After three years in Illinois, my family moved to Stuttgart-Vaihingen, West Germany.
I was very definitely a teenager now, ready to start 10th grade.
My dad worked for the Headquarters of the United States European Command or HQ USEUCOM at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart-Vahingen (a suburb of Stuttgart).
Because we were in a foreign country, we got to have some of the advantages of being military even though my dad was a civilian. We were allowed on the base, we could use the commissary and PX, and we could go to school at the american school on the base. We still could not live on the base, though.
We knew this was only for 3 years this time (not that most others were much longer) and then we would be going back to Illinois, so we rented a house in a little town called Unterjettingen (for those who are wondering, Unter means under and, yes, there was a town called Oberjettingen or Over jettingen too) about an hour\’s drive from Patch Barracks. It was technically a row house, not a true house. A row house is simply a group of houses right next to each other, sharing the same walls but each with individual outside entrances on the ground floor. Our row house had five houses in the row with garages for each of them on one end of the row. Our house had 3 floors in it with the top floor having windows that opened out onto the roof.
My sister, Heather, and I shared one of the third floor rooms and my three other sisters shared the other one. My brother, being the only boy and still a baby, got one of the second floor rooms and my parents took the other room – the master bedroom. On the first floor was the kitchen and living room. We had radiators for heating instead of central heating. Radiators were very common in German buildings.
Since we were allowed to go to the school on the base, Heather and I went to the american high school while all my other siblings went to german schools in the little town we lived in.
When we got to Germany, we thought that my Mom and I were going to graduate from the same high school on Kelly Barracks nearby, where her father had served when she was in high school. But it was not to be, they had built another high school on Patch Barracks and that\’s where I went.
We spoke about equal parts German and English at home. My dad already knew German from having served his mission in Germany. My mom had learned some German when she was in high school and continued to learn more and of course my siblings were learning to speak german fluently at school. So that left Heather and I, and we both took German classes and learned even more from my siblings and mom and dad. And I went to a german horseback riding school, so I spoke German there. I never got to be totally fluent in German, but I did speak it pretty well.
I did a lot of things while we were in Germany, most of which I\’ll expand on in other posts. But for a brief overview… I learned horseback riding – both dressage and jumping -, I learned downhill skiing, I worked in my high school biology lab taking care of all the animals (mostly snakes), I got my own first computer, a Commodore 64, and taught my high school computer teacher a few things about programming 😄, I worked on the base as a part time secretary after school after I got a security clearance, I learned to drive in Germany (so yes, I drove on the autobahn) – we had two cars, both stick shifts and one of them had the stick shift on the column -, my family traveled all around Europe from Italy all the way north to Finland, and I went on a school trip to the UK.
And there\’s probably some other things I\’m not thinking of right now. I\’ll add more later or write them in separate posts.
I graduated from High school and applied to Brigham Young University and Ricks College (now called BYU-Idaho). My grades were not very good (Bs and Cs for the most part except my computer classes) and my SAT scores were average at best, so I did not get accepted to BYU and went to Ricks College after leaving Germany.