Across the Atlantic and aboard a train

Our cruise from New Jersey to Bremerhaven took about two weeks.  Modern cruise liners make the trip in just a few days, but this old, cranky, MSTS ship could only potter along at about six or eight knots and don’t even think about stabilizers.

The interval was good for me though as I spent a lot of time remembering all the good times Kathleen and I had had.  There was a small contingent of teens on the ship, but they were either too adolescent or intimidating for me.  The boy nearest my age was sixteen and had already developed the bad habit of smoking.  He tried to get me started, but I resisted because smoke from my dad’s cigars had always made me nauseated.  My mom also smoked, and that just made her look cheap somehow.

Now that I think about it, a tremendous amount of peer pressure was present back then for everyone to smoke.  We saw advertisements on television, billboards plastered all over extolled the virtues of smoking as well as seeing live entertainers on those very same televisions smoking while doing their thing.  I can recall dancing cigarette packs appearing on several shows.  Some of the shows were sponsored by cigarette companies and you always got the feeling that the performers were told they had to smoke just to do their shows.

On board there also was one girl named Mary who was sixteen.  Being tall for my age she and I were able to see almost eye to eye – me slightly taller.  She had wonderful breastworks and liked to show them off by wearing tight sweaters.  She resisted all of my efforts to obtain a better look at them and, at the end, practically had to carry a ball bat to whack me when I got too close.  The name of my game was called ‘fixation’.  I was fixated on breasts and would do anything, some things really stupid, to obtain my goal of another fondle.  After a particularly unsatisfying evening in one of the lounges, I finally gave up.  This was induced by an eighteen year old guy who threatened to move my ass somewhat nearer my head if I didn’t stop bothering Mary.  He was either her larger brother, or had been hired by her to fend me off.  Either way, it worked.

I did meet a very nice girl named Heather who turned out to be just six months younger than me.  I had noticed her from afar but never was brave enough to wade through her younger siblings to talk to her.  They would bust up any conversation I tried to start with taunts, chants, and just general goofiness.  On the few occasions we did manage to get alone, she turned out to be a bit shy.  She told me she had never before had any kind of boyfriend.  I also found out that she had never been kissed until we finally shared a few while watching the ship’s wake from the fantail.  She wasn’t kidding.  We bumped noses and teeth a couple of times until she learned how to do it properly.  It was a tough thing to do, but someone had to do it.

The rest of the time we teenagers spent playing shuffleboard, reading books, and just generally horsing around.  This being a military ship, not much thought had been given towards making the passengers very comfortable, but we made out fine – well, that should be put another way.  Actually, that way is just fine.  There was a very small bit of deck space allocated right between the stacks up on the highest deck we could reach.  We kids would take turns getting away from it all by stepping over the small chain across the ladder and sneaking up to this deck.  Except for the two stacks immediately fore and aft you could see everywhere around you – including any nosy crewmembers who might want to bother us.  There was a small life raft tied to the deck that one (or two) could sit (or lie) in and talk (or whatever).  A small piece of string draped over the chain let everyone know the observation deck was in use.

Mary had enough protection surrounding her so I never got a chance to escort her to what we called the ‘fun deck’, but Heather and I did whenever we could outsmart her noisy and inquisitive siblings.  I guess it should have been called the Libido Deck owing to all that went on up there.  If you didn’t police up the area before bringing your girl up, all kinds of surprises were to be found.  Someone even found a bra (36C) tucked under one of the raft seats along with two used condoms.  Yuk.

The one time Heather and I went up there was during the day.  The clouds were low and there was a bit of rain in the blowing wind so we hunkered down in the raft under my raincoat.  She and I cuddled a bit, and I was allowed to unbutton the front of her blouse and kiss above her bra but that was all.  When she accidentally dropped her hand into my lap and felt my erection I think she got a bit scared.  She said she was sorry, buttoned up everything and told me to take her back to her cabin.  Luckily, I had my raincoat with me on the way down.  She told me twice more that she was sorry and that it was her, not me.  I dropped her off at her parent’s cabin and headed for a cold shower.  “Missed it by THAT much” as Maxwell Smart would say.

The ships company held a dance for us kids one evening.  It turned out to be pretty good considering that some old records from the Forties were all we had to dance to.  Fortunately, I had learned how to dance to them and didn’t make quite a jerk out of myself as others.  Heather didn’t dance much so we mostly just sat at the table and talked with some other kids.  Since none of her younger brothers and sisters was allowed into the room, we could talk normally.  The chaperone did catch us kissing once though and told us to knock it off.  Once, we snuck out and headed for the ‘fun deck’, but when we got there a line had formed.  We would have been waiting for quite a while before our turn came.  Instead, we walked around the boat deck and found a nice dark corner to practice more kissing.  Once she got the hang of it, she was good at it.

We arrived in Bremerhaven in the dead of night, wearily dragged our baggage down the gangplank and boarded busses for the train station.  My dad was to be stationed in a town called Stadt, and the train was headed that way with stops all along the line to drop off US servicemen and their families.  The bus ride seemed interminable, but we arrived around one in the morning at the terminal.  We had been assigned rooms in a given railcar so they were fairly easy to locate.  All signs were in German so with the aid of a little Berlitz book we translated our way down to the waiting train.

My brother and I had been put into a small room adjacent to the rest of our family.  When I found the correct number, I opened the door and stopped in my tracks.  A very shapely woman had her hands over her head and was in the process of lifting a dress off her body.  In the flash of half a second, I noted (in order): she didn’t wear a bra, had a very even tan, her panties were light green, her dark hair framed a very pretty face, and her steely-eyed glint threatened to reach out and kill me.  At first, neither she nor I said anything, but I finally found my manners, stammered an apology, and got the heck out of Dodge.  When my dad saw me bowing and backing out of the room he asked why so I told him that we needed to verify our room assignments.

He checked with the porter and we definitely had these two rooms so something was amiss.  The woman came out (in her dress, dammit) and chatted with the porter briefly.  He indicated that she was in the car behind this car.  After a brief three-way conversation (my mother had taken the full German course at Berlitz) the woman accepted my apology for bursting in.  What the hell, it was my room anyway, why was I apologizing to her?  There was a lesson in there for me, if I would only think about it.  I filed the mental image of those bare breasts away in a special corner of my brain marked “to be opened in the event I want to salivate”.

Three rooms down another womanly shape appeared as a door opened to the corridor.  My radar switched ranges and homed in on Heather.  I had hung around with her on the ship, but almost always surrounded by the most obnoxious siblings I had ever seen (outside my family, that is).  She was alone this time, which gladdened my heart.  Actually, I needed no encouragement whatsoever to head for girls; it was the actual talking that got me into trouble.

We chatted for a bit about where we were headed (her for Kaiserslautern), how much we missed our friends back in the States, and what we were going to do about things that teens normally did.  For all we knew, we would end up speaking German and attending school downtown (on the economy as it was known). I told Heather I thought her name was great and that it made me think of fields of flowers.  Damn, I was a real romantic back then.

After obtaining permission from both sets of parents, Heather and I went down to the diner to get something to drink.  I had tasted something called Apfelsaft (Apple cider) in the ship’s cafeteria before, plus it was the only German word I could pronounce correctly so far (outside of Dumkopf which I loved to call my brother), so I ordered it for the both of us.  When it came time to pay (after two more of them) I pulled out a wad of cash.

Now normally this amount of bills would be impressive but before we left the ship all US cash, including our change, had to be turned in and we received what was called ‘script’ in exchange.  Even such things as nickels had their paper equivalent.  My ‘wad’ was worth about five dollars, but would definitely choke my brother (which, at times, wouldn’t have been a bad idea).  I paid for the cider and we strolled back to our car.

Her siblings were out in force and were continuously barging in on our conversation so we finally gave up at about two-thirty in the morning and went to our respective compartments.  Heather and I promised to either call or write, but I sent two letters and received just one from her.  But after that, I didn’t get any more.

Tomorrow afternoon we would get to our new home.

T.O.M

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2 Responses to “Across the Atlantic and aboard a train”

  1. Davis Says:

    sounds like a memorable trip — thanks for sharing

  2. Davis Says:

    sounds like a memorable trip — thanks for sharing
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

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