Tag Archives: Military Wife

Circuitous Travel~Part 5

10 Sep

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

After a wonderful breakfast at the St. Valery Guest House in Edinburgh, we loaded up the car and headed to Wales.

Looking at the map, it is quite a distance from Edinburgh to the Eastern border of Wales. It has been so many years since we made this trip, that I honestly don’t remember all the towns and villages we passed through getting to Wales. I have a “log” where I wrote down where we went each day, and what we saw, but there are only two entries for this particular day.   I guess those two cities, with castles, were the main focus of our day.

And so, I will tell you what we saw that day. It was so awesome…and we enjoyed ourselves so much. I have not mentioned before that one of the things that has interested me and thrilled me so much on this trip – is all the castles and ruins that we have seen that were built by the Normans! And they are still standing! Many years ago, Fred and I made a trip to Greece, and the feeling of awe that I experienced there is much the same as it was on this trip to England, Scotland, and Wales. All these structures have been in existence for hundreds and hundreds of years – and are still standing! I remember Fred sitting on the stump of a column in Athens, on the Acropolis, and knowing that those buildings were there when Jesus walked the earth…and they are still standing! We stood on Mars Hill, where Paul preached his sermon. Yes, some structures or most are in ruins, but they are still there, to remind us of what was. Amazing!

 

Fred sitting in the priests seats in Dionysus Amphitheater at the foot of the Acropolis

In any case, our first stop in Wales was in the town on Conwy. It is on the north coast of Wales. From a website on the castles of Wales, I learned:

Jeff Thomas, author:

Words cannot do justice to Conwy Castle. The best, simple description is found in the guidebook published by CADW, the Welsh Historic Trust, which states: “Conwy is by any standards one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe.” Conwy along with Harlech is probably the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. Both were designed by Edward I’s master castle builder James of St. George, and while Harlech has a more storied past, Conwy’s eight massive towers and high curtain wall are more impressive than those at Harlech.

 

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas – Conwy Castle

 

 Unlike Harlech however, Conwy Castle and town are surrounded by a well-preserved wall lending an additional sense of strength to the site. Conwy’s well-preserved wall helps the town maintain a medieval character lost by other Welsh castle-towns over the years. Construction of Conwy began in 1283. The castle was an important part of King Edward I’s plan of surrounding Wales in “an iron ring of castles” to subdue the rebellious population. The highly defensible wall Edward built around the town was intended to protect the English colony planted at Conwy. The native Welsh population were violently opposed to English occupation of their homeland.

 

Conwy Castle entrance and bridge

 

Mr. Thomas continues:   Conwy is a town that time has simply chosen to pass by. Despite a few modern shops, Conwy still looks very similar to the town Edward envisioned some 700 years ago. The ancient town walls, castle and simple streets offer very little to remind the visitor of the modern world. Conwy is something of a paradox. Originally a symbol of English domination of Wales, in time the Welsh managed to reclaim the town, replacing English oppression with its own medieval character. Only at Conwy and St. Davids did we get the feeling of being transported back to ancient Wales.

 

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

 

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

 

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Circuitous Travel~Part 3

20 Aug

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL – PART 3 continued

And so we left Edinburgh, went through Queensferry

 

Credit Google Search

to go over the Forth Bridge which goes over The Firth of Forth, an estuary of several Scottish rivers, and on to Dunfermline. Here are a few pictures we took of the Forth Bridge (for trains),

 

the bridge for trains and cars,

 

 

and the bridge for cars.

Again, from Wikipedia I gleaned: Dunfermline – The town was first recorded in the 11th century, with the marriage of Malcolm III, King of Scotland, and Saint Margaret at the church in Dunfermline. As his Queen consort, Margaret established a new church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which evolved into an Abbey under their son, David I in 1128. Following the burial of Alexander I in 1160, the abbey graveyard confirmed its status as the burial place of Scotland’s kings and queens up to and including Robert The Bruce in 1329.

 

We found it to be a fascinating place to see. The ruins are beautiful, as is the current church, which is still in use.

 

The Church yard

 

Abbey & Palace – credit BikELove

 

Abbey & Palace – credit Historic Environment Scotland

 

Credit Google Search and TripAdvisor

From Dunfermline, we drove to Falkland Palace and Garden. Here are a few pictures we took there.

 

Palace entrance

 

Falkland Palace

 

From the Falkland Palace website, I found: Falkland was the country retreat of the Stewart kings and queens of Scotland, located within easy reach of Edinburgh, yet far enough distant to provide a welcome escape. Here the royal court could indulge in hawking and hunting, plus more genteel recreations like archery. Falkland boasts the oldest real (or ‘royal’) tennis court in the world, built in 1539 for James V.

The Falkland Gardens are quite beautiful, but are relatively new, being laid out in 1947.

From Falkland Palace and Garden, we finally arrived in St. Andrews on the coast.

 

 

After wandering around the golf course and the original golf club house, we purchased some goodies for ourselves as mementoes. We purchased a cashmere scarf; I purchased some Gunn Clan pins (Fred is a direct descendent of the Gunn Clan);

 

Credit Google Search

 

Fred purchased a Gunn Clan tie, which he still wears proudly. Here is a swatch of the Gunn Clan tartan. We think it is quite beautiful.

 

 

We were told there, that when a Scot female marries, she is not allowed to wear her husband’s tartan. She is always associated with her father’s tartan. Interesting.

We returned to Edinburgh, where we walked around the town a bit and shopped, as well. I purchased a Gunn Clan book; a Gunn Clan pin and necklace; and one meter of the Gunn Clan tartan. I intended to make some garment for our daughters. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get that done until this past Christmas. I made a long scarf for each of them, with self fringe. They are delighted with it.

Also in all of this shopping – especially for the tartan, I discovered that I have a family tartan, as well. It is the Colquhoun Clan – very similar to our American word/name of Calhoun. The tartan is very similar to the Gunn tartan, with similar colors. I think it’s pretty, as well.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

Marti Gras-German Style

5 Mar

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

 

 Now that the Pre-Easter time is upon us, I want to share a memory with you.

We were blest with being able to live in West Germany for a total of six years. We spent three years in Wiesbaden, then 10 years later, we returned to Germany for another three years in Heidelberg.   Both tours of duty were precious to us. God gave us the opportunity to live in a country that wasn’t our native land, to see the beauty of other parts of the world, and to know another culture. I wish every American citizen could have that experience – to see the United States from the viewpoint of other countries. It certainly helped us to see what a wonderful and free country we live in.

One memory has stayed with us, that is a most fun memory. Our first Easter-time in Heidelberg came, and we learned of a Marti Gras parade planned for downtown Heidelberg, along the fussganger (literally foot street – no vehicles allowed). The girls and I wanted to attend, but Fred was unable to get away from his job.

We actually lived not too far from downtown, but had planned to take the local bus down. We started out walking, but every time we saw a bus approaching, it was absolutely packed with people, and driver just shook his head at us. So we eventually walked our way downtown.

There had been a few rumors that, if the U.S. military band marched in the parade, as planned, reprisals against them would happen. It made us a bit apprehensive, but then decided to go, anyway. As it turned out – no mishaps, and we were grateful.

 

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Credit Google Search

We found a spot on the sidewalk and planted ourselves there. As it turned out, there was a tiny German grandmother standing just in front of us. She probably didn’t reach my shoulders, even with her sensible heeled shoes on. She walked with and supported herself with a cane. We found it amusing that, when some teenage girls tried to stand in front of her, she poked them with her cane and told them to “get lost” (my words). They moved!

And then the parade started. It was a fun-filled parade, and we enjoyed the floats – and the U.S. military band – very much. Those on the floats would throw candy out along their way. I encouraged our girls to pick up what they could (each piece was wrapped). And then this sweet little lady would look at our girls and point out – with her cane – pieces of candy they had missed. When I suggested they offer some to her, and they did, she just smiled and shook her head.

 

2Credit Google Search and Dreamstime

I guess one of the most fun things that happened, was when the parade had slowed down (as parades happen to do occasionally), and one of the men on the float in front of us jumped off, came over to the little lady, took her chin in his hand and said “Oma!” – that’s German for “Granny!” She ducked her head, turned to us slightly, and just blushed with a grin on her face! It was adorable.

As the parade was finishing and the crowd began to disperse, we thanked her with our limited German. She just made the experience for us.

What a wonderful memory. Both of our daughters remember that experience, and we treasure it.

Here are some definitions to help you out:

Fasching: pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly catholic regions of the German-speaking countries.

Fasching is Germany’s carnival season. It starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday – often referred to as Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).

Treasures From Germany~Part 6

4 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

During our first tour in Germany (1967-1970), we picked up this etching of the cathedral in Cologne (Köln), but just never had it framed.

 

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Then I remembered a frame that I had of a chalk “painting” of my Aunt Jessie that was in a wonderful old frame. I had her picture removed (sorry Jessie), and the etching placed in the frame. The etching gives the feeling of “old” or “antique,” and to me suits this frame just right. It hangs in a place of honor in our family room, and we look at it often. We were able to visit the cathedral many times during our two tours of duty in Germany, and we also were able to see it again on our Viking River Cruise a year ago. Here are some current pictures of it.

 

We thoroughly enjoyed all the traveling around Europe that we did during our stays in Germany. One of our favorite old cities to visit, was the town of Mickelstadt. It wasn’t too far from Heidelberg, and we visited often. Here is a watercolor of that town that we enjoy. Brings back so many good memories.

 

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When we lived in Wiesbaden, we would occasionally have “vendors” come to our stairwell door with goods they wanted us to purchase. Neither Fred nor I am very good at “haggling,” and when the artist approached us with this windmill painting, we said we just couldn’t afford it.

 

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We thought that was the end of it, but she lowered the price. Again, we declined. And then she made her final offer – saying it was the rock-bottom price she would go. I looked at Fred, and we agreed that $35 for an original oil, framed, wouldn’t break the bank. So we bought it. Didn’t realize we had that knack for haggling! We purchased the two prints of Paris scenes somewhere along the way, and added them to the Holland painting. The colors go fairly well together, we think.

One more thing that we picked up while in Germany, was a page, copied, from a page of the Gutenberg Bible. For many years, it just sat, rolled up, on a shelf. I finally had it framed to hang in Fred’s office. The “antique” look to the frame seems to match the page from that original Bible. The smaller frame holds the description of the page. We had it translated, and it says: The 42-line Bible was printed between 1452 and 1455 by the inventor of the printer in Mainz (Germany). The original of this book is found in the Mainz Gutenberg-Museum. This arrangement now hangs in our guest bedroom.

 

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~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Treasures From Germany~Part 5

27 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

In previous postings, I mentioned that one of our very favorite cities in Germany to visit was Rothenburg. It is a walled city, that has existed by name since 1170 A.D. While we didn’t know all the Nazi history of Rothenburg, we still loved the city. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

In March 1945 in World War II, German soldiers were stationed in Rothenburg to defend it. On March 31, bombs were dropped over Rothenburg by 16 planes, killing 37 people and destroying 306 houses, six public buildings, nine watchtowers, and over 2,000 feet (610 m) of the wall. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg, so he ordered US Army General Jacob L. Devers not to use artillery in taking Rothenburg. Battalion commander Frank Burke (Medal of Honor) ordered six soldiers of the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division to march into Rothenburg on a three-hour mission and negotiate the surrender of the town….When stopped by a German soldier, Private Lichey, who spoke fluent German and served as the group’s translator, held up a white flag and explained, “We are representatives of our division commander. We bring you his offer to spare the city of Rothenburg from shelling and bombing if you agree not to defend it. We have been given three hours to get this message to you. If we haven’t returned to our lines by 1800 hours, the town will be bombed and shelled to the ground.” The local military commander Major Thömmes gave up the town, ignoring the order of Hitler for all towns to fight to the end and thereby saving it from total destruction by artillery. American troops of the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division occupied the town on April 17, 1945, and in November 1948, McCloy was named Honorable Protectorate of Rothenburg. After the war, the residents of the city quickly repaired the bombing damage. Donations for the rebuilding were received from all over the world. The rebuilt walls feature commemorative bricks with donor names. Traffic-reducing measures were put in place in a significant portion of Rothenburg to increase safety and accommodate tourism.

Since our days in Wiesbaden (1967-1970), we had visited Rothenburg, and collected etchings that we liked, and had them framed. Here are some of them.

 

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Here are some recent pictures of Rothenburg that we enjoy:

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

Transition to Maine~Part 6

14 Sep

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

JUDY

 

 Our youngest daughter, Janet, was born in Maine – our little Maineiac.

 

It was early morning, and we had arranged for Karen to stay with a neighbor several doors down. After Fred took her there, he called the base hospital to see if he should go to work or come stay through the labor and delivery with me. (The hospital in Germany, where Karen was born, was very progressive for that time – they allowed the husbands in the delivery room. We had anticipated cajoling the delivery doctor at Loring into letting Fred be in the delivery room with Janet’s delivery, since he had already participated in one, and not passed out!) The answer he received really shocked him – Sir, your baby is already delivered! But they didn’t tell him whether it was a boy or girl – they left it up to me. But neither they nor he told me that, until after he had been there about 30 minutes. He looked at me and asked – so what do we have? So I got to inform him he had another daughter, Janet Lynn.

While Janet and I were still in the hospital (remember – back in those days the average stay for a new baby and mother was three-to-four days!), Fred came to visit every day.

The day after Janet was born, he came to visit, plopped down in the chair, grinned at me and said, “You didn’t really want to spend another winter here, did you?” I nearly jumped out of the bed as I exclaimed….”YOU GOT ORDERS?” Since neither of us had been terribly thrilled being in northern Maine, Fred had been inquiring about being reassigned. The answer he usually received was, “Sir, you have three more years here before we’ll even consider transferring you.” But, apparently the AF needed instructors for their officer’s school in San Antonio, Texas more than they needed meteorologists at Loring AFB, and he had been given his walking orders. We were beyond excited!

Months later, as we were getting ready to depart for warmer climes, I attended an Officers Wives Club luncheon, where the Base Commander’s wife was issuing goodbyes to those leaving. It was amusing to hear her say, “….is heading to….AFB, south from here. And …..is heading to AFB,…. south from here. Well! I just realized that ANYwhere is south from here!”

Our church had a picnic in August before we left. It was great fun, and a great way to say goodbye to those we had come to love in Christ. There was the usual picnic stuff going on – softball, hot dogs, horseshoes, etc.

 

And there was this really…REALLY…tall slide that Karen absolutely LOVED going down. My heart was in my throat every time she climbed up and slid down, but she had a blast!

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And so, we left northern Maine and Loring AFB in late August, heading south. We were wearing sweaters at the time, as it was getting cold already. We arrived in Pennsylvania, to spend some time with Fred’s parents, and were back to wearing shorts. What a difference!

 

And so ends our Transition to Maine. Thank goodness it was only 13 months long!

 

 

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