October, 2011:

America’s Servicemen—Ambassadors to the World

With American troops soon coming home from Iraq, it reminds me, as an Army brat, how American troops (and their dependents) have, for decades, affected the world in many positive ways with their presence. It hasn’t been all about making war; we’ve made peace and spread good will.  I imagine that many Iraqi children will grow up and remember generous American soldiers who were kind to them in some way.

My blog has attracted attention in many parts of the world, which reminds me how small the world truly is. Since I’ve written about my adventures in Tripoli in the 1950s, I’ve made friends both in person and on the Internet with Libyans, both young and older. Those who are old enough remembered the positive American presence in the 1950s and 60s.  I’ve also written about my years in Germany when my dad was stationed in Mannheim and Frankfurt.

A German professor from Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Mannheim,  Dr. Christian Fuehrer, contacted me when he saw the photo I’d posted of the Officers Club at Benjamin Franklin Village in Mannheim.  He’s writing a book tentatively titled, Americans in Mannheim 1945-2011, because the US has essentially closed the military facilities in the Mannheim area. “The book will be a tribute to the thousands upon thousands of Americans for whom Mannheim has served as a temporary home,” Dr. Fuehrer said and added, “It’s also a personal way of saying thanks for a job well done. Postwar Germany owes the American servicemen much more than simple words can ever impart.”

Wasserturm Landmark in Mannheim

I sent Dr. Fuehrer several photos: one of them of my father handing out certificates of appreciation to German and French employees who worked for the American Army. Dr. Fuehrer said that very positive American practice was eventually adapted by German businesses.

Dr. Fuehrer’s interest in Americans started when he was sixteen and was curious about the odd license plates on American cars. He rode his bike into Benjamin Franklin Village (BFV) and ended up getting involved in the American community as: a translator at the USO, a member of the BFV church choir, and an attendee and volunteer at American events.

He knew about American generosity from his mother, who was three when World War II ended. “American soldiers shared their rations with my mother and her family. The mentality of Americans seems to be—‘We’ll weather through it all, as long as we stick together.’”

Some of the history he’ll share in his book includes the fact that Gen. George S. Patton had his fatal 1945 car accident in Mannheim. In 1982 an American soldier “borrowed” a tank from Sullivan Barracks and drove into downtown Mannheim. He destroyed a streetcar, and several cars and injured a couple of people before he backed the tank into the Neckar River and drowned. It made headlines, needless to say.

Sullivan Barracks -- American Army in Mannheim

The Mannheim American school system served my brother and sister in the 1960s; in the late 1950s, my ex-husband, and even actress Faye Dunaway attended Mannheim American High School.

 

Americans are leaving Mannheim, but they’ll always have their memories. And thanks to Dr. Feuhrer, when he finishes his book, they’ll be able to read more about it.

A NEW WORLD — THE SINGLES GAME

I find it difficult to believe in “till death do us part.” The phrase was a part of my marriage vows, but 16 plus years later the marriage was over, and I was nowhere near old age and so far had no deadly diseases. After I’d mourned the death of my marriage for about a year and realized that joint custody of my two children meant I had more freedom than I’d had in a long time, I decided it was time to explore the LA singles scene.

Bonnie, a younger single friend who was a guy magnet (blond and petite, what do you expect?) persuaded me to go to a local spot with lots of singles and live music. The 19th Hole was at the golf course but it was quite a swinging place after 8 p.m., and the crowd was mostly 35 and older. One of my first lessons: Just because he isn’t wearing a ring doesn’t mean he’s single. Lesson two: Everybody looks better and younger in dim lighting and after a couple of drinks. It works both ways; I’ll always remember a very young man, about 21, who was enchanted with me. I wasn’t ready to rob the cradle but was very flattered with the attention.

Dancing to live rock n’ roll made me feel very young again, almost as if I didn’t have children. There were some very good dancers among the patrons, and I considered myself a talented, enthusiastic dancer with lots of stamina (that was then!). The music was too loud for intelligent conversation for the most part, unless you leaned in closely, waited for a band break or went outside.

The atmosphere was smoky; it was a few years before California banned smoking. Non-smokers were used to being in the minority. When I got home, I’d hang my stinky clothes outside and put baby powder on my hair to absorb the odor.

An imagination is helpful for the singles game

Not far from the 19th Hole was a bar/restaurant with a thriving business and their Happy Hour featured tasty free appetizers. The lighting and lower noise level made it easier to make contact, whether you wanted a friend, a lover, or to hear what the opposite sex had to say. Many of the same people showed up every Friday evening and the age range varied from 21 to 75 or so, an amazing combination, I always thought. Occasionally, after 9 p.m., they would even have live music.

Although I loved dancing, a good conversation and lots of laughter were main attractions for me at this popular place. Besides observing the crowded scene, I made new friends and had many talks over politics, religion, books, relationships, etc. I met Dick Griffith, a charming former New York ad man (shades of TV’s current “Mad Men”), who had been a technical advisor in Africa many years before for the ABC-TV series American Sportsman. A white-haired older gentleman, he loved to wear a loose jacket that featured wild African animals and a wristwatch with a metal elephant surrounding the watch face. He amused his friends with his African adventures and the variety of famous and infamous people he’d known over the years.

Several years later I edited two books for Dick: Adam’s Horn, an adventure story set in Africa about the time of Idi Amin, and In the Hearts of Famous Hunters: a series of his personal interviews with hunters like Roy Rogers, astronaut Wally Schirra, ace jet pilot Chuck Yeager and LA Times publisher Otis Chandler.  When Dick’s book was published, we had a book party at this restaurant, and actor Robert Stack, one of the famous hunters interviewed, came to celebrate. I got to hug Stack and even had a photo taken.  One of Dick’s friends liked to call the actor Old Novocaine Lips since Stack usually looked so serious on TV or in movies. For this occasion, however, the actor managed a few grins.

Helping Dick edit his books was the seed that resulted in my many years of editing books of all kinds, something I still love to do.

Gaddafi’s Gone, What Next?

The world has experienced so many upheavals this past year: physical, emotional, intellectual. It’s been exciting and disturbing at the same time. Life was so much simpler before technology brought us so much instant information. Sometimes it’s too much to handle, and I want to go back to watching “I Love Lucy” and reading the comics.

When I lived in Tripoli in the 1950s, things seemed easier, probably because I was so young. Yet I was observant of a culture that was very different than mine. Under the surface of this desert land by the sea appreciated by so many, starting with the Phoenicians and the Romans, there was unrest brewing. The Suez Canal crisis erupted when Egypt wanted to take back its canal in 1956. Arab nationalism was stirring and Gaddafi was inspired, according to stories I’ve read. Nasser of Egypt was his hero and after Gaddafi took over Libya in a 1969 coup, he got to meet his hero. The LA Times had a photo of a skinny 27 year-old uniformed Gaddafi grinning like a kid as he shook Nasser’s hand.

I vividly remember watching Nasser on a huge movie screen erected in the large yard of the Egyptian Ambassador’s compound across the street from our villa on Via de Gaspari. It was shortly before the Suez Crisis and the movie was shown to an audience of Arab sheiks. During the crisis in Tripoli, there were a few bombings and small riots. Apparently, taking part in demonstrations, perhaps, was Gaddafi’s first exposure to political action. He was 14 and living in Surt, where he met his end last week.

Coincidentally, my daughter Heidi’s life span so far has coincided with Gaddafi’s rule in Libya. He took over in September of 1969. Heidi was born in L.A. in October 1969. It was her 42nd birthday on October 22 and Gaddafi died on October 20. Life has all sorts of unusual connections!

I didn’t want to watch the videos of Gaddafi’s last minutes, but they were hard to miss. Although I felt he had been a devious despot and destroyer of lives and got what he deserved, I couldn’t help but feel sorrow as he begged for his life while he wiped the blood from his face. Gone were the accoutrements of power; he bled like we all do. He had aged, his hair was thinner and he’d gained weight. His body was laid out in a cold-storage locker in Misurata. He could no longer inspire fear or envy. Death had claimed him as it had Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Sadem Hussain and the other tyrants of history.

Shakespeare’s immortal words here relate to the murder and mayhem in his famous “Macbeth” or as superstitious people call it, “The Scottish Play.” I think they ring true in the end for Gaddafi:

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
the way to dusty death.

Out, out, brief candle! 
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
 and then is heard no more.

It is a tale
 told by an idiot, full of sound and fury…

Signifying nothing.

A New Flag for Libya

 

It will be fascinating to see what happens to Libya now that they have the opportunity to make a new life and new future for themselves. It won’t be easy. If we look back to study the American Revolution, we can discover how bloody and complicated it was. We were truly blessed with the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. May Libya find the best leaders to stand up to the challenges ahead.

 

Life as an Army Brat

I was a draftee in the US Army from the time I was born. The old joke tells it best—I didn’t enlist, I was drafted.

My young mother, Garnette, wanted adventure, but I don’t think she bargained for the extra baggage so soon. After high school in Danville, Virginia, she took off for nearby Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and got herself a job as a clerk-typist. She was a beautiful woman and had no problem finding Victor, an eligible Infantry lieutenant and a West Point graduate, no less. It was 1942 and the US was already at war. I’m sure there were a slew of babies “hatching” in the pouch and military fathers doing the honorable thing by marrying the mothers.

Victor & Victoria

Although the marriage only lasted through the war, I think my mother loved Victor. Being a Southern lady, she didn’t tell me I was the result of a romantic dalliance until I was 19. She’d already found herself another Army lieutenant as the war ended. After a Reno divorce (she had to live there six weeks: see the old movie The Women), they married and then honeymooned in San Francisco.

My stepdad, Darby, was my new commander-in-chief and he and Mom added two new draftees, Joan Tupper and Darby III, as the years went by. Being Army brats, there were always travel adventures for all of us: Murnau, Mannheim and Frankfurt, Germany; Tripoli, Libya, the Bronx, Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri; Ft. Knox, Kentucky; Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and Alexandria, Virginia, essentially. They traveled back to Germany while I was in college, and I joined them when I graduated. Who wanted to miss the opportunity?

Luckily, I loved moving and making new friends, even though I was a little bit shy in my younger years. One learns to be resourceful and comfortable wherever you end up. Orders are orders. Housing can be spacious or cramped. Before we got officer’s housing in Ft. Knox, we were in a cantonment area, (temporary quarters)—a one-story converted old wooden hospital with closed-off corridors near the famous Gold Vault.

Regular officers’ quarters were usually more than adequate. You’d never mistake them since they look almost identical in any US fort: solid and respectable-looking two story brick with basements and garages and a decent-sized yard. Some of these leftovers remain in the Army’s famous Presidio on the best real estate in San Francisco, now privately owned.

In Germany, right after WWII, as the occupying forces, we lived like rich folks in a two-story 18-room mansion in bucolic Murnau (undamaged by the war) with a separate garage, spacious grounds, a maid and a houseboy. Murnau is now a spa town and quite lovely. The skiing area in winter was about a 10-minute walk. If that wasn’t good enough, a longer excursion would have taken us to Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze in Garmisch. Quarters never got that good again, although our Tripoli villa was top notch. The photo below shows the home with the staked tomato plants in front. And my dad was only a captain!

Our Murnau home

I don’t think  “socialism” has particularly bothered me politically, or universal health care. Those were Army services. Housing and health care was provided, and you took what they gave you. I’ve never hankered after a specific family doctor. If any of us had a health problem, we’d accompany my mom to the dispensary, have our temperature taken and then wait. If it wasn’t serious, it might be many hours. Getting shots was not a choice; my mother hauled us into the dispensary every year as needed for what we needed, depending on where we were going next. As I often heard it said, however, “The Army takes care of its own.”

 

I LEFT MY HEART IN HEIDELBERG

There’s a German song, “Ich hab’ mein herz in Heidelberg verloren,” which means:“I left my heart in Heidelberg.” Since I lived there for about eight months, I can vouch for those words. Heidelberg is a picturesque and ancient German university town on the Neckar River. On a hill above the town stands the ruin of an old castle from the 1600s, which overlooks the small river and a beautiful old bridge.

In the summer the town sponsors a special celebration, which was called the “Burning of the Castle” in the 1960s. The lights all over town were turned off and fireworks set off from the castle and the bridge. The effect was dazzling for the town’s residents and the tourists. The best place to see it is from the river, and I was privileged to view it once from a boat my brother’s Cub Scout troop had rented. The cobblestone streets are narrow and because the town is known for its famous University of Heidelberg, there are many small bars and restaurants frequented by students, like the celebrated Sepp’l and the Roten Ochsen (Red Ox). I still have a glass boot, a favorite and unusual drinking vessel for beer. Students would order a boot full of Germany’s renowned beverage and pass it around their table. The last one to drink from it pays the tab. Air gets caught in the toe of the boot and beer will often spray onto the face of the last drinkers, a good reason for hilarity.

Most Americans in Germany lived and worked in American facilities, built in a German style by Germans. When entering these American enclaves, it was always obvious it was a piece of Americana just by the name. In Heidelberg, I lived in Patrick Henry Village, a few miles away from the pretty German town. While in Mannheim, my folks had spacious officers’ quarters in Benjamin Franklin Village.

My first job after college was a brief but fascinating position as secretary to the manager of the Heidelberg Officers Club in the mid 1960s. I took dictation, wrote letters, and created the monthly newsletter that informed members of all the social activities of the club. During the Christmas holidays I got to sample the special punch for the New Year’s Day party, a unique and tasty recipe from the commanding general’s wife. It was appropriately named London Fog: equal parts coffee, vanilla ice cream, and brandy. It tasted so good it was easy to get fooled, and you’d be drunk before you knew what hit you. I discovered that fact years later when I imbibed too much at my own party! Since I worked with several German women, I got to polish up my German as well as learn something about their culture. They also advised me on romantic matters. One of the perks of working at the Club was the reduced price of food and all the free coffee you could drink. I was a novice coffee drinker, but it smelled good and I felt very grownup. Trouble was, I liked it with cream or milk and I overdid it. Didn’t take long before I was home in bed with a rumbling stomach or on the toilet.

I had my own mini-home just across the street from the Club: a bedroom and bathroom combo on the second floor of the BWQ (Bachelor Women’s Quarters). The BWQ was home for the most part to American secretaries, female Air Force personnel, and schoolteachers. Counting windows, I’m guessing it had rooms for about forty of us.  Although the facilities were far from luxurious, we could even make ourselves a meal in one of the kitchens on each of the floors.  From one of the teachers, I learned how to make a decent and easy-to-make meal—a small roast slathered with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup combined with Lipton’s dried onion soup. On occasion, I still serve that cheap and tasty dish.

RE-ENCOUNTERING MY MISSING LIEUTENANT

I’ve always been resourceful, fairly patient and optimistic. In Germany, all those years ago, I didn’t accept that my love interest, the American lieutenant under my dad’s recent command, had really stood me up for our date in Frankfurt. Hans didn’t seem the type to be crass and impolite, but one never knows for sure.

I met Lois, a Californian who was visiting Europe, in the Heidelberg American personnel office. We were both looking for jobs and we hit it off right away, comparing notes on our lives and aspirations. She was a pro compared to me: she was 24 and I was only 21. She owned a small and sporty green MG, which she’d bought while exploring Europe that summer with a girlfriend. The girlfriend was going home to the States, but Lois had decided to get a job and stay in Germany. Lois had a serious boyfriend back home in Tracy, California, but she wasn’t through exploring life before she settled down to marriage.

By the time my dad’s driver, a handsome young lieutenant (I always noticed attractive men, of course), came to pick me up for the trip back to Frankfurt, I’d become fast friends with Lois. She had been staying at a hostel and would probably go back there for the night. I had a better idea. Why didn’t we stop at the Mannheim Officers Club since my driver and I had to go that way home? I told Lois about the happy group of beer-guzzling young officers I knew, and she was game. My driver was easy to persuade; I was 21 and not on a rigid schedule.

I would ride with Lois, I told the driver, and we would meet him at the officers club for a drink. We all arrived at the club before 5 p.m. and were sipping German beer served in a flip-top bottle (during Happy Hour, it only cost ten cents a bottle!) when I looked out the picture window of the bar into the parking lot. A blue Karman-Ghia had just parked and a familiar blond lieutenant got out of his low-slung car. As he sauntered toward the club, I noticed the mannerly middle-aged German waiter start pouring a Canadian Club and soda at the bar for his favorite customer (they spoke German with each other). It was Hans’ regular drink.

I wondered what Hans’ reaction would be when he walked in. He saw me right away and smiled as I pondered what he would have to say about himself and his behavior. He came over to our table right away and I made the introductions before he sat down.

“You are a hard person to find,” he said right away and explained his duty roster had changed at the last minute on Saturday, the day before our date. He had been forced to be on duty that Sunday. He told me he’d spent most of Saturday afternoon and night trying to find my dad’s telephone number at home. American Army operators couldn’t find it anywhere and he’d spent time calling anyone and everyone who might help. My family hadn’t been in Frankfurt for much more than a week and there was no formal telephone listing. He later showed me the slip of paper covered with names and telephone numbers as proof!

My Engagement photo proof

 

Not wanting to cut short our reunion and rekindled romance, Hans lined Lois up with one of his friends and the four of us decided to have dinner and explore the Heidelberg nightlife. I still remember the Pferdstalle, a club concocted from an old horse stable. I thanked the driver, who had to get back to Frankfurt, and told him to tell my dad I’d get a ride with my new friend, Lois, who I’d invited to spend the night after she drove me back to Frankfurt.

 

If the world creates lemons, don’t give up until you’ve made lemonade! That’s my conclusion now, but it wasn’t folk wisdom in those days.

 

More on Germany in my next blog.

 

Upcoming on Kindle – – my books and short stories

Melaynie’s Masquerade

16th century historical fiction – Disguised as a cabin

boy, Melaynie Morgan ships off with Francis Drake

to the Caribbean in search of Spanish treasure

 

Mama Liked Army Men

A Tale of Two Fathers

The perils of military life

 

An Army Brat in Libya

Tripoli in the 1950s

Personal history

 

Weird Dates & Strange Mates

Non-fiction with names changed to

Protect the innocent or not…

 

 

ROMANCE IN DEUTSCHLAND

When I met my future husband in Germany, I was first impressed with his self-confidence.  It was an official going-away party at the Mannheim Officers Club for my dad, Col. A.D. Willams, and there was a band. Hans asked me, his former commander’s daughter, to dance and there was no one else on the dance floor. I had been introduced, just moments before, by a lieutenant I had met previously.

Mannheim Officers Club

The tall handsome blond with German heritage was light on his feet, polite and interesting. That dance led to a serious flirtation that kindled almost immediately. It had happened just in time because my family was moving north to Frankfurt, about an hour’s drive, and I was moving with them. A recent college graduate, I had only been in Germany a few days. I could enjoy a vacation for a short while, but I knew I would need a job soon.

Within a couple of weeks I was in Frankfurt wondering what I’d do for work and where I’d find it. In the meantime, I was looking forward to a planned rendezvous with Hans, who was driving up to our new home and taking me out to explore Frankfurt, which had been his birthplace and where he’d lived until his mother married an American soldier after WWII. My mother, an accomplished seamstress who enjoyed and approved of Hans, had made me a stylish wrap-around silk dress for the occasion. I was looking forward to the historic sights and visiting a well-known restaurant Hans had mentioned, which was noted for its music and food.

The Sunday date arrived without a word from Hans, but I assumed he’d make it. We had already gone out a few times, and he’d never given the impression he wouldn’t keep his promises. Alas, he never called and he never showed up. No cell phones in those days and besides the fact it wasn’t proper to call the guy and ask him where the hell he was, I didn’t have his number. My parents were very supportive as I moped around and kept looking at my lovely but unworn dress.

Although I was very disappointed, I tried to forget being stood up and concentrated on what I could do to make money, especially since my dad kept reminding me I had an education and now I had to find a job. Not long after, Dad informed me he had a driver going down to Heidelberg for the day and that’s where a central personnel office was located for those looking for a job working for the American Army in Mannheim/Heidelberg.

The trip to Heidelberg was a successful one—I met and became friendly with a young American woman looking for a job, and lined up an interview with the manager of the Heidelberg Officers Club, who was looking for a secretary. I was feeling positive about the job, but most important to me at the time, I also finagled a way to connect with the errant Hans.

What happens when I see Hans again? Look for my the next blog.

 

EBooks to be released this year on Amazon

 

Melaynie’s Masquerade

16th century historical fiction – Disguised as a cabin

boy, Melaynie Morgan ships off with Francis Drake

to the Caribbean in search of Spanish treasure

 

Mama Liked Army Men

A Tale of Two Fathers

The perils of military life

 

An Army Brat in Libya

Tripoli in the 1950s

Personal history

 

Weird Dates & Strange Mates

Non-fiction with names changed to

Protect the innocent or not…

 

 

AFTER COLLEGE, WHAT NEXT?

Watching the new TV series “Pan Am” about Pan American Airways stewardesses in the early 1960s brought back many memories.  One of the main characters in the series walks out of her own wedding to seek a more exciting adventurous life traveling the world as a stewardess. A few of my friends chose the “MRS” degree the summer after college graduation, but I was looking for excitement.

There were big changes underway in the 1960s. We’d elected our youngest US president ever, John F. Kennedy, and the atmosphere was inspiring initially. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” said JFK as he was sworn into office in 1961. I was at William and Mary in Virginia during those years of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the founding of the Peace Corps, the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and Kennedy’s assassination.

In Cap & Gown and ready to venture forth.

Although I thought briefly about joining the Peace Corps or becoming an airline stewardess, I was more motivated by the idea of writing for the Paris Herald-Tribune newspaper. There weren’t as many options for women in those years. Even with a college education, the typical choice was teaching or secretarial work. I knew how to type, a skill my dad required me to learn in high school. Who knew about computers then! Dad thought I should take a civil service exam and make a career that way, an option I considered if it involved travel. Since I’d grown up as an Army brat, I knew I was a gypsy and ready for more adventure. Right before I graduated, I even checked out the possibilities of working for the CIA. Their employment office then was in an unmarked and unassuming building in Washington, D.C. I wonder if I saw any spies!

I hadn’t made a firm decision about my future when a classmate, also an Army brat whose family, like mine, was stationed in Germany, reminded me I was due one more free trip as a dependent. I latched onto the suggestion—I could get to Paris easily from Mannheim, where my family lived. I romantically pictured myself writing my stories while living in a Paris apartment and dating sexy Frenchmen. Perhaps I’d have a few affairs before I settled down…

 

After participating in two weddings the summer after graduation, I got my travel orders and flew on TWA (luxurious compared to the typical Air Force planes) from Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey to Frankfurt, Germany. Fate had something else in store for me than Paris. Three days after I arrived, my dad was feted with a going-away party; he was leaving his current Army command and was moving the family from Mannheim to Frankfurt, where he was to take up another position. Dad would be working in the IG Fahrben building, one of the largest office buildings in Europe and now in American hands.

I attended the evening party, thoroughly enjoying the attention of a number of eligible and attractive Army lieutenants. Among them was my future husband. Wasn’t it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans?”

What happens next? See my Sunday blog.

 

Soon to be published on Amazon Kindle:

Melaynie’s Masquerade

16th century historical fiction – Disguised as a cabin

boy, Melaynie Morgan ships off with Francis Drake

to the Caribbean in search of Spanish treasure

 

Mama Liked Army Men

A Tale of Two Fathers

The perils of military life

 

An Army Brat in Libya

Tripoli in the 1950s

Personal history

 

Weird Dates & Strange Mates

Non-fiction with names changed to

Protect the innocent or not…

MORE GHOST STORIES

I love stories about the supernatural, even the minor happenings most of us experience at one time or another. I still have a Monarch butterfly (now under glass) that impaled itself on my car’s windshield in front of a restaurant. The butterfly is a symbol for change: the following year I met a fellow at that restaurant who inspired me to embark on a different creative writing path.

In a recent blog I mentioned the ghost story books written by my friends, Rob and Anne. After they published a book on the ghostly encounters aboard the Queen Mary ship, they researched stories from Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California. Rob had been involved as an archeologist on many digs on the island and had been collecting stories since the 1970s. Residents of the island offered up stories of hauntings at old Indian burial grounds, at the famed Casino, at Western author Zane Grey’s home, which is now a hotel (Grey himself is reputed to be haunting it), and at various homes, businesses and hotels all over the island.

Built in 1890, the distinctive Holly Hill House in Catalina spooked a construction crew working on the old home. They would hear footsteps and doors opening and closing, and after double locking a door at night would find it open in the morning. Deciding to discover the culprit, the workmen devised a plan to put fresh varnish on the floor where they’d heard the most activity. The next morning they found tiny barefoot footprints in the varnish, but the prints started in the middle of the floor and disappeared before reaching the end of the varnished area.


Painting of the Alamo

A book on the famous Alamo in Texas, their next project, had an added interest since Anne was born in San Antonio. It was also a challenge since the couple had only heard one ghost story concerning the old mission massacre. A trip to San Antonio proved fruitful with many stories coming from various hotels that surround the old Alamo.

Rob said there were many inexplicable tales of things that looked real like, “people appearing and disappearing in period clothing. People have also said they’ve seen re-enactments of the battle of the Alamo while sitting in a hotel opposite the site.”

A retired Alamo Park Ranger admitted that he’d seen an Alamo defender being repeatedly stabbed and shot by Mexican soldiers in the area of Long Barracks. “They [the rangers] don’t believe in ghosts but say, ‘I don’t know what else it could have been,’” Rob told me.

Anne ventured a theory that ghosts exist because of “unfinished business that needs resolution. A spirit doesn’t die but leaves behind a psychic imprint from traumatic events that happened there. Perhaps they didn’t make peace and are trapped in a limbo state.”


Present day Alamo historical site

The imprint of events on an area is not always tragic, Anne added. They’ve found happy stories of ghosts that linger around ballrooms and even bars. The couple both have a positive feeling about ghosts. “They’re more guardian angels than demons,” Rob declared.

To read more about these ghost hunters, look up Rob and Anne Wlodarski on the Internet.

Upcoming on Kindle:

Melaynie’s Masquerade

16th century historical fiction – Disguised as a cabin

boy, Melaynie Morgan ships off with Francis Drake

to the Caribbean in search of Spanish treasure

 

Mama Liked Army Men

A Tale of Two Fathers

The perils of military life

 

An Army Brat in Libya

Tripoli in the 1950s

Personal history

 

Weird Dates & Strange Mates

Non-fiction with names changed to

Protect the innocent or not…

 

 

 

 

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