Where were you 30 years ago? - Ex-500.com - The home of the Kawasaki EX500 / Ninja 500R
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-2-2019, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Where were you 30 years ago?

I was thinking recently that 30 years ago, the Berlin Wall came down. That was on November 9th. 30 years ago today, December 2nd 1989 I was stationed at Spangdahlem AB, West Germany.



The Berlin Wall had fallen and we were witnessing a series of "velvet" revolutions all across the former Communist Bloc.Only Romania was turning violent. There was a steady stream of Trabants still pouring across the border and into what was then West Germany.



Those little crappy cars lined the Autobahn in the far right lane as pretty much everything on the road screamed by them. There were a fair number of them abandoned on the country lanes just off the Autobahn as they broke down to the point of being scrap.



There was a mood in Germany that I find difficult to describe to this day. It was like a darkness had lifted and everyone was happy and smiling. It seemed so at any rate. All the places we frequented as GIs were like that. I can't really put it into words that are effective enough to capture what I was seeing. It was an amazing time to be there.



I decided on that November 9th that I was going to Berlin. I had to. My buddy and I made a promise that if the Wall ever came down while we were there, we would go to Berlin.


That was an adventure in and of itself. Driving up to a Soviet check point in the middle of the night was like something straight out of the movies. Us standing there in our civvys, the Soviet guard in uniform and armed with an AK-47.



The Helmstedt Autobahn was still the controlled entry and exit for travel to Berlin. One had to have signed Flag Orders to be able to transit the Autobahn. You were given a time stamp on your Flag Orders and you had "X" amount of time to get from one check point to the next. If you were early, the guards new you were speeding (not that they cared at that point) but if you were late......the guards wanted to know where you stopped, why you stopped, who you talked to, what you did while stopped, etc...


It was no joke either. The MPs would send you to a holding room while Criminal Investigations were summoned to interrogate you. Once we made it to Berlin, after driving all night we went straight to Templhof Air Base and got a room at the base hotel.



We got one night and had to check out because the USO had reserved the entire hotel for the Bob Hope entourage. Even that was amazing to see in person. We bumped into Miss Universe outside the hotel. We both thought she was really cute, but she looked like a service members daughter and her parents were with her. We didn't even know who she was until some drunken GIs hanging out of their day room windows started hollering "MISS UNIVERSE!!!" and she turned and waved as she got into her car.
That was kinda cool.



We saw Latoya Jackson too (Templehof Air Base was just one huge building spread out along 5 or 6 city blocks) just walking from one side of the building to another. When we were in town, we saw the camera crews setting up in different places (made sure to avoid those) and ended up meeting a whole bunch of American, Canadian and Australian girls at the Irish Pub. That was waaaay cool too.



They were so happy to hear English being spoken. They'd been immersed in Germany with a German family and spoken only German for the past year. They were getting together on this trip before heading back home. It was really cool for us to be mobbed like rock stars for nothing more than being ourselves. We hit up Check Point Charlie before crossing into East Germany...just so happened the girls we'd met arrived on their bus as we were taking pictures at the Check Point Charlie sign.



We got mobbed again, as they all wanted their pictures with us while we were in uniform. (you could only cross into East Berlin in uniform then) The Army MP at Check Point Charlie was soooooo jealous!!! It was hilarious. He didn't know we'd met the girls the night before. He just thought they were treating us like rock stars and grumbled as much as we went through.



It was an amazing trip. West Berlin was so good to us as the citizens themselves never forgot the Berlin Airlift and all the aviators who perished trying to keep the city fed and free from the Soviets. We rode all over Berlin on public transportation for free. People were super friendly when they heard us speaking English. Then, like I wrote before, there was just a feeling in the air. Something different than I ever remembered from living there before.


I just can't find the words to impart how it felt to anyone reading this. Amazing just doesn't do it justice. It was greater than that, deeper and more heartfelt. I'd say it was the feeling of no more worry but it wasn't just in Berlin, it was everywhere in Germany. All I can say now is, I'm glad I was there then. It made a lasting impact on my life. Witnessing the fall of Communism in Europe was something I'd never thought I'd see in my lifetime, let alone while I was in Germany.



So, that's where I was 30 years ago, and little slice of my experience there. Like the title says, where were you in late 1989?.....sean


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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-3-2019, 10:04 AM
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30 years ago I was pretty much right where I am now.

Edit: To anyone that saw this post before I edited it. I stand by what I said, it was 100% true. It's just that when I see it in black & white it looked real depressing to me. That's all, not a biggie .

To those that didn't see it, if you snooze you loose .
Kidding, you didn't miss anything.

2006 Ninja500R Purchased new July 2006; 0 miles. Miles as of January 2020; 108,827 . It's a GO bike, not a SHOW bike.
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Last edited by bpe; 12-3-2019 at 4:55 PM.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-4-2019, 8:45 PM
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like @bpe pretty much just the same. the only thing missing is my health. same house I have lived in for the last 50 years and up to a few years ago doing the same job. life can be dead boring to normal folks.

I do remember the wall coming down and saw much of it on television for us in Europe it was time of great relief and joy for the oppressed people of the east as the communist regimes collapsed one by one in country after country. but behind it also sorrow because despite the optimism it brought it was obvious the rest of free Europe would pay the price in the end.

this turned out to be the case as billions of tax payers money was used to bail out these countries via the EU. most of it we will never get back. Germany as a whole almost went bankrupt as it absorbed the east. and as each of these former communist states eventually joined the EU the net payments for the rest of us went up in a ever increasing amount.

even now after 30 years of development the east of Europe is considerably poorer than the west is. if you went back to Berlin [I was there 6 years ago] you can still see the difference in affluence once you cross the old dividing line. divided it may no longer be but the scars were still obviously there.

the history books may see the wall falling as a momentous occasion as indeed it was. but the deeper scars will take another 30 years to heal and still reverberate around Europe to this day read Brexit in those terms. but that may be considered political so not up for discussion.

lets just say the wall coming down was the beginning of a new Europe. but the start of the demise of the old one. one may not see this from afar or from memory of the old days. but this issue is far from settled.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-4-2019, 9:43 PM
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I was at Anniston, Alabama...getting screamed at by men in big, round and brown hats!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-4-2019, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Devilsfan View Post
I was at Anniston, Alabama...getting screamed at by men in big, round and brown hats!
LoL....heh, moar than 30 years ago, and a little while North West of Anniston, I was at Redstone Arsenal. Given that I'd already graduated basic training, there weren't a whole lot o'Smokey the Bear hat wearing people screaming at me.



As one of a handful of "blue suiters" on an Army Post, mostly I got saluted. I was a "slick sleeve" so had no rank insignia at all on my uniform, so I just took it in stride. Seemed no one in the Army there knew what to do when they saw an Airman. You know the old Army saying.....when in doubt?......well, there seemed to be a whole lotta doubt.


It was December though, and I was really happy to get out of there. It was cold as hell. Then I got to my next station for the remainder of my school....and it was right on the Potomac River...in the dead of winter, 1986. Record snow fall in the DC area that year.....I had to stand out in it for most of the winter.



That's where I learned to drink my coffee black without sugar......just holding a cup to keep my hands warm, I just sorta started to sip it to keep my insides warm too. After around the 5th or 6th day of this, I got accustomed to it. On the 7th day, someone brought cream and sugar......it was disgusting.
To this day, I still drink my coffee black most mornings. Brings back memories of standing in the snow with smell of det cord smoke hanging in the air.....sean
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Last edited by Apriliarider; 12-4-2019 at 11:36 PM.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-8-2019, 6:42 PM
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The story of where I was 30 years ago pales in comparison to Apriliarider's, so I'll leave it untold. It's great to hear those stories though, and the insights from yorkie were definitely interesting too.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-8-2019, 8:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by K-woppa View Post
The story of where I was 30 years ago pales in comparison to Apriliarider's, so I'll leave it untold. It's great to hear those stories though, and the insights from yorkie were definitely interesting too.
Tell it. It's winter and most people can't ride for a while yet. Gotta have something to read and keep from going stir crazy.......sean


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 2:02 AM
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I was 12. Might have caught something of the Berlin Wall on TV if my dad had it on.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2019, 12:56 PM
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Let's see, I was 2 at the time and my parent's didn't move to Santa Rosa until 1990, so I was in Oakland at the time and was probably working on mastering my ABC's and 123's.

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