Dr. John "Sparky" Breeskin, make that Lieutenant Colonel Breeskin, was a U.S. Air Force psychologist stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany in the mid-1970s when he was introduced to the German hiking tradition of the Volksmarch -- "the people's walk." The idea, he learned, was to join people of small villages and go for organized, non-competitive walks that included food and friendship. Many walks also commemorated important people and events in local, national or even global history.
"I joined a walk that weekend and I never looked back," says Breeskin, a Takoma Park, Maryland, resident whose sentences flow as gently and lyrically as his long white beard. He bears an uncanny resemblance to poet Walt Whitman, a portrait of whom hangs in his dining room. "I started going every weekend. Volksmarching took me all over Germany."
Breeskin sojourned for two years in Germany before returning to the United States and continuing the practice here for 10 years as Volksmarching clubs are plentiful in this country, too. While many participants opt for very short walks, Breeskin preferred the long ones, often taking routes of 20 miles. He once did 100 kilometers -- more than 62 miles -- in a span covering 24 hours. By the time he had hung up his walking boots, he had participated in some 300 Volksmarches and covered more than 6,000 miles. One of those marches sent him tumbling down a mountain when a wild boar suggested he vacate the premises but that kind of danger was rare.
Much of his reward came from personal satisfaction. The rest came from the goody awaiting hikers at the end of a successful event -- a shiny and well-made medal made for that Volksmarch. Patches were prevalent, too. The memories now a glimmer in Breeskin's sparkling blue eyes, he has chosen Orion's Attic to sell his collection of some 200 German and American Volksmarch mementos from the 1970s and 1980s. Some are now available in the Orions Attic eBay store (more coming later) while others will soon be for sale in our booth, D-6, at the Old Glory Antiques Mall in Frederick, Maryland.
The still practicing psychologist who focuses on group therapy and does a lot of work with military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder points [Please read the rest of this story at OrionsAttic.com]