Jürgen Albers also attended Ludwigsgymnasium, an all-boys classical grammar school in Saarbrücken. We both belonged to a very unusual, small group of students – we decided to continue voluntarily with Latin for another three years after receiving our advanced Latin qualifications (Großes Latinum). My own motivation was simple: I expected that after six years of vocabulary and grammar drills it would be smooth sailing for three years reading Livius, Vergil, or Tacitus – which turned out to be true. I believe that as a group we thought it was very cool to be out of the mainstream and jokingly claimed to be obtaining what we called Übergroßes Latinum.
Over the years, Jürgen has been wearing many different hats. Like other friends of mine, he also ended up in radio. You can read about his various pursuits here. Jürgen came to the U.S. twice to visit us. And he has proof that life is stranger than fiction. At the end of his last visit (Easter 2010), he nearly missed interviewing Gerhard Berz about the book Wie aus heiterem Himmel? Naturkatastrophen und Klimawandel for the April 25 installment of his radio program Fragen an den Autor. Out of the blue (i.e. aus heiterem Himmel), the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull [eːɪjaˌfjatl̥aˌjœːkʏtl̥] grounded all flights from L.A. to Germany – including Jürgen’s return flight.
Of the many things that held up our friendship over the decades, the most public one is a song. In the early 70s, I wrote the words for what I envisioned to be a blues song: Es Saarland is a rischdisches Gäadsche. Jürgen composed the music and made the song popular. The original vinyl is still available second-hand. It became a kind of national anthem for the state, and the title is often quoted to describe the region.