Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Once a Brat, Always a Brat" by Marilyn Morris

Please enjoy the following interview with Brat author Marilyn Morris about her book "Once a Brat, Always a Brat"

Q: Why the title, "Once a Brat, Always a Brat?"
A: When I was in Linz, Austria, from 1948-1952 as a middle-schooler, we were told over and over "never cross the Danube River" which lay right outside our back yard. The Russian Zone of Occupation was across the bridge. This admonition was ingrained in my memory banks. In 1995, when my daughter and I took a trip to Europe and most importantly, to Linz, we ended up taking a wrong turn and much to my horror, we were on the bridge, crossing the Danube River.
"Stop," I yelled in knee-jerk reaction. "We can't cross the river! It's the Russian Zone."
My companions looked at me like I was crazy.
I managed to mumble something like, "Well, sorry. When we lived here, we were never supposed to cross the Danube. It was the Russian Zone, then."
We proceeded into the Forbidden Zone (in my mind) until we found a spot to turn around, much to my relief.
"So, Mom, do you feel better now?" my daughter teased.
"Sorry I scared you," I apologized. "But Once a Brat, Always a Brat…."

Q: What is your favorite memory of growing up military?
A: My parents told me at an early age that I was very fortunate to travel all over the world. Some kids never had the opportunity, as I discovered when I was in the 5th grade in Junction City, KS (Ft. Riley). I had been to the Far East and some kids hadn't been out of the county.

Q. How did growing up military affect your life long-term?
A. I found after two failed marriages that I was unable to sustain a long-term relationship. The constant meeting and leaving friends left me with a feeling of "This, too, will end, so don't get too close to anybody." It was easier to keep relationships on a superficial level.

Q: Would you want to change anything about your childhood – such as having one place to call home?
A: I was very fortunate in that I was able to spend all three high school years in one place, Lawton OK, a place that I still call "home." I was accepted by the civilian kids as well as those from nearby Fort Sill OK. I will always be very grateful to my parents for buying the house we were renting when my Dad was ordered back to Korea so we would be assured of staying in one place while I was in high school.

Q: Have you returned to places you lived around the world? Did they feel the same?
A: I went to Germany, Austria and France while my dad was stationed in Europe, and when my daughter and I went overseas, I returned to those places. At the first house we occupied, #10 Donatusgasse, everything looked as I remembered; other housing areas had long been torn down in a modernization of the city; a trip up to Eagle's Nest, or Hitler's Tea House, was a jolt, in that it is now called Kehlstein Haus and all references to Adolph Hitler have been erased.
The most surprising thing I noticed, though, was when we boarded a train for Paris and a German woman seated in our compartment struck up a conversation with us. In German. And amazingly, I understood her questions and I believe she understood my answers in my middle school, long-unused German.

Q. Is there another book to follow?
A. I've been thinking of a follow-up book to Once a Brat, titled Always a Brat, which focuses more in depth on how my military upbringing has affected my adult life, and have been making notes to follow up at some later time. Right now, I'm following up on several novels in various stages of progress.
My next book, loosely based on my mother's experiences as a young army wife in the military compound of Camp Sobingo, Seoul Korea, is due out soon as an ebook at Mardi Gras Publications.

Thanks, Marc for this opportunity to share my experiences here on your blog. Military Brats share such a unique heritage; it's fun to compare notes with a fellow Brat!


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Blogger Jeni said...

Congrats on a very good and interesting interview.

Wed Apr 04, 10:32:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your book. I have a question. The traditional view of a military brat is one who had a parent serve during their childhood. However, mine served during the Vietnam War and was discharged before I was born. He was in the USMC and always talked about it with pride and kept the USMC Traditions in the house such as "yes ma'am/sir", the salute, etc. I know the Marines is "Once a Marine, a Marine for Life". I also never felt like a part of the community. Does this make me a military brat? The reason I ask is that my dad was discharged before I was born, but kept the traditions alive in our house.

Thank You,

Fri May 11, 05:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Military Brats Registry Blog said...

Paul: That is an interesting question -- If I get to vote, I would vote yes -- one, because your father kept the military tradition even after retirement (as my father did) and, what I feel is the strongest advocate for your being a military brat, your feeling that you were never part of the community in which you lived.

Other kids' fathers had more traditional jobs, I expect, and they could not comprehend anything different, just as I could never envision my father being anything but an army officer. It was only in high school, in Lawton OK (Fort Sill) that I fell in with several civilian girls who are still friends to this day, and I learned that one's father worked for the telephone company, another for the bank at Fort Sill, and so forth.
So, if you feel like a Military Brat, I would say you are. You might find some more traits as you explore this area of your life.
Marilyn C. Morris

Sat May 12, 08:26:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hope there was no miscommunication on my part; my father did go into a regular job, well sort of, working for the County Commissioners Department of Health and Nutrition/Family Services after being discharged from the USMC, but keeps the tradition alive; although I hope that still makes me a brat! Also, my father and mother are both alive, but I would like to know more about what my dad did, even though he talks about it a lot, he seems vague on what he did. He says he was a Supply Warehouse man handing out supplies during the war and was stationed stateside, I would like to know how big of a part of the war he was. I found the National Archives, but it seems that I need my dad's permission since he is still alive. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Mon May 14, 04:40:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous shelly said...

Dear Marilyn,
I am the eldest child of a retired US Navy Man. My father was already in for 4 Yrs before I was born. I was born during the Cubin Crisis in 1960. My father was on a ship off the coast of Cuba while I was being born. He saw me for the first time when I was 6 weeks old.
I was born in the Us Naval Hospital, Newport, RI
Growing up as a Navy Brat was all I knew. I was 17 yrs old when My Father retired.
I remember in 1966 we were stationed in Perial Harbor, Hi.
but Navy housing was on wipaho. This is the most painfull part of my childhood. We lived there for 3 1/2 yrs. My father was on the USS Tanner, A refueler ship.
They were deployed to Viet Nam.
While we lived there We would go on base to shop at the comissary. well next to the commissary was the air strip. No matter when we were there, you would always see the plains emptying their cargo of fully covered with american flag coffins from Viet Nam.
Now Mind you I was 6,7,8 yrs old then. I understood that we were in war and that my father was there. However, try telling a child of that age that her daddy was not one of them in those boxs.
I was very stressed as a child. in those years. I should also tell you I am an only daughter with 2 younger brothers. Here too, the mothers or wifes on our base was being treated by the cormens for as they defined it "Honney Moon I-dis" The result was Our moms were on Valuim. I remember a mom just a few doors down, had filled the bath tub with scalding hot water and placed her few month old baby in it and killed her baby. My mom would sleep most of the day and start freeking out in the middle of the night and grave all us kids dragging us into her room locking the bedroom door putting the dresser against the door with the light on. At the end of our tour in Hawii, My father was ordered back home due to family disstress. My Mom was arrested for chid abuse and we were impounded by shore patrol. My father wasn't allowed to go back out to Sea Till things approved at home. It wasn't till We were stationed in Mayport Bch, Fla. I was 13 yrs old then, before he went back to Sea.
During those years I had a best Friend Esther. She and I bonded tight. When my father was stationed from Hawii to Long Bch, Esther and I Cried so hard we didn't want to let each other go. That was the first and last time I was to ever attach my self that closely to anyone again. Friends come and go. You learn not to get to attached and not to get hurt. When my father go stationed in Long Bch so did Esthers dad. Yea! so Then We remained together as best friends up to we was 12 yrs old. Then We were seperated till adult hood. I do want to tell you, I am 47 yrs old now. Esther and I are still Best friends and from time to time she and her 4 children travel all the way from Great Britian to visit me and my Children. We email each other all the time. After her father retired they moved to her mothers native county of the uk.
But my story is so long I could be here for days. So I will end this for now.
thanks for listening

Thu Jul 12, 10:07:00 AM PDT  

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