After spending three months in on-base billeting at Ramstein AB while my wife and son lived in Bruch with her parents during the same time – we finally moved into our new house in Albersbach, Germany, in June 1993 – this map of Albersbach dates from 1842.
My new 86th OSS Chief of Weapons & Tactics and his family were moving in May and he suggested that we rent his house, as rentals were hard to find at the time – this is a view of the countryside around Albersbach, Germany.
I looked at the house in Albersbach and agreed to rent it from the landlords without my wife getting a chance to look at it first, which shows how difficult it was at the time to secure housing in the area – here’s another view of the Albersbach countryside.
David was finishing his first school year in Landscheid, Germany, where his grandfather or “Opa” was the school principal – and they both commuted to school daily from Bruch together – here’s another view of the Albersbach countryside.
This was our “new” rental house in Albersbach, near Reichenbach-Steegen, Germany – literally at the end of the world it seemed at the time – north northwest of Ramstein Air Base (AB) in rural Germany.
Our new house was in fact a beautifully renovated original village farmhouse – with the neighbor’s barn attached on the left, and a section of unfinished new construction and our attached barn on the right.
This view shows the still unfinished new construction extending to the right of our sandstone fronted farmhouse, with the barn door and our barn to the right.
Our landlords maintained the side yard of the property as well as an orchard and vegetable garden in the field behind the house and continued to use the barn for tool storage.
The unrenovated barn to the left of our house was where our neighbor stored his lumber and tools, and he generously provided assistance to us whenever we needed it.
The front facade of the house was made from beautiful old hand chiseled sandstone blocks, and my wife handmade two crochet lace curtain panels for the living room windows just above the bench.
There was a small flower garden in the courtyard directly in front of the house which I took care of, and then I brought sandstones from a stone pile back in the orchard to properly line the edge of the driveway.
We waited three months to move into this house not knowing that we would only have nine months in the house prior to the end of our assignment at Ramstein AB – who could have known?
These original village farmhouses in Germany combined the house for the family and the barn for the animals, hay and tools all under the same roof – in the center of the village – and the livestock helped to heat the house in the winter with their body heat.
I really enjoyed working in this flower garden and watching it bloom throughout the summer, and also loved my project of selecting and working the sandstones into a proper driveway border.
Many of the best things in life appear in the least expected places, like the joy from working in a flower garden and making something look beautiful.
This is a nice view of the garden while looking out towards the street – our philosophy has always been to treat all of the rental houses that we lived in as if they were our very own.
This is a series of cropped photos from the back of our house which show portions of the back flower garden, behind what was a sunken terrace directly off the kitchen’s back door.
I created this little flower garden that curved around the end of the sunken terrace and then went up a steep little hill towards the barn.
I discovered that the flat sandstones already existed below a couple of inches of sod, and then brought in the raised sandstones to create a border between the path and the flower garden below.
There is a certain joy found in creating a garden and working with natural materials like earth, sandstone and timber to create something new that didn’t exist before.
Even a small space can draw the eye and reflect the care and attention that the gardener gives to it, and nature is always a wonderful pallete to work with and enjoy.
Our house was on what could be called a small cul-de-sac in the village of Albersbach, and this view looks beyond our front garden towards the neighboring properties along the street.
A neighbor’s house which shows how the external rolling window blinds or “Rolladen” can be lowered or raised to control the amount of light and privacy of a room.
This is a close-up of our living room windows with their flower boxes and my wife’s handmade crochet lace curtain panels – along with the reflections of the neighboring roof tiles.
Windows are the eyes and soul of a home, and the Old World builders knew the value of having the original working wooden shutters, a stone window sill and the beauty of a flower box – which can be enjoyed from both outside and inside the home.
I really enjoyed this little seating area in front of the house, with the lion’s head bench that we purchased from John Lewis in England, along with the flanking pair of flower and window boxes.
Much of life today is hectic and filled with chaos and noise – instead of beauty – and the real joy in life is slowing down while creating and appreciating beauty wherever you can.
Our living room faced the street to the front of the house and was a very cozy space within the beautifully renovated farmhouse, and the wood of our furniture was a nice compliment to the warm woodtones of the house.
It is always difficult work making a transition from one base assignment and house to another, which adds additional stress and upheavel to any family – but once you’re settled in to a new home it’s a wonderful feeling of achievement.
The living room windows had nice wide and deep window sills that were a result of the thickness of the original stone walls, and although in this view the pattern of my wife’s handmade lace curtain isn’t very clear – in other lighting conditions they showed very nicely.
This view looks from the living room towards the dining room in the back of the house; to the right of the dining room was a modern renovated kitchen in the back of the house and in front of the kitchen was the foyer and staircase leading to the three second floor bedrooms – all in the original antique wood – including the antique doors and floors upstairs.
We had friends from England that came to visit us after we moved in, and here David and our friend’s daughter are reading books together outside on the front bench.
It was nice to see our friends again and show them our new life in Germany and be able to give them a tour of this area of Germany – which they had never visited before – and we appreciated the fact that we could stay connected to our friends and previous life in England.
Having been passed over for promotion to major in the Air Force, it was very important to me that our family life outside of the military was as stress-free and normal as possible.
After starting first grade in England when he was only five years old, David completed the school year in Germany – and the switch from British English to German was not the easiest way to start school for him.