Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pill Box Memories

D'Lane called me last week to reminisce about our Youth group trip to Europe in the summer of 1972.  After flying into Belgium it was a short trip to a farmhouse in Solrinnes, France near Maubeuge.  Our mission was to salvage as much materials we could from a building that would become a youth center for a local church. 

As I recall we spent the first two weeks doing the reclamation before traveling to Germany, and Poland to talk with Albert Speer (Hilter's Architect and author of "Inside the Third Riech") and then visit East Berlin and Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

One of my most vivid memories was during an evening before dinner several of the high school guys began exploring the beautiful Northern France countryside.  We came upon an abandoned German Pill Box jutting up in the middle of a field.  This is not a picture of the exact Pill Box but my memory is that it is close. 

This discovery is every boy's delight- especially those like me who spent countless hours watching Combat and Gallant Men TV series in the 1960's .  Fearless, I knew that many Pill Boxes were connected with underground tunnels.  So I rushed inside the box to see the hole that was either a tunnel or lower level bomb shelter.  Naturally I wanted to jump down in (no flashlight, no matches nothing).  As I was about to shinny my way down the hole, my partner in discovery grabbed my shirt to prevent my entry.  "Wait", he said and proceeded to throw a rock into the dark crevasse only to hear a splash of water.   Yes, who knows how deep I would have found myself under water before hitting bottom.

Now trying to recreate that memory, I discovered the power of information on the internet.  Yes - every interest is covered.  There is actually a group (and website) fascinated with the history, purpose, preservation and location of these structures - The Pillbox Study Group (PSG).

That first trip to Europe was full of stories that I still enjoy retelling to this day - Poland Bumper Cars, Even/Odd Elevators, Steak Tartare, Polish Zolty, and more. 

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