tranquil Bavarian village in eastern Germany near the Czech border. Vilseck includes Rose Barracks, a sprawling U.S. Army training area. My once fast-paced, hectic military life ended in this serene Bavarian town.

I had so much time on my hands that I did not know what to do with myself. I quickly b...

Losing my bright blue wallet
The honesty of Germans never ceases to amaze me.

I went to Penny Mart, one of my favorite stores in my town. After parking my car, I took my blue wallet out of my purse to get a one-euro coin for a shopping cart. Then, I went into the store to shop with my blue wallet in my hand.

As I browsed items in the first aisle, several rows with jars of honey caught my eye. I placed my blue wallet in an empty on a shelf next to the jars of honey to look at the array. After choosing a jar of dark honey, I continued down the aisle to the dairy and meat secti...

My Medical Emergency at 2:00 a.m.
I thought I was going to die.

A Possible Heart Attack at 2:00 a.m.

Late one night, I had enjoyed a hearty dish of spicy chicken breasts and pasta covered with sharp cheddar cheese. I topped my meal off with my favorite dessert: walnut brownies. Shortly after eating, I showered and got ready for bed, looking forward to settling in for a good night's sleep. 

Minutes after dozing off, I felt an intense pain in my chest, which jolted me awake. I didn't think of it as anything serious, at least not...

Karma Always Balances the Scales
I Just Had to Remain Patient

When I was in the US Army, my last assignment before I retired was as an Equal Opportunity (EO) course instructor at the 7th Army Training Command (7th ATC) in Vilseck, Germany. I graduated as an Army EO Advisor from the Defense EO Management Institute at Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach, Florida. I thoroughly enjoyed this rewarding assignment. 

I taught Army noncommissioned officers (NCOs) the basics of the Army EO Program. I instructed them on processing EO complaints, eff...

My town's special holiday senior social
I stayed for the gift: A jar of German honey

The mayor of my town, Niedernhausen, Germany, had his staff organize a Christmas social for all the senior citizens in our town and from other towns and villages in the surrounding areas. 

A few weeks before the event, I received a letter which announced that they would hand out jars of honey to all who attended. German honey is the best. I decided to go so as not to miss out on this special gift! The letter also said that vans would go to designated locations in town to pick up disabled perso...

Sundown at the ATM one Halloween Night
Meeting a US soldier returning from Iraq

It was in the afternoon one Halloween. As if preparing for this spooky holiday, the slowly setting sun resisted being tucked away for the night. The horizon glowed eerily with a medley of vivid autumn hues against the darkening evening sky. The atmosphere was perfect to welcome the enchantment of mysterious things to come.

Eager children dressed as ghoulish goblins, wicked witches, playful ghosts, spooky gremlins, and adorable little princesses were getting ready to roam the neighborhood for their ...

My New Friend in Wertheim, Germany
A German Shepherd

When I was in the Army stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, volksmarching was one of my favorite hobbies. I looked forward to the weekends when I could travel to different towns for those events. Volksmarching is a form of non-competitive hiking. Participants may opt to walk or run 5 kilometers (3.1 mi), 10 kilometers (6.2 mi), 20 kilometers (12 mi) or longer. Avid runners usually take the 20-kilometer or longer paths. 

Volksmarching is a fun activity you can do with a club, with your family, wit...

The Train Crash That Never Happened, Part One
It was supposed to be a simple trip.


To be honest, life can be a wicked witch. And like me, I am sure you have experienced the best and the worst of it.

Often, I've seen life disguise itself as an innocent little lamb, luring me into sticky situations. And when I was living my life, just trying to get by, I never noticed the impending danger. That's when life strikes in its worst way. It feels like the ground just opens up beneath me and sucks me into a pit of deceptions, distractions, or difficult situ...

The Train Crash That Never Happened, Part Two
On/Off the Rails!

With my route carefully mapped out, I took off at about six o'clock that Friday afternoon. Before reaching the Autobahn, I stopped at a gas station to buy a few air fresheners to mask the musty smell in the car. 

It had been cold and cloudy all day, with light rain. About 20 minutes into my trip, the drizzle quickly turned into a torrential downpour, which battered the Hoopty mercilessly. Flashes of lightning mixed with rumbling thunder did little to ease my anxiety.


The Train Crash That Never Happened, PART 3
Divine Intervention

With an absurd amount of shame piled on top of my embarrassment, I clearly heard the Hoopty's emergency lights screaming at me each time they flashed: 'YOU IDIOT, YOU IDIOT, YOU IDIOT, ...'! 

Unfortunately, I didn't know it at the time, but the Hoopty was dangerously straddling the tracks. I knew that I needed to move the car quickly before an oncoming train smashed it to smithereens, prematurely sending me to kingdom come.

Amazingly, I kept my cool and hadn't panicked yet. I tried to st...

Driving a Used Benz to France
I felt like a crash test dummy!

It was Saturday, my day for another trip to the flea market in Metz, France. At the time, I was living in Kaiserslautern, Germany, about 30 minutes from the French border. Metz was two and a half hours away. I usually drove to Metz by myself almost every weekend to shop. Sparingly, I allowed a few select friends to come with me. 

Ria, a coworker, had arrived at my organization about six months ago. We hit it off and became friends right away. She had a bubbly personality, a cheerful dispositio...

My Hangover in Bosnia
It showed no mercy!

HOOOOOOONNNNNNKKK!" blared the warning from the horn of a massive ship bearing down on me. Terrified, I started to row like hell in my fragile, inflatable rubber raft to get out of its way. Sweat rolled down my face despite the frigid temperatures. On instinct, I squeezed my eyes tighter and braced my ears for another irritating blast that would further piss me off.

Sensing a lull in the deafening noise, I cautiously eased one eyelid open to assess this horrific situation. To my surprise, there wa...

Where are you, my little Herbie?
Herbie Didn't Show Up For Me

It was the end of October. Cooler temperatures had effectively rescued the country from the sweltering summer heat. The once-lush trees had shed the last remnants of their colorful leaves, letting them float easily to the ground. Winter was just around the corner. I expected heavy snowfall this year. And so it came. Snow attacked with a vengeance that November, blanketing my little town in no time.

One day, the temperatures hovered around the low 40's. I don't know what prompted me, but I thought i...

Kindness From a Stranger
She got on the floor and put my boots on my feet.

After retiring from the US Army in Germany, I decided to stay here for several reasons. I have lived here for several years now. Germans have welcomed me and shown me nothing but kindness and acceptance. This is just one example of the courtesy and humanity I have experienced as a Black woman in this beautiful foreign country. 

I had an appointment at a German radiology clinic to have an X-ray taken of one of my knees. I had to get that done before my second surgery on it. The German clinic wa...

A visit from my late sister

My dear sister Rose passed away unexpectedly on March 22, 2016. Losing her devastated me. I was mentally unwell for a very long time. I tried to get back on my feet on my own, but thank God my friends helped me to recover. I still grieve for her to this day. She and I were very close.

We grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, surrounded by a loving, close-knit family of fantastic Cajun cooks. Rose learned the culinary secrets from our mother and grandmother, both great cooks. They always graced our fam...

Everyone who looked like me was not my friend
Dealing With a Bully in Sarajevo, Bosnia

During one of my tours in the US Army as a senior noncommissioned officer, I was assigned to V Corps, G1, Heidelberg, Germany, as the enlisted Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA). About halfway into this assignment, I was deployed in June 1997 to Taszar, Hungary, as the EOA for the Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR mission.

As the EOA for this deployment, I had my hands full. I provided EO support and guidance to Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve personnel in Taszar, Kaposvar, and Sarajevo.

US and ...

Do cats really have nine lives?
I need verification!

A few years ago, I had total knee replacement surgery at Landstuhl Army Hospital near Ramstein, Germany. Kind, extremely generous friends offered to let me stay with them during my recovery. They told me they would take me to my orthopedic and physical therapy appointments at Landstuhl. I knew I couldn't recover at home alone, so I couldn't pass up this deal. Still, I was hesitant to accept their invitation because of one crucial thing: they had cats. Two of 'em, in fact. Rocco and Chino. 

I a...

The Case of the Missing Schildkröte
The Whaat?

One afternoon, I was sitting on my living room couch watching television. From there, I could see my patio through the glass doors. While watching TV, I turned to look at my yard when I noticed my neighbor Thomas on the upper level of my backyard. He was moving around, looking near the trees and under some bushes. Curious, I went outside to my patio. Thomas looked up when he saw me. We greeted each other briefly, then he returned to searching around the trees and under the bushes, pushing them back as if...

A Surprise Visit
From German Kids in my Neighborhood

I believe that God knows when you need someone. One day, I was in a bad mood, getting depressed by the minute. I had been thinking about a personal problem that kept weighing me down. I couldn't shake it off by myself. The saying, "Don't worry about things you cannot control," rings true. And yet I stubbornly resisted taking this good sage advice.

I tried not to worry but without much success. Yet, I know that God knows my heart. He knows about all the sacrifices I have made for those who have not ...

A Stranger's Faith in Me
Trust from a Vendor in Ramstein, Germany


A few years ago, I visited the Base Exchange (BX) at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. After shopping, I went to the pedestrian mall just outside of the BX. Several vendors had set up booths or tables displaying their merchandise for sale.

While admiring various items, I was drawn to one vendor's table of colorful knitted winter hats, thick scarves, and leather gloves. One particular item that I had admired on a previous visit to the pedestrian mall caught my eye.

I was...

Doing a Free Public Service
Calming a Crying Brat at a German Store

One day, I went to Penny Markt, one of my favorite stores in my town. I love shopping there because it's always so clean, peaceful and well stocked with everything I need. The veggies, fruits, and meats are always fresh. Another plus is that every week the store offers unique, creative items for my home, garden, or car.

After parking that day, I got my shopping cart and went inside. Instead of the quiet place I was accustomed to, a piercing screech startled me as soon as I stepped through the door....

The Pitfalls of Aging
The Fun and Absurdity of it all.

When I was six years old, the aging process was a bone of contention for me. Back then, I had amusing concepts about growing old. My childhood naiveté led me to believe I would be a mature adult at age 16. I thought middle age would be 21. And at 33, not only would I qualify for Social Security, I would require someone to help me across the street.

As I reminisce about my childhood misconceptions about getting older, I was in a state of denial. Over the years, things have ...

Opening Pandora's Box in Metz, France, Part 2
Seriously Lost and on Overload

After paying for my ticket again, I drove out of the parking garage and had to make a right turn to merge into the flow of traffic. I still had no idea how to get to the hotel by car, but I knew it was about five minutes away on foot. (groan!)

Suddenly, a eureka moment struck me in my face like a cream pie. I had a handy little device called a GPS at my fingertips. DUH! So I parked on the side of the street to fire it up. After ...

Opening Pandora's Box in Metz, France
Traveling with a Non-stop Talker, Part One

"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them." – Mark Twain

Since living in Germany, I try to get on the road as often as possible. Whether a day trip to a castle or a more extended excursion to another country, traveling in Europe has had its ups and downs and even a few pleasant surprises. But as the old saying goes, there's never been a dull moment for me.

I prefer ...

Our Neighborhood Curmudgeon

Pretty much every community has a grumpy person. When I was a kid living in New Orleans, I remember ours. He wasn't some mean, fat kid with an unchecked attitude and grudge against everybody. Our malcontent was an old man who was well into his 70s. Everybody in the neighborhood knew him, and all the children were terrified of him, including me. His name was Mr. Osa Lee.

He was a peculiar-looking man with reddish-brown skin. His bald head reminded me of a shiny billiard ball or a doorknob. Standing ...

My Gumbo Shrimp Attacked
Uh, oh! CPT Meeks Had Allergies!

Throughout my Army career, men always outnumbered me in my professional specialty of military intelligence. My job often had its ups and downs, and presented me with many challenge. But I gained the respect of the men after showing them in no uncertain terms that I could always hold my own. Here's one wonderful true story about working with the opposite sex that always puts a smile on my face.

When I retired after 22 years of service, I wanted to continue working in security and intelligence. I was...

Serving with an Officer and a Gentleman
Colonel William H. Berry, Executive Officer

I was in the U.S. Army and stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. I was a stenograph on the staff of General Frederick J. Kroesen, the four-star Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe. This was one of my best assignments in the Army.

One day, I went to the bank on Campbell Barracks for a simple transaction. Before leaving the teller's window, I counted the change she had given me and realized that she had short-changed me by $20.00. I brought this to her attention, but she insisted that she had given me t...

My Audacity to be Angry at God
How I Dealt With It

After watching my mother die in my arms, I was beside myself with grief and pain. From my experience, I found out that it's ok to be angry with God.

Before I joined the Army, I was in an abusive marriage with a very violent, unpredictable shell of a man. I can't count the number of times I survived his beatings and humiliation. I was the mother of his children, two beautiful daughters. I could not understand his blatant hatred toward me.

Back then, there were no shelters for abused women. The...

Tending to Someone Else's Needs
We all will need help from someone one day.

It was Monday morning, about 8:15. As usual, I was running late for work. Despite this, I stopped at a neighborhood store to get some juices and snacks for my day. This impromptu detour left me with an unforgettable memory of a stranger in need. I will always cherish this heartwarming experience.

After parking, I headed towards the store. An elderly couple standing near the entrance door caught my eye. It seemed odd to me that they were there by themselves at that time of the morning. I got the imp...

My Defiant Act as a Black Woman in the US Army
Surviving the Challenge of Basic Training

In July 1977, I joined the Army and received basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was assigned to an all-female unit. The diversity of the women, who came from all parts of the country and from all walks of life, amazed me. Growing up in New Orleans, I had never had a friend from a different race. So living together in this new environment was an eye opener for me. I was a scared 98-pound weakling and soaking wet in my uniform.

We were housed in red-brick barracks furnished with old gr...

Rescued by Three American Angels in Germany
Angels Come in All Sizes and Colors

All too often, many of us tend to judge people of other races based on the color of their skin. Sometimes we base our beliefs on hearsay from others, stereotypical assumptions, or past unpleasant encounters. Negative information from family, friends, and the media also shape our misguided views about people from other races. 

The current volatile and troubling racial climate in the United States breaks my heart. It appears that many of us are becoming even more distrustful of ...

A Mardi Gras to Remember with my Late Sister Rose
Challenging a Cop as an Army NCO

Several years ago, I took a flight from Germany to visit my sister Rose in New Orleans for the annual Mardi Gras, a cultural and traditional celebration in Louisiana and other parts of the South. I was relieved when the plane touched down at Louis Armstrong Airport. Although the 9-hour flight had made me tired, all I wanted to do after seeing my sister was hit the sack.

As the jet taxied down the runway, an unbearable heat swept through the cabin in seconds. I felt as if I was trapped in a sauna in...

A Freak Accident Worth Mentioning
Shopping Carts are Dangerous!

There is no doubt in my mind that God does not have a sense of humor. Throughout my life, He has allowed me to wander into situations that not many human beings could survive. I must admit that no matter where I am, the location always generates a story for me to share. Check this out!

I went shopping the other day. After paying for my stuff, I put everything in my shopping cart and rolled it out to my car in the parking lot. I put the cart directly behind my trunk before unlocking it. Then, I star...

Volksmarching in Germany
What exactly is it?

When I was in the Army stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, I became interested in volksmarching.  


Volksmarching is a non-competitive sport. It is not a race but a fun activity you can do alone, with your family, with your pet, or with a club. 

Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. The main goal of a volksmarch is to promote fellowship, comradery, and the spirit of fun and adventure. 

Towns and villag...

Why I Miss Tube Socks!
They always stayed put!

Recently, I went shopping at the Base Exchange on Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany. Shortly after I started walking through the store, I started experiencing a nagging, annoying, creepy feeling. As if holding a grudge against me, my socks took on a life of their own. I could feel my damn socks inching down my ankle into my sneakers as I walked! I couldn't concentrate on my shopping with all this distracting drama going on in my shoes. I hated it!

I immediately thought of a remedy. I can't rec...

The German Nuisance at the NATO School
A German captain almost started a mini war.


I have never been a history buff. But years ago, I discovered one interesting fact in my research for a school assignment. During the Battle of the Atlantic, the United States, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, and other countries were in this war at the same time. Yet these countries were not on the same side during this conflict.

As history tells the story, Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Then, France, Canada, and a few other countries joined...

Her Name Was Maria
Remembering my Generous German Landlady


In 1991, I was in the Army assigned to the 527th Military Intelligence Battalion in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I lived in Wielerbach, a small village 7 kilometers (about 5 miles) northeast of Kaiserslautern. Weilerbach was a convenient 20-minute commute from my unit on Vogelweh Kaserne. 

Maria was my landlady. She and her husband, Gerhardt, owned the beautiful two-story home in Weilerbach. I rented the downstairs apartment on one side of thei...

The V Corps EO Office False Flag
Was I in Germany or the Backwoods of Mississippi?


I graduated from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) at Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa Beach, Florida, in the top 10 

percent of my class. The intense training at DEOMI in human relations, equal opportunity, and diversity tested me in ways I never thought possible. It reshaped and molded me into a teacher, a mentor, a psychiatrist, a mediator, and more of a leader than...

Army Physical Training Got me in Shape

The evil Monday morning PT formation hovered over me like a hungry vulture in a scorching desert waiting to pounce on me, its helpless prey. There was no escape. 


Last weekend, I had partied my ass off and had gotten drunker than a skunk at the club. I tried to sleep off my massive hangover on Sunday to no avail. I WAS A SOLDIER.

Monday, my sworn enemy, showed up as usual. It was o'dark thirty, and the sun wasn't even up yet. ...

The Dangers of Shopping on an Empty Stomach
I only needed some milk

I went shopping the other day for two bottles of milk. Oblivious to my original plan, I visited a few other stores and picked up a few odds and ends. The I returned home with bags of stuff which included my two bottles of milk. My shopping damage came to the tune of 135.47 Euros/$162.85. 

I felt stupid for spending all that money. But I didn't spend it all on myself. I bought a few items which I planned to mail to friends in the states. But I had to share this with my friends who could verify ...

A Unique Gift from a Poor Bosnian Woman
A Bag of Negro Candy

After 22 years of service in the US Army, I retired in Vilseck, Germany, a short distance east of the Czech border. Within a month, I found a job working for the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). This job required that I deploy to Tuzla, Bosnia, to work in the CCC Education Center on Eagle Base near Tuzla, Bosnia. I jumped at this chance to travel to another county. 

While there, I had several incredible experiences and was fortunate enough to meet many amazing people. To this day, I have never ...

Losing my Best Childhood Friend
Her Name was Ann Lavigne

Her name was Ann Lavigne, my best friend in fifth grade. We attended St. Monica's Catholic Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Both of us were shy, introverted nerds and skinny as reeds. I don't remember exactly when or how we became friends. I think our friendship started in class because we both excelled in all of our subjects. I think the commonality of being nerds made us bond to become close friends.

Looking back, I was a gifted child but didn't know it. I got straight A's in every su...

Coming Face to Face with a Symbol of Hatred
Defending a KKK Card Carrier in the US Army

It was 1991, and at the time, I was a Staff Sergeant and a Counterintelligence Agent in the United States Army. My unit was located in Germany. 

Job-wise, I had a full plate. I conducted security clearance background investigations, scheduled interviews for security clearances, and wrote intelligence reports. I also investigated security violations and conducted security briefings, among other responsibilities. Plus, I had to meet required physical training standards, field exercise participat...

Everyone Who Looked Like Me Was Not My Friend
Surviving in an Army Administrative Circus

I was a staff sergeant, the senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the S1 Administration Section of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in Frankfurt, Germany. I had a diverse group of five young soldiers under my charge. One black female, one Hispanic female, one Hispanic male, one white female, and one white male.

My soldiers were the best. They were always on time for formations, and all of them scored high marks on their PT tests. They reported for duty on time and were very proficient in t...

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