As I stated in the story of the ‘First Date Disaster’, (See below) I was head over heals in love. But, the question was, how to proceed from there. I was certain that Heide was the girl of my dreams, the girl that I was going to marry. But, what were her feelings? Was she as much in love with me as I was with her? And if so, popping the magic question, would the answer be the same as before, ‘I don’t know’? It had only been a couple of weeks since we had met. Oh, we had met every free evening and weekend. How well I remember.
Not far from the Garrison was an ancient clock on a little island in the center of a traffic circle. That became our famous meeting place. When I think about this, Marlene Dietrich’s song, Lili Marlene, comes to my mind. ‘Outside the barracks, by the corner light’. Oh, it was a romantic time. I usually was at the clock first, waiting for her. Every time I saw her walking up, the goose bumps would appear, and the exiting tingles would roll down my spine. We would stroll through the streets of Heilbronn, and then end up in a café called Reinecker. We used to sit there for hours with a cup of coffee not saying much, just gazing at each other.
Before my birthday, it must have been the first or second of October, our team had to take a train to Frankfurt to play for the Seventh Army soccer cup. It was on a Sunday morning. Chaperoned by a second lieutenant, we climbed on the back of a truck that brought us to the train station. When we were half ways to there, I saw Heide with her girlfriend strolling along the Kaiser Strasse toward the train station. I waved excitedly and got an acknowledgement. On arrival at the train station, I walked nervously back and forth in front of the door hoping she would get there before we had to board the train. Lo and behold, she did. The surprise that I was still there got me a passionate hug much to the amusement of my buddies. But, an older gentleman, watching the episode, smiled gently with that aging knowledge, ‘Yes I remember’. I had my answer. I knew there and then that the feelings were mutual.
The call to board the train ended our passionate endearment. The games that were to last a week and longer, ended for us two days later. Two losses got us out of the competition. As much as we all wanted to go TDY, I was happy when we returned to the garrison and I could continue our courtship. But, it was short lived. Our Battalion was called to Bad Tölz to build several barracks at the NCO academy, a four week job much to my despair. Yearning to see the girl of my dreams, and trying to find a way to pop the magic question that would produce the wanted answer, filled my evenings. I knew, asking her to marry me face to face might get me the ‘I don’t know’ answer. So, I sat down and wrote a letter professing my undying love. And I popped the magic question, ‘Will you marry me’?
I awaited anxiously a return letter. To my biggest disappointment, day after day there was no letter for Al at mail call. It was almost time to return to the Garrison, I still had not received a reply. What did it mean? A no, a maybe, or, an I don’t know? I sat down again and wrote a letter to her girlfriend asking Rosemary to find out why Heide wasn’t answering me. To my surprise, at the next day’s mail call, the mail clerk called my name. I had a letter, and it was from Heide. I went to my bunk and laid there starring at the letter. I was afraid to open it for fear that the answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Finally, I mustered the courage and opened the letter. Inside was a single piece of paper with one word on it, YES. Needless to say, I thought I had died and went to heaven.
After we got married, Heide told me what had transpired during the time from when she received my famous letter until she answered. I had guessed it right. She didn’t know how to say yes. She had drafted numerous letters, but she had torn them all up. My advice, the written word is more powerful than the spoken one.
P.S. There are more stories to come. If you like my story, keep checking my blog.