While serving in the United States Army in 1971 I had the unique opportunity to take part in a NATO exercise called Operation Reforger III. The exercise involved most of the 1st Infantry Division (the famous "Big Red One") being flown out of Ft. Riley, Kansas (Topeka, actually) on short notice and joining other NATO forces in Germany. There we convoyed across much of southern Germany while playing war games and enjoying as much German culture as time permitted.
My first free weekend in Germany was spent with friends in Munich - or "Munchen" as the Germans call it. We rode the trolley's, hobnobbed with the locals, and ate some fine German food. Of course, we also tried the world famous German beer, and the watering hole that I remember best was the historic "Hofbrauhaus." There we sat at long wooden tables drinking enormous mugs of beer served by beautiful ladies in Bavarian dress, listened to music played by traditional German bands, and dined on the largest pretzels that I had ever seen.
It was October, we were all singing and having a wonderful time, and Oktoberfest was in full swing!
The Hofbrauhaus and brewery were founded by Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria, in 1589. It later evolved from the Duke's brewery to an establishment that served all classes of people.
I recently came across a little poem by Mozart, the composer, which honors the time that he spent at the Hofbrauhaus in the late 1700's drinking beer and writing music. He had an apartment across the street from the famous beer hall. The poem is short and a bit rough, due in part, no doubt, to difficulties encountered in translation.
Here in celebration of Oktoberfest - and oh how I wish I was in Germany in the fall! - is today's poem, "Among All Cities" by Mozart:
Among All Cities
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
made much music and my instruments played
I once took up residence in Munich.
I gave a fine concert there at the court,
the opera 'Idomeneo' in 1780 there I wrote,
and often sought refreshment in the Dukes brew house.
The beer there really pleased me
and the guests never ceased to amuse me
Anyone who's been there will agree with me!