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Frankfurt was a trip down memory lane for Lynn, who lived here from 1958 to 1961. Her father was an Army Captain and the family lived in a complex called Atterbury Area. On our 2nd day in town, we boarded the subway for Atterbury. On the way Lynn told me about life in Frankfurt. Atterbury had previously been a headquarters, or Kaserne, for the German Army. We won it in the war. They moved the German Army out and the American Army (accompanied by their nearest and dearest) in. Lynn and her family lived in the porticoed central building with the clock on top. There was a tunnel leading from the basement to a bunker across the street. The Germans had used the bunker as a bomb shelter, but Lynn and her buddies found it to be perfect for sledding in the winter. Outside Atterbury, in the middle of a traffic circle, is a building Lynn and her playmates referred to as “the castle.” The building has round turrets and is made of stone just like a castle. It is located on what was once called locally “5 Mark Circle.” There were usually attractive friendly ladies lounging around the castle. Lynn did not understand at the time why her parents would not let her visit the castle. It seemed to be a popular place, and a number of military personnel visited often. Fortunately, her parents made it up to her by taking her to all the other castles they could.

Let me take a moment to express my gratitude to my in-laws for creating the monster I married. Because of her unusual upbringing, Lynn is not satisfied with pictures of exotic places. She has to go see for herself, just like she did traveling with her folks. This little fault (by no means her only one) has cost more than keeping her in jewels or new cars would have cost. Thank you, in-laws.

The current state of Atterbury is pretty dismal. All the buildings are gone except the big one with the clock. There were construction trailers and bulldozers, but no people in sight. A sign on the main entry gate said plainly that entrance was VERBOTEN, but that didn’t stop Lynn. In she went, camera in hand, to take what may have been the last photo of her former home.

The Frankfurt Zoo was another pleasant memory for Lynn. She visited often a few decades ago. Our hotel, the Hotel am Zoo, was located just across the Platz from the main entrance to the zoo. We spent most of one day at the zoo. I really like zoos. I’ve visited most of the major ones in the United States, including the National Zoo in Washington, the Saint Louis Zoo and the San Diego Zoo. Since I had heard so many good things about the Frankfurt Zoo (all from Lynn, and all enthusiastically delivered), I had truly high expectations. Unfortunately, high expectations often go unrealized. This was certainly the case in Frankfurt. The place had an unkempt appearance: the grass was long and shaggy and some of the animals were not well displayed. There were a bunch of monkeys that engaged in rather graphic displays of public affection and there were a bunch of cute baby monkeys (perhaps there is a cause/effect relationship here), but there were no parrots. What’s a zoo with no parrots? Also, there were very few snakes. I like both parrots and snakes, although they are generally not good cage mates. Lynn recognized my state of disappointment and bought me a Coke (cold; no ice) and an ice cream on a stick (Movenpick) to cheer me up. But there still weren’t enough snakes.

A very interesting thing about Frankfurt is the absence of pick up trucks. We were eating lunch one day at an outdoor café by a very busy street and I was watching the traffic go by. I was actually watching for BMW Z-cars, after which (as many of you know) I lust. I did, in fact, see several Beamers. Then suddenly it struck me—I haven’t seen any pickup trucks. I mentioned this to Lynn and she allowed that she had not seen any on the whole trip. Thinking back I couldn’t remember any either. Although I didn’t abandon my Beamer scan, I began an intensive hunt for pickups. Trucks, that is. There were none. Nada. Nichts.

As someone from the land of pickup trucks, I could not at first understand such a serious deficiency. I thought about it for a long time (gauged by the length of time it took to get our waiter’s attention to pay our bill) and arrived at a hypothesis. I suspect it has to do with the research I reported a few weeks ago regarding the relationship between testosterone production and pickup trucks. You’ll recall that a young male with a backwards ball cap in a pickup truck produces much more testosterone than a similar male who is a pedestrian. This leads to many pickup trucks being driven in excess of 100 miles per hour and racing with other pickup trucks also traveling at a like speed. My theory is that the powers that be in Europe, in an effort to curtail testosterone production and promote safety on the autobahns and carreteras, have simply banned the pickup truck. How else do you explain their absence? Now that I think about it, there were no backwards ball caps either.

I believe this policy might work at home as well. In an effort to improve highway safety, Texas Governor Perry should immediately take his hairdresser and a congressional delegation on a fact-finding trip to Europe to study life without pickup trucks. He should do this instead of calling the legislature into special session.

In addition, we could improve Texas highway safety even more and help solve another problem recently recognized by many Americans by sending about 100,000 Texas pickup trucks to France along with 100,000 ball caps. France appears to be in serious need of a bit of testosterone.