Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My connection to Berlin.

I was born in 1955. One of my earliest memories (because it was so traumatic) was the departure of my dad from my life for a whole month! Or was it longer? It seemed like forever.

I think I was 3 or 4 at the time, which would make it 1958 or '59, and it was fall. Where did my dad go for so long?

To Berlin! 

Why was he going? My dad was an antenna engineer and worked for a company called Transonics. Transonics got a contract from the government to install an early phased array antenna on the roof of the Berlin Tempelhof airport. This part of the airport was originally designed to be

 usable as grandstands for Luftwaffe airshows. My dads project was to line the roof with a bunch of antennas. The point was to prevent jamming by the Soviets as they did during the Berlin airlift...making things very dangerous for the pilots in bad weather.  He joked the navigation beams were going to be powerful enough to 'warm up the pilot in the cockpit' on final approach.

My dad sent us postcards while he was there and described the life he saw. The people were very friendly and I know it was late fall because he described the street sweepers out every morning and even sweeping away the light dusting of new snow. He tried to learn a bit of German and the German people were very happy when you tried to speak their language.

I still have those postcards someplace. I do not have the super nice wind up toy VW bug he brought me (long since broken), but I know my sister still has a really neat cast iron coin bank he brought her as well as some other things.

In 2008 or so Templehof airport finally  closed and the space is now used to host special events, such as conventions.

In 10 days, it will be hosting the Expo for the Berlin Marathon, and I will be there.



  1. I bet you can't wait to visit the expo then :-)

  2. That's a neat story (and not just because I like antennas). It's cool you can remember that far back so vividly. Maybe it will seem surreal to be there.

  3. I got chills reading this...that was a very touching memory and such a cool connection for where you are headed!!!

    i can't wait to hear all about it!


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