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The Bad Durkheim Wine Fest

Lots of Fun with a Plastic Hammer

The 370th Engineer Company in Kaiserslautern, Germany, in 1973 and 1974 was a special kind of unit in many ways, but especially in regards to the great relationship among our officers and NCOs.

We did many things together.

One of the things we did was go to the nearby Bad Durkheim Wine Fest each year in the fall, following the grape harvest.

The fest was very much a social event and included very, very large tents set up with long tables where fest-goers could order food and also wine to sample.

At the fest there were small, plastic hammers that squeaked when you hit them down on a surface.

On the night we were there, the sides of the tent were rolled down as it was a bit cool outside. This meant that everyone had to enter and exit through the tent flaps at each end of this very large tent.

As I look toward one of the tent entrances, there I see Bonnie standing on top of a table. She has one of those soft, plastic hammers in her hand, and as each person enters the tent she taps him or her lightly on the head. "Squeak!"

The Germans entering the tent and being tapped on the head are a bit surprised, but smile and laugh when they see what Bonnie is doing.

But as I am watching, a German comes into the tent. He isn't tall, maybe 5'10", but he must have a 57 inch chest and his forearms are thicker than my thighs. Like the others he is tapped on the head by Bonnie. He turns and looks at her, but doesn't smile.

Bonnie sees the look on his face, and she decides it is time to get off the table and get away.

But he follows her through the tent.

By now I'm also chasing both of them, thinking that I am going to have to get between him and Bonnie. And not really liking what I suspect will be the consequences.

But he gets to Bonnie first. She is standing there, probably a bit terrified.

He holds out his hand, palm up. The message is clear.

Bonnie hands him the plastic hammer.

He takes the hammer, and very, very softly taps her on the head. "Squeak!"

He then politely hands the hammer back to her, and goes on his way.


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