Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where I Live: Augsburg, Bavaria Germany

When Where I Live was announced as part of the upcoming Gentleman's schedule, I was conflicted. Certainly I do LIVE someplace, as in, physically occupy a geographic location, but the spirit of the concept seemed to be asking for more. This is not just a rundown of where you go when you get off from work. No, we are meant to capture the essence, the soul of a region through the lens of our experience. My conflict was that I have no place I am "from," no point of origin or hometown. It was a habit of my family to move every few years, one I have picked up and continued on my own. My journies have taken me across the country several times, with stories to share about each new destination.

Hence I have decided that I will break my experiences down into a series - one post for each major period in my life. These would be, in rough chronological order; Germany, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, and finally, Maryland.

So I'll begin at the beginning. The place I was born - Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany.

The time is April 28th, 1983. College student Marci Eve Willner and husband Vladimir James Pratt are expecting their second child. Marci is finishing up course work via - funnily enough - the University of Maryland. Vladimir is serving a tour of duty overseas for the U.S. Army. They met when Marci was in the army herself, just as Vladimir was separating from his first wife, a high school sweetheart. Their son, Vladimir James Pratt II, is 3 years and 9 months old.

The pregnancy has not been an easy one. Marci almost miscarried once and was consigned to bedrest for several days. 10 days after her due date, she goes into labor. The birth is not easy. At first the baby simply refuses to be born. Ultimately, the doctor decides to use a suction tube in order to literally vacuum it free. This is not without complications. Her baby is delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck, and is a frightening shade of blue. Things don't look good, but after a touch-and-go moment, he begins to cry. At 8lbs, 6 ounces, David Andrew Pratt is welcomed by his parents. The name was the subject of some debate, but Marci ultimately won out - she had already given in to Vladimir James Pratt II, she wasn't about to let another one go without a fight.

Thus for the first ten weeks of my life, I lived in Germany. My memories of this time are understandably dim, but for some reason whenever it's brought up I think of the color blue. With no firm recollections of Bavaria, instead I've prepared a short lesson on the area and its history.

The city of Augsburg was founded in 15 B.C. as a garrison for Roman soldiers. Situated as it is between several key European cities, it soon became a bustling hub of trade and commerce. It would survive being sacked by both Huns and Charlemagne to become a vibrant college town rich in history and culture. It is the only city in Germany with its own holiday - the Peace of Augsburg. This commemorates the day when, for the first time anywhere, a treaty of coexistence was signed between Catholics and Lutherans.

Augsburg is also home to a famous marionette theater, the world's first artificial whitewater course, the 900-year-old Perlachturm bell tower, and the Fuggerei - the world's oldest social housing complex still standing today. It was also the home of playwright Bertolt Brecht, inventor Rudolf Diesel, and Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus's father.

Bavaria itself is the largest state in Germany, accounting for 20% of the country. The indigenous population does not seem to have migrated here, but rather been formed by a combination of groups held over following a Roman withdrawal from the area. It has changed as Europe changed, from Rome to Charlemagne to Napoleon. Bavaria managed to remain a monarchy even after being defeated by Prussia in 1866.

Contained in Bavaria are the cities of Munich and Nuremberg, both famous in their own right. Munich was heavily bombarded during World War II, but has since risen to prosperity once more. In 1972, it played host to the Summer Olympics.

Well-known natives of Bavaria? Look no further than Joseph Ratzinger - or as we know him now, Pope Benedict XVI.

That is what I know about Augsburg, Bavaria Germany. I do hope to visit there one day, out of a sense that cannot even be called nostalgia. More simply a desire to see the place where I drew my first breath. Absorb perhaps some of what I first saw when I entered this world.

At 10 weeks old, I departed from Germany for America. This would see me land in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for what would not be the last time.

But more on that tomorrow.


Stephen said...

I heard from Ali that you can still be president and I felt a lot better.

Max Nova said...

John McCain was born in panama, which makes the whole Obama birth certificate thing more rediculous.

I of course was born in dc, and will makes this point when me and Christian crush your dream like a paper cup.

Dennis said...

John McCain was born in a navy base in Panama. I thought you could be born in any military base anywhere in the world and still have natural born status?

Also, how can David be president? I don't understand all of the details of that rule. I just thought if you were born in a state, or a military base, you could be president. Otherwise, no dice.

David Pratt said...

The Constitution is actually vague on what it means to be a "natural born citizen." However, most assumptions run like this. You have to either

a) be born on American soil, or
b) be born to two American parents.

Both of my parents are American citizens, and I'm also fairly certain the hospital where I was born was on an U.S. Army base.

Dennis said...

Ah ha!

Yeah, I did some research on that presidential requirement and the definition of a "natural born" U.S. citizen. Very vague indeed.

I would just like to say, that if you get elected president, I will personally start a "birther" movement against you.

But only because I think you would make a gnarly president, and these types of movements seem to hurt their members/supporters more than their opposition.