Pfiffner, Wilma J.: 1951 – 1956

Hanau, Germany (U.S. Army) 1950-1951

Wiesbaden, Germany (U.S. Army & Air Force) 1951-1956

From the first declaration that I had been accepted by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) – to the trip across the Atlantic Ocean by ship, my wonderful adventures began.

Three other teachers and myself traveled from Bremerhaven to Frankfurt, Germany, by train – then on to Hanau, Germany. In our blissful state – and trying to help the teacher who had broken her leg on the ship – we got off the train hoping someone would be awaiting us to take our heavy luggage. While we were looking about (no red caps available!) the train started up with all our luggage on it The result was I was elected (since I understood and spoke some German) to go to Aschaffenburg with a German driver in a large Army truck to retrieve the luggage – only to find I didn’t know which billets we were assigned – nor where they were at the Kaserne. The School Officer solved this for us.

Happy days were spent at our Hanau apartment shared with Peg Comers (5th Grade) from Boston, and an Army Nurse. By the middle of the school year most of Peg’s pupils were speaking with a Boston accent so stated the School Officer!

Peg and I decided to take dancing lessons. Our German teacher came on a motorcycle with an accordion strapped on his back. We rolled up the carpet and danced with glee. The instructor would say to me elegant” – and I would reply “elephant”. We wore out the record “La Vienne Rose” and “La Mer.”

Taking my third grade to Holland by military bus was an unforgettable experience. We made peanut butter sandwiches enroute – and carried soda pop, as we weren’t allowed to drink the milk. We stayed at a “Youth Hostel” – slept in bunk beds with cornhusk mattresses – the chaff sifted down from the upper bunk. The children were too excited to fall asleep. I sent a friendly policeman, who had stopped at the hostel, to urge them to sleep. The children responded with laughter since they could not understand what he was saying in Dutch. We crawled up into a flour-grinding windmill only to become completely covered with the white flour. We visited the Rijks Museum to view Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. Best of all was the miniature village of Madurodam represented in 1.25 scale the Dutch nation – historic buildings, trains that run, all lighted and with bells ringing. What fun to see the beautiful tulip beds and mounds of petals at the Keukenhof Gardens.

On a trip to Holland with three fellow teachers, we decided to try to see the Queen at her palace and present a bouquet to her. We bought red and white tulips at the Flower Mart at Aalsmeer. Since we needed red, white and blue for the U.S.A. we couldn’t find blue flowers, we stopped along the street and asked an old Dutchman for some of his blue hydrangeas. He couldn’t understand English – but through sign language – he gave us the much-needed flowers. When we got to the gate of the palace, the guard informed us that the queen was just leaving – but invited us to come into the office. He gave us each a picture of the family and cigarettes with the Royal Crest and chocolates.

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