Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Notes from a Brat: The Military Boot

An important element of growing up a military brat is getting to understand a sense of community. Though I lived in a German town, two actually, for a few years, my other 'postings' had me a denizen of Canadian military bases: CFB Greenwood; CFB Borden. With my family I lived in PMQs (Private Married Quarters). My school chums and friends and I were all "dependents" (offspring of fathers and/or mothers in the armed services). In a sense, we were of similar blood, and disciplined behaviour was expected of the offspring -- one would think.

We lived in a protected community, of sorts. Admittance to the base was for authorized personnel only. An exception to this was for "Armed Forces Day", where the general public was allowed to visit the airfield to take in displays of various military flying machines and support equipment; certainly for Greenwood, as it was an air force base.

We "protected" kids lived a pretty charmed existence; lots of athletic fields and tennis courts; cheap movie theatres; ice rinks; swimming pools (don't mention "The Bardia"!); and, certainly in the case of Borden, wonderful woods, and an awesome "dune" sea (I wonder if that water can I buried is still there).

So, why would fellow brats jeopardize this standing by causing more trouble than what is usually expected, and tolerated, from young people? These kids would always get into trouble, and would be known to the base's MPs (Military Police), not to mention the population as a whole. Set one fire too many, smash too many windows, or mimic your favourite film or television JD, and your family's right to live on the base might be reviewed and re-evaluated.

It happened. And we were not surprised.

"The _____s got kicked off the base!"

We kids and teens would look down on this family. To us it was the ultimate brat humiliation as the news was big news in the community. Of course, what getting ejected from PMQs really meant was that it was the parents who paid the price. Off-base housing was more expensive, and involved a potentially long commute to work. For young Jim or Jane, it meant having to possibly make a lot of new friends in the dreaded and looked down upon civilian world. (The humiliation!)

When I lived in the German towns I made a point to behave myself. I'm guessing my father issued me at that time, no doubt while laughing, some sage advice: "Whatever you do, don't get into trouble with the Polizei."

This then denizen of Der Schwarzwald was a 'good' kid.


Greg Woods said...

Great piece! Might be at least a novella to garner from your military memories!

Simon St. Laurent said...

Thank you!

Another friend suggested I write a book on that theme. Hint....