Thursday, March 13, 2014

Saying goodbye to BFV

I grew up in Benjamin Franklin Village in Kaefertal Mannheim, which was the best part of my childhood, because when we still lived on post life was hunky dory.
My brothers and sister still lived at home and we always had a full house, with the big kids bringing home friends; my grandparents were alive and always visiting and I had the best teacher in the world.
 I also never liked to wear clothes.

Living on post made me feel like I belonged to something bigger and better, because when you live that close together you have to get along or at least act like it. If you barbecued, then your neighbors showed up; if the kids were on the playground, then you knew who they were playing with because you knew their parents.
I had to get new friends every 2 years but we made those two years count, except with Rhonda, she was a horrible friend. She told me Bloody Mary was going to get me. 
BFV is where I had my first awkward dance while listening to New Edition and swaying back and forth 4 feet from another boy. I remember having the first boy tell me he liked me and then chase me around the playground in elementary school. I was cheerleader for flag football and a mascot for my sister's team; I went trick or treating for the first time and most stairwells would try to out-do each other by scaring the crap out of you.  It was normal to stand up for the national anthem before a movie started at the theater; you went to all the games because your siblings were playing so you ran around under the bleachers and waited till it was over.
You were used to the PX and the Commissary and you loved Toyland, especially at Christmas because they sold all the Christmas stuff there, too.
We had easter egg hunts and carnivals and Christmas carolers, and families would decorate their homes for Christmas and Halloween and the Germans would drive by just to be in awe of so much gaudiness.
My mother gave me my first perm there because Rhonda, that twat, had one too and I wanted to look like her.  My mom burned my hair to a crisp and I loved looking like a frizzy-haired idiot
It was a happy time for me and I remember it probably much nicer than it really was (living in cramped quarters with 6 people), but to me it was a carefree time.
When my dad got out of the Army we moved onto the economy, which is what they called moving off post, and everything changed. We could barely get AFN, even with an antenna and I started going to German school and learning the language. The only time I went on post was for the weekly grocery run with my parents. We'd also go to the Class VI store to buy cigarettes and coffee.
After my dad moved away, that stopped also because we had no ID card, which meant no privileges. 
And now we come to what has happened: after 65 years Benjamin Franklin Village closed its gates and everybody is gone. It's like a ghost town and it is so sad to see it slowly losing all of its shine. There is no one there to cut the grass or sweep the streets; its completely deserted. When you drive by at night you don't see one single light on, so what used to be a flourishing neighborhood is now home to nobody.
It's a shame and it makes me miss my Dad even more; this always reminded me of him and how our life was, and now there isn't anything left. Of course, there are plans for this area but I don't like to think of them because I don't care for them.
I don't like the change but I have to move on, I guess.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have the same memories of BFV. Man I miss those days. What years did you live there? Thaanks for the story!

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