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2018
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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 11.18.17
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL
All photos courtesy the author and Kathy Cavanaugh

Return to Wiesbaden

On Sunday, November 5 we (Kathy, brother Dave, his wife, Mary, and I) had to change planes in Frankfurt, Germany on our way home from Croatia. We decided to stay a couple of days and visit Wiesbaden to see what had changed since my brother and I had lived there (1948 - 1951). Wiesbaden was then the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force after WWII and we arrived there just at the beginning of the Berlin Air Lift. It was an interesting time. Kathy and I had visited Wiesbaden briefly 15 years ago, but it had been 40 years for Dave.

We rented a small Ford van -- we had four big suitcases and miscellaneous luggage -- and drove the 40 kilometres to Wiesbaden. It was a cool and cloudy autumn day, and things looked grey and cloudy; not much change there.

We were on the A66 a newer road with four lanes. From A66, we could see new industrial development and apartment buildings. The exit from A66 took us up on to Biebricher Allee near the Henkell sparkling wine factory. Our first stop was to our old house at 11 Schiller Strasse.

house

This street, now named Gallierweg, intersects Biebricher Allee just north of the Henkell factory. Our old house looks exactly the same as it did in 1948 but it has apparently been converted into two apartments. The sun came out for our pictures and walk-around. At this point we were hungry and started looking for someplace to have lunch.

We parked near the Warmer Damm and walked across the park to Wilhelm Strasse, which is one of the main city streets. It looked the same as I remember it from 1951.

street

The big change was that the central area, west of Wilhelm Strasse and left in the image, was permanently closed to vehicle traffic.

It was Sunday and we saw nothing open on Wilhelm Strasse, so we turn up Lousien Strasse and found a Thai restaurant; that just would not do for our first meal in Wiesbaden. Back to Wilhelm Strasse and a right turn up Rhein Strasse; more closed places until we got to the Luisenplatz in front of the St. Bonifatius Catholic church.

street

The church was hit by one of the few bombs which hit Wiesbaden in WWII. It collapsed the roof but not the towers, and was repaired in 1949. On the left side of the Platz we found Gastwerk-Degenhardt. This turned out to be a neighborhood place with locals who enjoyed a leisurely meal. We had a traditional German lunches; mine was wurst, kraut and potatoes, with a glass of dry Riesling.

After our late lunch, it was time to find a hotel and take it easy. Our rental car had built in GPS system with selections including Accommodations. From the list it offered we selected NH Hotel and the GPS guided us right to the hotel. The hotel, which caters to business travelers, was up the hill to the east off of Beirstadter Hohe, not a familiar area for us. It was OK for 112 euros per night including breakfast. After checking in and a rest, we had a light snack and a glass of wine at the hotel bar. Pizza was the main menu item.

Breakfast was the usual European hotel buffet with everything: musli, fruit and yogurt; sliced cheese, salami, ham ,and cured fish; eggs, two wursts, bacon and pancakes. Choices, choices. We got back in the car and drove to Lahnstrasse where our old school was. It was Monday morning and traffic was crazy.

school

There were absolutely no changes at the school, except it is now the Albrecht-Dürer-Schule.

[EDITOR'S NOTE] Frank was a sophomore in 1948, the year our old American Dependents School opened for Americans. Dave was in Grade 7, I was in Grade 8.

The sports field is still across the street and down the hill. This area of Wiesbaden has trash collection and leaf blowing on Monday; all the workmen that we saw appeared to be from the Middle East.

From the school we went back down to Taunus Strasse and to the inclined funicular, which goes to the top of the Neroberg, which has a park above the city. The cable car was not running and the car was wrapped in plastic. We then turned around and drove up the Neroberg. The Opelbad swimming pool is still there and functioning but we decided we would not have a swim. Dave and I could not agree on where the U.S. military's Officers Club had been and did not find anything that fit. The picture of Wiesbaden from the Neroberg barely shows the towers of St. Bonifatius in the haze.

view

It was time for lunch and we knew we would never find a parking place in midtown. So, we relied on the GPS to find a neighborhood restaurant and after several tries selected a Thai place off of New-York-Strasse. The food was good and the beer, German. The neighborhood consisted of small row houses and apartments with some commercial establishments, including the Thai restaurant, and an elementary school.

After lunch we drove back to Schiller Strasse (I can't get used to Gallierweg) and then walked down to Nibelungen Strasse, where we thought the American teen club was.

clubhouse

Dave was sure, and I thought maybe, it was in this house.

From Schiller Strasse we drove down to the Kurhaus and parked in the garage. The name means 'cure house', referring to the springs and spa where people since the Romans came for 'the cure,' The park in front, which was torn up 15 years ago for the construction of an underground garage, has been restored to its former glory.

[EDITOR'S NOTE] In our American Military occupation days, we called it The Eagle Club. Confession: in 1950 I carved my initials into the copper covered dome on the roof. Swear to God.

We walked through the colonnade into the opera house, then all around the Kurhaus including an interior visit. The Kurhaus has a casino, two concert halls, and a restaurant; we did not go into the Casino. The rotunda was all set up for an event and the concert hall was closed off. Everything looked splendid. After a walk out to Wilhelm Strasse and back we decided to call it a day. We drove back to the hotel and had dinner in the dining room.

kur haus

On Tuesday, we drove to the Frankfurt Airport, turned in our car, and went through the normal check-in. The airport is huge and it took a lot of walking to get to our gate. Then they changed the gate and we had to walk some more. The flight was on time and we took off for home.

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