I was born in Arkansas during the Depression. As I grew into adolescence, I knew opportunities would be elsewhere for me to make a living. I left Arkansas when I was 16 years old, ending up at the Canadian border. As time went on I was in the right age group to be popular with Uncle Sam. The ugly face of war was beginning in Korea. One day as my friends and I were walking by a military recruiting building, we saw a sign “Volunteer now or be Drafted Later.” I mentioned to the recruiting officer I wanted to go to the European Theatre, mainly Germany. He said “Sorry, there are no slots open for Germany.” I told him “Thanks anyway.” I still had some time left before I would be drafted. As I started to walk out the door, he said, “Wait, I will look through my list again.” He came up with a vacancy to be filled in Germany. I took it and enlisted.
After basic training in Fort Ord, California, I arrived in Germany. It was an eye-opener for me. So many displaced people, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Ukrainians were trying to get home to their own countries. The Russians were not helping at all, blocking entrances to Berlin and forcing us to fly food in by air. In time, the economy got better.
One evening I was at the Bonhoeffer train station to meet one of my comrades coming in on the train, but he did not show up. I noticed a pretty Fraulein girl also waiting for her party that did not show up. She spoke to me in English saying that no more trains were available that night and she would have to stay over. I decided to show her some rooms with overnight lodging available. I had visions of a beautiful night together. We danced, drank wine and laughed until the wee hours of the morning. As we went upstairs to her room, she thanked me for the help and closed the door, almost. I put my foot in the door and stepped inside. She said, “My father is high up in the Nazi Party and hated American soldiers, and if he found out about this I could never go out on my own again, he is very strict.” When I left I was dreaming of what might have been.
As time went on I witnessed people celebrating with dancing and music. I was in Salzburg, Austria, and got to enjoy the opera, violins, ballet, Viennese waltz and I fell in love. This time I decided to convince this Nazi father to let me see his daughter. He was still very cold to me. As time went on I asked Trudy to marry me and to think it over. I went to the military to get information about military marriages. At that time it was not very favorable for a military person to marry a German citizen. It was especially true for someone that had connections with the Nazi party. Trudy had attended Hitler’s Youth School as all German children were required to do. Her sister’s husband was one of Hitler’s personal body guards. This made it impossible for a military marriage at that time.
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The orders came for my battalion to be shipped out to Korea, putting all our planning on hold. I could hear her father telling her, “See, I told you so, forget him, those American soldiers are no good, marry a good German man.” I suppose he was acting like any father would do to protect his daughter. After all, at that time what he was saying was true. Being in the Nazi party had given him a better lifestyle than the average German citizen but he had lost most everything. He died young, bitter and never gave his blessing to us in our future marriage.
As the Korean War was ending, I was shipped back to the U.S. and discharged from the military. I continued to be in contact with Trudy by letter writing. One day I received a letter from her that she was in Quebec, Canada. She had a two-year contract with the Catholic church to do domestic work for her fare over here. She could not be released from this until her two years were over. I talked to a Christian friend and he advised me to pray, “God can break that contract.” That night I sat down and wrote my heart out to the bishop in charge of that particular church. I went on to mention the heartaches that we had gone through, and if he could free Trudy so that we could be together. My letter paid off, I received a letter from the bishop, saying he was releasing Trudy from her contract and sent his blessings. She came by train to British Columbia, I took a few days off and we got married. We had a three-year waiting period before we could emigrate from Canada to the U.S. We lived in Grand Forks, British Columbia and I commuted to my work on the American side of the border. Our daughter Debbie was born here. After our three years we moved to America. I bought a cute little house and we settled in. Just Trudy and me, and baby made three.