Part 42: Cigarettes And Clandestine Business

The old plant where father worked again was now called ‘Soviet Joint Stock Company.’ The synthetic raw rubber and all other products went to the Soviet Union mainly as reparations.

Father came home twice a month, and in the meantime, I had to take care of the house and yard alone. In addition, he had urged me to take loving care of his large tobacco patch in the garden while doing all the work.

Because I knew that father liked to smoke and that he cared a lot about good tobacco, I not only took care of the plants, but also harvested the tobacco leaves according to their degree of ripeness, strung them on threads, dried the leaves in the shade under the shed roof and made sure that they were properly moist.

When fermenting, I experimented with success. Hans and I cut out the thick ribs of each leaf with scissors in our hut. Then our homemade cutting machine produced a finely cut yellow-brown tobacco. Father was full of praise. It made me proud.

An extended family from Silesia managed the village inn on a leasehold basis. Sophie, the oldest, unmarried of two sisters, was the clan leader. One day she sent for me and led me to a secluded room on the second floor. There in bed lay a middle-aged man paralyzed from the cervical vertebrae to the feet – her brother. The sick man could move only his mouth and eyes.

With an unexpectedly strong voice he asked me if I would be willing to write some business letters for him from time to time, on the condition that I would keep silent about everything I would write, hear, and see. I assured him of my willingness. In the course of time, I realized who the real head of this family clan was and what dark business was being conducted in the shadows of the restaurant business. The sickroom was a single warehouse.

Cigarettes, coffee beans, twine for the farmers and much more were stored under the sickbed. The schnapps for the weekly dances was also made here from large demijohns. Due to the parallel connection to the mayor’s telephone, one was informed in time before sudden economic controls on the part of the district town. Besides, the sickroom was off-limits to strangers anyway.

Despite his paralysis, the patient was not without humor. He liked to laugh and tell jokes. There was a large mirror on the ceiling above his bed, which was aligned so that he could see the courtyard and the toilet through the window. When there was a crowd in front of the restroom on dance nights, he would occasionally catch a glimpse of the women and girls straightening their knickers with their skirts up. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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