Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stepping Back into the River

We had a lot of snow here in my piece of Connecticut yesterday. I shouldn't kvetch; we have pine trees not palm trees for a reason but I hope every winter season for no snow and I'm always disappointed sooner or later (and sometimes both) so I stayed home and telecommuted because those much-maligned forecasters got it 100% correct and the roads were a mess.

In the late morning, I had a facebook message and an email on an account I don't use very much from Tim Biggs a TV production fellow from Cologne, Germany, with a story I'm hoping you can help with.

Seriously. Here it goes.

I've never seen the program (our antenna on the roof isn't tall enough) on Germany television produced by Endemol Shine that arranges for family reunions with long-lost members.

The show gets 30,000 requests a year from viewers seeking to find relatives who left, usually during the four-plus decades of a divided Germany, and have never returned.

Tim asked to speak with me because he hoped I could help his show find Jorg Guthknecht, or as he was known by his friend, me, Joseph (Joe) Lee Davis. According to a letter from his sister that Tim read, Joe and I became friends in San Diego where we shared an apartment for three weeks during training.

If you can't read German, that link tells you Jorg attempted to illegally leave East Germany (Flight from the Republic), which was a crime. He didn't succeed and (I'm assuming after a jail sentence) afterward was deported.

This happened literally thousands if not tens of thousands of times in the former Workers' Paradise. It still pisses me off when apologists for the SED (the East German Communist Party) and its present-day mutations, the PDS (Partei Deutsche Socializmus) and The Left (Die Linke) rhapsodize about damals mit rosa-rot brillen.

Jorg/Joe was, according to the same letter, later in the Air Force, as a Corporal and wrote a letter, auf deutsch, to (one of) his sister(s) in Berlin, telling her he had asked his friend (me) to play a song on Nightside on AFN Radio, for her and their parents, Neil Young's Helpless.

Here's where things get weird (yes, I know: 'that other stuff wasn't weird?'). I have never been to, in or near San Diego; I hosted Nightside for about six years and, for whatever reason, do remember a listener request for that specific song (I was and remain a huge Neil Young fan) though requested for and by whom I have no recollection.

The sister's letter, quoting his note, claims, as I said, that he was a Corporal but I thought the Air Force never had that rank (the Marines and the Army do, and according to a source I found, "Joe" was in the US Army) but I was wrong but that rank did not exist at the time he was supposed to be in the service.

Here's where you come in.
This is a photo Tim sent me from Jorg/Joe's sister (she is now the sole survivor).


According to Facebook, that famous six degrees of separation is now, they say, barely more than half of that, so using their math, we (all of us) somehow know what became of Jorg/Joe, but we may not know that we know. I took Tim as far as I could and it wasn't all that far.

I'd hope together we might use The Power of the Interwebz to do more than send one another Richard pictures (NOT all of us can send them just based on simple biology) and grumpy cat memes. Life is a series of changing partners and while people often change, memories of people stay the same.
- bill kenny


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