Part 37: Childhood Joys and Dangers

The little free time we children had was extremely poor. There was no sports field in the village and no rubber or leather ball. We played barefoot soccer in the yard with balls tied together with rags and string.

My small, black, and white spotted fox terrier dog guarded the goal. She kept splendidly. But when she got hold of the ball of rags, she ran away with it against all the rules of the game. Only with difficulty we could take the prey back from her and continue the game. In the fall, we stubble hanging fruit and stroll through the forest. With the dogs we shooed the sleeping wild boars out of the thicket. The pigs were not afraid of the yapping dogs and were difficult to drive out of their safe cover. Often, we helped and crawled screaming on all fours through the spruce shelter, because everyone wanted to prove his courage.

During one of these wild boar hunts a boy found in the foliage a totally filthy and completely rusted carbine, which surely a soldier had thrown away in the last days of the war. The finder picked up the rifle and triumphantly showed it to us. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a shot rang out from the rotten gun.

The bullet pierced a fellow’s left hand. The shock and fright were so enormous that to this day I don’t know how we stanched the blood and got back to the village with the wounded man. After the very late surgery in the county seat, our playmate fortunately retained his hand with thumb and two fingers. Luck of the draw! The bullet could also have been fatal.

Some evenings the children met at the field barn at the edge of the village. We romped in the straw and tried to catch and kiss the girls in the dark. But they resisted stubbornly, believing that kissing would give you a child. We ran home late in the evening with red, excited faces.

Winter was more exciting. Steep and winding toboggan runs were laid out on the village hill. There it went wildly to the thing. Until midnight, the village youth sledded and sledded in the moonlight. With stiff frozen woolen clothes, we came home and fell dead tired into bed.

Sundays in summer were even more boring, because it was hot, dusty, and dry. In the village there was no pond and far and wide no natural lake. The only water was the ankle-deep stream. Only the strong thunderstorms brought variety, then the brook was full to the brim with water for a brief time, in which we bathed. No wonder the local kids couldn’t swim. For me, the waterless summer was a torture. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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