Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
When I arrived at West Point in June 1960 I was issued a footlocker made by Long Manufacturing Company in Petersburg, Virginia. The footlocker, placed at the foot of my bed, was to store certain items of clothing, toiletries and specific military equipment.
It was also used as a tool of harassment. We plebes were sometimes ordered to pick up and handle the footlocker like a rifle and orders of “Right shoulder, Footlocker!” were shouted out and we had to comply. If it dropped onto the floor from shoulder height, locked footlockers would sometimes pop open and spill their contents.
Over the summers while we were on temporary assignments overseas or around the country, the footlockers stored personal items in the basements under the stoops until we returned to start the new academic year.
Upon graduation, my footlocker was shipped ahead to my first assignment with my personal stuff to Germany while I attended Ranger School in Fort Benning.
The footlocker was waiting for me when I reported to my unit in Kitzingen and I moved it in with me to my apartment in Mainstockheimer Schloss and I moved it with me when I moved to a new apartment on the Ringstrasse.
When I was re-assigned to Ft. Campbell in 1966, I left the footlocker with my friend, Wolfgang Raith. I had stored in it reams of paper, boxes of pencils, carbon paper, a typewriter with extra typewriter ribbons and other supplies for the business I knew I would someday start in Germany. Wolf kept it for me in his mother’s home in Wurzburg. Also stored in it was an empty Iphoefer Kalb Sylvaner, 1959 Bocksbeutel wine bottle, a tool for making Spaetzle, (an “Oestalgaeuischenspeatzlehobl”) and a cookbook in German for dishes like Hasenpfeffer.
All the time I was on this journey a song resonated with me: "Ich hab' noch einen Koffer in Berlin" the 1954 Marlene Dietrich song, “I still have a trunk in Berlin” meaning she was still connected to that place.
The footlocker remained in Wolfgang’s mother’s basement in Wurzburg while I was reassigned to Ft. Campbell, Viet Nam, Ft. Sill, and got my first job with Firestone in Akron. I still had a Koffer in Wurzburg and was connected to that place.
I returned to Germany in 1971 and picked up “Meinen Koffer” from Wolfgang and we renewed our friendship which continues to this day.
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.