Hampton GI Pays Visit To
EUCOM's Winter Wonderland
By Cpl John M. Holman, U.S. Army, Germany
Hampton Union, January 1952
Once a month every one in Service Company gets a three day pass, and I am no exception. My pass came on January 22, 1952. At 12:30 on Tuesday, January 22nd, I showered, shaved, changed into my class A uniform, and made ready for my trip to Garmisch, Germany, "EUCOM'S Winter Wonderland.". My overnight bag being packed the night before, I was ready and waiting when 1400 rolled around, the starting time for all three day passes. I got a ride with one of Service Company's bread trucks which was going into Augsburg, where I could get my train.
Arrived in Augsburg. in one piece, bought my round-trip ticket to Garmisch, and waited around for an hour until train time. The express to Garmisch left on track five. "All Aboard," and I'm off. Did I forget anything? Nope! I guess not.
Everyone else from Service Company went to other destinations, so I was alone. But not for long. I spied two fellows from another division stationed nearby, so I made myself known to them, and we stuck together like flies for the remainder of our passes. They were nice guys, both from New York.
It was a two and a half hour ride to Garmisch, but the time flew by. I slept half the way in. At 1830 we arrived at our destination and were hailed by many taxi drivers, outyelling each other for our fares to wherever we wanted to go.
We didn't know where we did want to go, so we put ourselves at the mercy of a taxi driver who promised us a good room in a private house for four marks apiece. (That's about a dollar to you civilians.) He took us about five miles out of the city. Yipes! We told him no soap, too far to walk to town. He charged us a dollar a- piece for the "free" ride. Oh well, maybe we looked like suckers. Anyway he took us back to town and to another private house, only about five minutes walk from the center. We took it. Five marks apiece for each night. We were there three nights.
We unpacked our bags and the taxi took us down town, for free this time. We went to the Army-operated snack bar, commonly called in Germany, the EES, meaning European Exchange System, and had a light mean for seventy-five cents. After lunch, we decided to go to the Casa Carioca, which is the German version of the Ice Capades or Ice Follies. They were very good, and were called "Wine, Women and Song." I didn't see any wine!
After the show at 23.30 (11:30 p.m.), we started back to our rooms but stopped off at a German restaurant and had a ham and cheese sandwich and a cup of coffee. Something like three marks for that ... around $3.00. Wow! Inflation!
By that time of night, it was really getting cold out. My feet were frozen, but we arrived back to our "warm" room which held two beds and a cot, wall closet, bedside table, a couple of chairs, a wash bowl with cold water, and a luke warm radiator. The beds consisted of a mattress, pillow, and a feather quilt-like blanket and that's all. That is the custom in Germany, that quilt, feather-stuffed blanket. Believe it or not, they were really warm, though I had my doubts at first. The only trouble was, that the beds are five and half feet long, and I am six feet. Oh, well, that's life, I guess.
Up the next morning at 10:30 or thereabouts, had breakfast down town and caught a bus to Eipsee, a mountain resort where there was skiing, skating, horseback riding and a ten-cent meal. Yes, that's right, ten cents for a three course dinner. Of course the army is footing the bill, the ten cents helps to pay the waitresses. Soup, main course with meat, potatoes and vegetables, bread and butter and all the coffee you can drink, for a thin paper dime. (MPC's, that is, Military Payment Certificates.)
After chow we went skating. My skates didn't exactly fit me, consequently cold feet. No skiing though, -— sissy! One of the fellows broke his ankle. That was enough for me. After the skating exhibition (?), we went back to the Eipsee hotel where a ten-cent supper was enjoyed by all, (fried chicken). Caught the bus hack to town, grabbed three tickets to the ice stadium and nearly froze to death watching the figure skating exhibition, and saw Dick Button take away first honors in the men's figure skating contest. He is the World and Olympic champion and represented the United States.
Back to bed after the exhibition and up the next morning to take in the guided tour to the Passion Play Theatre in Oberammergau, where the original passion plays (the story of Christ) are held every ten years. The next one will be in 1960. The theater holds about 5,200 persons. All the cast is newly selected from the population of the town Itself. People from all over the world come to witness plays which run from May until September.
From there, the bus took us to Linderhof castle, one of the three which King Ludwig II built, back in 1800- something. This, the smallest of the three. King Ludwig was king of Bavaria at that time. He died at the early age .of 41 from a mysterious drowning, and no one to this day why or how it happened. As Ludwig admired the French, the castle is designed of French architecture and has pictures of famous French people of that time, and no pictures of any Germans are in the castle. The rooms are ornamented with 24 carot gold leaf covering, and is truly beautiful to see.
Following our tour of the castle, our bus took us to a Monastery at at von Ettal. Monks still live there, and carry on a school for boys. The church in the Monastery is over 600 years old. Words cannot describe it.
That completed our tours for the afternoon, so it was back to Garmisch now. That night we took in an American show at the theater. Anyway, it was warm in the theater, the warmest I'd been all day. The next day we returned to Camp thus ending my three-day pass, my trip to Garmisch, EUCOM's [EUCOM — abbreviation for European Command.] Winter Wonderland.