Living on the “economy” in 1976

***WARNING*** Badly preserved pictures ahead.

This month, for some people, is devoted to Oktoberfest. I drink beer, so I get it. Especially since I’ve had the privilege of going to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. I was way too young to recognize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was 21. And I only drank wine then. So if we hadn’t of taken a bus that day, I’d have been the designated driver. We didn’t find the one little tiny wine tent until about 7pm. Lol.

I went to Kitzingen, Germany to join my then husband. It was an experience that I learned so much from and I am so grateful for my time there. He was a Spec 4 in the Army, so not high enough in the chain to get base housing. So we lived “on the economy” as it was called. We had a small apartment above a very nice German family.

I was five months pregnant when I flew there. I scared the wits out of my husband because I got there and slept for twenty hours.

What am I grateful for?

  1. That we had no car, so I walked the two miles into base two or three times a week. There was a bus that would take us grocery shopping and to do laundry, thank goodness.
  2. That it’s okay to not trust a taxi driver on the autobahn. We never got in an accident, but boy, sometimes, it was close!
  3. That we had no running hot water. I learned to stoke a boiler under the hot water tank with paper, wood, and coal. And to plan baths because it took two hours to warm up enough water for a bath. Oh, and one night, when my husband was in the field with his platoon, the pregnant me got stuck on that floor. Stoked the fire, then couldn’t get up. Sat there for about the two hours it took to heat the water. That was the best bath ever!
  4. That we couldn’t just turn a switch and have heat. I learned how to pour oil into our heater, and how to keep track of how much oil we had left. Taught me to keep my house stocked.
  5. That I met Yolanda. In 1976. And we have been best friends ever since. I was pregnant and alone a lot of the time, with my husband out in the field. She’s my age and managed to be my friend, confidant, shoulder, and mother.
  6. That one of my daughters was born there. Definitely the best part of this whole trip.
  7. That, when I got off the plane after a year with my eight-month-old daughter, the nice Captain helping me with all my stuff, after a 9 hour flight, looked down through the customs window at all the people waiting there. There were a lot. He asked me which ones were my family. I say “see those three on the right?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, everyone but those three are my family.”

You see, I had the first grandchild born in the family and they’d only seen her in pictures for eight months. So they all showed up at the airport.

Yes, Germany will always be a special place to me. My husband and I did not stay together, and I’m happy for almost 30 years now with my soul-mate. But my first husband and I had a good life while we were together and he made sure I remembered our time in Germany with happiness. I do. I treasure the memories I have from that year, and will for the rest of my life.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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16 responses to “Living on the “economy” in 1976

  1. What a great experience I would love to live in another country for a few months. Though with a new baby ummm to far from my mom you were brave. And you were there for longer than a few months.

    Great blog I enjoyed it with morning coffee.

    • Thanks. It was a special time and I smile when I think of it. There were times when it wasn’t so much fun, but the overall vibe was happy. I keep looking at the European river cruises. I could get back there for a quick visit, but I hear it’s a ghost town now, so do I really want to?

  2. I heard almost identical details from a friend whose husband was stationed in Germany in the 70s.I do hope that things have gotten better all over Germany for all the women there.
    I, too, keep drooling over the European river cruises, but Ia m certain that they take you past castles. The work would have been about as hard, back in the day! (No oil heater!)
    I am glad that you have good feelings about your experiences, but I am also as glad that the time ended before you got completely worn out.

  3. What a fantastic experience of Germany and such lovely memories. Love your conversation with the airline pilot upon landing back home! Despite many trips back home to Germany, I have never been to the Oktoberfest but did take my parents on a fabulous Rhine (wine) cruise some years back. Well worth it. 🙂

    • I am very, very excited about the possibility of a river cruise. One of these days… And I had no idea you hailed from there. I learned something new today. 🙂

    • Kit- I’ve done that Rhine wine cruise. Such fun! and the Germans singing Lorelei as we passed it was awesome! Didn’t know you were from Germany. Very cool. Jillian

  4. Love this Mom❤️😘

  5. What a great blog . Thank you for sharing

  6. Wonderful trip down memory lane thank you. You look so young! You were young! Great experiences for you but also pleased you met your soul mate subsequently, Peter was stationed in Germany but before we met, we are always saying we should visit but never do. You survived a lot of challenges.

    • Hi, Jane! How are you and Peter getting on? All recovered from the trip? I hope so, especially him. what a great accomplishment. As for me, it’s hard to believe that was over 40 years ago. Wow.

  7. I absolutely adore this post. How lovely you got to spend so much time there. I’ve been once ( at 19) and traveled all around as well and stayed with a German family- wish I could’ve been there longer- lots of great memories you posted here. Had to laugh about the bath! Love it. And the mob at the airport must’ve made your heart happy. Jillian

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