Almost 65 years have passed since I was in Germany ( aside from plane transfers on route elsewhere ). My father was stationed in Germany in the 50’s and we lived in Baumholder and Karlshrue. My sister was born in Karlshrue and my older brother Bill and I had more or less free range, both in the city and the surrounding countryside. The aftermath of WWII was evident everwhere. A great many of the buildings in Karlshrue had been bombed into ruins and were fenced off and awaited demolition or re-construction. Very few Germans had automobiles, most moved about locally on bicycles, often the whole family on two bikes; Mom on a bike with 1 or 2 small ones and Dad loaded with panniers for shopping. Bill and I both received brand new bikes for Christmas. They were Beautiful ! and State of the Art ,with gears and hand brakes, etc. Quite a step up from our old Schwinns. We made good use of them as well as the trolleys and buses to explore and meet fellow ‘army brats’ and locals.
As an adult Bill chose to make the Army his career and was stationed in Germany with his family after serving in Vietnam, so he had the experience of seeing all of the changes that transpired. Our experience as kids was transformative and influnced both of us for the rest of our lives. All of the influence was positive; a global view point, tolerance for other peoples and cultures, a love of language, and exposure to ART.
Bill died on April 12th of this year after fighting lung cancer and never giving up his chosen life style and delight in good company, good books and good whisky. We celebrated his life with more than 100 of his friends and our family in early May by drinking a lot of his whisky, remembering his wonderful sense of humor and shedding a few tears of sorrow for loss. Various friends and family took some of his ashes to scatter in places that were close to his heart and significant in his life. He is already on Islay, Scotland, in Sweden, with our parents’ graves on Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in Yorkshire England and most likely a few of his favorite hiking trails in the US and abroad.
For my part, I will incorporate some of Bill’s ashes into a Lodestone as the primary focus of my residency at Atelier Haus in Hilmsen Germany. I hope to secure a permanent installation in Karlshrue of Bill’s Lodestone as a memorial. For those of you who are not familiar with my Lodestone Project, check out a full explaination of the project here on the website. just go to the top and click on “Lodestone” project. Bill became an enthusiastic Iron Caster when he joined our team at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL, so honoring him with a Lodestone seems approporite on many levels.
I thought that some of you might like to see what I (and my fellow artists) are doing in Hilmsen and especially those of you who knew Bill. I hope to post daily on this blog but please bear with me if I miss a day here and there due to travel, etc. I will leave for the airport here in Greensboro in a couple of hours and hope to be blogging from Deutschland by Tuesday evening. Comments will be welcome.