…I was in the 6th grade in Weierhof, Germany. I was the youngest in my class because I’d skipped first grade. My teacher was Mrs. Smith. She wore her hair very short and had big glasses and wore brightly colored polyester pants suits with lovely print scarves around her neck and hot pink lipstick. She introduced me to science fiction books when she read A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madelaine L’Engle to our class. I first became certified in CPR by the Red Cross that year.

The DYA did not offer softball for girls in my age group. So, always the rebel, I joined the boys Little League team.
This raised quite a ruckus with the coach, SGT Redding and his son, Eric, who also happened to be my best friend.
However, the second day of practice they both were silent when they walked out on the field with Eric’s younger sister, Sherina in tow. Apparently, MRS. Redding outranked SGT Redding and Sherina and I became the first two girls to play on the boys team. This encouraged Amy (the daughter of the only civilian nurse at our small dispensary) to join and also another friend of mine, Susan, who lived in our building. The boys were not pleased at first, but when we all played at 150% during every game, they all came to respect us and treated us the same as any other guy.

Star Wars came out that year in the movie theater. (About a year after it premiered in the states.) My parents wouldn’t let me go to see it because it was rated PG. Once again, I became the overprotected dork.

Summers in Weierhof were full of dirt clod wars, mud pies, picking and eating Italian plums out of the trees next to our house, baseball, buying orange creamsicles from the Shopette and playing Chinese jumprope. We ran through the hay fields across from our building and through the basements of our building where the laundry and storage rooms were located with those freakish yellow lights spaced just far enough apart to leave the scariest shadow monsters on the wall that could eat you or make you wet your pants if you didn’t run through fast enough.

The Grizzles lived in the middle stairwell and Mrs. Grizzle had two chow dogs and they looked like lions to me. She also was a nightmare to the housing inspector because she considered herself an artist who filled an entire wall in their living room with a paisley design made entirely of thumbtacks. Also, she taught a stained glass art class at my school. I didn’t really like them though. And my parents let them babysit us when they took relatives to Paris for a weekend.

Our community was small and when it was time to come in the house my mother used to open the dining room window and blow two short blasts into a Drill Sergeant’s whistle. It was so loud that if could be heard from one end of the housing area to the other. We had exactly five minutes from the whistle to get upstairs and into the house or we were restricted to our rooms the next day. If we couldn’t hear it, we were too far from the house. And many were the times that I set world speed records on my purple banana seat bicycle pedaling to get home before I got grounded.

Ten was great.

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