Ramble On

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whatever Happened to Flughafen Tempelhof? Part 4

Here's an image of the planned park at Tempelhof, from the Frietheit Tempelhof website (linked in post).

Since the publication of my friend’s book Last Flight from Tempelhof  (mentioned in the post yesterday with an accompanying link to Amazon), I have tried to keep an eye out for new press about the plans for redeveloping the old airport, and for what it might become.  Even though the airport was reopened as a park in 2010, the news had been pretty hard to come by – at least until I started searching for some information last month.

The first item I found was a small posting that summarized the award of a contract to two Scottish design firms for planning.  The text of that post and similar press releases outlined that the contract was valued at 60M Euros and due for completion in 2017.  The firms were identified as Gross Max and Sutherland Hussey.
Here's the proposed map of the park.  Honestly - it doesn't look much different than it did in my days there - 1981-1986.
All the posts highlighted a desire to keep the airfield as open space, with plenty of opportunities for recreation; even retaining the old runways.  It’s as if the architects recognize how unique and important their assignment is – after all, the airfield has a significant history.

I was fascinated to find that there was a group of people who were against any future use of the airfield in this way.  There is a link here, which claims that all veterans of the airlift were against it: 

Having been stationed there, as I mentioned, for five years, I find this position hard to believe.  The property is an incredible resource for the city of Berlin, and its reuse in this way will be very respectful of what went on there before.

Here's a reminder of the events that were held there in the old days.  I was part of the crowd in the center back of the apron here, where the cluster of little white rooftops show where we would sell snacks for fundraisers.

Possibly the best resource of all the links I found is the homepage of the new park – that is at:

Especially of interest there is the information offered about the plan for the new park:

The present form of the open space is a transitional stage and starting-point for what will be an ongoing development process. From this space, once used only for airport operations, publicly developed, multi-use, structured urban parkland will gradually arise.

The organization of the International Horticultural Exhibition Berlin 2017 will be a particular milestone on the way to creation of the new park landscape, and will be an important engine in the overall development of "Tempelhofer Freiheit".

There are a number of tabs on the page with information about the plan, and renderings of how the new park might look when it is complete.  I’ve pasted some images from there into this post, in fact.  It also list the six themes for the park's reuse,all of which honor the place's history - in my opinion, anyway:

  • Stage for the new
  • Clean future technologies
  • Knowledge and learning
  • Sports and health
  • Dialog of religions
  • Neighborhood integration

When I read about the plan for the Horticultural Exhibition – I told Mary about it.  As a result, I’ve started planning my next visit back for that event in 2017.  If we don’t go back sooner, that is!

I’ll close this series for now with a final link to a 2011 article that appeared in Der Spiegel magazine about the park.  There are also some images in a slideshow that accompanies this article: 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whatever Happened to Flughafen Tempelhof? Part 3

Aerial of the airport in its heyday. If you know the origin
of this or any of the photos I've used, let me know,
I'd love to give the photographers due credit.

As I’ve been doing the research for this series of posts, I’ve come across quite a few links that outline the history of Tempelhof Airport – some of which I was familiar with, and some information that is new to me.  For example, I knew that the root of its name was a hint that the Templars had encamped here in the early part of the millennium, and I also knew that the Wright Brothers had barnstormed the place in the early 20th Century, showing off their airplane.

Later, the National Socialists dreamed of Berlin as the capital of a unified Europe, where Tempelhof would become the modern central airport, designed on a grand scale.  That’s the legacy of the building that remains, although on an international scale these days we wouldn’t consider it so grand.  In the intervening years, post-War, it was first occupied by the Soviets, then we took it, and it has also been the location of German firms and municipal government functions – all in addition to being a working airport for much of its history.

One of the better links I found, focused on the technical analysis of the architecture of the place, is here:
Be sure and check out the slide show that accompanies that article.

Of course, the following search will take you to all of the posts I’ve put up here on the Hawksbill Cabin blog about Tempelhof:

Two of these are noteworthy to me today as I consider them:  the one that includes the YouTube video tour of the tunnels under the airport, and the one that makes note of my friend D. Mitchell Lindemann’s book Last Flight from Tempelhof.  In the book, the cemetery I pointed out in yesterday’s post takes a central dramatic role, as do the tunnels.

At the time that he was writing Last Flight from Tempelhof, the future of the airport was very much in play.  In fact, Lindemann talks about one of the plans to turn the place into an amusement park, and goes into some detail about what that might be like.  (I’m including an Amazon link to the Kindle version of the book here for reference:  Last Flight from Tempelhof)

So tomorrow’s post will finally turn to what’s to become of Tempelhof – thanks for hanging with me so far!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whatever Happened to Flughafen Tempelhof - Part 2

Since I started the Hawksbill Cabin blog, I’ve written about Tempelhof Central Airport (we called it TCA or Tempelhof for short, in German it was Flughafen Tempelhof) in Berlin a few times – including in my last blog post.  Looking back over the old posts, I’ve included some notes about the airport itself – I can never look at the aerial view of it without seeing the image of the eagle that it was designed to symbolize – along with some fond memories of the time that I lived there from 1981 to 1986. 

I intend for my next post to be about the current plans for the redevelopment of the old airport, so I have a nostalgic purpose for the post today, inspired by the Google Earth photo I put up in my last post and repeat here today.  There are minor changes – for today’s post I’ve traced a favorite running route (in orange) out along the perimeter, and designated some of the areas that I mention in the post.

I suppose I could measure the distance on this route if I took the time, but as I recall, this route would be something in the neighborhood of seven miles or so round trip, very flat for the most part.  Most of my runs were about four miles or so, out and back.  That distance would take you past the end of the building, along a little road there that led to the Candy Bomber, softball fields, and picnic grounds.  Then you made a sharp left at the end of a brick wall, and ran past some technical buildings related to the airport operation, and finally to a place where a neighborhood bordered the airfield.

Along part of this route, there were some old fuel storage bunkers where I would cut off of the road and get in some small hills – Berlin’s terrain is very flat and I was always desperate for the variation in the routine.  The first time I did this I was listening to my JVC “Walkman-style” cassette player with Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food playing.  The song Big Country is forever linked in my memory to looking across the brick wall at the neighboring cemetery garden, assuming that is what it was, and hoping that I wasn’t visible enough to disturb anyone in there. 

Finally, further along the fence, there was an old neighborhood that looked down into the airfield, where the edge of the base gave a stark impression.  Not just the contrast of the military lifestyle that defined the inside of the fence with the urban vibrancy that was outside – there was more to it, because you knew that during the Berlin Airlift that impossible frequency of planes coming in to land or taking off here put those buildings in constant danger of a collision.

On longer runs, getting out past the apartments took you to the end of the other runway.  Outside the fence you could see tower lights that guided the planes to the runway, and you definitely had the feeling of being in right the middle of where the airlift had happened.  Those areas were strewn with small rubble piles and it was easy to imagine that this was the scene for those famous Candy Bomber scenes.

This was also the runway where those Polish Lot hijacks from the early 1980’s came in to land – more about these in a future post, because I’ll need to do some research to refresh my memory. 

Past the runway, there was a curve off to the right, and then you came to a couple of surprises: a barn where an enterprising farmer had arranged to keep sheep on the airfield property, and then some vegetable plots that many Air Force folks kept up.  I ran into a friend named Steve Hulsey there a few times, driving his VW microbus around out there to pick up some tomatoes – and the porta-john was a welcome relief on my longer runs more than once. The sheep were pretty famous among my friends, but I doubt many of them ever saw the piles of hay and manure that I encountered out here on my runs!

Right in this area, on the other side of the fence there were some soccer fields, and in the afternoon sometimes I would here the kids playing there.  I enjoyed the juxtaposition of those fields with the quiet gardens and old metal fabrication plants on our side of the fence, with all kinds of scrap and industrial flotsam and jetsam scattered around in overgrown patches of grass.

Finally, at the backside of the airfield, the southern limits, there was a long gentle curve with a view back towards the airport building.  Outside the fence, there was an industrial-scaled Bahlesen bakery where the smell of Prinzen-Rollen cookies would waft over me during my run – I still love these cookies and get a pleasant flashback when I buy them.  Then, soon enough, you’d reach the end of the perimeter road where it intersected with the other end of the runway.  Since the road ended here, I would always turn back.

Someone once told me – this was probably Steve Hulsey, who’d spent most of his adult life assigned there – that earlier generations of Air Force service people assigned to Tempelhof would have found an outdoor pool available.  There wasn’t a trace of it in my day, and I found it hard to believe that something like that was ever there.  But this was my turn-around point on the longer runs – as I prepared for the 1983 Berlin Marathon, I was running this route two or three times a week, sometimes cobbling on another two or three miles to get a ten-miler in.

So today’s post is a set-up for the one I intend to write next, about the proposed redevelopment of the old airfield.  Certainly I feel some nostalgia for the place I lived so long, but times have changed and that building and surrounding acreage is an incredible asset for the people of Berlin.  I hope to visit it a few more times and watch its transformation.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Whatever Happened to Flughafen Tempelhof?

Under the Berlin-Cold War Memories label, at the end of this post and over in the right hand column, you can find a number of posts that reference the airport I was stationed at while I was there from 1981-1986.

A few years back, Tempelhof closed as an airport.  The city was left with no real plan beyond basic concepts about what to do with such a large swath of real estate suddenly available.  Here's an article from 2008 that covered a bit of the story heading up to the closing.


(As long as the link still works, there was an accompanying slide show with some good photos of the airport that is worthwhile.)

A competition for redevelopment plans went out - now that it has been a few years since all of that, there is a new plan for what will happen going forward.  As I understand it, several of the perimeter areas will be dedicated to new housing and office parks, but the main building, the runways, and the central part of the airfield will be preserved for historical purposes and made into a recreation area.

Next week I will get another post or two put up on these new developments - they appear to give a good reason to get back and check out the old homestead by 2017, if not sooner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Green Chile Mac & Cheese

About ten years ago I went to Albuquerque on business for the first time. The advice I was given was to try and make it down to a diner style place on Route 66 and have a green chile cheeseburger.  I did it and the memory stuck with me - I think there are also still traces of that meal in my arteries.

So when it came time to choose something to make for the office pot luck this week, I remembered that there was a recipe for green chile mac and cheese in an issue of Grit magazine a couple of years ago, and that is what I decided to bring.  I've had some requests for the recipe, which was submitted by K.C. Compton, editor in chief of Grit at the time.


  • 1 pound macaroni (elbow, bowtie or shell)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of minced or pressed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 4 to 6 large green chiles - roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I used canned)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, butter 2 quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta, drain, toss with olive oil and part of the garlic. Salt and pepper lightly.
  3. Simultaneously prepare the sauce.  Melt butter in a sauce pan, add onion and cook until onions are translucent.  Add flour and stir quickly, add garlic. Add 1 cup of milk, whisking to prevent lumps.  Add remaining milk and paprika, then additional salt and pepper if desired.  Jim note: I added 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper here for a little bite, the recipes suggests jalapenos as a garnish instead.  When the sauce is hot sprinkle in half of the cheese and stir until it melts.
  4. Toss the macaroni with the green chiles.  Place half the macaroni in the dish and spoon over half the sauce, sprinkling with half of the remaining cheese. Make a second layer of mac and repeat.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  You might use cooking spray on the foil cover to keep the cheese from sticking.
I glad I typed this up this morning - I sampled what I made - a double quantity - and see that I didn't use enough milk.  This would be extra creamy using the recipe above.  Also, I tend to go light on salt while cooking, so you might sample a few times along the way to be sure yours suits you.

Even with the mistake - I think that they'll eat all of it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Minding the Que

While fall is upon us, it doesn't mean I've quit barbecuing for the season.  On the contrary, I really like to cook out during this time of year - I just won't be doing as much of it given the shorter days.

I was looking through some iPhone pictures from the last six weeks or so and saw that I'd done some grilling a couple of times.  Here's a photo of the little unit out at the cabin lit up and smoking - I was making a brisket on that day.  The leaves are still green, and it looks like there was a gentle fall rain even.

Here's the money shot of that brisket once it was finished:

Since the contest last September, I've been working on this grilled oregano chicken recipe.  I have one more small tweak to make on it, where I will be adding some honey to the marinade.

It's quite good already - it includes oil, lemon juice and oregano - since it is a Greek originated recipe that I was inspired to find by the old ladies up at Saint Sophia's and their famous semi-annual fest.  I think the honey will be the last touch to this, adding a sweetness that justifies the name "Glekas" - which was what they called it.

So until my next post on cooking out, there you have it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

T-berg, Revisited

I saw that one of the blogs I've been following had a post about Teufelsberg, which was one of the places I worked at periodically when I was in Berlin.  I was not permanently assigned there, but worked for a while on a research and development project that took me over for a visit and orientation to the mission there.

Since the operation was shut down in the early 1990's, the place had been left to go to ruins.  Of course everything inside the buildings is gone, and they are left as basic shells, or even less, these days.

It makes for a good tourist location - lots of urban explorers make their way up there to enjoy the Cold War vibe.  The "mountain" is actually a rubble heap of World War II debris, but it is one of the highest points in the city and offers some great views.

So the blogger had heard about some roughnecks patrolling the site and charging people to get in.  His full post is here -

I suppose you can get lucky and head up there sometime not finding them.  I'm not sure what I would do here - as long as they weren't charging much I might just pay them, on the chance they might have an interesting story to tell.  In any case, the other blog has some great photos of the place in its current condition.

Incidentally, I posted about this place before at:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunday Drive: Meems Bottom Covered Bridge

After breakfast at the Southern Kitchen in New Market, Mary and I decided to take a little drive north on Route 11 to Mount Jackson so that we could have a look at the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge there.

I'm pretty sure I've posted on it before - we go there now and then since we discovered it.  It's on the way to Edinburg, which has a restaurant we enjoy and another gap to drive over the Massanutten ridge line.

The "Virginia is for Lovers" web site says the bridge was built in the 1890's. From reading about it elsewhere I remember that it is one of four covered bridges still in use in the state.

There was a fire here in the late 1970's and the bridge was rendered unusable.  However, they were able to recover many of the structural timbers and it was reconstructed so that it can carry traffic to this day.

It spans more than 200 feet over the North Branch of the Shenandoah River.  It's worth the drive to check it out sometime.

Here's a link for more info and directions:

Wisteria's Harvest Celebration

In the style of my so-called "agribusiness internships," Mary and I volunteered at Wisteria Vineyards a couple of times this fall to help with the harvest.  I've posted on it a couple of times here on the blog - Mary and I really enjoyed our time there working with Sue and Moussa, learning about how the grapes are grown, and then helping with the first steps of making the wines.

By the way, Wisteria keeps a blog on events too - a link is here:

Sue shared this photo of Mary and our friend Nina out in the vines - I took a photo of a photo here, so it's not the clearest.  But I think you can tell somebody's having fun!

That work was pretty much completed by mid-October, when the Valley is already having frosty mornings from time to time.  Sue and Moussa then planned a little harvest celebration for the volunteers and they invited us.  The event was planned for the weekend before Halloween, but with Superstorm Sandy coming up, it was postponed until the first weekend in November.

The second shot here is of the group of volunteers sitting around the fire pit and enjoying our memories of the harvest.  The highlight was a barbecue that Sue and Moussa put on featuring shish kabob and some other specialties, such as baba ghanoush and hummus- followed by a selection of delicious baklava.  The meal itself was enough of a reason to volunteer next year, to say nothing of the wines!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Pigs are Alright

It had been a few weeks since I stopped by to check out the pigs, so I sent David a note and he said, "Help Yourself!" and Mary and I trekked over there.

We happened to catch him at home so he came out for a visit.  He told me one of the pigs had fallen ill, and pointed to the one in the back with the droopy ears.  Who knew that pigs had a health indicator like that?

On another note, since there'd been a break in the weather and it had gotten pretty cold in the Valley, he'd installed a heat lamp in the stall.  They're all sleeping under it here.

The goats had to be banished out of there while it is hung up.  Those knuckleheads were butting it around, and in typical goat fashion, mouthing it.  They'd have knocked it down and probably electrocuted themselves. Dumbasses.

David had assessed that the pig had become dehydrated - or actually, had eaten too much salt in its feed.  So it had symptoms very much like a cold, although the poor animal was really putting up a fight.  David said, "Well, it's 50/50 right now, and we'll know within the next 48 hours."

As it turned out, the little fellow had a turn for the better starting that evening, and I guess everything is fine now.  Good news.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Snow on the Mountain

One of the things that made Hurricane Sandy such a devastating storm was the combination of two wintry systems with the tropical one.  While the full force of that storm was felt in New Jersey and New York, we had some impact in Virginia.

And as the news of the storm began to reach Mary and me in Alexandria, one story I saw was that as much as a foot of snow was getting dumped up in Shenandoah National Park.  Skyline Drive was closed, but in the typically beautiful weather that follows a storm like this one, the park was soon reopened.

I'd seen that there were major accumulations at Big Meadow, which is in the part of the park with the highest elevations.  The lodge there is only four miles away from Hawksbill Cabin - as the crow flies - and about 3,000 feet above us.  The story goes that before the trees grew in to our neighborhood, you could see it from the brick terrace.

So Mary and I took a drive up to the park, and I wasn't disappointed in my search for early season snow.  These first two photos are from the Jewell Hollow overlook, looking down into the Valley.  You can catch a glimpse of Lake Arrowhead to the west in one of them.

The final picture I'm sharing today is a view of the Big Meadow area from the nature center across Skyline Drive.  Sure enough, this is where the largest accumulations were - it was chilly enough up there for the snow to stay down.

While we didn't walk out into it, it was the inspiration for another treat: we went over to the camp store there and had a hot chocolate before we got back on the road home.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Voted for President Obama

I’ve held off on making a political post on the blog so far this election season.  But now that the campaigns are almost over, I wanted to take a moment to outline the reasons I’m supporting President Obama for reelection.

I’ll make no excuses or attempts to hide my alignment with the Democratic Party – I have voted straight ticket since 1984, Mary and I met during the 1992 Clinton campaign, I was part of a veterans caravan for the 2004 Kerry campaign and helped the campaign on GOTV that year, I wrote letters for Clark during the primaries that year, and then supported Obama in 2008.  Just look at the “inauguration” label here on the blog, and you’ll see the enthusiasm for the promise that accompanied that election.

And I still believe in those things today.  We have come a long way since 2008 – despite the hurdles and obstacles that have been in the way.  President Obama’s record is one that on the whole makes me very proud to be an American.  He led the way to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, for one thing, and saw us through to the end of the war in Iraq, for another.  And he made good on his promise to hunt down Bin Ladin.

So many things are left to do, so I believe he has earned four more years.

There are many contrasts with the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, and his running mate, Paul Ryan.  It is hard for me to find even one single common philosophy within the campaign they’ve run:

  • Romney has said that he would consider voucherizing veterans benefits, breaking the sacred trust with those who have served, and Paul Ryan included major cuts to those programs in his famous budget.  
  • Under the Romney Ryan plan we’d see a similar approach taken with so many other programs that are important to our society, and they’ve given no outline of how to compensate for the abrupt turbulence their proposals would create in the economy and the country at large – turbulence that would likely eventually evolve into something even more catastrophic for our economy.
  • Romney said his first goal in office is to repeal Obamacare – a step backwards on healthcare, rather than forward, and something that really outlines the whole premise of the campaign as far as I can tell…some kind of retrospective look at where the country should be.
  • Some argue that Romney’s business experience will be a great benefit to the country as we continue to struggle with a slow recovery.  Among the real reasons for the slow recovery is the Republican demand that we take a different approach with this one than we have in the past – a position established by and led by Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.  But consider the truth of Romney’s success in business:  he financed the purchase of business with loans and credit, and then tore them apart, selling toff he valuable pieces for a profit, leaving creditors holding the bag.  Jobs were destroyed or sent overseas in the process, and where there were some created, they were often low or minimum wage with poor benefits. These aren't the jobs that will lead to a faster economic recovery.
  • During the campaign, he’s outlined an approach that would add $7 trillion to our deficit.  He can’t offer any plan for offsetting this, except for perhaps $1 trillion in savings from the cuts I discussed above.  This alludes to that track record he’s running on – add to the debt, cherry pick the things of value, and then leave somebody else holding the bag.  That somebody else…well that would be the middle class in this case.
One of my fellow bloggers describes himself as being “one standard deviation left of the mean.”  I have never considered myself a liberal, but rather, more of a moderate – something that probably meets the definition my friend has provided.  And that means positions like these are diametrically opposed to what I see as the right direction for the country.   We just can’t get there with a Romney presidency.

So two weeks ago I cast my vote to reelect the President.  I’ll be proudly cheering for him during the election reporting next Tuesday.