A few days ago as I was working on the prequel I tried to think of the funnier (funnier = is this a word?) memories of 1943. Nothing came to my mind because there was not much fun.

However, I did remember something from 1947, but it does not fit into the time frame of my books..

At that time a sister of my father lived in the USA and she sent us a “care” package to Germany . It was filled with all the goodies: flour, sugar, chocolate, Crisco, soap, and a shirt for my father. And then, my, brother who was 10 years old at that time, pulled a strange item from the package.  It was made from brown leather and kind of oblong, oval , if you will. It looked like a ball but it was not round. It had a small paper note taped on the side ” For the boys”  my aunt had penned on it.

My brother looked at it from all sides. “Horst, look at this thing, what is it?” He asked me. I could not answer him. In all my life I had never seen anything like it. We rolled it around on the floor and then tried to kick it to each other, but because it was not round it rolled nilly willy wherever it wanted.

After a while we decided that it must have been a ball at some time. We figured that some other heavier package must have squeezed our package during the long sea voyage to the point that the round ball lost it’s shape. If we could find a way to press it back into shape we could perhaps be able to play with it.  However we had no press or vise to bring any pressure to bear. The only thing we could think of was to take a board, place it on the ball and then sit on it. I remember my brother sitting for hours on the weird shaped thing.

“Take a look, Horst. Is it round yet?” He would ask. “No, not yet, Peter. Sit on it some more.”

Here I was, 17 years old and having looked death in the face more than once, able to extinguish phosphor canister bombs with a sand filled paper bag, survived the Mongols as well as the SS, but I had never seen an American football or had any idea what this stupid leather thingy could be.

After other children started to tease my brother, he gave up sitting on it and threw it in the garbage.