My childhood memories are such fun blessings to remember now that I’m so much older. Here’s one about my short career as a child spy.
We lived in Wildflecken, Germany (1958–1960) when I was in first and second grade. Wildflecken was a major training area for U.S. and other NATO forces.
The elementary school was directly across the street from our house with a playground in front and woods in the back.
One Saturday morning while playing on the playground, my friends and I heard a major commotion going on somewhere nearby. Our curiosity was aroused and, pretending to be spies, we stealthily made our way past the school and through the woods until we came to a fenced-off clearing.
Smoke billowed about and the noise was deafening. We were stunned to see a huge military tank lumbering along about 100 yards from us and what appeared to be the whole U.S. Army running around like wraiths in the smoke, waving weapons. One ran by the fence where our little spy-selves were hunkered in the bushes—it was my father.
Dad and his men did whatever it is Army men do and the tank stopped. The top popped open and men emerged, one by one, their arms held above their heads. The bad guys had been captured.
We wanted to cheer as my father wasn’t the only father out there but were afraid we’d be taken prisoners of war by enemy spies lurking nearby. Not at all sure who the enemy might be, the very idea terrified us. Our interest in being spies was definitely over. We ran home as fast as our little legs could take us where we were all punished for leaving the playground.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and my family was chatting and exchanging memories that I recounted my childhood spy activities that day so long ago and how proud I was of my father’s heroism. My parents looked astounded and then burst out laughing. And that’s when they explained it had all been merely joint NATO practice maneuvers.
It’s not easy being a spy when you’re six years old.