My Story

If you're curious to know what happened "in between" after reading the "About Me" section of my blog...

I was born and raised in Germany in a town called Reimerhausen/Lohra kreis Marburg.  When I was in High school we moved to Dutenhofen which is also in Germany.  Dutenhofen had a little disco where I went on the weekends with my friends to hang out and have fun.  It was called the Fifty-fifty.  It was one of the few clubs open to U.S. soldiers, (most places did not allow that because the soldiers would get drunk and behave badly).  It was there that I saw this guy sitting on a chair starring at me with a cigarette in his mouth.  As his cigarette fell out of his mouth to the ground, he was still looking straight at me, and he never even blinked.  I thought, "what is wrong with this weird guy?" and went on hanging out with my friends having fun and dancing the night away.  Later in the evening my little sister wanted me to drive her home, and we proceeded to leave.  Out of nowhere this guy comes running after me, speaking very fast in English (which I did not speak).  And with hand motions and all sorts of communication, he appeared to be asking me to come back.  I tried to communicate to him that I would be coming back.  Somehow--I don't know how--he understood that.
He was cute but weird, and he was an American, which I had no interest in dating whatsoever.  See, it's not that I have anything against Americans, but several of my girlfriends got involved with them; they ended up pregnant while all along the guy had a family in the US.  I didn't want that to happen to me.  So icks-nay on the American soldier boyfriend.  I came back to the Fifty-fifty about 15 minutes later, wondering if this guy would still be there; and, sure enough, he was waiting for me at the entrance.  He was so excited to see me that I thought he must be on drugs--not to mention that he probably had too much to drink.  And I was right.
We started to communicate like the white men and the Indians--or was it Tarzan and Jane.  Anyways, the entire time he was just looking at me with his big blue eyes.  It was almost uncomfortable but also exciting.  No one had ever looked at me this way.  He asked me to dance, and as we danced, we talked the whole time (if you can call it talking).  Now, I don't know about you, but you don't have to speak the same language in order to understand that the guy wants to kiss you.  Fortunately I knew one good word of English, "NO." However...

To be continued...

However, he was so persistent that I let him kiss me.  We danced and talked all night.  And I mean ALL night.  Have you ever had someone talk to you without you understanding a word that they are saying?  It's like watching a movie without sound with you as the main character.  But, you see so much more without sound; and I liked what I saw.  We went on more dates, and I quickly purchased a German/English dictionary.  It became a permanent item in my purse.  It went with us everywhere since it was our main tool for communication.  We would paste together sentences based on the words we found in the dictionary (most of the time the sentences would make no sense).  We would write them on Bierdeckels.  Bierdeckels were cardboard squares that were placed under your drink at any restaurant or pub.  I still have them. :)
Eventually, it was time for Stan to meet my mother.  Now you see, my mother is a true blue German women and was very much informed of the misfortune of my girlfriends.  Remember on the icks-nay on the American soldier boyfriend?  This came from her.  But, Stan assured me that he was different and that my mom would be fine.  Well, he didn't know my mother...
I remember the look on her face as we came in.  She knew right away that he was a U.S soldier.  We sat down next to each other, and I braced myself for what was about to come.  There was that moment of silence that went on forever, or so it seemed.  I noticed heaviness next to me and thought, "It couldn't be!!" Yes it could and it was.  He fell asleep, sound asleep.  I was so embarrassed.  What happened next was unbelievable.  My mother got up, left the room and came back with...

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…with a thin blanket and pillow.  She placed his head onto the pillow and covered him with the blanket.  With great delight, she sat back down and drank her coffee.  There was even a smile on her face; I couldn't believe it.  You see, hospitality is very big to people in Germany, and my mother was no exception.  For someone to be so comfortable as to fall asleep at someone else's house was a great compliment to the host.  I guess he was right, he was different, and she was just fine.  As a matter of fact, she loved him from that moment on, just like one of her own kids.
Stan and I dated for two years; during the second, we lived together in a two bedroom apartment. One night Stan told me he was being moved to Fort Hood, Texas, and that his time here in Germany was up.  Many times in the beginning of our relationship he expressed his desire to marry me; however, I had no interest in being married to anyone or having children, for that matter.  He was to leave in August and that left us another ninety days together.
Two weeks before he was going to leave, I found out that I was pregnant. "Now what?" I thought.  "You told him you didn't want to marry him, and now you can't tell him that you're pregnant. If he finds out, he may only want to marry you because you are carrying his baby."  So, I decided not to tell him.  After all, I was a strong German women of 22 and raising a child is not that difficult (so I thought).  I grew up in a big family, two brothers and four sisters, all raised by a single mother.  I was the oldest girl and learned at an early age cooking, sewing, and the art of housekeeping.  I had a great job and was almost finished with my degree in business.  I had no debts, and everything I owned was payed for.  My mother was going to watch the baby during my working hours.  It made perfect sense to me. :)

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However, I decided to tell him before he left and of course he was in a bit of shock.  Not knowing what comes next and no changing the Army's plans to send him back to the States, we decided to part with mixed feelings.  This was in August.
In the upcoming December my brother was getting married to a friend of Stan's.  My brother met his bride-to-be when he went with Stan to Florida the Christmas before.  Since I was not able to get time off, I stayed home that year.  However, this time I applied for a visitor's Visa so I could attend the wedding.  After much interviewing from the German government, I finally walked away with an approved Visa valid for six months starting in December.
.....back up the train a little (and this is a loooong train); Stan and I had planned all along to attend my brother’s wedding in December, and then I would spend a week with him in Texas, that was before we knew that we were pregnant.  We agreed to continue with this plan.
My flight was very long; it took eleven hours from Frankfurt to Orlando.  My brother picked me up at the airport and we went to his house.  Everything was so different in the United States.
The next morning the doorbell rang and my brother asked me to answer it, and guess who was standing at the door.  Yep, you guessed it -Stan.  I did not expect him that day, it was a nice surprise.  He drove all night from Texas to Florida just to surprise me.
He proposed to me that evening and I said YES.  I met his parents and family the next day and we told them that we were going to get married.  His parents applauded, and looked very relieved. After my brother's wedding, we drove together to Texas.
This time we made lots of stops and stayed overnight at a hotel.  It was a fun trip.  Arriving in Texas, I stayed with Stan's Sergeant and his wife.  It was there when I was first introduced to the mother of all cock roaches.  I was so grossed out that I screamed so loud and leaped across the room.  Stan knew just from the sound of my scream that I had just encountered my first Texas bug.  In my entire lifetime in Germany I had never ever seen or even heard about these creatures.  I later learned this was called a palmetto bug, not a cock roach.  No matter, it was huge, disgusting, and I remember it looking like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of all bugs.
After a week visit I flew back to Florida and then back home to Germany.  I had to get back to my job, my apartment, and my family.  I could not marry Stan at this time; since, I did not have all the paperwork with me, such as a birth certificate, etc.  And, there were just too many loose ends to tie up.
Once I arrived back home I started to have second thoughts about the whole getting married thing.  After all I would have to leave my entire family and everything I owned to go to a country I knew nothing about.  Not to mention the language barrier; my English was still very broken at best.  At that time I was five months pregnant and this was my mother's first grandchild-to-be.
So I decided to write to him and tell him...

To be continued....

... that I could not do it!!  I was scared.  We wrote to each other and phoned once a week on Sundays.  Each time it was harder and harder to say goodbye to each other.  His letters were so sweet and loving that I missed him more and more after each new letter.  I finally let go of my fears and started to plan my departure.  Now, we had a different problem, with him in Texas and me in Germany, how were we going to get married?  He could not come to Germany to get married, and I could not go to the US for governmental reasons.  I was not able to leave Germany unmarried; and even if I was married, I would have to wait for a special visa, which could take up to two years to receive.
Then, Stan called me with a very unusual idea.  He would send me a marriage agreement stating I would marry a man named Stan Bauer.  I was to have it signed by a lawyer and then would have to send it back to him.  He then would do his part and send it back to me as proof of marriage to a US citizen.  I would then be able to leave on my visitor visa that was still good until May.  Sounds great doesn't it.  Kind of like a mail order bride. :)
I got the marriage agreement and went straight to a lawyer.  The lawyer looked at me and said he had never, ever heard of such a thing and that this could only happen in America.  I signed the paper; and as I was leaving, he smiled at me and cockily said "You will be back."
I then sent the paperwork back to Stan.  He told me that he would have to find a stand-in for me and go through the entire marriage ceremony with the Justice of the Peace.  Talk about not being present in your own wedding and still getting married!  Was he making this up?
He asked an Army buddy named Myrtle if she would stand in at this wedding for me, and she said yes. Now I need to tell you about Myrtle!  Myrtle was not a quiet woman.  She was thirty years old at the time and Stan was twenty.  She was black and he was white.  Day's before the wedding she told everybody at the base that she was getting married to a young white boy.  The day of my wedding, Myrtle and Stan arrived in their Army uniforms at the Justice of the Peace in Bell County, Texas, coming straight from a field maneuver in their battle uniforms; they really dressed up for this! :)
The entire marriage ceremony had to be performed and Myrtle had to speak for me in my name.  At the end of the ceremony he was asked to kiss the bride, which he gracefully declined.  Smart man!

To be continued....

He then sent the marriage certificate to me and I was ready to go.  Having finished my degree, I packed two suitcases and gave the rest of my belongings to my family and friends in need.  I then realized that I didn't have enough money to purchase a round trip ticket to the USA.  That was a problem!  Since I was leaving on a visitor visa, the German government would not let me leave the country without a return flight.  Now what!?  Well, I figured I had nothing to lose and just went to buy the one-way ticket with the hope that I would slip through the cracks.
As I was purchasing my ticket, the lady was very nice to me and asked me all kinds of question.  I paid, and she handed me my ticket and wished me a good flight.  I was shaking as I walked towards the boarding area.  Security asked me to step aside, and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest.  This was the end of March, and I was seven months pregnant, leaving my country with just the clothes on my back and two suitcases.  A female security officer took me aside, checked my ticket, frisked me to make sure my belly was real, and then sent me on my way.
What just happened?  I looked at my boarding ticket; and if I owned glasses, I would have probably pulled them out and put them on to make sure I was reading this right.  The friendly women at the airport, by mistake, printed out a round-trip ticket instead of a one-way ticket.  Had it been printed as a one-way ticket, I would likely have not been allowed to leave the country.  So, I boarded my plane and left everything behind me.

To be continued...

It was a long flight but I arrived safely in Dallas Texas.  With my marriage certificate in my hand I went through Customs and was immediately surrounded by military police.  My papers and marriage license were carefully checked out and I was asked to wait at a certain area.  At that time I questioned myself if this was a good idea and became a little nervous.  When I saw Stan walking to collect me I was very much relieved.  Stan was given instructions how and where to apply for a permanent residence card for me, also known as "green card."  He then had to sign for me to take me to "our new home."  I thought that was weird!
On our drive to our new apartment we were happy to finally be alone.  We hadn't seen each other in three months and everything was so different here in the USA.  We drove up to our apartment near Fort Hood, Texas.  Stan told me he got everything ready.  He didn't have a lot of money but he told me he got what we needed.  It was a one bedroom apartment on the second floor.  It was completely empty as I walked in and I wondered what he meant by "I got what we need."  And then I saw it - a used queen size bed and a borrowed black and white TV!  I didn't care!  I was so glad to be with him and everything else would be fine! :)  Remember these words "all we need is love, we can live on love alone" or something like that.
It is now March and I'm coming from Germany.  It was snowing when I left.  Texas was hot and I was not used to HOT!  Not to mention I was seven months pregnant on top of that.  Stan informed me, that we would not have the money to run the air conditioner yet.  I thought that's OK for you, you grew up in this climate and will be at work most of the day, but I would have to stay in this apartment and sweat all day.  The nights were the most difficult for me; I was so hot and could not sleep.  Thankfully the apartment complex had a pool and you could see it from our bedroom window.  I asked Stan to watch me from the window, I was going to go to the pool to cool off, that was at 2 am.  Oh, I can not tell you what a relief it was.  I must have been there for hours, standing in the pool completely emerged.
Stan took several days off so we could go to the immigration office and apply for my paper work.  After a very long waiting time and the most unkind treatments, I have ever experienced, we were told we have to come back for separate interviews.  We would have to answer questions regarding our intimate life to establish if the marriage was real.  "You have got to be kidding me!"  Did I just fall into a bad romance novel?!!

To be continued...

We lived in Texas from March to the end of June.  Since I was home alone most of the day and needed to learn better English, I watched a lot of TV.  Movies were difficult to watch and understand, since everything happens so fast; so I watched a lot of soap operas.  Yes, I know what you are thinking, and I agree: these were silly stories!  But, the actors spoke more slowly than in the movies; and there were many close-ups that made it easy to see the mouth movement.
On June 6, after 32 hours of labor, my son Thomas was born in the Army hospital.  All we had to pay was $12 for my food as we left the hospital.  My little son was a colicky baby and cried most of the time.  The first two weeks were the most difficult.  Recovering from giving birth, caring for a new baby, and trying to get used to a new country without any help from family or friends was rough.  (I can still remember grocery shopping for the first time at the Army commissary.  I was so overwhelmed by the seemingly endless selections that I ran out, sat on a bench, and cried.)
Stan's time in the Army came to an end, and he decided not to renew.  We were going to live in Florida with his parents until he could find a job, and then move into our own apartment.  The Army packed up all of our stuff and shipped it to Florida.  Not that it was very much, remember?  We only had a queen size bed, and the TV was borrowed.  Thomas was two weeks old when we decided to drive from Texas to Florida.  It was a two day trip, and Thomas cried the whole way to Florida.  I thought I wasn't going to make it.  We arrived at his parent's house exhausted.  Everyone was very excited to see us, and we had a whole room in the house all to ourselves.  But, Thomas was still crying, so I was more than happy to hand him over to someone else besides me.  This little baby boy cried for four hours straight and would not stop.  Everyone had a turn: Grandpa was rocking and singing silly songs, Grandma was dancing with him, Aunt Etta tried her best with a little rattle, I was nursing him here and there, but nothing seemed to calm him down.  Stan's mom told me to lay down and rest and not to worry; they would give me a break. I walked into our room, crawled into the closet and had a good cry.  I wanted MY MOTHER!
After several hours passed, Stan's mom woke me up to tell me that the baby needed to be nursed and that he was still crying.  I thought, how could one little baby cry so loudly for such a long time.  I knew from that moment on, I was in for something; but I didn't know what.  We lived with his parents for four months.  During that time we had our separate interviews with the IRS.  We were both in separate rooms and asked questions like "On what side of the bed does your husband sleep?" or "What color toothbrush does your husband have?" (I couldn't answer that right now after nearly 25 years of marriage) or "What did he wear to bed last night?"  I'm going to stop right here since some of the questions were just downright too personal.
I received a temporary green card and was to have a permanent green card within a year.   We moved into our very own little one bedroom apartment after living with his parents for nearly four months. I think everyone was happy about that!  Little Thomas was a two-hour child, nursing every two hours day or night until he was six months old and crying most of the rest of the time.  I then decided to give all my maternity clothes, as well as all the baby stuff he out grew, away, since I was never, ever having another child ever again!!
To be continued...

Stan managed to work his way into an assistant manager job for a fast food restaurant and since they transferred him often we moved from apartment to apartment several times.  It didn’t take long for our debt load to begin mounting up and so I took a part-time job at Publix (a grocery store) starting at four in the morning.  Since I had a job now, we of course needed two cars so we bought another new car.  We put Thomas in a nearby day care which he didn’t like.  It didn’t take long and when we would pull into the street of the daycare he knew where we were going and would start crying.  I remember the last time I dropped him off there, he sat down in a little chair, laid his head down on the little table and sobbed uncontrollably – it was heartbreaking.  Suspecting that maybe things weren’t quite right at this place, I decided to drop in one day unannounced.  I found Thomas sitting behind the refrigerator as a punishment.  The lady told me that “he was disrupting nap time.” That was the last time we took him there.  Stan was transferred again and so I had to quit my job anyway and we moved into a posh apartment in Altamonte – never mind that we couldn’t really afford the place.
By early 1989 we started discussing whether we wanted to have an “only child” and it didn’t take long until we agreed to have another baby.  Well, that’s an understatement; we talked about it one week and we were pregnant the next.  And remember, this was the person who said I was never, ever having another child ever again!!  Our spending habits didn’t change and by the summer of that year we were on the verge of being crushed by our debt.  I remember when we got our first MasterCard that summer.  By the time the first bill came 45 days later it showed that we were already over the credit limit.  We took a cash advance from our Visa to make a payment on the MasterCard.  We were the classic example of being financially over extended.  When we added up all of the minimum monthly payments for all of our credit cards, car loans, and other bills it was more than twice our monthly income.  Sears, American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Bally Health Club, two new car loans, plus a loan on a car Stan had totaled, a myriad of retail store cards, you name them, we owed them money!  We realized that we couldn’t afford to stay in our apartment, but where would we go?
Stan thought that a mobile home might be a good idea since they are usually cheaper than a regular home and we both thought it didn’t make sense to keep renting apartments.  We didn’t have any money saved for a down payment and our credit rating was dropping like a lead balloon.  That’s when we discovered Uncle Red’s Mobile Home Sales; something about their advertising must have struck a nerve for us – “bad credit, no money down”; I can’t remember exactly, but we went to see Uncle Red for help.  When we drove on the lot it was very similar to a used car lot experience.  There were slimy salesmen all over the place like vultures waiting on their prey to die, and in we come with the word “road-kill” apparently stamped on our foreheads.  “No money to put down? Bad credit rating?  Not to worry; I can help you”, said Uncle Red.  He told us how he would be able to get us financed through a special lender.  And he explained that we could use other things as a down payment like a TV or jewelry.  Good Ole’ Uncle Red – our savior!   Or so we thought…

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I had jewelry but did not want to part with any of it. See, there were my very first white-gold earrings I got from my Grandpa and so many other pieces given to me by my family over the years. Anyways, I said NO! We were not going to use my jewelry as a down payment! But Uncle Red assured me that I could buy each and every piece back over time. I still did not want to do it. Since there weren't any homes on the lot that were in our price range (under $20,000), our dear Uncle Red told us about another place where he had some used homes that would fit our budget. They were on a lot in Ocala - nearly 2 hours from our house. We made arrangements to have our "salesman" take us up to see these homes. This salesman was a typical long-haired, Rock-n-Roller who drove a used Camaro - you know, the sports car with virtually no back seat. He was graciously going to drive us to Ocala to see these homes. But of course he wanted his pregnant girlfriend to tag along for the ride. Nearing the end of my own pregnancy and with an aching back I was not about to make a two-hour drive in the back seat of his sports car. So Stan went alone and told me he would take pictures with our Polaroid camera of some of the homes and then we could decide together when he got back.

Well, he only took pictures of one of the homes. I guess it was the only one that was even close to being worth buying. And the pictures were very bad and it was hard to see exactly what shape the house was in. I still have those photos somewhere. If I can locate them I'll scan them in and add them to the blog. ;) Stan told me the home he picked out was a fixer-upper but it had great potential. After all, it had a fireplace - how romantic! It was a repossessed double- wide, many years old and had stood empty with the two parts sitting apart and open on the lot for at least a year or more. There was a lot of damage inside, but Uncle Red was going to redo the whole inside for us. Our Rock-n-Roll sales-dude made all kinds of promises to Stan; probably things good ole’ Uncle Red would have never approved of. I would get to pick out carpet, curtains, kitchen cabinets, and new interior doors, since it didn't have any doors to any bedrooms or bathrooms in the entire house. Later on Stan picked a lot for our new home in Rock Springs Mobile Home Park and it was to be delivered there and then renovated.

Timmy was born in late November and about 2 1/2 weeks later, Stan drove me to our new home. How exciting! We parked the car in our driveway and before going in he reminded me that "it had great potential and would be fixed up." I walked in the front door and stopped dead in my tracks. I didn't get past the living room area, took a look around, ran back out the door, sat myself back in the car and cried.

The place was filthy! This so-called home had or must have had every living creature living in there at some point. Spider webs covered everything, wasp nests the size of Mount Rushmore, mouse droppings, you name it, and it was in this house. As I mentioned, there were no doors inside the entire 980 square foot, three bedroom, two bath house! The toilettes were black, no not by color - by dirt. I was not going to come out of this car to clean this... this place!

Stan assured me it was all going to be all right and beautiful; and not to forget the fireplace! I did eventually come out and started to clean up so we could live in it until Uncle Red could get everything fixed. I had picked out carpet, cabinets, curtains as well as doors. And then we got the news! Can you guess? "Uncle Red" went bankrupt. Oh, and did I mention? So did the special lender! And all my jewelry... yep, gone too!

Have you ever seen the movie with Tom Hanks… The Money Pit?... We bought it!!

To be continued...

We now own a broken down mobile home, lost all my precious jewelry and had no money to fix any of it. I cried every day and refused to talk to my husband for nearly three months, really!!!
After I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more, we moved in - ready or not, since our lease was up in our apartment and we couldn't afford to stay there.  But we had no electricity or gas.  Not only did this mobile home have a fire place, but it had a gas stove and heater - talk about your oxymoron!  So, without electricity or gas we had no hot water, lights or heat.  I called the electric company to find out why we had no electricity yet.  It was because they had inspected our home and come to the conclusion that it was unsafe to turn on the power.  And the gas company didn't want to help us either.  It was December and one of the coldest winters on record for Central Florida that year.  Thomas was about 2 1/2 years old and Timmy was only a month old.  Remember romantic?  Despite the seeming oxymoron of a fire place in a mobile home it was the only thing that helped keep us warm.  We all curled up in front of it with lots of blankets to keep warm.
The next morning I called Channel 6 News to speak to investigative reporter Ellen Macfarlane to plead for help.  I was transferred to her assistant Michelle Morrow and got her answering machine.  I fell a part as I was leaving a message and within minutes of that she called me back.

To be continued...


  1. Interesting story! Good writer. Keep it going!

  2. I'm loving this! Keep it up! =)

  3. It's been good to get the nitty-gritty details of your courtship with Stan. Press on with this wonderful story of God's grace in your lives!

  4. I feel a little guilty every time I hear my part in this

  5. You are amazing Tommy!! And, I love you. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute.

  6. Ich weiß garnicht, wie ich hierhin gekommen bin.
    Aber ich habe auch mal in Dutenhofen gewohnt und das Fifty Fifty kenne ich. Habe mir dein Profilbild angesehen und überlegt ob ich dich vielleicht kenne, ich weiß nicht.
    Gruß aus Hessen


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