Scroll down to read the opening chapters of Where We All Belong.
PART 1. Chapters 1-34 are below
AS OF SUNDAY 28 MAY. 12:36 pm
READER BEWARE: This is a ROUGH FIRST DRAFT of Where We All Belong. It is a solid skeleton of the book’s direction and outline.
It does not have correct punctuation, quotation marks/”She said/He said” dialogue tags, and some spelling errors.
All that will come with the upcoming SECOND DRAFT.
For the moment, Enjoy!
You cannot make up a story better than the truth.
Mowata rice farmer Jimmy Loewer shared this story: In the 1960’s a car drove up to his family farm and a well-dressed middle-aged couple stepped out. The man pointed at the farm’s windmill excitedly.
They were a German couple visiting America. He had returned to this spot to show his wife where he worked as a POW during the War.
He turned to Jimmy and in passable English said, “I remember the windmill and this house. We worked during the rice harvest that year. The American couple at this house treated us well.
The German rubbed his head. “It was in 1944 and the wife of the house was pregnant.
Jimmy Loewer smiled. “That woman was my mother and she was pregnant with me.”
As I said, you cannot make up a story better than the truth.
As you read Where We All Belong you’ll find a woven tapestry of stories like Jimmy’s woven into this historical novel. It’s set against a remarkable time in Louisiana.
As the reader, you are welcome to separate the facts from fiction.
As for me, I choose to believe it all happened.
Dry Creek, Louisiana
This is the current back cover copy for our upcoming novel, Where We All Belong.
Throughout May 2023, I’ll be releasing chapters from my “working copy.”
My “rough draft” will be ready for review by “early readers” on June 1, 2023
Alexandria, LA/Dry Creek, LA
BACK COVER COPY as of 1 May 2023
Where We All Belong by Curt Iles
During World War Ⅱ, over 200,000 German prisoners of war, mostly members of the famed Afrika Korps, were shipped to America.
After a long journey across sea and land, German Korporal Noah Becker lands in southern Louisiana at a small compound named Camp Eunice.
The POWs are sent to work on farms where there is a wartime shortage of manpower. They work alongside the Americans to help bring in the rice crop.
When Noah Becker and his friends are placed in the patriotic German-American hamlet of Mowata, the sparks begin to fly. That’s when Noah meets Maggie Loewer and they begin a forbidden romance opposed by everyone except them.
As in his first thirteen books, Curt Iles’ warm and poignant style of storytelling brings two different cultures together on the homefront during America’s greatest war.
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Where We All Belong
A prisoner of war is someone who was trying to kill you, but then asks you not to kill him.” -Winston Churchill
CHAPTER 1 “CAPTURED”
13 May 1943 Tunis, Tunisia
“The first five minutes of a POW’s captivity determines whether he lives or dies.”
Wehrmacht Korporal Noah Becker stood in the North African sun surrounded by a line of grim-faced American soldiers, rifles leveled at him. He slowly laid his weapon on the ground, raised his hands, and joined five other prisoners.
An officer approached the Americans and gave a series of commands in English. A tall sunburned GI motioned to them “Move, Jerry” as he and his squad marched the POWs behind a nearby sand dune.
Noah knew the fear of death, but this was different. It seemed so unnecessary. He was no longer a soldier but now a prisoner of war. Killing him would not result in any great victory for the Allies.
This scene was being played out all over North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific.
As Noah awaited his fate, another squad of GIs approached. The two groups had a heated discussion.
Finally, the tall GI waved to the prisoners. They were marched to a long line of Afrika Korps prisoners, where they filed into a large barbed wire cage.
Noah was relieved at being spared but had no idea what awaited him. He also knew that for him the War was over.
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CHAPTER 2 “RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION”
Sisters Emma and Maggie Loewer stood on the train platform in Crowley, Louisiana. They were there to pick up a part for the water pump for their family rice farm.
As they waited, a troop train lumbered by toward New Orleans. Scores of young GIs leaned out the windows whistling and shouting at the girls.
Emma and Maggie waved at the GIs. “It’s the least we can do for them,” Maggie said.
A few minutes later, the morning passenger train arrived, screeching to a halt. The sisters walked to the freight car for their package.
This train made a thirty-minute stop, and the passengers could stretch, smoke, or grab a bite to eat. A passenger door opened and five laughing GIs, dressed in crisp uniforms, stepped off the train.
Maggie whispered. “I’ve never seen a Colored soldier before.”
“Neither have I.” IS IT CLEAR WHO IS SPEAKING?
The GIs walked to a nearby cafe, stopping in front of a sign over the entrance: Whites Only.
The tallest soldier, obviously the leader, took one last drag on his cigarette, stubbing it on the sidewalk. “We’re on our way to fight a war for our country, and we’re still not welcome in an American café?”
“What are we fighting for if that’s how they’re going to treat us down South?” WHO IS SAYING THIS?
The taller GI said, “Cool it, Man. No use making a scene. You know we’ll lose.”
The five GIs climbed back on the train.
Another passenger door slid open, and the sisters watched an armed GI lead three men in field gray uniforms unto the platform.
Maggie and Emma drew back. They had never seen a German soldier.
The three Germans, obviously officers, surveyed the crowd.
“Those are German POWs,” Emma said.
“They look arrogant,” Maggie said. “They’re our enemy and stand for everything we’re against.
The American guard stuck his head into the cafe BEFORE waving the Germans in.
Emma and Maggie watched as the Germans entered the cafe.
“This is a mixed-up world,” Emma said. She turned to see the Colored soldiers watching this scene unfold through the train window.
Maggie Loewer had never been a troublemaker. As she stepped toward the cafe, Emma
tried to snag her sleeve.
Maggie walked to the “Whites Only” sign, tore it down, and tossed it on the ground.
A fat man in a Jax Beer apron stormed out of the cafe. PERIOD OR COMMA “What do you think you’re doing MY/OUR sign?
Maggie picked up her package, then nodded at Emma. “Oh, We’re just leaving, doing our part for the homefront.
END OF CHAPTER 2
There are several tidbits in the chapter above. I’d like your input on punctuation, verbs, names, etc.
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CHAPTER 3 HELL IN A BOXCAR
At dusk, Noah Becker and the other POWs were crammed into waiting cattle cars. His car had several buckets of water, but a free-for-all broke out for every drop. Noah gulped a mouthful before he was shoved roughly into the corner of the boxcar.
Because he was a head taller than the others, he could see through the wooden car’s slats. It also allowed him to get some fresh air from the boxcar’s stench. The putrid mix of vomit, urine, and unwashed bodies was overwhelming.
None of the soldiers had slept in days, and several snored softly standing in the cramped car. Later that day, they encountered a sandstorm. Noah could hardly breathe and tied a bandana over his face. The boxcar was filled with coughing, yelling, and cursing as the sand filled every crevice.
He didn’t know where he was headed, but it had to be better than the Hell in this box car.
I’d give my soul for a cold drink of water.
I’d give my soul to be out of here. To be home.
At the moment, Noah Becker wasn’t sure he had a soul.
This chapter needs work. How can I tighten it?
It’s a long chapter. Should I divide it? THIS CHAPTER IS TOO LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS
CHAPTER 4 MOWATA
Mowata, Louisana is a German-American island in an ocean of French-speaking Acadians or Cajuns. It is an easily overlooked hamlet in the rice belt of Acadia Parish.
There are various stories as to how Mowata got its name. The most popular is that a railroad spur passed through the community. There was a water tank alongside the track. The steam engine would stop for water and the engineer would call out for “more water.” Soon the stop was known as Mowata and the name stuck.
At the onset of World War, German was the language spoken in homes. Even Mowata’s Baptist Church conducted its services in German.
Maggie Loewer, her sister Emma and her brother Jack had received an English education at the nearby Baptist Academy. They were very comfortable moving in and out of the German-English-French languages and cultures.
“I’m going to town. The word is that the sugar ration is in, Maggie said.
“Pick me up a newspaper,” Papa said.
Maggie Loewer stood in the ration line outside the meat market, cradling her tote sack containing precious sugar and flour.
Behind her, a group of Cajun women laughed. “That German girl ought to be ashamed to show her face.”
She tightened her scarf. She’d promised Papa not to make a scene. Maggie held her tongue before briskly walking away with the week’s meat ration.
She stopped by the post office. “Mornin’ Miss Ellen. Any mail for us?”
She handed Maggie one letter. Maggie took it, holding it to the light. “It’s from my brother in the Pacific.”
“You don’t have any more mail for me, I mean us?”
Maggie stuffed the letter in her pocket. She’d promised her parents not to open Jack’s letters until she was home.
Only one letter.
She left the post office and headed for the crossroads and a ride home.
Her path was blocked by a group of teenage Cajun boys. Maggie switched sides of the street, but the boys moved with her.
The biggest boy, evidently the ringleader, in heavily accented English, said, “Where are you going, German girl?”
She shifted her sack. “Just going home.”
“Why don’t you go back to Germany, Krauthead?
“I belong in America as much as any of you.
“Well, we don’t care much for your kind in Eunice. You and your people don’t belong here.
“I was born here. My family is just as patriotic as any of you.
“Word is that your family has a shortwave radio in your basement to communicate with German U-boats.”
“That’s stupid. We don’t even have a basement, much less a shortwave radio.
My uncle told me y’all still sing and preach in German at your church.”
“I told you that I’m just as American . . .”
The ringleader cut her off.
Maggie pulled out Jack’s letter. “I’ve got this letter from my brother who’s out there fighting Japs in the Pacific. That ought to be proof . . . “
The boy tried to snatch the letter away. As he and Maggie scuffled, her bag of sugar slipped from her sack, spilling on the street.
The boys retreated, laughing.
Maggie knelt by the busted bag of sugar, about a quarter of which was scattered in the dirt.
She found a broken piece of glass and used it to shovel the precious sugar back into the bag.
How would she explain this to her folks?
She caught an empty rice truck heading toward Mowata, holding the bag of sugar firmly
Maggie hopped off the truck at the crossroad and walked the mile to their farm.
Momma waited at the screen door, the family dog Bill faithfully at her feet.
Maggie held the letter up. ”It’s from Jack.”
“Have you read it?”
“No, Ma’am. We’ll read it together.”
Papa, dressed in his work clothes, joined them on the porch.
Maggie held the letter in her hand. It was addressed to Maggie’s parents and featured the unmistakable scrawl of her brother’s handwriting
The letter was stamped with the 1st Marine Division logo and the return address of Jack W Loewer APO San Francisco, California.
Maggie opened the letter.
Somewhere in the Pacific
“That’s where he always seems to be.
Papa looked at the heavily censored letter. “Looks like someone shot it with buckshot. “
Maggie read the letter to her parents. IT WAS A SHORT LETTER TELLING about the weather and the friends he’d made.
Maggie read it a second time, trying to fill in the censored parts. Any reference to Jack’s location, unit, and how the War was going had been carefully cut out.”
“Why are they afraid of a Louisiana farm family revealing to the Japs?”
“I just wish I really knew where my boy was. I believe I could pray better for him.” Momma said.
Maggie waited a moment, then opened her bag. “I’ve got some bad news.” She held up the torn sugar bag.
Momma took the bag. “Honey, what in the world happened?”
“Well, it’s a long story.”
After Maggie finished her story, Momma shrugged, “Well, as they say, ain’t no use crying ‘bout spilled sugar.”
EnD OF CHAP 4. MOWATA
as of 5 May 2023
UPLOADED TO SECOND DRAFT GOOGLE DOC
When the train finally shuddered to a stop, Noah awoke and peered through a peephole and viewed a large city with twinkling lights.
As day broke, the boxcar door slid open, and the prisoners tumbled out in a heap. They fought for a drink from a barrel of muddy and oily water.
The guards shoved the mass of POWs into a barbed wire compound about the size of a football pitch where hundreds of the Afrika Korps soldiers stood about. Word spread that they were in the coastal city of Casablanca.
Noah was walking the perimeter of the cage, when a loud voice called out, “Hey, Becker. Over here.” A soldier named Pieter Meyer waved him over. Pieter was a technician on the Afrika Korp’s main battle tank, the Panzer IV.
It was easy to hear Meyer’s voice. He had a booming voice that commanded attention. Noah had noticed in the desert that Pieter’s voice and demeanor commanded respect regardless of a person’s rank. He was what the other men called “A soldier’s soldier.”
Pieter and Noah walked to a quiet part of the cage. Pieter said, “You have any idea where we’re going?”
Nein. No idea at all.
“How were you captured?
“It was a last-ditch stand,” Noah said. “I was surrounded by a group of Americans. To resist was futile.” He shrugged. “I decided I wanted to live. What about you?”
“The Americans bagged our entire platoon and we surrendered as a group.”
“Noah, weren’t we taught that every German soldier should die a heroic death before surrender?”
“Ja. But I chose to live, and I won’t apologize for it.”
Pieter nodded his head. “I fought hard for the Fatherland, and did my duty daily.” He laughed. “I was ready to die for the Fuhrur, but had no intention of dying a needless heroic death, but I will escape and return to fight again.”
Noah looked at barbed wire, guards, and the surrounding desert. “Well, good luck.”
“Ja. But I will escape when I have the opportunity. In the meantime, I will make life miserable for our captors.”
“Good for you, Breuder. But for now, here we are, two captured soldiers of the Third Reich.”
“It seems that in all of our Wehrmacdt training, we were never taught what to do if captured,” Pieter said.
“That’s because surrender was not in our vernacular.”
Pieter nodded at a group of laughing American guards. “Do you hate the Amerikans?”
“Sure. They are our enemy and seek the destruction of the Fatherland. They are trying, along with their Allies, to destroy everything we believe in. So, yes. I hate them.”
If they’d kept their nose out of our business in Europe, we would have finished off the English and fended off the Russian hordes.
But Pieter, as much as I hate Amerika, I’ve developed a grudging respect for the Amerikan soldier. They are brave and fight hard. As they’ve gained experience, they’ve become a formidable fighting force and a worthy foe.
Their conversation was interrupted by loud commands in English as the mass of POWs were herded toward a fenced walkway to a large ship. American GIs were everywhere, prodding the men forward.
As the prisoners boarded a transport ship The Empress of Scotland, there were thousands of troops already crowded aboard.
At the gangplank, a group of SA Brown-Shirted Storm Troopers shoved their way through the crowd.
Noah said, “We’d better be careful to avoid them.”
“Do you think they’re shipping us to Amerika?”
Nein. It’d take too much fuel and time to send us there.
I have no earthly idea, but not Amerika.”
.The mob was funneled onto the gangplank amid much pushing, cursing, and shoving. Noah put his hand on Pieter’s back. “Stay together. Don’t let them separate us.”
Noah had no idea where they were bound, but he had one friend. He believed he could depend on Pieter Meyer, and Pieter could depend on him.
The gangplank was slowly lifted and several hours later, The Empress of Scotland loosed its moorings and slipped out into the open sea.
Noah and Pieter stood at the railing as the shore receded and they were soon on the open sea.
“This is the first time I’ve been where I couldn’t see land,” Noah said.
In spite of the friendship with Pieter Meyer, Noah knew there was an unspoken barrier that would eventually be breached. Pieter was an avowed member of the Nazi Party and was steeped in the tenets of the Third Reich and believed to the core in the German cause. He pledged fealty to the Fuhrur and spoke of him in reverential terms.
Noah wasn’t a member of the Nazi party but was equally committed to the Fatherland and proud to serve in the Wehrmacht. However, he lacked the political fervor that Pieter and others had.
Whereas Pieter had pledged loyalty to the Fuhrer. Noah conceded that Hitler was a great man but instead felt his allegiance, above all, was to the Fatherland.
This may seem like a small difference in the fervor of the Third Reich, but it could be the difference between life and death.
Noah knew that sooner or later the subject would come up, and it happened quicker than he expected. He was battling seasickness, stationed on the ship’s railing. It was their third day at sea.
Pieter Meyer joined him. “I wish I had a cigarette. I’ve heard it cures seasickness.”
“We’ll never know.”
“Noah, why haven’t you joined the Party?
“Pieter, why did you join?”
“You won’t get out of it that easy,” Pieter laughed. “I joined because all of my family did. I moved directly from the Hitler Youth to join the National Socialist Party. I am a proud Nazi. How about you?
Like every German teenager, I joined the Hitler Youth and served proudly. As soon as I turned eighteen I was in the Wehrmact fighting across Poland. I never really had a chance to join the party.
Would you join if you had a chance?
I’d say at the moment that’s an academic question.
When Germany wins the War, as we will, we’ll be freed and return to the Fatherland. Then you can become a good Nazi.
“That sounds good.” Noah looked at the thousands of fellow soldiers crammed on the deck. It’s a little more difficult to be a true believer in victory when you’re a POW on board a ship bound for who knows where.
THIS IS WHERE UPLOAD TO THE SECOND DRAFT ENDS ON 6 MAY
NEW CHAPTER 6
UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS 6 MAY
That evening, Maggie wrote two letters. One was to Travis LeBlanc, the other was to her brother Jack.
She wrote her brother Jack first, filling him about the farm, the rice crop, rationing, and war bonds. She assured him of Papa and Momma’s HEALTH/WELLBEING. As always she shared the latest antics of his dog, Kaiser Bill.
She mentioned to Jack that his letters were arriving heavily censored. “They’re cutting up your letters pretty bad. See if you can write one they won’t censor so badly.”
She reminded him of her prayers and looked forward to the day this terrible war ended, and he could come home.
The first mention of Bill/Kaiser Bill?
Maggie took another page of stationary and began her letter to Travis LeBlanc.
It was hard to describe her relationship with Travis LeBlanc. He was much more than a boyfriend but neither was he quite her fiance. Maggie would have described their romance as somewhere between the two.
It concerned Maggie how Travis’ letters had fallen off.
His last letter, over six weeks ago, mentioned how the Fifth Army was constantly on the move which made it difficult to write. His last location was on the island of Sicily. He assured Maggie that he was far from the front lines and he shouldn’t worry.
But she did worry. No letter in six weeks.
Despite that, Maggie faithfully wrote to Travis twice a week.
They’d had a whirlwind courtship which wasn’t unusual in a time of war. It seemed every soldier wanted a girl before going off to war, and Maggie seemed the right girl for Travis LeBlanc.
Maggie was drawn to him for all of the reasons her parents objected. He was French and Catholic, and he was older and definitely more experienced than her.
In return, Travis’ family in Eunice disliked Maggie for being Protestant, German, and from a rural farm family.
In spite of that, the day before Travis left for boot camp, he gave Maggie a pendant and a ring. Maggie was somewhat shocked. She was a little uncomfortable at how quickly things had moved along.
Travis explained that it wasn’t an engagement ring but a promise ring. A promise to wait on each other. The engagement ring would come later.
So Maggie took Travis LeBlanc’s ring and promised to wait on him. Maggie Loewer was a girl who kept her word. She’d wait faithfully for his return.
She eyed the promise ring as she placed the stationary on her table. This ring had been a source of scandal in the small Mowata community. It just wasn’t done that way. People there got their spouses from one of the German Baptist towns in Texas. The idea of a Mowata girl marrying a local Catholic was unprecedented.
For some reason, Maggie enjoyed swimming against the tide of Mowata rigidness. She liked the idea of being a rebel which went well beyond her image.
Maggie wrote to Travis with news items she’d shared with Jack. She closed her letter with a promise to wait on him until he returned and pray for his protection. Sealing the letter with a kiss she placed it on the nightstand.
Before drifting off to sleep, she fingered her promise ring. Six weeks is a long time without a letter. It could mean something or it could mean nothing. As she prayed for him, she wondered where Travis LeBlanc was tonight.
End of Chapter 6. Travis LeBlanc
Uploaded from Where we all Belong manuscript. 6 May 2023
The Loewer Clan
When people met Alfred Loewer they always noticed two things: He was quiet and he was strong. He’d worked hard all of his life on his rice farm south of Eunice, Louisiana. He could heft a rice sack as easily as any younger man.
He had a firm handshake and demeanor that belied an underlying strength. He had a wisp of hair on top of his head and always carried a kind smile.
Alfred Loewer was hard to rile but when pushed far enough, he could dig in and be unmovable. Those who knew him best described him as “A man’s kind of man”, the highest compliment possible among the hard-working rice farmers.
But Alfred Loewer had two weaknesses.
One was named Maggie and the other was named Emma.
He was fiercely protective of his daughters. They were daddy’s girls and shared a deep and unshakable bond with their father.
This didn’t lessen the love the girls had for their mother, Leona Loewer. Even she recognized the strong cord connecting their three hearts.
But those two daughters could not have differed more in appearance and disposition.
Maggie Loewer had just turned eighteen in the summer of 1943. She’d finished school at the nearby Acadiana Academy. She expected to marry a local boy and continue her family’s rice farming heritage. Rice farming was in her soul/blood.
Folks described Maggie as willowy. Unlike others in her family, Maggie had darker skin and a slender figure. She shared her father’s Germanic quality of standing on principle regardless of the fickle winds of fate. !!!!!
Emma Loewer, two years older than her sister, belied her Germanic bloodline. Stout and tall without being hefty, Emma fit in perfectly with the German-American hamlet of Mowata. In spite of her deep roots, she planned, once the War was over, to leave farm life for the bright lights of the city. The last thing she wanted was a life among the endless stretches of rice fields.
NEW CHAPTER OR BETTER TIE IN??????????????????????????????????????????/
Emma and her Father were standing in the midst of that endless stretch of fields when Maggie approached.
“Poppa, here’s your newspaper.”
With his finger, he scanned the Town Talk until he saw a headline about the Pacific War. “Read it to me.” Pappa read and spoke German, but his English was shaky.
Maggie read several articles about the slow but steady progress in the Pacific theater. She watched her Father’s reaction as she read these stories about where her brother Jack was serving.
She finished with an article on the European theater. “We’ve surrounded a large army of Germans in North Africa and taken prisoners by the thousands.”
Turning away from the newspaper, leaned on a shovel as he surveyed the fields. “We’ve got what could be a good crop. We just need workers and most men are off at war.
You know you can depend on us, PaPa. We both can do a man’s work. We proved it during last year’s harvest.
He smiled. “You did.”
“POPPA PAPA PaPa GET IT STRAIGHT.?” WHAT WORKS BEST.
End of Chapter 7 The Loewer Clan. uploaded 6 May 2023
Chapter 8 Begins MOWATA. THE GREAT WAR
THIS IS A NEW CHAPTER HARVESTED FROM LOEWER CLAN
WE MAY WANT TO SHIFT ITS LOCATION
Poppa, something happened in town today.
He looked up. “What?”
Some boys ganged up on me for being German.
Were they Cajun or English?
You didn’t argue with them, did you?
Only when they said I didn’t belong here.
We have German blood and are proud of it, but above all, we’re German-Americans. We’ve been patriotic for our country in every time of need.
Poppa, was the trouble as bad here during the Great War?
I was about your age when the war began in 1914. The United States was determined to stay out of a European war.
But as it dragged on, the tide shifted against Germany. America became whipped into a frenzy of anti-German hate. That’s when things turned sour in both Mowata and Robert’s Cove, or German Cove, as it was known back then.
I can’t explain why, but the hate was deeper and more fierce.
So as soon as I could, I joined the American Army.
What year was that?
- America hadn’t even entered the war at that time.
Papa, you’ve never spoken of your time in the war.
“And I won’t.” He turned and went back to work. Maggie and Emma silently joined him.
When they were alone, Emma said, “Have you ever heard him talk about the war?
“Only once. We were on the road and a prancing team of horses pulling a carriage passed. Under his breath, he said, “It was bad enough what men did to each other, but what they did to horses was a damnable sin.”
“And that was it?
I tried to ask more but he clammed up. What about you?”
The only time he ever showed a crack is someone called it the Great War and he’d cuss under his breath, “There wasn’t anything great about it.”
That night after dinner, Maggie washed dishes with her mother. “Momma, has PaPa ever talked to you about his part in what they’re now calling World War 1?
He’s never mentioned a thing about the Great War as we called it. Early in our marriage, I tried to draw it out, thinking it would be helpful. But that’s a part of his life that’s locked tight.
“He must’ve seen lots of bad things.”
That’s why he was so upset when Jack joined the Marines.
Momma wiped her hands on her apron. “The only thing I can put my finger on is how there’s not a strand of barbed wire on this entire farm.
Do you think that’s related to the war?
I know it is.
Momma, How was it for we Mowata Germans during the last war?
That was a tough time for German-Americans. This was a deep distrust of us. When the United States entered, this DISTRUST rose to a fever pitch.
We were viewed as suspects. Even though men like your Poppa proudly fought for America in Europe, we were despised.
What did you do?
We tried to stay close to Mowata and kept our heads down.
Poppa said the PERSECUTION was worse in the last war.
He’s right. The time around World War Ⅰ much worse than now.
For some reason, the propaganda in the last war was more intense.
It was a hard time for anyone with a hyphen in their name. Folks like German-Americans and Irish-Americans were suspect and viewed as unpatriotic.
There were cartoon posters and the newspapers were stories of the “Huns” and their atrocities such as “Huns kill women and children.”The Hun, as the Germans were known, had raped and pillaged their way across Belgium and France
What really made it worse was when the stories of German atrocities were published in newspapers.
You know people believe whatever they read. It didn’t matter whether these stories were true.
Do you think the Nazis are doing it in this war?
Honey, people do the vilest things in war. People have been killing each other since Cain and Abel.
“That’s enough for now.” Momma dried the last dish.
She laid her apron beside the basin. “I’ll be on the porch if anyone needs me.”
Everyone respected her evening time on the porch. She was always joined by Jack’s dog, Kaiser Bill, who sat by her as a silent sentinel.
Maggie listened to the rhythmic creaking of the porch swing and her mother’s quiet voice.
She wasn’t sure if her Momma was talking to God or the dog.
END OF CHAPTER 8 FOR WORDPRESS ONLY. 7 MAY 2023. TITLE: THE GREAT WAR
AS OF 8 MAY
Uploaded to Word Press
A VAST OCEAN
Pieter and Noah stood on the FRONT BOW of the ship. Larger waves splashed up to their spot. A biting rain whipped xxxx.
PIETER MEYER tried life in the hold but emerged and sat beside Noah. “It’s terrible down there.”
I had no idea there was this much open water in the world.
We’re not going to England, are we?
Noah NODDED/SHOOK HIS HEAD
Where are we going?
How do know for sure?
I can just feel it. Our next stop will be Amerika.
What will they do with us there?
Put us in their version of a Stalag.
Since the Luftwaffe has bombed their eastern coast and cities, and most of the Amerikan fleet is at the bottom of the Atlantic, do you think they’ll take it out on us?
I guess we’ll see.
The Empress of Scotland plowed through the open ocean on what Noah guessed was their fifth day at sea.
The ship was part of a zig-zagging convoy of large ships sailing west. In each direction of the horizon, Noah could make out the smoke, stacks, and superstructures of other ships.
Noah Becker fought for a spot on the crowded deck. THOUGH he was exposed to the elements, it was better than the conditions in the hold, which already reeked of sweat, urine, and vomit.
Seasickness was rampant. Noah struggled with it day and night, not being able to hold anything down.
The greatest fear of every POW was being torpedoed by a U-Boat.
Everyone on deck watched for the periscopes of U-Boats or the wakes of torpedoes. The ship wasn’t marked as a POW ship, they were targets for German U-Boats. Rumors ran rampant about the sight of periscopes and the wake of torpedoes.
“Wouldn’t it be ironic to be sunk by our own Navy?
There’s nothing we can do about it, so why worry about it?
That’s a FATALISTIC way of looking at things.
War will do that to you.
Rumors had gone around that some POWs have JUMPED committed suicide and KILLED THEMSELF by jumping overboard.
Rumors. Can’t we find something a little happier to talk about?
Have you noticed how few guards are aboard?
As we said, there’s only one way of escape.
Mann über Bord!
Overboard. Man overboard.
They probably wouldn’t turn back to fish you out.
Since there are no guards, hard-core SA Nazis and SS Troopers have taken over.
I plan to try to stay out of their way.
It seemed to be on a POW ship would take away their arrogance.
I believe it’s only made them worse.
“Man, do you think we’ll get smokes CIGARETTES when we reach Amerika?
I wouldn’t count on it.
Pieter, where did you get that YOUR COMMANDING strong voice?
I guess I was born with it.
It commands respect. But I’ve noticed the men from privates up listen to you.
How can it be? I’m just a lowly corporal. Besides, I bet those sorry-arse storm troopers wouldn’t obey your COMMAND VOICE.
Noah, when we get to Amerika, I will try to escape. So wahr mir Gott heife.
“You’ll need God’s help to get back to Germany.”
As I said, “so wahe mir Gott heife.
So help me, God. I hope you’re a good swimmer.
Being above deck helped with his seasickness, so Noah roamed the deck at all hours. It seemed he was getting his sea legs under him and wasn’t AS SICK.
You know boredom is the hardest part of being at sea. There’s just not much to do.
I think the thing that bothers me the worst is the loss of sense of time. A man loses s all sense of time, day, date, and month. Each day was measured by the sun’s rise and set. Nothing else was known for sure.
I’d like to shoot the Amerikan SCUMBAG SCHAMM BEUTEL who TOOK/STOLE took my wristwatch. RIGHT OFF MY WRIST
I haven’t seen a man aboard that didn’t lose his watch. Even if you tried to hide it, they’d ferret it out.
He held up his left ARM FOREARM WRIST. “Look at my tan line. Every time I think about how that sorry schamm beutel laughed as he snatched my watch.
I believe today is Tuesday.
No, it’s Wednesday.
No, that was yesterday.
This is our fifth day at sea. It’s Tuesday.
Each day Noah walked laps on the deck. On his fifth lap, he saw a soldier in a Luftwaffe uniform.
He walked over. “How’d a pilot end up here?”
“The same way as you: I was captured.”
I was flying my Stuka low over the desert when antiaircraft fire brought me down.
I ejected out and as soon as my parachute hit the ground, a group of Arabs captured me. Those sorry écume turned me over to the Amerikans. They traded me for two bottles of wine and an old rifle.
I thought Muslims didn’t drink alcohol?”
Evidently, these did.
I thought they were on our side?
“They’re on the side of whoever is winning.
So you’re worth two bottles of wine and an old rifle?
I’m Noah. Noah Becker.
“Franz. Franz Lohmann. Any idea where we are going?”
It looks like Amerika. You mind if I sit beside you?
WHO IS IN THIS CONVERSATION
PIETER AND NOAH
Are we still in the Wehrmacht?
I guess so, but I don’t feel like it.
Neither do I.
They stood a long time at THE BOW/STERN of the SHIP BOW watching the wake.
What makes a man fight on the front lines when he knows it is being overrun?
Is it a commitment to the Fatherland?
Maybe so. Maybe not.
Our allegiance was to the Fuhrur. Do we fight for him?
Might it be because of family?
They’re four thousand miles away.
Well, then what do you think”?
Noah said, “It comes down to this: we fight for the man beside us.
We don’t want to let him down.
If that’s so true, why didn’t you stay and die with those others on the last day of battle?
I’ve asked myself the same question. I was in the thick of it. I held my ground even when surrounded. I saw plenty of comrades die. I never ran.
Then they overran us, I was surrounded by a group of GIs waiting for a reason to kill me.
It wasn’t a good time to be a hero.
What will they do with us when we finally win the War?
I think there are too many of us to shoot EACH ONE.
They’ll probably put us in a leaky boat back to Germany. We’ll be greeted as part of the returning victorious Wehrmacht. The army that had conquered all of Europe and beyond.
Noah thought. I cannot show any doubt in the eventual success of the Third Reich.
We will win.
We must win.
END OF CHAPTER 9 A VAST OCEAN UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS
Emma handed Maggie a newspaper clip.
Maggie said, “Em, what is this?
War Workers Needed.
Higgins Boat Manufacturing
Inquire at P.O. Box 1013
New Orleans, Louisiana.”
“Maggie, I’m going to New Orleans when the harvest is finished.” Emma
“Are you crazy? What will Papa say?”
I guess we’ll find out tonight.
That evening Poppa was in an expansive mood for him. Maggie studied him. It was as if he had an intuition that something was afoot. As if he knew something was going to shatter their world.
“Girls, have I ever told you the story about my cousins in Texas”
Emma sitting slightly behind Poppa rolled her eyes.
“Well, I had these two older cousins who were brothers. They lived in the hill country west of Fredricksburg.
They were excellent carpenters and built houses together throughout the local county.”
But one day, they had a falling-out and the result was that they stopped speaking to each other.
In spite of that, they continued building houses together.
For nearly a decade they continued building houses together, without speaking a word. And it was all because of that falling-out ten years before.”
“Poppa, how did they build houses without speaking?”
“They knew each other’s work from years of building side by side. They could do it without speaking, and they also talked around each other through co-workers.
Then one day, out of the blue, one of the brothers said, ‘You know what I haven’t seen in a long time? A chicken snake.’
“The other brother stood in thought, hammer at his side. ‘Come to think of it, I haven’t seen one either.’
And that broke the ice and the dam burst. The brothers enjoyed each other’s company and good conversation for the rest of their lives.
I guess you could say they buried the hatchet . . . or the hammer.”
“Poppa, you’re making that up.”
“No Baby, you can’t make a story better than that.”
“What had they fallen-out over?”
“I don’t recall, and after ten years I wonder if they did. I want you to promise me that you and your sister will never have a falling-out.”
“I’m not talking about a disagreement.
Disagreements are part of life, but a falling-out is a broken relationship. There’s a stubborn unwillingness to forgive and move on.”
Maggie, I want you to promise me that come what may, you’ll stick together.”
Momma stood. “Alfred, that’s the longest sermon I’ve ever heard you preach.”
It ain’t a sermon, Leona. It’s just good advice.”
Maggie. Poppa, why’d you tell us this story tonight of all to nights?
I just thought it was a good time. He looked at Emma. Things and time is changing so much. We never know what the next day may bring.
Maggie leaned over and whispered “Emma, it’s time.
You’ll never have a better time.
Emma shifted in her seat. “Poppa, there’s something I need to talk to you about.
She handed him the folded CLIPPED newspaper ad.
Poppa studied it, turning it sideways, then upside down. Reading English was not his strong suit. He handed it back to Emma. “It LOOKS like something about jobs.”
His eyes NARROWED. “Read it to me.”
She took a deep breath.
“Now Hiring. War Workers Needed.
Higgins Boat Manufacturing
Inquire at P.O. Box 1013
New Orleans, Louisiana.”
Why are you giving me this? These are jobs for men.”
“Poppa, It’s for women too. Workers are in short supply.
I have a friend from Kaplan who’s been working there. They’re paying top dollar for workers. The pay is the same for a man, woman, Colored or White. If you do the same job, you get equal pay.
Poppa asked skeptically. “And you want to go?”
He leaned back in his chair. “ Are you crazy? We need you here.“
“I am. I don’t mean that I’m crazy. I mean that I am planning to go.
“What in the world would you be doing?”
“Building boats. Higgins Industry is building landing craft for the invasions.”
“You’d be living in New Orleans?”
“My friend and two other girls would be staying in a flat near the plant. We’ll split the rent and food.
“I just don‘t know.”
“Leona, are you in on this?
This is news to me.
Maggie thought. Vater has never looked old and care-worn. Like everyone else, this terrible war was continuing to rip his life apart.
“Living in New Orleans and working in a war factory alongside men? Never heard of such a thing.”
Poppa, It’d allow me to be part of the War effort. I might be building boats that would help soldiers like JACK.”
“I don’t like it one bit. Let me talk to your Momma alone.
Maggie and Emma retired to the porch swing.
Emma shrugged. “At least he didn’t say no.”
“I like how you put in that part about helping JACK win the War .”
Whatever it takes, and you know that might be true.”
“Emma, are you sure you want to do this? Nobody in our family has ever done something like this.”
“I’ve got to do this. I can’t stand the thought of living on this farm for the rest of my life.”
“What if Papa says no?”
I’m twenty-two. I can do whatever I want.
That may be true, but our German customs don’t allow it. It’ll break their hearts.”
They listened to the animated conversation from the kitchen. It wasn’t an argument but still the loudest she’d ever heard Poppa.
Girls get in here.
“Emma, I talked to your MAMA about this crazy idea of yours. Neither of us likes it one bit.
“But we’ve decided you can try it out. He pointed a finger. “Remember, I’m not saying yes. I’m just saying you go try it.
Does that mean I have your blessing, PAPA?
He pushed his chair away from the table. “Whatever that means.” He went onto the porch and soon the scent of tobacco smoke wafted into the house.
MAMA, EMMA, AND MAGGIE sat in stunned silence. I can’t believe he said yes,”
“He said he was going to tell you no,” Momma said.
What changed his mind?
I have no idea.
What would you have done if he said no?”
Emma STEEPLED HER FINGERS UNDER HER CHIN. “I guess we’ll never know, Momma.”
You’d better start packing just in case he . . . Maggie said. He might change his mind.
Mama said. “Em, don’t worry about that. He said yes and when a stubborn German makes up his mind, it can’t be changed.
You’re going, and Lord help you.
TWO WEEKS LATER
JUNE 1, 1943
“I’m not going.”
It’d mean a lot to Emma if you went with us.
“Alfred, are you sure you don’t want to come with us?” Momma said.
He waved them off. “I’ve got too much to do here. Besides I don’t like train stations. Never seen anything good come from one.
Although Poppa didn’t go to the train station, he did something way more important. He took Emma for a walk.
Maggie and her mother sat in the front porch swing watching the two of them walk slowly along the levee.
“Momma, Emma’s going to miss her train if we/THEY don’t hurry.
There’ll be other trains. She nodded. “But you can’t REPLICATE/REPLACE what’s happening out there.
Wonder what they’re talking about.
I have no idea, and we’ll never know.
IS THIS NEEDED
Maggie stood in front of the Crowley depot with Emma, Momma, and Syd Bieber. Freight trains passed and a transport PASSED train with hundreds of young GIs watching from the windows.
She’d stood on this same platform as her brother left for the Marines in 1942.
Emma stood closest to Maggie. “You take care of yourself, ” Maggie said.
Emma glanced over her shoulder toward her Momma. “And you take good care of them.
Emma kissed Momma on the forehead as both of them tears coursing down her cheeks.
Mother and daughter had a final conversation, Maggie was close enough to hear, but the train’s whistle drowned out their words.
Emma waved as she climbed aboard.
Maggie thought. I’ve never spent a night apart from her. What in the world will WE/I do without her?
End of CHAPTER 10. EMMA’S PLAN. as of 9 May
UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS 9 MAY
MAY/JUNE 1943. WATCH DATES
Pieter and Noah found a quiet place to sit on the deck. The sea was calm today.
Pieter. You know what I miss most about home?
My stamp collection. It was the hobby I did with my Opa. He and I enjoyed doing it together. After Opa died, the collection became mine. Hopefully, it’s sitting on the shelf in my bedroom.
WHENDo you think you’ll see that collection again?
Pieter took a long look out to sea. “Hopefully, when this stupid war ends and we all go home.
I hope many of the things we left behind will be waiting for us.
Pieter lowered his voice. “Do you really think we’ll win?”
Yes, I STILL still do. We have control of most of Europe, and we’re beating back the Russians.
We have the British BLOCKCADED/ surrounded on their island nation. Our U-boats terrorize the Atlantic and the Luftwaffe has bombed Amerika’s eastern cities.
The Third Reich will either win outright or force the Allies to negotiate for peace, as we maintain CONTROL of Europe.
We must win this war. Failure to do so would place us on our knees at the feet of our many enemies.
I believe we will win. I have no doubt. This is the beginning of the thousand-year Reich.
XXXX LAUGHED. “Then what are we doing as prisoners of war on a boat bound for Amerika?
It’s just a temporary setback. The Allies will find our strength if they try to invade Fortress Europe.
We know that the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht have overrun Amerika just as they did in Europe and England.
You’re right. Hopefully, we’ll see it soon.
Pieter, what about your family? What is your story?”
My Vater died in the Great War. My mother raised the three of us the best she could. As you know, times were hard after the War IN GERMANY.
Do you remember your Vater?
I have no memory of him.
Where was your Vater serving when he was killed?
He wasn’t killed. He died from the Flu. They called it the Spanish flu. They say it killed more soldiers than the guns.
I find that hard to believe.
It’s always bothered me that Vater went off to fight the French, and the Spanish flu got him instead of a bullet.
Well, dead is dead, no matter how it comes.
I guess you’re right.
Anyway with the advent of National Socialist and Herr Hitler, it was easy for my mother’s side of the family to join the Nazi party. I just naturally followed their lead as a Hitler Youth and then membership in the Party.
When men are confined to a small space, they must find something to do to keep their sanity.
A ship of POWs is no different. Some men spent daylight exercising, others keeping a log or how many laps they walked each day.
Several groups kept a constant card game going, using buttons as chips. Another squadron found buckets of paint and tried to paint anything that didn’t move.
Noah spent his free time, which there was too much of, on deck. He only went below decks for his sleeping berth and meal time. He avoided the bowels with its mix of TERRIBLE ODORS.
One day below decks, he rummaged through a pile of old clothes and found a stack of weathered books. They were in Englisch, and he tossed them aside one by one.
He picked up a LARGE weathered hard-backed book with an Englisch book with a broken spine. It was waterlogged and Noah tossed it into his pile of discarded books.
Then he did something he would never understand. He reached for the leaned down and retrieved the book. A closer inspection of the cover revealed it to be an Englisch Dictionary, or what he knew as a das Lexikon.
He shrugged. Since he was probably headed toward an English-speaking country, it might help him. He leafed through it, SEPARATING THE WET DRIED PAGES. It was a jumbled tangle of English words and terms that meant nothing to him.
He set the dictionary aside and continued his exploration. MOST were CAREWORN WITH missing pages. Noah wondered how many cigarettes had been rolled from their torn PAGES.
He picked up a heavy leather-covered book. Many of the pages were stuck together. It was a Bibel.
Closer inspection revealed it to be a German-English Bibel./Bible. Noah thumbed through the dog-eared pages.
The two languages were side by side on each page. He held the Bibel in his hands. Noah was not religious, in fact, he couldn’t remember ever holding a Bibel in his hands.
But realized this book could help him learn English.
He picked up the dictionary and held the two books side by side. Little did he know this moment would affect the arc of his life from today forward.
Noah’s only thought at the moment was. How can these books help me learn English?
THIS COULD BE A CHAPTER BREAK
He was convinced they were headed for Amerika. Learning English could only help in the land of his captors/CAPTIVITY.
Looking around, he hid the books in his knapsack. You couldn’t be too careful about your belongings, even if they were two sorry-looking books.
He spent the next week, scanning the books. Of course, he could read the German passages, but its archaic wording and complicated sentences puzzled him.
Later that day, he found Pieter at their daily meeting spot. He FURTIVELY furtively reached into his bag and pulled out the dictionary.
What is that?
It’s an Englisch wörterbuch
Pieter took the book, turning it over in his hands. “Where did you find that?”
“Rummaging through a pile of books, and there’s more.” Noah reached into his bag like a magician. “Look at this.”
“It’s a Bibel.” Pieter acted as if he didn’t want to touch it. “I’m assuming you found this in your stack also?”
“Look, it’s in both Englisch and Deutsch.
Pieter took the book and flipped through the pages, stopping often to look over a page.
Do you understand any of it?
Not a bit.
Noah took it back. “Well, I don’t understand it either.
“I didn’t know you were a religious man.”
“I’m not. I’ve never even set foot in a church.”
Like you, I grew up in the Hitler Youth and we were indoctrinated that our Bibel was Mein Kamp and our god was the Fuhrer. After joining the Panzers, I guess the Army became my church.
Pieter laughed. “And look where that led you. On a slow boat to Amerika.”
Noah held up the two books. “I’m going to learn Englisch using these two books.”
Noah put the books back in his bag.
Be careful, Freund. If those SS Nazi fanatics found that Bibel, they’d probably toss you and your book overboard.
“I need you to find someone on this boat who might know a little about this book. You meet people so easily. Will you help me?
In the coming weeks, Noah spent every daylight hour poring over his books. He’d read a German passage from his Bibel, then compare it to the comparative Englisch word or phrase. He was surprised at the similarities between some of the words.
For instance, his German Bibel began with, Am Anfang schuf Gott Himmel und Erde.
Using his finger, he read the same phrase in English and carefully sounded it out. “In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth.”
God was Gott.
Evidently, Heaven is Himmel.
Probably the English word Earth is what we call Erde.
Noah worked through the first few lines. He’d found several pieces of paper and a stubby pencil. He took notes, making his own comparative bilingual dictionary.
Then he’d find the English word in DICTIONARY, and learn its meaning.
Satisfied, he closed the books. He’d finished his first English lesson.
In the coming days, Noah read the German Bibel passages. It was still a jumbled puzzle of numbers and odd words, and confusing rules and laws. But what caught his attention were the narratives and stories woven into the book. Whether he believed them or not, they were captivating FASCINATING.
A careful reading of the red-lettered passages, he figured out that these were the words of Jesus.
Coming from a godless culture, he should not have been interested in this book, yet here he was spending most his day studying his two books.
He carefully guarded them and his pack. The books had taken on a life of their own and he feared what would happen if he lost them.
Just as every man on the Empress of Scotland found something to occupy their time, Noah Becker had found his.
Two Englisch books, written in the language of his captors.
End of Chapter 11 TWO BOOKS UPLOADED FROM WORDPRESS. 9 MAY
Maggie watched Bobby Plott saunter up the road to the Loewer farm. Mowata’s most fascinating character was coming for a visit.
Bobby was a FASCINATING CHARACTER in his own right.
Bobby’s story was unique.
In 1929, he’d arrived in Acadia Parish as part of the placing-out movement.
“Placing-out” was a well-meaning program where waifs and orphans were removed from the streets of New York City and placed on westbound trains.
The trains, which became known as “Orphan Trains” stopped in small towns where children were adopted by farm families.
The children were lined up and the families selected the children with the most desirable traits.
Although some area farm families took advantage of the placing-out program, Maggie’s parents did not. Papa said it reminded him too much of calves at the sale barn.
Momma succinctly said, “I’ve never been to a slave auction, but I’d reckon that it’d be that. I’ve heard they even inspect their teeth.”
On the day when Bobby Plott arrived in Crowley, the GROSSMUTTER of Mowata Elisabeth Plott, was there with her oldest daughter, and a preteen Maggie Loewer.
They watched as four small boys were lined up. Several farm families from Church Point inspected them closely before choosing three of them.
The smallest child was left standing alone.
Grossmutter Plott said, “I wonder how many times that poor child has been passed over on his long trip from New York.
With her daughter’s help, Grandmother approached the boy. He wore a tag scrawled with: “Bobby. ”
In German she asked, “How are you, Bobby?”
When Bobby mumbled a garbled reply, they realized why he’d been passed over: he had a severe cleft palate.
“Do you speak any English?
“Poorly.” The boy had a lisp that was mixed with a thick accent.
“Come on home with us. I believe you’ll like it here. By the way, you can call me Oma. That’s Granny in your language.”
Her daughter stepped in front of her. “Momma, do you know what you’re getting into?”
“I’ve never been so sure in my life.”
Maggie didn’t understand all that was happening but knew it was momentous.
Oma took the child by the hand. “By the way, we’ll call you Bobby. Bobby Plott. I don’t know what you are, but I bet we can make a good German out of you.
For the first week at Oma’s house, Bobby arrived, he didn’t say a word. Some of the neighbors suspected he was dumb.
Grandmother Plott didn’t seem to mind. She just fed him hot meals and spoke German to him, probably none of which he understood.
Then on the second week in Mowata Bobby started talking and he never stopped.
Other children laughed at his lispy English coupled with a brogue that must’ve come from New York City. The children called him “Harelip” and Dummer Jugeand teased him mercilessly.
None of that slowed Bobby down. He just kept talking. It was soon clear that in spite of a speech defect, his mind was sharp.
Within a few months, he added passable German and Cajun French to his garbled English. He was quickly becoming conversant in the three languages of the Prairie Triangle.
At some point, he became Bobby Plott. Not Bobby but Bobby Plott.
People said it like one word. BobbyPlott. Soon he was always called Bobby Plott. Not Bobby or Plott. Never Robert. He was simply Bobby-Plott to everyone in Mowata.
It was an ongoing argument/discussion as to how old he was. He had no idea about the date of his birth. Where did he come from? Did he have parents or was he truly an orphan?
In 1943, xx years after Bobby arrived in Mowata guesses as to his age ranged from thirteen to late teens. No one knew for sure.
“How are we going to have a birthday for you Bobby?
Do you remember your birthday?
Of course not, I’d just only been born.
Did you ever have a DAY/DATE that you celebrated?
No. There wasn’t much celebrating where I come from.
We’re going to choose a birthday for you. July 4th. It’ll be easy to remember. It’s our nation’s birthday. We’ll celebrate together.
What becomes Bobby’s birthday?
Somehow, Bobby Plott became Maggie’s cousin, but then everyone in Mowata was her cousin.
In addition to Oma Plott, he had two primary guardians in Mowata.
Maggie’s mother, Leona Loewer, believed Bobby Plott hung the moon. This was reciprocated by Bobby Plott’s complete love for her. She became Tante Leona.
If GROSSMUTTER PLOTT WAS HIS Oma, Maggie’s mother became Tante Leona.
Tante Leona reciprocated by spoiling him when he showed up at the Loewer farm, which was often..
In addition to Maggie’s mother, Bobby Plott shared a special friendship with Maggie’s older brother, Jack Loewer.
Maggie believed that Jack looked at Bobby Plott as the younger brother he never had.
Bobby Plott followed Jack step for step on the farm. He even began calling him Bruder.
The April day in 1942 when Jack left for the Marines was a forlorn day for Bobby Plott. His best friend was gone. He moped around for a few days, then showed up determined to take Jack’s place on the hard work of the farm.
Every rural community had someone like Bobby Plott.
Maggie wasn’t sure if Mowata adopted him or if he had adopted them.
All of this looped in Maggie’s mind as she watched Bobby Plott approach on this hot June day 1943.
She met him at the gate. “Morning, Bobby Plott.”
“I smell bacon frying.”
Maggie opened the gate.
“Is Tante Leona up?”
“She’s been up for three hours cooking for the likes of you.”
He hurried in the house.
“Tante Leona, have I got a story for you.
He waved Maggie away. “This is none of your business, but you’ll hear about it soon enough.
He bounded out.
What was that about?
You’ll have to wait and see.
uploaded from GOOGLE PAGES TO WORDPRESS. 11 MAY 2 PM
“I bet there are several thousand Germans on this ship.
No. More than that. There are 3121 POWs.
How did you arrive at that number, smart ass?
I counted the legs and divided them by two.
Regardless of the number, they were crammed INTO/ONTO the Empress of Scotland. It was a class of ships called Liberty Ships, built to aid the LEND LEASE British war effort. Their present use was for transporting American soldiers TO EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN/UNITED KINGDOM.
Using Axis POWS FOR ballast for the return trip to America made sense. What to do with the hundreds of thousands of arriving PRISONERS a whole another can of worms.
Noah soon learned of the rigid hierarchy among the passengers. They all had been trained as soldiers and understood discipline and chain of command.
There were few officers aboard but Noah took pains to avoid them, They were arrogant and aloof, loving nothing better than to vent their frustrations on a lowly Enlisted/Wehrmact soldier. Member of the Wehrmacht.
Under the officers was another level that Noah and his friends feared worst. Next, there was the group he feared most: the fanatical Nazis.
Most of the hard-core Nazis were SS members or the lesser-known SA. The SS were known as Storm Troopers, while the brown-shirted SA was an assault division FORMED as a paramilitary unit with a DEEP DEVOTION TO THE FUHRUR. Both proudly wore Swatskita armbands and insignia of their UNIT. They were quick to make the Nazi salute with a loud, “HEIL HITLER” “SEIG Heil. Hail to Victory
These two groups enforced order on the ship, which the few American guards seemed to ignore.
Noah feared the SA men most of all. Luckily they easily visible in their brown shirts.
If you ran afoul of the SS or SA, you were in deep trouble. Several men who had run afoul of them simply disappeared. It wasn’t difficult to guess their fate.
Stories like this were a stern lesson to lay low known as grayrocking. It was the act of turning gray to blend into the color of the uniforms and ship color. avoid ATTENTION/DETECTION NOTICE
Three days after the storm Noah was exercising on deck when two SA men passed him on the deck. They watched him closely as he returned their greeting and salute. Noah was a good soldier and understood how to maintain XXXXXXXXXXXX “Sieg Heil.”
Sieg Heil. Hail to victory
His knapsack on his back, Noah hurried to a cubbyhole behind a pile of old ropes. He’d found this secluded spot where he could read, rest, and think. Cuddling into his spot, he took out his English books. Noah was absorbed in his dictionary and Bibel and notes spread out.
“What are you doing there?” Noah looked up at the looming shadow of a SA soldier unzipping his fly to urinate.
He pointed at the books. “What is that?”
Before Noah could cover his books, the trooper kicked them away and picked up the Bibel, and shook it in Noah’s face. “Why do you have this?”
“I’m using it to learn English. It’s a German-English version and comes . . .”
“Don’t you know it’s against regulations to have this book?” He then picked up the dictionary and thumbed through it. “Why would a soldier of the Wehrmacht need an English Wörterbuch?
Noah knew better than to answer.
Tucking the books under his arm, the SA soldier walked toward the ship’s railing as Noah ran behind him. “Herr, please don’t. I need those books.”
The Brownshirt, stopped at the railing to toss the books overboard. A loud scream down the deck saved Noah’s books. A loud scuffle between an SA Brownshirt and a POW. Noah’s tormentor dropped the books and sprinted toward the fight.
Noah scooped up his books, stuffing them in his bag, as he ran away from the trouble. He only stopped when he reached the OTHER SIDE of the ship. Out of breath, he clutched his bag to his chest, cursing the entire Brownshirt bullies in the world.
He made a vow. I will guard these books with my life. I’ll die before I give up my books again. They will not catch me again.
Noah knew he couldn’t return to his old hideaway, but searched THROUGH/FOR other nooks and crannies where a grayrock like he could read undisturbed.
He found an even better spot to hide. He cozily leaned on a pallet of empty burlap sacks, taking care to pile more sacks to avoid detection.
He was joyously deep in his studies. Noah had found an appetite for learning he’d never had as a disinterested mediocre student.
He was so absorbed he didn’t notice as the sky darkened and the sea became rougher.
He heard a voice from the deck. “Storm’s coming.”
As Noah stepped out of his spot, a biting wind whipped his face. Men scurried about the deck as the Empress of Scotland heaved with each swell. Noah began to understand why they called it the high seas.
Feeling that familiar nauseous queasy ball in his stomach, he knew it was time to get below.
As he climbed down, a sailor said, “Batten down the hatches.”
The storm intensified as the ship heaved up and down. When the rivets began groaning is when Noah got nervous.
Below decks it was chaos. The ship was rolling and the shipwide seasickness set in. Between fits of vomiting, Noah cursed this war. I joined the Army so I wouldn’t have to be at sea, and here I am puking like a dog.
To calm his stomach he climbed up to a swinging hammock on the third layer. Stretching out, he closed his eyes to get his mind off the pitching and rolling of the ship.
The storm was worsening outside as evidenced by loose items began ROLLING around. This included the communal vomit barrel. As it slid back and forth, Noah could hear it sloshing.
The lights flickered and went out. The sound of bodies colliding and cursing filled the berth.
In the darkness, Noah clutched the sides of his sleeping HAMMOCK, SWINGING back and forth in the darkness.
As the ship rolled and pitched, Noah expected at any moment for the ship to overturn and seawater to rush in. There’s no way this ship isn’t going to keel over. Nothing can stay up in this.
The sound of retching drowned out any conversation. The ship continued to pitch and roll at seemingly impossible ANGLES. AFTER WHAT FELT LIKE hours, the storm gradually subsided.
A few of the lights came on. Men laid PROSTATE/PROSTATE in their bunks, too sick to stand.
The hatch opened and a voice called down, “They’re serving breakfast in the galley. Scrambled eggs and bacon.
A boot was angrily thrown at the hatch. “Don’t even mention it.”
Noah wobbly made his way up the LADDER. The fresh air felt good. He grabbed a nearby railing to steady himself. He watched the horizon, as he’d been told was the best cure for seasickness.
As he got his legs under him, he carefully made his way to the galley. His hunger overcame his sickness. There were a few POWs in the dining area, and anyone brave and healthy enough was welcome to seconds.
After eating, Noah found a quiet place to stretch out. he perched on a bundle of rope out of the wind. Using his knapsack as a pillow. It contained his only worldly possessions. He carried it at all times, even to the latrine.
He stared at a soldier he remembered. His name was a tanker named Luca. Luca Wagner. During the Wehmacdt’s surge ACROSS EUROPE, Noah and Pieter, both infantrymen, often rode on the back of Luca’s tank. He hadn’t seen him since the North African campaign began.
“Luca. Luca Wagner.” Noah nodded. “But, where . . . where is your tank?”
“Probably in the same place your rifle, ammo, belt, helmet, and wristwatch are.
I’m surprised to see you alive.
I’m surprised to be alive myself. I never thought I’d make it this far.
Luca said.“Mind if I join you?”
“Quite the storm, wasn’t it?
I hope to never repeat it
They ate and made small talk, sharing about their families.
What’d you do before the War, Luca?
I was a barber. He laughed. Isn’t it just like the Wehmacht to put a barber driving a tank?
“Do you mind if you had a girl back home?
Luca pulled a cropped photo. “This is Helene.”
Have you heard from her?
Not since North Africa.
Do you think they’ll let us write home?”
I hope so.
Noah nodded at Helene’s photo. How’d you keep those Amerikan vultures from getting your wallet.
They took my wallet, but I hid Helen’s photo in a place they wouldn’t search.
Noah held up his hand. “I don’t want to hear about it. ANYMORE.
They sat watching the waves.
“I’ve been thinking.”
“That’s a dangerous thing to do.
“Here’s what I’ve been thinking: Have you ever thought of German morale?
From everything we’ve heard, morale should be good. We control practically all of Europe and have blockaded Great Britain. When Amerika declared war on us, we quickly sank their fleet and later bombed their seacoast cities into submission.
I guess we’ll see all of that when we reach Amerika.
Do you ever wonder if everything we’ve been fed is true? That there is a lot going on that we don’t know about?
Do you doubt our leaders?
No, I believe them. Noah briskly changed the subject. Will you return to your barbershop when the war ends?
I hope to. And you?
I’m not sure. Noah stared out over the endless sea. I believe a gezeitnwechsel is coming for me. A real sea change.
A marked change in your life?
Yes, a real sea change.
End of Chapter 13 uploaded from Google doc on 11 May at 2:30 pm
uploaded from Google Docs on 12 May 9:50 am
EMMA’S LETTER/JOE NAGATA
Maggie tore open the envelope. It was the first letter from Emma. Two twenty-dollar bills fluttered to the floor. A small note was pinned to the bills. “Keep up with these. You’ll know when and how to use them.
Looking around for Bobby Plott, she stuffed the bills in her jacket and read the short letter.
Bobby caught up with Maggie in front of the drugstore.
BOBBY Plott Now, what secret have hiding FERRETING AWAY from me?
What language is ferreting?
It’s the language of you’re hiding something from me. What is it?
“It’s a letter from Emma.
It’s something more than that. I can smell it.
Keep your mouth shut.
What was in the letter?
A bunch of words.
Maggie and Bobby Plott walked along the storefronts on West Laurel Street in Eunice. Bobby pointed out the patriotic posters for war bonds and victory gardens.
They stopped along the narrow sidewalk to allow a lady with a baby carriage. “Bonjour, Ma’am. That’s a healthy baby you have.”
The mother smiled. It was evident she only spoke French.
When they were out of earshot, Bobby Plott said, “Have you ever noticed how every baby looks like Winston Churchill.”
That’s rot. You don’t even know what Winston Churchill looks like.
I do. His picture is on every copy of the newspaper as well as the movie mnewsreels.
I’m serious. Look at the round face. The thick jowls. No neck. Rosy cheeks. The next time you see a picture of Churchill, take a look. Or if you see a fat baby.
I don’t know why I bring you with me.
They PAUSED stopped in front of the local laundry. BOBBY nodded at the “Whites Only” sign.
“Emma would probably tear that one down too.”
Well, she’s not here.
Sister, they had serious trouble here at the laundry last week.
Lower your voice.
BOBBY A lady showed up with two baskets of laundry. They turned away her away because one of her baskets had a pile of darks.
Where’d you hear that?
I believe it was near the barbershop.
That’s stupid. Don’t be passing on stories like that.
They continued until they reached Nataga’s Eunice French Market. “I want to see if they
have any apples,” Maggie said.
Bobby pointed. “Why are those signs posted on the front door?”
“They’re from the War Location Board. Mr. Nagata is Japanese. After Pearl Harbor, the F.B.I. came in, arrested him, and shut the family produce business down. The Feds confiscated four thousand dollars of their money as well as took their family radio.”
“Why’d they do all of that?”
Japanese-Americans are suspected of being spies, and their patriotism is suspect.
Isn’t Mr. Nagata patriotic?
Sure, he is. Everyone in Eunice knows the Nagata family’s patriotism and loyalty. For crying out loud, their son, Joe, is fighting in Italy. He dropped out of playing football at LSU to join up.
“What they did to Mr. Nagata just ain’t right.”
“There’s a lot going on that isn’t right. West Coast Japanese-Americans are being held in internment camps.
What is that?
It’s just a nice word for a prison. They’ve got barbed wire and watch towers.
That’s not right either.
“It’s not,” Maggie said. “It’s like I told you, things are strange on the homefront during wartime.
Bobby Plott paused. “Mag, we’re Germans? Will they come after us?
“Since America entered the War, we’ve been under suspicion. If they were coming for us, they’d done it by now.”
Things have been tough for us, but no, I don’t think they’re coming for us.”
Maggie waved the letter. “Momma, it’s a letter from Emma. I’ll warn you, it’s brief.”
“Go get your father. He’ll want to hear it too.
As her parents sat at the kitchen table, Maggie read,
DECEMBER XX, 1943
Greetings from New Orleans. It’s a big city but I’m doing fine.
I am currently in a month of training to become an electrician. I’ll be working on the LCVP a Higgins landing craft used for transporting our soldiers to the beaches.
New Orleans is under blackout conditions. Everything is pitch black after dark, so my friends and I stay indoors.
I will be working at Christmas and unable to come home.
We’re been working long hours (extra pay!) so I don’t have much time to see New Orleans. I have enjoyed riding the streetcars and seeing the French Quarter.
Please write me about Jack’s letters
You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
BETTER CHAPTER ENDING
End of chapter 14 EMMA’S LETTER UPLOADED FROM GOOGLE DOCS 12 MAY 10;05 AM
UPLOADED FROM GOOGLE DOC 12 MAY 10:12 AM
Time seems to stand still when you’re a POW, epecially aboard a ship plowing across the Atlantic.
As he roamed the deck during the day, Noah took note of the various uniforms worn by his fellow POWs. He’d learned to hate the uniforms of the SS and SA Brownshirts. He’d met Luftwaffe pilot FRANZ L.
The majority, including Noah, were Afrika Korps soldiers.
During one of his daily strolls, Noah ERT During his daily strolls, Noah noticed a soldier wearing the UNIFORM of the XXX Army which had been fighting the Russians on the Eastern front. Noah approached the soldier who was sitting on a crate approached. He didn’t just look different; he acted differently. He placed his hands under his legs, trying to hide his shaking.
Freund, what unit are you from?
He looked up blankly, behind e a mask of apathy. “I was part of Army Group South, fighting in Ukraine.”
Which time? Look up the timeline
How’d you get here?
“My division got shot up so badly that they pulled us out of the line before sending us back to be the meat grinder.” His voice was shaky and reedy. Like someone who’d nearly forgot to speak.
He took a deep breath. “Somehow or another, as often happens in the Wehrmacht, orders got mixed up and we were sent from the Eastern Front to North Africa. Then I was captured.
What’s your name?
My name’s Delbert. Delbert Fischer.
If you mind my asking, what was it like there?
The Eastern Front was a bloodbath. It was a fight to the death. Neither side took prisoners. It was Total War.
How’d you survive?
I’ve asked myself that question. Was it luck? Fate?
His voice seemed to share more as Noah as Noah asked his questions.
“War is truly Hell.”
It’s beyond description.”
What … what happened to you?
I’ve got neurose. Shell shock. They call it Combat fatigue. I just can’t seem to get past it.
Noah put a hand on his shoulder. “Listen, we’ve all been where you are. Everyone carries their pain in different ways. I was on the front line for eighteen consecutive days. Daily, I expected to die. It just takes something out of a man.
Delbert stared past Noah at the ocean. “The constant shelling was what finally got to me.
He held up his hands. “I finally broke.”
We’ve all been broken. It shows up in different PLACES/WAYS. So, don’t be too hard on yourself. Only those who’ve been there understand.
I just wonder if I’ll ever get better?”
Noah hesitated. “It’s possible. I’ve seen men return to the front line.
I hope I don’t.
Noah nodded at the hundreds of POWs milling about the deck. “I believe the war is over for us.”.
When’s the last time you ate?
Not in a couple of days.
Noah reached into his pack and pulled out a c-ration he’d been saving for a special occasion. “Here you go.” He set his canteen beside Delbert. “I’ll be back to check on you.”
A few hours later, Noah told Pieter about finding Delbert Fischer. “Come with me to check on him…with Pieter beside him, they found him. They found Delbert huddled in the same fetal position. “This is Pieter. Can we sit beside you?
Making small talk, Noah said, “Tell me about your life before the War.
“I was a clockmaker in Bavaria when I was conscripted.” He smiled slightly. “It’s hard to make a good soldier out of a clockmaker.”
“I sure miss my watch. He held up his left wrist and the corresponding tan line. “A bloody Tommy took my wristwatch, and I haven’t known what time it is since. I’m not even sure what day of the week it is.
No, it’s Tuesday. Pieter said.
Shut up. It’s Friday. I asked a guard a week ago and he gave me the day of the
week. I’ve been scratching it daily on a bulkhead. It’s definitely Friday.
It’s either May or June.
What does it matter?
It matters to me.” Delbert said. “I was a clockmaker and time means something to me.”
He turned away as if addressing the WALL. “I was a clockmaker, but I’ll never be one again.”
Freund, you may get better.
I’ve been like this for over six months.
Well regardless of your shaking, Herr Delbert Fischer, you’re part of OUR UNIT now. We’ll take care of each other.
Delbert was still facing the blank wall. “ . . . Part of your unit.”
CHAPTER 15 DELBERT UPDATED FROM GOOGLE DOC
Maggie and SYD FIRST MENTION??????????????? had chosen to ride their bicycles into town.
“You know those city snobs will make fun of country girls on their bikes.
I don’t give a flying rip. It beats footing it for five miles.
Their game began. “Hoofing it.”
Riding Nature’s Carriage.
I’ve always liked that one. How about plodding?
Moseying. They parked their bicycles at the CORNER.
As Syd marched down the sidewalk for an errand, she called back, “Pavement Princesses.”
I still like footing best of all.
Maggie stood in the line at the EUNICE Post Office, gripping a letter to her brother, Jack.
It was addressed:
Jack W Loewer
6th Marine Division
APO San Francisco.
She wondered how a letter with that simple of an address could find its way to her brother somewhere in the Pacific.
“Any mail for us, Mrs. Ellen?
“The Farm and Market Report plus this letter.”
Maggie held it up. It was from Travis LeBlanc. It’d been nearly three weeks since he’d written. Maggie worried that he’d been wounded, captured or worse . . .
The letter assured her that he was alive.
In spite of his sporadic letters, Maggie faithfully wrote twice weekly in addition to searching the newspaper for any news on the Army’s 5th Division.
She unfolded Travis’ letter as she left the post office.
Maggie unfolded it. It was dated XXXX 14, 1943.
It only contained a few scrawled lines:
I’m writing to tell you I have fallen in love with a woman over here. In fact, by the time you receive this, we’ll be married.
I am sorry to break this news to you.
There is no easy way to do this.
I wish only the best for you.
Maggie read the letter three times before stuffing it in her pocket. As she walked to meet Syd, she jammed the ring and pendant in her other pocket, breaking the chain on the pendant. Hot tears burned her eyes.
Syd was sitting on a bench. “Girl, what’s wrong with you? Your face is red as a rübe.”
Maggie threw the letter at Syd. “This is what’s wrong with me.”
Syd read the letter and then looked up before carefully reading it again. “Maggie, I believe you’ve just received a ‘Dear Jane letter.’”
“I am so angry.”
“I’d be angry at the nerve of that sorry rascal too.
Yes, I’m mad at that sorry sack of GERMAN WORD, but I’m mainly mad at myself. I shouldn’t have gotten into this situation.”
Syd held out the letter. “Looks like you’re out of it now.”
Maggie snatched the letter. “That is a sorry way to break up with a girl.”
Where’s your ring?
In my pocket.
What are you doing with it?
Fling it into the canal on our way home.
You could hock it?
I bet it’s cheap.
I could bite his head off. She held up her bare left hand. I’ll be the laughingstock of Mowata.
Mag, you’re mad, but you don’t seem sad. Especially for a girl who just got a Dear Jane letter.
I’m mad. I’m angry, and I’m embarrassed.
But you don’t seem too sad for a jilted lover. But not a little bit sad?
“Maybe a teeny bit sad.”
Syd burst out laughing. “Travis LeBlanc, the great lover.”
It’s not funny.”
“Oh, yes it is. You just got a Dear Jane letter and you’re secretly the happiest girl in Acadia Parish.
Well, I will admit, for some reason, I feel a little relieved.
Sure you are. You never were in love with him.
I thought I was.
“No, you were in love with the idea of being in love with a soldier. Maggie, you don’t even know what love is.
You don’t too much either.
I know enough to not get involved with Travis LeBlanc.
“That sorry ……
The bicycle home ride was fine. There were sunny skies and a cool breeze and THEIR BIKE RIDE COMBINED TO in their hair.
As they parted ways at the crossroads, Maggie said, “I don’t want to ever hear his name again. She held up her bar. “And I promise you this: I’ll never fall for a soldier again.
Syd laughed. “Famous last words.”
End of Chapter 16 DEAR JANE LETTER. UPLOADED 12 MAY 10:39 AM
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 17 NORFOLK. 12 MAY 1:47
TUESDAY JUNE 1, 1943
“Look at those seagulls. We’re nearing land.”
The crew scurried about and the deck was soon overloaded with EXCITED POWs. Soon the first vestiges of land appeared on the horizon. An air of anticipation FILLED the ship.
Everyone assumed they were nearing Amerika but anyone was better than being on this rolling old cow called the Empress of Scotland. They’d been at sea for XX days and their ocean journey was mercifully drawing to a close.
Land appeared and the ship Empress of Scotland passed through an inlet into a busy harbor. The //PORT harbor was packed with ships of all sizes. Superstructures and masts stretched in every direction, with most flying American flags.
“Look, it’s Amerika.”
I cannot believe it. We are in Amerika.”
Noah surveyed the vast armada of Navy ships.
A nearby soldier said, “I thought our U-Boats had sent the Amerikan fleet to the bottom of the Atlantic.” HAD SUNK THE ENTIRE AMERICAN FLEET.
Noah SURVEYED the amazing flotilla of ships. “Looks like they missed some of them.”
As tugs eased their ship into a beth, they passed a nearby transport ship, loaded with a sea of GIs. On the pier, a long snaking line of soldiers weighed down with packs and duffels, awaited their turn to board.
“Noah, there are thousands of them. Look on deck.”
“Poor buggers don’t know what they’re headed into,” PIETER said.”
Once again, Noah’s faith in the Third Reich suffered another crack. How can Germany win against a foe with such formidable resources? Why hadn’t the Fuhrer been satisfied with our conquests in Europe and not declared war on America?
As soon as their ship was LINKED to the pier, the POWs were hurried down the gangplank onto American soil. Unsmiling GIs with bayoneted rifles lined the pathway. There were no cages, but the POWs were PRODDED to a marshaling area.
A nearby train whistle alerted all of them. It looked like another train trip. The thought of another crowded PUTRID cattle car made him sick.
He searched the mass of POWs for anyone else he knew. Noah, Pieter, and Delbert had promised to work hard to stay together. Many Wehrmacht soldiers in battle avoided making close friendships. It was simply too painful to lose friends day after day.
They were crowded into a fenced-in area. The next morning they were marched to a railroad yard./ railroad siding
Military Policemen stood with rifles at the ready. Snarling German shepherds strained at their leashes. Noah ruefully remembered the Jews in Cologne herded down the street by SS men with German Shepherds.
They were funneled to a railroad siding. Noah grasped Delbert Fischer by the sleeve. “Stay with me.” In the mash of the crowd, he’d lost sight of Pieter Meyer.
Noah was surprised to see passenger trains awaiting them. Noah was in a large group of POWS being jostled to the waiting cars as men clamored aboard both trains.
NOAH looked over their heads for any sign of Pieter as he and Delbert were carried along by the crowd toward the narrow doorways. As they climbed aboard, Noah heard his name called out. “Becker. Becker. Over here.” Pieter waved from the open window of the other train.
Noah, Delbert in tow, fought his way against the flow of boarding soldiers, ignoring their cursing, shoving, and blows.
It took five minutes of swimming upstream to near Pieter’s train. Pieter waited at the open car door. “Get aboard. We’ve got to stick together.”
Where is this train going? Delbert glanced back.
I don’t have a clue, but we’re going there together.
END OF CHAPTER 17. NORFOLK. 12 MAY 1:46 PM
BEGINNING of Chap 18 A Vast Country. uploaded to Word Press 16 May
A VAST COUNTRY
DAY 1 JUNE, 1943
Noah took his seat in the plush Pullman car. I expected boxcars. As he slid into a cushioned seat, the train slowly moved forward.
A disinterested guard stood at one end of the cramped car.
Pieter sat beside him. “I guess that it’s Schicksal that we’re still together after all of these miles.
Schicksal? I don’t believe in fate.
Then, what do you believe in?
At this moment, nothing.
Do you understand what it means to tempt fate?
There was a soldier in my unit who was both brave and foolhardy. Day after day he exposed himself to enemy fire.
One of the older soldiers said, “Son, you are TEMPTING that he “was tempting fate.”
He laughed they haven’t made the bullet yet that would kill him.
The next day he took a bullet to the forehead.
I guess he tempted fate one too many times.
If there really anything called fate.
As the train picked up speed, Noah and Pieter studied the rows of factories, open fields, and ribbons of highway.
“I don’t see one bit of evidence the Luftwaffe has bombed America”.
With each passing day in America, Noah was becoming skeptical of the Nazi Party line. What if everything he’d been told was propaganda; it seemed to be a pile of scheisse. That’s all it was. A big pile of scheisse.
At first, the guard wouldn’t allow the POWs to raise the windows, but as the day went on, the smell of unwashed bodies ripened. The guard allowed the windows opened.
As the miles passed, the guard’s attention SLACKED.
Noah moved to an open seat beside Delbert.
Delbert’s hands were shaking as badly as ever.
Are you going to be all right here in America?
I’m not sure.
Everything is so dark. He looked into Noah’s eyes. There were several times I started to throw myself overboard.
Did you think of suicide?
I planned to do it. It would’ve been so easy. So quick.
What kept you from doing it?
I’m not sure. Maybe it was a distant flicker that I might see my family again.
Maybe there was a hope I’d get better.
Ja. That’s the word. Hope. Hoffnung
I had a small sliver of hope that kept me alive.
HOPE. When a man loses hope, he’ll lose the will to live.
What about you, Noah? How is your hope?”
It’s small and shaky.
Noah, do you think our families know we’re alive.
We were probably reported as missing, which can cover a whole different PLATFORMS.
My family has probably received a Missing in Action telegram by now. They’ll assume I’m dead.
Do you think they’ll allow us to write home?
I have no idea. We’re basically at the mercy of our captors
Noah seated himself beside a window. A Panzer corporal sat in the aisle seat.
“I’m Willi Scholz.”
Noah “Danke.” Scholz “Do you have any idea where we’re headed?”
“I have no idea.”
“I hope it’s not Leavenworth.
It’s a place where send prisoners who are troublemakers.
How’d you learn about this?
I overheard some guards talking.
Where is this Leavenworth at?
Somewhere in the middle of America, as far as you can get from either ocean.
That’s it felt to Noah. This is a vast country and we are far from any ocean.
Luca stared out the window. “This is a vast country.
And it also a beautiful country. FARMS, rolling hills, rows of crops, mountains.
From his window seat, Noah had a good view of the passing countryside.
Continuing westward, the train passed miles of open land and cotton fields.
Noah said, “You know HOW Fuhrur said we needed more Leibershan (sic) now?
Elbow room. It was the REASON for Germany’s first expansion. Room to grow.
I guess we’re the front-line troops on taking over America for LIEBERSOHN.
There’s lots of open land there.
Willie Scholz left and Luca took his seat. Luca said, “Watch that guy Willi. He’s known as a Party snitch. Don’t say anything you don’t want repeated. He’s also got a reputation for stealing.
He seemed like a good enough guy,
Don’t let him put his hand in your pocket.
That’s no problem. All of my pockets are empty.
They watched as they passed miles and miles of cotton and fields of grazing cattle.
We’d been indoctrinated that America was big cities belching smoke run by the Jews.
Yes. Well so far I haven’t seen any Jews but thousands of cows.
“I’m not looking for any Jews, I want to see a good-looking American woman.
That’s the goal of every man on this train.
PIETER AND NOAH
When was the last time you saw a woman?
Maybe, we’ll see an American woman.
Noah thought of the pinups of American actresses and couldn’t wait to see a live one.
Maybe, we’ll see one of those American girls waiting on her train. As they braked to a stop, the men spied a woman in a dress with luggage beside her.
“Look, an American woman.
They were all agog until they got a good glimpse. A matronly-looking woman carrying an umbrella waved.
“That’s not an American girl. That’s my Mutter.
Pieter leaned in a conspiratorial voice. Have you ever been with a woman?
Sure. Have you?
Many of them. Especially in France.
So are you.
They laughed and turned their gaze to the passing countryside. For much of their journey, the train ran parallel to busy paved highways.
Luca said, “Look at all of those cars.”
An endless line of cars passed. Mixed in were trucks of all sizes carrying freight, fuel, and supplies. Most were headed opposite their direction. Those are carrying supplies for the War.
Noah had a nagging doubt that grew with every mile that passed. How will we ever beat a nation this vast, rich, and prepared?
Do you think we’ll see the Fatherland again?
I hope when this war ends.
I’ve studied lots of German words and their English equivalent, but I’m yet to find an adequate word for Heimet.
Oh, heimet. I miss it.
The Americans would call it home or homeland, but I don’t believe they have a word that adequately translates into heimet.
It’s a deep sense of belonging to a place.
Do you still expect that we will win?
Everything I’ve been told says we’re winning..
Then why are we sitting on a POW train?
Noah stared out the window. “That’s a good question.”
Noah couldn’t tell Pieter, but he was slowly losing faith in Third Reich and its Thousand-Year Reign.
On the second day, Noah stood to stretch. An Afrikan Korps soldier stopped beside him. They engaged in small talk watching the landscape pass.
An SS officer, trailed by two minions, stormed down the aisle, brushing Noah and his new friend aside. The soldiers in the car, including Noah, stood and returned the SS Officer’s salute by giving crisp Nazi salutes of their own and “Heil Hitler.”
After the men had passed, the soldier beside Noah made an obscene gesture followed by a hiss. “To Hell with Hitler.”
“What are you doing, Man,” Noah said. “You’re going to get us both shot.
I don’t care.
Well, I do. What’s got you in a wad?
Tears moistened the soldier’s eyes. He wiped them with his sleeve. “It’s because of my sister.”
He removed a letter from his FRONT POCKET. This is the last letter I received in North Africa.
A mournful silence passed.
As the Nazis took power, they instituted a policy of lebensunwertes.
“’Life unworthy of life.”
Yes. That term means different things to different people.
More of the fit. Less of the unfit.
Lebenbensunwertes Leben became their watchword. It was the Nazi system to remove those they deemed unfit: Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the handicapped.
My younger sister had a condition. Some people call it Verzögert. The doctors called it doun sindrōm. Down Syndrome. Her intellectual abilities were limited, but she had the purest heart that’s ever walked this earth. Instead of being a burden, she brought joy to my parents and our family. She was the most beautiful child ever BORN.
Then the doctors from T-4, Tiergartenwtrass Programme took her away for treatment, assuring my parents that they could make her better.
“That was two years ago.” He handed the letter to Noah. “Read this letter.
Noah read, then looked up. “Her name is Carol.”
“Carol.” The soldier wept quietly.
We regret to inform you that your daughter CAROL Hahn died recently after a fall. Because of the distance from her home, she was given a Christian burial . . .
Noah folded the letter. “What do you think happened to her?”
They killed her. More of the fit. Less of the unfit.
Noah handed the letter back. They stood silently until the next stop.
The Sorrowful Soldier turned and left without a word.
As the man reached the car door, Noah said, “I’m sorry for your loss.
The soldier never stopped.
When the train continued its westward trek, the sorrowful man was gone. Noah hadn’t even got his name.
At each successive stop, Noah searched for the Sorrowful Man among the thousands of milling POWs.
Noah never saw him again.
Her name was Carol. He would not forget.
Some kind of break is needed here. CHAPTER OR SECTION
The train whistle blew, and the men climbed aboard for the next leg of their journey.
A guard, who’d loosened up, leaned in with a whisper. “We’ll be crossing the Mississippi River this morning.
One of Noah’s wishes was to see the greatest river in the world, the Mississippi. He wanted to compare to the river of hometown, The Rhine River.
The train began a slow climb up a graded tramway onto a large bridge. leveled off onto a large bridge.
“I believe it’s half a mile wide.
What really impressed Noah, in addition to its massive size, was the amount of river traffic. Long barges pushed by tugs, huge oil tankers, and ocean-going cargo ships filled the river. Nowhere was the vastness of America more evident than on this majestic river.
Leaving the river, the train descended into endless fields of sugar cane, followed by flat rice fields. After changing trains in a small town they continued northWARD. PAST into vast acres of cutover pine timber.
After miles of the barren tracts, the train hissed to a stop.
A military policeman walked up and down the length of the cars. “Get your things and load out. This is your new home.” A gauntlet of MPs, many with German Shepherds, stood guard.
From the window, Noah scanned the isolated rail crossing. It was hot, dusty, humid, and in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t see anything resembling a POW camp in any direction.
But like it or not, this was going to be his new home, at least for now.
END OF CHAPTER 18 A VAST COUNTRY
uploaded from Google Docs to Word Press. 16 May
UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS FROM GOOGLE DOCS. 16 MAY
Aber der Herr war mit Joseph im Gefängnis.
But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison.
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 19 CLAIBORNE UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS
Where in the hell are we?
As the LOCOMOTIVE hissed in the background, the POWs climbed down from the cars, hefted their knapsacks, and formed ranks.
As they formed lines, they were called to attention, for the first time since Tunisia, Noah Becker felt like a soldier again.
As they disembarked the train, the Nazis and SS Officers were separated from the enlisted men. As they were marched away, Delbert stuttered. Good riddance.
As a fitting farewell, Pieter said, “ hope their next location has bed bugs.”
The other remaining POWs stepped out in precise order toward their destination.
A song broke out and soon every man joined. the German soldier was unique in that marching songs were a long tradition passed down from the Prussians. It was a long-standing German Army tradition to sing as you marched, and waited, even when going into battle.
They’d walked along a gravel road surrounded by the cutover. Military vehicles filled with GIs jeered at the ragtag German POWs.
Where in the hell are we?”
About five miles later, that question was answered. They at the gates where a sign said Camp Claiborne Louisiana.
What is a Louisiasana?
An argument broke out immediately over how to pronounce Louisiana.
Beyond the gates, jeeps and trucks scurried about as GI marched.
“This is a big American Army base. But where is the prison camp?
They were marched through the camp. The sight of a thousand German POWs marching smartly through an American military camp left quite an impression.
“Look at them. They’ve never seen a German before. They’re just green recruits.
They’ll see enough of us sooner or later.
They were herded toward a large fenced area topped with COILS/CURLS of barbed wire. The enclosure had two high fences. An elevated guardhouse sat at each corner of the rectangular compound.
There were about a dozen shacks in two rows, with several outbuildings nearby.
They weren’t alone. Several hundred POWs milled about inside the fence.
Pieter said, “Home Sweet Home.”
It feels like a hot dusty home.
By the way, what season is it?
It feels like summer here.
They approached a table manned by POWs.
Noah tugged on Pieter and Delbert. “Remember, stay together.”
Luca and Franz the Pilot fell in behind them.
Walking up to the table, Pieter asked in German, “Whose side are you guys on?”
One shrugged. “Whoever feeds us. We’re just doing our jobs.”
Noah nodded at the HORDE OF POWS milling about. “What are they doing?”
The clerk glanced up with a hint of irritation. “They don’t do anything. They stand around all day.
The clerk nodded at the group. “All of you are assigned to Barracks 33. He pointed with his pen. “It’s the one over there. It’s empty now.”
As Noah and the others chose their bunks and settled in, other POWs wandered in, stowing their gear.
He was happy to be among friends. Pieter, Delbert, Luca, Franz the Pilot.
He frowned when Willi Scholz came in and stowed his gear next to Delbert.
A tall private, whistling softly, threw his pack on the bunk next to Noah. “Mind if I join you?”
“I’m Wolff Hendrik.”
“Good to meet you. Wolff. I like it. It’s a good name. Wolff.
I’m Noah Becker.”
Who’d you serve with?
7th Panzer. Afrika Korps.
Same with me.
We were captured after El Alamein.
So were we. We lost some of our bravest comrades there.
That’s the ones we lose. The best and bravest.“
“Do you mind having a whistler for a roommate?” Wolff asked.
Noah looked up from his book. “I guess not.”
I’ll tell you upfront, I’m an unreformed whistler. Got it from my Papa.
No problem here.
Noah soon learned that Wolff Hendrik wasn’t just any whistler. He had perfect pitch and tone and was always in tune. If there was a category for professional whistler, Wolff belonged to the clan
He soon was called the Whistler. The other POWs tired of his constant whistling. One night a prisoner threw a boot at him. After that, the Whistler wisely confined his whistling to outside.
A few days at Camp Claiborne revealed who was in charge. It wasn’t the guards or even the American commandant. Like on the ship, the camp was run by the hard-core Nazis. Many had been weeded out but was a mixture of SS goons, Nazi fanatics, and SA thugs.
They were housed in a separate barracks and feared by everyone. If you were to survive in Camp Claiborne, you’d need to deal with or avoid them.
END OF CHAPTER 19. uploaded from google doc to word press 16 May
THE GREAT ESCAPE
On the third night at Camp Claiborne, a meeting was called for Barracks 33. Since no NCO was present, Luca Wagner was chosen to preside due to his age, rank, PARTY affiliation, and prestige as an Afrika Korps tanker.
The first order of business was about the SS fanatics in Camp. Most of the officers had been shuttled off when they reached Norfolk, but a core of SS soldiers, Storm Troopers, and ardent Nazis remained at Claiborne.
None of the men in Barracks 33 were SS, but about half belonged to the Nazi Party. Most joined because of their belief in the Third Reich’s cause. Others had joined due to public pressure, others to further their career.
The most ardent Nazi in Barracks 33 was Willi Scholz. He was also the most disliked. Noah had met him on the train and knew of his twin reputations as a thief and Nazi snitch.
There was little disagreement about the best policy for Barracks 33 was to avoid the SS. They were quartered at the other end of the compound. It was AGREED that each man would studiously avoid the Storm Troopers to keep them from even knowing Barracks 33 existed.
Noah studied Willi Scholz during this discussion. Willi had a blank face that gave no sign of his feelings.
The next subject was escape.
The initial arguments were made that it was the patriotic chore for every prisoner to attempt to escape the claws of the captors.
Aren’t we required to attempt an escape?
Yes and no.
“Does the Soldier’s Oath say anything about escape?”
It’s in there somewhere.
I’m not sure.
We all agree that in the midst of battle, a prisoner should do everything possible to hamper the enemy, and that involves escaping back to our front lines.
We can all agree that is a duty to escape in battle conditions, but that is not where we are. There are thousands of miles of ocean between us and the Fatherland.
I believe we should still try to escape and sabotage the enemy.
Well, The other argument consisted of where you are going to go if you escape. You’ve got no papers, street clothes, and speak little English. You won’t get far.
The argument went on before Luca raised his hand. I nominate that a KOMMITEE BE formed to study this issue ADVICE. DIRECTIONS.
NOAH winced KOMMITTEES was that most German of things. They seldom reached any conclusion and often made the situation worse.
“I nominate Noah Becker. He can read and write.”
Noah wince. Soon four other POWs and Noah were elected. They were instructed to return with a recommendation.
Thankfully, Noah avoided the chairmanship. He was the recording secretary and dutifully wrote a draft of their report which was written over the next three days.
The POWs eagerly gathered in the Barracks to hear the REPORT.
The Chairman cleared his throat. “We have XSX recommendations to the prisoners of Barracks 33.
Another argument broke out. We’re not prisoners. We’re prisoners of war. POWs.
The chairman waved his arms. “Our recommendations to our fellow prisoners of war are as follows:
- It is permissible for a POW to escape if there is a possibility of successfully eluding the enemy. In fact, it is encouraged as a distraction to the American war effort.
- Escapes should be pre-approved by Cpl. Luca Wagner.
What if we’re on a work party? That’s always the best time to slip off this and permission for spur-of-the-moment SITUATIONS OPPORTUNITIES.
A motion was made and passed allowing POWs to escape without permission if on work parties outside of the camp.
II. FINALLY, any escaping POW is permitted to take/steal items to aid in their escape, but no harm to Americans is permitted. Noah was instructed to write an official copy to be signed by all and posted on the door.
The next week their bylaws were put to the test. A POW in Barracks 29 escaped from a work party. The entire compound was tossed into disarray. American MPs scurried about making roll calls and threatening POWs.
A cloud of oppression descended over the camp. The escapee was an Austrian name Reich and day was the following day till on the loose.
That evening, the POWs were fed bread and water. In spite of protestations this continued for the next three days. Then they were upgraded to half rations and the camp canteen remained closed.
Escapee Reich went from being a hero to an object of scorn. Herr Reich was blamed for every deprivation enforced on the remaining POWs.
Word filtered back that Escapee Reich had been apprehended and was now cooling his heels in solitary confinement at Camp Claiborne’s Military Brig.
Serves him right. He messed up our good thing.
Noah was near the gate on the morning Escapee Reich was returned to the Camp. He didn’t appear to have been tortured or abused.
But the worst of his punishment was yet to come. Once Herr Reich was recognized, heaps of abuse were rained on him. It was as if he had a red mark on his back.
As Reich hurried to Barracks 29 he was roughly pummeled and shoved.
It’s your fault we’re starving, PIG DOG.
Luca shook his head. “He’d been better off if the Americans had put him in front of a firing squad.
You’re right. He’ll never recover from this.
The Barracks 33 meeting that night was brief.
We have witnessed how futile escape is and it only served to punish all of us for the actions of one man.
The Americans know exactly what they’re doing.
As of now, all escapes are prohibited.
Escapee Reich from Barracks 29 continued to be harassed by men from every barracks. He begged to be moved.
Mercifully, they moved him the following Monday. He was never seen again.
I wonder if they sent him to that place called Leavenworth?
He deserves it.
Leavenworth couldn’t be worse for him than in here.
Serves him right.
In spite of Herr Reich’s debacle, escape plots continued to be hatched.
But none were carried out.
Part of the escape planning always involved where they’d go. “Look at a map. We’re a long way from the Fatherland with a huge ocean between us.
Secondly, we’ve got it pretty good here. Why should we try to escape?
The looming shadow of the infamous Leavenworth always came into play. No one quite knew what or where it was, but no one ever sent there was ever seen again.
Franz Luftwaffe Steal an American Plane
Franz, you probably have the best of escaping. You could steal a plane and Franz, you’re a pilot. Maybe you could steal a plane and fly off.
Fly off to where.
Besides, where is there a plane to steal? This is an Army Camp.
There’s nothing but pine stumps. I haven’t seen any sign of a runway
It became a parlor game in Barracks 33 to plan elaborate escapes. Maps were drawn, and codes were established. The freedom was in the plotting. Of knowing if I really wanted to, I could escape my captors.
But even the slightest idea of an actual attempt was always squashed by one simple sentence.
Remember what happened to Herr Reich.
END OF CHAPTER 20 THE GREAT ESCAPE. UPLOADED FROM GOOGLE DOC TO WORD PRESS
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 21 UPLOADED FROM GOOGLE DOC
THE TRIP TO HELL
ADD THIS IN:
Maggie Loewer, what happened to that ring you were wearing?
I lost it.
When’d you lose it?
When that sorry two-timing soldier who gave it to me, gave me the XXXXX.
“Syd, it’s time you went. You said you’d go this month. SYD
I’m not going.MAGGIE
You know you should. You’ve got to go sometimes. SYD
Get it over with.
“I’d rather drink muddy water.” Maggie grabbed Syd by the arm. “If you’ll go with me, I’ll go.”
Good. When are we going?
Tomorrow. Let’s get it over with.
Syd said. “But what about the ring?”
I haven’t decided.
You haven’t thrown it in a rice field?
I’ve thought about it, but I still have it with me.
Are you going to give it to Travis’ mother?
I’m not sure. I sure don’t want it. I’ll decide before we go.
They got an early start the next morning. “If you’re going to eat a frog, it’s best to do it early.”
Have you got the ring? SYD
Maggie patted her pocket.
What are you going to do with it?
I’m not sure. I’ve thought about flinging it in that canal. Then I’ve considered hocking it, or letting our family dog eat it, or doing nothing.
Give it to her. I want to see the look on her face. SYD
The LeBlanc family lived in a more prosperous section of Eunice. They weren’t really rich but thought they were. They enjoyed putting on airs and looking down their nose at others.
And it was easy to look down your nose at a German rice farm girl from Mowata. They like to use titles like Madame and XXXX.
Maggie had only met Travis’ parents once, and that visit hadn’t gone well. “The other time I was here I felt about as welcome as the plague. I thought they were going to frisk me for the family silver on the way out.
They can’t be that bad.
You’ll see for yourself.
Maggie lifted the door knocker.
After about a minute, Madame LeBlanc opened the door. Arms crossed, she stared at Maggie, then Syd. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Maggie Loewer, Travis’, uh, girlfriend.
“I know who you are.” She nodded inside the door. “Come in.”
She didn’t offer the girls a seat.
Madame LeBlanc, have you heard from Travis lately? MAGGIE
He writes but not often enough. Has he written you?
Yes M’AM and his latest letter was a real STUNNER.
Maggie unfolded the letter and handed it to her.
Madame LeBlanc read it, looked up at Maggie, then looked down, reading it a second time.
A queer look came over her face that Maggie couldn’t figure out. What is she thinking? What is she going to say?
An awkward silence filled the room. Maggie was determined she wouldn’t speak first.
Finally, looking over her glasses, Madame LeBlanc said, “Well, he made himself pretty clear.”
“Yes M’am, he did that. Maggie handed her an envelope. “I’d like you to have this.”
As Madame LeBlanc turned the envelope over in her hands, Maggie winked at Syd.
Removing the ring from the envelope, she said, “What is this?”
“It’s a ring your son gave me. He called it a promise ring.”
She handed it back to Maggie. “Keep it.”
No M’am, your son broke his promise. That letter confirmed it. I don’t want that ring.
Another long pause.
Mrs. LeBlanc cleared her throat. “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t speak of this to others. I believe it’d be best not to tell about this.
Then she moved to the front door. “And I believe it’d be best if you and your friend did not return.
“M’am, a team of wild chevaux couldn’t drag me back.
The door shut firmly in their faces and the deadbolt clicked shut.
The girls stopped along the sidewalk.
See, that wasn’t that bad.
Bad? It was the true trip to Hell.
Syd began laughing. “She was just glad to be rid of a Deepwater German Baptist who wanted to marry her son.
I didn’t want to marry her son. Maggie
Syd “She’d rather Travis LeBlanc marry a backslidden Methodist than marry a Baptist.”
I told you not to speak his name.
“Or even an unsprinkled Espicopal.
She’d rather him marry a Mormon with three husbands and eighteen kids than a Baptist.
“I said, Shut up!” Then Maggie burst out laughing. “Do you have any more like that?”
“Or a Jehovah’s Witness street sweeper,
Or a traveling Pentecost preacher.
Or a foot-washing Hardshell Baptist?
That’d be a toss-up.
How about a Jewish Rabbi?
Anyone would be better than marrying a German Baptist girl from Mowata.
It was the trip to Hell but it felt good to get it done. I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
I’m ready to move forward.
END OF THE TRIP TO HELL. CHAPTER
Beginning of Chapter 22 Killing Time
uploaded from Google Docs Wed 17 May 7:31 am
Noah and the men in Barracks 33 had now been housed for nearly two months. They’d gotten to know each other pretty well, in some cases too well.
As we’ve said before, there’s nothing Germans more than a GOOD argument.
It varied from day to day. Today the subject was the English word barrack.
They all agreed that barrack was baracke S) or kaserne (Pl) in German, but they couldn’t as to if they lived in Barrack 33 or Barracks 33. None of the men were grammarians but if you’ve got time on your hands and ready to argue, barrack was close enough.
Noah was assigned to study his American DICTIONARY for an answer.
The next day he reported. “Now, I’m no expert in that XXXXXX Englisch language but here’s what I found.
A barrack is a building or set of buildings used especially for lodging soldiers.
Ja. That makes sense.
But, it also says the proper word barracks.
So a barrack is really a barracks?
The argument devoled into a confrontation then finally into laughter.
Luca said, “we will take a vote. All for barrack raise their hand. Six hands shot up.
All in favor of barracks, raise your hands.
Every other hand went up.
Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that we now live in Barracks 33.
Sleeping in a room full of men is never comfortable. The constant snoring, shuffling, coughing, farting, and talking is not the place for a good night’s sleep.
Noah had learned the names of most of the thirty men in their barracks. He was closest to Pieter Mayer and Delbert Fischer as well as Luca Wagner, Franz the Pilot and The Whistler. He’d also some connection with most of the menin their barracks.
Noah had hoped that settling into life in camp would soothe Delbert’s soul. But his trembling and stuttering had only worsened.
From time to time, Delbert would waken with nightmares. They varied in intensity from soft moan WEEPING TO abject terror and screaming.
By the middle of July, Delbert had been nightmare free. But Noah was awakened by terrible screaming from the other end of the barracks. Delbert was screaming as if in the clutches of some wild animal.
There was no doubt. Delbert Fischer was in the midst of a terrible alptraum.
A group of prisoners gathered around Delbert’s bunk. He continued thrashing about and no one tried to HELP RESTRAIN HIM. To do anything would have resulted in a black eye OR WORSE.
Eventually, the screaming slackened and was replaced by loud sobbing.
A POW beside Noah said, “War truly is hell..”
Delbert didn’t have another nightmare for about ten days, but the next one was the worst.
Willi Scholz bunked near Delbert.
Willi, who hated most everyone, had taken an especially dislike of Delbert.
As Noah walked the aisle to check on Delbert, Willi Scholz brushed past Noah, falling Delbert with both fists. “Shut up you weak fool. You’re keeping us all from a good night’s sleep.”
As the crowd of men watched, Willi started choking him. It was as if all of the pent-up anger stored up in Willi was being taken out on this terror-stricken man.
Noah stood with the others watching.
Willi finally finished his beat-down and stood breathing hard. “Now shut up with that screaming, you big baby.”
Delbert was curled up on his bunk, hands still protecting his head, sobbing quietly.
All of the men returned to their bunks, and quiet returned as the men drifted off to sleep, except for Noah. He lay staring at the ceiling.
Delbert couldn’t help the way he was, and sure didn’t deserve a beating for it.
But that wasn’t what Noah awake. It was his own reluctance in stepping in and helping Delbert. He was ashamed of himself.
Laying there he made two promises to himself.
He would not stand idly by the next time Delbert was attacked, and he would find a way to be a friend to this wounded man.
Laying there, Noah thought back to the horror of the front lines.
It was a miracle they weren’t all like Delbert. Then maybe they all were. Delbert just showed it, but all of them were wounded deeply on the inside.
Noah’s dislike of Willi deepened. His doubt Willi had never been anywhere near the front lines deepened. Soldiers who had been there had more patience for men like Delbert.
The next day, Noah sat by Willi in the mess tent. “Where you’re from?”
“What’s it to you?” Willi eyed him suspiciously.
“What was your job with the Korps?”
“I was at … I mean … I am a communications specialist.” Suddenly he didn’t seem as sure of himself. “We had to man that connection between command and the brigades.”
“You’re so right.” Noah stared silently waiting for Willi to speak.
Not every member of the Reich serves in combat. Some are needed to keep the Wehrmacht on the move.
Noah stood to leave. “You are so right.” He roughly grabbed Willi’s arm. “Don’t you ever lay a hand on Delbert Fischer again.
“And what if I do.”
Don’t”. Noah walked away
That evening Noah sat beside Delbert’s bunk. He had a black eye and a cut lip.
Noah nodded at the adjacent open bunk. “Do you mind if I move down here beside you?
Why would you do that?
Noah nodded toward the other end of the barracks. “My neighbor down there snores loud enough to wake the tot.
For the first time, Delbert smiled. “I guess I’d want to move too, but, you know, but I have these nightmares.
Noah patted his shoulder. “I can live with the occasional nightmare. It’s that non-stop snoring that drives me crazy.”
So that was the beginning of Noah and Delbert becoming bunkmates.
The next day Luca, Pieter, and Noah sat in the shade. “Delbert was at the Russian Front. He doesn’t talk about it but it must have been terrible.
I heard it was a war of hate. Total war. No quarter given. None given.”
Luca scoffed. “The propaganda called our North African campaign the ‘War without Hate.’ “
That’s a crock of bull.
What they meant was that the fighting was somewhat civilized.
That’s not what I saw.
Do you think you must hate to fight?
A better question is, ‘Can you be taught to hate?’ “
There’s no doubt. But does a soldier have to hate the enemy to fight.
When they first shot at me, I began hating them.
The first time someone shoots at you is when becomes easy to hate.
“My deep fear turned to hot anger.
When I saw my first comrades dead or maimed, my hate
When I think of Delbert, I’m reminded that calling our North African war as “one without hate.” Delbert fought in a war of hate.
Delbert won’t speak of it, but the Eastern Front was a bitter battle to the death. Neither our side or the Russians took many prisoners. Most were shot on the spot.
“Look at all of us here as POWs in America. If we’d been captured there, we’d all be dead.
When anyone wants to harass Delbert, they should remember he fought in a war that is foreign to all of us.
It is well to remember that there but for the grace of God go I.
Ohne die Gnade Gottes gehe ich dorthin.
END OF CHAPTER 22 KILLING TIME
A FIRESIDE CHAT
WEDNESDAY JULY 28, 1943
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Emma Loewer finished wiring the running lights for her boat, the LCVP Landing Craft. The sounds of drilling, sawing, and weld echoed across the assembly line.
Emma took off her gloves and climbed atop a scaffold for a better view.
Just before eight o’clock, all work ceased. The sounds of grinding and SAWScutting CEASED. Welding torches were cut off HAMMERING. An eerie silence fell over the entire plant.
The only time Higgins Industries came to a stop was when President Roosevelt gave a Fireside Chat, and tonight Wednesday, July 28, 1943, at 8:00 PM CST PM, FDR was scheduled to address the nation.
The plant’s loudspeaker’s PA system crackled to life. Everything was quiet except for the occasional cough or sneeze.
Suddenly, with no introduction he began.
“My Fellow Americans:
Over a year and a half ago, I said this to the Congress: “The militarists in Berlin and Rome and Tokyo started this war, but the massed angered forces of common humanity will finish it.”
FDR then shared about the recent fall of Rome to the Allied armies.
“So our terms to Italy are still the same as our terms to Germany and Japan –“unconditional surrender.”
Emma studied the rapt attention of her co-workers below. The comforting words of the President settled a blanket over the SILENT workers. Most, like Emma, had no remembrance of any other president.
Like them, she realized that there could be only one conclusion to this war: the unconditional surrender of the Germans and Japanese.
“The War will be taken to the gates of Berlin and Tokyo. There would be no negotiated surrender or conditional peace. This was total war. Only the unconditional surrender of America’s enemies would end the War.”
The steely determination in the President’s voice ensured this war could end in only one way: Allied victory. Emma knew it wouldn’t be easy capturing Berlin and Tokyo. But she knew in due time, America would.
She wondered what Pacific island her brother Jack was on. Emma knew this: Sooner or later, Jack and his Marines would march into Tokyo.
Much of the rest of this fireside chat dealt with war news, most of it encouraging. As always, FDR spoke to Americans on the homefront, encouraging them to keep working, sacrificing, and doing their part in the War effort:
“Every combat division, every naval task force, and every squadron of fighting planes is dependent for its equipment and ammunition and fuel and food, as indeed it is for its manpower, dependent on the American people in civilian clothes in the offices and in the factories and on the farms at home.”
Emma, swung her work boots as she watched from the scaffold. scanned the large crowd of workers on the Like her, each was proud to be aplant floor. They were all a small part of America’s war effort. Girl, you’re a long way from Mowata.
She could visiualize her family and friends gathered around the radio, listening to this same speech.
The President paused, “A tangible result of our great increase in merchant shipping — which I think will be good news to civilians at home — is that tonight we are able to terminate the rationing of coffee . . .
The Higgins workers sent up a cheer.
“. . . And we also expect (that) within a short time we shall get greatly increased allowances of sugar.”
For a brief moment, Emma realized that all over America families were listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt INFORM and comfort his people.
Because FDR had such a unique cadence to his speaking, Emma sensed he was nearing the end of his fireside chat. She glanced around her area of the line. Every worker, hat in hand, leaned in.
The president closed with:
“Are you working full time on your job?
Are you growing all the food you can?
Are you buying your limit of war bonds?
Because — if your answer is ‘No’ — then the War is going to last a lot longer than you think.”
As the broadcast ended, a church-like silence fell across the plant.
After about ten seconds, a foreman with a shrill Irish Channel-New Orleans accent bawled. “Get back to work. Don’t you know there’s a war to be won?”
Then the sounds of a skill saw/band saw screeched to life. This was followed by the sounds of INDUSTRY: Hammering, welding, planing, sawing, and shouting.
Within a minute the line was full of the noises of industry roaring to life. It was as if a great orchestra playing a stirring SONG It would be difficult to defeat a nation with this amount of grit and resources.
Emma began her next wiring job. She couldn’t recall a time in her life where she felt more useful.
End of Chapter 23. FIRESIDE CHAT
Beginning of Chapter 24 uploaded to WordPress
Noah and Pieter stood in front of Barracks 33 and a POW handed Noah a note. “He wants to meet you.”
Noah unfolded it. “Who is Paulus Kalks?
“He’s an American.
What do you mean?
He’s a German POW like us, but he’s an American, and he wants to meet you
What is an American doing in a German POW Camp?
How can that be?
When you meet him, he’ll tell his story.
Why does that American want to meet me?
He’s heard about your English. He’ll will find you.
The next afternoon, Noah was sitting in the shade with his books. He looked up to see a POW in a tattered PW uniform. In spite of his attire, he had an easy-going smile. “Are you Noah Becker?”
Noah closed his books. “Who wants to know?”
He held out his hand, and spoke in perfect English “I’m Paulus Kalks and I want to meet you.”
He pointed at Noah’s Bibel. “Can I see that?”
So, you’re the American?
The POW lowered his voice. “Don’t tell the whole world.”
Kalks said, “Let’s switch to German. Herr, your English makes my ears hurt.
His German was a different dialect but clear and precise.
You speak German? How’d you get here? I want to hear the whole story.
“That can wait. ” Paulus Kalks sat down, then took the Bibel and carefully thumbed through it. Then he looked up studiously. “It’s been a long time since I held one of these.”
Where’d you get this?”
Found it on the transport ship.
This book can get you in a lot of trouble. The Bibel can get you stamped as a Christian. This English one can link you to the enemy. I’d get rid of both.”
“Why do you want to learn English?
I figure we’re going to be here a while before the War ends. I might as well learn the language of our captors.
Be careful. Studying English can get you in trouble here at Claiborne.
You’re an American? An American citizen?”
I said, Keep your voice low.
Yes, if those Nazi hardheads found out I’m American it’d be bad for me.
“And you’re really an American?”
Well, I am, or maybe it’s better said that I was.
Noah studied Kalks. “I’ve never met an American up close. At least one that’s alive.”
“It’s a long story. My father immigrated from Germany after the turn of the century. He found work in Milwaukee and that’s where he met my mother. She’s German-American.
What’s a German-American?
She was of German heritage but was born in America. That made her an American citizen. German-American.
I guess that’s how’d I describe myself: I’m a German-American.
My Vater’s name was Kalks, but my parents, to fit in with America, adapted it to King. They settled on the south side of Milwaukee and that’s where I was born as an American Citizen as Paul King.
How’d you become an American citizen?
I was born one. If you’re born in the United States, you’re an automatic citizen.
I grew up on my father’s tales of the former wonders of Germany and its eventual rightful return to ruling EUPROPE being a world power. So even though I was born in the United States, I always felt German at heart.
In the mid-1930s, one didn’t have to choose whether you were German or American. I felt allegiance to both.
When the War started in Poland in 1939, full of patriotic zeal, I returned to the Fatherland and became a naturalized German citizen. I enlisted in the Wehrmacht and fought until we were captured in the African desert.”
“I never imagined when I joined up, I’d be fighting against America.”
Why don’t they free you, since you’re an American?
That’s not the way it works. I was captured as a member of the Wehrmacht, so I’m a German soldier. I renounced my American citizenship.
And they’re keeping you?
Yep. Until the War ends.
What will you do then?
I’m not sure.
What about your parents?
I heard from them often during the early years of the War.
But when America entered the fight in 1942, their letters stopped. I got the feeling they wanted to pretend I don’t exist. Kalks laughed. It’s probably unpopular in Milwaukee to have a son serving the Third Reich.
“Do you think we’ll win?” Noah ASKED.
What do you mean when you say ‘We’?
I’m a German soldier and took an oath to defend the Fatherland. So here I am
Now that you’re back in America why don’t you just slip out and go home? You speak good English and look American.
He laughed. How are Americans supposed to look? He glanced down. “I doubt if they’re wearing a POW uniform.
You could steal some clothes off a clothesline, hop on a freight train and be on your way to .. . What’s the name of your city?
“Surely someone would help you there.
It wouldn’t work. I don’t have any money, no papers, no identification, I wouldn’t make it fifty miles.
You could try to make your way home.
To show up at their door, announced or unannounced, wouldn’t be a good thing.
I’m afraid I’ve burned that bridge. I’m a man without a country.
Until this war ends, I’m a German POW like you. Sadly, there’s probably no way I can return to Germany and I’ll never be welcome here again. I’m just a man cast adrift with no country.
That’s enough of my troubles. Tell me more what you know about your book.
“Do you understand it?” Noah said.
I’ve read a good part of the German part. I’ve used it to learn a little English.”
Noah pulled the English dictionary from his bag.
Paulus Kalks held both books. “Now that’s a unique way to learn English.”
Noah pointed at his Bibel. “This one confuses me. It’s been explained to me, but I’m still confused.”
‘Aren’t we all?” Kalks lowered his voice and put the Bible down.
You must not speak of this among the SS or SA men.
Noah said. “Are you a Follower? A believer in the book?
Paulus held it up. “Of this book?”
Yes, are you a Christian?
I’m abgefallen. I’ve fallen away.
So you’re ruckfallig?
“They call it backsliding in English. I know a good bit about it.
How you’d learn about the Bibel?
My family were members of the Lutheran Church. There’s lots of German in Milwaukee.
Why is this book so hated in the FATHERLAND? THIRD REICH?
“I Kalks CONTINUED. “I came to realize the Nazis intertwined their ideology with German theology. They taught that the Fuhrer was the second coming of Christ.
When the Nazis came to power in 1932, they gradually took over the organized church, especially the Protestants.
How do you know all of this if you were in America?
My Vater faithfully read the German language papers in Milwaukee. That’s why he discouraged me to go.
Paulus Kalks held up the book. “The Nazis viewed the Bibel, especially the Hebrew part, as Jewish Schwein waschen.
Paulus Kalks turned the dictionary and Bibel over in his hands. Like I said the hard-boiled Nazis hate this book. They say it’s Jewish tripe.
As if that wasn’t enough, they sought to change who Jesus was. They made him Aryan and a liberator from all things Jewish.
What do you mean when you say Jesus was an Aryan?
He was part of the master class destined to rule the world. That makes him part of us: the German race. The Aryan Jesus.
That’s also schwein waschen. Hogwash.
Whether we like it or not, Jesus was a Hebrew. A Jew.
Whether we chose to believe in him or not, he was Jewish to the core.
That’s crazy. Do you believe that crap?
Paulus lowered his voice. “No”. He tapped the Bibel. “But I’m not sure if I believe this either.
“Then what do you believe?”
“I used to believe in a lot of things.” He kicked a rock. “I’m not sure what I believe anymore.”
“What do you believe about this man Jesus? I’ve read a lot about him in those red-letter parts.”
“He’s either crazy, a fool, or maybe who he says he is. What do you think, Bruder?
I don’t think he’s a fool. No fool could speak like that. Some of his sayings are a little crazy. I’m not who he says he is, or if I believe it or not.
That’s enough of all of that. What do you want from me?
I want to learn English and while we’re at it, learn more about this book. Would you help me?
“Professor, it’ll cost you XXXXXXXXXXX
“That’s a deal.
See you tomorrow. Same time. Same place
END OF CHAPTER 24 Uploaded to Word Press. THE AMERICAN
Am Anfang Gott
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 25 UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS 19 MAY 9:41 AM
Paulus and Noah
The next day Noah sat on a crate in his makeshift library in the shade of the barracks.
He had two crates in his cubby hole and a pole of tow ropes hid him from view.
Noah looked up at Paulus Kalks.
“No, you are the professor, Paulus.”
“I am for now, but I’m only tutoring you until one of us moves on.”
The Americans are crafty. To keep the POW population in check, they’ll move a man, or men, just to keep us off balance.”
It strikes like lightning. We make friends and then they’re gone. I may not be with you long so let’s make the most of these lessons.
He jabbed a finger at the Biebel. “You do understand the danger of having this on your person.
“So it’s a German/English version. What have you learned from reading it?
It’s a pretty confusing book. I’ve read a good part of the German part, but can’t figure out how it all fits together.
Are you religious?
Not at all. I’ve never even touched one of these or been in a church.
Would you tell me more about the Bibel? I’ve especially enjoyed the stories and narratives.
Paulus laughed. “Well, I’m a lapsed Lutheran, but I’ll gladly give you an overview.
Okay, here we go. This book is really two books. He flipped the book open. “ The larger part on the left is called the Old Testament.
He flipped to near the end. “This part is called the New Testament. It concerns the life of Jesus and his followers after his death. The red letter passages are the words of Jesus.
I figured that part out.
Good. These first four are called der Evangelium. That’s Gospel in your new tongue.
Lots of folks call it The Good News which I believe is a play in words. It means Good News THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS. die guten Nachrichten
It follows the life of Jesus from four different perspectives.”
He eyed Noah as he held the open Bibel. “And you’ve never had one of these?”
“My parents never had one and once I joined the Hitler Youth, the Bibel was among the books banned in Cologne. They especially hated the Old Testament as it portrayed the Jews as heroes.
Paulus said, “It troubled me when I arrived in Germany at the deep hatred of the Jews among the German populace. Then I was an eyewitness to the censorship and burning of books. The first time I saw a large pile of books afire made me sick.
It made me doubt why I’d come, but it was too late to turn back. I’d come to the fight for the Fatherland and my soldier’s solemn oath was to the Fuhrur Adolf Hitler.
I am a man who stands by his words, so I soldiered on.
Paulus lowered his voice. “That’s when I first began to doubt the DIRECTION of the Third Reich. I came from America to fight for the Fatherland, not to ban books or beat up Jews.
The Nazis and SS despise your Bibel because is a danger to their authority.
“Back to your Bibel, are there any parts of it you’re most interested in?
Well, the way it starts, Am Anfang Gott.
Yes. In the beginning God . . . That’s a pretty heavy load to carry.
I’ve got problems with where it goes from there.
So do I.
Noah: Do you consider yourself a believer?
Maybe once I was. War will shake anyone’s faith. How about you?
No, I’m not. Noah took the Bibel. “But I am curious about this book and learning
Paulus laughed. “You’d better be careful with that book. It sure can mess up a man’s mind. He grinned as he walked away. “Some folks say it might/COULD change your life.”
OK, I’ll see you next time.
It depends. See you here tomorrow for our next English lesson.
”For good or bad?
It depends. See you here tomorrow for our next English lesson.
No, in your new language, it’s yes or yeah or you bet.
By the way, you’d better work on that thick accent.
Ja, I mean Yes.
END OF Chapter 25. LESSON TWO
Beginning of Chapter 26 Scrap Drive
Maggie peered from the loaded pickup truck as they entered Eunice. It was Saturday, XX, 1943 and the town was astir. Today was the long-awaited scrap drive.
Maggie, Syd, and Bobby Plott had helped gather every scrap and loose piece of metal in Mowata. The Bieber’s truck was loaded to the SPRINGS BED SAGGED. They were followed by three other rice trucks brimming with EVERY TYPE OF SCRAP.
“I bet they won’t doubt our patriotism after day. Bobby Plott
Bobby, they’ll always doubt us. If St. Paul drove up, with Andrew and St. Peter riding shotgun, they’d claim they were foreigners and didn’t belong here.
They pulled up to an empty lot with a large banner: “Scrap to Kill a Jap.” I believe we’re at the right place.
It’s something how we sold the sorry xxxx to the Japs scrap iron by the boatload before the War. Now they’re shooting it back at us.
They fell in a line of loaded trucks. A huge pile of scrap metal towered over the lot as men off-loaded the LOADS.
Various stacks of scrap were piled high.
Metal, iron bedsteads, iron wrought fences.
Another pile for aluminum.
A tall STACK for rubber items, dominated by old tires.
There was another scrap for rags, aluminum, rubber, used cooking OIL/FAT and paper.
The paper stack was head-high with old newspaper.
Bobby, “They had a row in Crowley at the town council over melting the Civil War cannon on the Courthouse lawn.”
“Where do you hear claptrap like that?
I’m a good listener.
By the way, what’d they decide about the cannon?
They kept it. Felt it’d be disrespectful to the South’s Defenders to melt it down.
Maggie, do you think they’ll use all of this?
Maybe, but probably not. Everyone wants to think that Grandma’s old iron bedstead will make bullets to kill Japs or Germans.
I can’t say it aloud, but Papa believes these DRIVES are good for morale but nothing else.
But he says the resultant morale is good for the homefront. This is one way we all can help and not feel helpless.
But what about that stack of newspapers?
Well, I guess they could make it into toilet paper so the soldiers can . . .”
Maggie lifted her a hand. “That’s enough, Bobby Plott.
They walked back to their empty truck and drove past vehicles, carts, and wagons loaded down with enough scrap to kill a Jap.
PUT SOME MEAT IN HERE
No matter what, it felt good to be part of the war effort.
End of Chapter 26 Scrap Drive
Beginning of CHAPTER 27 Joseph!
EXPAND THIS AND DIVIDE INTO PARTS
ALL JOSEPH PASSAGES ARE HERE
Beginning of CHAPTER 27
Read over PREVIOUS word press blogs on Joseph
zJoseph: A Man of Character
zJoseph: The Dreamer
zJoseph: A Man of Forgiveness
zJoseph: the Long View
zJoseph: A Man of Trouble Part 1,
Noah thumbed through his Bibel until he found the page.
“Mind if I sit by you?”
You know this going to cost you CIGARETTES
ANYTHING’S MORE APPRECIATED IF YOU PAY FOR IT.
“That’s probably not a good term for an infantryman to use.
Here’s my first one: you showed me how THE BIBEL is organized into two sections: THE old and new parts. I’ve been working my way through the old part. Some of it is pretty dry and hard to understand.
“There are parts you can get bogged down in.”
It seems most of it is a history of the Hebrews. The Jews.
“That’s one of the reasons we Nazis hate the Bibel. Sure. It often makes the cursed Hebrew JEWS to be the heroes.
Noah flipped through his book. “I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT, especially like the hero story of a Hebrew slave named JOSEPH who becomes XXXX It’s at the end of Genesis.”
I’ve forgotten some of it. Let me see your book.
It’s a long story. It covers about ten chapters.
No problem. We’ve got nothing but time here. said, Paulus.
He got comfortable, crossed his legs, and spent thirty minutes reading, flipping pages through it, going back and forth.
PAULUS laid the Bible down and laughed. “‘No wonder they’d like to tear this story out of their Bibel.
A JEWISH slave, a prisoner, lording it over the Egyptians.
It may only be a Hebrew folk tale, but If it is, it’s a fine one.
It was a riches-to-rags-to-riches story full of heroes, VILLAINS villains, injustice, and even revenge.
PAULUS began an explanation of Joseph’s journey from his home to Egypt.
It seems a big part of Joseph’s story is forgiveness. I am intrigued.
It is a fascinating story. Do you think it’s true?
Well, it’d be hard to make up a story better than that.
I don’t know if I believe it, but I like it.
With his pack on his shoulder, Noah cut between a set of barracks. PAULUS Kalks was sitting out of the wind playing solitaire.
“Tell me more about that story.
Joseph is a teenager. He’s his father’s favorite And that’s where the trouble begins. His older brothers hate him because of this FAVORTISM.
They hate him so bad that when given the chance they conspire to kill him.
Noah That’s when they throw him in that well.
I feel like I’ve been tossed into a deep dark well.
Paulus Kalks smiled and nodded toward the barbed wire. “I guess we all have.”
His brothers decide not to kill him but sell him as a slave. His life changes not for the better. He goes from pampered son to a slave in Egypt.
Tell me what you think about the next part of the story.
He becomes a slave betrayed by his brothers.
Chapter 37 If I understand it, Joseph ends up as a slave in the house of a rich man named Potiphar and that’s when things start good then turn bad.
Chapter 38 is a sordid chapter of incest and deceit. The main character of this chapter is Joseph’s brother, Judah. He doesn’t come off looking good.
Judah. Don’t forget his name. He’ll show up again in our story.
Noah laughed. I’ve read that story and got the gist of it. That’s one of the things I’ve come to like about the Bibel. It shows the flaws of its characters/heroes.
Please explain the story to me.
THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH
Genesis 39:1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
How can the Lord be with him? I thought if you followed God, only good things would happen to you.
That’s just not true.
Good things are happening for Joseph. He becomes his owner’s favorite and is entrusted with running/organizing all of Potiphar’s house.
And that’s when trouble shows up.
Trouble shows up 39 PHARAOH’S wife. She was a wicked woman. In German, we call a woman like that an XXXXXXX. She way she acted implies that It wasn’t her first RODEO.
Anyway, Joseph resists her daily as she pesters him DAILY.
Why didn’t he just give him and take the easiest and funnest way out?
That’s not who Joseph was. He had this strong sense of right and wrong.
Well, Fraulein Potiphar turns on our hero and accuses him of rape. He ends up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Once again, Joseph gets in trouble that he had no control over.
I can understand that.
Then through no fault of his own, he ends up in prison.
Ja. What happens next?
Joseph gets framed by Potiphar’s evil wife and gets tossed again. This time into prison.
Only someone who’s a prisoner can understand the shock of that change. From a free man to a prisoner in a matter of days.
That’s how it felt for me. One day I’m fighting with the Afrika KORPS with the Third Reich and the next day I’m a prisoner in a wire cage.
What’s it mean when it says, “The Lord was with Joseph.”
zJOSEPH A MAN OF CHARACTER Part 2
I want to ask more Paulus about this chapter, but one statement puzzles me. It occurs numerous times in this story:
Und der Herr war mit Joseph. The Lord was with Joseph.
Noah could not understand what this meant. This young man, who was probably about his age had been sold by his own Bruders into slavery. He ends up in a foreign country in captivity. Noah could identify with this. But how could the Lord be with Joseph in this situation?
Noah glanced around his surroundings. The Lord sure wasn’t with him. As far as Noah believed, this Lord or God or whatever didn’t even exist.
But that same short sentence stayed with him. The Lord was with Joseph.
He had to learn more about this. Maybe the story would divulge more. Maybe he could find someone who could explain it.
He went to sleep that night. The Lord was with Joseph.
That’s the crux of the whole story. We’ll cover that when we meet tomorrow. It’ll cost you two cigarettes for the next part.
The Lord was with Joseph.
They spent most of the next hour discussing Joseph, with Noah having more questions than Paulus had answers.
So he was a prisoner even though he’d done nothing.
How long was he a prisoner?
I’m not sure, but it was for years.
So he got punished for doing right.
I like that term, Der Herr war mit Josef.
The Lord was with Joseph.
It’s a recurring theme in the story. Whether he’s up or down, it always returns to that statement.
Now, who’s the other Joseph?”
“He’s the father of Jesus, but it’s a little complicated. We’ll save that for our next lesson.
Ja. I’d forgotten that.
PAULUS Kalks stood. “Well, that’s enough for today, Professor.”
Hey, can I bring a friend next time?
Can he keep his mouth shut?
Sure. His voice is so shaky no one understands him, and he can keep a secret.
Good. Can I borrow your Bibel tonight? I need to brush up on the story before tomorrow.
Noah drew back
“I promise I’ll guard it with my life.
He handed the most precious item he had (left) to Paulus Kalks.
zJOSEPH A MAN OF DREAMS Part 3
Who’s this guy?
This is my bunkmate Delbert Fischer.
“Can you keep it low that I’m an American?
Ja. I can, Bruder. His voice shakily.
Paulus Kalks studied Delbert who crammed his trembling hands in his pockets.
“You’ve got shell shock. Combat fatigue. Where’d you get it?
Fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front.
You don’t have to say one more word.
Paulus handed the Bible back to Noah. “Rumor is that they’re sending most of us to smaller work camps soon.
“I hope we can stay together, PAULUS said.
“So do I.”
Now, let’s get to today’s part of the story. Joseph is in prison because he’s been framed. In spite of that, that phrase occurs again.
Der Herr war mit Josef.
The Lord was with Joseph.
Pretty soon Joseph is running the entire prison.
It seems you just can’t keep him be God.
In a day, his whole life changes. This time from bad to good.
That is a good story. Do you think it’s true?
Poppa always said you can’t make up a story that’s better than the truth.
Delbert and Noah shared with Paulus their thoughts from that part of the story.
Ja. That is why Volk enjoy this story.
In this part of the story, Joseph’s gift dream interpretations come into play.
Remember that at the beginning of the story, his dreams got him in hot water with his family.
Two of the King, Pharoah’s attendants get tossed into the prison with Joseph. They’d fallen out of favor over something.
Anyway, both of them have troubling dreams. Joseph has them recall their dreams saying the LORD GIVES.
He explains how each man’s dream will reveal their fate.
One is to get his head chopped.
Joseph interprets the other attendant’s dream that he’ll be restored to the palace. He asks the man to tell the King that he has done nothing wrong and can be released.
The next part is the saddest for me. It says that the returning attendant promptly forgets about Joseph.
For two more years, he sits in jail/prison.
THAT’S ENOUGH FOR TODAY. You two can pick the story up in your Bibel and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.
DELBERT AND NOAH READ THE next section where the King Pharoah has his dream.
“Delbert, what’d you get out of that part?
Those dreams come into play again. A famine is prepared for.
Once again, Joseph’s fate changes. He goes from the prison to the palace.
I’d liked to have been there to see that.
Do you think that it was fate directing Joseph’s life?
I used to would have said it was fate. But this story seems directed by someone higher. I guess it might
Sub chapter zJoseph A MAN OF FORGIVENESS. Genesis 45 onward
At their next meeting, Noah brought Pieter. “He can be trusted. He’s my best friend.
It’ll cost him two cigarettes. Pieter, at the ready, handed them to Paulus.
OK, Noah you and your shaky friend there pick up the story from where we left off.
Noah filled in the details of Joseph’s sudden rise from prison to the palace. Delbert made a few comments. Pieter kept asking questions, interrupting the story.
“Shut up and listen.
Paulus began, “So Joseph becomes like the Prime Minister of Egypt and helps them prepare for the coming famine. When it strikes, Joseph allocates the grain to keep people and cattle alive.
Then one day a group of foreign travelers appear to buy grain.
Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers, but they don’t recognize him. It’s been twenty years they sold him into slavery. He’s dressed and speaks like an Egyptian. I’m sure they thought he was dead by now.
That can’t be true.” Pieter said. “The odds are too great.”
“Shut up. Or we’re going to throw you out of class. Go ahead.
.Joseph speaks really rough to them and puts them through a series of tests to see if they’ve changed. This takes place over several years and a return visit.
Do you remember Brother Judah the incest brother from earlier? He’s the one who steps forward and puts his life on the line to save the youngest brother, Benjamin.
During that visit is when Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. It says they became like stone. They wet their britches waiting for revenge to fall.
They knew they were going to pay for their sins. Joseph had the power and reason to even the score.
In so many words, Joseph tells them not to fear, that God sent him ahead to save their lives.
Instead, there is great weeping as Joseph throws his arms around them and inquires about his family back home, and bestows gifts on those sorry brothers.
So the best thing about the entire story is Joseph as a man of forgiveness.
That’s hard to believe.
I guess that level/kind of forgiveness is hard to explain/believe
That night in the bunk, Delbert and Noah talked into the night. “I just can’t get over the forgiveness part of the story. That’s not human.
Maybe forgiveness like that isn’t human. It’s divine.
“Delbert, you got any people in your that you need to forgive?
Sure. What about you?
Ja. A whole stack of them.
zJospeh: The Long View Part
It was nearly a week before the men could meet with Paualus Kalks.
The Joseph story is kind of anti-climatic after all of the weeping, forgiving, and XXX
Joseph sends for his old Vater and all of the family members. They are the beginning of the Hebrew race.
The story closes with a remarkable passage. When their old Vater, Joseph’s brothers fear that it’s time for retribution/brothers still worry about retribution.
Listen to Joseph’s words. Noah read verse 20 from both translations.
Ihr gedachtet es böse mit mir zu machen, aber Gott gedachte es gut zu machen, um zu tun, was jetzt am Tage ist, nämlich am Leben zu erhalten ein großes Volk.
Much slower, Noah read, But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Delbert said, “Is Paulus Kalks your American name?
Does it sound American?
The name I grew up with was PETER/PAUL KING. I became Paulus Kalks when I went to Germany.
What do your papers say?
I’m Paulus Kalks, a member of the Afrika Korps.
What about Peter/Paul King?
Paul/Peter King is dead and he’ll never be alive again.
With that the lonely American slowly walked away.
The next week there was a flurry of activity at the front gates when two Army trucks backed up to the gate.
MPs jumped from the truck and strode to Barracks XX, and soon a line of POWs carrying their knapsacks and duffels exited.
A Sergeant barked, “All of you prisoners from Barracks XX fall and line for muster.
A GI with a clipboard carefully checked each man’s name off a checklist before they were marched to the back of the trucks.
Paulus Kalks, bag in hand, stood in the long line. Noah ran as close as the guards would let him. “Kalks. Kalks. Where are they taking you?”
Paulus shrugged and gave a sorrowful wave.
His friend shrugged. “Looks like we’ll be going separate ways, Professor.”
“Well, it looks like Joseph is on another journey to Egypt.
“How will I learn more about my Bibel?”
“Professor, you’re on your way to knowing more on your own. Besides, you don’t need an old Lutheran backslider like me to help you.”
As he walked away, PAULUS Kalks said, “Professor, do you believe in your THAT book?”
“I’m starting to maybe believe some of it.”
“Good. Everyone needs something to believe in.”
PAULUS Kalks waved as he loaded into the truck, heading on the next leg of his journey to Egypt.
END OF CHAPTER 27. JOSEPH!
UPLOADED TO SECOND DRAFT
MON 22 MAY 9:28 PM
Start of Chapter 28
NEWS TRAVELS. STARTED TUES 23 MAY 8 A
UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS from 1st manuscript
News was a valuable commodity within Camp Claiborne. As we’ve said before, there’s nothing quite like the POW grapevine. All sorts of rumors, untruths, and guesstimates swirled within the wire. Noah recalled an adage from his school days, “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts its shoes on.”
Never was that more true than in a prisoner of war camp.
New arrivals at Camp Claiborne were pumped for every snippet of information from the outside world.
Knowledge was increased by labor crews that worked outside the Camp gates. POWs coming off work crews were grilled upon return for any news, whether related to the news or civilian or military news.
Noah didn’t put much stock in any of these oral reports from outside the wire.
He had more confidence in newsprint. He understood that most American newspapers were spewing out propaganda about the course of the War and the American home front. It was no different back home in Germany.
So when he could find an American newspaper, he GRABBED it. It didn’t matter if it’d been used to wrap fish, was crumpled into a ball, or a month old, any news was welcome.
Sometimes, a local boy would slip a current copy of the Alexandria Town Talk through the wire for a candy bar.. The POWs would trade a candy bar for the newspaper. Noah would hurry to his cubbyhole, and devour the paper from cover to cover. After reading every article, he would then READ what they called the “Classifieds.” The comics were beyond his understanding, but he labored over them too.
He was slowly improving in reading English. His CONVERSATION hearing and speaking were miles behind because he had no one to practice with.
But something alarmed Noah: War news began speaking of Nazi atrocities against civilians and enemy prisoners. These crimes were attributed to the SS and hard-core SA, but the Wehrmact was also named in this evil.
He carefully hid these American papers in his bag.
Excitement was created when Camp Claiborne’s POW paper, Der Freihet, published its first issue. The paper was written, edited, and printed within the Camp. It was published bi-weekly, and eagerly anticipated as each new issue appeared. Everyone knew that the paper was heavily censored and continued no War news, but news was still news.
Der Freihet, which meant XXXXXXX in English, was printed in both German and English and contained news of events within the wire. Often articles, news, or poems from other camps were included.
Some of the POWs were illiterate so listening groups were formed. Fluent speakers would read in German as every man SEATED IN A CIRCLE leaned in attentively.
After the German portion was read, and re-read, Noah would find a copy. He’d tear out the German pages and align them with the English. Just like his Bibel, it was an excellent, if muddled way to learn. He kept his DICTIONARY on his knee to consult/learn new or troublesome words.
He had finished his perusal of a copy of the Crowley Signal-Post. He carefully folded his paper, placing it in the bottom of his KNAPSACK.
Pieter was waiting on him. He was the only one who knew of Noah’s newspaper library.
“Are you sure it is legal to have copies of American papers?
It’s not like I stole them.
But the discovery of your cache might make it difficult for you.
That’s a chance I’ll take.
OK, What of the War news?
None of it’s good.
WHAT IS THE DAY OF THE WEEK MONTH OF 1943
Do you believe any of it is true?
I take it with a grain of salz, but if it’s even partially true, we’re in trouble.
They sat in silence.
Peter cleared his throat. Do you ever think about it? THAT DAY
Noah glanced around, then lowered his head. “More than I wish. What makes you bring it up?
Reading about those atrocities in the newspaper.
I’ll never get it out of my mind.
We were just following orders.
That’s what they all say. Just following orders.
If we’d disobeyed, they’d shot us instead.
That may have been better.
I wish the idea of a clean Wehrmacht were true. It’s easier to blame it all on the SS, SA, and other Nazi higher-ups.
We’ll just have to live with it.
If you don’t mind, let’s not speak of it again.
They slowly walked back to the barracks.
Noah stayed up late reading. There were few things more valuable in the camp than a candle. He had traded for the candle and rationed its use at night.
He blew out his candle and tried to sleep. Insomnia was a common occurrence in the barracks. Many POWs had seen or done too much to ever sleep peacefully again. Added to this was the nightly nuisance as men tossed and turned, talked, farted, coughed, snorted, wept, and went to the latrine. It wasn’t good for men to be this crowded in close quarters FOR THIS LONG.
Noah felt for his knapsack in the dark. There’d been a spate of petty theft throughout the Camp. POW’s bags disappeared, only to be found discarded and empty on the grounds.
That’s why Noah always carried his knapsack. He recalled the sick feeling on the ship when the Nazi bullies had tried to throw books overboard
He patted his precious bag in the dark and pulled it closer under his bunk. It was all he had and contained the items that gave him a reason to carry on.
He had drifted in and out of sleep when he was awakened by the soft sound CREEPING of feet approaching his bunk.
Noah couldn’t see in the pitch dark, but he REACHED out to grab a hand lifting his knapsack. Noah put a clamp on the arm and shook it violently. He was on his feet in an instant, landing a punch to the man’s gut and then a blow to the head. Using both hands he shook the thief, who dropped the bag.
The thief’s footsteps retreated into the dark. In the darkness, Noah listened for any sound or movement. It was quiet. The thief was someone in his barracks.
The next morning he confronted Willi Scholz in the Mess Hall. “Don’t you ever touch my bag again.”
I didn’t touch your bag.”
Noah grabbed him by the arm and tightened his grip. “I know it was you, Willi.”
All right. Let go. I wasn’t stealing it. I just wanted to see what was in your priceless bag.
Willi, if you ever touch my bag again, I will kill you.
You’re keeping a journal, aren’t you? It’s against regulations to have a logbook.
If they take my journal, I’ll come find you.
You’re not serious, are you?
“Get out of my sight, Willi.
As Willi walked away, he said, “I know you have a dark secret, Becker.
What are you talking about?
I overheard you and your friend Pieter MEYER talking about something you did during the War. It must have been terrible.
What . . . what do you mean?
I was listening through the window above you and Pieter. It seems there’s a stain on you that can’t be washed away. What was it?
Noah stood silently staring into the cold eyes of Willi Scholz.
Willi laughed. “You see Becker, you have your secrets and I have mine. I guess we’ll both have to keep quiet and work together.”
It made Noah sick, but he knew that for once, Willi Scholz was right.
End of Chapter 28 NEWS TRAVELS. uploaded to Word Press 23 May 1:21
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 29 A Sea of Green uploaded to WordPress Tues 23 May PM
A SEA OF GREEN
Growing up on a rice far, Maggie Loewer was finely attuned to the seasons. The four seasons, if Louisiana actually had four, were each important in growing rice. CROP
The seasons were timeless but the events that occurred during them could vary: rainfall, droughts or floods, temperature, moisture, pests, and hurricanes. Each could affect either the success or failure of the year’s crop.
Maggie had rice farming in her blood. Her grandparents arriving from Germany were among the first to grow rice. Her parents had continued the TRADITION of living in the same simple wood frame house built by her grandparents.
It was understood that her brother Jack, fighting with the Marines in the Pacific, would return and eventually take over the family rice farm.
Maggie was fine with how this worked. The son inherited the farm. But she knew she’d be involved in rice farming. She might go into partnership with Jack. The modern world was changed on this HEIRSHIP LEGACY LINEAGE that had always been true.
If not, she’d probably marry a rice farmer and that too would be fine, as long as he was a good man, a good farmer, and good IN LOVE to her.
HER SISTER EMMA WAS COMPLETELY differently. Emma worked in the rice fields as hard as anyone and she loved helping her parents. But where Maggie loved rice farming, Emma only likes it. She had no plans to remain ON THE FARM GROWING RICE. Her horizons were beyond Mowata and Acadia Parish. She had no rejected her roots in going to New Orleans to build boats. Only Maggie knew of the weekly letters with cash enclosed. Emma hadn’t abandoned her family, she was investing in it.
At this point in the summer of 1943, Maggie’s horizon didn’t PASS PAST the flat land RICE of Acadia Parish. And that was fine with her too.
It was a hot but beautiful Louisiana morning. It was Maggie’s favorite stage of the rice growing season. The rice stalks were about knee-high growing by the day. The STALKS HAD WATER. IN THE FIELDS
If Maggie turned in any direction, the horizon was open and vast fields of green rice WAVED IN THE WIND. WAVE WAVES RIPPLES SWELLS
It was a sea of green. That was a good way to describe it. A sea of green. A beautiful sea of green. Maggie had never seen the sea, and probably never would, but she imagined how the seas must’ve looked like this. This was her sea. Her home. A place where she belonged.
She turned to see Poppa approach, shovel on his shoulder.
It’s beautiful isn’t it POPPA?
I’ve done it all my life and I never get tired of seeing it.
Maggie turned. “I hear something. It sounds like a bell twinkling.”
She shaded her eyes, Something or someone was appearing IN A DUST CLOUD up THEIR DRIVE.
Poppa, I hear goats. Do you hear them?
Did you say winter coats?
No. Poppa. Look. There’s a herd of goats coming up our drive.
Maggie counted. “There’s six of them and someone is driving them.
Momma joined them in the front yard. “Are those goats?”
“Is that Bobby Plott driving those goats?”
He was trotting behind the goats, a stick in his hand, trying to keep them in order. He was having the most trouble with big billy, who wore the clanging bell.
“What in the world?” Momma said.
Maggie grimaced. Whatever was going on here didn’t bode well.
When Bobby was excited his lisp and stutter worsened. “Tante Leona . . . I told you I had . . . a surprise for you. These are . . . for you.”
“Well, they’re a surprise all right.”
“I got them just for you.”
“So you did.
I saved money to put us in the goat business.
Us? What possessed you to . . .
You told me when we had that secret talk that you’d like some goats.
I don’t remember saying that . . .
Bobby Plott’s face fell and Momma recovered quickly. “Bobby, I believe they’re the nicest present I’ve had in my life. Come over here so I can hug you.
Really they’re yours. I’m just the herder.
Kaiser Bill rushed out from under the porch barking furiously as defended his territory against these intruders. When he got too close, the big Billy goat charged him, causing the dog to make a strategic retreat.
Looks like we’ll figure out who’s really in charge of this place.
The goats and Kaiser Bill had reached an uneasy truce. The dog gave the big Billy plenty of space while guarding the farm perimeter ON PATROL.
Momma, what in the world will we do with six goats?
We’re going to feed them, milk them, and let our herder Bobby Plott take it from there.
End of chapter 29 A Sea of Green.
Uploaded to Word Press. Tues 23 May PM
CHAP 30 BANDIT
WORDPRESS LOADED FROM DRAFT 1
Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
Noah, Delbert, and Pieter sat with a group of four other POWs near the Mess Tent. Killing time was a daily occupation and Camp Claiborne and it drove Noah crazy.
“Do you ever wonder where General Rommel is?”
Noah felt the rumbling of a storm. The name Rommel always brought up strong feelings.
I heard he escaped before the Afrika Korps was captured.
He should’ve stayed with us.
What good could he do for Germany rotting in a POW Camp like us?
I still say it was cowardly how slipped out in the middle of the night.
He didn’t leave us or escape. He was ordered by none less than the Fuhrer to evacuate. The Fatherland needed him to lead more German victories.
Like any good German soldier, he obeyed.
I’m not sure he was as brilliant a general as his reputation. He lost the Afrika Korps.
He was a brilliant strategist. They didn’t call him The Desert Fox for nothing.
Rommel was a great general. He made us – the Afrika Korps – believe we could conquer anything.
The other men, still arguing animatedly, left.
Pieter, Delbret, and Noah
They’ll be arguing that until the War ends.
They’ll be arguing that until the Lord returns.
“Look.” Pieter pointed to a small dog burrowing under a gap in the fence. The short-legged black dog, like a commando on a mission, quietly slipped under the Mess Tent flap.
All was quiet for several minutes as the three POWs waited in anticipation.
Suddenly, scuffling, pots banging, and loud cursing in German came from the tent.
The stubby black dog, followed by a white-aproned cook swinging a broom wildly, sprinted for the safety of the fence.
“Look at what’s he got. That’s a half slab of bacon.” The dog trotting for the fence, held the bacon proudly in his mouth as he made tracks for the fence,
“Go, little fellow, go,” Pieter said.
Reaching the hole in the fence, just ahead of the cook’s broom, the dog crawled under, deftly dragging the bacon after him.
Once outside the safety of the wire, the dog sat on his haunches, enjoying his stolen meal.
“He found a real prize, and evidently he’s a real Räuber,” Noah said.
The cook stood at the fence, huffing. Seeing the three POWs laughing, he said, “What in the hell are you looking at?”
As the cook huffed off, Noah said, “I’ve always liked an aubenseiterin.”
What is an aubenseiterin in English?
I believe it’s underdog.
Yes, that little fellow is definitely an underdog in more ways than one.
The next day the black dog was back, warily sniffing around the mess tent. Pieter whistled and the dog trotted over, warily keeping a safe distance.
The dog, sensing a friendly face, approached Pieter.
“We must name him.”
“My Oma said if you wait long enough, a dog will name itself.”
He’s der rauber. He stole that slab of bacon,” Noah said.
That’s it. we’ll call him the Rauber.
No, no. He is an American dog, he needs an American name.
“Noah, get your wonderful dictionary and find an English name that matches der rauber.
“There’s robber, thief, sneak. Then there’s burglar and bandit
“That’s it. His name will be Bandit.”
What does Bandit mean in English?
OK, but we can’t keep him.
Look at him. He’s a mongrel A mischling
He’s not pureblood Ayran, he’s a cur. He’s a half-breed.
Herr Himmler and his SS would not approve of a mongrel dog among soldiers of the Wehmacdt.
Herr Himmler can go hang himself. Delbert’s voice was shaky, but he made it clear.
I agree. Herr Himmler and his goons back in Berlin can kiss my arsch
Look at the little fellow. What is he? BLACK He’s got a long body like a dachshund, whiskers like a terrier, and a touch around the face of a Schanzer. Looks like a mix of a dachshund, a terrier, and maybe a touch of schnauzer.
His distinguishing mark was an enduring smile and one ear that flopped. Solid black.
We’ll take care of it.
You’ve got to promise not to eat him.
Shut up, Blockhead.
Bandit the Black Robber dog never had to steal from the mess tent again. He was fed daily with tasty treats by Pieter, Noah, and Delbert Fischer.
From that day forward, Black Bandit was the adopted mascot of Camp Claiborne’s Barracks 33.
Soon he stopped his trips under the wire as he made himself at home outside Barracks 33. The men made him a bag of rags by the door but no manner of coaxing could get Bandit inside.
It was probably inevitable that Bandit and Delbert Fischer would find each other. Within a week, Bandit had adopted Delbert.
Pieter was the first to notice. “I’ve always heard that a good dog will seek out a broken person.
Look at that, the wounded soldier and the stray mongrel dog. It’s as if they need each other,”
“I believe they do,” Noah said.
Delbert had a special way with Bandit. Or maybe it was that Bandit had a special way with Delbert.
His tremors stopped and his voice steadied when he was handling Bandit.
“I’m not sure if Delbert adopted Bandit or if Bandit adopted him.
“Who adopted who?”
“It’s amazing what a dog can do for a person’s soul. It’s as it’s like when he’s with that dog, we can see the man he was before this stupid war took away his dignity.
Bandit was waiting for Delbert each morning outside the Barracks. He trotted beside his master throughout each day.
However, Bandit was still skittish about entering the barracks.
Regardless of the enticements, the dog kept his distance, sitting on his haunches as the men came and went.
That night Delbert had another of his nightmares, just before daybreak. Noah sat by his friend, patting his back. Delbert’s outburst unsettled all of the men, and they complained to Delbert as if he could do something about it.
That night Noah carried Bandit inside the barrack. The dog squirmed desperately trying to break free.
He’d already made a pallet beside Delbert’s bed. and his bunk, he sat Bandit down holding him by the scruff of the neck.
He shook Delbert awake. “Look what who I’ve got.”
Delbert placed his hand on the dog’s back, petting him gently. “Hey, Buddy”.
Delbert and Bandit seemed to calm down TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME. Delbert, his hand resting on Bandit’s back, soon was asleep. Noah listened to his friend’s soft breathing..
That pallet became Bandit’s nighttime spot. Shortly before dark, the dog would trot down the aisle to his spot next to Delbert.
Everyone noticed how Delbert’s hands steadied as he stroked his dog’s back
After several weeks, Noah noticed something else. Delbert’s nightmares had slackened. It’s as if the dog’s presence calmed the demons in his bunkmate’s soul.
As Noah watched both of his bunkmates sleeping peacefully. He thought of an old German saying: Manchmal braucht man einfach etwas mit etwas Fell.
“Sometimes you just need something with a little fur.”
End of Chapter 30 BanditMAY
LOADED TO WORDPRESS
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 31. HOOCH
Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
You know what I miss most?
Sitting down to a meal with my family around the table.
I can’t remember the last time I tasted alcohol.
The men in Barracks 33 repeatedly discussed things they missed.
Like men in captivity throughout centuries, the prisoners daily discussed what they missed or wanted. Of course, women were the most widely DISCUSSED subject.
Camp Caliborne, being a training facility with thousands of GI, was not a good place for a female.
The major topic of discussion centered on HOOCH IN GERMAN;
High on this list ws alcohol. They argued over favorite local beers and how many mixed drinks they’d guzzle down when freedom came.
There were no reliable sources to get alcohol into the camps, but a prisoner named Wallis from Barraccks 33 came up with a partial solutions. Americans had a popular antiseptic called Dr. Tichenor’s. It was used on everything from cuts to mouthwash.
Dr. Tichenor’s main ingredient was alcohol. Wallis develped a pipeline for getting quantites of Dr. Tichenor’s into the Camp. A teenage boy would buy as many bottles in town as possible and exchange it for cigarettes. A friendly guard was the middleman.
The only problem was that the bottles were small, contained only a diluted amount of alcohol, and Wallis hoarded his stash.
The unwritten rule of barracks 33 was that all fruit in parcels, at the mess tent as well as in the c-rations, would be gathered. They set up a crude still.
Where he got his brewing equipment, yeast, AND OTHER. He’d mix the fruit AND OTHER ingredients into a small vat for fermenting.
Despite local rationing, sources for both sugar and yeast were quickly found.
Soon barracks 33 smelled of brewing FERMENTING alcohol WAFTED.
The men were forbidden from touching any part of the still.
The men closely guarded their secret from the other barracks.
AND THE alcohol became the one topic of discussion.
They argued about when the alcohol would be ready and how much each prisoner would get. Counting heads and watching the still, Everyone knew their portions would be meager. But that didn’t stop the men from excitedly discussing it day and night.
Finally, the brewmaster took a sip of the hooch and licked his lips appreciatively.
The men gathered around. “Is it ready?
The prisoners quickly brought various cups and stood in line. The Brewmaster carefully measured each portion.
He measured it out as if they were in a chemistry lab.
“I’m surprised they didn’t use a medicine dropper.”
It wasn’t much hooch, but enough to get the alcohol-starved men into a festive mood.
Noah had always been amazed at how people reacted to a belly of alcohol. The entire spectrum was evident in barrack 33.
Some of the men sat quietly in the corner with his cup and thoughts.
Most of the men shouted and danced with each other, taking in not just the brew but the joy of having something secret and illicit.
They soon began a round of German drinking song, before breaking into a lusty stanza of Deutschland uber Alles.
You’d never heard anything quite like a company of half-drunk Germans singing off-key mixed German/English version of You are my Sunshine.
IS THIS FIRST MENTION OF SONG?
I BELEIVE IT IS.
It was late at night and the celebration was so loud that Noah feared they’d be discovered.
Some people, when they’re on the sauce, get surly. Two tankers from the 7th Panzer, got into a shoving match, and began wildly flailing at each other. Their skirmish continued as TUSSLED lurched out the barracks door and tumbled out into the mud.
The other prisoners, still drunkenly singing, poured outside to watch.
Suddenly a bright searchlight scanned the crowd. “Get back inside, you bunch of crazy Krauts.”
In the noise of the scuffle and fighting, the order was ignored.
Pieter stumbled into Noah and slurred. “What if they start shooting?”
Shooting at us would only make a bad situation worse, and he’d be in more trouble than not.”
“Come on, guys, knock it off. You’re gonna get all of us in trouble,” the guard pleaded.
The brawlers still rolled around, but it was evident their scrap was running out of steam.
“You men get back INSIDE where you belong, and I mean now.
Back in Barracks 33, everyone collapsed on the floor in laughter. Even the mud-spackled brawlers reveled in the good feelings.
“What if the guards come in here?”
You think they will come in here? If they did, what would they do? As long as we stay inside the wire, we’ll be fine.
Even if they do, it was worth it.
Noah and Luca
How in the world did that many Germans get drunk on the little amount of hooch?
I believe our tolerance for alcohol was low. Most of us hadn’t had a shot in a long while.
Maybe it was due to them them thinking they were drunk so they were.
Wishing it was so made it real.
The mind is a strange thing.
I believe most of us weren’t drunk at all but afraid not to act like they were sober.. They didn’t want to miss out on a party like this.
It sure seemed more than it was. That tin can sure looked fuller.
It was a scant a portion for each man.
I loved how Wallis got on his knees at eye level to make sure he was getting his equal share.
Pieter “if the Panzers had fought as well as they made hooch, the War might have been won.”
The hooch was good.
What? It was terrible. It tasted like Pferdepisse
How would you know what pferd pisse tastes like?
I just know it would taste bad.
Well, I’m not willing to try that.
But you will admit the hooch was bad.
It was terrible, but I loved every miserable drop.
I wonder why the guard didn’t report us and have an inspection of our Barracks. The still was right there in the open.
Pieter had a plausible explanation. “We’ve been careful to convince the American guards that our Barracks are all infested with bedbugs, head lice, rats, and cockroaches. Especially cockroaches. Prisoner have complained to the guards that the cockroaches.
And we gamble as we race them at night.
Yeah, the guards are just interested in keeping us in, but not necessarily in what we do on the inside._____________________________________________________________
The next morning, the men in Barracks 33 woke up with varying degrees of hangovers.
Several groaned in mortal pain. Others seemed none the worse for wear.
Noticed watched the sufferers. “I guess if you pretend you’re drunk the night before, you have to pretend to have a hangover the next morning
A jeep with four burly military police barrelled up to Barracks 33. Brandishing billy clubs, they pushed their way inside. Evidently, the news of the party had spread.
They MPs cussed and lined the men at the end of their bunk.
NOAH TO LUCA. “I’m glad our still was disassembled and hidden.
I still smell a faint ODOR smell of alcohol.
You’re just dreaming.
Just for effect, the MPs jabbed several of the men with their billy clubs, before
hurriedly inspecting the barracks, being careful to avoid the bunks.
NOAH Evidently, they’d heard the stories about our bedbugs, too.
What were they going to us? Arrest all XXX of us? Put each man in solitary? Too much trouble and paperwork. ow.
It was all for show.
Like most things the Americans do, it was just for show.
END OF CHAPTER 31. HOOCH
Beginning Chapter 32 the 1943 Harvest 25 MAY 2:32 PM
FROM 1st draft
THE HARVEST OF 1943
Maggie read aloud the news article from this week’s Crowley Signal Post:
Sheriff Mobilizes Parish for Rice Harvest
Sheriff XXXX believes with shortages created by so many of our men off in War, is the patriotic duty of the entire Parish to mobilize and help bring in the harvest. It will be our greatest contribution to the war effort.
SYD Do you think he really will put them in jail?
I wouldn’t want to be the one to find out..
We’re still going to short-handed. We’ll need perfect conditions and plenty of strong backs to make a good harvest.
It’s going to be tough. Many more men have left for the War since last harvest.
And that prediction came true. Workers were hard to find, even harder to keep. Day laborers don’t always show up the next day. The laborious task of sheaving, carrying, and loading was taxing in the late Summer heat.
Everyone in Mowata pitched in on the rice harvest. Each farm family had the same shortage of workers. Since the harvest was simultaneous, the families were unable to share the work together as in normal times.
Bobby Plott, Syd, Maggie, Poppa all pitched in. Momma was in charge of feeding and watering the workers. Syd drove the mule team. Maggie had found four Colored men in Eunice who’d work if they had transportation.
The Mowata farms banded together sending flatbed trucks and rice trucks daily to
Eunice and Crowley.
Maggie’s job on the harvest was hard to describe. She was part XXXXXXX, teacher, XXXXXX, and XXXXX, cajolingpraising , often all in the same day. Poppa ws definitely in charge of the operation but he depended on Maggie to keep the wheels rolling and she was good at it. Her passion for the farm was evident and seemed to inINFUSE contagious the other workers.Maggie loved it. The harvest was going along as scheduled. The energy the teamwork.
The first days of the harvest went well. The workers WORKED STEADY as they cut the rice with SYNTHES machine. On the third day two more workers arrived on the truck.
In spite of it all, Poppa worried over the moisture content in the STANDING SHOCKS and as always kept a weather eye on the horizon. The life of a farmer revolves around the weather. It can nourish and destroy all within the same season.Farmers are attuned to the weather. It is the one variable that affects whether there will a bumper crop or poor one. upcoming rainfall. It would determine the water level in his fields and determine.
Each evening the holy hour was observed in the Loewer living room. Poppa huddled over the family radio. Due to his hearing loss and the thin signal, the radio was turned full blast.
That’s why Maggie called it the Holy Hour. Everyone tread softly in the house as Poppa tuned in the weather report.
Papa depended on hearing the weather for SW Louisiana. A rice farmer must ATTUNED to the radio.
The signal faded in and out, Poppa’s serene face fell. Maggie edged closer to hear.
During the summer Louisiana can be visited by hurricanes. However, they on the average come ashore every decade or so.
There hadn’t been a hurricane that affected Acadia since 1922. However, tropical DEPRESSION storms were more prevalent. Weaker and slower than a hurricane, a tropical storm could settle over an area and dumps inches of rain.
It was the dread of every farmer. There was never a good time for a tropical DEPRESSION, especially during harvest.
Maggie listened as the weatherman spoke of a low pressure system deveooping in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Predictions were that the system would come ashore as a tropical storm in southern Louisiana/ SOUTHWEST of Lafayette by the evening of TWO DAYS. DAY AFTER TOMORROW.
That put Acadia Parish in the bullseye of the storm.
Poppa rubbed the top of his head a sign Maggie knew was worrisome.
The report ended and Poppa turned off the radio.
Momma stuck her head FROM AROUND THE KITCHEN. “Alfred, are you going to listen to the War news?”
Maggie waved and put her finger to her lips. Poppa had his head in his hands.
“Poppa, it’s going to be all right.”
The weather’s one thing we can’t control and a flood at this time can wipe out the crop.
But we’ve shocked a good part of the harvest. We’ve got two days to work before the storm hits.
That’s not enough time to make a dent in what’s left. We’ve got to wait for the moisture humidity count SHOCKS to drop before we load. A big rain will flood our other fields affecting them.
The next two days were a blur of frenzied acitivyty getting in as much in as possible. All of the men worked hard AND LONG DAYS.
On the second day, it was a Thursday, the rain started with big plops raindrops LARGE. The sky darkened in the south.
By dark, the rain was steady and continued throughout the night.
The next morning Poppa checked his rain gauge. It had XXX inches. This wasn’t enough to wipe out the crop. But today would be the worst day of the storm, hopefully it would drift north.
But it didn’t stop.
Maggie smiled ruefully at the old joke,
‘Do you gamble?”
“Heck no, I’m a farmer.
Farming was a gamble. Always has been and probably always be.
She figured this wasn’t the time to tell her joke.
Maggie watched her Vater sit at the kitchen table staring out the window. The hardest time for a farmer is to watch the weather ATTACKIng. It could be drought, hail, or sleet.
But today it was rain. Lots of rain.
When the rain finally stopped, the gauge had been emptied twice for a total of 6.2 inches.
It was devastating to the rice farms of Acadia Parish.
Led by Poppa, they worked for the next several days to get the extra water off the rice.
The harvest continued but everyone knew the grading at the rice mill would result in less cash. And cash was the CCCCCC that allowed the rice farmers to prosper. The best farmers plowed the profits back into the future.
The Mowata farmers were adverse to loans mortgages.
But Poppa and Momma had made a small mortgage to buy a new thresher. The mortgage covered the land but not the house. But a rice famer without land is not a farmer.
But 1943 wouldn’t have a BIG LARGE cash crop. Farmers who’d mortgaged equipment, houses, and land could lose it all.
Maggie knew that her parents had refused to order equipment on credit. They’d inherited their home and refused to use it as collateral MORTGAGE.
This was within the well-deserved of the Mowata Germans to be frugal. Maggie felt that wasn’t a strong enough adjective. Stingy, skinflints, XXX were other descriptions.
But that would save the Mowata farmer through this bleak harvest. They’d have to figure out a way to live and eat NOT STARVE but they wouldn’t lose their farms.
Another trait of the German farmers was their willingness to come to the aid of neihbors. She’d seen it over and over during times of diaster and difficulty.
But with this lean harvest, neighbors couldn’t help out with CASH/MONEY. They couldn’t share what they didn’t have.
Maggie sat with them at the end of a meal.
“I know the Lord will take care of us. He always has. But we’re going to have a lean WINTER YEAR.
Maggie pushed away from the table. “Ya’ll please excuse me. I have a letter to write.
End of Chapter 32/Harvest of 1943 uploaded to WordPress 25 May 2:31 pm
Beginning of Chapter 33 Luz 25 May 4:00 PM
Noah awoke in a cold sweat, terror in his heart and his throat in his mouth. He didn’t know how he got there, but he was on the floor short of breath.
It wasn’t a hangover. It was a nightmare.
He was on the floor near his bunk. The barracks was quiet. Evidently he didn’t scream or thrash about.
In the dark, Delbert quietly asked, “Are you alright, Friend?
“Ja.” Noah climbed INTO his bunk.
At breakfast MESS HALL BREAKFAST the next morning Delbert asked, “Do you mind if I ask you about your dream?”
“Do your dreams ever involve shelling?
Always. It’s the worst part of it.
Yeah, artillery is how I became broken and got these shakes.
Shelling terrified me much more than ground fire. At least you could shoot back at them. With artilliery you could only hunker down.
Does every front line soldier have bad dreams?
Some will admit it, but must won’t.
You were mumbling in your dream.
What was I saying?
“Luz”Is he a soldier?
YES. Luz was my closest friend. We fought every together step across Europe and North Africa.
Is your friend COMRADE Luz IN EVERY DREAM?
In my dream, we’re under mortar attack and Luz takes me by the hand as we climb out of the foxhole and walk between the front lines.
The artillery crashes around us joined by the staccato rattle of the machine guns, but Luz says, “Don’t be afraid. It can’t hurt you anymore.”
Then he disappears and I wake up. Do you think my dreams mean something?
I have no idea. May I ask Is your friend Luz dead or alive?
Noah sat quietly.”
I really don’t to talk about it.”
If you ever do, let me know.
That night Noah awoke in the middle of another nightmare. As usual, he and Luz were running across the battlefield.
Are you all right, Freund? Delbert whisptered.
Ja. Noah tried to settle down but couldn’t sleep.
Can I talk with you.
Luz Long was my best friend in the Afrika Korps. We’d fought side by side across Europe and across North Africa.
Luz died the day before I was captured.
He saved my life in the desert that day. It’s just hard to talk about.
There was a long silence.
Luz Long was FROM XXXXXX. He was the bravest soldier I’ve ever known. Everyone in our squad followed him. We trusted him to have our backs. BACK
That day we were under fire . . .” Noah choked up.
“Delbert,, what you think it takes for a man to be mutig? To have courage? Courage under fire.
Courage is when you run forward when everyone else is running away. I’ve seen soldiers do both.
Which one were you?
I was never a coward but never considered myself a hero. I held my ground but never ran.
“I saw plenty who did” Delbert said. He held up his shaking hands, “In spite of what you see now, I held my ground. I always did my duty.”
I know you did, Freund.
I’ve never shared what happened that day. It. was still too close to my heart to share. It’s still a deep wound.
Delbert didn’t answer
Noah tried to stem the tears but he couldn’t.
During the Battle of Kasserine, our company was in full retreat and were caught in the open when a withering Allied mortar attack rained down on us.
We ran frantically hunting cover from the explosions and shrapnel.
In the midst of the barrage, someone tackled me from behind. I hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of me. Someone was on top of me. I couldn’t or didn’t move. the fall and weight above him kept me down until I could catch my breath
I rolled the soldier off. The mortar barrage moved on and I rolled the body off me. It was Luz. During the worst of the shelling when men were falling all around us, he purposely shielded me.
Luz lay still, his back streaked with blood. He was dead. His act saved my life at the cost of his own life.
The barrage had passed. All around me lay dead and dying men. No one had witnessed Luz’s act. There’d be no Iron Cross for my brave friend.
What’d you do next?
I lay there until dark then staggered to where the remnants of my UNIT had dug in.
The next day they were captured.
Do you know much about the Bibel.
Not much. I’ve watched you studying it.
It’s a very confusing book with remarkable stories and people mixed in. The American Kalks had encouraged me to read what he called the Gospels.
I’ve heard of them.
They’re about the words and actions of Jesus.
I found a sentence last week that has stuck with me.”
I believe it might have something to do with my dreams.
I memorized it. Niemand hat größere Liebe als die, dass jemand sein Leben für seine Freunde hingibt.”
What does it mean?
Jesus spoke it. It jumped off the page at me.
It’s what Luz did for me. He did it out of love. That’s not much of a soldierly word.
He did it out of love.
How do you say it in Englsih?
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Lay down his life for his friends. I can understand that.
The next day Delbert approached Noah
“Noah, have you got that Bibel with you?
I’ve been thinking that VERSE/SENTENCE you quoted the other night. The one about greater love. I’d like to look at that more. Can I borrow it?
Noah pulled the book out of his pack. It’s the book of Johannes. I’ve got it marked.
It’s in 15. Noah pointed at the page. See it’s all red letters, that’s Jesus speaking.
Delbert. I want to read that part and we’ll talk more. You sure you trust it with me?
Delbert, I’d trust you with my life. Let’s meet tomorrow morning here.
Right on time, Delbert returned. He handed the book to Noah. “Here’s your baby back.
What’d you think of it?
A lot to unpack. I’ve had a little background so it wasn’t completely foreign to me.
I read and re-read Capitel 15. In fact, I got up early so more.
Who do you think Jesus is talking to?
Maybe a groups of followers.
Noah, your verse on greater love has no man . . . jumps off the page at me.
Do you notice how often he uses the word love GERMAN.
I like where he says talks about
Das ist mein Gebot, daß ihr euch untereinander liebet, gleichwie ich euch liebe.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Liebe. Love. It’s not a very soldiery word. You’ll never hear an infantryman say he loves his TEAM MATE. the guy beside him in a foxhole. That wouldn’t be manly.
But like your freund Luz, of the most courageous and sacrificial a ts occur on a battlefront.
Let me ask you to do one thing. Write down the name of my friend Luz Long and promise me you won’t forget him.
I sure wish Kallus was still with us. The American could help us with this Kapitel.
Maybe we’ll meet someone later who can teach us more.
I hope so too. I really do.
End of Chapter 33 Luz
UPLOADED TO WORD PRESS SAT 27 May 10:20 pm
START OF CHAPTER 34 THE LETTER SAT 27 10:39 PM
Maggie walked into the crowded Eunice post office. It was the first of the month and a long line of people were THERE for their government checks.
She queued in the line and waited her turn.
Postmistress Miss Ellen turned to the Loewer slot BOX.
Looks like you’ve got a letter from your brother. It’s a V-mail marked with an APO address.
I wonder if there is a federal law for the United States Postal Service against being nosey. Or being a know-it-all.
Thank you, Ma’am. She hurried from the post office, eager for news from Jack. She’d promised her parents to only open Jack’s letters with them present.
“Maggie. Maggie Loewer.” Miss Ellen was waving a letter. “You’ve got another letter.”
Maggie walked to the counter.
This one has a New Orleans postmark. I bet it’s from your sister.
Maggie took the letter giving Miss Eliza a nod of her head. There had to be a punishable law for being nosey and not being confidential. If those two were criminal offenses, Miss Ellen was headed to St Gabriel’s.
The second letter was the one she was waiting for.
Jack’s letter was great, but Emma’s was essential.
Maggie walked outside and tore open the envelope. As she unfolded the letter, the usual two $20 bills enclosed She stuffed the bills in her pocket along with Jack’s letter.
As ALWAYS, Emma’s letter was succinct:
I received your letter. I am saddened to hear that the rice crop didn’t go well.
Of course, use the money from our secret fund. That’s why I’ve worked so hard here at Higgins.
You’ll know just how to use it. I am glad I can help.
I appreciate you taking care of Momma and Daddy while Jack and I are away.
I know they are in good hands.
I’m as busy as ever. There are lots of opportunities to work overtime and I jump at each chance.
Please write me and let me know how things work out.
Maggie stopped and thanked God for her sister Emma.
Arriving home, Momma was in the garden and Poppa was on a levee.
She waved the letter, yelling, “A letter from Jack.”
They met her in the yard.
The military had begun what was called V-mail. It was a process where letters were photographed and shrunk. The result was a small letter difficult to read. Coupled with Jack’s scrawl, it was nearly impossible to read.
Maggie held the SMALL LETTER close to her face.
Somewhere in the Pacific.
“Wherever he’s at, it’s one island closer to TOYKO.
Hush, and let her read.
“Momma and Poppa and others
I trust this finds you well. I hope the rice harvest went well.
Maggie glanced up at her parents.
Jack’s letter was much longer than usual. He shared about his fellow soldiers, what they ate, the things he did with his free time, and how cases of coca-colas had arrived. Although he didn’t mention a location, he mentioned that the XX Marines were resting between island invasions.
He ended with greetings to Syd, Bobby Plott, and others. questions on the weather
Your loving Son,
Father asked her to read the letter again, then once more.
Maggie didn’t mention Emma’s letter. That could wait. It was addressed to her, not her parents.
It seemed that every evening meal involved the looming mortgage payment. It was an obvious weight bearing down on her parents.
They were ninety days from foreclosure. They’d scraped together $200 but that was the bottom of the barrel. They saw no way forward in finding $300 more.
I know $500 doesn’t sound like a lot. In a normal crop, we’d been flush with cash.
But the 1943 harvest had been anything but normal.
“The hardest thing is that I see no way to get out of this mess. I should not have made that loan.
It went against everything I’ve LEARNED and DID.
“Albert, you can’t blame yourself. Our old thresher was beyond repair, we really had no choice.
I can’t believe we may lose our land. It’s impossible to farm without land. This is land passed onto me by generations of our family.
Maggie excused herself. She returned with a Maxwell House coffee can. Removing the lid, Maggie poured a pile of bills on the table. There were fives, tens, and an impressive stack of twenties.
Papa looked from the money at Maggie and then back to the money. “Where’d you get that?”
“Maggie, did you rob a bank? Momma said.
“No, it came from Emma. She’s been sending cash or money orderss from every paycheck. She made promise to keep it a secret, keep a ledger, and use it in an emergency.
And I believe saving the farm is an emergency.
Papa stared at Maggie. “It seems as if the women in this family are running everything, and I don’t know what’s going on. He looked hurt. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?
Emma made me swear to keep it a secret until needed.
Poppa turned on Momma. “Leona, I gue you knew this was going on?
No, I was just as surprised as you. The main thing I am is grateful. I feel like a SACK OF RICE has been lifted off my shoulders.
Poppa nodded at the stack of bills. “I can’t take this. It’s Emma’s money for her future.
“Oh Alfred, Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Accept it for it is: a loving gift from your daughter. It’s no different than the gift of hard work Maggie has put in since Em left.
Your two daughters have given you a gift. Both of them have helped us save this farm.
You’d better accept it with gratitude.
One did it with her hands and hard work here.
The other’s down in New Orleans building boats to win the war.
And while she’s doing her patrioic duty, saving, sending, and giving us money to pay our mortgage, and if my eyes don’t deceive me, there’s plenty to plow back into farm for next season.
END OF CHAPTER 34 27 MAY 10:39 PM
TWO LETTERS UPLOADED TO WORDPRESS
END OF PART 1 WHERE WE ALL BELONG. SUN 28 MAY. 2:09
Looking forward to this new novel!
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